I am picking up a contentious topic this time with some not so much fully formed thoughts in my head. Since the launch of Republic TV a few days back, been occasionally tuning in, though, with all due respect to Arnab, my patience to his castigating style of TV is all of about five minutes. I don’t think you can call that thing a debate, because, in a debate, parties speak as per laid out rules and get the chance to express themselves, and the platform becomes incidental.
Not on Arnab’s TV. On Arnab’s TV, the house(Arnab is the house!) comes with a motion and some panellists who support it. Those who oppose the motion are at the mercy of the house and face reprimand of the worst possible type, delivered across the subcontinent. Often like clueless puppies, getting firehosed with gushing water.
So what exactly is Arnab Goswami brand?
According to me, the brand occupies an aspirational space in middle-class Indians, who prefer their ‘news’ served in English, and believe, rightly or wrongly, that only he represents their nationalistic ego. So what the audience is unable to do, they vicariously do it through Arnab, where severe tongue lashing at 120 dB is reserved at the ‘against the motion’ panellists!
The other aspect is that he does not seem to believe in ordinary reporting of commonplace happenings, but only ‘expose’, a revelation, someone who is always looking under the carpet at the most unsuspecting places. He feeds our craving for someone’s dirty linen getting exposed daily. It is a reactive expectation from the audience, that feels, rightly or wrongly, that the pigeonhole debates happening on other channels, though equally meaningless, are not loud enough!
In a country where we have seen the pace of the justice system become very slow over the decades and the political system become ineffective, brand Arnab gives the impression that he is ‘delivering’ on everyone’s behalf. In other words, it is primetime justice!