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First they came for Arnab Goswami and Republic TV…

Updated October 25, 2020 11:39 IST
arnab goswami
Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami (Picture courtesy: Republicworld.com/)

The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has indulged in moral equivalence by slamming both Republic TV and Mumbai Police in the same breath. It has also done a great disservice to the media, indeed the entire nation, by putting the “great institutions, the media and the police,” on the same moral footing.

“The Mumbai Police crime branch named the owners of Republic TV, News Nation and Maha Movie and some of their staff as accused in the case of alleged manipulation of television rating points (TRP),” Hindustan Times reported today. “The matter came to light on Saturday when the Mumbai Police crime branch, in their remand plea filed before a magistrate’s court seeking extension of custody of two persons arrested in the case, which HT has seen, mentioned that the owners of the TV channels have been named as accused, though the names were withheld.”

The very timing of the surfacing of the so-called TRP scam is suspicious, coming as it does in the wake of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami’s unrelenting tirade against the Mumbai Police, Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, and a host of others regarding the Sushant Singh Rajput case.

Now, Goswami is certainly not a shining example of Indian journalism. Loud, churlish, and often clownish, he looks like an agenda-driven activist rather than an objective newsman. But journalist he certainly is—a bad one surely, but then even bad journalists have the right to freedom of expression.

The NBA failed to discern these facts. In its statement, the broadcasters’ body said, “NBA is very disturbed at the turn of events in Mumbai as the clash between Republic TV and Mumbai police is posing a threat to the credibility and respect of two great institutions, the media and the police. We are deeply concerned that journalists working in the newsroom have become victims of this unfortunate conflict.”

By comparing cops, who invariably do what their political masters order them to do, with the journalists, the NBA has not just indulged in moral equivalence but also shown its own low self-esteem.

“We do not approve of the kind of journalism that is being practised by Republic TV,” the NBA further said. Nor do we at IndiaNarrative.com, as we take inspiration from philosopher Voltaire (1698-1774) who personified the Age of Enlightenment. He said, “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

The NBA doesn’t do that—at least not unequivocally. “We stand for the freedom of speech and expression of the media as enshrined in the Constitution of India. At the same time, we endorse the practice of ethics in journalism and put fair and balanced reporting at the core of what we report upon.”

Notice “At the same time…” In contradistinction with the NBA’s equivocation and diffidence, our stand is clear and absolute: any attack on a journalist or a media house is an attack on free speech. Period.

Perhaps the NBA’s nebulous stand is the result of jealousy, for Gowami’s channels, especially in Hindi, have been doing very well. I believe it is time the NBA’s media moguls read a famous, confessional poem that German pastor and theologian Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) wrote, in which he explained the gradual aggrandizement of power by the Nazis:

First they came for the Communists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Communist

 

Then they came for the Socialists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Socialist

 

Then they came for the trade unionists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a trade unionist

 

Then they came for the Jews

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Jew

 

Then they came for me

And there was no one left

To speak out for me

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