Weapons on Republic TV, “Locust Biryani” in Pak: Arnab Goswami’s Journalism is Becoming a Joke

Social Commentary

Weapons on Republic TV, “Locust Biryani” in Pak: Arnab Goswami’s Journalism is Becoming a Joke

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

The controversial TV news anchor Arnab Goswami seems to have specialised in the art of televising absurd debates, which may grab eyeballs, but do very little as far as real journalism is concerned. On Thursday though, the debate on Republic Bharat, the Hindi news channel of Republic TV, crossed all previous levels of ludicrousness, when a panel ostensibly put together to discuss the thwarting of a terrorist attack in Kashmir’s Pulwama devolved into representatives from India and Pakistan brandishing weapons at each other over video conference.

The “combatants”, which is probably what they thought of themselves, were Maninderjeet Singh Bitta, chairman of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, and Engineer Iftikhar Chaudhry, Deputy Secretary Information for Pakistan’s ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. While Goswami’s debates have always been more shouting matches and less informative discussion, this confrontation marked a new low even for Republic TV.

Seeing as the subject of national security was once again replaced by empty theatrics on the channel, viewers treated it as such, with scathing critiques on the level of professionalism and reporting causing both #RepublicTV and #ArnabGoswami to trend on Twitter. When the TV channel and anchor become the topic of discussion themselves, rather than the subject they are supposed to be covering, it’s clear that its brand of journalism is flawed.

It didn’t stop at that. In another segment, Goswami could be found adding spin to the swarms of locusts currently attacking crops in North and West India, claiming they were sent by Pakistan. One headline flashing on the channel while the anchor delivered his rant even asked the question “Is Pakistan preparing locust biryani?” in what might be the strangest sentence on TV news.

A few days earlier, Goswami also found time to drag the Congress party into a panel debate about recent border tensions between India and China, holding the debate about the Chinese incursions while flashing #ChinaCongress as the headline.

The coronavirus pandemic has ensured that this is a weird time to be alive. Arnab Goswami and Republic TV are doing their bit to make it just a little bit weirder.