What happens when the head of the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi decides to break his "maun vrat" and speak exclusively to the "hard-hitting" TV anchor Arnab Goswami? The answer is that Twitter goes on a frenzy.
If Modi's supporters hailed the "superpower" of their leader to tame the "shouting-machine" of the TV, Arnab's detractors pounced on the journalist for "deliberately" avoiding questions on "real issues" (steep hike in food prices, farmer suicides, drought, attacks on cow traders, etc) that could have definitely embarrassed the PM.
Social media still going bonkers
Even after a passage of several days the "exclusive interview" alleged by many as a "fixed" one, is keeping the social media abuzz.
Latest is the hashtag-- #ArnabSlapsSagarika--which was trending on the micro-blogging site on Saturday (July 2) evening.
In fact on the day when the interview was aired, Arnab's fellow journalist Sagarika Ghose raised questions about the interview.
"Dear @PMOIndia pls hold an open press conference rather than bestow favours on individual journalists. Let there be free and fair exchange," tweeted Sagarika.
After receiving flak from various quarters, the editor-in-chief of Times Now says the interview was "greater than a Hollywood blockbuster".
In an answer to his trolls, published in the website business.in, Arnab took a dig at his fellow journalist friends and says, "For me, working far away from the machinations and intrigue of Lutyens journalism, the collective outrage of Lutyens journalists at the fact that I got the interview is amusing."
One of them has-been an anchor who desperately lobbies for an opportunity to be invited on my Newshour debates, even put out a tweet asking why the prime minister chose to give an interview to me and not hold a press conference.
Embarrassed by the angry reactions, she deleted the tweet later. I thought her question was intellectually disjointed. Across the world, the first exclusive interviews are given to anchors and channels who command viewership. Not to those who nobody watches. Period."
He clearly targeted Sagarika for her critical tweet on the interview without of course mentioning her name.
A brief history of Arnab Goswami
For years now, Indian viewers every night (nights after nights) have tolerated Arnab--the "hunter" gunning down guests on his show if they refuse to toe his line.
The man, who fired every salvo on his guests, for the sake of 'nation'alism (as the nation wants to know), in the process pilloried the "accused" and mutilated their ego like an old piece of cloth. Such is his power.
Many distinguished clients who otherwise love to see themselves on the TV screen every night have stopped entertaining his invitations. Those few bravehearts who are still seen on his show and continue to rebel against the biggest yell-master of our time must be nursing several bruises.
Then there are again those visitors to the anchor's den who are Arnab's darlings and quite obviously they love to have public chit-chat.
The suited-booted anchor not only yells and humiliates his visitors, but on many occasions we have seen hints of tears on the eyes of the faint-hearted.
Such merciless grilling probably happens only against alleged criminals in police custody. This is not the usual script of a TV show, but Arnab is the man who proudly claims to have changed the way audiences watch and digest news.
The big question: Is this journalism?
Sorry, Mr Arnab Goswami, stop thumping your chest. Your style of functioning of inviting guests to your AC studio is not journalism. It is pure laziness on your part to step outside your comfort zone.
Real journalists are people who walk miles in the hinterlands of places like Chhattisgarh and Assam in search of stories. In recent times, we have seen journalists mostly from small towns and villages being targeted by their adversaries for speaking the truth. Many have died in the line of duty.
So, next time you raise your finger and shake your head in anger in front of the camera, remember the real "nation" is not caged inside your TV studio. So, please step outside and feel the air and pulse of the nation.