Thursday, June 30, 2016

Frankly Speaking

Image Courtesy

Frankly Speaking on CNBC18

The month of June triggered a great deal of market volatility. The Sensex was as unpredictable as Subramaniam Swamy. June was also about multiple exits. Rajan said goodbye the Governor’s office, Britain walked away from the European Union, Messi bid adieu to international football, Rahul Gandhi exited the country, and Arnab left behind his interruptive streak, albeit for a day.

While the markets are recovering from  Brexit jitters, Indian media is rattled by the aftershocks of Arnab Goswami’s interview with the Prime Minister. Frankly speaking, a direct interview of any sitting Prime Minister is of great relevance. And I am glad Modi decided to talk to Arnab Goswami and not Rajat Sharma. However, like the markets, there was a huge correction in Arnab Goswami’s notorious adversarial style of interviewing. The sharp decline in frequent interruptions ensured that it was a buying opportunity for rivals. Sagarika Ghose, tweeted, ‘Dear@PMO please hold an open press conference rather than bestow favors on individual journalists.’ But the unbiased champion of free speech deleted her tweet when the interview appeared in the newspaper she works for. 
While most channels were victims of Monday’s bloodbath, a tweet from Aaj Tak called Arnab a chamcha of the Prime Minister. The channel tried to recover lost ground by deleting the tweet and blaming it on human error. The slump in media commodities was obvious when another editor questioned the absence of embers from the Times Now ticker. Shekhar Gupta took it on the chin saying that it was a case of sour grapes for fellow foxes. Whatever be the case, the interview ensured that Times Now indulged in huge profit booking. 

Shattering the aftermath of the interview, the opposition stood afloat by condemning the interview, the interviewer and the interviewee. Arvind Kejriwal felt that Arnab was acting as Modi’s propagandist and not a journalist. One is tempted to ask if Arnab was AAP’s propaganda agent in 2013 when Mr Kejriwal was the guest on the same show. For one, Arnab had adopted a similar non-disruptive pitch and many had called Arnab an AAP stooge. Second, Mr Kejriwal himself prefers a shoot and scoot press conference where no one can ask him any questions.

And finally, Congress stocks tumbled when they said, “Modi ji, let our journalists ask you questions." OUR journalists matlab? If there ever was a medal for axing your own foot, the gold medal goes to the Congress party. 

So, was this media bloodbath because Arnab didn’t ask relevant questions about Kanhaiya Kumar, Arvind Kejriwal, Intolerance and Award Wapasi? Perhaps, Arnab should have asked Prime Minister if it was the bounden duty of a dutiful Hindu woman to pop out quintuplets as suggested by a Yogi!
If you saw the interview, the Prime Minister clearly said, “I request you to not create controversies out of this interview but use it for the larger benefit of the country.” Memories of the puppy analogy must be hounding him before facing the camera. But the national dailies went ahead and picked up the juiciest bone - Swamy. Who wants to talk about Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna?

As for me, the government stocks would have risen if the loud mouths were reprimanded strongly and timely. While the Prime Minister’s defense of Rajan was welcome, it came at a time when Shanghai, Kospi, Nikkei and BJPei were grappling with uncertainty over who the Swamy was. Moreover, doesn’t look like the loud mouths are in a mood to listen. If the BJP wants to build on recovery, it is time for action and not words.
So even after the closing bell there is an awful lot of turmoil among the under performers. The trading for rival channels has temporarily halted. However, their stocks can zoom if Rahul Gandhi decides to give a tell-all interview about where he was, and what he was doing. I'm bullish on NDTV, Headlines Today and CNN. Unless, of course, Rahul decides to grace Times Now again.

Arnab answers his critics in this article.


  1. Frankly speaking is one of my fev show :)

    Read more

    1. Great. Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as you enjoy watching it.

  2. Our journalists?Haha,you give them the gold and I will give them diamond and platinum medals.

    To be serious the PM should control the wild horses of his team.Why didn't he support Rajan when the loudmouth targeted him?He asks the media to not make heroes of such publicity seekers but he himself should rein them and denounce them too.One is forced to assume that he does not want to do this.

    1. His reprimand was too little too late.
      Thanks for dropping by Indu. Always good to see you.

  3. The one who famously said Mia Musharraf got it easy this time and was the mother of surprises. The PM should have called an open media briefing with questions from journos rather than letting Arnab turn into eye candy. Guess, Arnab has some link with BJP with the uncle as a candidate during Assam elections. Modi almost turned into a saint in the election but good he has put foot-in-the-mouth Not-So-Swami in his place.

    1. An open media briefing would be welcome. I wouldn't doubt Arnab's ethics, not now. He was equally non disruptive with Rahul and Arvind Kejriwal. Do read his response in the link towards the end of the post.

  4. The shoulder they chose to fire their guns off was the joker in the pack. Don't reign in such loudmouths at the appropriate time, the nation suffers. I agree with your assumption the will is missing

  5. I like your analogy of stock exchanges extended to media and political thugs. You are a graceful writer who has chosen to meander amidst the obnoxious fumes of politics and paparazzi. If it weren't for the fact that some of those creatures are on a 24X7X365 slugfest of molesting the nation, and by extension, mucking up with our lives by the minutes of a painfully moving clock-hand, I would have quite enjoyed this exquisite piece. You only live so much.

    As for Modi, frankly, my dear friend, I would rather be a beggar in his kingdom than a knight in the states of Unmohan Singh, Houl Gandh-i, Asswind Queasy-wall, Achelash Hardav, and so on and so forth. Not that I don't want someone better to take over. For the life of me, I fail to understand the geniuses toasting that blackguard Can-have-ya, foaming at the mouth at the 'treatment' meted out to him: he, should be shot dead. Period. Yes, call me a fascist if you will. The less said of the mafia barely disguised as media the better.

    1. Thank you USP. Always a delight to read you, even if it's a comment on my blogpost or a Facebook update.

  6. I enjoyed the interview that Arnab hosted. I think the PM was quite candid. And I understand why the other 'journalists' were frothing at their mouths. The state of Indian news is so alarming that almost all of us are sworn off their reporting. These same people who demand that no less than a PM should answer for every idiotic comment were under a deep coma when Maun mohan Singh and Madam were at the helm. How unabashedly the news and media houses are in Congress's pockets is no longer funny as is clear from the tweet that you shared.

    I love reading your calm, incisive views on politics, Alka. It is so difficult to find this kind of unbiased OpEds these days.

    1. Thank you Rachna, coming from a perfectionist and flawless writer, this means a lot.

  7. I read about the interview. I guess, for a man who's known more for his gladiatorial style, one expected him to ask the PM questions relating to increasing communisation, motormouth spokespersons and promises that have yet to be fulfilled.

    1. Some counter questions were warranted, esp on Rajan and loud mouths.

  8. The said interview was simply splendid. One almost kept expecting Arnab to interrupt but it was a refreshing aspect to see him so docile! The PM needs to address the people more often. It is like having a doctor who can improve a patient's condition with his mere positive and confident attitude....the country needs that presently in addition to actions that speak louder than words! Kapil Sibal, Digvijay and Congress in general honestly suffer from foot in the mouth syndrome!

    1. The non disruptive style was refreshing. One could make sense of what the PM wanted to say. But a few counter questions would have made it even better.

  9. thanks for putting this into perspective when it has become making nonsense out of sense a new fad, your article jeered me up and and indeed PMs glib was as facile as could be.

  10. I watched the interview through....It was an event greater than 2014 LS results as was projected by TN.
    Both ,Modi and Arnab handled it professionally and the right msg has gone home to ....Swamy,Rajan,Sagarika,Sardesai,Barkha and loud mouths in Bjp.
    It's entire opposition against Modi.
    It's entire media against Arnab.

    1. There was a message for Barkha too? I missed it. Media is business and, right or wrong, his is the most watched channel. So yes, they don't like him. He doesn't belong to the privileged Lutyens club.

  11. More than two years in, it is a fair expectation for the PM to give a freewheeling interview with a roomful of eminent journalists from the largest publications and TV newschannels.

    1. That would be refreshing and welcome. Wonder why that can't be done?

  12. oh god so much drama going on ... Our journalist!! that's a classic blunder... Loved the reply by Arnab :)

  13. You seem to follow politics too closely. I choose to stay sounds all blame game to me, no matter who is in power!

    Anyway, quite indepth analysis from you.

    1. Yes, I follow media more than politics. Thank you for stopping by.

  14. A very erudite post as usual Alka. It packs a punch !

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