OpIndia recently had a conversation with one of the most prolific news anchors in the country, Arnab Goswami, the Editor-in-chief and owner of the Republic TV News Network. In conversation with OpIndia’s Nupur Sharma, Arnab Goswami talked on a range of issues, spanning from the circumstances that led him to leave his job and start his media venture, Republic TV’s soaring success, his style of loud and persistent journalism and his views on his implacable detractors.
Elaborating about what inspired him to have his own media network, Arnab revealed that while he was working with the Times Now, despite achieving what they did, he and his team was stifled from working freely by being “constantly looked upon over their shoulders”. Arnab added that he wasn’t truly free to pursue his areas of interest while working in the Times Now, making him realise that he can only attain the complete “Freedom” to do as he wished by having his own media network.
“When I questioned myself what will give me complete and absolute freedom, I realise that my news channel will grant me that freedom. That’s one of the reasons how Republic TV started,” Arnab said.
Arnab’s take on accusations of BJP bankrolling Republic TV News network
When asked if BJP leaders held a stake in his channel and Republic TV would not have started had it not been for the BJP’s support, Arnab rubbished the accusations levelled against him, saying it is done by those who harboured professional jealousy against him. He added that Asianet News Network bought 15 per cent stake in his channel and the remaining 85 per cent was owned by him. He said that Rajiv Chandrashekhar made a professional decision of investing in his channel and he had stepped down when he joined the BJP.
“Rajiv made an excellent business decision by investing in Republic TV through Asianet Network. The company had grown since then manifold and they have made excellent returns on their investment. In fact, they have sold their share and currently hold only 6 per cent stake. About close to 90 per cent stake is owned by me,” Arnab said while denouncing the accusations that BJP leaders bankrolled Republic TV in its incipient days.
He also revealed that Rajeev Chandrashekhar and he continue to be great friends and hardly talk business.
Lutyens Cabal is not loyal to any ideology but to their own self-interest and self-preservation
Arnab was also unsparing against the left-leaning Lutyens Cabal, claiming that the members of the clique were not loyal to any ideology but to “self-interest and self-preservation”. He added that the Lutyens cabal is lamenting today because they have been deprived of the access, privilege and money that they once enjoyed before PM Modi got elected to power.
“After PM Modi came to power, they are no longer getting entry to the super-elite clubs in Delhi. They are now dinosaurs. They are not getting entry into the power corridors of Delhi. Money is not coming in, privilege is not coming, access is not coming. They have no allegiance to any ideology. These people have abused the notions of Freedom of Expression, that is enshrined in the Constitution. They are the followers of Burhan Wani,” Arnab thundered.
Arnab defends his style and brand of journalism
About the accusations that he pursues the case for too long and represents a loud brand of journalism, Arnab defended himself saying that it is his style and he doesn’t believe in having soft conversations and putting up pretences. Arnab also asserted that he persisted with the stories for too long so that sweeping them under the rug is no longer possible for the authorities. He cites the relentless coverage of Republic TV in Sushant Singh Rajput’s case that led the investigation to be transferred to the CBI.
“I will push a case for too long because I believe If I don’t push a case for long, Sushant Singh Rajput won’t get justice. It is my channel, I will do what the hell I want to do. Those people who are having problems with my persistence, they are actually jealous of Republic TV,” Arnab said, adding, “The people who do coquettish interviews with scamsters have no moral right to ask me why I do things for too long.”
Arnab also added that he will also relentlessly follow the Palghar mob incident where two sadhus were brutally lynched by a mob while they were on their way to Surat.
I’m not neutral and I have the courage to accept it: Arnab Goswami
Making no bones about it, Arnab unapologetically admitted that he is not neutral. Neutrality in journalism, according to him, is rubbish. He claimed that the lofty notions of exercising neutrality in journalism are harped upon by the self-congratulatory pseudo-leftists
“I have the courage of saying I’m not neutral. Neutrality is a camouflage. I am not calling you penguins but you(Lutyens Cabal) have lost your Antarctica, go find another place to live. There has been a tectonic shift in the thinking of the country. Your lies about being neutral were exposed the moment you came out in the support of Burhan Wani. They give their platform to Nirbhaya’s rapist, citing Freedom of Expression. You don’t have the courage to stand for what is right,” Arnab said.
The Republic TV Editor-in-Chief further elaborated that because of the nexus between the political parties and the journalists, the politicians hold disproportionate power over the scribes, effectively influencing the stories and the news pursued by these journalists.
“State broadcasters are allowed to uplink material for free. Afzal Guru is being eulogised by the news channels. The politicians pull the levers to control these journalists. It is important to develop lever-less journalism. It is equally important to investigate how these journalists live beyond their means. Did a political party use to pay journalists when their treasuries were full? How did some journalists receive large tracts of land as gifts under Congress-ruled states? It might be incidental, but surely it speaks a lot about the sanctimonious show of neutrality that these journalists espouse,” Arnab said.
Arnab Goswami remains firm on his stand on Sabarimala verdict
Responding to the question that if he would change his stand on Sabarimala verdict, Arnab responded that the issue is very close to his heart because it was first his assignment as a journalist to visit the place and report about a woman district magistrate was helping the pilgrims but was not allowed to enter the shrine. He further said while he has been covering politics, he was catapulted to issues such as gender inequality by the gruesome Nirbhaya rape case.
“We must prepare the country for the Uniform Civil Code(UCC). We need to set the right precedent before the country. I have nothing personal against Sabarimala verdict. But, we need to get into the constitutionality of the matters instead of giving importance to personal beliefs,” Arnab said while claiming his stand on the Sabarimala verdict remains the same, against those who have been arguing in the favour of the tradition.
When asked would he ever change his position if facts contrary to his position are laid out, Arnab said that he thinks he is never wrong. Claiming that he follows the principle of “essential truth”, Arnab cited how nobody in the Bollywood came to object actor Kangana Ranaut when she said 99 per cent of them are drug addicts.
Speaking about the rare feat of Republic TV racking up the highest viewership in both Hindi and English segment, Arnab said that it was the sheer hard work of the entire organisation that has made the achievement possible.
Withdrawing Delhi riots book was a complete assault on the Freedom of Expression: Arnab Goswami
Lashing out at the craven submission of Bloomsbury, Arnab said that it is important that the truth about the Delhi riots come out in open. He alleged that the Delhi riots were falsified to portray them as an anti-Muslim pogrom. Arnab emphatically stated that by pulling back the publication of the Delhi riots book, Bloomsbury has attacked the Freedom of Expression and it should be banned from publishing any book in India for this transgression.
Arnab also shared an anecdote about the violence that took place in the wake of anti-CAA protests that rocked several parts of the country in December 2019. He was in Varanasi on a personal trip when he was advised against visiting a minority-dominated lane because riots had erupted there some time ago. Arnab claims that just like the violence in Jamia Millia Islamia was orchestrated, similarly, the riots in that lane in Varanasi was also orchestrated from the outsiders, to build a narrative that the violence was systematically meted out against the minority community.
The full interview can be watched here: