After the Maharashtra government decided to launch a witch-hunt against Republic TV, Arnab Goswami has been fighting a lone battle. With other journalists, the Editors Guild and even the NBA abandoning the channel owing to perhaps his high ratings and in part, ideological differences, Arnab Goswami has often declared that he has to advocate for himself if he wants to come out of this scot-free.
The Mumbai Police has hounded Republic TV, its Editor-In-Chief Arnab Goswami and its over 1,000 strong editorial staff relentlessly since June this year, right after tainted encounter cop Sachin Vaze was reinstated. While the FIR and the Hansa Research Report, based on which the FIR was filed, named India Today, Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh, held a press conference only 48 hours after the FIR was filed against India Today, to name Republic TV as the main culprit in the TRP scam.
It is to be remembered that Republic TV was not mentioned in any FIR or complaint by either BARC or Hansa Research. In fact, when the press conference took place, there was no material evidence to suggest Republic TV was involved in any sort of malpractice. However, Commissioner Singh claimed that the Hansa Research Report and the FIR based on it named Republic TV, which was proven to be a downright lie.
Since then, much has been written about this saga. There was evidence of witness tampering and planting evidence that had emerged, with a customer (in whose home a barometer was installed) alleged to his neighbour that he was being forced to name Republic TV. Further, there was evidence that the person heading this investigation was encounter cop Sachin Vaze, who had joined Shiv Sena when he was out of the police force for 16 long years owing to his alleged involvement in a custodial torture and death case. Then, the information had emerged that proved how it was indeed India Today that had been fined Rs 5 lacs by the BARC Disciplinary Council for viewership malpractice.
All the evidence notwithstanding, the Mumbai Police went ahead and filed an FIR against all 1000 journalists and members of the editorial team of Republic TV. Further, the police summoned all their financial records since the channel’s inception.
During the Sunday debate anchored by Arnab Goswami, the editor-in-chief of Republic TV gave a roaring statement of intent. During the show, several statements were made by panellists about the hounding of Republic TV and how, this is perhaps the first time since the Emergency that such a brazen attempt is being made by any government to muzzle the media.
Arnab Goswami had even opened the phone lines where viewers from various parts of the country called up to express solidarity with Arnab and dismay at the conduct of the Uddhav Thackeray led Maharashtra government.
Ending the show, Arnab Goswami said that he would not compromise and would win this battle, that the Maharashtra government has foisted upon him.
Arnab Goswami is a MAN OF STEEL.. "They say compromise or there will be a Blood Bath .. I will swim in the blood & first of all I will NOT Bleed" 👏👏 Listen to the Man himself pic.twitter.com/rPCSXRCbNC— Rosy (@rose_k01) October 25, 2020
Arnab Goswami in his closing remarks hinted that some people had asked him to “compromise”, however, saying that these are the habits of ‘dirtbags’, he said that no compromise would be met. He then said:
“Some people say, you know, we can bleed you. We can go after your investors, we can go after your advertisers. I want to tell you, if this is going to be a blood bath, you won’t survive it. I will swim in the blood and come out of it. First of all, I will not bleed. Let’s be clear who is going to bleed in the blood bath. Liars will bleed”.
Sending out a message to “hypothetical police officers”, Arnab Goswami further says, “don’t you dare suggest compromise! No nudge-nudge, no wink-wink, no compromise. No favours, no lies, no compromise. No pulling back once we are on the front foot. And the message is going clear right now. We will open all the skeletons. I love being among skeletons. There is something very uplifting about being among skeletons because you realise that there are some skeletons that don’t even have a spine. Those are the skeletons we like to observe more closely. Don’t we?”. We don’t have Swiss bank accounts, lavish weddings etc”.
Clearly, in his closing statement, Arnab Goswami hinted that he was approached for a ‘compromise’, however, he would not be taking up that offer, and instead, continue to do stories that expose the Maharashtra government and the state machinery, including the Mumbai Police, that it is using the issue diktats.
During the entire witch-hunt, it is essential to note that the Lutyens media remained stoically silence. In fact, the NBSA even went ahead to chastise Republic TV, instead of condemning the state-sponsored witch-hunt against him.
While NBA said that it stands for freedom of speech and expression of the editorial staff of Republic TV even though the network is not its member and does not subscribe to its Code, it took great pain to not say anything directly against the Maharashtra government and Mumbai Police. Although the NBA tried to do a balancing act by criticising the police action and the Republic, in fact, the entire statement is slamming Republic, with some text thrown in to express concern about journalists and freedom of speech.
In the second para itself, the statement says, “we do not approve of the kind of journalist that is being practised by Republic TV”. Then it adds that while it stands for freedom of speech, it also endorses the practice of ethics in journalism, and fair and balanced reporting, implying that the reporting by Republic is not ethical and fair.
In the entire statement, the NBA sought to make a difference between journalists working in Republic TV and the channel itself, exposing its deep hatred for Arnab Goswami. It appealed Mumbai Police to ‘ensure that no journalists are made victims of this crossfire’. This directly means that they are ok with Mumbai police hounding Republic and its promoter-editor, and they are only concerned about the journalists. They appealed that journalists working with Republic to not cross the Lakshman Rekha, means asking them to revolt against Arnab Goswami.
The NBA states that “it does not support toxic content and unethical journalism”, thereby passing a verdict on Republic TV.
In fact, the NBA again included its opposition to the CBI probe in the TRP scam case, saying it expresses serious concern about the FIR registered by UP Police and subsequent transfer of the case to CBI. It requested the UP govt to withdraw the FIR referred to CBI.
With the entire media ecosystem and political class standing against Arnab Goswami, his declaration of ‘no compromise’ holds immense value as it is a clear indication that the story is not over and we are set to see more fireworks over the next few weeks.