Inspired by John Oliver’s journalistic big scoop of an interview with Edward Snowden in Russia, India’s media superhero Arnab Goswami decided to take it upon himself to undertake the same mission. He decided to take it one step further by making it a live telecast on Newshour. He reached the interview location in Moscow at 5.30 pm, one hour in advance of the time Newshour begins in India. Snowden was expected to arrive at 6.15 pm. After getting the crew ready, Arnab got into his positioned seat by 6 pm. Snowden didn’t arrive even till 6.30 pm, time for Newshour to begin. Yet he got the camera rolling and started the telecast for a billion eager viewers in India. Sitting in front of an empty chair, Goswami started off with “Is the Pakistani Government in cahoots with America for obtaining classified information on Indian soldiers? The nation wants to know! I am here in Russia to meet Edward Snowden to find the answer. Stay tuned as we’re expecting him to arrive in our studio any time soon”. After 10 more minutes of continuous monologue on TV and Snowden still not turning up, Arnab gets irritated and signals for a commercial break.
After 5 minutes of nervously fidgeting around, fearing a major humiliation and mentally preparing hashtags to use such as #SnowdenInsultsIndia, #IndiaStoodUpagainstSnowden, #ShameOnSnowden, he is hugely relieved when Snowden turns up after all. After a handshake and exchanging pleasantries, he asks Snowden to take the seat and goes on air. The camera zooms in on Snowden and then back to Arnab, who starts with “Never Ever, Ever Ever make me wait”. Having set the tone for the interview, Arnab goes straight to the basics. “Mr. Snowden, what is your opinion on India-Pakistan relationship?”, and as Snowden utters the first word of a diplomatic response, Arnab cuts him off and asks “As part of the NSA files you were able to obtain, is there any information that Pakistan has illegally obtained details about the Indian security systems?”
Snowden is flummoxed as to how these questions even make sense and while he wonders how to respond, Arnab pulls out his laptop and shows Snowden the other panelists who are on the show and are waiting to hear his response. Snowden tells that he has handed over the information to journalists who should be aware of the implications of revealing such information. “This is ridiculous”, blares Arnab and goes on to list numerous instances of Pakistani journalists showing incompetence in reporting. As the discussion moves on to if Indians really care about their army secrets being in possession of Pakistan or USA, Arnab tells that Indians only give a little or no shit about it, based on a few interviews made by his crew in the Times Now head office.
He moves on to simplify the issue by saying that Indians would be more concerned about the spying, if say Pakistan cricket board has secret information about Indian cricket players and their girlfriends/wives. As a sample, he gives a file for Snowden to view. (Not shown on camera what the content is). He tells that in the file is a private photo of an Indian cricketer with his wife taken at a beach. Snowden asks him how Times Now got access to this photo in the first place. Arnab smiles briefly to himself (“Times of India dude. Bit*h please”) and goes on to shut Snowden off by saying that is none of his business.
The interview ended with a clip of many Indians stating “Yes, I would be highly concerned if Pakistan has access to such photos”, thus simplifying the collective Indian psyche. What was edited out was the fact that most of these guys also responded by asking “Can we also get that access?”. After the interview, Arnab was seen to be asking the same question to Snowden.