Arnab Goswami is the quintessential prime-time Indian journalist–perennially thirsty for TRPs and bent upon proving that his is the only channel that matters. And yet somehow he is unique too, most glaringly in his decibel levels and hyperbolic reactions, and also in his uncanny knack to endear himself to the urban middle class.
Goswami barges into our living room every night at nine, armed with an army of party spokespersons, and conducts (pardon the euphemism) a debate on absolutely anything under the sun. Even on an Utopian day when not a single human being gets off his or her bed, he will call in a couple of Norfolkian sheep from England and glare at the poor creatures till they wither under his gaze. Under which law do they have the right do they have grazing in Suffolk, when the border between Norfolk and Suffolk has been so clearly defined? He will even thrust a map of the UK in their faces, till they can literally smell the ink off it.
Sometimes you can’t help but wonder whether he is so painfully belligerent in his non-TV life. Whether he scowls at the omlette in his breakfast and forces it to turn into a sandwich. Whether he gives the man who litters the street as much a good sermon as he dishes it out to his TV guests. Or whether the holier-than-thou attitude and all the screeching and the all the indignation is only a facial mask reserved exclusively for TV. I would bend towards the latter view, that Goswami carries a toolkit of facial masks that he puts on during his TV time.
The full range of his facial toolkit was on display during a typical NewsHour debate recently. First up it’s only curiosity. He asks a Congress spokesperson as to how a Congress MP from Kerala can call a rape victim a prostitute.
Spokesperson: Oh, the weather is absolutely fine in Kerala, no need to worry.
Goswami: I need a second opinion on this issue.
(Now any right-thinking person will clearly notice that this was just a willful diversion, and Goswami actually needed the time to rummage through his kit and change his mask. Out comes indignation.)
Goswami: No, you are ducking my question. How dare he call the bla bla bla.
Spokesperson: Of course, a few showers are predicted later in the week, especially near the coast.
(Now Goswami hurriedly puts on fury.)
Goswami: But, Mr.X, this is ridiculous! Pure bigotry! How dare he call the bla bla bla!? How is he still out on the loose!?
Spokesperson: But, of course, if you wish you can arrange your backwater cruise before the rains set in.
(Now Goswami is absolutely seething. Completely bent out of shape. He bangs the specially fabricated toughened glass of his desk with his fist.)
Goswami: Now this is the limit, Mr.X. This is the worst kind of male chauvinism! This country will never forgive this minister for these dastardly remarks! If anyone in the society today has any ounce of shame left, they will hang their heads because of this man!
Spokesperson: Absolutely. You can get the tour arranged from the tourism office. Enjoy your stay in Kerala! And don’t forget to try out the fish curry!
(At which point Goswami, having ran out of facial masks, simply rips out the cord of his TV monitor. At which point the spokesperson disappears from the screen in front of him.
And at which point you must have noticed that the above conversation is a grossly exaggerated version of the truth.)