‘The English media is being pigeon-holed’

24 December 2007

The branding of the “English media” in India as “elitist, pseudo-secular, left-wing, liberal, disconnected, rootless, pro-Muslim, anti-Hindu, pro-Congress, anti-BJP”—as if the English media is one animal; as if all of us receive our assignments and paycheques from Prakash Karat if not the Pope himself—would have gone down as one of the most successful campaigns undertaken under the right-wing captaincy of L.K. Advani, if only it weren’t so subversive in its intent.

Essentially, the premise has been as kindergarten-ish as George W. Bush: either you are with “us” or against “us”.

If you can tom-tom Hindutva as the greatest liberating force on earth, you are with “us”; if not you are anti-Hindu. If you can wear your blinders (supplied) and only see Gujarat’s stratospheric rise under Narendra Modi, you are with “us”; if not you are anti-Gujarat. If you can suspend your disbelief and applaud slaughter as statecraft you are with “us”, if not you are pro-Muslim. If you can call Sonia Gandhi names, you are with “us”, if not you are pro-Congress. Etcetera.

Certainly, the “English media” is not without fault. We get many things wrong; probably, we get everything wrong. We must be questioned, criticised, scrutinised, corrected.

But the result of this Goebbelsian campaign is an extraordinary (and growing) cynicism of the “English media” that plays right into the hands of those who sowed it and pays them rich dividends. Picking holes and splitting hairs has become a fine art, and a national pastime especially among adherents to the “cause” who cannot distinguish between journalism and propaganda, news and opinion, journalists and pamphleteers.

That hallucinatory state of mind got amply reflected in a chat that RAJDEEP SARDESAI , the editor-in-chief of CNN-IBN, had with viewers on the channel’s website this evening. In the wake of the victory of Narendra Modi in the Gujarat elections, and the channel’s perceived bias against him, Sardesai ended up batting the usual bouncers.

***

Vijay: The English media is biased against Modi and BJP. “Many” are pro-Congress. An easy way to increase the TRPs is rake up the post-Godhra issue. Why don’t you talk about Godhra or Nandigram?

Rajdeep Sardesai: I think there is an attempt to pigeonhole people, especially the English media, in pro- and anti-camps, especially in the context of Gujarat. Why can’t we discuss issues honestly and dispassionately without attaching labels? At CNN-IBN, we speak on a range of issues from Godhra to post-Godhra to Nandigram.

Raju: Mr. Rajdeep, can you accept it (the victory of Modi) is a defeat of media, particularly CNN-IBN also? Because the media is showing maligning and insulting pictures of Gujarat everytime in the name of Modi!

RS: A victory for Modi is not a defeat for the media, it is the defeat of the Congress party. Far from showing an insulting side of Gujarat, we have attempted to show all sides of the Gujarat story, the good, the bad and the ugly. I might add here that in every poll we did on Gujarat, we said Modi was winning.

Sareeta:Why do you think the media failed miserably to predict such overwhelming majority of BJP despite all odds? The English media was optimistic till the last minute that there would be a Congress swing and anti-establishment buzz throughout the state, but it didn’t happen. Modi dislikes English media strongly for this biased and parochial attitude for the media’s so-called pseudosecular tilt. He has not yet given any interview to any news channel, last time it was bad blood in the Karan Thapar show. How do you foresee the English media’s relationship with Modi will go from now? Will it be anti- or pro-Modi now when the Gujratis have given their verdict in huge numbers?

RS: I think the media and pollsters got Saurashtra horribly wrong. We cannot escape responsibility for that. But let me be honest: at no stage, did I feel that the Congress had any chance in Gujarat. In fact, I’ve just won a single malt bet for predicting more than a 110 seats for the BJP!! I think we need to look at Narendra Modi and Moditva without the ideological blinkers. I think the media tends to look at the Modi phenomenon in black and white terms. We either demonise him or lionise him. We should analyse and report on him in a more complex manner.

Rao: Rajdeep. Don’t you feel that “Moditva” is a creation of the media, now a much used word in elitist English media, to try and draw a line between Modi and BJP?

RS: I think there is a new strand of Hindutva politics that Modi is injecting. It combines an aggressive, muscular commitment to religious identity, but also a strong commitment to governance and developmental issues. The politics of Moditva revolves around the personality of an individual, hence the use of the term.

Whizkid_NO1: Why is Rajdeep Sardesai being seen as someone who has become biased?

RS: Because, as I said earlier, we are dividing people into “them” versus “us” based on our own ideological blinkers. I dream of an India that allows greater space for debate and dissent without accusing people of bias simply if we dont agree with everything they say. As a journalist, my aim is to report what I see.

Suyash: Modi’s positive aspects and what he did for Gujarat were not illustrated by the media. Don’t you think so Rajdeepji? Because it’s quite obivious without this he must have not won the hearts of Gujarat.

RS: Modi has definitely won the minds of a large section of people living in Gujarat. I agree his positive aspects need to be looked at more honestly. The media can’t see Gujarat as an ideological battleground only; it must be also seen as a state on the move.

Aamit: You say, “I think there is an attempt to pigeonhole people, especially the English media, in pro and anti camps.” Then how would describe the concerted and chartered media propaganda against Modi, which we have been seeing on channels like CNN-IBN?

RS: Only last week, a Hindustan Times media critic accused us of being unabashedly pro-Modi! I guess we must be doing something right at CNN-IBN to attract such diverse opinions. We have never run any campaign against Modi. We have, as I said, attempted to present every shade of opinion in and outside the state.

(The transcript has been corrected for spellings, punctuation and grammar)

Read the full text here: The live chat

Photograph: IBN live

Crossposted on churumuri.com

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3 Responses to “‘The English media is being pigeon-holed’”

  1. Nisha Says:

    English media can go on a denial or a defensive when the offensive has failed so badly. But facts and assessments of those facts are for all to see. There was a consistent effort by the likes of Rajdeep Sardesai, Karan Thapar, Barkha Dutt and other johny come latelys to project themselves as secular when in fact they were only exposed as being fiercely communal – yes anti Hindu and pro Muslim all the way, all along… when by attacking BJP, BJP ideology and BJP eaders and by not questioning Congress or Congress ideology of one family tree leadership, corruption and anti development the media has proved they are slaves of someone – who they best know. Even till the last vote was counted and results published, Pranay Roy and others kept on demeaning Modi and attacking him, expressing great fear for the country if he came to power thus humiliating the democratic mandate of 5.5 crore people and thumping their own biased and baseless views. Poeple like you think that you represent India and you weild power over the minds of people. Go fly a kite for now it should be clear that despite all your attempts, you do not and will not be able to accomplish anything.

  2. AnIndianMuslim Says:

    Gujrat Election – Modi’s Hinduism and Muslims

    ——————————————————————————–

    Question: Why the person like Modi got elected again by the people of Gujrat ?
    Answer: Because today “the people of Gujrat” have firm belief in Modi, his policies, his actions and his words.

    But, it also means something else to the innocent people who were “burned alive” and “innocent lives which were destroyed before the birth” under the rule of the same administration, where Mr. Narendra Modi was holding the most powerful position in the state of Gujrat.

    What has happened today, Dec 23, 2007 is not a matter of surprise because
    Those who believe in the message of hate have won again,
    those who believe the Modi version of hindu faith won again, and
    those who believe in killing innocent lives have won again.

    Can a society be such a heartless ?
    Can modi version of Hindu faith be such a crual ?
    Does the Gujratis or Gujrati society as a whole social organization, believe that burning or killing the Muslims and their children is an act of their victory ?
    “THIS IS A QUESTION TO A SOCIETY OR THE PEOPLE WHO MANDATE THE MODI AND APPROVE THE ACTIONS OF NARENDRA MODI” –
    Do you approve the acts of Modi, the person who endorses the burning of the Men, the women and their children alive, because of their religious faith ? In a country which claims the protection of all the faiths, a country which claims the respect for all the faiths.
    Do you approve that the looting of the wealth of the neighbour is an act of pride ?
    Do you approve that the insulting the women or making comments on the women is the matter of pride or Is it a social norm of the society ?
    Shouldn’t the law of land be respected ???
    Why not, “the Law” be given the highest position in this social structure?
    Why the law enforcement agency is unfair towards Muslims as even today innocent Muslims are behind the bars and there is no justice for them as they have not been proven guilty yet ?
    How can such a system could provide the fair justice to everyone ?

    Insha Allah(By the will of Almighty, the greatest power of the universe), I hope a better time will certainly going to come in future when “THE LAW OF THE LAND” will be respected by all
    and “JUSTICE” will be served by “THE LAW OF THE LAND” AND NOT BY “THE LAW BREAKERS” .

  3. TrueIndian Says:

    My Dear “Indianmuslim”, at least now one must be matured enough to understand that what happened in Godhra was a RECTION what muslims started. Here again the blame is not on the community. But the point is that we cannot argue on the grounds as to which side the dameage was more and of course it cannot be measured. If muslims were affected so were Hindus. But the fact remains that lakhs of Muslims benefit by Mr.Modi’s leadership and the growth that he has contributed to Gujarat. It was not for Hindus…but for Gujarat.


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