The mighty always tries to appropriate agency of all sections of the people. He or she will continuously speak for a large group of people without having any attempt to identifying with them. This happens with media in general also.
But when it comes to the Times Now editor-in-chief, Arnab Goswami this becomes more uglier and dangerous than it is otherwise felt. Among many things he does to differentiate among other channels is to self -assign Times Now, the role of mouthpiece of the State.
This, the channel does by whipping up its daily quota of controversy mostly around nationalism and national security. After Modi government took over, the channel’s righteous indignation against all sorts of dissent whether it comes from mainstream opposition or from the marginalised sections is very evident. By doing so Goswami and Times Now successfully creates the ‘other,’ thus helping those in power to target them more easily.
This he has been doing consistently with relative ease, ostensibly because of the ‘power ‘ he wields as the news anchor of ‘News Hour’, which is touted as “India’s most watched show.” The percentage of the people, said to be watching his pyrotechnics show is never revealed by him or by Times Now!
This has happened several times. The latest being how Asad Ashraf, a journalist was branded as an ISIS sympathiser during a debate on News Hour on Monday. Asad Ashraf, an invited panelist was questioning the mainstream narrative built around the Batla House encounter. This was more than enough for Arnab Goswami to despise him and term the young journalist as the sympathiser of barbaric ISIS.
Questioning the State narrative on encounter killings, would naturally catapult one to the status of anti-national. No questions should be raised when a particular issue is deemed to have a direct bearing on national security.
This not an innocuous, as this is how main stream media serves the purpose of those in power by manufacturing consent among the passive, apolitical middle class.
What Noam Chomsky and Edward S Herman said about US media being effective and powerful ideological institutions of the state by carrying out propaganda by internalised assumptions and selective censorship is evident here also by the kind of victimisation, Aranab Goswami and his Times Now does to those who question the State and its oppressive policies.
Labelling Asad Ashraf as an ISIS sympathiser, because he posed pertinent questions on the alleged encounter at Batla House, might have been done with little ease because of his religious identity. The modus operandi was the same when Arnab Goswami called Umar Khalid, the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student an anti- national. This was done after Times Now aired allegedly doctored images of the cultural evening titled ‘A Country Without Post Office’ organised in the campus to commemorate the anniversary of the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. The students also questioning death penalty, Kashmir’s struggle for self determination and caste violence during the course of the cultural programme. But Arnab Goswami had no qualms in despising Umar Khalid as anti-national with out even checking his facts.
Many studies have come out how media techniques acts as vital tools for the authoritarian agendas of the state. Voices that represent the imagined other, has either to be silenced, or to be de-legitimised. The high decibel theatrics of the anchor might be construed as a fight waged on their behalf by unsuspecting middle class society.
Thus it reinforces the images, the State subtly creates about religious minorities, Kashmiris, people from north-eastern states, Dalits, sexual minorities etc.
Many analysts have come out with studies how the media willingly connived with the Bush administration in propagating its idea of national security by creating ‘with us or against us’ slogan to carry forward its fight against terror.
Times Now by self appointing it as the sole spokesperson of the people, constructs through its deliberate selection of subjects for ‘News Hour’ debates which suits the State’s narrative on many issues- be it caste, ethnic minorities, religious minorities etc.
Deliberately whipped up anxieties around national security by Arnab Goswami always cements the dominant notion about Muslims and Dalits as ‘the other’. The narratives put forward by the ‘Times Now’ by calling Asad Ashraf an ISIS sympathiser and Umar Khalid as an anti-national is forced up on the viewers devoid of any serious discussion on the issues involved.
Debates are something the State does not want. So does those who strive to manufacture consent for those in power.