It appears that journalists are being given so much bhaav nowadays they forget what their job is
Wednesday, Sep 11 00:00:00, 2002
It appears that journalists are being given so much bhaav nowadays they forget what their job is. This was clear from the Star Newscoverage of the December 13 attack on Parliament. Not so much the coverage,really, as the evening wrap-ups. We cannot forget that one Star TVcameraman held an unwavering focus while his neighbour was shot and his ownlens cap shattered. If the accounts of the reporter inside Central Hall and thereporter outside were occasionally at variance, that is only to be expected inthe aftermath of a terrorist attack, especially when the Government were notsaying anything themselves.
But to read the evening newsPrannoy Roy himself descended from his citadel, breathing fire. The mainheadline was something like "Militants today mounted an attack on thebastion of Indian democracy," which kind of rhetoric is best left to theeditorial pages. TV channels of course don't have editorial pages, so I waitedfor the Star NewsHour at ten p.m.
PoliticalEditor Rajdeep Sardesai was there with his hair brushed (he'd been dishevelledand careworn during the day's events) with reporter Arnab Goswami (ditto). Thepanel had on it Somnath Chatterjee, Kamal Nath and Pramod Mahajan, which was areasonable mix given the circumstances. Chatterjee had his say first, and beganby expressing regret for the deaths of the policemen and woman. (The other twokept saying "'of course, we condemn the attack' of course, we condoletheir deaths, but'.") Then Mahajan spoke, and he was obviously stunned andsorrowful. After all, he is Parliamentary Affairs Minister.
KamalNath when it was his turn spared barely a sentence for condemnation andcondolence before launching into an attack on the Government. "The PrimeMinister said yesterday that Parliament is under threat'. Intelligence agencieshave been warning of an attack for a month'." Now Sardesai cut in, anditalics cannot convey his pain, his incredulity, his horror: "Surely,Mr Kamal Nath, you are not choosing this moment to take a dig atthe Government?"
"No,no," Kamal Nath said, and went on, "but still we have a right to knowwhy the threat was ignored'" After a few seconds of this Sardesai cut inagain: "This is a moment for national solidarity, for all of us tostand united as a nation'."
Nowwhat the hell business of Sardesai's was it to talk like this? He is ajournalist; I mean, he's supposed to be a journalist. Perhaps it wasinopportune for Kamal Nath to say such things so soon after the attack, butthat's his business. He's a politician - I mean he's supposed to be apolitician, and any investigative journalist who sees a politician digging hisown grave should either stand politely aside or run and get a shovel.
Besides,Kamal Nath's was a legitimate point of view. His were questions that needed tobe asked, and when the next panel was on air - including, if I recall right,Union Minister of State for Home Swami and one or two Intelligence experts -Sardesai and Goswami did ask them. What was wrong with Kamal Nath's doing so?
Before that, Sardesai and Goswami attempted to find Kamal Nath's statements inaccurate. "This issue [of Intelligence knowledge ofspecific threats] was not raised in Parliament," they said. SomnathChatterjee, who had until now been benignly surveying the squabblers like apedigreed bulldog with a couple of yapping Poms, leaned forward. "That isnot true," he said quietly. "So-and-so raised it in the Lok Sabha onsuch-and-such a date. So-and-so raised it in the Rajya Sabha on such-and-such adate." This was the best bit: the journalist was acting like a statesman.