Arnab Goswami’s prime-time debate last Friday created a bit of a furore on Twitter over the weekend.
A clip from Goswami’s show was circulated on Twitter along with the accusation that he had slammed the people of Kerala as ‘the most shameless bunch of people ever’.
Turns out the clip being circulated is edited carefully to omit Goswami’s real target(s) and make it seem like he was talking about the people of Kerala. He was not.
Here’s how Goswami began the debate.
“How much malice can you have for your own country? How much can you hate your own county, and how utterly unpatriotic can you be to spread an absolute lie that Arab Sheikhs will help people hit by the Kerala floods, much more than the government of India wants to? I am asking this question tonight because it must be asked: how compromised—and my next question is to the fake media—how compromised you must be as journalists, as the Lutyens media proven to be once again…to tell everyone that they have facts and information that while the UAE will give Kerala 700 crore rupees, the terrible Modi government will actually give 100 crore less.”
Target 1: Lutyens media
Goswami goes on to say: “And viewers, how much hate must this Tukde-Tukde, anti-India group must feel for our forces, that they actually sat together and they conspired to spread the fake news, that the Modi government is going to do less for the people of Kerala than the Dubai Sheikhs, so just that the focus would shift away somehow from the shining bravery the sacrifice and sheer dedication of the Army, Navy and Air Force?”
Target 2: Tukde-Tukde gang, anti-India group
He ends his sermon thus: “This anti-India lobby wanted the focus to be away from the forces so they had to do something, so they came up with this big lie. Viewers, you might not believe it—but it was one big lie…It is the biggest fake news story of the entire year. It is the biggest plot and conspiracy on our soil against our own country’s image—and here at Republic today we will expose that lie and we will ask what hate does this Tukde Tukde Lobby have for India? Or the Congress, what hate it has for India that they played active role in spreading this fake news? We have investigated this and I have a lot to have a lot to share with you tonight.”
Target 3: Congress
This was followed by a little report, which featured Kerala CM announcing that UAE would extend an aid of Rs 700 crore. The report also had clips of Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat and Congress leader Tom Vadakkan urging the government to accept this aid.
Back to the studio, Goswami begins the debate by stating: “What a shame, what a conspiracy, what a cheap act…how anti-national can you get…how much hate…how much malice. But most of all let me tell you Surabhi, as I start the debate with you, this group is shameless…is the most shameless bunch of Indians I have ever seen…they have gone around spreading the lie religiously…I don’t know what they get for it, whether they get paid for it? Do they get paid money for abusing their own country? Are they part of a group? Who are they funded by? Point is this is a conspiracy to malign India…[emphasis added].”
So, Goswami was not expressly talking about Keralites. He was slamming the Congress, the Left, the break-India brigade, the Tukde-Tukde gang and all those people who spread the “fake news” about UAE offering Rs 700 crore to India. (You can watch the entire debate here.)
Malayalis should not take Goswami’s ad hominem insults to heart because the last category—people who spread “fake news” about UAE’s aid offer—includes Republic TV itself. On August 22, Republic TV held a debate on the said aid and whether the government should accept it or not. At one point, Goswami asked his panellist, Gaurav Bhatia, National Spokesperson of BJP: “Why don’t you take the assistance? There is no rule which says you can’t take Rs 700 crore from UAE…if it helps the people.” How utterly unpatriotic of Goswami.
While Goswami and his comrades are now thundering against “fake news lobby”, the truth is that the news of support from UAE first came from the Prime Minister’s Office on August 18.
This tweet came after tweets by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, on offering help to Kerala and his love for the state.
After this, on August 21, Kerala CMO handle stated that he was informed that UAE was willing to give Rs 700 crore in aid.
The CMO account even tagged the PMO on the subsequent tweet.
There was no denial to this tweet from either the UAE or from the PM for days to come. Instead, we read news reports quoting unnamed government sources on why the PM was unlikely to accept the aid.
Then, on August 24, the UAE’s ambassador to India told The Indian Express that there has been no official announcement so far by the UAE on any specific amount as financial aid. The report quoted Ahmed Albanna: “The assessment of relief needed for the flood and aftermath is ongoing. Announcing any specific amount as financial aid, I don’t think it is final, since it is still ongoing.”
Note that the ambassador is not denying offering aid but only stated that the amount was not final. Where the Rs 700-crore figure came from remains a mystery, but one that involves the PMO too. It was hardly a case of “fake news” being spread by “Lutyens media”, or “Tukde-Tukde gang” or any of Goswami’s many imagined India enemies as the Republic TV editor would have us believe.
Update: The story has been updated to include tweets by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan.