Hafta letters: Dangers of demagoguery, fair reporting, Abhinandan going on TV debates
NL Dhulai

Hafta letters: Dangers of demagoguery, fair reporting, Abhinandan going on TV debates

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

By NL Team

Published on :

Dear Abhinandan,

I’m a PhD student from Germany (also a South Indian, and I agree that South Indians consume a lot more news) and have been a subscriber for a year now. In Hafta 258, you suggested a plan where you would appear on these primetime debates and use that money to bring in student subscribers. Not only is the idea hilarious, it’s also genius! Why not help Newslaundry on the expense of these doofs, haha!

I also wanted to write because you have been receiving a lot of flak, some of it makes sense and some doesn’t. I think you shouldn’t quit Awful and Awesome or NL Hafta. You bring a certain charm to these programmes, and without it they would be mundane. A little charm and humour go a long way. This is my first letter to you guys, and I’m so proud of the work you all do. Shoutout to Manisha! YASSS QUEEENNN!

Warmth and love,

Krutika Patri


Hi, NL team,

I’m not a current subscriber because your login page isn’t allowing me to renew my subscription. This is pertaining to something that often comes up in Haftas, the question of engaging with “loony” arguments.

I have picked up Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism recently because the author’s name stuck in my head after Madhu’s recommendation of her work in previous Haftas – and it seemed ominously relevant. The first section of the book deals with the rise of antisemitic sentiments and parties throughout the 19th century, eventually leading to the rise of the Nazi party.

Arendt observes that antisemitic sentiments against Jews for a large part of the 19th century were coming from those she calls “crackpots and charlatans” – people that the intellectual mainstream did not deign to engage with as they were not logically coherent – and were largely misconceptions formed by the masses and pseudointellectuals who were socially isolated from the Jewish society. However, some political parties realised that antisemitic sentiments in speeches attracted and roused crowds, and began to use it as a tool to be politically relevant. This eventually led to a refocusing on the community itself as a problem.

I wanted to know the Hafta panel’s take on this: is it imperative for liberals and journalists to engage with the “loony” elements since these sentiments that are spoken in hushed tones within four walls can become mass movements of hate if a demagogue appears and echoes them for his own political relevance?

A side note: Hitler used a fake document called the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which spoke of a global Jewish conspiracy, to give his own cause legitimacy. It seems fake news and its political utility is not unique to the 21st century.


Sagar Tetali


Hello NL,

Regarding Abhinandan going on news debates, I saw a bunch of people who don’t know about Newslaundry sharing the debate video. Get the panelists to mention Newslaundry on TV when introducing you and you can make a lot more than the Rs 6,000 by getting more subscribers.

Thanks and regards,

Mahendra Varma


Hi all,

Congratulations for all the good work you guys are doing.

Weekly TV Newsance is getting better and expanding in the right direction.

I really liked Meghnad’s recent interview with Congress MP Rajeev Gowda and would like to see some collaboration, or at least an interview, with Prof Faizan Mustafa.

I recently read this book, Bottle of Lies, recommended on a Hafta. It was an excellent read and really an eye-opener for me. These malpractices in the pharma industry directly affect our health and I would like to see a piece or discussion about it on your platform.

I support Abhinandan’s move to go on TV debates as long as he doesn’t waste his time in preparing for these debates. I think Abhinandan’s usual rants on Hafta can serve the purpose there.

Also, I would like to know what happened to your project of investigating the business models of some of the new online news portals such as Print, Wire, Lallantop.




Hi all,

Great job on all the work you guys are doing. I want to compliment Abhinandan here as he gets a lot of flak for being honest and so forthright. I think I have been a long-time subscriber as he brings a feeling of belonging and an informal charm antithetical to the formal nature of a news professional like Madhu. The news professionals on TV have turned into gundas while trying to maintain this veneer of formality but Abhinandan, who has none, shines brighter. Shout out to everybody on the team all of whom are great, especially the young ones in the field!

I also suspended my subscription as I had to literally jump through hoops to consume the podcasts on Apple devices. I hope this is being considered when you are developing the new app. The pop-up keeps coming up even when I log in. Please also work on the apps as a lot of people have tablets and smartphones and no personal laptops.

The idea of Abhinandan going to Times Now is actually a great idea and him sponsoring subscriptions with that money is a Robin Hood-esque idea. This also gives you the platform to generate more interest in you and eventually, hopefully, NL. This also gives him a platform which he used so well last week in speaking his mind and calling BS out.

I would like to recommend the Frontline documentary Iran vs Saudi Arabia on YouTube which is a superb in-depth analysis of the conflict over the years. One other suggestion is for you to speak about the Australia fires on Hafta as they are huge and have that Indian coal connection, and hopefully launch an NL Sena project on climate change and its impact on India.

Keep up the great ground reports which brought me back to NL and the constant struggle to be fair.


Ayush Ayyanga


Hey NL team,

Here are my two bits about the idea of Abhinandan being on TV debates! I guess his cockiness and wit could be a good match for such “shows”. I expect him to pull an “I agree” on the panellists and the host. But I don’t have access to Indian TV channels and would hate to miss all the fun! Try to upload it on YouTube if and when it happens.

Speaking of fun, wouldn’t it be delightful if Anand Vardhan is on Ravish Kumar’s show!

That’s it from my side. I will end with congratulating Manisha and TV Newsance team for the totally awesome episode on JNU; it was one of the best !

I have been trying to get my boyfriend Atin to listen to Hafta since forever, but he dozes off each time (he isn’t a news buff, yet). But even he enjoys TV Newsance a lot. May be a shout out from Manisha can get him to subscribe too :p

More power to you!


Richi Kumar


Hi there,

I have meant to write to you for a while but haven’t done so. I guess sloth is one of my greater vices. Also, I meander and I apologise in advance.

On your content: the entire draw is the content and that’s what it should be, yet it’s always a sense of achievement when I reach there. While the website works and I am sure there is a logic to it, it’s not the easiest to read and navigate. And the app is something that you have to get sorted; in this day and age it’s like taking a knife to a gunfight. A good excuse doesn’t help.

Infra: My sense is that all of you are really committed journos and it shows in the topic selection, depth etc. However, where you falter in my book is that the infra around accessing it is not easy and one has to really want to subscribe to do so. Also, I would really like a means to pay by cash; I feel if this can be made anonymous you might have a surge. Anyone else starting a business would have done this first and content later. Just saying.

The format: I often hear many of you say that this activity is a distraction from the core issues of the nation. I completely believe you. However, if what is discussed is the nightly news then the only difference between you and the guys you abhor is the point of view and the quality of discourse. I don’t know how one can go about solving the issue of keeping an eye on what’s relevant. However, if everything that you discuss is only what happened in the week, you are building the walls of the prison you choose to reside in.

TV debates: I think it’s a bad idea. If the motivation is passing on the money to needy subscribers, that is a great idea. However, your credentials are being traded to give credence to loonies on the debate. If you feel it is free money, it’s not; you are just spending different currency. You did bend that minister over the table and gave him a spanking, that was fun.

Vaping: I am an addict to the tobacco plant. And while there are people who say quit, it’s simple, it is not. It is really really difficult, the easiest transition was to move to vaping and then to vaping without nicotine and then to nothing. When I heard you guys it was like listening to a bunch of nuns describing the pleasures of BDSM. It was hilarious but also sad that smoking is such a common habit with so little understanding.

Left vs Right debate: I completely agree that Left and Right is the wrong usage of terms in our current situation. While it is such a fluid definition it still can’t cover what we have today. What we face today is such a movement on the Overton window that yesterday’s fringe elements are being given centrestage. It is monumental dishonesty to label or group them with the Tea Party or UKIP, this ideology costs blood and is proud of it.

I didn’t subscribe because I want to keep news free, that’s an added advantage. I do it because it’s refreshing to see someone have an intelligent conversation about current affairs, and that is really rare these days. Days when the skies are red with highlights of saffron, the nights sound of impending broken glass, the fields are turning khaki.

Keep up the good work and help bring some colour to this vibrant space that has tonnes of happiness.


A happy subscriber

📢 Newslaundry