Hafta letters: Covid vaccines, Donald Trump’s base, choice of guests

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

ByNL Team
Hafta letters: Covid vaccines, Donald Trump’s base, choice of guests
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I am a subscriber. Please allow me to give some feedback about the Hafta of November 21.

I appreciate your idea of not making Hafta an echo chamber and provide a platform to all shades of views. Having said that, the choice of Smita Prakash as guest left me uncomfortable and disappointed. If I have to jhelo Smita Prakash, I will watch Republic TV or Times Now, why would I plug in to hear Hafta? Watch her commentary on Republic TV or Times Now, she contributes in the communal cringe fest with equal aplomb. She has a major contribution in dragging Indian media to the current state. That this dangerously communal, malleable, crony media owner comes on Hafta and pontificates about Indian media is dishonest and hypocritical to say the least.

She blocks people on Twitter over the slightest disagreement and hearing her preach about accommodating differing views was amusing.

If I may ask you, did Smita Prakash get paid to appear on Hafta? If yes, it would be a double whammy for me.

I look forward to you, Mehraj, Manisha, Raman sir, and Anand discussing, peeling off the layers of current affairs topics with differing views on Hafta. It works even without external guests. If you don’t get the right person, that’s fine, but please don’t fill the guest slot with people like Smita Prakash.


Byanktesh Narayan


Hello friends,

First, my best wishes and prayers for all Covid-positive members of your wonderful team that has enabled a lonely expat to stay in touch with the country of my birth and growth.

Second, many thanks for inviting Chitra to your panel. I still find Madhu's old interview with Chitra on Newslaundry one of the best conversations about what the inner life of a journalist is like and, even possibly, should be.

Last, I have, with great interest, followed the politics of modern western countries, not because it holds lessons for South Asia (it doesn’t) but because understanding how ordinary people go about making citizen choices about their future is a lifelong passion. I was, therefore, a bit disappointed to hear the discussion about the volume of Donald Trump’s base, essentially echoing the opinions of the Western liberal press (NYT, Washington Post, Guardian). The dialectics of opposing narratives that run through a citizen’s thinking are significantly different from those seen from the lens of these publications.

May I, therefore, take the opportunity to recommend two books to you and to your audience that go deeper than depicting Donald as an “Arnab times 100 or a Modi times 10”. They are by Thomas Frank. One is What is the Matter with Kansas, a study of why people vote for an entity that they know will work against them, and the other Listen, Liberal – the name says it all. May I also recommend Useful Idiots, a Rolling Stone podcast by Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper for better understanding of American politics.

If you can’t find the books in India, let me know and I would be honoured to send you mine.

Thank you for the wonderful work, and more strength to your team members’ elbows as you nudge your audience with facts so they do the Right Thing™.

P.S. I find Trump disgusting. Just saying in case you mistake my non-liberal perspective for its simplistic opposite.


Gurunandan Bhat


Hello Newslaundry team,

Belated Happy Diwali!

I have been listening to Hafta for over a year now and I have been a subscriber since June this year (yes, I was a muftkhor before). I love Hafta and I can't believe this is the first letter I have written to you.

I want to keep this letter short and just focus on three things (you can just read the highlighted bits if it is too long).

Abhinandan’s comments on the Indian #MeToo movement – I would like to strongly disagree with your views that the movement achieved “jackshit”. Have you completely forgotten about Priya Ramani and MJ Akbar's case? It is still subjudice, but taking a former minister of state to court over his misdeeds with women was no small feat. And in other cases, women, failed by the state and due processes so many times, finally found a platform to speak about their trauma and their experiences. You as a man may not understand it, but we at the very least found a sisterhood where we could look for support, understanding, and resources to fight against these predators who would have continued living without any fear and regret for their actions. It started a dialogue on consent and respect, and I don't think you can say it achieved nothing. Even if it made our lives safer (thus better) by a fraction, I would say it has achieved quite a lot.

Your new website doesn't load on Chrome. I have been looking forward to the launch of the Newslaundry website for a long time with all of its fancy features and, of course, the podcast player. Unfortunately, for me, it does not load at all on Chrome. I have been trying for more than two weeks now. Can you please look into this? I do not fancy switching browsers to access your website every time. Attached are screenshots five minutes apart in case you do not believe me.

Thank you for everything that you do. I would like to especially thank all your ground reporters who have done a fantastic job of reporting the Hathras case and the Bihar elections. Also, after living in Mumbai all my life and witnessing floods year after year, the issue of flood resilience and disaster management is something I keenly follow and I look forward to reading the NL Sena reports on it.

Thank you and best wishes,

Deepashree Mahajan


Hi Team,

Subscriber here. If it is possible, please try to interview Deeyah Khan. She is a documentary filmmaker and an expert on issues which Muslims face in Europe. She’s the best person to give a clear picture about what happened in France and why it happened and what needs to be done about it. Overall also she is good at a wide variety of topics. Her website is deeyah.com.

Kind regards,

Jefferson Simon


Hello NL Team,

I am writing to respond to views expressed by guests last week.

First of all, I’d disagree that Chinese and Russian vaccines have as much credibility as those of Pfizer and Moderna. Both of them are much more transparent with data than the Russian one. Also, Russia and China are evil empires and Russiagate was real. Read the Muller report. Many went to jail for that.

Second, on the point of polarised media, Smita might have missed that much of the MSM is just doing propaganda for RW, including her agency, although softly. RW has drifted so far that every reasonable thing seems LW.

Third, Mehraj's rant on free trade was much more ideological than data-driven. Of course, there are many critics of the present free trade system. But it’s simply untrue that because of trade US jobs have been vanishing.

What has caused job losses is automation. So even if factories return, jobs won’t.

John Oliver did a great segment on it.

We need to move beyond the old solicialist-capitalist mindset and recognise that problems created by automation won’t be solved by building walls, real or metaphorical.

US presidential candidates like Andrew Yang addressed this issue in detail.

I recommend his podcast with Joe Rogan to understand the issue.

At last, thanks for what you are doing. Love all of your work.

Anshu Raj


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