As farmers continue to protest against the Narendra Modi government’s new farm laws along Delhi’s borders, their resentment against a section of the media is growing. As , the farmers are especially angry with Republic TV, Zee News and Aaj Tak, dubbed “Godi Media” together with other platforms such as Times Now that are seen as being “lapdogs” of the government.
“Zee News, Republic, Aaj Tak. Don’t cover us,” declared a poster at the Singhu border protest. “You are fake news. #GodiMedia.”
The farmers protesting at Singhu to speak with reporters from Aaj Tak, and Vasu Manchanda, a correspondent with Zee Punjabi, was .
“We aren’t stupid,” Indrajeet Singh, a standup comedian who has been protesting at Singhu, told Newslaundry. “We have been watching what anchors like Anjana Om Kashyap and Arnab Goswami say about us. We don’t need their help or coverage.”
Instead of paying heed to the concerns of the farmers and correcting course, the media outlets have doubled down. Here’s how they covered the protests on their primetime shows on Tuesday.
“As farmers and the Centre deliberate their way ahead, the malicious parties stand exposed,” Arnab Goswami declared on his show.
After a round of talks yesterday, the farmer unions rejected the government’s proposal to set up a committee to look into their demands, insisting the new farm laws be scrapped. The next round of talks is scheduled for December 3.
“Today, the same Chandrashekhar Azaad who was saying sometime back in January, ‘Make every bagh a Shaheen Bagh’ suddenly lands up at the farmers’ protest,” Goswami continued. “The same Yogendra Yadav who was mobilising people against CAA last December in Shaheen Bagh is leading a misinformation campaign against the farmers’ bill. The same Vadra Congress whose conniving agenda was exposed by Republic in Hathras has been called out and rejected by protesting farmers.”
The show flashed hashtags such as #FarmersRejectPolitics and taglines such as “Farmers reject politics, talks back”, “Every attempt at politicization fails”.
When Tanveer Ahmed, representing the Janata Dal Secular on Goswami’s panel, said the farmers had “rejected the politics of Narendra Modi, the misgovernance of Narendra Modi", Goswami raised his pitch and kept repeating, “Don’t take it personally, Tanveer Ahmed, the farmers have rejected the political parasites. Shame on the political parasites.”
Seemingly stung by the hostility faced by his reporters at the protests, Zee News editor Sudhir Chaudhary pronounced on his that his channel always shows the “truth” and that’s why it’s denied entry to places “where anti-national powers get active”. “Hamare desh mein jahan jahan bhi desh virodhi taakatein sakriya ho jaati hain wahan wahan Zee News ki entry band ho jaati hai.”
This happened during protests at Jawaharlal Nehru University and at Shaheen Bagh, he said, and is now happening at Singhu. However, he clarified that “not all farmers” were hostile to Zee News, but only those “who raise Khalistan Zindabad slogans”, who get “very emotional and ask not to be interviewed”.
On Halla Bol, Anjana Om Kashyap could barely spare 10 minutes of her 54-minute show to cover the farmer protests. The rest of the show, titled “Desh virodhi beti ka poora sach”, was devoted to activist Shehla Rashid’s , which in Kashyap’s estimation somehow is a more pressing issue than thousands of farmers protesting at Delhi’s door.
The few minutes she did devote to the farmer protests at the end of the show went mostly in Aaj Tak reporter Shweta Singh summarising why the farmers had rejected the government’s proposal to set up a committee to examine their demands.
On his show, Rahul Shivshankar devoted considerable airtime to Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s remarks supporting the farmer protests, and the Congress party welcoming them. By giving importance to Trudeau’s statement, Shivshankar reasoned, India’s opposition parties had “exposed” themselves. The BJP, on the other hand, has described the protests as India’s “internal matter”.
“Why is the lobby coming out and supporting the statement of Justin Trudeau on a matter which is actually an internal matter?” the anchor demanded to know, from nobody in particular. “How do you make a protest look even bigger than it actually is? You rope in a couple of foreign leaders. So Justin Trudeau leaps in.”
To go with Shivshankar’s screed, Times Now came up with hashtags and taglines such as #ShaheenKisanConspiracy, “Shaheen Gang fuels dharna”, “Dadis, Ravan, JNU, Cong and AAP, ‘Now, harvests Delhi Blockade’”, “BJP slams bid to derail and incite, ‘1st Muslims, now Kisaan a prop?’”
“Some opportunistic, or civil society groups that don’t quite like Modi or his government have decided to jump on the farmers’ bandwagon,” Shivshankar concluded.
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