Five Republic TV headlines from history, inspired from its China coup coverage

Republic ran a satirical Twitter thread as news of a coup in China. What if the network was around to report on prominent events in history?

WrittenBy:Ayush Tiwari
Article image

Chinese premier Xi Jinping has been overthrown in a coup in Beijing, reports Republic Bharat’s bureau in Mumbai’s Lower Parel. The news break is an international scoop so exclusive and enormous that the western press – New York Times, BBC and Reuters – is yet to pick it up.

According to the Republic newsroom grapevine, the channel cracked the story thanks to highly-placed German and American sources: a reporter with a German newspaper had posted a thread on the coup on the American social media platform Twitter.

However, in a series of thrilling twists yesterday, the reporter claimed that the thread was sarcastic. “Two things are infinite,” the reporter, Georg Fahrion, wrote, “the universe and man’s stupidity”. In the hours that followed, Republic’s report on the coup was taken down on YouTube and Facebook.

Following the monumental fuckup – which can be watched here – a loud, gutsy and scowling source at Republic came to his network’s defence. “The Chinese Communist Party has a hand in all this,” he said. “Their army of hackers has taken down our video for showing the absolute, unvarnished truth.”

What about the German source’s claim of sarcasm? “He’s under Chinese pressure,” the source thumped. And the lack of confirmation in western press? “Same.”

To underline the rock solid-authenticity of the Republic Bharat story, my source pointed me to all “exorbitant stories” that the Republic network has broken through its “long and glorious history”.

The channel only started in 2017. But assuming the network had a long history, here are some glorious stories it would’ve broken.

When Republic misreported Ashwathama’s death at Kurukshetra

During the Mahabharata war in Dvapar Yuga, a Republic correspondent overheard Yudhishthira telling Dronacharya that his dear son Ashwathama had been killed in battle. The channel broke the story without comments from either party. "Ashwathama dead: Drona son spells doom for Kauravas?" cried the channel. It forgot to clarify that it was Ashwathama the elephant, not the man, that was slain. When the warrior-sage learnt of the newsbreak, he grew pensive and vulnerable. He was then executed by the Pandava army, turning the tide of the war. The rest, as they say, is mythology.

How Republic found gold-digging ants in Indian deserts

In the 5th century BC, Greek historian Herodotus wrote about India in History of the Persian Wars. The historian wrote about giant ants in the deserts of the subcontinent that dug out gold. “Here, in this desert, there live amid the sand great ants, in size somewhat less than dogs, but bigger than foxes,” Herodotus wrote. “Those ants make their dwellings underground…throw up sand-heaps as they burrow. Now the sand which they throw up is full of gold.”

A studious Republic reporter got hold of the book’s sensational claims. Alas, he made no effort to corroborate them on the ground. Neither did he probe the unreliable Herodotus, who never actually travelled to India. The story ran on primitive primetime: “Mauryan Gold Rush: Desert monsters ooze precious metal”. But when the treasure hunters rushed to the desert, and found nothing – ants or gold – the news network is said to have faced public backlash.

Republic in America: Women are actually witches, deserve trial and execution

In the late 17th century, women in Salem in Massachusetts were accused of witchcraft. Republic’s North America bureau was clued into these developments. One day, the network invited the women on a show, where the chief editor shamed them as “evil” and “sinful”. “You are a bloody witch!” he barked. The network’s one-sided coverage of the trial – once headlined "The nation wants them hanged. Now!” – turned public opinion against the women, who were brutally executed. On the bright side, the network’s ratings touched a record high.

World War II: England breaks Enigma code, Republic breaks the story

In 1940, British mathematicians and spymasters cracked the Enigma, a pesky code used by the Germans to encrypt sensitive communication. The Brits, however, did not want the Germans to find out since encrypted messages contained vital information on strategy and movement. A Republic correspondent, who learnt of this through his British secret service sources, conveyed it to the chief editor. Unsurprisingly, the editor, afraid that a competitor might break the story, asked the correspondent to betray his sources and run it. The news, headlined “Valiant Britain breaks German code”, pissed Downing Street mightily. When the network reached out to prime minister Churchill for comment, he is believed to have said, “this will cost us the war, you blabbering wankers!”

Republic predicts end of the world, cites Mayan sources

In more modern times, the network has led the market in depressing doomsday coverage. In 2012, for three months, it warned viewers that the world was going to end. The headline – “That’s it! Everything is ending. Over” – stirred many emotions. In unhinged primetime segments, visuals of people jumping from skyscrapers, pets crashing into traffic and armed children marching the streets were run continuously to hammer fear into the TV audience. None of that, of course, ever happened. A few years later, Cartoon Bhandari, the Republic reporter who covered the story, revealed in his best-selling memoir, Sourceless, that he got the unfortunate scoop from “trusted Mayan sources”. Yet, he remained silent on how he cultivated these sources, since the Mayans lived a few thousand years ago. We sent Mr Cartoon Bhandari a set of questions. This story will be updated if he responds.


We take comments from subscribers only!  Subscribe now to post comments! 
Already a subscriber?  Login

You may also like