Media and the Anna swamp

The post deals with how MSM found itself stuck since August 16th. As an example, IBN and Sardesai’s comments have been used. However, all media houses behaved in a similar way.

In April, Main Stream Media people played out Anna Hazare as the greatest phenomenon that occurred after Gandhi. Rajdeep Sardesai tweeted on April 5th:

on india at 9: anna hazare on his fast unto death. also, should sachin be given the bharat ratna right now? 5 Apr

10 pm: are gandhian methods the best way to fight corruption? kiran bedi, arvind kejriwal join the debate. 5 Apr

this much can be said about anna hazare, bande mein hai dum! democracy needs its annas. 5 Apr

Rajdeep Sardesai was very hasty. When INC leaders called Anna Hazare RSS stooge, he very happily said what Arvind Kejrival and his team would have wanted him to say. On April 6th:

to call anna hazare a sangh parivar stooge is unfortunate. when netas have no defence, they resort to defamation. 6 Apr

BJP wants to latch onto Hazare, Congress wants to do a ‘deal’ with him. both must be kept at arms length. 6 Apr

anna and friends need to be careful of not allowing netas to ‘hijack’ this movement. keep the focus on the lokpal bill. 6 Apr

And then Government of India ducked. Thanks to the INC’s goddess of sacrifice. Then Rajdeep Sardesai tweeted expressing his relief (since cricket was to resume on April 8th) on April 7th:

breaking: agreement likely on Lok pal bill. joint committee could be appointed. announcement likely today 7 Apr

off to jantar mantar. is it india’s tahrir square in a manner of speaking? hope to anchor india at 9 from there. 7 Apr

india at 9: has anna hazare become a symbol for a new revolution? 7 Apr

there was a wonderful spirit at jantar mantar. the idea of india, chaotic it may be, is still alive. 7 Apr

Rajdeep Sardesai cannot even claim an error of judgement on his love for IAC movment as he proudly did a repeat of some programming on Anna Hazare and later backed the movement with Ask Anna campaign in July and August as well.

catch a repeat of india at 9 from jantar mantar at midnight. great work by our team to do a show amidst the chaos. 7 Apr

On 9th April, a day after cricket resumed, Rajdeep Sardesai even celebrated triumph of people power:

tonight is a night to celebrate ‘people power’, tomorrow may well be the day to consider the consequences. gnight. 9 Apr

While this was Rajdeep Sardesai, his wife Sagarika Ghose and CNN IBN National Bureau Cheif Bhupendra Chaube were not far behind. Sample these:

More at india’s “tahrir sqaure” http://yfrog.com/h81gtmbj 7 Apr  [This one is from Bhupendra Chaube]

What amazing spirit at Jantar Mantar! energy, optimism, above all, such a great sense of humour. Mera bharat mahan! 7 Apr [This is from Sagarika. Yes, amusing to see her use the word Bharat for India]

And then when Ramdev Baba took on inept Government of India, the same journalists from IBN squashed it with some very acerbic remarks. Yes, the saffron robes do have a role to play when you are dealing with Main Stream Media. In June, when things started to soar between Government of India and IAC, Rajdeep Sardesai’s opinion started have some other shades. On June 20th:

anna hazare talks like a politician but has become a symbol of the anti-neta mood. strange, but true. gnight. 20 Jun

By endorsing Anna Hazare and IAC’s campaign, Media took a step which is irreversible. They might have thought that since Sonia Gandhi had accepted to think about JLP Bill, INC was on its way to score a win with people of India. But soon the tide turned. Arvind Kejrival proved to be a shrewd strategic mind unlike what Kapil Sibal would have estimated. After Hazare and Kejrival’s declared a no-compromise stance, IBN started fidgeting. On July 28th:

disappointed with reaction of anna and team to lokpal draft. dangerous lack of faith in parliamentary democracy. 28 Jul

it is to credit of anna and co they forced govt to come up with lokpal bill after 42 years. cant they wait a few more months? 28 Jul

That was the first sign of disappointment from IBN camp. Similar reactions from his other colleagues too. And suddenly the discrediting process started. Questions on intentions of Anna Hazare, Kejrival were raised. Hardly anything to really push them to a corner. Public record has it that they are straightforward people. One of them Magsaysay Award winner too – something left libbies cant stop gloating about! Unfortunately for IBN, Indian Cricket team continued playing bad cricket.

With no movies of great interest after Harry Potter’s last edition, IBN and other media channel suddenly found that India is talking only about IAC and Anna Hazare. With little to diver attention to, they had to get on the bus. But they cant side with IAC. So, then appears the question of bureaucratic monster in Lokpal. To sideline the issue, they talked about national referendum too! On August 1st, Sardesai tweeted:

india at 9: should there be a natl referendum to decide on shape of lokpal bill? what next in us debt crisis? 1 Aug

With Sonia Gandhi, the sole decision maker away for treatment of a serious medical condition, both INC and Main Stream Media seem to have been found in a swamp – the Anna Swamp. Clearly the winner is Arvind Kejrival. His strategy is evident in :

  1. a brilliant choice of timing of April Jantar Mantar protest – exactly when no movies or cricket
  2. turning the discussion from IAC vs Govt into we (people) vs Govt – this was unprecedented even for well educated MSM minds
  3. ensuring that Anna is always seen as today’s Gandhi – yes, Gandhi still sells. Neha Dhupia was only partially correct. Its not just Sex and Shah Rukh but also Gandhi that sells – be it in Bollywood or India in general
  4. making Hazare and his cap iconic – several people love to wear that cap as much as they loved to in their childhood school fancy competitions

MSM was happy to take the news bits from IAC camp in April for those little TRPs. Then to IAC’s good fortune, Sonia accepted the protest and lime juice was served with all sincerity only hoping to divert the attention in due course. This prompted Media to endorse Anna Hazare as today’s Gandhi, which turned out to be a great mistake for them when in July, things started to turn ugly and lemons turned soar.

With IAC camp adamant, MSM unable to retract their statements or present any flaws in the personal lives of people involved, Kejrival’s strategy worked out exactly how he would have anticipated it. Again to IAC’s good fortune, Indian Cricket Team played their part by ensuring England test matches remained hopeless duds. Signs of this realization in IBN camp came from Sardesai as early as August 16th :

genius of gandhi was he could bring the british raj to heel in the non 24 hour tv age. thats why he is a mahatma. gnight 17 Aug

every time one cautions team anna doesnt make one pro-corruption. ‘them’ versus ‘us’ is a dangerous divide in a democracy 19 Aug

Note that IBN and MSM in general use “them vs us” strategy by pitting themselves as people’s representatives – us – against politicians they, not we, hate most! But then, journalism is not a science. So rules can be changed according to ones own requirements. When Sri Sri joined the movement, Sardesai readily raised alarm, hoping to see a way out. Kejrival undid that too. Today there were reports of rowdy elements within protestors at Ramlila Maidan. Definitely, MSM is suffocated due to lack of oxygen and a way out.

The winner clearly is Arvind Kejrival, who quietly took the media into the swamp – the Anna Swamp. Now neither can government pull them out, nor cricket or movies can! Arvind Kejrival seems to close to having it his way. This is the moment when history of Main Stream Media should record as a day when Media due to its unabated thirst for TRPs/eyelids and shameless political bias couldn’t open gates for an informed debate in public on how to handle corruption via a constitutional institution in a democratic way. In conclusion, there is only thing to say – the only thing more amusing than watching two monkeys fight is to watch two left liberal camps fight out as to which camp is right!

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8 comments

  1. Superb analysis! TV media is confused beyond expectations. They do not know how to handle a situation where people actually fight for an issue on their own. Their confusion is evident in their banal tweets and programs.

    Nice job detailing the tweets of the one, the only 😀

    -Sudhir

    1. “They do not know how to handle a situation where people actually fight for an issue on their own”. Actually today’s incident where some violence was seen shows that Media people have no idea on how to ask question to a protesting audience shows exactly what you said!

      It is obvious that the protestors got really ticked off. Here are a bunch of people who are having a real hard time fighting for some cause they find worth enough their time, with little personal benefit or promise of any, and an IBN reporter asks them “what religion do you believe in?” or “what caste are you from?”. No wonder he got what he got! Whether it is justified or not is a question that has meaning only when we ask whether the question was justified!

      But no, MSM being MSM will now start projecting it as an incident that is a huge blot on the whole campaign. Well what can we say Sudhir ji, these guys continue to loose their credibility with a blatant bias while claiming to be neutral!

  2. aryaputr · · Reply

    V.good piece, and thanks for taking the trouble to document it so well.
    The Kejrival strategy/angle was not obvious to me at all, but if it is really him that is ‘managing’ the MSM – hats off!

    1. Thanks for the comment sir.
      Kejrival is definitely the strategic mind behind the movement.
      Evidence 1 : He handles media as the key to this movement has always been media. How many pressers did we see without Kejrival present with the others?
      Evidence 2 : http://www.caravanmagazine.in/PrintThisStory.aspx?StoryId=1050 via twitter

      Kejrival handled MSM with superb dexterity. Thats why he could lay the trap and MSM fell for it so easily. Well thats my opinion though!

  3. Sravan A · · Reply

    Truly excellent piece of analysis.

    1. Thank you Sravan.

  4. aryaputr · · Reply

    Brilliant, then. Thanks again for sharing the other article..

    Hope to see more of AK in the years ahead!

  5. […] blogger, Vivek, has in detail described IBN’s wavering stand on the Anna Hazare issue. His blog is a must read on that […]

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