Of Media Aristocrats and Broken Compasses
The media power-couple should shed the pretense of neutrality
There is an inherent problem with a compass. Because the earth’s magnetic poles aren’t exactly at the top and bottom of the earth, a compass is by nature slightly inaccurate. In fact, those with a rudimentary understanding of geology will know that the earth’s magnetic poles wobble from time to time, so compasses are by nature wobbly as well. One would guess the same applies to moral and ethical compasses that a media couple keeps bleating about.
Rajdeep Sardesai claimed to have been roughed up by ‘Modi Bhaktas’ outside Madison Square Garden a couple of days ago. Let me get one thing out of the way. Mr Sardesai and his wife have all the right in the world to be completely and totally obnoxious and ask obnoxious and demeaning questions. Just because someone is asking ‘provocative questions’ does not give anyone else the right to lay a hand on them. This argument is akin to the ‘but she was wearing provocative clothes’ to justify rape. It does not stand up.
However, it is clear, on the basis of the video that has been released and viewed by millions on YouTube that Mr Sardesai prima facie seems to be the person who first abuses and then lunges at someone protesting his attitude. Indeed, since we have not seen the earlier part of the video, it is not possible as of now to see if Mr Sardesai was pushed into this attack.
That said, if we rewind to the time that Zinadine Zidane headbutted Marco Materazzi at the finals of the 2006 football World Cup, he might have been pushed too far as well. I give the example of Mr Zidane because Mr Sardesai evidently likes football, and no matter what Mr Zidane’s heroics in 1998 might have been, he will always be remembered for this bizarre and shameful incident.
Of course, Mr Sardesai has made attempts to justify his behaviour instead of apologizing, but there is no condoning his behaviour. But, he is not the type of person to apologize to anyone ever. And this brings us to his wife, Sagarika Ghosh, who like her husband has a moral compass that evidently no one else in the media has. A moral compass that got her to presumably put out a story via an accomplice crying out at how she had been muzzled on social media by the powers that be. This was back in the time that she still was at Network 18. This got the left-liberal establishing screaming ‘murder’ and lamenting the loss of freedom of expression.
But Raghav Bahl, who still ran Network 18 had done nothing of the sort. The ‘victimhood’ complex that husband and wife excel in was evidently a move by them to become martyrs for the left-liberal cause of stopping Narendra Modi at all costs. A sequence of fiery emails followed, that some of us were privy to. And this is where the couple’s other delightful habit came to the fore. They are adept at using individuals to further their own cause, but quick to throw them under the bus when those individuals have outlived their purpose.
Keep in mind that Rajdeep and Sagarika shed crocodile tears when 300 of their colleagues were laid off brutally. They lamented and cried but neither of them either offered to resign in protest, or even offer to take pay cut. Compasses wobble all the time, but in this case the compasses have broken beyond repair.
Mr Sardesai and his wife have been outspoken critics of Mr Modi for over a decade, blaming him entirely for the events of February 2002, and it seems every riot that followed in India. They sucked the teat of the UPA for years and were among its foremost propagandists and failed not once in accusing anyone who tried to disagree with them as ‘communal’. They were the upholders of the corrupted Nehruvian ‘Idea of India’; they used their channel as a public relations tool for Arvind Kejriwal and were unable to see the writing on the wall.
Even today, in Hindustan Times’ special supplement, Mr Sardesai has plenty of uncharitable things to say about Mr Modi. There is no problem in Mr Sardesai and Mrs Ghosh doing what they do. In the United States news anchors like Glenn Beck on the right and Keith Olbermann on the left are considered shrill, and there is nothing wrong in that. However, this pretense of neutrality which is a poor-disguise for Modi-bashing is not right.
What I consider Mr Sardesai’s most shameful statement to the Indian-Americans outside Madison Square Garden who heckled him, concerns their lack of class. This statement is a reason, as someone pointed out on social media, why the English language media is considered elitist and is the object of ridicule for a growing number of English-speaking middle class Indians, both in the homeland and abroad. This is a Marie Antoinette level statement, but then again, Mr Sardesai and Mrs Ghosh are the bourgeois, who have wined, dined and made merry living off the fat of the land for a decade. Unfortunately, the revolution has already taken place this May.
However, one must not and does not condone any violence in both words and deed towards anyone. Just because a revolution has taken place does not mean that heads have to roll. The ‘martyr complex’ is an old one in the media and there is only one way of countering that – by forcing irrelevance upon people and their outdated ideas.