Dear Mr. Goswami,
I know that this has been done to death, that you probably receive a few thousand letters such as these every week, but I still wanted my thoughts out there. This is about the Newshour Debate (Part 1, Part 2) over the state government sponsored trip to the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Brazil for six Goa MLAs that aired on 12th June, 2014. Now the purported reason behind this trip was that this was to be a “study tour”, that the MLAs would go and “study traffic management” in Brazil and put this knowledge to good use in Goa. I use double quotes over certain words because anyone with half a brain can tell that this reason is utter bullshit. We all know and agree with you that this is an enormous waste of the exchequer’s money, yes, and we all watched in utter glee as you ripped apart Mr. Benjamin Silva (an independent MLA) over national television for being a part of this “study tour”. However, I’d like to point out that your behavior on the show was completely out of line… you, (currently) the most well-known journalist in India, were arrogant, churlish, patronizing and more a nagging, taunting, hateful wife than an intelligent journalist overseeing a debate, trying to get the facts right from both the sides.
You introduced Mr. Benjamin Silva with a “BENJAMIN SILVA! PUT HIM FULL FRAME ON THE SCREEN, PLEASE!…”, your voice dripping with condescension. You then proceeded to tell him how lucky he was, and if it were really true about the trip and that you had to pinch yourself to believe it (at this point, you really pinched yourself… wow.) These are a few other lines spouted by you during the entire hour-long debate:
“By sitting and watching a game, what will you learn?”
“Why have you been chosen? What kind of an answer is that? Use common sense, Sir.”
“Benjamin Silva is not a politician. Benjamin Silva is a prodigy and a magician rolled into one! Because Mr. Silva will walk into a match and with his prodigious abilities, he will look around the stadium once and he will immediately understand what is required for us to build a world class stadium!”
“Mr. Silva is not a normal human being! He is an absolute prodigy in the world of politics!”
“Benjamin Silva… you played football? What level? Junior National level? … Mr. Silva, we should get everyone who is like you then, including people who played school-level football… maybe you’ll end up representing the country in the next World Cup.”
“Mr. Silva is not answering… every time I ask him a question, his earpiece mysteriously falls off.”
“I am not warning you… I am telling you that if you go on this trip, you will be the laughing stock of the entire country, Mr. Silva.”
“Mr. Patra… no, don’t make three points. I have not allowed you to make three points. You’re not at an election rally, don’t make a speech.”
“Mr. Silva, if you have any sense of shame, you will pay for your own ticket!”
Sir, we all knew the reason given by the government was stupid; sending those MLAs on that trip on taxpayers’ money was wrong. That being said, there really was no need to be rude to Silva. I am not siding with him, nor do I have any particular reason to do so. However, as a journalist on one of the top news channels of India, I think one should follow a certain etiquette and decorum. When you yell and shout and make clever jokes like that, people laugh, sure, they even love you for it, but they lose the point you’re trying to make. Your show is highly entertaining, don’t get me wrong. My Dad still hobbles upstairs every night at 9 and sits glued to the television set, watching you nail politicians, party spokespersons, bureaucrats. And he loves your blunt style, the way you scream yourself hoarse day after day after day, the sheaf of papers in your hand waved indignantly all the time. And that is why you are popular, I guess. Because you make the debate an enjoyable watch. Because it is more about incessantly taunting and cursing India’s politicians, demanding that they resign, saying they are shameless fools right to their faces- something all Indians wish they could do. But where is the debate in all this? Where are the facts? Where are the reasons? It is all lost in the inane and loud bickering you and your panelists resort to every single time, making the viewers think “What the f*** is going on?” and chuckle and shake their heads at the futility of the entire charade.
You’re losing your credibility, Mr. Goswami. Or perhaps, you lost it a long time ago. I am not sure which is true. People are watching the debate only for your daily histrionics. If we are going to continue with that, why call it a debate at all? If being against you on the debate as a panelist means being berated with innumerable accusations and unnecessary name-calling, why should one be a part at all? Everyone should get a chance to speak their view- however wrong- without being railroaded under your opinion before they can open their mouths. Only then can we call it a debate, right?
It is entirely too possible that you may never read this. It is even more possible that you already know exactly what I am talking about… which makes me hope that your show will be more than just that someday. Until then, I really don’t think Times Now should be parading their new found tag of “India’s Best News Channel” using you as their foreman.
A bored and tired viewer.
Dear Mr. Goswami,