Slowly but surely many Congress members are acknowledging the inevitable; that they had lost connect with the people and therefore did badly in the recent elections. This is dawning upon other parties like NCP, BSP, SP and AAP too. One Congress member from Kerala even called Rahul Gandhi a “joker” for the failure. There are many such jokers in the media too. Like the Gandhis, they too were like kings and queens who sat in their offices and had no connect with people. When they did speak to people, they scoffed at their ideas, sound-bites and tweets. They said SM would have no impact on elections. Now they’re reversing that opinion too. The Indian news media had become the poodles of one family and party. They survived on crumbs thrown at them without really having any real business model. I’ve said before that poodles surviving on crumbs cannot have the nose of a blood hound. They couldn’t smell the churning on the ground. A sorry chapter at CNN-IBN and their parent company Network 18 is coming to an end. Years of hate-mongering has its price. Raghav Bahl has already quit. Rajdeep Sardesai and Sagarika Ghose are reportedly on their way. Here’s what a report says:
First things first! One must compliment Raghav Bahl for putting together a news organisation from scratch. Building an organisation is not easy and takes a lot of toil, patience and passion. It must be painful for him to exit a company that he built but his only mistake, as with others, is not being able to see the writing on the wall. He allowed two of his senior editors to run amok with their political propaganda, lies and bad journalism. He refused to take feedback and measure the pulse of people. A company is built with talent in its early stages but as it grows it also acquires a certain amount of baggage. Such baggage is often confused for ballast. Rajdeep and Sagarika have indulged in extraordinary hate-mongering. They coined terms like “Hindutva laboratory” “Hero of hatred” “Mass murderer”; did they really think people will sit back and watch? In addition, their constant ridiculing of ordinary people and anti-Hindu stance did not endear them to people. N18 had become a slave of the Congress party and when that ship was sinking the entire network became a promoter of AAP. Sagarika, in particular, has indulged in crass skulduggery and mischief on many occasions. She should have been sacked long ago. That Bahl sacked ordinary employees and retained Sagarika reflects poor thinking and poor management vision. The bottle-neck is always at the top of the bottle.
The astonishing fact about N18 is that conflict wasn’t so much on the business or revenue front but more on their political preferences. I had tried to understand their political conflicts in two parts earlier (Part-1, Part-2). It should be of concern to the entire media on why there should be upheavals in a media house as a consequence of political changes. People in news media have political preferences but as news channels life should go on regardless of who is in power and political changes. And it was all out in the public with Sagarika’s mischievous tweets. Let’s follow the sequence. On February 7, Sagarika tweeted about an “evil” that is choking their voices:
She was on a rant as if some major calamity had befallen journalists. And who exactly is that “Evil”? Obviously, she was referring to Raghav Bahl or Narendra Modi or Mukesh Ambani or a combination of them jointly operating from behind the scenes. Was there anything like that? The same Shivam Vij (whose report appears in the first pic above) carried an article about how “Sagarika can’t criticise Modi anymore”. And then Ram Guha (the family’s Nehruvian sidekick) also made noises about it. This became a major discussion in media circles. What happens then? There is a flurry of emails exchanged between Raghav Bahl and Rajdeep Sardesai. Here are some excerpts with date and timestamp (in blue):
Feb 10 – RB to RS 6.46am
Please see tweet below from Ram Guha. Coming from somebody as influential/credible as him (also one of your closest professional associates), this one is damaging. What’s more, Sagarika’s mail to me yesterday, clearly saying that she has NEVER been “muzzled” over the last 8 years in N18, completely and totally contradicts this. So in all fairness, I suggest we do one of the following things:
1 Sagarika isses a CATEGORICAL denial of this tweet; OR
2 We could release the relevant text from Sagarika’s mail to me, so that this matter is put to rest.
Do let me know how you would like to proceed on this.
Feb 10 – RS to RB 6.55am
This is I believe in response to an article appearing in scroll.in, which is a website run by someone called shivam vij. I have already replied to shivam, saying judge us by actions not innuendo. Can respond to ram too if need be. The point is, and I have learnt this to great cost, that any reply only leads to an avalanche of more responses and attracts even more attention. A denial can easily be issued, alternately, we just have to stay above the noise.
Feb 10 – RB to RS 7.07 am
Rajdeep – this one is too close/credible/for comfort/silence. Ram Guha endorsing this is almost equal to you /Sagarika saying this (especially since Sagarika was in Bangalore just yesterday). A full, formal and UNAMBIGUOUS clarification/denial, of the sort that Sagarika wrote to me, must be issued….. Silence is golden, but not always.
Feb 10 – RS to RB 7.11 am
Sagarika has not met/spoken to ram in a while. Ram is, however, close to a few of those who run the scroll.in website which is an ideologically left website. Ram, like many, has allowed perception to cloud his judgement, and to be fair, he has been a great supporter of the channel at all times. However, a categorical denial on twitter can be easily issued.
Interesting, eh? On February 9 when Ram Guha tweeted the alarm, Sagarika was in Bangalore and claims she couldn’t speak to him. Could be that she was very busy. Do note the time stamps in the emails above. All of it is early morning. I have not seen Sagarika tweeting early morning in the past but it’s possible I may have missed some. But as the transactions in the emails are going on what does Sagarika do? Here’s what she tweet early morning on February 10 to Ram Guha:
Wow! Bahl and Rajdeep are trading emails and Sagarika wakes up to tweet at 7.38am in reply to Ram Guha’s alarm. And what does she now say? It’s not Bahl or Modi or Ambani but ordinary folks on the SM who are stalking her. People on the SM are stalking her? Her story changes from “Evil” threat to “stalkers” on SM in just 3 days. Such is the mischief and lie-mongering of this woman. Anyone who calls her a journalist or employs her as an editor has to seriously have his head examined. But those who have observed her and Rajdeep for a dozen years know well how these two have consistently peddled crap through their channel or their articles. Rajdeep’s lies and hate-mongering goes all the way back to Star News and NDTV when he first covered the Gujarat 2002 riots and then participated in the malicious campaign against Modi. And all this nonsense for what? Because Sagarika and Rajdeep wanted to promote AAP unhindered in their political campaign under the garb of a news channel. So turn everyone – bosses, social media, everyone into “Evil”.
Apart from their own hate-mongering, these two got every charlatan who could condemn Modi or spew garbage against him in whatever form they could. They got “intellectual morons” like Amartya Sen, Amitava Ghosh, Dipankar Gupta and the whole lot to wilfully lie and rubbish Modi for their convenience. This is hardly the conduct of journalists or editors. Everyone has his or her bias but to peddle lies and even paint Hindus as monsters cannot be passed as journalism. And the constant spats with ordinary people on Twitter heaping abuses on them and then playing victim. Where did all this come from? Politicians pay the price for failing to read the people’s pulse and media crooks will not be exceptions anymore. Elections are over but habits die hard. CNN-IBN still continues to lie and twist statements coming from BJP as can be seen in the pic. I prefer not to comment on the finances of N18 or the luxuries in which many editors live at the cost of their sinking organisation because that is not the concern of this site.
There is a flip side to all this that cannot be overlooked. While the liars posing as editors may leave along with founder Raghav Bahl, the idea of Reliance taking over the whole network is not without dangers. In a note Bahl has stated to his employees Mukesh Ambani is a good human being and the company is in good hands. That may well be true and there is no reason to doubt that. But the idea of a corporate giant controlling N18, apart from other networks, is not a healthy turn. The very size of Reliance when all their businesses are put together is phenomenal. There may come a time when anything you purchase or consume will have Reliance behind it or Reliance maybe in the market for the same product with a controlling share. Reliance likes to control every commodity market – from yarn to gas to news to communication and so on. That’s a bigger problem to be addressed separately. Politicians and large businesses (that are not purely news media) controlling the media is a bad omen for citizens.
One may change cars, change cities, change jobs and even change spouses but many people don’t change the easiest person to change: “the self”. No matter where Rajdeep or Sagarika go it won’t make a damn difference. This is true for many other crooks posing as editors in the media. I wonder what lessons they have learned. From their communications it doesn’t look like they’ve learned any. They will bring the same filth to the table and I doubt they are capable of learning any lessons. They sank CNN-IBN and they will sink someone else. There are no happy endings.