Wrong, crass, tasteless

IN Media Practice | 27/03/2015
Arnab Goswami's diatribe against the Indian cricket team led to a Twitter backlash.
DIPU SHAW reports on the #ShameOnTimesNow revolt against the anchor. Pix: Dhoni addressing the media on March 26.
No sooner did the high-octane ICC World Cup semi-final match between India and Australia end in favour of the home team at the Sydney Cricket Ground, a clash of a different sort ensued on Twitter. This was not the usual cricket contest but one that cricket fans across India waged against Times Now news channel. 

The reason? Times Now and its star anchor Arnab Goswami held Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni responsible for the ‘humiliating’ defeat, a defeat which, according to the channel, the Indian team ‘surrendered’ without a fight.
We are aware of the parodies on Arnab Goswami and his Newshour show where arguably India’s most watched prime time news anchor out-shouts and outrages his guests. There are hundreds of jokes on Goswami on the likes of Tamil superstar Rajinikanth.
But the latest reaction by the Twitterati was not the usual one made jokingly over Arnab Goswami’s claim that he speaks for a “billion-plus people” or on the way he blasts guests on his show, not allowing them to speak.
It was outrage over the insensitivity, poor journalism and attention-grabbing narcissism of Goswami and his channel.
Fathom this. After the usual trumpeting that theirs is India’s most watched news show and with the usual flames licking around the Burning Question ticker on the screen, the channel claimed: Team India crumbled under pressure. It failed the first tough test. And that the semi-final clash was a total washout for India.

Then Goswami proclaimed: Not that the Indian team lost but that it allowed itself to lose. There was lack of seriousness, a lack of leadership. Can we be in denial? Then he got into the specifics: What was Dhoni doing? Why did Shikhar Dhawan play that shot? (The one that cost him his wicket) Why was Kohli given the ball?
Goswami continued: I would have liked to see more communication.. The players’ attitude was casual....the situation demanded that ‘you’ bat till the end, you cannot throw away your wicket (referring to Dhawan or may be Virat Kohli).

By being in denial about the disaster, will we be helping Indian cricket? Will we be setting the right example if those people get away? These were the questions that Goswami kept asking as though he was going to pronounce  judgment on the ‘sinners’ during his show.
The channel even asked viewers to Tweet Live and Join the Debate with the Hashtag #ShamedInSydney.
Quite ironically, the people on whose behalf Goswami was claiming to ask those questions were at the same time showing their disgust by making #ShameOnTimesNow trend at Number One in India. Thousands of tweets criticising Goswami for his show and praising Team India’s overall performance in the World Cup followed. The channel and Goswami conveniently ignored all of them.
So when he was yelling that someone ought to be held responsible for India’s debacle and that Dhoni must take responsibility, the Twitterati in huge numbers were asking each other to unfollow and block Times Now
Such was the response to the show that #ShameOnTimesNow was trending not only in India but Worldwide at the Number 2 position. One of the Twitter users, Priya Sharma, labelled Times Now the Rakhi Sawant or Poonam Pandey of news channels.
Among the panelists on the show was Bollywood actor Arbaaz Khan. We do not know why or in what capacity he was there. Popular cricket commentator Charu Sharma was present but was given no opportunity to speak because he was talking sense and was aghast at the insinuation that Dhoni conspired to lose the match and the Indian players did not put in their best efforts.
Sharma and former Indian cricketer Atul Wassan tried their best to let good sense prevail but in vain. Goswami kept rubbing salt on the wounds of dejected Indian fans by arguing that Dhoni failed to take responsibility and remained defiant at the post-match press conference. “We give them so much money, recognition, adoration,” ranted one of speakers.
Team India won seven matches on a trot in this World Cup and only lost the semi-final against four-time world champions Australia. Ahead of Thursday’s match, news channels had been discussing Team India’s dream run in the World Cup, lavishing praise on Dhoni’s leadership but they knew defeating the Aussies on their home turf was no easy task for Australia have one of the best bowling and batting line-ups in the tournament. 
Goswami was oblivious to all these facts, as he was to the tears in Dhoni’s eyes after Thursday’s semi-final defeat. 
(Dipu Shaw is a new media journalist who started and runs www.newshourindia.com.)
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