You knew the Congress was in trouble: On many nightly variety news shows about the National Herald case against the Gandhis, the grand old party fielded spokespersons we have never/ seldom seen before. For example, Jaiveer Shergill. With due apologies, who’s he?
Well, he’s a Congressman lawyer — that’s why he was fed to Arnab Goswami & Co on Tuesday night. A lawyer who’s also a politician practices the fine art of saying nothing that will incriminate him but will say and say and say. At the end of The Newshour, an exasperated Goswami admitted defeat: No matter how many times and in how many ways he asked Shergill questions, he didn’t answer them — but he claimed to be answering, to have answered each time!
Across news channels, Congress spokespersons said nothing that convinced viewers there was no questionable “intent” on the part of the Gandhis. That no one quite understood the case against them — or was able to explain it — is irrelevant. If you are a dedicated follower of news shows, you’ll know that the issues don’t matter: It’s all about the noise. #HeraldHauntsCongress gives TV a chance to place someone in the dock and hammer them. Bang. Bang. Bang.
A word like “bang” would find no place on TV if those who censor TV had their way. We have been completely robbed of the pleasure of watching foreign TV. There is barely a programme that hasn’t been tampered with in order to protect our ears, eyes and morals. Here’s a random sample of what you will hear and read — yes, the subtitles have been censored into gibberish too — on something as mild as the sitcom Package Deal (Comedy Central).
Man approaches a woman at the bar: How long should a man and woman wait before (silence).
Woman, observing herself in a mirror: Oh, my (silence) clearly appears.
Man to man conversation: I had a phenomenal (silence) after meeting her.
Man to aforementioned woman: My brother Ryan is more important than (silence).
This is a gentle example. Try watching The Affair — on second thoughts, don’t bother. There are more deletions than in Richard Nixon’s “expletive deleted” Watergate tapes. Why show foreign shows at all? Let’s just watch repeats of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thhi and see Smriti Irani, the way she used to be.
Delhi is in the news for the wrong and right reasons. Every day we learn about the density of pollution and watch interviews with young and old choked by it. Saw a young girl demonstrate using her nebulizer. Now that the AAP government has a plan, TV news doesn’t seem to like it — after adding to the sound pollution with loud demands for it.
Hardly has the plan been announced that all the negatives are out like sharp knives to poke holes in it: What about two-wheelers? What about adequate buses? (NDTV24x7). Is the traffic police ready (to handle the odds-evens scheme)? (India Today). Harish Salve, Maxwell Pereira and some others said that they were “happy” a government was doing something. And so say all of us. Guess, news TV will never sing Pharrell Williams, “Because I’m happy”.
Everyone is happy that Sushma Swaraj is visiting Pakistan. She’s there for the Heart of Asia meet on Afghanistan. On Wednesday morning, no one cared about the pulse rate of that nation; TV wanted to know, “What is the body language of Sushma and Sartaj Aziz?” (Zee News).
Speaking of medical matters: Notice Amitabh Bachchan rooting for polio, Hepatitis B vaccines and TB prevention. Meanwhile, Baba Ramdev’s ghee is sponsoring Aaj Tak’s Vishesh news show and others. Ghee, noodles, biscuits — and he sells us yoga. Certainly, he has a very healthy business sense.