– By Sanjay Jha
10-11 is fast becoming a monopoly hour for NDTV 24×7 which is most likely to hurt Face The Nation on CNN-IBN. The latter needs a drastic face-lift. Barkha Dutt continues to shine splendidly on The Buck Stops Here; crisp headlines, topical issues , snazzy visuals, fairly well chosen guest-list and engaging talking points. Where Dutt scores is where most anchors struggle, the “point of intervention”. She lets her guests express themselves, usually interrupting only when the concerned person is affected by verbal diarrhea or begins to sound hackneyed, for instance, the Trinamool Congress spokesperson yesterday who could do with a crash course on brevity.
Admittedly , the Naxalite issue is gathered momentum, but right now the Indian electronic media is on an OD ( and are falling prey to planned Naxal propaganda) . NDTV just did We The People on the same issue and so far we have heard nothing distinctive emerging from the human rights groups other than the standard banal remarks, castigating the government for historical developmental deficit while pussyfooting around on the crucial question of mindless violence and organized attacks on public property by Maoists. Praveen Kumar of The Hindu was the only one who made sensible balanced remarks without taking a deliberate hard-line position. . After the Rajdhani assault, I suspect the Maoists will lose significant popular support as unleashing a fear psychosis in the common man has never helped build a credible cause. I also thought it was rather careless of the Home Secretary to refer to the rail attack as a mere “publicity stunt” as such commonplace remarks usually only accentuate matters.
Arnab Goswami of Times Now continues to flare his nostrils , look sideways , ask open-ended questions and appear terribly disenchanted with everyone’s response. Goswami asks obvious grey-area questions or rhetorical masterpieces ( Would you like to be CM???) , but wants all his helpless and genuinely distressed guests to answer in definitive YES or NO. I thought his whole demeanor and endless needling of former Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh on the issue of who would occupy Varsha was lamentable. Ashok Chavan handled the standard provocations with calm aplomb, and left Goswami scratching his head and snarling further for a dramatic revelation. Goswami has neither the panache of Barkha Dutt nor the hands-on experience of Rajdeep Sardesai, but he is clearly hell-bent on redrawing the map. He must start by taking a long deep breath.
With TV channel prognostications on exit polls of elections results usually off-mark, Rajdeep chuckled in perceptible delight that for once CNN-IBN had got the range right as far as Maharashtra was concerned. Now we could do a lot with that kind of light-hearted, unfeigned humor without appearing self-righteous, as several do.
As for Headlines Today is concerned , every time I do a comparative check on some serious breaking news item all I see is a paunchy bespectacled fellow in a printed shirt and baggy trousers , a highly convivial and jolly fellow jumping around in unbridled joy I must confess , talking gleefully about Saifeena or Salman’s love for Kit-Kat or whatever.