Revolutions eat their own

When the dispensers of India's destiny — by which I mean whoever decides programming at 24-hour news channels — retire to bed tonight, I suggest they take Mary Shelley's Frankenstein with them. It is a rip-roaringly good read, of course, but for those lordly beings, it will also be an instructive moral parable. Seeing any real parallel between an eight-foot tall monster and the short, tired old gentleman in a white vest who eats up all our screen-time, needs much imagination; but imagination's one thing the rulers of news TV have lots of.

They will be worried already. Anna Hazare's movement, which they have nurtured and treasured — and in case anyone still thinks they haven't, a recent survey of their coverage in April found 5592 pro-Anna segments versus 62 that were anti-Anna, a ratio that might raise eyebrows at Fox News — seems to be getting out of control. By which I mean, their control.

Thus, a little desperation this week. First Arnab Goswami made the strategic error of asking Aruna Roy on the News Hour and making her endure Eminent Jurists dissecting the bill. When Roy finally spoke, we realised that, apparently, a woman argues only from pique: Goswami summed up Roy's cogent objections as being because of "a history of differences." Roy was incensed: "we were to have a discussion on the law." Quite so, agreed Arnab, reminded. He immediately turned back to one of the (male) Eminent Jurists.

His accusations understandably enraged Roy: "Your timing — as Team Anna was sitting on fast, you had a press conference." (Wait — Anna should have broken his fast to let Roy address the press?) "You feel like Kejriwal stole your agenda, walked away with the credit. That really is the reason for the differences." Roy took off, explaining Team Anna's arrogance at length. Goswami was left begging: "Allow me Ma'am —" "One minute ma'am..." "Not fair..." "Can I please ask you something?" And finally, most amusingly: "Allow me to complete?"

... contd.

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