The Importance of Not Being Earnest: What Arnab Goswami’s Modi Interview Revealed

30 June 2016
On 27 June, Times Now aired what was billed as the “interview of 2016”—an exclusive conversation between Narendra Modi and Arnab Goswami.
{{name}}
On 27 June, Times Now aired what was billed as the “interview of 2016”—an exclusive conversation between Narendra Modi and Arnab Goswami.
{{name}}

On 27 June, the news channel Times Now aired what was billed as the “interview of 2016”—an exclusive conversation between the prime minister Narendra Modi and Arnab Goswami, the channel’s editor-in-chief and the anchor of its primetime show, The Newshour. Through the day, the channel fanned the buzz by releasing short clips of the duo’s pre-taped interaction. The interview was the prime minister’s first exclusive since he rose to power over two years ago—a fact that Goswami was quick to point out.

But nearly 48 hours later, almost no trace of it has remained in the news cycle. The reason for this fleeting effect is clear. What should rightly have been a landmark interview was a vapid conversation lacking any newsworthy content—save for the prime minister’s comments supposedly ticking off the maverick MP Subramanian Swamy. In utter contrast to his trademark combative style, Goswami composedly asked the prime minister only questions that allowed him to reinforce the ruling party’s public message, and to steer clear of all controversy—a telling choice on the anchor's part.

Though Modi didn’t name Swamy, in response to the anchor’s questions about the MP’s recent criticism of the RBI governor Raghuram Rajan and senior bureaucrats, Modi said, “Whether it’s someone from my party or not, I think such things are inappropriate. The nation won’t benefit from such publicity stunts.” “If anybody considers himself above the system, it is wrong,” he added.

Sandeep Bhushan was a television journalist for twenty years. He is currently an independent media researcher.

COMMENT