Amid a raging controversy surrounding leaked social media chats between Arnab Goswami and (Broadcast Audience Research Council) BARC ex-CEO Partho Dasgupta, in which issues like Balakot airstrike and Pulwama attack were mentioned, the journalist's former colleagues at Times Now hit out at him. The Mumbai police has accused Arnab Goswami of allegedly bribing Dasgupta with several lakh rupees to ramp up Republic TV's viewership. The Congress has alleged that the chats show that Arnab used the prior knowledge of the Balakot strike and planned coverage accordingly to increase TRPs.
Arnab was the Editor-in-Chief of the TV channel, and is credited with ensuring its high ratings with his 9 pm show 'The Newshour' when he was working there. In a monologue delivered on the same show on Monday, Navika Kumar, who presently hosts The Newshour, spoke about the controversy and her association with Arnab.
In a monologue when the programme began, Navika said, "The seat I'm sitting on, the shoes I tried to fill in 2016, when Arnab Goswami (then Editor-in chief of Times Now) left to start his own channel. I was among the first people he hired in 2005. It was Arnab who called me for four months who asked me to join Times Now, which was yet to begin, but wanted to bring in journalism with a difference. All I know about television is what I learnt from him, because he is a great professional and he knew the craft of television."
"He made my investigations into an audio visual story to reach out to all viewers. I learnt that craft from him," she added, stating that she worked with Arnab for 12 years and always had respect for him as a professional.
"It was difficult for me to fill his shoes, and I had to do The Newshour which was associated with Arnab for 12 years...I wish that Arnab in his quest for commercial success had not forgotten the fundamentals of human value systems."
Lashing out at him, she said, "It is an emotional moment for me, because this man, who has followed commercial success and commercial profit to such an extent, is a man I don't know at all. I worked with him for 12 years but this man is someone I don't know."
Speaking more specifically on the controversy, she said, "My quarrel with Arnab is not about the information ahead of the others. A journalist should have information. But, when you convert that information and loosely put out conversations with friends and family and put it out there in the open...that is certainly not in national interest."
Watch the video below.
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) January 18, 2021
Other former colleagues of Arnab, like Nikunj Garg, Senior Editor, Internal Security, Times Now, also lashed out at him.
"The basic integrity and ethical core, which is the bedrock of a profession like journalism, has completely gone amiss even in the private dealings of Arnab Goswami," Nikunj said.
The basic integrity & ethical code which is the bedrock of profession like journalism, has completely gone amiss even in private dealings of Arnab Goswami: Nikunj Garg, Senior Editor- Internal Security, Times Now, tells Navika Kumar on @thenewshour. | #ChatgateBetraysBraves pic.twitter.com/q5Qlz7Co53
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) January 18, 2021
Navika Kumar had been widely criticised for airing leaked WhatsApp conversations of actors Rhea Chakraborty and Deepika Padukone in 2020. While the jokes and memes about Navika’s ‘access to private chats’ had gone viral, the journalist had been questioned over the ethics of sharing such ‘leaks’ and invading privacy.
Meanwhile, Arnab Goswami and Republic TV have defended themselves. In a statement, Arnab said, "A motivated lobby of Lutyens channels is trying to put pressure on BARC India to take action against Republic even when the matter is in court. The whole country knows that the case against Republic is one of political malice; a fixed match, an attempt to crush Republic. I urge the government and people of India not to allow this injustice. At a time when Republic is fighting an attack from Pakistan, Lutyens media wants to pressurise BARC to take action against us. Will BARC India take action against channels which are being interrogated by the ED? They are also being investigated. Should they be suspended in the interim?"
"I am writing a letter to the government BARC immediately. People of India: Stand with Republic against this gigantic conspiracy. Republic needs your help. Stand with your network," he added.