Arnab Goswami, the vitriolic face of India’s notorious ‘Godi Media’ – a school of media that operates not just on behalf of the state against the interests of democracy but acts as the stormtroopers of a propaganda war, colluding round the clock with fascist forces to spread hate and lies, distort facts and demonise dissent – has finally got a debilitating dose of his own medicine. For too long he has been holding media trials on behalf of the Modi-Shah establishment and the Sangh brigade using select leaks from mails and chats. He would not have perhaps bargained for the moment when WhatsApp chats would prove such a leveller for him and expose his identity as a thoroughly unscrupulous power broker in the garb of a self-righteous journalist.

The law has of course begun to catch up with Arnab Goswami in recent times. He was arrested by Maharashtra police in November 2020 as a key accused in a 2018 suicide abetment case. Interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother who had committed suicide in May 2018 had accused Arnab Goswami and Republic TV of driving them to commit suicide by not paying Naik his dues worth Rs 5.40 crore. The Supreme Court of India which has of late been denying bail petitions filed by journalists, writers, lawyers and human rights activists, all victims of trumped up charges and draconian laws, by contrast rushed to the rescue of Arnab Goswami to grant him bail.

While Republic TV gets away with its routine peddling of hate and lies in India, its Hindi channel Republic Bharat was fined last December by Ofcom, the British TV regulatory authority, for “hate speech against Pakistani people, and derogatory and abusive treatment of Pakistani people”. But here in India, we now know how Arnab’s Republic TV has been the beneficiary of systematic collusion with India’s TV rating agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). Former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta is already in jail in connection with what has now come to be known as the TRP (Television Rating Points) scam, and with the submission of the supplementary chargesheet by the Mumbai Police containing 500 pages of Whatsapp conversation between Arnab Goswami and Partho Dasgupta between 2017 and 2019, we now have explosive details about the functioning of Republic TV.

The Arnab chats tell us not only about the collusive nexus between Republic TV and the BARC and the tampering with India’s TRP data to the business advantage of Republic TV, they give us an anatomical picture of the propaganda war that the Modi-Shah establishment has been waging with Arnab Goswami as a key manager of this  war. Viewed only economically, the TRP scam may look like nothing more than a media equivalent of India’s notorious share market scams or banking frauds based on systematic manipulation of ‘insider information’. But it assumes a totally different dimension when we realise that this ‘insider information’ pertains to military and political planning at the highest level of the executive, when we hear Arnab Goswami mention the Pulwama tragedy as a ‘war we have won like crazy’ or when we realise that Arnab Goswami has prior intimation of official secrets like the Balakot air strike or the abrogation of Article 370! It is all the more disturbing to realise that the National Investigative Agency (NIA) is currently busy targeting leaders of the farmers’ struggle – while ignoring the evidence in Arnab’s chats of what is clearly a breach of national security.

The world has just heaved a collective sigh of relief over the failure of the Trump coup in America. Major parts of the American media played a key role in securing America’s escape from the trauma of a second term of Trump’s tyranny. The Arnab chats tell us how India fares in contrast, how the Pulwamas and Balakots are unscrupulously used by the combination of the Goebbelsian Godi Media and the Hitlerite Modi Regime to manufacture and manipulate public opinion. At the same moment Modi was shamelessly asking for votes in the name of Pulwama martyrs, Arnab was unscrupulously using their deaths to increase viewership and further consolidate his channel as a Sanghi propaganda machine. The battle for democracy in India will have to be advanced by challenging this collusion between the dominant sections of the media, especially television, and the ruling political establishment.

The Arnab chats are way more explosive and ominous than the infamous Radia tapes of the UPA era. The Radia tape were about journalists and corporate lobbyists trying to influence ministerial appointments and policies, the Arnab chats are about the transformation of the media into a tool of corporate aggression and fascist propaganda war. It is reassuring that the ongoing farmers’ movement against the Modi government’s disastrous farm laws has identified the Godi media as a key adversary along with the Adani-Ambani company raj and the dictatorial Modi government. Regardless of the legal trajectory of the TRP scam, the Arnab chats must be used as key ammunition in advancing this battle for truth, justice and democracy against the combined assault of corporate power, dictatorial government and an aggressively partisan media establishment.