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Media-bashing as a political strategy works for Modi. The opposition could use it too

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On TV news debates, BJP spokespersons shout and scream, interrupt others all the time, don’t let others speak. If they can’t win on points, they win on noise and sheer bullying, and the anchor lets them win. A top TV anchor once told me why they do this: “Amit Shah has a team that watches every show and decides whether the BJP ‘won’ or ‘lost’.” Losing is obviously not an option.

On channels and shows where the BJP’s ‘victory’ in debates is not guaranteed in advance, where their spokesperson may not be allowed to win through noise, they don’t send their spokesperson.

Similarly, the Congress and the Samajwadi Party have not been sending their spokesperson on TV news debates since 23 May because they feel these debates are not going to achieve anything other than opposition-bashing. It’s taken them long to learn this lesson, and sooner or later, all opposition parties will follow suit. What kind of a person walks into a trap?

Any opposition leader you meet will blame the media for the state of the opposition. The complaint has some merit, though it is also an excuse for the opposition’s own shortcomings. Rarely has there been a politician who hasn’t complained about the media. We live in an age where everyone complains about the media all the time anyway.

There is little doubt that Indian TV news since 2014 has been largely a vehicle to make the BJP and the Modi government look good and the opposition and liberals look bad on a daily basis. It is not agenda journalism, it is not journalism at all, but sheer propaganda. On a day when there’s some big news that demands asking tough questions of the government, these channels will do debates on Hindu-Muslim issues, for instance. Ravish Kumar has aptly called them........

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