A clip from a recent panel debate on AajTak News from Dec 5 has gone viral for all the wrong reasons. Amidst a heated debate between BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, news anchor and moderator Anjana Om Kashyap asked Owaisi to prove his patriotism. Owaisi was extremely displeased with the question and his response proved the same.
The now widely shared clip drew heavy criticism from people on the internet. After all, it’s not the first time for a leader like Owaisi to be pestered with such a question. There have been several instances where reactionary news channels posed similar questions to leaders from minority communities. And yet, they still manage to get them on their panels.
Whenever Owaisi or any minority leader appears on these channels to raise their profile, it does more harm than good. The news anchors with their theatrics try to egg on them with questions in hopes to draw controversial answers. Any response will then be used as bait to peddle more hatred in the guise of providing a platform to speak.
It is extremely counterproductive to keep addressing such questions from news channels with similar ideological leanings as the right-wing Hindutva politicians to who Owaisi says he has nothing to prove to. Additionally, any engagement with such news channels further validates and legitimizes their hateful agenda.
There has been an exponential rise in toxic and hateful content on Indian new channels over the past few years. Peddling hatred in the name of news has become the new normal. Recently, several Twitter users shared their discontentment with popular brands sponsoring advertisements on these news channels after it was reported that Amul was the biggest sponsor of Sudarshan TV’s hatred filled ‘UPSC JIhad’ show. Top brands like Parle, Renault, Maruti Suzuki have expressed their displeasure with the kind of content on these channels and have considered/ are considering pulling their ads.
Amul Group’s managing director RS Sodhi later announced that their company has been looking to cut down on their TV advertising budget. According to Best Media Info, Parle’s Krishna Rao Buddha called on other brands to consider a ban on advertising in news channels until they bring back ethics.
Similarly, politicians and activists need to stop entertaining news channels whose only programming is hate-mongering. There are other ways to reach out to the masses like social media or even other news channels that have better programming. Once these toxic news channels are boycotted for what they peddle, it could at least force them to rethink their bigotry or just lead to their self-destruction because engaging is what helps them sustain.