Was Nidhi Razdan Wrong In Her Handling Of Sambit Patra?


Was Nidhi Razdan Was Wrong In Her Handling Of Sambit Patra?
- Prasun Kumar Bhaiya & Aashay Sahay -


An otherwise dull Thursday evening was punctuated by an on-air standoff between the NDTV anchor Nidhi Razdan and the BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra. During a panel discussion on the cattle slaughter ban, Sambit accused NDTV of having an agenda against him and his party. Nidhi reacted by demanding that Sambit either apologise or leave the show. An altercation ensued wherein charges of bias and impropriety were traded. Nidhi Razdan’s handling of the issue has received widespread praise since. FirstPost celebrated the fact that she didn’t resort to screaming or shouting the way Arnab did in a similar situation, and various public personalities celebrated her bravery, restraint and professionalism.
Here are the leading arguments in her support, and why we believe she was in the wrong:

1. SHE TOOK A STAND AGAINST A DISRUPTIVE PANELIST!

“Would it be okay for Donald Trump or Narendra Modi to throw out journalists from their press conferences because they accused them of having an anti-press agenda?”

Nope. Nidhi Razdan’s problem with Sambit Patra wasn’t that he was interrupting the show but that he accused the channel of having an anti-BJP agenda. The two options she gave him were either apologise or leave the show. In case you haven’t already realized this is tantamount to censorship. It is alright for a politician to accuse a news outlet of having an agenda. Most news outlets have clear political leanings and tend to selectively cover events that vindicate their leanings or cover them in a clearly biased fashion. We all love to mock Fox News and Republic, but there is enough evidence of news outlets having a leftward bias - which we tend to overlook because these channels conform to our world view. But censorship, irrespective of who is indulging in it, is always an evil.


There is a case to be made for ejecting someone from a show for disrupting civil discussion. Nidhi Razdan ought to have been supported had she thrown out Sambit Patra for being disruptive and inhibiting a debate. Imagine Shashi Tharoor was on Republic channel and accused the channel of having an anti-Congress agenda and Arnab Goswami asked him to either apologise or leave. Would you be as supportive of Arnab Goswami and his actions in such a scenario? Would it be okay for Donald Trump or Narendra Modi to throw out journalists from their press conferences because they accused them of having an anti-press agenda?


2. SHE REFRAINED FROM THROWING A CHAIR AT SAMBIT...

The argument that Nidhi by refraining from shouting or screaming and not stooping to the levels of crassness exhibited by Arnab, has done something commendable is problematic. By using Arnab as the threshold for determining professionalism, we are succumbing to a new normal where absolute hooliganism is the comparison metric for professionalism. This does discredit to journalists like Barkha Dutt or Sreenivasan Jain for example, who have maintained true journalistic integrity in the face of similar accusations - firmly denying bias and moving on to extract the answers they had set out to pursue.

The principle must hold regardless of the extent of its abuse by belligerents. Questioning the motive of individuals and organisations is core to the role of the press and by the same yardstick, they must not be above having their motives questioned. Furthermore, the press should have its motives questioned from time to time and be willing to defend their objectivity and neutrality, as a check and balance. Just because Republic TV and Arnab shred panelists that question their integrity, shouldn’t mean that others that do the same thing should be praised because of their sophistication in doing essentially the same.


3. COME ON, IT'S SAMBIT PATRA!

It is easy to hate Sambit Patra. He isn’t very articulate or logically sound. He doesn’t do a particularly good job of representing the party and comes across as whiny and mediocre. For the most part, he seems to have been pulled straight off the stage of a fifth grade elocution competition. On the other hand, Nidhi Razdan is structurally the opposite - suave, articulate and compelling. For some reason, it sort of feels right when she schools him as he incessantly whines. However, before we pop the confetti, we must stop and think about the fact that in not questioning what is effectively censorship, we are mirroring the behaviour of those whom we oppose.

But if you let your opinion of Sambit Patra or his party colour your opinion of the treatment he was meted you aren’t very different from the people you think you oppose. Your positions on issues may vary but your thought processes are pretty much the same. Think about that, will you?

Comments

Unknown said…
End of the day, its a great loss for NDTV and its TRP. Many people mostly watch the channel were he is participating.

Popular posts from this blog

Tournament Review - IIT Bombay Mood Indigo Intervarsity 2014.

The Case of Speluncean Explorers (In a nutshell)

Delhi State Assembly Elections, 2013: The Whole Story