On August 25, Republic TV hosted its routine late night program ‘The Debate’ where Arnab Goswami invited panelists to discuss the Rs 700 crore relief aid that was allegedly promised to the Kerala government by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s Office tweeted on August 21 about the aid, which was later denied by the UAE. The CM, however, stood by his claim and all eyes are now turned to the UAE-based Malayali billionaire who was the only source of the information, as clarified by Vijayan.

Goswami’s show titled ‘#FloodAidLie’ attempted to discuss the purported fake news. However, soon after it was aired, the journalist received a lot of backlash on social media as many claimed that he called the people of Kerala “shameless”.

Both individual users and social media pages posted a 30-second clip of Goswami’s show where he can be heard saying, “This group is shameless. It’s the most shameless bunch of Indians I have ever seen. They have gone around spreading the lie religiously. I don’t know what they get for it, whether they get paid money. Do they get paid money for abusing their own country? Are they part of a group? Who are they funded by? The point is it’s a conspiracy to malign India.” The video shared by Facebook page Beef Janta Party has been shared over 2,800 times.



Arnab Cowswamy, unofficial spokesman of the sanghis, just called the suffering people of Kerala “the most shameless bunch of Indians I have ever seen”!!
This is Republic’s Onam gift to Malayalis.

This is why we call this sanghi hatemonger a media terrorist.

Posted by Beef Janata Party on Saturday, 25 August 2018

The clip is also widespread on Twitter. It has been retweeted over 500 times from C.J. Werleman’s timeline.

Many others on social media have also expressed their anger at Goswami’s alleged statements.

What is the truth?

Republic TV has uploaded the full version of the video on its website. If one were to watch the minutes preceding the viral clip on social media, the show takes a dig at Congress and the Left for spreading the alleged lie of Rs 700 crore aid from UAE. Before panelists come on screen, Goswami introduced the debate saying, “Biggest fake news story of the year. The UAE goes on record to deny the 700 crore flood aid fake story to Kerala. And the conspiracy was of the Congress party, Congress netas, trolls.” He also goes ahead to say that Republic TV has “exposed the troll army deployed by Congress to promote the flood aid lie.”

Seconds before Goswami begins his “this group is shameless” monologue, the program shows a clip of CM Vijayan talking about the purported relief fund. It then flashes this question on the screen – “Politicians lied on flood aid?”, and the debate begins thereafter. A screengrab of the frame just before Goswami’s statements is attached below.

The clip posted on social media does not show the first few minutes of the debate. Many viewers believed that he was referring to Keralites with his “this group of shameless people” remark. Even though Goswami did not single them out, they weren’t completely at fault for making the assumption. He kept referring to an imaginary bunch of people who conspired to spread an alleged lie. But the news originated from the Chief Minister’s Office, was carried out by multiple media outlets, including Republic TV and then shared by citizens on social media.

If the aim was to target politicians and Congress IT cell members, screaming the words “tukde tukde gang”, “anti-nationals”, “vultures” and “carnivores” throughout the length of the show was unnecessary and left space for ambiguities. Goswami might not have used the word “Keralites” but the debate was filled with hyperboles attempting to target anybody who was critical of government efforts at a time of great need.

About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.