Are you Serious Times Now?

“6 hours after Gujarat loss, Rahul Gandhi was watching ‘Star Wars’ at a cinema hall in Delhi. #AreYouSeriousRahul” Times Now is known for its outrageous hashtags and blatant one-sided reporting but this time it had clearly outdone itself. In a bit to paint the Congress President as nonchalant and indifferent in the face of defeat, the channel held a prime time ‘debate’ on Gandhi watching Star Wars on the evening of December 18 after the assembly election results had been announced.

Unfortunately for Times Now, the absurdity of it did not go unnoticed. The channel’s hashtag #AreYouSeriousRahul backfired and the channel and its anchors became the target for unending jokes and ridicule on social media. The hashtags #AreYouSeriousTimesNow and #AreYouSeriousaNavika were used by twitterati to mock Times Now for its ludicrousness.

Clearly on the backfoot following the ridicule, Navika Kumar, the Managing Editor of Times Now who hosted the prime time show came up with a weak explanation that did not cut ice.

On the face of it, Times Now was criticizing Congress President for not spending time with party workers after the election results but the agenda ran deeper. It was part of an organised campaign that the channel has been running since the announcement of Gujarat elections, echoing the words of BJP leaders and spokespersons. So what was this about Rahul Gandhi being serious? What were the origins of this line of thinking?

It was on Nov 1st after Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of India’s ranking on World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ ranking, BJP minister RS Prasad stated “Rahul Gandhi, economics is a serious business please don’t make it shallow and hollow” From there started the campaign of projecting Rahul Gandhi as non-serious.

A few weeks later when Rahul Gandhi tweeted on failure of PM Modi’s “hugplomacy”

GVL Narasimha Rao, National Spokesperson, BJP wanted to know “When will Rahul Gandhi get serious?”

A few days later another BJP spokesperson on a different channel spoke about Rahul Gandhi not being serious. This was on a program on Republic about chits being passed to Rahul Gandhi at a press conference.

It was unsurprising to see Times Now singing the tune of Government ministers and BJP spokespersons, questioning Rahul Gandhi on similar lines, drawing parallels with PM Modi.

Gujarat elections saw some of the most ridiculous hashtags from Times Now. Announcing #ModiSweepsGujarat on the day the elections were announced, Times Now’s hashtags for the opposition left no doubt about its agenda. It was an endless tirade about #RahulNeechPolitics, #PappuBanaYuvraj, #RaGaSomnathSelfGoal, #CongTalibanTango, #CongPakSupport and so on as the channel continued its unabashed campaign for the ruling party. In the run-up to the result day, night after night in its primetime shows, the channel carried on its business of building public opinion against the opposition. Keeping an eye out for the smallest opportunity, Times Now dutifully attacked the opposition leaders with real and imaginary accusations.

Hashtags used by Times Now
#UPANeDeshBecha

#RahulNeechPolitics

#ModiSweepsGujarat

#ModiMalignedin2017

#TheCasteCowboys

#RahulvsIndiaRising

#PappuCensored

#YuvrajReplacesPappu

#PappuBanaYuvraj

#MuslimQuotaPlot

#RaGaSomnathSelfGoal

#CongChaiSelfGoal

#CongTalibanTango

#CongTerrorPhoto

#CongPakPollLink

#CongBetrayedRam

 

Times Now has thrown neutrality to the wind in its political coverage. A systematic campaign of vilification and character assassination has been the primary pursuit of the channel over the last few months, the objective clearly being to build and sustain a negative perception of opposition leaders and parties. The political scenario is heating up with a string of assembly elections in 2018, and Times Now can be expected to sing the tune of the establishment through loud, relentless and blatantly biased coverage.

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