The controversy over a JNU event and its fallout has officially snowballed into the year's biggest political debate with politicians, historians, journalists, students, writers, universities, 'nationalists' and 'anti-nationals' jumping into it. In the midst of all this, a battle of words has begun between news channel Times Now and the news portal The Wire.
All over the allegedly doctored video of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar.
Here's a brief timeline of the events in this exchange of barbs between the two editors:
- Here's the questionable Newshour debate which fuels the controversy. At 23:52 on the timeline, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra airs a clip of Kanhaiya Kumar purportedly shouting for 'azaadi':
- This is when Siddharth Varadarajan, editor of The Wire, publishes on February 19, an opinion piece titled On Kanhaiya: It is Time to Stand Up and Be Counted. He accuses Times Now, among other channels, of fabricating a case and peddling forged ‘evidence’ against Kumar.
- Varadarajan receives a phone call from Newshour anchor Arnab Goswami claiming that the show never ran the video. Goswami clearly insists that Times Now had not shown the video at all and that when BJP spokesman Sambit Patra attempted to show it on air, he had stopped Patra from doing so.
- The Wire accepts in good faith Goswami’s claim and edits the article to read:
In an earlier version of this article, Times Now was listed as one of the channels that broadcast the doctored tape of Kanhaiya Kumar. The channel’s head, Arnab Goswami has clarified that a BJP spokesman, Sambit Patra, sought to play the clip on his iPad during a debate but was not allowed to as the clip was not verified, and the clip was never played on the channel.
- Soon thereafter, Times Now puts up a notice on its channel in which it calls out The Wire and Varadarajan for publishing a “factually incorrect” article about the showing of a doctored video of Kumar on the English news channel.
- A reader of The Wire sends Varadarajan the YouTube link which shows the doctored footage being aired on the channel.
- The Wire calls Goswami out for having aired the doctored video.
- Goswami changes stance from ‘We never aired it’ to ‘We said the footage was unverified’.
- He then puts out a 46-second edited version of his show with the following description:
Watch: The Newshour clip where BJP Spokesperson is told video put on Hindi channel had to be examined and could not be taken at face value.
- The Wire's website shuts down due to a technical failure and its Twitter handle tweets out the following:
Dear readers, thanks to Times Now’s false accusations against The Wire, traffic to the site has been booming! It'll be online in a minute.— The Wire (@thewire_in) February 20, 2016
We're back online.— The Wire (@thewire_in) February 20, 2016
We're now waiting to see how Goswami responds. Could there be an apology in the offing? Are we in for a historic television moment?