If we were to pick two faces from Indian news channels that have emerged as the most prominent voices and are the toast of social media right now - in the context of JNU crisis that is - it has to be Arnab Goswami of Times Now and Ravish Kumar of NDTV.
Why Arnab? Not only was he among the first to choose the issue for the January 10 show - just a day after the fateful Afzal Guru event took place in JNU - he has also taken a rather extreme stand on the issue from day one. In that episode, he lashed out at Umar Khalid, and openly called him an “anti-national”. No points for guessing that the student wasn't given much of a chance to explain his stand. The numbers, if not journalism ethics, are on his side - that episode has garnered more than 11 lakh hits. And Khalid has been absconding since then.
Why Ravish? He broke onto the scene only on February 16 when he, while walking in a solidarity march for journalists' safety, was approached by Madhu Trehan of Newslaundry. In an 11-minute video recorded in the rally itself, Ravish single-handedly altered the discourse on the issue. How? By simply calling a spade a spade. He termed the way "some sections of the media" are going about covering the JNU crackdown as "dangerous", and asked the burning question: “Who are these anchors to label anyone as anti-Indian?” No marks for guessing he was talking about Arnab.
Next, we saw Arnab take on those who had problems with the HRD ministry's dictate to all central universities to compulsorily install Indian flags at the campus. It was a rather unusual debate that began with Arnab wondering how could anyone oppose it. The episode turned out to be another big moment for Times Now, and is best remembered for how major general GD Bakshi broke down on the show - miffed by contrary opinions. An impromptu call by HRD minister Smriti Irani followed, in which she told the retired army man the nation would be grateful to people like him forever - at the same time becoming a social media darling.
But, Ravish literally broke the internet on February 19 on the 9 pm prime time slot when he blacked out the screen telling everyone what needed to be said: debates based on half-truths or plain lies wasn't just bad journalism, but also a dangerous precedent.
So, while on one hand, Arnab, with his hyper-nationalistic stand has certainly become a hero for many, Ravish is perhaps getting all the votes of the neutral viewer.
The social media has been buzzing with support to Ravish:
Ravish has shown what moral credibility is— Madhavan Narayanan (@madversity) February 20, 2016
Just heard Ravish Kumar. You know, it doesn't matter which side of the debate you are on. I just wish there were more journalists like him.— Ramesh Srivats (@rameshsrivats) February 19, 2016
The only anchor who can challenge the individuality of Arnab is Ravish. NO one else has such a mass appeal.— Rahul Raj (@bhak_sala) February 19, 2016
Arnab continues to have a massive following: