Prime Minister Narendra Modi's interview with Times Now editor Arnab Goswami on 27 June was one of the most-talked about interviews. It was Modi's was first major interview with a television channel after he came to power in 2014. During the interview, the Prime Minister broke his silence on Subramanian Swamy and came out in the defence of Raghuram Rajan.
Without naming Swamy, Modi had said, "This fondness for publicity is never going to do any good to the nation. People should conduct themselves with utmost responsibility. If anybody considers himself above the system, it is wrong."
Modi's comment on Swamy aside, Arnab Goswami received a lot of flak from the 'Lutyens' journalists and social media trolls for his 'uncharacteristically' soft interview with the Prime Minister. Many commented on how the interview didn't make an attempt to dig deeper into issues like NSG, India-Pakistan relationship, Uttar Pradesh elections, Rajan's exit, rising unemployment, etc. It was also suspected to be a 'scripted interview.' What took many by surprise was how little Goswami interrupted PM Modi and how little follow-up he engaged in.
Mocking the lack of his usual demeanour, there were hilarious reaction on Twitter to the interview.
ArGo blushing & praising NaMo's speech in the US, NaMo giggling — feel like I'm watching a date. Such shy, much coy, vaav #PMSpeaksToArnab
— Deepanjana (@dpanjana) June 27, 2016
Some journalists also questioned the exclusivity of the interview.
Goswami responded by quoting the number of hits the interview received — "1.4 billion impressions on Twitter, about over a million video views and 10.2 million impressions on Facebook, trending globally for 8 hours on Twitter and making global headlines by being quoted across the world." He claimed that the interview was the biggest one in the last five years in terms of reach and impact.
He was amused by the collective outrage of the 'Lutyens' journalists over the interview and said that it was the popularity of the show which got them the exclusive interview. He wrote, "Across the world, the first exclusive interviews are given to anchors and channels who command viewership. Not to those who nobody watches. Period."
Goswami took a dig at Sagarika Ghose and wrote, "One of them, a has-been anchor who desperately lobbies for an opportunity to be invited on my Newshour debates, even put out a tweet asking why the prime minister chose to give an interview to me and not hold a press conference. Embarrassed by the angry reactions, she deleted the tweet later. I thought her question was intellectually disjointed."
Goswami also addressed questions like 'Why was he soft?', "Why didn't he raise his voice like on Newshour?', "Why did he keep referring to the prime minister as Mr Prime Minister?"
"Three answers should silence this industry that obsesses about me. First, I used the same tone with Rahul Gandhi. If this industry is disappointed with how he let them down, its not my problem. Second, 'Frankly Speaking' is an interview and The Newshour is a debate, both are therefore different styles and formats. And finally, “Mr Prime Minister” is the most appropriate reference point when you are speaking to the Prime Minister," he said.
He ended the letter on the note that media 'that has nothing to do but write about him' should 'calm down and get composure.'