On Thursday night, minutes after Parliament approved the formation of Telangana, Lagadapati Rajagopal, the Member of Parliament who had used pepper spray in the Lok Sabha the previous week in protest, was on NDTV 24x7.
The anchor addressed him as "Mr Rajagopal" throughout a civil discussion on the volatile subject.
In the next hour, Rajagopal was on Times Now, where the anchor, the fiery Arnab Goswami, kept calling him "Pepper Spray MP" and "Mr Pepper Spray Politician".
Rajagopal had also been on Goswami's show on the day he had used the pepper spray in the House, failing miserably to get a word in while Goswami called him a disgrace, a shame and demanded an apology on behalf of the nation on his 9 pm show, The Newshour. So, it was a surprise to see Rajagopal back on Goswami's show a second time.
Soon after the show ended at 11 pm, Rajagopal spoke to Business Standard. "It is his show. That is his style," he said. "I am just happy that he accepts my calls and my reasoning. He doesn't have to accept me as a person."
This might defy logic. But then that's the power of Goswami, the just-in-his-40s editor-in-chief of Times Now, and his brand of 'pop journalism'.
Barring a few personalities who have decided never ever to appear on what is often termed as 'Arnab's Reality Show', most others are willing participants in his 9 pm slugfests where practically every panellist tries to outshout the other, nobody gets to hear what they are saying and the hour-long discussion ends with really no takeaway for the viewer.
Night after night, the usual suspects like Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha and Bharatiya Janata Party's Meenakshi Lekhi are sitting ducks for Goswami to take potshots at.
Such is the brand he has created of himself - mocked by most, despised by some but followed by all - that when Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi finally decided to give his first ever one-on-one television interview, he chose Goswami.
A former colleague of his at Times Now describes Goswami as "the Ekta Kapoor of English news TV because he knows the popular sentiment and milks it".
Adds Sumit Sinha, managing partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting: "I don't know whether people take him seriously or look at the act he puts on every night as comedy, but he has change the paradigm of how TV news is consumed."
There is ample proof that he is watched, even if for his histrionics.
Last year on Kaun Banega Crorepati, one of the questions that Amitabh Bachchan asked was, "With which TV anchor would you most associate the phrase 'The nation wants to know'?"
Not long ago, online shopping portal Flipkart came out with an advertisement with children enacting Goswami's Newshour.
Go to YouTube and there are dozens of spoofs all centred on Goswami.
Text: Veenu Sandhu, Business Standard
Image Courtesy: Times Now