DailyPost 1893

If the anchor strays, and that too deliberately, who will anchor him. If it remains hidden, it is presumed that no damage is done. Nobody knows anyway. Until totally exposed all evasive defenses can be camouflaged into neat civilized behavior. Politicians and TV Anchors can become the deadliest cocktails. They can take you on a roller coaster ride, while they eat away the vitals of the system like termites. This is the story of Chris Cuomo, CNN’s prime time anchor, who has been suspended indefinitely pending further evaluation. This relates to the times when his brother New York Governor was facing flurry of sexual misconduct allegations, which finally culminated in the Governor’s ouster some three months ago.

The announcement of Tuesday about Cuomo’s suspension was in the making. Some connections had started surfacing. He seemed to be determined to stay, despite his brother landing into the scandal. His suspension now has been the equivalent of a cable news shockwave. Cuomo’s 9 p.m. program has frequently been CNN’s most watched hour of the day. Undeniably, he had a larger-than-life presence in the network. What finally went against him? These were the new documents released by the New York Attorney General’s office on Monday. That established that Cuomo ”was more intimately involved than previously known in shaping his brother’s defense.” It can either be called an example of outstanding propriety by CNN or that it was a damage control exercise for the channel.

Whichever way you look at it, the drastic action will stem the tide of the political – journalistic connection, to an extent of being called a combo. Cuomo has accepted giving advice to his brother earlier, that broke the rules anyway, still he continued, but Monday open document revelations have been damning evidence. He had even dictated statements for the-governor to use. Without denying the fact that political tv channel connection happened in the last dispensation too, this would certainly bring the criticality of journalistic  values right on the center stage of our  democratic discourse. All of us know how it has been vitiating the functioning of democracies and feeble efforts of bringing in accountability did not yield results.

Will such an act be even treated worth a mention in the journalistic climate that we are in? Who controls our anchors? The backend selection of the news and the slant that is provided, as per the anchors and channel’s needs, is the TV journalism of India today. Have we heard any action being taken by the news channel management or the regulators? How many of us know that there are regulators also? It has become free for all, to push any nature of agenda they want to pedal. They become their prosecutors. They can hound anybody for any length of time. One anchor’s around 500 pages of WhatsApp chat transcripts on a variety of issues, full of evidence, did not deserve even an inquiry?


Sanjay Sahay

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