As news broke out that a man had opened fire at people protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) near the Jamia Millia Islamia university in Delhi on Thursday afternoon, Republic TV initially misreported the incident falsely claiming that the gunman was a protester.
BOOM analysed Republic's coverage of the incident and found text graphics the channel ran such as "Jamia Protester Uses Gun", "Protester Turns Violent" to be blatantly false.
During the live broadcast while reporting the incident, Republic TV's Political Editor, Aishwarya Kapoor, was quick to dish out theories and branded the gunman as the 'real face of anti-CAA protests'. At one point Kapoor even questioned if this (shooting) is a way of "catching media attention".
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Kapoor during the broadcast questioned Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and former Congress President Rahul Gandhi for "guns being brandished in the national capital" as the channel ran misleading news graphics hitting out at anti-CAA protesters who were the target of the attack.
At 2.02 pm Kapoor said, "...But this is unprecedented, on the streets of Delhi, brandishing guns, firing being opened by these people who claim that they are anti-CAA protesters, if this is anti-CAA protest that they need to look into the fact that what reality is this, the man brandishing guns fires gunshots...."
However, this narrative turned out false as details emerged later that the gunman was against the anti-CAA protests. BOOM found multiple Facebook posts by him before the attack like 'Shaheen Bagh, Khel Khatam (end game) indicating hostility towards anti-CAA protesters. (Ream more here)
Minutes later Republic's conversation steered towards "media attention" as a motive behind the incident. (At 2.08pm)
Anchor: But Aishwarya, this very well seems this man wanted to catch the media attention, as he knows that there a lot of cameras flashing at him right now, he knows that he's openly walking on the streets of the national capital
Aishwarya Kapoor (Political Editor): What is this way of catching media attention? this is the ideology behind the protest, they want eyes on the protest, what is this way of catching media attention, so anyone who wants media attention will they fire a gun? will they brandish illegal weapons on the streets of the national capital in India, it cannot be allowed..
Anchor: That exactly is the point they have no remorse..
Aishwarya Kapoor (Political Editor): In this democracy Rahul Gandhi and then Arvind Kejriwal should answer how they are supporting, under which condition they are supporting, under which condition they are supporting this kind of violent people, because in the name of CAA, this is happening, guns are being brandished in broad daylight in the streets of national capital, and Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal are supporting this, how can they? Are they not seeing this? Is Delhi not under threat? Can't they see this happening? but they are still doing it, why because are catering to one little vote bank, in the name of Anit-CAA this is happening.....
Twitter users call out Republic TV
Several Twitter users called out Republic TV's coverage of the incident including Jaskirat Singh Bawa, Senior Editor, The Quint, tweeted a thread on how the channel misreported for hours.
'Guns are being brandished in the national capital, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal are supporting it.'— Jaskirat Singh Bawa (@JaskiratSB) January 30, 2020
For a good half and hour or more @republic TV and their reporter @aishkapoor passed off the shooter as the 'real face of anti-CAA' protests. pic.twitter.com/QrMkeiT5Kr
Shameless Republic TV. pic.twitter.com/VKRiE4QdFM— naresh fernandes (@tajmahalfoxtrot) January 30, 2020
They're spinning the narrative where they want to say that Jamia or someone from it was involved in the shooting. pic.twitter.com/2vnpXubPO1— Vasundhara Singh Sirnate (@vsirnate) January 30, 2020
"Immediately corrected by Republic": Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-chief, Republic TV
Following public outrage, Repulic TV tweeted an explanation for its coverage of the shooting.
Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-chief of Republic TV, on his prime time show claimed that the misreporting by the channel was corrected immediately saying, "This was immediately corrected by Republic TV when reports confirmed his name". However BOOM did not find the mistake corrected immediately.
When initial news of shots fired at Jamia came in, there were incorrect reports on the identity of the gunman as one of the protesters. This was immediately corrected by Republic TV when reports confirmed his name was Gopal Sharma. This was clarified by the channel on-air as well pic.twitter.com/obRlUXPkbo— Republic (@republic) January 30, 2020
Additionally, hours after the incident, before the prime-time debate could start, the channel again misreported the incident circling the gunman's image with the text, "Protester turns violent".
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