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At around 9:30 AM IST on Saturday, Rajdeep Sardesai (Editor-in-chief IBN 18 network) said this on his Twitter account –

Rajdeep has 1.3 Million Twitter followers. NaMo refers to Narendra Modi who is the current odds-on favorite to be the Prime Minister of India. He has over 3.3 Million followers on Twitter.

15 hours later, Rajdeep tweeted this –

Later in the day he said this –

Rajdeep is no spring chicken. He is a seasoned media veteran in a divided nation. He is very familiar with both the passions surrounding Narendra Modi and the way dogs are perceived by a lot of the country. Four out of every thousand Indians own dogs and 99.6% of the population likely thinks of stray, diseased and unclean street dogs when they hear about dogs. While Nemo maybe Rajdeep’s cuddly pet and is probably the cutest dog on earth, Rajdeep should surely have known that his tweet would incite strong feelings. If he intended to troll Namo’s massive internet fan-base or expose the vilest insults the internet throws at him, his tweet was excellently thought out. After all it was just wordplay.

Tweeting-No-Nos-ART_0

But apparently this is not what he intended. He intended no malice and was then apparently taken aback by the response from anonymous Twitter accounts who cannot be held accountable by any law or service provider. I don’t buy for one second that Rajdeep couldn’t see this coming from a mile away. If he really is as naive about this as he portrays himself to be, he is the dumbest editor-in-chief in the world. I for one, think he is way smarter than that.

Twitter’s most unique feature is in how easily it connects celebrities and regular people. Prior to and post-Twitter there has been no service that allows for easy 2-way communication between the rich and famous and those that are not. This leveling of interaction coupled with the anonymity and privacy that Twitter provides makes it the perfect breeding ground for overreactions, emotions and vile tweets. Basically any user anywhere can create an anonymous profile, say anything at anyone and not be held accountable for saying whatever. Right now I could tweet at you that your mother is a whore who slept with you and I could continue tweeting for the rest of my life. Rajdeep or any media personality should know this by now and pretty much anything he says is bound to invoke a lot of reaction including the vilest the internet has to offer because of how Twitter works.

So for Rajdeep to apologize many hours later and then play victim is ludicrous. It would be the equivalent of me yelling “Fire” in a movie theater when there was no fire and then pointing out how people were mean to me for ruining their experience. Only, there are laws and social norms in most countries that would result in a slap of my wrists if I did what I described here. Twitter for now is mostly lawless and Rajdeep should have known that reactions to his “harmless” tweet from over a million people would span the spectrum of human behavior and decency.

rajdeep

For a decade, Indians could not even decide if they were #teamdravid or #teamsachin. Being on one of these ridiculous metaphorical teams almost always brought out insults from the other. So is it any surprise that Twitter and Indians reacted to Rajdeep the way they did? It is par for course and one that should be assumed and expected if you are a media person of any sorts.

So as troll-y as Rajdeep’s original tweet was, his reaction was even worse. To point fingers at those tweeting at him and to play victim is much worse than his original tweet itself. Twitter is not right and it is not fair. But it is the way it is and the Editor-in-chief of a major news corporation should certainly know better than to not expect a gamut of reactions every time he tweets. Especially when he has a million followers!

Update: Here was Rajdeep’s response to my post. Thanks Rajdeep Sardesai for reading my tweet, my post and responding. It is appreciated.

6 Responses to “Rajdeep Sardesai – Bad tweet, Worse reaction”

  1. Sri Aiyer Raju Sreenivasan

    I feel sorry for Sri Rajdeep Sardesai (SRS) being at the receiving end of abuses and threats.

    However, I would like to remind him here about a subject on which he spent many an hour in the recent past interviewing people and seeking out their opinion even though, for the truly lettered, there was nothing in it warranting such huge melodrama. I am talking about Sri NaMo once saying during the course of an interview that he would feel sorry even if a puppy should come under his wheels while driving or being driven by somebody else. This was very innocuous and was stated without any sense of malice towards anybody. But we know how the secularity handled this issue simply because it involved the majority Indians’ hope called Sri Narendra Modi.

    But SRS cannot claim to be innocent. His intention may have been to indulge in a bit of word-play between a NaMo our heart-throb, and Nemo his dog. But then Sri NaMo is too huge, too big to take offence to this silly banter. While I feel sorry for all the abuses SRS received because of his N-N tweet, but this too humble a Stenographer would like to tell him, he should be very very careful, and should weigh his words because he is not a lowly Stenographer, but the Editor-in-Chief of a major media house.

    Reply
  2. Vaidya Nathan

    This was waiting to happen for Rajdeep & his ilk who have abused their exclusive access to “Megaphone” too long. It is childish that he is not willing take responsibility for his ‘presumed slip-up’ and face the consequence. Instead, he is playing victim.The days of shoe being on only one foot is long gone. As business leaders and executives, we have been taught and have learnt to hold ourselves accountable for everything we say and do. That made us be measured and careful. About time Indian Mass Media learns it. Otherwise, there are more careers and reputations that stand a high chance of being ruined.

    Reply
  3. Kishor Satwick

    Continuously staying with nemo, no wonder Rajdeep Sardesai has picked up its habit of senseless barking. Ultimately, he is bound to pick up the habit of those with whom he spends the time most.

    Reply

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