Rabindra Mishra, An Unprofessional, Disrespectful Journalist


Let me start out on a positive note first before I dig into what I have to say. I have a one degree separation with Mishra. I personally know people who personally know him, small that the Nepali diaspora is. We have been on each other's mailing lists a few times. I think he has been doing great work overall. And I am greatly appreciative of the Help Nepal foundation he started.
And I am so very glad he made it possible for me to listen to Baburam's voice online. That has not been an option any other way. So thanks.

But I was a little disappointed with the particulars of this interview.

One, he keeps interruptiong. The clip is 13 minutes, and I think you end up hearing Mishra's voice for at least six of those minutes. That is not sound journalism. It is what Larry King might call a me-me-me-me interview.

Two, his BBC program might have time constraints, but he should have posted an extended interview for the online audience. Maybe 15, 30 or even 45 minutes. There is no time and space issue online. I am disappointed he did not thus differentiate.

Three, if the Maoists are left on their own, sure, their goal is a communist republic. But they have offered a compromise ground of a constituent assembly to the Monarchists, and a compromise ground of that and a democratic republic to the democrats. And on that Prachanda and Baburam are one. My personal unflinching stand to engage the Maoists is to appeal to their better angels.

Four, it is obvious to me that the Bhattarai-Mahara Delhi visit was not spectacularly successful. They had major safety concerns all along. And they had to operate within narrow political windows. So the news should not be that they did not succeed. The news is that they even tried. Mishra misses that point. Bhattarai got persecuted by Prachanda for even suggesting the same two or so months back. Now he is doing the same thing. That is a victory of common sense within the Maoist central leadership and thus a positive sign.

Five, it is public knowledge by now that Baburam and his wife were subjected to "protective custody" and a "purification operation" by Prachanda, whatever that purification means. Mishra handles Baburam's now infamous statement of "I am happy to be in protective custody" with utmost insensitivity. To not handle this matter delicately is to not understand the very nature of the Maoist organization. I am willing to forego Prachanda's mistake and instead work with the new sense he has found. And I am awaiting his next positive signal, which would be to restore Baburam's previous official status as the second in command. If he means business. If he is serious about working with the democrats.

Six, there are segments of the interview where it feels like there is a "two-line struggle" going on between Baburam and Mishra. I understand Baburam is "hot" right now, but a journalist has to work hard at staying neutral.

Seven, Baburam sounds like Pradip Giri in his utterance of the phrase Dalit, Janajati, Mahila, Madhesi. Giri would say DaMaJaMa. This social progressive tilt of the Maoists is something the democrats have not been as forthcoming about.

Eight, Baburam says they started with one house 10 years ago, look at where they are now. As in, don't make too much of the fact we have not captured the district headquarters and the capital yet. We might have lost a few battles, but we will capture central power. This is meaningful. If the democrats and the Monarchists do not come along for their compromise position, the Maoists intend to go all the way. But if you engage them, then you help them opt out of that sinister option.

June 3
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