On Thursday night, the mortal remains of General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, and 11 others who lost their lives in a chopper crash in Tamil Nadu’s Coonoor on were brought to Delhi’s Palam airport. The evening’s developments got live coverage on most news channels.
But there was one anchor on a news channel, who had to be taken off air in the middle of his live coverage on the last rites.
News Nation’s primetime face Deepak Chaurasia, must have spoken – or, should we say, struggled to speak – for a few minutes before abruptly being taken off air by the channel.
When the video surfaced online, Twitter was abuzz with speculations about what made Chaurasia ill at ease and why he was taken off air.
The conjecture ranged from the anchor being unwell to intoxicated.
When Chaurasia first joined the conversation, as announced by the reporter on screen, there were a few seconds of dead air. Neither Chaurasia nor the reporter spoke. When he finally began speaking, he seemed confused as to who or what he was talking about. He made errors like addressing General Bipin Rawat as VP Singh, the late Congress veteran and eighth prime minister of the country, before his video disappeared from the screen.
In the brief video, the anchor also seemed to slur his words and struggle to form a coherent sentence, even covering his face with his hands at one point. In another slip of tongue, he said, “we lost a journalist” instead of “general”.
There was blank silence for 30 seconds straight after Chaurasia was taken off air, after which a voiceover anchor started talking, without addressing what had happened.
Hunches on social media aside, Newslaundry tried to find out from News Nation insiders what exactly happened with Chaurasia.
NL Hindi spoke to News Nation employees who confirmed that Chaurasia was, in fact, intoxicated. Allegedly, he was in Indore to attend a family wedding. Later, images from the wedding, with him dancing, that had been uploaded on his social media also circulated on Twitter.
A News Nation employee said, “After the wedding, Deepak was reluctant to do the show, but he was told to do it. Actually, he has done the show after drinking multiple times, so the channel thought he would be able to do it. But when was unable to do the show, the channel, in a knee-jerk reaction, replaced him with other anchors.”
The employee, on condition of anonymity, said Chaurasia was doing the show from Indore and was then replaced by two anchors from Delhi.
“In the segment where Chaurasia was removed, he misbehaved with PCR technicians,” the employee alleged. “That bit was recorded but later removed and the show was also not shared on any digital platform of the channel.”
Newslaundry reached out to Chaurasia but he has not responded to the calls.
We can now say that we’ve seen everything on primetime television news — from panelist’s cussing to getting in scuffles, to now a seemingly intoxicated anchor.
This story first appeared on newslaundry.com