An Indian TV news debate on the Ukraine crisis went wildly off the rails this week when anchor Rahul Shivshankar yelled at a guest for nearly two minutes straight until discovering it was the wrong guy.
Shivshankar, the controversial moderator of Times Now debate program India Upfront, brought on Bohdan Nahaylo of the Kyiv Post, a Ukrainian English-language newspaper, and Daniel McAdams, executive director of the paleo-libertarian Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.
In the segment, which has since gone viral in a cropped clip on social media, Shivshankar apparently believed he was addressing McAdams about America’s lack of direct military involvement in Ukraine. The show’s production crew had placed the wrong on-air titles for the two guests, making it appear that Nahaylo was actually McAdams.
With the anchor telling “McAdams” to “take a bit of a chill pill” and “relax,” Nahaylo—who appeared on the show from Ukraine—retorts that he won’t because “my country is at war,” prompting Shivshankar to launch into a grandstanding tirade meant to rebuke his American guest.
“Mr. McAdams, if you are so concerned about Ukrainians, get off the fence and send your forces and put boots on the ground,” the India Upfront host shouted. “Don’t lecture us here in India, okay? I am not gonna hear your lecture. And if you have [real] problems, then go tell the U.S. president Mr. Biden who flashes his fancy credentials!”
At this point, a crosstalk shouting match ensued with Nahaylo firing back at the increasingly irate Shivshankar. Eventually, the real McAdams can be heard saying “I am not even talking.” Unfortunately for Shivshankar, he didn’t hear him and continued to shout down the entirely wrong “McAdams.”
After the host ranted at Nahaylo about the Afghanistan war and America’s “colonial agenda” in Africa and elsewhere, he once again demanded the Ukrainian editor, whom he wrongly believed to be McAdams, to shut up and be quiet.
“Don’t sit here and lecture us, Mr. McAdams. We shut him down,” the anchor huffed, signaling to the control room to cut off Nahaylo’s mic.
Eventually the real McAdams interjected: “I’m not talking! It’s the other guy who’s talking. I haven’t been able to say a word.”
“Absolutely. The man has gone completely ballistic, and if he feels so strongly, he should go and fight alongside Ukrainians who are being killed,” a completely oblivious Shivshankar responded, still believing McAdams was Nahaylo and vice versa.
“Dear host, I have not said a word yet. I don’t know why you’re yelling at me,” McAdams replied.
“But I am not yelling at you, I am talking about Mr. McAdams,” the anchor insisted, finally resulting in his American guest bursting his bubble.
“I am Mr. McAdams,” the Ron Paul acolyte shot back. “I am Mr. McAdams and I haven’t said a word, so stop yelling at me!”
Merely uttering “I got that confused,” a deflated Shivshankar owned up to his humiliating on-air mistake.
In a statement to Clarion India’s Zafar Aafaq, McAdams called the whole segment “a comedy of errors” and that he “could only hear the host yelling and screaming at the person he thought was me” during the unfortunate exchange.
“I was pretty pissed off yesterday about the whole thing, but with this clip you have sent to me I find it hilarious,” he added.
Time Now did not immediately respond to a request for comment.