Tempest in a teacup

Tempest in a teacup

- in Opinion

Tempest in a teapot (American English), or storm in a teacup (British English), is an idiom meaning a small event that has been exaggerated out of proportion.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar reaped the whirlwind when he scored the Malacanang Press Corps (MPC) for “misreporting” President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement about Martial Law.
In a press statement, the MPC called out Secretary Andanar for his disapproval of the reports that the mainstream media has since blown out of proportion.
So, Secretary Andanar’s disagrees with the reports. So what? Is he under obligation to agree with every report that comes out about the President?
The MPC said “(t)he media has no obligation to please or satisfy its sources because its loyalty is to the citizens, those who will be affected by the people who are far more powerful than them.”
Lofty words.
But it seems most Filipinos no longer see it that way.
President Duterte won by a plurality of only 38%, something which many of journalists including those in the MPC made lightly of because that makes him a “minority” president.
As many people, including soon to be ex-President Barack Obama, the European Union and functionaries of the United Nations would eventually realize, President Duterte speaks his own language.
And because he does not speak the language that many journalists want him to speak, he has been demonized even before his formal assumption.
100-day honeymoon? What’s that?
The press gave him none of that, but the President did not make much of it. He knew what he was up against when he decided to run for the highest position in the land.
It was not only about fighting drug syndicates and criminals, running after crooks in government and putting the oligarchs in place.
It also involved dealing with a Philippine media quick to find fault in others particularly those in government, but inutile to police its own ranks.
Granting that President Duterte is the worst man alive, does that make Filipino – and parachute – journalists any better?
Freedom of speech, we like to believe, has been with us ever since the late “democracy icon” President Cory Aquino was swept into office. Did that make life better for the Filipino?
It’s been 30 years when journalists wrote as they pleased, but nearly everybody would tell you the situation has not improved. For many journalist particularly those who report for giant networks and big newspapers, life has never been this good.
But for the average Filipino, the citizens to whom the MPC unashamedly claim it was loyal to, it has been all downhill.
This is not to say the press is to be blamed for the mess that we are in. The point, however, is that neither should President Duterte who only inherited it from one of the media’s most admired if not revered presidents.
So Secretary Andanar dislikes the report about the President’s Martial Law statement. Does that make him an enemy of the people?
Whether he is right or wrong, he is entitled to his own opinion.
For the MPC, who claims its only loyalty is to the citizens (this gave me a good laugh), to come out swinging as though it was the most urgent issue at present is, well, over-reacting.
Did Secretary Andanar violate any law for criticizing the media? None.
It is interesting to note that, after all the battering he got from the mainstream media, President Duterte’s popularity rating has since soared to 83% as of the latest survey. Yes, from 38% to 83%.
As the neighborhood analyst remarked: since the media’s non-stop criticism is good for the President, it would be wise to trigger more of them.
In contrast, Vice President Leni Gerona, who has been coddled by the mainstream media as though she can do no wrong, is on a free fall.
The same neighborhood analyst said Gerona should tell all her media fans to stop singing paeans to her.
Does that speak something about media influence – or lack of it?
For lack of scientific data to support whatever reactions to that, let us just let it be.
On second though, maybe journalists should take this as a wake-up call.
There are much more important issues today than what Secretary Andanar thinks of a media report – or what the MPC thinks of his reaction to it.
True, Secretary Andanar is not immune to criticism.
But so is the MPC.
This is a tempest in the teacup.

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