- in Opinion

On Wednesday, members of the House and Senate flocked to New Clark City to survey the brand new facilities for the SEA Games. For the first time, Filipino athletes will be able to train in world-class facilities, all of which were built at a record speed of just 17 months. However, what mainstream media news outlets chose instead to focus on was one answer Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano gave during the interview after the event. Unfortunately, they couldn’t even properly quote him. You be the judge and tell us, is this the real story?

Let’s not deal with what the truth is. Let’s just look at the facts. This may involve a bit of reading, so reserve your judgements until the end. Trust us, it’ll be worth it.

The question was “Sir, mararamdaman din kaya ng mga foreign visitors natin at sa delegates yung traffic?”

The headlines read:

GMA: Cayetano on traffic critics: No need for more challenges.

Inquirer: Stop issuing challenges to public officials, now is the time to act — Cayetano

Here’s a video of Speaker Cayetano’s full answer, taken from his own Facebook Live. 

Now, form your own opinion. Were the headlines accurate or appropriate summaries of Speaker Cayetano’s actual message?

Both pieces focused on Speaker Cayetano’s opinion on whether or not the “challenges” people have been posing against public officials, such as Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, to urge government action against traffic. Both stories also deliberately shortened the transcript of Speaker Cayetano’s full response to tell their own version of the events.

If they wanted to paint the Speaker and the administration as thin-skinned and if they wanted to diminish the concrete solutions in place and in the pipeline, then they did a good job. But if they wanted to inform the public about what Speaker Cayetano actually said, they should stop kidding themselves.

It’s not an inherently sinister practice to condense a full message to salient points. Hell, that’s what we’re taught to do in school when we take notes. However, these reporters were there during the interview and they have access to the full response Speaker Cayetano gave. So they should have had understood his actual meaning. 

Instead, they deliberately twisted Speaker Cayetano’s words to dismiss his core ideas – that the government is doing a commendable job addressing traffic through its many projects, especially since they inherited little legacy from previous administrations, and long-term solutions like federalism are much more worthwhile discussions than “challenges” — to instead create a story out of thin air.

Anyone who listens to full transcript can see that Speaker Cayetano’s message was not “stop issuing challenges to public officials”. It absolutely was not a defensive move against government critics. But when you want to fuel a flame to burn down pillars of the administration, you fashion whatever you can into kindling, right?

This isn’t the first time mainstream media has done this and it definitely won’t be the last. Since 2016, they have deliberately misquoted President Duterte to misrepresent his intentions. Three years later, they’ve employed the same tactics against nearly every official who supports the President, despite readers having wisened up against their methods. 

Is this really the free press that wants to be defended? Is this really how journalists want to operate? Is this really what they’re trying to pass off as news today? 

Thankfully, we have tools like social media, Live videos, and self-broadcasting to combat the monopoly mainstream media has had on information. Their “truths” can be combated by facts. We are free from their dictatorships.

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