The mainstream media is really getting desperate. After a series of “mistranslations” of the President’s statements by the Lopez-owned ANS-CBN network, it is now the turn of the Philippine Daily Inquirer to try and create a mountain out of a molehill.
In a televised news conference, an Inquirer reporter was cross-examined and lectured by the President after the guy tried to impute malice on Duterte’s teasing comment about Leni Robredo’s knee during the commemoration of the third anniversary of the Yolanda tragedy.
The reporter was caught trying to use an old interviewing trick wherein the questioner frames the discussion by setting a premise at the beginning of the question. Like when you ask, “people say you are a thief, so where did you hide the money,” or “all mining is bad for the environment, so how will the community benefit from your operations?” Answering these types of questions without challenging the initial premise will only feed into the slant that reporter’s already have in their minds.
In his question to Duterte, you can see him trying to work his trick when he declared that “to many” the President’s remarks towards Robredo was “inappropriate and even tasteless.” This was an arbitrary characterization that was meant to set the premise for the interview. And if Duterte had answered the question, then he would have been tacitly accepting the reporter’s view, and anything he said to the contrary would be seen as merely being defensive.
For most people, the urge to respond to such a provocative question would be so strong that they would rush headlong into the question. And into the net set by the reporter. But perhaps because of his being a lawyer, or maybe he just sees things differently, Duterte did not fall for the Inquirer reporter’s the trap. And instead of answering, Duterte does the right thing and questions the premise itself. Why is the remark inappropriate and tasteless, and who says that it is?
Once the President rejected the premise, you can see the reporter’s whole set up unravelling as he was forced to admit to the President that the “many” he referred to early on was actually just a statement released by Robredo herself. What followed was a series of questions from the President about standards of appropriateness, and the mainstream media’s penchant for always finding an issue with what he says.
When the reporter tried to question the necessity of the President’s remarks by linking it to the solemn nature of the occasion, Duterte responded by saying that yes, jokes are necessary in order to make people laugh and to lighten everyone’s mood. Especially his, since he was already angry at the slow pace of the rehabilitation efforts that has already taken three years and cost tens of billions of pesos.
A clearly disappointed President Duterte ended his reply, by taking the reporter – and mainstream media in general – to task for focusing on trivialities like his jokes instead of the real issues affecting the country. “Just to point out something that is (not) there, you make a big issue about (nothing). Is that the trivialities of media?”
You can watch the whole exchange between President Duterte and the Inquirer reporter here.