The Inquirer is at it again. While the rest of the world was focused on the supposed proliferation of “fake” news on social media, this supposedly objective and balanced mainstream news outlet sneakily tried to mislead its readers with a report titled “At rally called by Imee, Edsa revolt called fake.”
As someone who was there during the 1986 People Power movement, headlines like these are triggers for some very powerful emotions. It brings up images of walking with the multitude, of sharing a common bond of love for country, and a desire for freedom. And to see that belittled by someone like Imee Marcos is sure to raise some hackles.
But reading the entirety of the report, it quickly becomes clear that there is a very big disconnect between the story and the headline. Imee Marcos, aside from being the governor of the province where the rally was held, had no connection to the story whatsoever. And though the writer mentions that the rally was called by Marcos, she gives no evidence backing up her claim.
The Inquirer report is clearly engaging in what military psy-ops people call “perception management,” actions designed to “convey and/or deny selected information and indicators” to audiences in order to influence their “emotions, motives, and objective reasoning.”
The goal of the writer and her editor is to create the impression that the Marcoses was denigrating the memory and sacrifice of the Filipino people in 1986, which despite the betrayal of the politicians who benefited from it, many still hold sacred. This is in line with the general slant of the newspaper in presenting the Edsa narrative which has always been that Aquino is a saint and Marcos is the devil incarnate. In these broad strokes, many of the finer details have been lost through the years. And in most cases, therein lies the whole truth.
This kind of deception is not uncommon with the Inquirer and other mainstream publications and broadcasting companies. But it has been allowed to slide for years simply because they were too powerful to take on. Lies and opinion peddled as facts and truth by mainstream media was the big, bloated carcass in the room that no one – from the most powerful politicians to the wealthiest tycoons – dared comment on.
That is, until now. Not until the advent of citizen reporting on social media has it been possible to finally ‘watch the watchers.’ And while it is true that there still needs a lot to be done to improve the credibility and reliability of citizen reports, by and large it is still more fearless in tackling long-taboo issues than the oligarchy-controlled media companies.
So before people go join the call to hunt for “fake” news stories in social media, I suggest we start with a sober examination of the same phenomena within the walls of the so-called fourth estate. For one thing, as flattering as it may be to think that we can influence the world in the same way as these media giants can, we are still a long way from there. The real challenge is to find, arrest, and cure the rot from within these mainstream media companies.