Saturday, May 15, 2010

Scoopin’ ‘n Twistin’ ‘n Character Assassins

They say never the kick a man when he’s down, but they just won’t let up. The Mayor did not win his bid to be the city’s representative in congress, and in a recent press conference, tears fell as he was bidding goodbye to his office and the members of his staff. But on a local news program the story was that the Mayor cried because he lost in the election.

With this TV news program, it was like that during the whole campaign: while their features on this one particular candidate always told us about his vision, his platform - his promises should he win the election, with the other candidates it was always something negative. During the launching of the Mayor’s candidacy when not every single member of his ever growing clan showed up, the story was that his family was not in full support of his candidacy. They relentlessly pursued that angle practically during the whole campaign, earning them a few scathing words from one family member from whom they hoped to get a few sensational sound bites. This is the same outfit that instead of telling the world that despite Baguio’s precarious location it survived the onslaught of twin typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, told us that 90% of Baguio is in danger of landslides. And we wonder why the Ad Congress was cancelled last year. Well, we can’t expect much from a new program that in an interview with the actors playing Jesus and Judas in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar, their reporter asked: what’s the significance of your roles in this play?

The Mayor is as rich as Manny Pacquiao, says one columnist of a reputable weekly. Where he got his figures (read: not data) only he knows. He enriched himself while in office, the same columnist said. He did nothing , nothing at all, about the garbage problem of Baguio, he added.

Yeah, yeah, everyone’s entitled to their opinion, I guess especially those who write opinion columns. But still, one has to be responsible enough to draw the lines between hearsay, opinion, perception and actual facts. Sensational claims must still be backed by spectacular evidence.

For example, hearsay: there was vote buying in Baguio in the recent election. Fact: some camps relentlessly engaged in black propaganda.

Are we sourgraping? Perhaps. But not particularly because the candidate we were rooting for did not win, but because elections in Baguio have become what it is – the politics of money, character assassination and rotten journalism. Oops, a rash generalization, you say. Perhaps. But don’t we say also that an attack on a journalist thousands of kilometres away is an attack on every single journalist elsewhere?

Fact is, the above are not the kinds of politics and journalism Baguio knows. Baguio generally had peaceful and orderly elections, they say. Not entirely true – while in other places they killed politicians with bullets, here they did so with black propaganda and certain corrupted journalists.

The winners could’ve still emerged as winners and the losers as losers even if we didn’t have all of the above, but I guess we’ll never know now.

Maybe next time.

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