fake ha­ley state­ment

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Opinion - BONG O. WENCESLAO

YES­TER­DAY, some­body, ob­vi­ously a “Duter­tard” tagged me with a post from an ob­scure web­site, Manila Chan­nel, which had this tit­il­lat­ing ques­tion: “Did you watch this on TV or read in (sic) na­tional news­pa­per?” “Def­i­nitely not on PH TV & News­pa­per: US AMB Nikki Ha­ley Mes­sage to the UN,” read the post’s ti­tle.

It was about the US am­bas­sador’s sup­posed state­ment dur­ing the re­cent United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly about the drugs war and ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings in the Philip­pines. The (in)famous quote:

“The Philip­pines is suf­fo­cat­ing. We must give Pres­i­dent Duterte the space to run his na­tion. We must re­spect their in­de­pen­dence… It is not in our purview to de­cide ad­min­is­tra­tive is­sues for the Philip­pines… That is the job of the pres­i­dent.

“De­struc­tive forces have never given the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion enough space to jump-start his pro­grams of gov­ern­ment; they did not even af­ford him the prover­bial hon­ey­moon pe­riod… Now they have cal­i­brated the plot to ouster move­ments and this is just the sec­ond year of his pres­i­dency.”

Manila Chan­nel sourced that sup­posed state­ment from an ar­ti­cle writ­ten by Yen Mak­abenta, a le­git­i­mate colum­nist, who in turn sourced it from a fake news web­site, al­jazeer­anew-tv.com. That, of course, is the rea­son the “Ha­ley mes­sage” was not on “PH TV & News­pa­per.” I mean, how could tra­di­tional me­dia use a ma­te­rial from a fake news site?

Any­way, as I scrolled down my Face­book page, there it was: fel­low colum­nist Malou Guan­zon-Apal­isok had shared a link to a rap­pler.com ar­ti­cle that shouted, “Manila Times colum­nist falls vic­tim to fake news.” That ar­ti­cle, writ­ten by Don Kevin Ha­pal, had this kicker: “Manila Times colum­nist Yen Mak­abenta’s opin­ion piece used a quote from a fake news web­site, and goes vi­ral among pro-gov­ern­ment sup­port­ers.”

Now, this isn’t the first time pro-Duterte opin­ion mak­ers in tra­di­tional me­dia were caught quot­ing items from fake news web­sites. Broad­caster Er­win Tulfo, when he was han­dling a ra­dio program on TV 5, got into a quar­rel with col­league Ed Lin­gao, who crit­i­cized him for com­ment­ing on a fake meme that twisted Sen. Risa Hon­tiveros’s an­swers to a le­git­i­mate TV in­ter­view.

Al Jazeera Philip­pines cor­re­spon­dent Jamela Aisha Alin­do­gan’s Face­book post de­scribed al­jazeer­anews-tv.com as a fake news web­site and called on “ev­ery­one” to “be care­ful when shar­ing stuff on­line.” But Al Jazeera is not the only le­git­i­mate me­dia out­let that is be­ing aped (pun in­tended). CNN and ABS-CBN, among oth­ers, have fake news web­sites named af­ter them.

Was Mak­abenta, us­ing a Ta­ga­log term, “nakuryente”? I hope so, be­cause it would be bad if he knew the quote was fake. But if he was “nakuryente,” then he be­came, un­known to him, a part of what can be called the fake news ver­sion of a merry-go-round.

The merry-go-round starts with a fake news web­site churn­ing out in­trigu­ing fake news that is then picked up by ei­ther one of the two ma­jor bat­tling camps (“Duter­tard” or “di­lawan”), gets cir­cu­lated in so­cial me­dia (“Asec” Mocha Uson sup­pos­edly posted the Yen Mak­abenta col­umn on her blog)—un­til some­body ex­poses it as a fake, but not af­ter dam­ag­ing ef­forts to get an ob­jec­tive ap­praisal of is­sues.

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