The anatomy of fake news and true lies

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ROLLY G. REYES

Satire, as they say, is a text or performance that uses irony, derision, or wit to expose or attack human vice, foolishness, or stupidity.

Using methaphors, novelist Peter De Vries explained the difference between satire and humor: “The satirist shoots to kill while the humorist brings his prey back alive – often to release him again for another chance.”

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A political satire can be likened to a caricature where facial features of the subject are intentionally drawn by the cartoonist to extreme dimensions to emphasize the flaws and deliver easy recognition often camouflaged by facial cosmetology. The intention is for the beholder to keep a lasting and realistic memory of the image and to be constantly on guard for forthcoming blemishes and behavioral imperfections.


Satirical attempts can actually dislodge the noble intention to inject “discerning” young cells to excite an aging brain. The danger lies when the newsmaker, the news gatherer and the newsreader will coopt to label all media outputs as irrational and fake.

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A president of a powerful country did just that and got away with it. Fake news as he defined it is anything critical of what he says and do. Nobody filed a case and it was somewhat accepted as his rightful expression in a democratic country that espouses freedom of speech.

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Just like canines, new reporters are supposed to be housebroken and taught a few tricks for obedience before dangling that much appreciated “treat.” Released prematurely in the cityscapes, they become prey to predators in the journalistic maze, unconsciously attracted to baits sprinkled in their paths by spin doctors and propagandists.

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Luxury car plans, rock-star recognition and juicy beats contribute to the dilution of the basics of reportage and news writing. Signs of factual storytelling dissipate gradually and that holy grail of credibility becomes as elusive as the famed cup.

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I think that issue is not necessarily truth, but belief. We tend to believe fake news if it suits our pre-conditioned mind. Truth is really defined by an array of attempts to distort it and its true shape only becomes more certain after a slow process of elimination. It’s sad that we always drown before reaching the safe side.

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Purveyors of fake news are now attached to radio, television and the Internet, where made-up news reports and commentary flourish and are spread through social media vehicles like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. One can easily create a fictitious name or group and publish photoshopped images to spread gossip or malice.

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Archived or dated news articles are being fetched for specific defamation purposes. They and similar conveyors of personal opinion, idle chatter, rumor and gossip have made small and even large fortunes playing on an insatiable public appetite for all manner of human discourse. Fake statistics from fake sources are misleading the public, provoking and enticing them to join the bandwagon in forming judgment on certain issues.

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The sad part is web based fake news can be pulled out anytime to avoid legal retribution. Much of it is intentional, particularly those from media practitioners enticed by malice or greed. They corrupt that otherwise genuine discourse with lies and falsehoods, poisoning free expression and igniting racial or ethnic bigotry among those who read and hear them.

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At the top of the journalistic food chain, a lot of “news opinion shapers” attain celebrity status with fat salaries, particularly on television. But most of their colleagues, especially those in print and on local newspapers across the country, labor for the love of the game and a belief that they are doing worthwhile jobs in their communities.

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Australia joined US, Japan, China, Indonesia and Malaysia in helping the Philippines’ war on terrorism. And yet Antonio Trillanes, Risa Hontiveros, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Jim Paredes, Leah Navarro, Cynthia Patag, Chito Gascon and Etta Rosales have to be convinced that martial law is really needed to be imposed in Mindanao while these countries are offering help to patrol the seas and providing surveillance intelligence around the Philippines.

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Pedestrians crossing the streets wearing short shorts were included in the implementing rules and regulations for the anti-driving distraction law. Male drivers planning nationwide rallies.

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Newsmakers and messaging can be distinguished between ‘decorative’ and ‘persuasive.’ “Decorative rhetoric” acts on its hearers statically, leading them to believe its own beauty or wit while “persuasive rhetoric” tries to lead them kinetically toward a course of action. Of course, we prefer the second one.

Fake News that I’d like to see:
– Melania divorces Donald Trump, weds Vladimir Putin.

– Globe, Smart the fastest service providers in the world, says Steve Harvey.

– No more traffic in Edsa, MMDA traffic enforcers suddenly unemployed.

– China offers to build the Great Wall of Mexico on one condition: Americans on Mexico side and Mexicans on the US side.

– Speaker Alvarez detained by Ilocos Norte Six. CA not entertaining any appeal.

– ISIS to issue indefinite visas to the US.

– Senate and Congress agreed to hold a “joint” session in Amsterdam. SC issues “red light” warning.

-Kim Kardashian to hold a fashion show wearing ONLY her line of Kardashian perfume. Event pre-sold.

-Arrival and departure of PAL and CebuPac one hour early. CAB investigates anomaly.

– Abaya arrested by PNP. Will be detained in an old MRT coach in Kalayaan Island.

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Television screens can be an image of concealment and mystification but the image can be one of discovery and illumination as well. Falsehood is born because media regards the authority as grounded in some kind of supernatural power. And we media practitioners wrongly admit to the possession of such formidable power on equal footing. A wrong being confronted by a wrong. This can be kept under control only when there is open, free, and informed discussion of action in our society.

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Government officials should never use sarcasm to ignite a media discussion. It can be likened to challenging them to engage in an endless seesaw battle where the official will likely tire himself out with the media stuck to the other end not giving up. Level up with them and most will give you a respectful and decent response.

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Good work, good deeds and good faith to all.

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