Loida Nicolas-Lewis, and not social media, is the threat to democracy

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ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

SOMEONE has had the audacity to claim that the trolls that have invaded social media are poised to destroy democracy because they allegedly undermine the factual basis for a rational, modern political community.

I would argue that it is people like Loida Nicolas-Lewis who threaten democracy.

Indeed, social media falls prey to lies and deception. However, it is valid to argue that traditional media, where Maria Ressa and Rappler are inhabitants, has also a history of propagating lies and deceptions. The so-called post-factuals and post-truths are in fact structured reactions to the epidemic of a captured and controlled press that has long monopolized the production of facts and truth.

And behind them loom the more sinister political interests which unelected, unaccountable people like Nicolas-Lewis with her vast wealth tries to control, buy and influence.


Traditional media, far from just reporting the news, has become a powerful shaper of opinions. News anchors have become important figures, even as news reporters have become celebrities and opinion makers.

Corporate media has been captured by powerful interests. Giant networks compete for ratings and audience share. It is in this playing field that news is no longer factual reporting, but an enterprise that has to have drama with news presented in soap-operatic fashion in order to survive the ratings war. The more blood and gore the better; the more scandal the merrier. Gone are the days of the boring talking heads on TV. The era of live reports, embedded reporting and editorialized anchoring has taken root. News personalities have become endorsers not only of particular political perspectives, but even of particular product brands, even as they become brands themselves.

Media became a powerful political institution that acquired enormous influence in shaping the political agenda. It can make governments and break presidents.

It is this media representation that bred resistance from those who refuse to be taken in by its control and influence. The onset of social media is the single most powerful counter-force that emerged to challenge the power of traditional media. With cheap smartphones and free internet, the base for citizen engagement in the production of public discourse widened, and the monopoly of media over the production of facts and truths has been effectively challenged.

BBC, Rappler, Ressa and some elitist political analysts try hard to make sense of the predicament that traditional media is facing, and have accused social media, particularly Facebook, of undermining the factual basis of democracy. They forget that such factual basis has long been undermined by corporate and traditional media, where money and power, which people like Loida Nicolas-Lewis wield, have co-opted and bought.

Traditional media loves to point to the presence of accountability and editorial control which they say will always protect the integrity of news from credible sources. This led to the creation of a false dichotomy between responsible reportage and irresponsible trolling. Some journalists think they are legitimate just because they have an office and an editorial mechanism, and that they are members of some press club, yet are in fact acting like the trolls they love to bash.

Trolling is not just about anonymously bashing public posts in social media. Trolling is also seen in a relentless campaign to paint one political personality, or a particular event, in a bad light. Rappler has in fact trolled Bongbong Marcos and Jojo Binay.

The pretense by corporate media that they have quality controls embedded in their editorial mechanisms that vet the news falls flat in the face of the fact that their editors have their own political preferences, though they try hard to deny this. Reporters and anchors unabashedly display their politics when they editorialize in their reports, or in posts in their own social media accounts.

In contrast to the trolls in social media, those done by people in established media platforms is the kind of trolling that can be dangerous, for it is imbued with a sense of denial, if not arrogance, stemming from professional expertise, born of a sense of entitlement to facts and truth.

It is this kind of media practice that rich people like Loida Nicolas-Lewis attempts to buy, control or influence.

And this is an assault on democracy too.

Recently, the New York Times translated into Filipino a piece critical of President Duterte, a highly unusual practice for a newspaper of its nature. One has to wonder what gives, or who gave.

Fortunately, Sass Rogando-Sasot, Mocha Uson, Thinking Pinoy and others are there to foil attempts by corporate media and their elite sponsors to have a franchise on the production of truth and facts.

Contrary to what has been falsely claimed by some analysts, social media is not destroying democracy. Instead, it is turning democracy into a discursive battleground for the production of truth and facts, by giving notice to people like Loida Nicolas-Lewis that they better watch out.

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25 Comments

  1. Traditional media thinks that what differentiates them is their accountability but that is exactly the problem, they have stopped being accountable. They have brazenly reported mistruths, habitually and without apologies. When called out, they cry bullying and harrassment. They think they are untouchable. And sadly, even those who are not in the business of twisting truths, the supposedly “good” journalists, just turn a blind eye because they are colleagues in the field.

    Thanks for your articles, Professor!

  2. Yonkers, New York
    14 Dec. 2016

    Instead of focusing attention now on LOIDA NICOLAS-LEWIS, the Filipino people ought to be focusing on Little Tyrant Rodrigo Duterte who has inflicted a REIGN OF TERROR on them with his warrantless genocidal extrajudicial mass-killing of his own people, a brutal lawless drive which has netted for him, so far, some 5,8000 hapless victims.

    The Filipino people should now be thinking seriously of effective ways to depose this psychotic Tyrant, via IMPEACHMENT, or PEOPLE POWER, or even a military COUP’ D”ETAT..

    MARIANO PATALINJUG
    patalinjugmar@gmail.com

  3. A day won’t pass with out me scrolling to your FB page, so motivating and encouraging for Filipinos like us who are hoping for the real change of our Mother Land. Sana ipagpatuloy nyo nila TP, Sass, Mocha, Atty TRix, K, Dr. Badoy etc ang paglaban sa mga taong hadlang sa adhikain ni PRRD at ng kasalukuyang administrasyon sa pamamagitang ng panulat. :) More power tp you guys, May God bless you more and our beloved Philippines and her people.

  4. bravo. i’ve always wondered why the NYT stopped publishing a weekly in the “other” broadsheet with the word “Manila” in its name, now i know. i guess TMB didn’t want to have anything to do with their upcoming bias.

  5. Annonymous Philippines on

    This is indeed an eye opener to those people out there defending these Elite people

  6. ABS-CBN, PDI & RAPPLER is of the same feather, the attack dogs of their yellow masters in demonizing people and institutions deemed critical to their interest.

    Remember how they bombarded former CJ Corona, Binay and others from the opposition with biased and negative reportings.

    Remember also how the INC in protest had made a call to their ranks to boycott ABS-CBN. ABS-CBN even embed Ces Drilon among the parties adversarial to the Church admin aiding them to create a scene and coming up with news edition detrimental to the Church.

    What good is Phil democracy if it only produces mainstrean media that is so abusive, who acts with impunity in pushing their masters political agenda?

  7. No way this paid media will ever influence again the minds of the people with the likes of Mocha , TP and Sass keeping us informed of what is the Truth and what are the accomplishment of our new President in just a short time… Long live democracy.. Long Live our President Duterte.. Long live ka DDS!

  8. HermigildoTalipandok on

    All of these anti-Duterte campaign only means that the powerful oligarchs corrupted way of life has been drastically shaken. The oligarchs, who hides behind the yellow media and the church are the ones who wants the Philippines to remain a third world. They want the rich and poor gap as wide as possible because in that scenario , they thrive. They keep using the Marcos excuse to put a controllable retard like pnoy to stay in control.

    • How true!!! Let’s get together creat an army around our President for his protection. Let’s fight for tooth and nail for our beloved President Digong. P

  9. A.P. Contreras maraming salamat! More pa, more pa at more pa! Mabuhay po kayo. To read you is to be intrigued for you’re deadly at the jugular of perceived opponents who want to smash what is decent and honest. More pa power! Sa uli, salamat!

  10. And stil your opinion is wrong
    Yes social media kills ALSO democraty
    Its controlled by wealthy people ,hackers, spammers.
    Like What Your Friends did in Your elections

  11. One of greatest wars faced by President Duterte is not only a war against drugs, against corruptions but a war with the political elites, the nuvo-rich, the political untouchable elite, all members of the “status quo” who would not accept any defeat. Who would not accept the end of the gliterati, the end of festival of champagne and caviar, who are rocked by the radical changes aimed at making the Philippines a much better country, not for them, but for the victims of the social inequities. They would wage war to maintain their stratosphere, their territories, their landholdings and bank accounts (mostly blood money like the Marcoses, the nuvo-rich who wallowed in the mud of shame and whitewashed squalor..).and they want to cover their fears and pains against the changes being wage by President Duterte, for them, Duterte is the greatest threat to their status quo, and they will fight up to the last to regain or to fail They will use all their power and money to destroy the changes just to satisfy their insatiable hunger for power. Most of these critics deliver long prayers in the church, donating money to beso-beso with the church monarchies, and to become a patron of religious rituals. Faked christians i suppose.. Most of these critics are born with silver spoon and washes their hands with alcohol every time they shake hands with the squatter dwellers, with handicaps and with the lower middle class…their higher social class has been embedded into their psyche and if they face a force for a change, they wield powers thru connections and money…these are the ugly heads in the duality of our society, rich versus poor!…and thru your column, the truth has been the glowing star of our reality..keep that stars glowing in the darkness of our horizon….and thanks for the truth, and beware with those wolves dressing like lambs. Mr Contreras, raise your wine glass, toast for a much better Philippines…Duterte will deliver!

  12. Luzviminda Bayani on

    Slow clap!!!

    An eye-opening take on traditional media feeling very entitled with the thought that they and only they have access and authority on facts, when in fact, they are owned by business entities who have its own political agenda i.e. Inquirer being owned/run by the wife of Philip Romualdez of Benguet Corp which has been suspended by DENR’s Gina Lopez for alleged violations against the environment which lead to the displacement of indegenous peoples (BC lost billions in valuation at the stock market due to the suspension), or PhilStar being partly owned by the family of Liberal Party’s Feliciano Belmonte and partly by MVP whose Philex’s WPS drilling plans have been been halted because of Duterte’s about-face to China.

  13. New York Times has shown its true blood. One vein of this evil news org is connected to another viciously evil local news entity, the so called Philippine Daily Inquirer. No wonder, New York Times has ‘filipinized” one of its garbage articles. Bad for them, social media and some great souls such as you, Sass, Mocha, Thinking Pinoy are fearless and would do every thing to unfold the tiniest lies the yellow companies planted in Philippine soil. My sincere thanks to you Sir Contreras. Please don’t stop exposing the truth behind the lies the yellow company had instilled in our minds for years. This is for the motherland!!!

    • Lenia Hetherington on

      These kind of people ( Satan’s children) have to be alive and well to balance the ecosystem with the 100 million plus good Filipino people of the Philippines. The only very sad part of their activity is that they are the obstacle for the country’s progress.

  14. Rappler, if you’ve noticed looks comical on their headlines because anything about BBM or Digong will surely have an “angry” remarks while those about leni, yellows and the reds will have “happy” remarks. He whom God wanted to destroy will first make them mad. Lol.

  15. We must have become a nation of wimps ! Imagine our democracy being threatened by a host of persons in the distaff side…Leila, Loida, Leni, Morales, Grace, Sereno, Risa(?), Dinky, Deles, Ferrer, etc….Sad ! Very sad ! Nasaan na ang mga ,macho natin ?

    • Jess these are truly prophetic signs of the Biblical end times, as is written in the book of Isiah 3:12

      “Youths oppress my people, women rule over them. My people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path.”

      So you see Jess, prophecy is describing the millennial zombies or new age Hitler youth and the Femi-Nazis phenomenon of today manipulated by the Roman Catholic Church, a fake Christianity that is apostate and anti-Christ.

  16. Your article is always a refreshing read. More power to you and may you remain true to your principles.