Traditional media’s karma suffered by Maria Ressa

17

ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

ACTUALLY, Maria Ressa did not say that she received 90 rape threats within a minute. This is what Ressa said:

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“You look at anyone who says anything against the killings, against the drug war, especially if they are women, they will get clobbered in social media. … They are threatened with death, with rape. You name it, it’s happened. … An average of 90 hate messages an hour … that’s what I dealt with in a month.”

Hence, Ressa did not say she received rape threats, but only hate messages. And she did not receive 90 of those in a minute, but in an hour.

But she was pilloried nevertheless in social media by pro-Duterte cyber-warriors of all social classes. The factual inaccuracy took a life of its own, and for them truth was no longer the issue, but simply to punish Ressa. The cruelest of all was when Ressa’s physical appearance became the ground upon which insults were made, painting her as a delusional woman making up an unbelievable story of 90 men threatening to rape here very minute.

It was indeed cruel to turn Ressa into a caricature of rape, for rape is a serious matter not to be trivialized, and the physical appearance of a woman is not a justification for rape, as if only beautiful women can raise the horrifying victimization that a rape survivor has to endure. Rape is rape. It is not about sex, but about power. Women of all ages, races and ethnicities, shapes and sizes, and perceived beauty are raped. Even men are also raped.

I could relate to the point made by Ressa, of how the pro-Duterte social media base can erupt in disdain and descend with passion and without surrender on anyone perceived to be attacking him. I experienced this during the campaign when I criticized the candidate Digong. And even now that I am supportive of the President, while the attacks are not as virulent, I still get hostile reactions when I oppose the death penalty, criticize Gina Lopez, and recently when I pushed for the decriminalization of drug use. While some are more overt in accusing me of being a traitor, or a mole, others just express their outrage by not liking my posts. Some even tried to campaign for people to unfollow me in Facebook to punish me for my criticisms of Lopez.

But Ressa and her cabal should understand the behavior of the pro-Duterte social media base. As a veteran journalist, she should have easily understood the pent-up resentment of a people who have had enough of elite rule, and has found a voice and symbol to rally around in the person of the President.

But instead of considering this as necessary in democratic politics, a view which I uphold in dealing with criticisms in social media, Ressa maligned it as anti-democratic. She had the audacity to claim that “Democracy is dead. … What you’re seeing is exponential growth of propaganda networks that hijack what used to be called democracy.”

And she blamed the pro-Duterte social media networks for causing that death, through coordinated attacks that launched and supported Duterte’s candidacy, and has since then trained their guns members of traditional media like her who, as Ressa would like to make it appear, are just doing their job.

This is patently hypocritical. If I were to accuse Ressa of being delusional, it will not be because of a claim she did not make of receiving 90 rape threats in a minute, but on the above claim that she actually and boldly made.

Ressa should be reminded that she and her media outfit Rappler, which is in fact registered as an investment firm, is the one guilty of being a major part of a propaganda network. The behavior of Rappler has gone beyond doing media work in the spirit of bringing factual news. It has churned factual misrepresentations, all masquerading as investigative pieces or objective news. It was solely responsible for institutionalizing the lie of the 7,000 extra-judicial deaths, which has since become almost like bible truth.

Indeed, social media may have its faults, shortcomings and excesses. But Ressa should also wake up to the realization that in these times of cyber-politics, social media warriors become essential parts of the democratic political landscape.

In fact, the reason why social media has become more prominently relied upon by people is because of journalists like Ressa and her ilk who have failed to do their jobs. They behave as if they are the sole bearers of truth, and they have a monopoly over fact-reporting. Armed with hubris and arrogance, and with an undeserved dose of self-entitlement, it is in fact traditional media that has hijacked the democratic discourse, more so when they took on their own partisan agendas.
Karma is really a witch.

Ressa has been demonized and cruelly demeaned for something that she did not even say.

Justice is now served, for she is just reaping the bitter fruits of twisting truth and misrepresenting facts that she and her kind have done to diminish a President they dislike, and then have the audacity to make us believe that they are just doing their jobs.

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17 Comments

  1. Ressa deserved this:

    “Justice is now served, for she is just reaping the bitter fruits of twisting truth and misrepresenting facts that she and her kind have done to diminish a President they dislike, and then have the audacity to make us believe that they are just doing their jobs.”

    With all the insults and lies she has been propagating! Poetic Justice!

  2. marita blardony on

    I will forever cherish free speech but I will value more the return to decency in language used when we disagree.

  3. Nice job, you said it all. The reason why Rappler still got many readers is to criticize their articles and say as many bad things against them. Their hate articles beget hate comments.

  4. Gabriel Mensahero on

    Maria Ressa, Rappler, Moveph, and their investors are manipulators. When found out being manipulators, they are complaining.

  5. jess nazario on

    Think about it…What was the “Mr. and Ms.” and the “We Forum” tabloids or magazines or whatever they were during the Marcos regime ? Weren’t they underground media launched and nurtured to counter-act the establishment media propaganda which was in blind support of Marcos ? There was no electronic social media then. Now it is the other way around. Electronic social media is a counter-move against the yellow-conscripted media which still dominate even if the yellow admin has been ousted constitutionally almost a year ago. But their time will soon be over. Bottom-line, what these yellows are attacking now is the same kind of people’s media they used to fight Marcos. HYPOCRITES to the MAX !

  6. What a fine piece of writing by A. Contreras. And, indeed, Maria Ressa purporting to be an incisive journalist should have reminded herself always about Sir Walter Scott’s comment when one writes something about anything: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”.

  7. Maria, the president has far more larger criticts than yours. As a journalist, you shoud be prepared for the reactions and opinions of the netizens. If you keep yanking about the death of democracy then you dont have the resolve to face your criticts.

  8. Scotty Estrera on

    In doing her job, Maria Ressa reaped the fruits of what she planted. She planted seeds of hopelessness, vengeance, anger, political manipulation etc. All of these she practiced at ABS CBN telenovela, then graduated to a spinner of news, made up of lies and innuendos, meant to manipulate the unknowing public. She graduated into a trash job, for the sake of money, maybe of her political bias too. Its a perfect combination. Soon, nobody will trust her with a 10-ft pole. I suggest she recant every single lie that she said to clear her conscience and to make amends to the society she belongs.

    • jess nazario on

      Recant every single lie that she said ? That will take maybe a century to do. Hayaan na lang natin siya to stew in her own vomit.

  9. I love the use of pro-Duterte “social media base”. With this proper “naming”, the concept of social media-based demographics becomes more concrete, something that can be studied and discussed level-headedly. But, ah, I love my self-ascription as Dutertard. hahaha.

  10. Lea Hetherington on

    The best thing can happen to her would be a lost of job and never be hired. People like her deserves to be hated as she is full of hate.

  11. Kudos to Prof. Contreras! Spot on…so what now, Maria? You should know by now that we don’t believe in what you are writing. A few read what you are writing not to find facts but just to see what lies you are peddling again.

  12. We cannot deny that people from all walks of life that dislike our President will write or say anything that will serve their purpose or interest or favors their bosses who pays for them. They don’t realize that what our President is doing is for the best and good of our country. They can criticize or suggest to help our President perform better because he is not perfect. We hope they can be like us who can see the complexity the problems the President is facing and help him unify us for a better Philippines.

  13. Dav Aguila on

    We should issue a challenge to Maria and this ‘investment firm’ Rappler, Inquirer, ABSCBN, NUJP to come out with a list of this so called 7000+ ‘state sponsored’ killings and compare it with the PNP official list of 2000+ casualties. This would finally confirm the truth and the lies of all parties concerned. Even war torn Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan can not produce 9000 casualty as claimed by the media. So how about it Maria? make yourself really useful?

    • it’s going them a very long time to invent a list of 7000+ imaginary victims of ‘state-sponsored killings’ …

    • Maybe, just maybe it will reach 7000+ after the term of PDu30 in 2022. That’s when they will come up w/ a list after the term of office of PDu30.