Evidently, “social news network” Rappler can dish it out but cannot take it. After a journalistic fiasco that laid bare the abject sloppy journalism of its “reporter” Carmela Fonbuena the girls of Rappler led by top Rapplerettes Pia Ranada and Natashya Gutierrez have banded together in a big “girl power” online powow to get behind their embattled colleague.
In a mid-January “investigative report” Fonbuena alleged that Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go “intervened” in an on-going project involving the acquisition of two brand-new warships from Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries. The report got Rappler and the Inquirer (which also ran a story on the topic that also mentioned Go) in the crosshairs of a Senate probe on the deal. During the probe, accusations of “fake news” were thrown at the two news media firms. The Inquirer has since released a statement defending its reports by citing evidence that it remained focused on facts and maintained balance in its reporting.
Rappler also released a similar statement. However, unlike the Inquirer‘s, the Rappler statement came across as just as sophomoric as the Fonbuena report it was trying to defend. The Rappler statement remained hinged on the same information that had already been clarified and contextualised in the Senate probe and in earlier statements made on record by Go and other people involved in the brouhaha. And, unlike the Inquirer statement, Rappler included a rather adolescent appeal to emotion that was laden with mere speculation on personal intent and not on sound self-evident facts…
It bothers us how public officials resort to branding as “fake news” legitimate, verified, and vetted news stories when they refuse to explain or address unpleasant facts presented to them.
Is “fake news” the new defense of public officials against public scrutiny?
This and everything else written in the Rappler statement neither addresses nor clarifies Fonbuena’s use of the word “intervened” in her report to describe Go’s involvement in the brouhaha — a word that does not appear in any of the Inquirer reports to refer to Go’s inclusion as a person of interest.
It is interesting the way Rappler would put up a strawman to divert attention from the core fact of Fonbuena’s unethical journalism. Interesting, because it is consistent with the way its CEO Maria Ressa sneakily made an issue that was about her company’s violation of regulation applicable to media businesses into one about “press freedom” a while back. It’s a hard habit to break, evidently.
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