Maria Ressa is indeed a fraud

No less than Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly said it. “Ressa is a fraud. Believe me,” Duterte said in a speech last Wednesday. Duterte evidently echoes growing public sentiment over (or, more likely, apathy toward) Rappler CEO Maria Ressa’s incessant positioning of her person and that of her media organisation as hapless “victims” of an imagined government “assault on press freedom”. Indeed, many observers have, on their own, come to the conclusion that this is all just a pile of lies Ressa and her cohorts are heaping before a clueless foreign press that uncritically lap it all up and leave the Philippines copping an unfair bathing in bad light on the world stage.

What does Ressa have to say for herself in response to the Philippines’ enormously popular chief executive? Not much other than deliver even more of the all-too-familiar drivel on Twitter lifted from her worn-out victimhood playbook…

4 years: spewing hate on social media, manipulating Filipinos, weaponizing the law. We call a spade a spade. Was he referring to me? Maybe the President is just seeing too much fraud from where he sits. 🙂 #CourageON #DefendPressFreedom #HoldTheLine

Evidently Ressa hadn’t taken much on board in the way of learnings following a hard-talking she copped from veteran journalist Stephen Sackur on his BBC talk show. “If you are talking about manipulated public opinion,” Sackur asks, then she is, he continues, “de-legitimising” the people’s right to choose their government; that if, as she asserts, their opinions are “fake”, then democracy does not work. Ressa evidently believes that Philippine democracy is broken confirming on record that “democracy is dead” — a claim that is flat out inconsistent with the clear-as-day reality of the Philippines that surrounds her.

Ressa is, indeed, a fraud. This is not just Duterte talking as even his own critics attest to the dishonest nature of Rappler’s brand of crooked journalism as “concerned citizen” Andrew Fornier writes

I have little patience for the kind of journalism she has represented, in which the reporter is a celebrity of greater importance than the stories she has to tell. There’s a constant undercurrent of arrogance that oozes from the paragraphs of Rappler, particularly from its opinion pieces, which seems content to berate the common citizen for their “ignorance” and proclaim, in all self-righteousness, that there is only one way to look at the news.

Clearly not a fan of the Duterte administration, Fornier bristles over the “boneheaded stupidity of whoever masterminded this farce of a trial” that resulted in the conviction of Ressa for offenses against libel law. Nonetheless, whatever motivated Wilfredo Keng to slap charges against Ressa and her hapless patsy Reynaldo Santos Jr is beside the point as former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban points out. The law is the law, and it is being dispensed by a functioning judiciary which Ressa sought to and continues to seek to belittle. Indeed, such was the arrogance of Ressa that she refused to dignify the courts with a sensible defense! Panganiban laments, “Ressa and Santos should have testified to defend themselves and to widen the crack in the prosecution’s armor…” Panganiban continues referring to Ressa’s ill-fated legal strategy…

As I have always said, judges decide cases only from the evidence vetted in court, not from street parliaments and media utterances. It is unfair to accuse the judiciary of bias, incompetence, subservience, or corruption for ignoring out-of-court tirades.

Looking back to all that, it seems Duterte was actually being kind when he called Ressa a fraud. Ressa is actually a moron. She was made moronic by her own arrogance. At least frauds aspire to be clever in the perpetration of their crimes. Ressa, however, is a sad accidental criminal on account of her hubris. That is way more tragic than being a fraud.