PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. will have to waive his 100-day grace period. He won’t get it. And here we are not even talking about a comment just made after careful discernment, which is not normal. What I’m referring to here are the niggling comments and the thoughtless urge to criticize every statement he makes or every action he takes.
With a political landscape littered with the dead dreams of those who believed and prayed for him to lose, now replaced by bitter losers so depressed not only by the overwhelming majority vote of 31 million, but also by the unanimous vote of the Court supreme who finalized the legitimacy of his rise to the presidency, expecting to be treated fairly by his most rabid detractors would simply be too much.
Initially, however, that doesn’t mean we should spare the president criticism. There’s no 100-day honeymoon when it comes to glaring mistakes on things that really matter. But it behooves those who live in the media and academia not to abandon the rigor of their disciplines and vocations, and to try to do their due diligence first before opening their mouths or hit those keyboards. Due diligence requires a moment of pause to give them time to educate themselves further, review the evidence, and cross-check it with all available sources. After all, they are in professions that denounce the peddling of misinformation and lies, and cannot condone their spread by their own actions, even making them their active carriers and peddlers, just because of their deep-seated prejudices against President.
Ordinary micro-bloggers can get away with these knee-jerk reactions. But the media and academia are in deep trouble when even journalists and academics join the fray in the maelstrom and noise that accompanies the spread and distribution of raw and unchecked reactions and comments, some of which even become new. We saw it when journalists and scholars criticized the president for an allegedly ostentatious extravagance in handing out gold-plated tokens at his inaugural dinner, without even bothering to conduct research into whether it’s a tradition. that other presidents before him have also observed.
We can excuse journalists working in the media industry who are chasing deadlines and struggling to produce bombshells for higher ratings and social media engagements when feasting on Ella Cruz. But it’s just disappointing that scholars, especially those in the social sciences and humanities who should delve deeper into discourse analysis, haven’t even bothered to examine the internal logic of his innocent utterance, which in fact had much theoretical gravity when interpreted in the context of critical historiography and social constructivist theory. Instead, it was easier for them to get on the political train talking trash and trolling it because that’s what’s convenient, and maybe enjoyable, because it partly frees them from the misery of losing the elections. It was just ironic that the very first person who came to criticize Cruz was someone who made a name for himself by rendering the story not as this alien, abstract, distant body of text, but as a text that should be popularized.
If there is another major episode in which we have seen the unbridled exercise of unsubstantiated and undocumented criticism, it was the one that was triggered when the President openly doubted the 6.1% inflation figure. provided by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). All hell broke loose, and many anti-Marcos media outlets feasted on it like there was no tomorrow. Academics have joined the fray, posting on social media, giving the impression that this is indeed a dangerous precedent, an ugly symptom of this beginning, of a presidency that will not just revise the story, but will deny the science used by PSA to produce this estimate. Many of them also used science against Ella Cruz, urging her to denigrate history and its scientific basis. Yet many of these people have been left idly by when the science of pre-election polls has been belittled and diminished in favor of Google’s unscientific tendencies. Worse, some of them actively participated in this reduction.
The context that provided a rational framework for the president’s statement was effectively lost in the noise of political chatter. We now know that the 6.1% inflation figure published by the PSA was only for June, while the year-to-date inflation figure from January to June is only 4.4% . More importantly, and if the media and academics cared first to examine the raw, unedited recordings of the press conference, it was clear that the 6.1% figure was in the context of a question of the media repeated by press secretary Rose Beatrix Cruz-Angeles. who did not clearly indicate that this was only for the June figure. And it didn’t happen once when she first raised the issue, but even on a second occasion when the president was asked about it again. If the media and academics had carefully, objectively and dispassionately examined the nature of the interaction, they would not have missed the fact that the president’s open disagreement with the 6.1% figure stemmed from the impression that the official year-to-date inflation figure was slightly above 4%, which he made clear in his response.
So, instead of being the bearers of truth and correct information, the failure of the media and academics to exercise caution and due diligence has further contributed to the dissemination of biased and unsubstantiated information. It is so disappointing to see journalists and scholars posting on their social media accounts, mischievously feasting on the president’s “not so high” remarks. Unfortunately, that is what we have become. Many media outlets and academics are now so partisan that they become active carriers of misinformation. And when you correct them, they will call you an apologist and a revisionist.