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See what I did with the title? Take a cue, ABS-CBN.

I really didn’t want to dip into this whole Vhong Navarro thing but it seems to be an inescapable bit of drama. As for the alleged issue at hand, here’s my quick take. They got horny. They did something. They got caught. They just have to deal with the consequences.

It wan’t exactly a unique situation. There’s no novelty. But the problem is the one who got beat up is famous. Noontime show famous. Here in the Philippines, that is huge. You see, our lives pretty much revolve around these: noontime shows during the day, telenovelas at night, basketball during others, and showbiz talk shows during weekends. So Navarro, being in a noontime show makes him an integral part of the madlang people’s (ugh) lives.

The sad thing is that mainstream news, pretty much caters to the public’s general whim. For the past week, all the local news websites that I check is filled with the mauling incident and all the possible angles and conspiracy theories are milked. Impressively, a new take pops up every hour or so. There’s money to be made on the juiciest of scandals anyway. Since Navarro’s a talent of one of the largest networks, no press is ever bad press.

A few days ago, I was browsing through my Feedly feeds and noticed a series of these headlines on my ABS-CBN feed:

  • Deniece: No oral sex with Vhong on first ‘date’
  • Deniece: Vhong forced oral sex, tried to insert organ
  • Why oral sex is not rape
  • Deniece performed oral sex on Vhong, NBI report

Responsible reporting aside, are these really the types of headlines we could expect from our mainstream news? Imaging having to explain oral sex to a curious child. Okay, so maybe that’s a bit naive but these headlines are almost down there in dregs of the uncouth tabloid headlines (my favorite one still being, “Katulong ni-rape ng ninja”/”Househelp raped by ninja”). ABS-CBN News is supposed to be a marquee “news and public affairs” organization. In this case, it seems they’re focusing much more on “public affairs.” I wonder what the journalist’s code of ethics says about publishing such headlines.

This being national news just underscores how mainstream media operates. It overtook the larger national issues at hand. Why aren’t we talking about the Mindanao peace pacts the past week? Or whatever happened to Napoles and the PDAF scandal? It’s refreshing that some other news outlets have started to shift their focus away from Navarro et al.

This is why watching HBO’s Newsroom can be pretty frustrating. Not one news organization seems to be actively trying to educate the electorate. In the very least, our mainstream media should take a cue from the BBC when it comes to headline word play and puns.

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