Compare American and Filipino media and voters
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-11-06

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is the closest to what Joseph “Erap” Estrada was to us Filipinos. Both of them were unfit for the high posts they coveted.

When Sarah Palin was named by John McCain as his running mate, the fresh, pretty face created excitement. For sure, she energized the Republican hard core who were lukewarm to McCain’s candidacy owing to his being a maverick.

For a while, Sarah Palin looked like the perfect counter to Barack Obama’s appeal as the fresh perspective, the one hope of American citizens to be led by a non-politician, one who represents the values and sentiments of Main Street. For a moment, Republicans saw hope in Sarah Palin that voters will overlook the sins of the George W. Bush administration with regards the economy and the Iraq War.

Sarah Palin did not come from showbiz like Ronald Reagan and Arnold Shwarzenegger but in style she was showbiz all the way. Her lines were memorized for the most part, like an actress following a script.

But the Sarah Palin romance with the American public did not last long. After two disastrous media one-on-one interviews, especially the one with Katie Couric of CBS, Americans realized that Sarah Palin is not fit to be a heartbeat away from being president of the US. The excitement that Sarah Palin initially created metamorphosed into anxiety and fear. She also became the butt of jokes of the late-night comedy shows.

Former George W. Bush State Secretary Colin Powell and those other Republicans who ended up endorsing Barack Obama cited the choice of Sarah Palin as one of the major reasons they thought Obama showed better judgment than McCain. McCain never recovered from the Sarah Palin issue and it would not come as a surprise that Sarah Palin diminished McCain’s big advantage over Obama in experience. Instead of capitalizing on his experience, McCain became defensive for choosing Sarah Palin.

The big difference though between the Sarah Palin and Joseph Estrada cases of unfit leader wannabes is the big difference between the American and Filipino voters and the big difference between American media and Filipino media.

American voters — judging from the results of the US elections — are able to discern who among the candidates in their elections will threaten their stability and economy. Filipinos, up to now, are still prone to being taken for a very expensive ride by fake leaders. American voters are persuaded by issues while Filipino voters, especially the masses, are easily fooled by false prophets and wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Occasionally, American voters are also fooled by false prophets. Such was the case of the election of George W. Bush at a time when the US just had 8 very good years under the Clinton-Gore administration. To the surprise of many around the world, the American voters were fooled by Bush again in 2004 when they re-elected him.

But 6 years is too long to get away with bloody murder. By 2006, the American voters registered their supreme displeasure and voted into office a Democrat majority in both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. Add to the previous sins of the Bush administration the financial meltdown and we saw the ultimate voter backlash in the just concluded US presidential election.

George W. Bush and Joseph Estrada became presidents with a big help from media. If not for Garci, most Filipinos also believe that the late Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) would have also been elected president in 2004. FPJ presents a worse case than Estrada. FPJ did not have a college degree and any tenure in public office. At least Estrada was considered a competent Mayor of San Juan for many terms, was elected Senator and Vice President.

FPJ was pure illusion that came from heroic roles he portrayed in the movies. A responsible media would have raised serious issues about his candidacy — if not altogether shot it down in the same manner that US media exposed the lack of qualifications of Sarah Palin.

But instead of doing that, Philippine media provided the FPJ candidacy more exposure and coverage than a highly qualified Raul Roco. Philippine media pandered to the public quest to see their movie idol on the newscasts and the front pages of newspapers. FPJ was the biggest non-event that made primetime news and the front pages.

A leading newspaper — definitely not the STAR — even gave FPJ as many as 6 stories on their front page in one day! How is that for a leading newspaper to actively contribute in what could have been a catastrophic presidency for the country?

The Information Gap is a big condemnation of the way media operates in this country. All the predation and exploitation are products of media failure to enlighten the public as to how they are being taken for a ride.

Watch the leading television primetime newscasts and there you’ll see how the unimportant are featured as if these are the life or death issues of the country. What country can progress with that kind of information management?

Just compare how US media covered the US presidential election with how our media handled the candidacy of Joseph Estrada and FPJ. In the US the media take the candidates to task on their positions on various issues. There may be human interest sidelights in the US coverage but this is kept as a sidelight while over here the sidelights take center stage and are the focus of the spotlight.

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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