It's the message that's stupid
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2011-05-24
My friend Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda had justification when he cited the rabidly anti-administration opinion makers last May 18. In fact, not having challenged these biased opinion makers earlier was one of the big failures of the Messaging Team of the Presidential Communications Group that’s headed by Secretary Ricky Carandang.

There are indeed certain columnists who have been peddling outright fiction about President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) and many of them have been on that vicious attack mode even before P-Noy assumed the presidency. One of them is reported to be brokering for smugglers in the Bureau of Customs, the very reason why he often writes about activities there.

Another one used to be a defender of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) when she was still residing in Malacanang Palace but that’s until he failed to land a major diplomatic posting. He failed to get the CA (Commission on Appointments) nod because he could not answer some very basic questions about the post that he coveted. Known to be anti-Cory, P-Noy’s mother, it seems his antagonism was extended to her son.

A former official of the Marcos regime and now opinion writer hardly sees anything good in the P-Noy administration. A female columnist was rabidly anti-Cory even as early as 1984 when the issue was whether the then Opposition to the Marcos dictatorship would participate or boycott the Parliamentary Elections. Several other critics are known defenders of the GMA regime — even held appointed positions in her administration — and are understandably anti-PNoy.

Why Ricky Carandang never challenged or offered a rebuttal to these clearly biased opinion makers underscore the incompetence of the Palace Messaging Team. These commentators would have been the easiest to debunk but Carandang opted to default. P-Noy has admitted already on two occasions that the Palace Messaging has failed. Well, P-Noy cannot complain about his Messaging service because there is simply none.

Carandang had allowed these relentless anti-P-Noy rabble-rousers to get away with bloody murder. They were unchallenged as they went about painting an image of P-Noy as LAZY, CLUELESS and so forth. Even when these rabble-rousers were stating clearly false assertions, Carandang never bothered to even make a rejoinder.

The only rejoinder I recall that Carandang ever made was against the highly respected columnist Conrad de Quiros and that was to defend himself and not P-Noy. Carandang never bothered to address those rabble-rousers peddling fiction about P-Noy but he challenges a respected writer like Conrad de Quiros who on several occasions had supported the administration.

When I was invited last year to be a resource person at the Palace for the crafting of certain policy directions, a P-Noy administration official said that Ricky Carandang had plans to run for the Senate. There is nothing wrong with that per se but what came into question during that discussion was whether Carandang would be willing to take the bullet for P-Noy if that would jeopardize his senatorial ambition. It was a fair question to ask because a possible conflict of interest could exist here.
Do you still recall how former Press Secretaries would appear all over media — especially during those times when their President is under siege? Just focus on two — the late Teddy Benigno and Serge Remonde — and compare how many times Ricky Carandang has appeared in media to project and defend P-Noy. To top it all, on those few times I ever saw Ricky Carandang on television, he hardly said anything that would really address their communications problems.

It’s been two months now since the SWS and Pulse Asia survey organizations have tracked a notable decline in the public ratings of P-Noy. Yet, to this date, we have not seen anything of substance from the Messaging Team that will really address the reasons for P-Noy’s declining ratings.

Mahar Mangahas of SWS had clarified in his May 14 column that the dip in P-Noy’s ratings is nothing to be concerned about. In fact, Mahar explained that P-Noy still enjoys extraordinary public support. Mahar wrote: “The +46 net satisfaction rating of the national administration in March 2011 is, to me, no real cause for concern, since it is very much higher than all the available ratings of previous administrations.”

Of the rabble rousers who have been laboring to make it appear that the P-Noy administration is doomed, Mahar wrote: “In my opinion, the journalists who call it a “plunge” or a “plummet” merely give away the limitations of their English vocabulary. Public opinion cannot be changed by distorted interpretations of survey numbers, any more than votes can be changed by fake election surveys.”

Citing the biased opinion writers was justified on the part of Sec. Edwin Lacierda but it’s not accurate to say that they caused the dip in P-Noy’s ratings. I doubt if the rabble-rousers carry that much influence. Their consistent anti-P-Noy stance makes them the usual suspects. Their assertions are easily debunked but that’s only possible if a competent Messaging Secretary does his job. The problem is Ricky Carandang has not really challenged and exposed them.

The rabble-rousers are applying the Goebbels formula of a lie told too often becomes the truth. The rabble-rousers gain traction when a Messaging Secretary is incompetent or is sleeping on the job.

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  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

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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