Editor’s Note: Our fact or fiction meter does not apply to this opinion piece.
On May 15, 2018, Rappler published an opinion piece on its website, claiming that the The Adobo Chronicles lacked the elements of satire. It took two paid writers to come up with the article which focused on one (of the literally thousands) of ‘news stories’ of AC. They focused on the 2016 story satirizing Leni Robredo’s campaign for the Vice Presidency.
The Rappler article was titled, “Fake News. Vs. Satire: Can You Tell The Difference?”
CEO Maria Ressa even retweeted the Rappler piece with a comment that The Adobo Chronicles can’t (tell the difference.)
So, in the interest of fairness and with the goal of fact-checking the fact checker, The Adobo Chronicles assigned its star reporter to do a piece on “Rappler Vs. Fake News: Can You Tell The Difference?”
We begin with the recent decision by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoking the media license of Rappler on the grounds that it violated the Philippine Constitution which prohibits foreign ownership of media in the country.
Rappler insists that it is 100% Filipino-owned, despite its own declaration that its mother company, Rappler Holdings Corporation, owns 98.7 percent of rappler.com.
We can only assume, unless proven otherwise, that the rest of the ownership belongs to foreigners, including Omidyar Network which invested $1.5-million in Rappler.
Sure, Ressa tried, but failed, to justify the Omidyar Network investment by playing with technical terms like PDRs (Philippine Depositary Receipts).
But common sense dictates that the Omidyar “deposit” was an investment.
Then, in an apparent ‘admission’ of its (foreign) investment in Rappler, Omidyar Network announced on March 1, 2018, that it was donating its $1.5-million investment to Rappler’s 14 Filipino managers, including Ressa. Omidyar said that it did this “to address the unwarranted ruling” made by the SEC to revoke Rappler’s media license. Guilty, aren’t we?
Now let’s turn to news fakery.
Everyone knows that the bloated numbers of alleged Extra-Judicial Killings (EJK) under President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, had their origins with Rappler; it combined 2,555; 3,603; and 922, which are the deaths from police operations, DUIs, and concluded investigations, respectively.
Rappler’s tally has so far been used by various international news agencies as the basis for the death toll of Duterte’s War on Drugs.
Even Vice President Leni Robredo used those numbers in a video-taped address to a United Nations conference. And she was widely criticized for it.
Panicking about the decline in its readership and following, Ressa went on the offensive and issued a call to “take back the Internet” as if she owned it.
And who could forget that attention-grabbing headline and story by Rappler’s star reporter Pia Ranada, reporting that President Duterte was poised to appoint Nikki Prieto-Teodoro as the next Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development? If that wasn’t fake news, then I don’t know what is.
When Facebook partnered with Rappler (and Vera Files) to fact-check news and information on social media, one of the first “fact-checks” by Rappler was a satirical story by The Adobo Chronicles regarding Ressa being elected president of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP). The Adobo piece was obviously a lampoon on Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque who said that Rappler could still cover Malacañang by joining FOCAP. Roque made the comment after Rappler’s media license was revoked by the SEC.
Rappler became the butt of jokes:
I’ve persistently challenged Rappler to fact-check recent statements by broadcaster Karen Davila, ex-Solicitor General FT Hilbay and blogger Jover Laurio that a 7-7 Supreme Court vote in a Motion for Reconsideration in the Sereno ouster would result in dismissal of the original petition and would reinstate Sereno as Chief Justice. Nothing could be farther from the truth but Rappler has, todate, refused to fact-check the trio. We can only assume that Rappler is not about to fact-check any of its “team members.”
Rappler’s latest attack on The Adobo Chronicles smells fishy. It obviously has the blessing of Ressa (as proven by her Tweet). What is so threatening about a satirical site for a multi-million albeit “illegal” media company like Rappler? Only Maria Ressa knows.
We also did our own fact-checking about satire and news bias and compared the ratings of Rappler and Adobo Chronicles. Rappler is tagged has a site with ‘left bias’ while Adobo is clearly identified as ‘satire.’
Everything points out, in our mind, to damage control. Rappler’s reputation has been so tarnished… and we’re not even talking about tax evasion charges filed against Ressa and company.
So back to the question, “What is the Difference between Rappler and Fake News?”
Our answer: NONE!