Click bait
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - November 23, 2020 - 12:00am

In the world of social media there is such a term and concept called “Click bait” and here is the Wikipedia definition:

“Clickbait, a form of false advertisement, uses hyperlink text or a thumbnail link that is designed to attract attention and to entice users to follow that link and read, view or listen to the linked piece of online content, with a defining characteristic of being deceptive, typically sensationalized or misleading.”

In the Philippines, the local political equivalent would be the “Hate bait,” where a politician goes on a public rant against a political opponent, traditional enemies or habitual critics not just because he or she hates them but, on occasion, in order to attract the attention of the media and distract them from reporting on more pressing concerns or shortcomings of government in a crisis or calamity like the one we are experiencing right now. As more and more problems pile up and get reported by the media, the greater the chance for people to realize the weakness or failure of the government, which in turn ends up becoming a black eye on the administration’s performance score card.

One would think that the logical move is for national leaders and politicians to appeal for public support and cooperation to help millions of Filipinos suffering in our state of calamity, to set aside whatever difference we may have and once again show the best in the Filipino: Bayanihan and Damayan.

But instead, what we have is a public display of animosity, anger, suspicion and threats not just towards one rival but also at a host of rivals or critics. The very recent two-pronged attack of the President against Vice President Leni Robredo and UP students in general is a vintage move of this administration, where it is seemingly easier to bully, intimidate or rant against opponents and critics.

But there is more behind that “Raging Bull” performance. To rant and rave immediately gets the attention of reporters and the media who always gets sucker punched by this tactic. Try to recall the many occasions when the President would hate on people and you will see a pattern – it is often done when there is some sort of public concern or when problems pile up with the end result of making the government look incompetent or weak. Instead of doubling up on work, we have seen “Hate Bait” and Acoustic fire on favorite targets. He has hated on the Church, the media, political opponents, Obama, big business executives, the Vice President and now nameless and faceless students. A week later, one or two of the President’s men or Cabinet secretary can be expected to shovel more dung at the same targets.

All the targets were generally innocent bystanders placed on the verbal firing squad. The targets of the rants or attacks often end up scratching their heads wondering what they did that actually deserved a presidential brow beating. These public castigations and accusations are reminiscent of old school fathers who charge into a situation blowing hot, cursing at everyone and no one, making hasty generalizations and, once they have blown off steam, walk away like the Parade of Typhoons as if nothing happened. Most of them don’t have the patience to get into details or facts of the matter; they simply make their presence felt along with their destructive sermons on the mount.

Sad to say, but reporters and editors almost always seem to drop everything just to watch a public official “Rant & Rave.” Remember how reporters and editors often sidelined big issues just to highlight the Public Display of Anger of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, some even referring to her as “Bratinela” just because she showed her contempt for an idiot. The difference between PGMA and PRRD is that the former was expressing her genuine unfiltered contempt or displeasure. In the case of PRRD, I’m inclined to think that it is contempt alongside the “Hate Bait” strategy.

Let’s all pray that members of Philippine media will soon wake up to this old trick, just like their counterparts in the United States finally did by tuning off or filtering out all the dumb and unfounded rants of Ex-president Donald Trump. There comes a time when it is our responsibility not to pander or patronize what is unhealthy, untrue or UnFilpino. At the very least let us NOT give unnecessary attention or space to “Hate Bait,” especially since we are slowly but surely walking towards the 2022 presidential elections. We, the members of Philippine media, must now put on our mantles as gatekeepers who will not allow “Fake News,” “Hate Bait” and other divisive tactics.

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Folks at the Department of Health better start working smarter and faster because a number of people are already floating conspiracy theories on why they are slow or take forever to study, evaluate and decide on numerous products and options related to COVID-19 testing. One theory is that a handful of businessmen invested hundreds of millions on the RT-PCR test kits and need to get their ROI or Return On Investment, which why a decision has not been made on the standardized price or cap for RT-PCR testing.

People are also raising the issue of why the government needs to do “Double FDA testing” by repeating tests that were already conducted by governments better equipped and funded as far as FDAs go. Lastly, the delay to confirm and use various testing options that are cheaper makes the DOH one of the biggest obstacles in reviving tourism in the country. If local tourists need to undergo one test before flying out of NCR, one test upon arriving at their destination, then one test flying out and one more test upon arriving in NCR, the RT-PCR tests in total will cost about P18,000! A high price to pay for SLOW PERFORMANCE!

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

CLICKBAIT
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