Duped-terte?

Yesterday’s “will he or won’t he” Duterte caper put everybody’s afternoon on pause. Everyone was hooked. Even so-called politics insiders took part and egged on everybody’s fixation, tweeting and RT-ing rumors. I saw several media people repeatedly tweet about Duterte being on board a plane to Manila, complete with flight details. I saw a publicist say Duterte was on board a helicopter and on the way to COMELEC.

Have we all been taken for a ride?

At 4:00 AM, I wake up with the thought that we had all been roped into a social experiment on mind control of the crowd. This is the logical conclusion of the #AlDub phenomenon: if we can foment a national obsession with a television pairing, surely this can be replicated in politics.

If we can foment a national obsession with a television pairing, surely this can be replicated in politics.

See Maine on the way to the studio. Look, both she and Alden do the Q and A game to see if they could sit down to lunch together (a date!). See Duterte try to beat the deadline for filing his COC, will he conquer the beast that is Metro Manila traffic? Let’s all talk about it on Twitter, as it happens. AND DON’T FORGET TO USE THE HASHTAG.

I happily played along. (And got played, along with everyone else.)

Everyone (at least on Twitter) was hooked on #DuterteSerye for at least a whole afternoon. FOUR HOURS. And then Duterte says he was home all along. Did nobody bother to check? Where were the reporters? And what do we now do about the people who shared scoops, so very authoritatively, on where Duterte was and how much time he still has to free the princess in the castle? Do we call these people liars? Or do we call them sheep? Look how naively credulous our thought leaders can be.

The media also dropped the ball, and in such an egregious way. We look to the fourth estate to help us find out the truth. This time around, the media were practically co-authors of the farce. It is not such consolation, that their participation was limited to their respective Twitter accounts. When reporters regularly use Twitter accounts for tweeting “real” news, how is a follower to determine which of the tweets must not be believed?

When reporters regularly use Twitter accounts for tweeting “real” news, how is a follower to determine which of the tweets must not be believed?

This, however, should strike us most about ‪#‎DuterteSerye‬: LOOK AT HOW EASY IT CAN BE DONE.

Oh, the interest and the speculation was organic alright. But do you really believe no one was spinning this story? We were such avid spectators of Duterte’s amazing race. Turns out the star of the show was at home all along, tweedling his thumbs.

And we — journalists, politicians, and all — were duped.

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