Ressa was never a war correspondent; she just watched CNN’s video tapes

Finally, Rappler Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa revealed so starkly her delusions, the absurd extent her humongous lies about our country and the Duterte administration.

In a recent “60 Minutes” program of the American TV network CBS, she said: “The situation in Manila is far worse than any war zone that I’ve been in. In a war zone you know exactly where the threats are coming from. I plan my way in and we plan our way out and you’re there for a limited period of time. We’ve been living through three years of this kind of hell.”

For somebody who pontificates in detail how to act in a war zone, Ressa was never a war correspondent

To bolster her credibility, the “60 Minutes” interviewer, Bill Whitaker, even exaggerated Ressa’s background as a “war correspondent.” In Whitaker’s very first statement in his introduction to his interview, he says, “For more than 30 years, Filipino journalist Maria Ressa has risked her life in war zones.”

As a CNN foreign correspondent (she was an American citizen) the only countries Ressa covered was the Philippines from 1988 to 1995 and then Indonesia from 1995 to 2005, hardly war zones. She was recruited because she had a Filipino mother and an Indonesian parent, whose family networks, the CNN thought, made it easy for anybody, even for a greenhorn or even for one with a lackluster performance in one job, to cover the two countries. Ressa was recruited in that period when most media men thought CNN didn’t have chance against media giants ABC, CBS, NBC and CBN. And after all, CNN paid pittance salaries that few journalist dreaming to become a “foreign correspondent” thought of joining.

Sulu hotel
She was a war correspondent only if you think that staying in a Jolo, Sulu hotel to cover the Abu Sayyaf or in a Bali resort to report post-mortem the 2002 bombings in Bali by the Islamist terrorist Jemaah Islamiyah makes you one.

In 2005, after CNN reportedly told her it no longer needs her services, ABS-CBN 2005 hired her to handle its news division. She was fired in 2010, allegedly for violating her contract.

With overt funding initially from businessman Benjamin Bitanga (and covertly from a Yellow tycoon, I was told) and later from American entities, mainly Omidyar Network, she set up Rappler in 2012 with other veteran journalists of the Yellow Cult who had covered Cory Aquino when she was president. The news site had its heyday during President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s regime, which it hailed as the country’s best president ever. (Sources allege that Aquino’s cronies are still bank-rolling Rappler, which has spent over P400 million since it was set up, with two former Cory officials, her Economic Planning secretary Solita Monsod and her Environment secretary Fulgencio Factoran watching over these Yellow investments.)

Do the arithmetic to fact-check the claim of “60 Minutes” that she risked her life in war zones for 30 years. From 1988 to 2005 in CNN is 17 years, in Manila and Jakarta, by no stretch of imagination can one claim to be war zones.

Whitaker apparently classified the five years during which Ressa’s allegedly had squabbles with her colleagues at the extravagantly furnished ABS-CBN offices from 2005 to 2010 as war-zone coverage. That’s five years. Then he classified Ressa’s seven years since 2012 to today as the highly paid CEO of Rappler, and in the past few years receiving journalist awards from US entities as covering a war zone.

Al Luzonee
Or maybe Ressa told him she covered an Islamic State attack in the war zone that wasthe Resorts World casino in June 2017, which she claimed was by a terrorist named Abu Khair al Luzonee?

That makes up Ressa’s journalistic career for 29 years, to be precise. What war zone did Ressa cover?

There is, however, a reason explain why the “60 Minutes” interviewer thought Ressa was a veteran covering war zones correspondent, and why she herself may have been deluded she was an outstanding war correspondent.

To get some background on Ressa, Whitaker probably came across and quickly browsed through her largely ignored 2003 book Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of Al-Qaeda’s Newest Center. The book’s preface had an eye-popping title that is the equivalent of a click-bait in books: “Face to face with Osama bin Laden.” Obviously a lazy reporter, Whitaker didn’t bother to read the preface.

Ressa was among the seven journalists who interviewed bin-Laden from 1993 to 2001?

No she wasn’t, that title was just to get a browser in a bookstore to buy it.

Bin Laden
The closest Ressa had in meeting bin Laden and being in a war zone was in 2002 in a cubicle in CNN’s office in Atlanta. There, she watched for days — till the wee hours of the morning, she says — CNN’s news tapes on terrorism in the Middle East, including 251 tapes that the al-Qaeda leader had collected. The tapes got into the CNN’s possession of the network’s senior international correspondent Nic Robinson, who produced a much-awarded series titled “Terror on Tape: The Roots of Evil.”

That Ressa got so absorbed in the tapes is obvious in her account of it in her book, for example: “By now, in the middle of the night, I am the only person on the entire floor. I am working through some of the other subjects in bin Laden’s video library — tapes of news broadcasts that showed al-Qaeda’s focus, including reports of Muslim conflicts in the Middle East, Chechnya, Kashmir, Bosnia, Indonesia and the Philippines.”

She finds a tape in which she was reporting on the plot to kill John Paul 2nd in his visit to Manila in 1995, and she reports her thoughts: “I try to picture bin Laden watching me. It is chilling. Did he laugh at my naiveté? Was he relieved at the simplistic picture my reports created?”

Ressa never covered a war zone for the CNN, ABS-CBN and Rappler — unless she insists being in the fiscal’s office to pay the bond for her release after being charged with tax evasion and libel was being in a war zone.

Ressa merely watched the bin Laden’s tapes and other CNN videotapes of its war correspondents doing their jobs. Did she imagine she was CNN’s Nic Robertson, the most famous war correspondent in recent years?

No wonder, it is the same kind of mind that imagines that this country’s streets are littered with corpses because of the government’s war against illegal drugs, its media, as well as opposition persecuted, and that it is worse than a war zone.

 

 


 

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