THE BATTLE FOR TRUTH : Korina Sanchez vs Anderson Cooper

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by the Editors

“SOMEBODY slap Korina Sanchez. Because of her reaction, Anderson had to explain himself for those tweets. He (Cooper) only reported what he saw!” This is just one of the many tweets now flooding social media over the recent exchange between CNN’s Anderson Cooper and local newshen Korina Sanchez concerning the handling of news reports in the wake of super-typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

Cooper was in town as part of CNN’s coverage of typhoon Yolanda. Reporting from Tacloban City on the “difficulties and shortcomings of local relief efforts” Cooper said: “You would expect perhaps to see a feeding center that had been set up five days after the storm. We haven’t seen that not in this area. Some food is being brought to people here at the airport, some water being distributed, but these are very, very difficult conditions for the people here on the ground and it’s not clear how much longer it can continue like this. Something’s got to give.”

A lot of things did break from ground zero: reports of a rising death toll and the tales of frustration and desperation of survivors who have resorted to looting and everything else for the sake of survival and self-preservation. There is death and destruction everywhere and Cooper, like other foreign journalists, were simply reporting events as they saw it unfolding from ground zero.

Quick Defense

But here comes Koring Sanchez with the temerity to hit Cooper for his “erroneous reports”. Korina, wife of Interior and Local Secretary Mar Roxas II and ex-flame of President Noynoy Aquino, was quick to give her rebuttal in defense of Mar and the PNoy administration. In her morning radio show “Rated Korina” aired over AM radio dzMM, Wednesday morning, Nov 13, she had a blind item for her listeners describing a “blonde reporter ng CNN” whom she claims are giving reports that are “mali-mali,”. “Mukhang hindi niya alam ang sinasabi niya (It seems he does not know what he is saying),” Korina added.

While Anderson Cooper is definitely not blonde-haired—it was clear that Korina was referring to the CNN newsman, but she did not have the balls to name Cooper outright. Perhaps this was Korina’s interpretation of extending professional courtesy to a comrade journalist.

The exchange did not end there.

Aside from his report in CNN, Copper also posted several tweets via his account @AC360 describing what he sees in Tacloban, which is one of the most affected areas in the Visayas by typhoon Yolanda. Cooper said that there’s no “real evidence of organized recovery” in the area and that the people in Tacloban “deserve better than what they have gotten.”

Anderson, host of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360˚ also tweeted “Everywhere you go you find people searching for their lost loved ones” and “Philippine military personnel are cleaning up the area around the airport.. first time we’re seeing this”. And because of Korina’s reactions, Cooper was forced to clarify and explain his statements
The Anderson-Sanchez tiff stirred different reactions from the netizens, but most were irked by the reactions of Korina and her ill-treatment of a fellow journalist. Many who took Cooper’s side said Korina had no right to question Cooper who was reporting on site while she was dishing out commentary from the comforts of a television studio.

Whether a knee-jerk reaction or acting under instructions from Mar, Korina’s reactions served only to magnify the incompetence of the government in handling the crisis. And, to a greater extent, she has made herself a target of the anger of over half a million Filipinos affected by typhoon Yolanda.

To the typhoon-ravaged, Korina is the liar—a puppet of this government and its ploy of dishing out candy-coated lies.

“Sanchez probably thought that her husband’s directing traffic on the streets of Tacloban could be considered a rescue operation. Thank goodness no one takes her seriously nowadays…especially since she hasn’t even been to the disaster zone,” said one online commentary.

Apparently caving in to the online comments, Korina got on a plane Thursday to report live for ABS-CBN from Ormoc, Leyte. She could have gone to Tacloban to get a full reality check.

Battle for Truth

The Korina Sanchez vs Anderson Cooper affair is just the tip of the ongoing battle for the truth about the real scenario in typhoon ravaged areas. On one side are international journalists reporting on site and on the other are people from Malacanang—including President Aquino—who are giving much rosier updates from a comfortable distance.

While Cooper was reporting from Tacloban City, President Aquino was giving a reassuring report in an interview with Christiane Amapour, aired that very same day also over CNN. Receiving some ambiguous responses from PNoy, Amapour kept his composure and did not press further for proof of progress in the rescue and recovery efforts.

While the President reported that a sense of normalcy has returned to the typhoon-hit areas, Cooper’s live report showing actual footage from the ruins of Tacloban airport painted a far grimmer picture.
It is quite depressing to hear Cooper say that it is not really clear to him who is in charge of the Philippine side of operations as it shows the lack of leadership in a time of crisis. As another reporter from ABC News claims: the Philippine government has become paralized in the face of disaster.

And for a local news anchor like Sanchez to go on the defensive makes matters even stranger for outsiders like Cooper and other foreign observers.

Japan Tsunami

Days after Japan was hit by an earthquake and a tsunami, Cooper and other foreign journalists were also there to report on the ensuing activity after the tragedy.

“When I was in Japan, right after the tsunami there two years ago, within a day or two, you had Japanese defense forces going out, carving up cities into grids and going out on foot looking for people, walking through the wreckage. We have not seen that here in any kind of large-scale operation,” Cooper reported then.
At Villamor Airbase, main staging area of the relief flights to the disaster zone, foreign journalists reported that the base seemed to be “operating at half speed” with no real sense of urgency.

The US Marines have swung into action, as expected. But there are only hundreds of them right now and they must first coordinate with the Philippine government before they can swing into action.

The United Nations and other countries are sending relief through the United Nations Food Programme. With the government involved in the pork barrel scandal, reports say that US Marines escorting the UN relief have been instructed to keep government officials and politicians “from touching the relief goods.”
How low can our image as a people get?

Exposing, yet again, the incompetence of the PNoy administration, the people want somebody to turn to in this hour of great need.

If PNoy fails to meet this latest challenge, it may take more than a Korina Sanchez to save his administration.

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