Philippine Media: Knocked off their lofty pedestal by their own greediness

Isn’t it so ironic now how roles have been reversed. The once mightily self-righteous Philippine Media now stands before the “representatives” of the people, head bowed and lined up as one of the three chumps (the police and Malacanang being the other two) responsible for the monumental shame that all Filipinos now suffer in the aftermath of the violent deaths of eight Hong Kong tourists who were simply out for a day of sight seeing on Manila’s streets.

The Senate committee on public information and mass media grilled news executives of the three major TV networks for three hours, warning it would pass a law if the industry could not draw up uniform guidelines in reporting on life-threatening incidents.

[…]

“Don’t tempt us to use our powers here, to now issue a general broadcast policy-that will be a law,” Arroyo warned the executives led by Maria Ressa of ABS-CBN, Jessica Soho of GMA-7, and Luchi Cruz-Valdes of TV5.

Highlighting the new-found boldness with which politicians now face the Media is the context that top griller Senator Joker Arroyo (ironically, himself, a champion of press freedom) cited that backdrops any move to impose sanctions and legal limits on the Media:

Addressing [head of ABS-CBN news and current affairs Maria] Ressa, he said: “The problem, Maria, is this: Everybody is scared of the media. Let’s face it… You publish something unfavorable, then we’re finished.”

“The point is, we hesitate because you are media. If you weren’t media, we would craft the law immediately,” he said.

Media once fancied itself the pit bull of those self-described victims-of-eveything — Filipinos. The trouble with pit bulls is that they can harbour a nasty pre-disposition to turn against their own masters. And now Filipinos have become victims of their own “guardians of freedom” as well.

The Mendoza hostage drama was but a mere catalyst in this spectacular phase transition. Indeed, the downward trajectory that Philippine Media had set for itself goes back a lot further than August 23.

I recall the following simple principles mentioned in last night’s Sentro ng Katotohanan broadcast that resonate loudly today…

News Media should not make the news.

Filipino news reporting as a profession lost the plot decades ago when it became all about money. All in the name of that nefarious business concept shareholder value, pathetically corporatised broadcast news in the Philippines has all but muddled the distinction between news reporting and production of entertainment content. The brain-dead average consumer of Big Philippine Media products should ask himself the obvious question: What is the difference between the two? Or, in other words:

Which came first, the drama or the event?

Take stock of the landscape of content coming out of the GMA and ABS-CBN Networks and you will surely be left scratching your heads. We no longer know for certain whether an event is significant in and of itself or whether it is but another sexed up regurgitation produced by our so-called and self-described “heroes” of freedom of speech. In contrast to the sober and understated news programs of other countries, for example, Philippine news programs such as Bandila are colourful and noisy assaults on human decency in the same way the jeepney is a roaring insult to the profession of automotive engineering.

Let’s engage in a bit of thinking here, folks. What is it exactly that we had sold our humanity out to in the last 25 years since we “won” our “freedom”? The only people laughing all the way to the bank are Big Media shareholders. All the rest are either hunched in a moronic stupor in front of their television sets or lying horizontally in a morgue, being lapped up by reporters and their cameramen for re-distribution to their gore enthusiast clientele.

News Media should not be the news.

The romanticism of “reporters” being key protagonists in over-reused drama plots involving evil tyrants out to silence every man, woman and his/her cameraman is so last-century. The old moronic battlecry “Media Kami!” (“We are the Media!”) now rings defeaningly hollow having been bellowed once too many. And hopefully the days when spectacles fed into our living rooms in living colour of whistleblowing idiots giving out press statements while surrounded by nuns are behind us. Like the mullet and the oversized shirts of the 1980’s, the epoch that was purported to be the “golden age” of Philippine Media will be looked upon by historians as a quaint reminder of how an otherwise noble concept that was subject to Pinoy-style thinking snowballed into a perverse excess of hype and spin — another testimony to Filipinos’ renowned talent for perverting otherwise noble concepts.

Perhaps the next time we see some bozo sporting one of those multi-pocketed vests with a tacky three-by-five-inch “Media Pass” hanging from his or her breast pocket (or from under the rear view mirror of his or her car), it will no longer be the image of a white knight galloping in from the horizon that is conjured in our minds. Instead, here’s hoping that, in the near future, the Filipino “reporter” evokes more the idea of an empathic observer and thoughtful chronicler of events; one who is happy to fade into the background and let his/her story tell itself.

About benign0

benign0 is the Web master of GetRealPhilippines.com
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42 Responses to Philippine Media: Knocked off their lofty pedestal by their own greediness

  1. potaters says:

    “Filipino news reporting as a profession lost the plot decades ago when it became all about money.”
    Karen Davila and Vic de Leon Lima admitted to this on air on their radio show (I find Ms. Davila to be more candid in her radio show than in her TV show). That they’re competitive because it’s a business. And that if they do not get the most newsworthy tidbit, they would get their asses kicked by their superiors. They may not be solely accountable for what happened during the hostage crisis but they certainly had a hand in it. Thanks for posting this, Benigno! 🙂

    • benign0 says:

      Thanks! 🙂 This is something that needs to be highlighted continuously. It is highlighted now only because of the gut-wrenching tragedy that transpired. But this should have been called out a long LONG time ago, as with most things — without having to wait for something TERRIBLE to happen. It’s easy to do some soul searching in the aftermath of a catastrophe. But what sets the men apart from the boys is the ability to recognise and mitigate risk, so much so that even if said mitigation fails to prevent a tragedy, we can look ourselves in the mirror and say with a straight face that we did all that could have been done.

  2. The media today are really getting powerful.. What Sen Arroyo had said about the media giants during that discussion are real.. and it could have been so much better if he had mentioned about these media giants ability to manufacture there own politician… EVEN UPTO THE HIGHEST SEAT OF THE LAND. take a look at ABS-CBN, airing so much campaign adds for noynoy even exceeding the allowable airtime from the last election. These people are wolves dressing like a grandma.–

    Media should have aired the news and NOT MAKE THE NEWS>

  3. red says:

    Great article, benign0. It really pisses me off on how they cry out for press freedom the minute they’re barred from any thing even if so little, or if a journalist is killed or kidnapped (who should have known better than to have been there in the first place anyway), yet they immediately wash their hands when their interference and/or hyping up of anything causes some sort of tragedy…
    They want all the freedom without the responsibility.

  4. Markad says:

    Our press is modeled similar to the American press, which is no way a symbol of virtue. I think journalist is considered as an even more ‘”evil” profession than a lawyer. I think it goes something like this; lawyers twist the fact to create a favorable truth while journalist twist the truth to create a favorable fact.

    • Hyden Toro says:

      Journalsm profession has its own: scalawags; professions’ prostitutes; people with second rate opinions; people who does not know what they are writing about; people with inflated egos; people who will sell the truth to serve their master Politicians, etc… A Modified truth given to people, disguised as information is more dangerous than CENSORSHIP. It is inconvenient to the public, but it is convenient to the people who bought them. Can you see the Aquinos very much relies on the Media, to promote themselves? 😮

    • Jay says:

      But the audience here is strictly pinoy, where they are led to believe what the media says. While the media in america may have its biases, but not everyone in the audience falls for it. And usually the biases are influenced by the bi-partisan nature of politics among other similar perspective as well.

    • reynangmgatae says:

      Aside from the fact that Ted Failon served as one of my professors in PUP, this is the main reason why I didn’t pursue Journalism as a career. I studied the field and was two minor subjects short of graduation. They teach you about the ethics of it all, journalists in history, and everything else by the book. Then as a senior, you experience the “real journalism” in OJTs and if you believed everything they were teaching and worked as ethical as you were taught to be, you won’t survive a year out there. 

    • anonymous says:

      “Our press is modeled similar to the American press, which is no way a symbol of virtue.”

      Err, the whole point of having a media (ie Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press) is to have a voice of dissenting opinion which does not put the government in a positive light. it might sound like it’s a self-defeating thing but this provision in the constitution ensures that information isn’t monopolized by the government. Though I do agree with you that journalism nowadays is loaded with half-truths mixed with propaganda, it is no reason to put restrictions on the press. What is needed here are discerning minds where people critically examine everything put forth and not just swallow garbage hook, line and sinker everything spouted in TV, by your fellow man or your leaders. That’s why we have this provision in the first place – to disseminate information and form opinions.

      If people are such simpletons to believe anything the TV says (despite the clear propaganda some stations spew) then there’s no point for even practicing democracy at all. You know, sometimes I even wonder whether democracy is really for us, given the way how the ordinary Filipinos shuns individualism and critical thinking and follow group-think instead.

  5. Hyden Toro says:

    The Media worldwide is on the verge of transformation; because of Technology. No longer are the Journalists/ Opinion makers/columnists are the icon of sensible and good opinions. I prefer to read the Blogs of people, like you and me. They can provide : better opinions, clear insights and unbiased thoughts. Some of the Media people sold themselves to political interests: to have them write favourable opnions pertaining to the political interest that bought them. Remember; Filipino Voices, Pro Pinoy Blogsites; etc..Psuedo Bloggers like: Buencamino, Joe America, UPnGrad, Cocoy, etc…I believe the Media compromised itself, because of its own power. Regarding the hostage incident. They were thinking to get the raw news; where it was happening; at the fastest possible time. They did not think, the situation was dangerous; people’s lives were in danger; and there was an armed crazy Policeman on the loose. I believe the Media was blinded by its own false belief. They forgot, that this Power is a double edged sword… 8)

  6. frustratedcitizen says:

    I really do hope the August 23 event will be a major major changing event for the media and for everybody’s views about the media. Most people think that the media is really powerful(actually it is that powerful) considering the fact that they see more power in the media than our government. I do hope so as well that the government can exercise a form of control over the media. Yes, freedom of the press is important, but too much freedom is unnecessary as well.

    • palebluedot_ says:

      our society are more scared of cameras & microphones than of the authority vested on the police. radio stations (& i like to mention my hated Bombo Radyo) feel they have more power than the police just because they can air their voices to hundreds of people than the poorly equipped policemen. at crime scenes, they are the first ones to investigate the criminals. police are scared of them, because, if they don’t cooperate with the media (boolsheet!) their names might be nagged to the public for weeks – that may mean future unemployment for them. and i hate it so much when they announce the name of the rape victim & let the victim relate her story to the listening public. or allowed a kid who was lost to cry over the radio…just so they, the radio announcer, get the fame & fortune they need. they are very inconsiderate…i wish they get the karma that they deserve 👿

      • Aegis-Judex says:

        Too right, mate. Makes me want to do an Ezio as he trash talks Vieri’s corpse:

        Pezzo di merda! Vorrei solo che avessi sofferto di più! Hai avuto la fine che meritavi!
        (Piece of $#1†! I only wished you’d suffered more! You met the fate you deserved!)

        Only difference is: These words are addressed to the fooks in media. 😈

    • Hyden Toro says:

      If you have Freedom; you have also the Responsibility to do what is right. To use your common sense. It is clear here: a Crazy Policeman was on the loose bent on killing his tourist hostages. Then, you go to interview him, why he is bent on killing hostages? Terrorists use the Media to promote their causes. This Crazy Policeman was a Terrorist. Can the Media People have the right discernment to act rightly in such situation? 😯

  7. benign0 says:

    The clear thing to see here is how the Media has for the last couple of decades highlighted the eee-vils of despotism, tyranny, absolute power and all that emo fodder — when the fact that is coming TO LIGHT now is that they themselves hold, monopilise, and wield so much ABSOLUTE POWER themselves.

    Time to dismantle that tyranny and put the Philippine Media in their proper place!

    As I mentioned in that previous article:

    Instead of stepping up to being a key contributor to enriching the national “debate”, the Philippine Media facilitated its further degeneration into a cesspool of regurgitated inbred ideas delivered by mutual-high-fiving Noli de Castro knock-offs.

    If we can vote for our politicians then we as consumers can certainly Vote with our Remotes!

    They should follow Noynoy’s lead: Noynoy knows who his BOSS is.

    It’s time Philippine Media is reminded as well WHO THEIR BOSS IS.

  8. rodel banares says:

    brilliant piece. Philippine media has become a monster after the first EDSA revolution.  It has turned from a white knight to a hoodlum.  I particularly detest how media can claim one-sided reports as “in-depth” reporting.  We’ve all seen how media has destroyed lives by reporting on unverified stories and how an insinuation on the part of media become “facts” when presented to the people.  The Philippine media today is the one “creating” or “making” news.  They are feeding our people garbage and sowing fear, terror and hatred.  I think that the senate inquiry is not enough to humble these arrogant “reporters”.  

    Just listen to anthony taberna on dzmm and you’ll get what i’m saying. 

  9. boombox says:

    And even ABiaS-CBN was so proud that someone from Wall Street Journal defended them about this Senate inquiry.

  10. Ryunken says:

    One great Article… I once wanted to be a Journalist… And I know that Freelancers are the true hard-getters of the true facts of what’s happening… The bloggers and those who use the internet to be journalist themselves are now freelance journalist under their own accord! They don’t follow the laws and restrictions of big business journalism… They just follow their hearts and do their journalism themselves

    • No Idea says:

      @Ryunken: don’t worry, these mainstream “journalists” will soon be gone. TRUST technology to make sure that they’re going pfffft soon… i hope it happens SOON. Why don’t you guys do something like the Huffington Post and kick the ass of the “mainstream”? They’re even more corrupt and twisted than the officials they cover!

  11. concerned_citizen says:

    It’s high time that media was knocked off their pedestal. For too long they have influenced the outcome of Philippine history for the past 20 years. They must be put in their place.

  12. Jett Rink says:

    Is MVP or Duavit-Gozon owned media better than Lopez or Prieto-Yambot owned media? Or if there is no ABS-CBN or Inquirer would our media be better?

    • palebluedot_ says:

      abs-cbn & inquirer are products of people power, those whose voices were repressed (suppressed?) during marcos time. di kaya they became “abusive” because of the repression? they redefined the meaning of media & balanced journalism to answer the lost years they had?

      duavit-gozon’s media network, on the other hand, existed during that era. please correct me about this, though. so, in a way, di sila nagkaroon nang identity crisis.

      abs-cbn & inquirer are like abused, incarcerated kids who who finally tasted freedom in adulthood…they forgot the real meaning of justice…they wield to get revenge now that they are finally free.

  13. anonymous says:

    Although I mainly agree with many of the written articles in antipinoy.com, this is one of the rare times that I have to vehemently disagree (the other one being the change of our government system into a parliamentary form of government). Do you even realize what your position entails? Freedom of the press and freedom of speech insures a well-balanced opinion and information on the subject matters affecting the country beforehand. Put restrictions on this essential right and the practice of democracy is nothing but a naught when its citizens are placed on the dark shadows of ignorance.

    I’m sorry dude but I have to say that your blame is misplaced. Place the blame where the blame is due. If your electorates actually held high standards for governance and chose effective leaders in government (and not some brain-dead celebrities and nincompoops into office), then it would’ve instituted proper protocols in situations like the Mendoza incident. So far, I haven’t even seen any attempts by Malacanang administer a news blackout (we know it is well within the power of the executive) nor even the PNP to employ any scrambling devices to make sure the hostage taker is in the dark about any of the incidents happening.

    Fact of the matter is, these events just show how ineffective Philippine governance really is. Though I really hate Philippine media on how they’ve made anything out of the Philippines a joke (heck OUR WHOLE COUNTRY IS ONE BIG JOKE), you’re just barking on the wrong tree on this one.

    • benign0 says:

      You are right, Mr anonymous. Freedom of press ensures balance that only a “free market of ideas” can assure us. So the question then comes down to whether or not the Philippines does have a free market of ideas. The fact is, in our version of this “market of ideas”, the infrastructure that produces and disseminates the ideas that are exchanged in this market are owned by a handful of oligarchs through a handful of conglomerates.

      Same thing as any free market, say for example operating systems. Any schmoe back in the 80’s and 90’s could put up a software house and compete. But Microsoft got too big (to its credit, because of the overdeveloped killer instinct of its founder and leader) and threatened to (if not succeeded at) locking competitors outside of the market. So there were threats to break it up, same as what happened to telecoms in the U.S. (broken up into the “baby Bells”) and big bad Standard Oil back in the turn of the century.

      Those mega-corporations all came together in a “free” market. Just as, in more recent times, big banks became big through a series of consolidations, mergers, and integrations — so integrated they had become that they had, as a result, lost natural organisational and operational gaps in between individual business units that, in a more fragmented world, would have prevented toxic financial positions from spreading like wildfire across the entire industry ultimately resulting in the 2007/08 financial meltdown.

      You get Big Media operating in a market of ideas that is only “free” in principle but not in practice, and you get the Philippines of today — the dumb getting even dumber because of the proliferation of toxic inbred ideas — which is exactly what happened when an entire nation came together surfing on an immense wave of moronic emo-fuelled Yellowist school of thinking that was engineered by this handful of big profit-driven cadre of opinion-shapers.

      • Buloy says:

        You can’t get a free market if certain political families and corporations run the economy. There is no checks and balances for corporations here who have been monopolizing certain industries, and no one in government has the ability to threaten them, mostly because many of the politicians in power owe it to these same corporations and families for sponsoring their rise to office in the first place.

        We’d like to think this is a free country enjoying its independence, but this is far from the case.  Corporations and media tell us what to think and do, and we happily do so under the presumption of independent thought. We’re the closest supposed “free” society in the world today to the Orwellian Big Brother is Watching You government, and like many of the characters in 1984, many of us don’t even realize this. The Winston Smiths that try to break free and question government’s motives are all too easily the ones that wound up ostracized, or worse. 

      • anonymous says:

        At first I agreed with you that there s no free market of ideas in the Philippines then you said this line:

        “The fact is, in our version of this “market of ideas”, the infrastructure that produces and disseminates the ideas that are exchanged in this market are owned by a handful of oligarchs through a handful of conglomerates.”

        Like, apples and oranges dude. For one, you’re talking about corporatism and the monopoly of the economy about our oligarchs while I’m talking about the Freedom of the Press. I do agree with you that there is no “free market of ideas” but it is still no excuse to put restrictions on the press on what to report or what not to report. It contravenes the purpose and ideals of the founding fathers of America and vehemently opposes the direct mandate of the constitution.

        If anything, it just shows what the economic plight of our country really is and the failings of our government to institute freer market opportunities. All this can be changed by allowing  free market capitalism and to stop the monopoly of this industry by the oligarchs; I disagree that we should institute restrictions on the press on what it wants to publish. Even given the situation it is now, a distorted view given by the press due to its freedom to publish is better than having no freedom of press at all. I’d rather have an opposite dissenting opinion (no matter how warped it is. No worries I can take the facts and throw away the bullsh*t) than having to look at everything through rose-colored glasses.

      • Hyden Toro says:

        If they throw some information to you. It is your duty to: find if the information is true or not. It is your duty to further dig or reseach, for such information. And, to formulate a good sense, that the information given to you , will serve you well. We cannot prevent some Media people from selling themselves to political interests. Just use your common sense. Have a good sense of judgement to distinguish between true information and propaganda. Don’t bite readily what is thrown to you. 😆

    • anonymous says:

      @Hyden Toro 

      “It is your duty to: find if the information is true or not. It is your duty to further dig or reseach, for such information.”

      “Have a good sense of judgement to distinguish between true information and propaganda. Don’t bite readily what is thrown to you.”

      Exactly! Spot on my friend. Let me rephrase that into what some simpletons can readily understand:

      “Just because someone tells you to eat sh*t doesn’t mean you have to do it and believe him.”

      This is why I’m against putting restrictions on the media. It’s better to have an opposite view of things (no matter how twisted or loaded with propaganda it is) than to have none at all. I don’t like the idea of a government monopolizing information and putting everything it does into rose colored glasses. If that were the case then there’s no point of a democracy and might as well go back to a tyrannical form of government. It’s solely the individual’s responsibility to disseminate information and approach it with a critical mindset.

      • Ronald Montemayor says:

        @Hyden & anonymous

        It’s certainly for responsible people like us to check on the facts before believing the news.
        Unfortunately, majority of the Filipinos either do not have the time, the concern, or even the basic intellect to do this thing, which is now either made easier or harder with the existence of cyberspace (easier or harder depending on your POV).

        Research is not one of the Filipino’s strong points.
        Vigilance is the price we must pay for maintaining a delicate balance between freedom of speech and a responsible media. We cannot rely on the man on the street to do this for us, unfortunately. He’d rather lie around all day and just soak in all the images on the boob tube, while the government slowly and subtly edits out the information he receives for it’s own purposes.

      • Jay says:

        @anonymous

        Though I will say this. The media in general has some form of consistency in their biases. ABS-CBN certainly as they have shown their colors time after time, being pro Aquino. Expect the same from their lame attempt with ABS-CBN news network, which holds absurd bias like Faux News Network. GMA7 is a bit more objective, but in terms of their editorial shows its not much.

  14. jemon says:

    Great read. But we cannot just hope, we need to do something about it. The question, still is, how?

  15. NFA rice says:

    This is OT but I can’t help drawing your attention to one of the funniest editorial cartoon.

    http://www.tribuneonline.org/edi01.html

  16. miriam quiamco says:

    It is great that the senate is investigating the Philippine media’s coverage of the hostage crisis.  This fourth branch of government after all is not constitutionally guaranteed, as a co-equal independent branch , but it is behaving as one.  In Asia, governments have to be wary of the damaging effects of mass media to their agenda for progress as people are not as critical-minded as their counterparts in the West.  In developed democracies in Europe and America, only 30% or so of the populace believe what the mass media put out there, people check out other sources of info. and in addition, they usually have public broadcasting networks that can compete with the commercially run ones.  In our country, the mass media, especially the TV networks have to monitored by the government to make sure they don’t undermine public interest.  A survey indicates that in Asia, some 80% of people believe in what the mass media tell them about the state of things.  

  17. frustratedcitizen says:

    A survey indicates that in Asia, some 80% of people believe in what the mass media tell them about the state of things.

    –so true especially here in our country. most people believe that, since the people delivering the news are ‘professionals’, they trust their credibility. Indeed most people pay more heed to the messenger rather than the message.

    In our country, the mass media, especially the TV networks have to monitored by the government to make sure they don’t undermine public interest.

    –this is a must but the yellow horde, the media giants, and all that benefits from the media giants will cry in protest using the lines ‘oppression of press freedom/freedom of speech and expression’ . As I’ve said in other comments here in AP, too much freedom is also not good. Here in the Philippines this freedom is widely abused….

    • anonymous says:

      Then the problem lies with the people and not the media. If anyone feeds you bullsh*t, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to accept the bullsh*t fed to you by certain people. It’s the citizen’s job to be vigilant and determine the lies from the truths. It’s really ironic that you people assail the principle of Freedom of the Press and of speech when this very principle is what gives antipinoy.com the right to write articles against our very government and elites in the first place. Like I have said before, place the blame where the blame is due. 

      “In our country, the mass media, especially the TV networks have to monitored by the government to make sure they don’t undermine public interest.”

      LOL! And you seriously think the government (which is ruled by oligarchs of course) is there for the public interest? Ha! Don’t make me laugh dude. Furthermore, what is to STOP the government from putting restrictions against the media to not report issues that might be construed negative from its point of view, hereby LIMITING what the media can publish to the public? You people just have no clue what this entails for our freedoms and how it serves as a buffer against government abuses that might be otherwise go unreported. If you think putting more restrictions against the media is the right step, then I suggest you look back at the clock and go to a time when Marcos reigned supreme and everything the government did was viewed through rose-colored glasses. You can tell that it was not a very pretty sight. Heck, you don’t even have to look at the Philippines alone, places such as North Korea, China, Iran and Cuba pretty much serves as an example on how people pretty much remain ignorant about government abuses and how they “worship” their leaders (sometimes literally in the case of North Korea) because they are kept in the dark. 

      Seriously, you people need to go back to high school and learn some f*cking political science, especially the philosophical concepts behind our constitution and the constitutions copied directly from the US government because you’re doing people a disservice. I don’t want a tyranny tip-toeing its way onto my doorstep, thank you very much. If you want that, then I suggest you go to those countries because I don’t want you to taint and destroy the only positive thing left in the Philippines.

      • Homer says:

        Anon. I’ll have to agree with you for the most part. The snipet you quoted was absolutely cringe-worthy, without a doubt. I only have to remind you that the commenter speaks for him/herself. One of the things people who support this site have to put-up comments that make no sense at all. Many of the (obviously) young commenters haven’t even come close to “getting real”. Yet, their (sometimes) uneducated comments are welcome. Ironically, it’s a price to pay for a democracy. Those who usually know better choose to ignore such comments, So I hope that when you say “you people” (such as the way you did on your last paragraph), I hope you were only referring to a select few, and not the majority of those who made AP what it is today. Judging from the quality of your comment, I’m sure you know better.

        🙂

      • Homer says:

        Correction:

        One of the things people who support this site have to put-up WITH ARE comments that….

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