MANILA, Philippines – Alas, Philippine society is in the precipice once again, glumly looking at the cyberspace memes — a parade of fallen idols in wheelchairs, from a president to a chief justice to a bogus NGO empress. While the absence of gatekeepers in social media makes it a tinderbox, the mainstream media is tasked to be the voice of sobriety in perilous times, and if it can, to lead the public to sunnier climes.
We recall a similar time in the United States, when Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal spawned such gloom in the American psyche that it took The Tony Orlando and Dawn Show on CBS to coax it out of the mean side of the hill. As described in The San Francisco Chronicle, “Tony Orlando and Dawn burst out of television sets during the Ford administration, a sunny antidote to the dark cynicism that followed Watergate.” Nota bene that variety shows like Tony’s were the genesis of the late-night shows that were later shaped by men sitting behind desks as they interview guests, like Johnny Carson, David Lettermen, Jay Leno, Arsenio Hall, Conan O’Brien and their cohorts in the USA.
This is the salvific role of mainstream media that entered my mind, seeing two kings of talk on Philippine TV preside over their late-night domains. Jojo Alejar’s Medyo Late Nite Show and Tonight with Arnold Clavio are tasked with helping citizen Juan digest the volatile issues so that he can sleep with an enlightened conscience, wary of the lynching mob lurking on Facebook timelines, Twitter microblogs and Instagram hashtags.