The truth is moribund in Puerto Rico. She is gasping for breath, starved, beaten and left for dead on the Baldorioty. Once a mighty fist with which Don Pedro Albizu Campos struck the interloper, she now feels like filet mignon in Fidel Castro’s Cuba — rare to the point of non-existent. Just ask Tego Calderón.
The ancient Greek tragedian Aeschylus said that the first casualty of war is the truth. In today’s Puerto Rico —at war with itself and besieged by financial vampires, political carpet baggers and supreme idiots— the truth is indeed the first casualty. Yet the very force that is meant to uphold and protect it —the Fourth Estate— is the lead assassin.
How to sum up today’s Boricua media? It’s a bit difficult when the thing has hooves; its knuckles drag on the ground, all while suffering from a Napoleonic complex.
The words that (in my mind) fit perfectly were shotgunned out of the IBM Selectric of the father of Gonzo journalism (and the man who stole Papa Hemmingway’s horns): Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. And they go like this:
As far as I am concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy and compliance, and generally stuck in the bog of mediocrity.
Let’s just flesh it out a bit more, shall we? God bless the doctor and his barbiturates:
The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.
The tragic part is that, like Sisyphus, there are good men and women (although very few now) who still battle to tell the truth and are dying like dogs. Most have lost jobs and had livelihoods sacrificed at the altar of grotesque gossip shows disguised as news. Newsrooms have been silenced with a ruthless rapidity that left reporters mouthing the words consummatum est; newspapers run by a fistful are more sewers of lies than bastions of truth.
And the thieves and pimps of this saga, you ask, the culprits of this sorry show? In my book, they are the decision makers, the heads of these operations. They utilize the rampant violence and political chaos that infirm the island as a “reality show” to adorn themselves with hollow ratings and circulation numbers — daring each other to see who can splash more blood. Los Señores —those who command what and who go on the air and the level of discourse, mostly the bottom of the barrel, scum-scrapping kind— they have very little regard, and much disdain, for the people they “serve” or the truth, for that matter.
That brings us to Los seis de la tarde and Tego Calderón. Recently William García wrote an article for Latino Rebels about an incident between the prominent music producer, actor, reggaeton artist and activist Tego Calderón and Héctor Ferrer, a Z-list politician and ex-legislator of the Partido Popular Democrático (PPD), who had to resign due to a domestic violence scandal. After telling Ferrer the truth —that the government operated with a “double morality,” that everyone in the Capitolio in Puerto Rico, the seat of legislators, “operated like a Mafia”, all stole and had to go— Calderón moved on to the two ruling parties.
“A este pais lo han jodido dos partidos, las mismas caras [the PPD and the New Progressive Party].” He noted that the media gives “foro para dos payasos hablar mentiras, para hecharse la culpa uno al otro. Eso es una ofensa para el puertorriqueño que tiene algo en la cabeza.”
Truth to the bloody word. Then, in total disgust, Calderón ripped the mic off and left the show.
García lamented the fact that the island’s media choose to focus on Calderón’s leaving abruptly and not why he left or what he said. The headlines made Calderón out to be weak, as if he couldn’t hack the pressure brought on by Ferrer. (I believe Tego can eat Ferrer for lunch, with papitas and ketchup, but that is another story.) In reality Calderón les cantó and left, not willing to be part of the hypocrisy any longer.
William, sadly in Puerto Rico we swim in the miasma of infotainment, orchestrated by wretched Citizen Kanes. There is no questioning allowed. No thinking permitted. The media is the opiate so that the corrupt can continue to rule and fatten themselves on the spoils, not so it can educate and illuminate. The people be damned. “Let them eat cake.”
Or as HST would say: “In a generation of swine, the one-eyed pig is king.” Al pan, pan y al vino, vino.
Susanne Ramirez de Arellano is the former News Director for Univision Puerto Rico and a writer and journalist living in New York City. She has a blog in El Nuevo Día called Dos Caminos y Una Subversiva. Comments can be sent to her email. You can follow Susanne on Twitter @DurgaOne.