There’s no denying the awesome news value of the scandal: a Forever 21-feeling TV host looking to “score” with a pretty 22-year-old chick but ended up getting roughed up in an upscale condo.
The central character is Vhong Navarro, a former Streetboy who successfully reinvented himself as a comedian and is now a co-host at the Kapamilya network’s noontime show, “It’s Showtime!”
Did he really try to rape one Deniece Cornejo? Or was he “set up” by a group led by a shady businessman seeking to extort money from poor Vhong? And who’s that girl anyway? She’s “deniece” of whom?
So many questions remain unanswered on what actually transpired that evening of Jan. 22 at Forbeswood Heights. Good thing we have our ever-reliable news organizations, the likes of GMA News and of course, ABS-CBN, tirelessly tying the loose ends for us, all in the service of journalism.
Our perpetual gratitude to them for putting the “Vhong-bugan” episode in the national agenda at the expense of silly stories like the signing of the final annex in BS Aquino’s legacy-building peace deal with the MILF, a “historic” event that made not a few journos teary-eyed and turned others into experts on the Mindanao issue over night.
What could be more newsworthy, for example, than a story on Vhong’s dude allegedly touching Deniece’s dudette?
ABS-CBN’s reportage is peerless, as is expected of a revamped newsroom that now boasts of a killer instinct. Imagine the influential network throwing the full weight of its journalistic experience and expertise behind easily the biggest story of the year. Get the picture?
Consider the TV Patrol episode last Jan. 28, ABS-CBN’s version of “saturation” reporting applied in the case of a distressed celebrity.
Everyone’s favorite tabloid on TV pretty much devoted all of the first gap to a blow-by-blow coverage of the Vhong Navarro affair. Niko Baua’s scoop stood out: Deniece Cornejo had been staying at the condo for only a week before the incident. Then what?
There’s also the amazing part where Kabayan Noli de Castro invited Kapamilya viewers to take sides and join ABS-CBN’s online poll.
The result was lopsided in favor of “victim” Vhong, which was hardly surprising considering how the network had been framing the reportage in the service of its talent more than in the search for truth. “Advocacy” journalism always has a place when a Kapamilya is in trouble.
Don’t get us wrong. For all we know, Vhong indeed was a victim of a nasty setup cooked up by a baneful businessman using a pretty lass to lure a sexually charged, but unwitting, prey.
But it’s quite interesting how ABS-CBN’s coverage is obviously shaped by the desire to prove its talent right and the other party wrong. The job is probably best left to probers and prosecutors.
Before dear Vhong gets overwhelmed by all the support he’s been getting from the Kapamilya network, from Tito Boy Abunda to the tireless foot soldiers of TV Patrol, consider the bigger picture. It’s all about the ratings, baby!
There’s no way ABS-CBN would allow itself to be out-scooped, out-muscled or out-hustled in a story that originated from its own backyard. That’s why the competition — GMA Network in particular — is hard-pressed to catch up, if not outpace the Kapamilya network.
Save for the President’s Daily Inquirer, which astonishingly went against its tabloid nature this time and banished Vhong Navarro stories to the inside pages, Kapamilya competitors are having a field day reporting on the “he said/she said” affair.
We can’t really fault them for striking while the iron is hot, so to speak. Like all news stories, the mauling incident is bound to lose its novelty sooner than later. The all-knowing social media kibitzers will eventually lose interest and turn to a new scandal, a new silliness that would require their valuable two cents.
So enjoy the Vhong-Deniece-Cedric saga while it lasts. To sagacious news managers, it’s what we, the frivolous audience, want and they’re simply indulging us.