Oh, boy, is she talking about me?

"Poor guy." That, apparently, is what I am, because while it does seem that Sassy Lawyer is talking about me (she does drop a few hints, including the understandable factual error of calling the estimable Leo Magno a colleague of mine), she never names me or my blog. Worse, for someone who is acknowledged as the queen bee of the Philippine corner of the blogging hive, she commits the cardinal mistake of not linking to the matter under discussion. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t one of the principal promises of blogging the virtue of transparency? You know, power to the people, or the grassroots, or the citizen as particle of sovereignty, that sort of thing.

Sassy thinks I don’t like her. I am tempted to say this breathtaking act of mind-reading reminds me, too, of the bittersweet fate of unrequited love, especially in the time of cholera, but I must tell the unmagical truth. I don’t know her enough to like her or not like her.

Okay, I appreciate the e-mail. But I don’t need to rise to the obvious bait and attack back on the gutter level. The poor guy lives on that. If he had more substantial things to say–if he raises genuine issues and argues them out as a mature adult–I’d engage him in a discussion. But you know what? It’s personal to him. The guy simply doesn’t like me. And I have no right to insist that he does. His problem really is the inability to discern between an issue and its author whom he does not personally like. Hence, the personal attacks.

When one is in danger of swooning, try the corrective of facts. In Sassy’s case, may I refer to the three entries I’ve posted about her? I criticized her abusive treatment of Deannie Bocobo, using, among other means, an illustration of the argument from snide. I took issue with her position that the PCIJ warning of an imminent raid was premature. I also prepared to lay the groundwork against her proposal to impose an unconstitutional limitation on press freedom.

Were these personal attacks? I don’t think so. Or, to be more precise, only if Sassy cannot be criticized. (If I’m wrong, can someone kindly point me to the gutter level?) The thing is, if you take a look at some of her entries, and most especially at her deus-ex-machina comments, you will perhaps share my conclusion that it is Sassy herself who, in fact, resorts to the argumentum ad hominem, usually of the abusive variety.

As for Sassy’s second contention: What can I say but that she is egregiously mistaken?

It is about insecurity. Media, as an institution, is not the only one reacting. Individual media men are doing it too. And I am simply the best object of attack because I am only a blogger and I broke all the rules of the equation when I became an op-ed columnist. For people like him, it doesn’t matter what I write or what my position is in an issue–they will always disagree and be derisive because my being an op-ed columnist is not acceptable to them. They see themselves as above me, being true-blue journalists, and I, a mere blogger.

No, I don’t see myself as above Sassy, or any other blogger, for that matter. Anyone who actually knows me, or pays my writing any kind of attention, would know that. I think Sassy completely misreads the media situation (which also explains the jaw-dropping factual mistakes in her irresponsible column on yellow journalism last week). I hope I will have time later this week (before I leave for the beach!) to finally make my case. Suffice it to say for now that I criticize Sassy simply because (1) her views may have adverse consequences and (2) they are mistaken.

Nothing personal.



Filed under Readings in Media

38 responses to “Oh, boy, is she talking about me?

  1. I read you and I haven’t read anything on your blog that could construed as a personal attack, or the remarks of someone who has a personal grudge or agenda. In fact, if you’re guilty of anything, it might be that you’re too dispassionate. 😛

  2. Trust me, I’m passionate!

    But, really, thanks, Issy. Terrific blog design, by the way. I’ve been meaning to say that out loud; it’s the best I’ve seen. (A confession: I actually like the previous look better, with the bigger masthead.) Spare, clean, elegantly clear.

  3. exie

    The Sassy Lawyer is not, unfortunately, the Classy Lawyer.

    Keep on doing what you’re doing, John.

  4. Coco Alcuaz

    Other bloggers have their virtues but I think your blog is one of, if not the most sober and intelligent ones around. And a pleasure to read.

  5. Thanks, Ex; thanks, Coco. Manuel Buencamino tried to strike a balance with a recent comment in Sassy’s blog, but I’m afraid even that was slapped down, with a literal “Drop dead.” I do not wish for this “skirmish” to be reduced to a journalist vs. blogger issue; first because it would be specious, and second because it would be obfuscatory. (Sorry, ten-dollar legal language there.) If she will take the trouble to reread her posts (preferably before posting them), I think she will realize that her own words tell us that this “issue” is not about who is who, but who is doing what. So … read any good books lately? : )

  6. it’s either ikaw ang tinutukoy diyan o si kuya manuel.

  7. The plot thickens …….

    But pay no mind, I’m just your little fly on the wall curiously observing the proceedings from a great safe distance.

    I read both your blogs, and I say both are equally inviting and interesting, though your journalism background may give you the edge in writing style.

    But then again I cruise around many, many more sites from across this huge cyber-firmament. And touchy matters like this are simply the spices that make things sizzle and biting.

    Nothing to get heartburn for, though. Maybe just a little ego-massage could iron out the kinks.


    BTW, are you a Nery from Mindanao? I spell mine with an “i” and am originally from Northern Mindanao.

  8. Ah, but the art of wit is dead if the only thing a person can say is “drop dead.” 😉

    Seriously, I take everything people say on the blogosphere with a pinch of salt . Thus, I’d rather not say anything about issues. However, I do note how a person says it and Sassy Lawyer’s refusal to debate with commenters just plain rubs me wrong. To me, it smacks too much what a Tor editor once said about online journals, i.e. that we expect comments on our blogs in “reassuring the speaker that (they’re) right” as “the basic emotional transaction”.

  9. Wonder why she’s blogging and notlawyering? Can’t stand contrary opinion.

  10. I agree that the article on yellow journalism was simply irresponsible and lacking in merit. It was the only one of hers that I have managed to read from start to end btw, didn’t have the patience for others.

    As much as I don’t like the way she expresses her opinion, it probably wouldn’t be as bad if she knew how to address people who don’t agree with her. Instead, she resorts to name calling and personal insults.

  11. manuelbuencamino

    Ako nga yata yun sinabihan ng drop dead ni Sassy.

    I quoted her and relied on her legal opinion to support an article I wrote against the anti-terror law. I thought she appreciated that pero minasama pala niya. Next time I will quote na lang her recipes to my cook.

    But I confess I post comments on her blog na nakakainis talaga, like that bob dylan quote when she attacked journalists who don’t like bloggers, and that question about being defensive, which she censored, when she wrote about yellow journalism.

    But those are constructive criticisms, di ba? hehehehe

  12. Hi, John –
    “A confession: I actually like the previous look better, with the bigger masthead.”
    – For a minute there, I couldn’t remember which design that was. My tragic flaw: I keep changing the look because it relaxes me to play w/ the templates. 😛

    “I do not wish for this ‘skirmish’ to be reduced to a journalist vs. blogger issue…”
    – This is already problem in the U.S., right? I’ve been reading around and American journalists & bloggers are taking potshots at each other.

    banzai cat –
    “Ah, but the art of wit is dead if the only thing a person can say is ‘drop dead.’ ;-)”
    – ROTFL

    “But I confess I post comments on her blog na nakakainis talaga”
    – I confess my friend and I tracked you down on the net to read your essays/analyses because we couldn’t stop laughing after reading some of your “nakakainis” remarks. 😛

  13. I had no idea this had become such a huge issue until I read the comments posted both here and on Sassy’s post!

    Call me naive if you must, dear friend, but as I kept reading her post, I started thinking maybe she wasn’t referring to you. Here’s why: (1) I’ve known you for more than two decades and have never ever heard you malign anyone (or calumniate, vilify, or defame for that matter), not even when I thought the person deserved it 🙂 (2) I’m certain you don’t see yourself as being better than or superior to others; in fact I do think you’re one of the humblest persons I know (3) You’ve always been analytical (too much, sometimes 🙂 ) and strive to be fair and objective (despite occasional — even rare — flashes of temper, haha); and (4) I’m on your list of “Recommended Reading” and I’m not a journalist.

    If there’s a blog war, I’m not getting in the middle of it. And, like you, I believe there’s room for all of us in the blogosphere. The whole point of what I’m saying then is that since the person Sassy described is nothing like the John Nery I know, I’m simply going to assume she wasn’t talking about you. (Stop snickering. Do you think I was simply born with a positive outlook and disposition?)

  14. The most positive, positively the sunniest!

    Thanks, Gigi, for enumerating my alleged virtues, none of which I remember acquiring!

    Blogger vs. journalist, no, Issy, but as I hope I will have a chance to explain sometime in the next two days (before I lie in the sand in Bora, with La Nina’s permission), the different positions Sassy and I have taken on this “issue” actually reflect the different positions we hold on press freedom and responsibility.

    John M., I read your simple but pointed defense of Manolo, and on the chance that Sassy’s “poor guy” post was actually about me, I will pretend, ahem, that your soothing words apply to me too.

    Thanks, Amadeo (“lover of God,” yes?). Please believe me when I say I did not get heartburn or worse when I finally read Sassy’s post; my pulse did quicken, my heart did race, but that’s merely the reflexes of a journalist (and also a blogger, and proud of it!) smelling a good story. I must say I envy your blog title; the Ignatian perspective is very much a part of the way I think (I think), and now there’s nothing my favorite Jesuits can do about it except accept it or ignore what I write. And yes, I was born in Cagayan de Oro, spent my formative years shuttling around Mindanao, then finally weighed anchor in Manila. I did go back to the City of Golden Friendship (cheesy, I know, but the nickname has stuck) after college, to teach in the high school for two years (and to raid the library in the college, for my money the best in Mindanao).

    Manuel, what would genuine public debate be without remarks designed to be provocative? Instead of being labeled a troll, like poor Atty. Erwin James, you and others who fill the comment threads with substantial and sometimes uncomfortable inputs should be commended.

    And banzai cat: I think in one major way blogs and “traditional media” have this in common. Many of their readers read them regularly to confirm or validate their world view; it’s simply human nature. It is in this context (Issy, dispassionate alert!) that I understand Hegel’s statement: The newspaper is modern man’s morning prayer.

    Blogs too.

  15. Thanks for the comment, Ricelander, although I must say I am not in a position to confirm or deny what you suggest : )

    And, yes, Coffee with Amee, I do hope more online users will be able to handle criticism well. That’s the whole point of technology-powered public discourse, yes?

    Incidentally, what is it with coffee that inspires bloggers? Coffee with Amee, CafeBarako.com, the lamented Percolation blog, etc, etc. The, ah, caffeine? : )

  16. Since my eyes are too tired to follow the arguments and have nothing intelligent to contribute to the discussion, I will say this:

    Ooohhhh….a blog war. How exciting. 🙂

    Will post tomorrow when I’ve read the exchanges. in the mean while:

    Sa pula?? Sa puti?? 🙂

  17. Ok, squinting and all, I’ve re-read her post and the three links posted here. I must say, I didn’t read a single hint of “personal attack” at all. Could it be that Sassy’s referring to somebody else?

  18. manuelbuencamino

    Thanks Issy.

  19. Resty O.

    Greetings of world peace, free love, and blogdom harmony,

    Oh noo, not another war, after the (just-concluded?) glitterati war (Krip Yuson-versus-UP et alii). Let’s have this next week, okay. 🙂

    Seriously, I don’t think Sassy was referring to you. I think it’s someone else, someone who might be actually nasty. Too bad I forgot which possible blogger/site, but I think I saw such a site attacking her in wild abandon.

    But that’s just my wild guess.


  20. jumper

    she did mention that the blogger is a colleague of Leo Magno in PDI. i know 2 bloggers from PDI, Manolo and you, John. are there others?

  21. Alcuin Papa, one of our reporters, also keeps a blog, Jumper, at deadliestdeadline.blogspot.com. But I just checked his last dozen or so entries; it’s a good bet it’s not him. On the other hand, part of my blog roll (which Sassy criticized) is called “Recommended Reading.” She has also linked to one of my posts, last time I checked (not the defense of Dean Bocobo, but the one on PCIJ).

    Leo was with the Inquirer before joining Inq7, which is a separate company. Alcuin, Manolo, and I are employees of the Inquirer. Strictly speaking, the pioneering Leo is not a colleague, because he works for another company, and in fact that company treats mine as a content provider, like AP and Reuters and AFP. To be sure, the Inquirer is a part owner of Inq7, but our editorial operations are completely different and independent from Inq7’s (yes, they have their own reporting staff). Of course, they also run our stories — but not all of them; they also choose which ones they want to run.

    Thanks for asking.

  22. The Bystander

    Journalists ganging up on a certain blogger? That’s what I call “persecution” complex.

  23. The Bystander

    Personal attacks? She’s the one doing it. Or maybe she has this notion that any attack on the message is also an attack on the messenger. What a pity.

  24. jackryan68

    I believe it’s you John. Pero mukang naging Lord Voldemort ka na in that Sassy entry– “He-Who-Must-Not-Be Named” 🙂

    Aside from the difference in opinion, let me also add you two differ in the approach — Sassy is intensely personal, to the point she wouldn’t tend to tolerate dissent, while you always try to be cool and philosophical.

    I must admit both of you are fun to read and appeal to different sides of me. But in the issue regarding the media, I think you’re right. And she will only appreciate the unique problem the industry’s in if she finds herself at the receiving of this regime’s own wars, which are the more dangerous ones being played out.

  25. blogger vs. journalists, sheesh. someone’s getting insecure. maybe because her sitemeter is not moving at geometrical speed, minus her callous “fingering.”

  26. hello, john! Mabuhay ka!

  27. check out how sassy can be oh-so-objective and non-personal in her criticism to mosquito, a.k.a., lamok, when he simply reacted on why fpj–then a presidential candidate–was his favored choice over gma.

    no, you can’t find the threads in her previous entries. cleansing.

  28. Hermes

    if only some bloggers can lose weight as fast as they can lose their patience…

  29. Re: And, yes, Coffee with Amee, I do hope more online users will be able to handle criticism well. That’s the whole point of technology-powered public discourse, yes?

    Yup.We don’t all have to agree, that’s why we each have a blog to discuss what we think of issues.

    Re: Incidentally, what is it with coffee that inspires bloggers? Coffee with Amee, CafeBarako.com, the lamented Percolation blog, etc, etc. The, ah, caffeine? : )

    Haha. In my case, coffee places have always been a good venue for discussing ideas. Maybe because coffee stimulates? 😉

  30. jumper

    thanks for the answer, john.

    btw, found out that Conrado de Quiros has a blog too, but it’s just the online version of his PDI column, so i guess that doesn’t really count. 🙂

    anyway, among the list of PDI bloggers you mentioned, it does seem like you’re the one that best fits sassy’s descriptions…unless she got them wrong.

  31. wow, hermes,

    “if only some bloggers can lose weight as fast as they can lose their patience…”

    isn’t it personal too? and the owner of this blog just allowed that comment.

    What has her weight to do with her opinion?

    and the owner of the blog allowed it…

    talking about personal attacks….

  32. Cat,

    Sorry, I dont get you. Why blame John for allowing hermes’ comment to pass through? I would surely condemn john if he really attacks sassy other than her intellectual output but to blame John for hermes’ comment is quite unfair. It’s a non-sequitur.

    And last time i check and i hope i am right, there is no comment moderation here. Similarly and dont take this personal, should I also resent john for allowing your comment to pass through? Doesn’t follow, deba?

  33. alcuin

    you are right sir john. it ain’t me. fortunatly for me, i don’t have much time to write any critique of our favorite blogger. other more qualified bloggers are doing that already. cheers!!

  34. Thank God, we can only hope to be judged by our own statements and not by others’ declarations. Or, to put it bluntly: judge us by our own assinine stupidity, not by others’ idiocy! 😉

  35. Resty

    There are, in fact, quite a number of Inquirer people who blog/have been blogging. A sampling is in my links list (mostly Lifestyle Section people).

  36. You are of course right. Must have been the blinders I wore; I only thought of “news” blogs. Mea culpa!

  37. I really don’t have anyting common between you two but you have points.

    So much more than the other side will ever have in this and any other lifetime.

  38. Solomon Botictic

    Ooops, h and in omitted. Trust me, not deliberate. That.

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