Acting US Secretary of State, Elizabeth McCord, physically struck out at the Philippine president recently giving him a bloody nose after he made sexual advances to her during a meeting in her State Department office in Washington DC. The meeting was to discuss matters relating to disputes in the South China Sea. Later McCord lamented her actions: “I clobbered a world leader instead of saving a major regional agreement,” she said.
Wait! Before your blood pressure starts skyrocketing, we should tell you that all that is the work of fiction – politically motivated fiction certainly, but fiction nonetheless. Unlike former US president Bill Clinton who indulged in oral sex with a 22-year-old female intern in the Oval Office of the White House in the mid 1990s, this never happened.
Instead, it takes place in the latest episode of Madam Secretary, a CBS television drama series shortly to be aired in both the US and the Philippines. And it’s causing a diplomatic incident with Manila protesting the way that the Office of the President of the Philippines has been brought into disrepute by a blatant sensationalist made-up TV narrative.
The Philippine Embassy in Washington has already lodged a complaint with CBS to “strongly protest the highly negative depiction of a character purported to be the Philippine President,” urging the company to make changes – what the Embassy describes as “necessary corrective actions” – to the script.
Produced by CBS Television Studios – an America TV-production company and part of US mass-media giant, CBS Corporation, which through its CBS Broadcasting company puts out CBS News, a fully committed member of the anti-Duterte US mainstream-media nexus – Madam Secretary, season 3, episode 15, “Break in Diplomacy,” is unquestionably aimed at embarrassing President Rodrigo Duterte and the current administration.
It’s also pretty much guaranteed to enrage much of the Filipino nation – not least overseas foreign workers living in the US. This group are massive supporters of Duterte and will see this as an insult to the man they helped bring to power. Following the release of a short clip on YouTube, the show immediately started getting slammed on social media.
“This highly negative portrayal of our Head of State not only casts doubt on the respectability of the Office of the Philippine President but also denigrates the way our nation navigates foreign affairs,” the Philippine Embassy said in its written complaint. “It also tarnishes the Philippines’ longstanding advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality”.
And it does. But that’s CBS’s intention. As the embassy protest pointed out, while a work of fiction, the series tracks current events. ”It is, therefore, inevitable that its depiction of world leaders will have an impact on how its audience views the real personages and the countries they represent,” the statement explained.
Yesterday, in contrast to the Philippine president characterised in Madam Secretary, the real Philippine president praised women as “heroes” in a speech to mark International Women’s Day. He said: “The entire world can look up to women – for their creativity and imagination, for their courage and boldness, for their self-sacrifice and charity”.
Duterte said women have transformed societies as mothers, workers, intellectuals, educators, caregivers, soldiers, activists, artists and leaders, adding that the Philippines – which provides “fertile ground for outstanding women …” – is highly ranked in the Asia Pacific for gender equality. “My administration shall strive to maintain this distinction …” he said.
Back to Madam Secretary, CBS may or may not take the “necessary corrective actions” and rework the script to remove the offensive content; that remains to be seen. Meanwhile, Presidential spokesman, Ernesto Abella, has another suggestion. “Really, I think they should use a fictional US president,” he said. “They’re projecting something they really would like to say about their own situation”.
Whether he was referring to the Monica Lewinsky scandal which embroiled Bill Clinton two decades ago, or any of a number of others trailing back to the sexual exploits of John F. Kennedy during his time at the White House in the early 1960s isn’t clear. What is clear though is that this will do little to help US-Philippine relations.
CBS Television City where this series was born is located at Beverly Boulevard in the heart of Hollywood, Los Angeles – the global propaganda hub for progressive politics and promoting the liberal cause. ‘Tinseltown’ is a hotbed of US Democratic Party activism, and among its idols – sainted in Hollywood – is former US president Barack Obama.
It’s not surprising then that Duterte who in Hollywood’s collective view “blasphemed” against Obama – he called him a “son of a whore” after Obama criticised Duterte’s War on Drugs – should be a target for the ultra-pampered, ultra Left of Tinseltown. That remark made him a prime target for Hollywood’s ire. They were bound to retaliate and now they have.
This latest Madam Secretary episode which refers to the “unconventional new president” of the Philippines – leaving little doubt about who’s being portrayed – is likely to be lapped up in California and along the US eastern seaboard, New York to Washington DC. This is where the largest concentration of the nation’s population lives.
There it’s likely to generate good TV ratings; this is Democrat country; Obama constituencies. They’ll relish a put down of Duterte who didn’t just insult Obama, he virtually single-handedly scuppered his “Pivot to East Asia” foreign-policy by renouncing his country’s dependence on the US and developing relations with China – the very country Obama, with the Philppines help, wanted to contain.
It’ll also play well with the anti-Duterte factions back in the Philippines who regularly tag the president as a sexist and a misogynist. They’ll see this episode not as fiction, but as a true-life representation of the man they’ve come to hate. They’ll be grateful to CBS and the show’s producers.
Among Madam Secretary’s executive producers is actor Morgan Freeman – he endorsed Obama in 2008 and has remained a staunch Obama supporter ever since. In 2012, he donated US$1 million to a super PAC that was funding Obama’s re-election campaign.
One thing’s for sure, Hollywood’s never going to cast Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in that role. He’s a Liberal; a fellow traveller of the Tinseltown elite. Nor is it going to embarrass the President of the Palestinian State, Mahmoud Abbas, or Cuba’s Raul Castro with whose regimes and ideologies they’ve been continually aligned.
But this is all part of the cut and thrust of present-day American politics. The movie and entertainment industry there is now an integral part of the country’s political machinery. They work hand in glove. What actors and actresses say carries political weight; the sickly political eulogies delivered by award-show recipients is one example of showbiz’s grasp for political legitimacy. Celebrity endorsements, too, are part and parcel of the election circus, as are the political smear ads produced by Tinseltown’s production houses.
And Madam Secretary – partly inspired by former Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, another Hollywood love interest – is very much in that vein. This episode is a hit job by Leftist thespians and their crews to undermine a perceived enemy – one who dared to question their political god; worse to defame him.
Hollywood has regularly gone after those marked by the Democratic Party establishment and anyone else whom they dislike – though not always successfully, as was the case in 2014 when in its naïveté it tried to ridicule North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, thinking he’d be an easy target.
That production, a political comedy, The Interview, about Kim’s ‘assassination’ resulted in a hack attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, the parent company of Columbia Pictures, the film’s distributor. Embarrassing and compromising confidential data and personal information about Sony and its employees was made public as cinemas were threatened with terrorist attacks if they screened the film. This resulted in Sony cancelling the movie’s theatre release and opting instead to put it out on DVD.
But increasingly, this is how Liberals do politics. Profound political argument doesn’t seem to work for them; they need spectaculars and theatre, and nowhere has this been more in evidence than in the Philippines, a recipient of America’s crass political culture.
The grandstanding in the Philippine Senate by the now-arrested, alleged drugs baroness, Senator Leila De Lima, is a classic example of Liberal histrionics; melodramas with all the Hollywood hoopla, pandered to by a tame media and aimed at winning audience ratings, which – let’s face it – they do.
Theatrical outbursts by Liberal Party chairman and the country’s vice president, Leni Robredo, who parades at the head of anti-government marches and demonstrations, is another example of how Liberal Party members have sought to conceal their lack of political acumen under theatre props, staged backdrops and drama scripts.
And Bicol-born Loida Nicolas-Lewis, the billionaire socialite, New York-domiciled Liberal Party fundraiser and would-be strategist who calls press conferences to request Duterte to step down and return Malacañang, the presidential palace, to what she believes is its rightful owner, the very same Liberal Party.
In fact, given all that material, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a Madam Senator or a Madam VP going into production with one of the Philippine’s pro-Liberal TV networks. After all, they helped to create these characters by providing endless platforms for them on political-reality TV. Why not go the whole hog and dedicate a drama series to them?