Two weekends ago, the New York Post disclosed a rather lavish USD $20,000 dinner by Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in ‘Le Cirque’ as part of her state visit to the United States. The bill was escalated due to the purchase of an assortment of fine wines. A series of events quickly unfolded, maiming the head of state for her rather lavish choice in dining, given the context of the global economic recession.
The news here is that a theoretical bill had come about from the blogosphere based on the knowledge of the actual menu and wine selection from ‘Le Cirque’, which was grabbed by local journalists and deemed as the actual bill, which you can view below.
TWO RECENT news stories and an editorial mistook an intellectual exercise for hard fact.
Yesterday’s editorial mistakenly attributed the alleged itemization of the Le Cirque bill incurred by President Macapagal-Arroyo and her party to the “New York Post.” In fact, the hypothetical itemization was done by columnist Manuel Quezon III in his blog on Aug. 8, and introduced as “a theoretical breakdown of how the presidential party could have racked up the bill.”
Our story on Aug. 9 reported that “The purported menu included caviar; such appetizers as lobster salad, wild burgundy escargot and soft shell crab tempura; main courses of black cod, halibut, Dover sole, saddle of lamb and prime dry-aged strip steak; and Krug champagne at $510 a bottle.” There was, in fact, no such menu, only a hypothetical list of ordered items.
Our story on Aug. 10 reported that “The restaurant tab, purported copies of which have since circulated on blogs, showed that the Arroyo delegation had five servings of wild golden osetra caviar ($1,400), 11 bottles of Krug champagne ($5,610), and 25 orders each of the Chef’s Seasonal Menu and Tasting Menu (totaling $1,450 and $4,500 respectively), along with 17 other items.” There were no such copies circulating, only links and images from Quezon’s blog.
Based on these two stories, yesterday’s editorial criticized the presidential party’s insensitive self-indulgence. We stand by that assessment, however, since the original New York Post report is a fact. It read, in part: “Macapagal-Arroyo ordered several bottles of very expensive wine, pushing the dinner tab up to $20,000.”
Providing context through the itemized bill is perhaps the biggest bait for the fish. It makes us wonder though if journalists these days are still quick to decipher authenticity in reporting the news. Perhaps this is the beauty of blogs, where the rules are less stringent and one’s actions is more forgivable.
Nonetheless, this still doesn’t save the Philippine president from controversy.