Doctored video falsely claims Philippine official 'shamed' veteran journalist in interview

·3 min read

A video with tens of thousands of views claims an incoming member of Philippine president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr's cabinet "shamed" a journalist on national television for allegedly attacking Marcos. But the video had been digitally manipulated, and an AFP review of journalist Karen Davila's actual interview with incoming finance chief Benjamin Diokno found the video's claim is fabricated.

The video was shared on May 30 on a YouTube channel called Showbiz Fanaticz that has a history of sharing misinformation.

It was viewed over 62,000 times.

Its caption states Benjamin Diokno -- the incumbent central bank chief who Marcos Jr named finance secretary -- had a tense interview with veteran Filipino journalist Karen Davila.

During a voiceover in local language Tagalog, a commentator says: "Watch the exclusive video clip where central bank governor and ongoing [sic] finance secretary Benjamin Diokno could not contain himself and shamed ABS-CBN reporter Karen Davila on national TV."

The same voiceover claims Diokno told Davila to "stop throwing attacks" after she purportedly said Marcos Jr should pay the archipelago nation's debt to other countries and authorities.

The son and namesake of the country's late dictator cemented a landslide win in last month's elections -- an astonishing reversal in the fortunes of the Marcos family who have gone from the presidential palace to pariahs and back again in the space of a few decades.

Screenshot of the misleading post taken on June 6, 2022

The identical video was also shared on Facebook here and here and on a blog here.

But its claim is false.

Digitally doctored video

Keyword searches found the video was taken from a longer interview Diokno gave on May 27 to news program Headstart -- which is hosted by Davila and takes place in English.

However, the original footage had been doctored to insert a still image that appears to show Davila looking tense.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the doctored video (left) and the original footage (right):

Screenshot comparison

Portions of the original footage's audio had also been altered to make Davila sound on the verge of crying while asking Diokno questions.

But in the corresponding audio in the original clip -- from the one-minute one-second mark and from the two-minute 29-second mark -- she could be heard confidently interviewing Diokno.

Fabricated claim

AFP reviewed Davila's 20-minute interview with Diokno and found it contains none of the events described in the doctored video.

Nowhere in the interview does Diokno appear to shame Davila. Neither does she say Marcos Jr's government should pay the country's debt as the doctored video alleges.

In fact, it was Diokno who first mentioned debt when Davila asked about Marcos Jr's pandemic recovery plans.

Diokno says in part: "You know I think I have the benefit of having served the government for maybe more than 30 years and I've seen all the crises.

"I'm not worried about the level of the debt, for example, that's easily manageable as long as the economy can grow by six to seven percent."

Responding to the false claim, Diokno told AFP on June 3: "Reports or write-ups that I berated Karen Davila in a recent interview are untrue."

History of misinformation

The YouTube channel "Showbiz Fanaticz" generally focuses on celebrities -- but since about 2020 has also been pumping out political misinformation.

AFP has debunked many of its videos here, here, here and here.

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