Time travel, teleportation, and the journalistic ethics of exposing a child

By Mabel Doge Luhan

Oh, how I love science fiction! I even read some of the newer up-and-coming authors, such as Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. Those whippersnappers sure know how to write!

So it’s always a joy when I encounter elements of science fiction in our very own Marianas Variety.

Since I started calling out the Variety on its comically bad reporting, they seem to have at least partially pivoted away from scifi. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Marianas Variety articles featuring teleportation, time travel, and people’s names and genders changing several times in the course of a story.

Perhaps the most recent case of the Variety covering teleportation is the October 2023 article about fourteen Chinese citizens arrested in Saipan. According to the article, only eleven of them had ever entered Saipan. Spooky, isn’t it? (October 3, 2023, Bryan Manabat, “11 plead guilty”)

But the recent attempt at a human interest story, about a father and daughter at the Saipan airport, brings back the Variety’s and especially Bryan Manabat’s fine journalistic tradition of wrinkles in time. According to Manabat’s story (“CBP Official Reacts,” March 20, 2024), the wife and mother of the duo had arrived on the same flight, but also arrived three days later. And somehow even though she arrived twice but was denied entry (not clear if this happened in both timelines), it was her husband and daughter who were “stranded.”  I love science fiction! But the writer should at least fix the plot hole of why the husband and daughter were “stranded at the airport,” when they were completely free to leave the airport, or the CNMI?

In the original March 19th article (“Tourist, Toddler Stranded”), Emmanuel Erediano claimed that after having been “stranded” (?!), finally the two “left aboard the Hong Kong-bound plane” — which, um, doesn’t exist, unless it’s an MVA codeshare on the Boeing Delusionliner.

Besides reviving the Variety’s long-standing tradition of covering time travel and perhaps parallel universes, Erediano’s article revived the Variety’s tradition of callously exploiting the most vulnerable. The article repeatedly printed the young child’s name and photo, along with speculation about the child’s medical and legal condition. Well done, Erediano! Maybe in a few years your buddy Manabat will get the chance to call the child a dropout! I call that a 1-2 journalistic-child-abuse layup, you sniveling codpieces.

I know the special feeling that belittling vulnerable people gives you, just like sliding down a rope in gym class. Maybe that’s why you didn’t ask why Leo Tudela, as well as the Airport Police and even the airport janitors, failed to call Child Protective Services in regards to a seemingly (in my opinion, as an opinion columnist who wasn’t there) clear-cut case of child abuse and endangerment.

But it’s understandable that the Variety didn’t have time to think about whether their articles make sense, or even exercise basic journalistic ethics and decorum — they had four letters to the editor to print! All rants about some obscure business dispute in the Philippines, with a bonus ethnic slur in one title. All giddily printed, because it’s free content, right? This day, I am grateful, because I won my bet that the Variety would publish absolutely anything, and I didn’t even need to send them lorem ipsum to test the theory.

At least the Variety has been blessed with free content. Besides inane rants about foreign business disputes in the LTTE, there were literally two Marianas Visitors Authority propaganda “articles” in one day. The Variety is our own Pyongyang Daily,  especially the goose-stepping in the back pages of the printed edition and in the online comment section.

The Marianas Variety is certainly working in the public interest — just in an alternate timeline.


Mabel Doge Luhan is a woman of loose morals. She resides in Kagman V, where she pursues her passions of crocheting, beatboxing, and falconry.

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