“The new, never-before-heard claims from women who have come forward in the past two weeks with unsubstantiated, fantastical stories about things they say occurred 30, 40 or even 50 years ago have escalated past the point of absurdity.These brand new claims about alleged decades-old events are becoming increasingly ridiculous, and it is completely illogical that so many people would have said nothing, done nothing and made no reports to law enforcement or asserted civil claims if they thought they had been assaulted over a span of so many years. Lawsuits are filed against people in the public eye every day. There has never been a shortage of lawyers willing to represent people with claims against rich, powerful men, so it makes no sense that not one of these new women who just came forward for the first time now ever asserted a legal claim back at the time they alleged they had been sexually assaulted. This situation is an unprecedented example of the media’s breakneck rush to run stories without any corroboration or adherence to traditional journalistic standards. Over and over again, we have refuted these new unsubstantiated stories with documentary evidence, only to have a new uncorroborated story crop up out of the woodwork. When will it end?
—-Martin Singer, one of comedian Bill Cosby’s lawyers, trying to quell the public relations storm that threatens to blow the 77-year-old icon’s career and reputation apart.
I advise lawyers not to make sweeping, emphatic statements like this, for several reasons. First, it comes very close to violating the ethical prohibition against dishonesty, misrepresentation, fraud and deceit. If the lawyer wants to say such words on behalf of his client, that’s one thing, and legitimate representation, though I would prefer to see such statements come from a publicist. For Singer to say something like this on his own behalf, however, harms all of his other clients by scarring his credibility. I don’t believe him, and when it becomes indisputable that Cosby is guilty and that his lawyers had to know, no one will be able to believe him again. Lawyers are supposed to tell the truth, and to represent even the most despicable clients without behaving unethically themselves, within the standards of the profession. That can be difficult, as in this instance. That is why lawyers get the big bucks, however. They should be able to walk that tightrope.
Singer falls right off: Continue reading
“She lied to her mother so she could have sex with her teacher. She went to a motel in which she engaged in voluntary consensual sex with her teacher. Why shouldn’t she be responsible for that?”
—-Lawyer Keith Wyatt, L.A. Unified School District’s trial attorney who successfully defended it in a law suit by the family of a middle school girl who had been engaged in a six month sexual relationship with her math teacher. The girl’s family claimed the district negligently permitted the teacher’s criminal conduct to occur and that the teacher’s exploitation of the girl had caused emotional damage to their daughter. Wyatt also told a radio interviewer that it was a more dangerous for a 14-year-old to cross a street in traffic than to have sex with her middle-school teacher.
Yes, he’s an idiot.
Yeah, those middle school tarts all want it, right, Keith?
The school district fired him, disavowing and apologizing for his comments. Yet they were willing to let Wyatt argue in court—on the school’s behalf, remember— that a 14-year-old middle school student was mature enough to consent to having sex with her 28-year-old teacher, and that she shared responsibility for what happened. Wyatt introduced the girl’s sexual history into evidence as proof of his client’s lack of culpability.
There is nothing wrong or unethical about Wyatt’s tactics in the trial itself. State law is weird in this area—this is California, after all, home of Hollywood, Roman Polanski fans, Woody Allen enablers, Miley Cyrus and the Kardashians—for while the age of consent is 18 in criminal cases, two appellate court rulings have held that the argument that a minor can consent to sex with an adult is permissible in civil law suits. He did what the law permitted him to do in defense of his client. That’s not just ethical lawyering, it is at the core of legal ethics. The argument won. Wyatt did what he was trained to do, paid to do, and obligated to do if he agreed to take the case
However, it is a revolting and irresponsible argument for any school or school district to make. Wyatt should have made this clear, and maybe he did (though that quote doesn’t support such a supposition.) Who in their right mind–well, OK, this is L.A.–would send their child to a school system that takes the position that a 14-year-old student is responsible when she is raped by her 28-year-old teacher, and that she’s really not being harmed if he does? The teacher, Elkis Hermida, was convicted of lewd acts against a child and sentenced in July 2011 to three years in state prison. Continue reading
“Critics accused her of copying campaign materials after parts of her jobs plan and other proposals included segments that were identical to those other Democratic candidates.”
—-Wisconsin State Journal reporter Mary Spicuzza, in a story for the paper about how Democratic Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke felts she was abused and “dragged through the mud” while running, unsuccessfully, against Gov. Scott Walker, arguably the most savaged state politician in any state.
As I wrote about here, Burke DID copy campaign materials. The “critics accused” deceit is increasingly common in today’s journalism, as in “conservatives accused Democrats of using racially divisive tactics in Congressional races.” It’s despicable, and I salute Ann Althouse, a Wisconsin resident, for flagging this unintentionally hilarious example.
Spicuzza wrote “Critics accused” as if the accuracy of the accusation was still a matter of dispute, then stated in the same sentence that “parts of her jobs plans and other proposals” were identical to those of previous candidates. It’s not an accusation then, is it? It’s a fact that her opponents accurately and correctly pointed out, and as I pointed out, one that should have bothered her supporters as much it did “critics.”
This is how partisan and biased journalists warp public perceptions. Burke is claiming to have been “dragged though the mud,” implying unfair treatment, by revelations of accurate and damning facts, and the journalist is supporting that narrative by misleading reporting.
This particular device has been bothering me for a long time. Is it trivial? Sure, each individual example is trivial. Cumulatively, all the examples result in significantly warped and distorted public perceptions. I had to mention it at least once, and how sick to death I am of journalists who can’t just give us facts fairly without pushing their own candidates and agendas.
“Who you vote for is your secret. But whether or not you vote is public record. We will be reviewing voting records . . . to determine whether you joined your neighbors who voted in 2014….If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not.”
—-The New York Democratic Party in a final plea to registered Democrats.
True character and principle tend to reveal themselves in times of crisis.
How embarrassing for Democrats.
“In Georgia, state Democrats printed a flyer warning that the way to prevent “another Ferguson” is to vote. Arkansas residents meanwhile, received a mailer showing a man in a hands-up, don’t shoot position made infamous in the wake of Michael Brown’s killing. The mailer reads: “If we want to end senseless killings like Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, we need to vote . . . It’s important to say that it shouldn’t have to be the threat of undermining civil rights that gets people to vote, but if it does, so much stronger the party is for it.”
—MSNBC talking head Alex Wagner, acknowledging the desperate, last-ditch effort by the Democratic Party to energize its African-American base by racial fear-mongering, and endorsing it in epic “the ends justify the means” fashion.
Wagner: ‘Race-baiting makes us strong.’
I remember my father announcing during the Nixon re-election campaign that the cynical GOP “Southern strategy” is which it catered to old-line Southern Democratic voters with direct appeals to racist myths and fears that he was changing his registered party affiliation from Republican to Independent, because he refused to belong to a party that would engage in such divisive and despicable tactics just to win elections. It is hard to imagine any conservative-leaning broadcaster, commenting on these scare-tactics at the time, both acknowledging them and pronouncing them regrettable but, all in all, good for the party. Yet this is exactly what Wagner did.
It exposes many things: the ethical deficit at MSNBC, progressive approval of the strategy of exacerbating racial discord and division in America, and the open, seven year-long strategy of Democrats resorting to race-baiting as the solution of last resort whenever the party’s performance and policies are subjected to fair criticism. The statement also exposes partisans like Wagner as ethics corruptors of all who hear them and are gullible enough to believe they speak the truth. Winning by lies and undermining racial comity in America makes nothing and nobody stronger. Even if such a tactic is successful in the short-term, it is devastating to democracy and the culture. No party that stoops to such gutter tactics is worthy of support by anyone who believes in basic ethical values.
The New York Times was finally revolted sufficiently by the conduct of its party of choice that it wrote about the recent spate of race-baiting campaign messages being used in close contests around the nation by the deservedly desperate Democrats: Continue reading
“A new study shows that almost one-third of NFL players will suffer long-term cognitive problems. Granted, that’s professionals, but obviously younger brains are at jeopardy on all gridirons. What mother or father can any longer willfully allow a son to play such a game with such odds? Verdict: Football is dangerous to your brain.”
—NPR Sports commentator Frank Deford, in his weekly commentary, this time focusing on the deteriorating reputation and public image of pro football, and how football fans, so far at least, don’t seem to care.
It’s dangerous to your brain in more ways than one.
The NFL Vikings, for example, having decided first that sitting out one game with pay was sufficient to punishment for their star running back who beat his four-year-old son black and blue, then reinstating him for the next game, apparently on the theory that it had thrown a bone to critics, then pulled him off the roster again following new reports of an old story, involving Adrian Peterson allegedly beating another toddler son. (Peterson spreads his seed far and wide and with great generosity and abandon, having an estimated seven or more children with an equal number of unmarried women. The NFL and NFL fans have never shown any disapproval of this irresponsibility conduct, of course.) Now, we have no evidence in this latest allegation beyond text messages in which Peterson admits giving the boy a “woopin,” which is presumably the same as a “whuppin.” Peterson’s lawyer says nothing happened, and indeed, no complaint was made and no charges were filed. So what does the Vikings’ move mean? Is the NFL team concluding from this ambiguous incident that what Patterson did to his other child (that is, one of his many other children) was worse than the horrific photos already showed they were? How much worse could his conduct be? Is it sending the message that all corporate punishment is wrong? Who the hell is the NFL, which allows its players to maim each other, to tell me that I’m a child abuser if I spank my son? Or are the Vikings simply proving, as the league itself did it when banned Ray Rice only after a video showed him doing what it had to know he had done when it suspended him earlier for only two games, that it has no clue what’s right and what’s wrong, what is acceptable violence and what is unacceptable, what the public will ignore and what is so bad that it shouldn’t matter whether the public will ignore it or not?
Football is as dangerous to your values as it is to your brain. Continue reading