TheWrap is a web Hollywood news and gossip site. Picture TMZ crossed with Gawker. It published an immediate candidate for the most unethical blog post of the year, always a closely contested category, a piece of cyber-offal by an industry writer named Rich Stellar that issued a combined attack on the women coming forward to prove Bill Cosby is a serial rapist, and the media’s coverage of it. I was happily unaware of Stellar, barely aware of The Wrap and definitely unaware of this utter crap until it was flagged in a Salon piece, which was in turn flagged by one of my indispensable scouts, Fred. What unfolded before me was a horrible spectacle of a despicably and dumber than a box of rocks opinion piece that no competent editor should allow to avoid the trash, a subsequent apology of sorts from the writer that shows such an ethics deficit that he should probably have a 24-hour keeper, and, finally, his editor’s defense of her wretched editorial judgment based on the theory of the First Amendment, which she appears to think means “You have to publish any garbage any fool writes no matter how poorly conceived or reasoned, or you are unAmerican.” But I am getting ahead of myself.
The Blog Post.
Read it all if you dare. Here’s Stellar’s money quote, which distills most of the cretinism without forcing you into Hell: Continue reading
“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
Why can’t a serial rapist be funny and cute?
Frequent commenter aaronpaschal weighed in with this rich post on the Bill Cosby matter. I will hold my response to the end, because there is much to consider here, and much I disagree with. However, aaron has articulated well the thoughts many are having about the Cos, and I am grateful for the exposition. Here is his Comment of the Day regarding the post, On Cosby, Clinton, And An Ethics Dunce Convention In Melbourne, Florida.
I don’t know if I fully believe the allegations. I don’t know if the girls and women involved should bear some responsibility for choosing to become impaired. I don’t know if Cosby’s career will long survive this uproar – Netflix is dropping all of Cosby’s works in response, and that’ll cost someone a pretty penny.
But I do know that I don’t feel completely at ease with the notion that he faces ruin. That there is no evidence, no words, nothing he could present in his own defense. No courtroom, no trial, no lawyers. That the man who allegedly committed these acts did so a lifetime ago. I’ll admit that the women who have come out don’t have much tangibly to gain – but I also know all too well that revenge, hatred, defending existent lies, even merely time in the spotlight can be powerful motivators for some people (bearing in mind that pursuing justice, speaking the truth, and protecting the innocent are well – it could be any of them, all of them, or more.) There must, however, be SOME motive somewhere, or they would not be stepping forward – if there was truly nothing to gain.
But I do know that his works have always made me laugh, and I will appreciate them for years to come. I know I’ve heard wisdom from him, and these crimes don’t change the wisdom, either. I might not choose to leave my daughter alone with him. And I know that the court of public opinion makes very few wise choices, it is a terrible thing to be tried by it, guilty or innocent, and true justice is rarely found there.
It is kind of funny, isn’t it, to hear and read the shocked reactions of pundits to the fact that probable serial rapist Bill Cosby got a standing ovation from his concert crowd of 2100 in Melbourne, Florida last night? “What could this mean?” they ask. Does this mean that Cosby’s popularity will survive the onslaught of women reporting that he drugged and raped them years ago? Well, no, it means that 2100 people who paid premium prices to see Bill Cosby and attended his concert even after hearing more than sufficient evidence that he is a sick hypocrite like Bill Cosby.
What a surprise.
Nor should it be any surprise that that many people will adopt rationalizations and tortured logic to avoid confronting the cognitive dissonance resulting from a self-styled moral exemplar having a spectacularly immoral, indeed criminal, past. After all, the Democratic National Convention, with a lot more that 2,100 in attendance, cheered serial sexual harasser and sexual predator William Jefferson Clinton as he spoke to a throng protesting Republican attitudes toward women, as progressive journalists and pundits from MSNBC to the New York Times nodded in approval.
Unrelated, you say? Wrong. The phenomenon is exactly the same, and therein lies a serious problem for Hillary Clinton. The rationalizations used to rescue her husband from accountability for his decades long abuse of women are exactly the same as those being used now by Cosby’s desperate fans to try to keep laughing at the wise humor of the icon who includes in his storehouse of wisdom such nuggets as… Continue reading
Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership, U.S. Society
I know, Don…it hurts.
[I am typing this in an airplane, sitting crunched in a bulkhead seat crushed between the wall and a 275 pound guy in the middle seat. If you thought my typos were bad before…”]
Between my logging off the blog to go to the airport and now, as I thought about what I would write about CNN anchor Don Lemon’s awful ethics alarm failure while questioning Joan Tarshis, one of Bill Cosby’s growing list of alleged victims, Lemon apologized. That was fast, but I assumed the barrage of criticism heading his way would be furious, and it was. His apology was a non-apology apology, by the way, a classic “I’m sorry you misunderstood me” that, you should notice, didn’t include an apology to Tarshis.
I didn’t misunderstand him. Lemon wasn’t being insensitive; he is in the throes of cognitive dissonance, just like Whoopi Goldberg. Bill Cosby is someone he admires, and sexual assault is something he deplores. If Cosby is a sexual predator, then Lemon has to resolve his dissonance: he can either lower Cosby in his estimation, or elevate what his hero almost certainly did to all these women to the “not that bad” category. (The latter was the choice of most of Bill Clinton’s conflicted offenders, by the way. Lying about sex is normal! Other presidents cheated! It was consensual! Monica seduced him: he was a victim! It was personal conduct...etc.) Continue reading
“STUDY: American personal freedom now ranks below 20 other nations…” reads a link in this morning’s Drudge Report.
That is NOT what the study shows….not even close.
The link goes to an Examiner story headlined “Under Obama, U.S. personal freedom ranking slips below France.” That’s a little better, but it’s also misleading. Both headlines are attempts to spin a study that tells nobody anything about how much freedom there is in the U.S., under President Obama or otherwise. The study, meanwhile, is easily spun because it was badly conceived, is itself of dubious value, and was also probably the result of a researchers grinding their own axes.
It is early, and I am pretty sure that the cable news sharks and the internet pundits will be latching on to this garbage study in droves, with the result being mass confusion in the public. That’s right: the world of scholarship and research, and the world of journalism, will conspire to make the public less informed than it already is, setting it up for the handiwork of future Jonathan Grubers and the parties that employ them.
You see, the study doesn’t even purport to measure “freedom” in any objective way across different nations. Continue reading
“So? Not my problem.”
Terry Turnage has fathered 26 children by 15-20 different women, the precise number being difficult to establish. And that’s not all: he apparently has failed to pay child support to any of the women who bore his offspring, all while driving expensive cars, throwing elaborate parties, and spending money on everything but his bastard progeny.
He is a co-owner, with one of his many sons, Terry Jr. (and maybe one of many Terry, Jr’s), of Club Envy, an Arkansas nightclub. Recently Terry Sr. threw a two-day party for his birthday. He threw another party for 700 guests.
Of course, that could just be his relatives.
What does society do with someone like this, so irresponsible and shameless? It you lock them up, they can’t support any of the kids. We can’t castrate him (cruel and unusual, that) and courts can’t order citizens not to procreate, or ensure that they they don’t. That’s Nazi stuff, though the U.S. did a bit of it until relatively recently. Continue reading