Category Archives: Journalism & Media

The Michael Sam Botch: Back To Square One…Or Worse.

You must remember this: A kiss can be a miss...

You must remember this: A kiss can be a miss…

Sportswriters are gamely putting a positive spin on it, but they are lying or deluded: Michael Sam’s failure to make the St. Louis Rams squad and the subsequent decision of every other team (there are 32 of them) to pass on his services as well means that Sam’s quest to become the first openly gay player to be drafted by and make the roster of a pro football team was not just a failure, but may have even set his cause back a year or ten.

Or maybe that wasn’t his cause at all. Maybe a gay player whose skills left him a borderline draftee at best made a calculated decision that his best chance was to shame the NFL into drafting him by announcing his sexual orientation, and gamble that he could shine enough in camp to make the team. The genius of this strategy, if that’s what it was, is that even if he didn’t make the team, Sam would become a celebrity, and in some circles, an icon.

Well, that part worked. What doomed the rest of the plan were, in order of importance,

  • Sam isn’t good enough to be a trailblazer.
  • The media made certain that such a big deal was made over Sam’s sex life that no NFL team could avoid wondering, “How much will having this guy around get in the way of winning football games?” From Ethics Alarms in February:

The irony is that it is the mostly positive media obsession with Sam’s status as a potential trailblazer, rather than the anti-gay hate-mongers, who diminish Sam’s chances of success with their every word. This is obvious, or should be, yet the articles and rants keep on coming. I have to believe that it is a case of sports journalists engaging in the ultimate hypocrisy, making themselves look fair, unbigoted and devoted to the cause of full gay inclusion in American life (all while making their deadlines) while simultaneously and knowingly undermining the athlete they claim to be supporting. They have to shut up, or Sam is doomed.

They couldn’t help themselves, of course, and sure enough, Sam was doomed. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Sports, U.S. Society

Sen. Gillibrand and The Pigs

"I yield to the distinguished gentleman from the sty..."

“I yield to the distinguished gentleman from the sty…”

People magazine revealed an intriguing bit of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) new memoir, “Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice to Change the World” that suggests that members of the Senate are not the “Distinguished Gentlemen” they are supposed to be, at least when it comes to basic manners involving female colleagues:

“Gillibrand isn’t especially offended by her coworkers’ remarks. ‘It was all statements that were being made by men who were well into their 60s, 70s or 80s,’ she says. ‘They had no clue that those are inappropriate things to say to a pregnant woman or a woman who just had a baby or to women in general.’ ”

Now some critics on the Right are using this as a “gotcha!”, suggesting that Gillibrand is protecting Democrats from negative attention for the same kinds of conduct that Gillibrand’s party and colleagues are quick to use against Republicans in its “war on women” strategy.

This accusation is beyond disingenuous, not to mention stupid. If Gillibrand were to publicly accuse a GOP colleague of such conduct, she would be accused, by these same critics, of being a hysteric, a bad colleague, unprofessional and petty—and they would be right. No professional woman responds to this kind of crude, obnoxious, “Look! I’ve-been-hiding-in-since-1970,” training-wheels harassment by making a public accusation that embarrasses not just the individual at fault but the organization they both work for. For Gillibrand to do this in the U.S. Senate would instantly make her a pariah even in her own party.

More importantly, it would be wrong. Continue reading

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Filed under Workplace, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions, Etiquette and manners

The Nine-Year-Old and the Uzi: A Case Study In News Media Public Opinion Manipulation

no-guns-banner

In White Hills, Arizona, a nine-year-old girl accidentally shot a firing range instructor when he handed her an Uzi on full automatic setting and she lost control of the weapon. That was a tragedy, but there have been thousands of newsworthy tragedies in the six days since that story first appeared, and yet the media is still bombarding us with stories about it. Why?

The episode itself is not very complicated. A foolish parent allowed his daughter to use a dangerous instrumentality that was beyond her maturity level to handle, and a negligent instructor paid with his life for a moment of hideous judgment and negligence. That’s it. It’s a one day story. Today, in the category of horrible accidents involving children, we should be reading about the little girl—same age–who died on a beach yesterday when a sand hole someone had dug collapsed on her. And the most recent infant left in a car to broil to death. Yet the Sunday morning TV shows all managed to mention the shooting range incident, and today I am still seeing articles like this one. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck Catch-Up: The Shots, the Hashtag, the Huckster and the Snub

steam train wreck

The Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck is slowing down now, though passengers keep getting on board and it will surely pick up steam again.

Here are some recent ethics outrages, as Ethics Alarms tries to keep up:

1. The Shots:

CNN buys another seat on the train wreck

What’s wrong with this sentence? Don Lemon, CNN host, played a recording that was alleged to be of Officer Wilson shooting Michael Brown and preceded it by saying the tape had not been authenticated.

A burst of six shots can be heard, followed by a pause, and then several more shots, at least four. “He was in his apartment, he was talking to a friend on a video chat, he heard loud noises and at the moment — at the time he didn’t realize the import of what he was hearing until afterwards,” the lawyer for the unidentified man who made the recording told Lemon. “It just happened to capture 12 seconds of what transpired outside of his building.”

Almost immediately, speculation was rife that this called into question Wilson’s account, though we don’t know yet what that account is. IF the tape is accurate, this doesn’t look good for Wilson, opined one web reporter. Wait a minute! Why is CNN releasing anything that is not verified as authentic? Why not an unverified photo that purports to show a shadowy second shooter? Why not an unverified tape of Brown and a friend plotting to attack a police officer for fun? This isn’t evidence, and it isn’t news. It’s just chum in the water for a news media feeding frenzy, or more simply, crummy, irresponsible unethical journalism. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, The Internet

Burger King Ethics: What’s Unethical About Burger King’s “Tax Inversion” (And It’s Not Burger King)

BKAs you may have heard by now, Burger King is preparing to merge with the larger Canadian equivilent of Dunkin Donuts, Tim Hortons and move the company’s headquarters to Canada. As with the proposed Walgreens move to Europe that was considered and ultimately rejected, the Burger King merger was made for tax reasons, and good ones. The good ones should be clearly explained to the American public, especially voters and those with unemployed workers in their families, but they are not. Let’s  call this BK Ethics Foul #1: news media incompetence. Because the public doesn’t understand what “tax inversion” means, they are vulnerable to having it distorted and demagogued for them by unethical politicians and pundits, and so it has been. Let us designate this BK Ethics Foul #2: the anti-corporate disinformation campaign.

The United States tax rate is  a whopping 35%, more than any other large industrial nation, even more than those that tend toward socialism. There’s nothing unethical about this, necessarily, though it can be argued that it is a foolish and self-destructive policy. Did you know, however—and I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t, because not being an international corporation myself, I didn’t know until this issue arose—that the U.S. applies that tax to all global earnings of U.S. companies. This means that the earning of U.S. companies doing business abroad are not only taxed where they earn the profits, but also in the U.S., or as this is technically called, twice. (UPDATE: I should have made it clear that the the US does give a foreign tax credit for the money paid in taxes abroad, so the effect is not completely double tax, just two taxes.) That is definitely unfair (and also bad policy), and will be called BK Ethics Foul #3: predatory taxation Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Finance, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck Monday Morning Update: Taking Sides

When do competent, rational, fair, responsible, ethical citizens, officials, journalists and organizations take sides in a racially charged controversy involving a law enforcement officer and an individual shot and killed by that officer in an incident where the circumstances and provocation have  yet to be verified?

Simple: they don’t.

So how do we explain and characterize the decisions of so many citizens, officials, journalists and organizations to take sides in the Michael Brown shooting by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson? That’s simple too.

They are neither competent, rational, fair, responsible, nor ethical.

Thus we add to the passenger list of the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck the following, who publicly took sides this weekend and today:

  • The Obama Administration. Three White House representatives will attend Brown’s funeral. This signals an official acceptance of the Brown family narrative, at this point completely unverified, that police misconduct and racism were involved in the death of their son, or if not, and I’m sure the White House will have some spin to dispute this, that is how it will be perceived by activists and how the White House wants it to be perceived. This may be good politics (though I don’t think intentional divisiveness is good, but the White House and I differ on that point), but it is horrible leadership, and a slap in the fact to all law enforcement, which is now being told by those representing the President of the United States that it is presumed to be in the wrong when there is a controversy over the exercise of force involving an African American

Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, Race

Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck Update: The Mayor of Atlanta Tells “Meet The Press” That “Justice” Means Prosecuting Officer Wilson

kasim-reed

There should be no question about it any more. The nearly unanimous position, stated or unstated, by elected Democratic and African American officials is that Officer Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot the unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown, should be charged with murder. That position represents a triumph of group identification, political expediency and bias over the rule of law and, yes, in defiance of that cynically wielded term “justice,” and it needs to be rejected and condemned at the highest levels of our society. Who is going to have the courage to do it?

Certainly not the news media. This morning on the David Gregory-less “Meet the Press,” the stand-in for the fired host interviewed Democratic Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who talked exclusively in code about “justice” and “transparency.” Nixon, you will recall, has already stated his view that Wilson should be prosecuted, so his mouthing platitudes now about “transparency” ring like the sly plotting of the villains in old Westerns. You know the type: the cattle baron who owns the town and the sheriff devises a way to remove an obstreperous opponent who won’t toe the line by framing him and convicting him of murder. “Make it look niiice and fair, right by the book!” he snickers to his henchman. That was Nixon today.

Then the questioning turned to NBC round-table guest Kasim Reed, the African-American Mayor of Atlanta, who was asked about how to ensure a just result in the case. His answer was frank, if jaw-dropping: everyone, including jurors and officials, should see the incident “through the eyes” of Brown’s parents, “whose son was shot six times in front of four witnesses and left lying in the street for hours.” Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society, Uncategorized, Workplace