Category Archives: Journalism & Media

Pineda-Pine Tar, Part II: Baseball Clarifies Its Bizarro Ethics Culture

bizarro_world-baseballYou shouldn’t have to appreciate, care about or even understand baseball to find illumination in its latest ethics controversy, which shows how cultures can go horribly wrong, precluding exactly the values that any functioning entity must embrace to remain viable and healthy. For someone like me, to whom Baseball is Life, the whole thing just makes me want to jump out the window.

You will recall that a couple weeks ago, the sport embarrassed itself by making excuses and accepting lies regarding New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda being allowed to break the game’s rules against pitchers applying foreign substances (in this case, pine tar) on the baseball while pitching to the Boston Red Sox. I wrote about it here. I interpreted the post-incident consensus of the game and its pundits as “everybody does it, so let’s not make a big deal over a little infraction on a night when it was abnormally cold and hard to grip the ball.”  That’s unethical enough, but the truth, as revealed in Part II, is far worse.

Last night, fate had Pineda on the mound against the Red Sox again. Baseball’s ethics had already begun falling apart in chunks when Sox manager John Farrell, asked about whether he expected Pineda to cheat again (for that is what using pine tar on baseballs is—cheating. Official Rule 8.02 states: “The pitcher shall not apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball.” ) answered that hopefully, if he did, he would be more discreet about it. Huh?

But Pineda was not discrete; in fact, he could not have been more obvious, or ridiculously so. After a rough first inning in which he gave up two runs, Pineda emerged from the dugout with a large, brown, greasy gob of pine tar on his neck. On TV. In nationally broadcast game. Against the same team that he was caught using pine tar against before. In that team’s home park.

In the Red Sox dugout, Manager Farrell and the team were laughing and rolling their eyes. Farrell finally shrugged, and walked out to complain to the home plate umpire, for it is an automatic ejection for a pitcher to be caught doctoring the ball. The umpire dutifully walked out to the mound—he had to have seen the offending gob before Farrell complained—and to add to the foolishness, checked Pineda’s glove, cap and jock strap before looking at the huge brown smear on his neck. Finally he did so, said, “That’s pine tar!” (in the previous game, Pineda told the press it was “dirt”) and threw him out of the game.

In subsequent interviews with Farrell and others, the explanation that emerged was this gibberish: “everybody” uses something to grip the ball better when it is cold (and often when it isn’t); hitters don’t mind because they don’t want to get hit. Pineda’s offense wasn’t that he used pine tar, but that, as Farrell suggested before the game, that he was “blatant” about it. That gave Farrell no choice, you see….even though his own pitchers also use foreign substances to grip the ball (in unequivocal violation of a baseball rule), and this sets his team up for “retaliation.”

I feel like I’m going crazy. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Journalism & Media, Sports

Noted: A Familiar Debate Over At Slate

battle-marvel

Those who participated in the epic, star-studded battle in February here, led by the departed Bruce Bartup, over what are acceptable levels of intensity and personal attack on Ethics Alarms, will experience some nostalgia reading this debate on Slate about the website’s policies. My favorite line: “…if someone is a dick, and we’ve explained that he’s a dick, why shouldn’t we also call him a dick? He’s earned it!”

If you missed Bruce’s Lament and the terrific donnybrook it generated (sadly, Bruce took his bruised feelings and went home to the British Isles, though I urged him to persevere) can read his Comment of the Day and the responses to it here.

___________________________

Graphic: kiss my wonder woman

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Filed under Etiquette and manners, Journalism & Media, The Internet

Cover Art Ethics: Sexism, “Rape Culture” or Just Marketing

If you had asked me thirty-five years ago whether we would still be debating what is the appropriate and ethical use of women as sex symbols—or “objectification,” if you like—in non-sex trade publications today, I would have answered, I think, “Are you kidding? By 2014 we will have hashed all this out. Either the combination of consensus  political correctness and the increased influence of women in business in general and publishing in particular will have reformed standards of acceptable practices, manners and taste, or emerging feminism will embrace the power of sexuality as a source of influence and power over the male of the species. The battles over this are too hot now to keep going on indefinitely! Either using sexy women and models in “take me” poses will be considered shameful and unappealing in 2014, or they will be accepted as part of an “anything goes” culture.”

No, I’m not very bright.

Case Study #1: The Golf Digest Cover

Paulina-Gretzky-on-cover-of-Golf-Digest

The cover of the latest issue of Golf Digest caused a stir by featuring Paulina Gretzky, who plays a little golf but who is primarily a model, and obviously there for other reasons. Until the Gretzky cover, the only woman to appear on the magazine’s cover without having won a pro or major amateur event was Golf Channel personality Holly Sonders, in May 2013. From the New York Times: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Unethical Website of the Month: Hoax Site “The News Nerd”

Sorry, Aretha. You are just an innocent pawn in a slimy website's quest for links.

Sorry, Aretha. You are just an innocent pawn in a slimy website’s quest for links.

Bonus ethics points are due Mediaite writer Luke O’Neill, who placed the word ‘satire’ in scare quotes while describing the website called “The News Nerd,” which he grouped with, in his words, “The National Report (behind this recent viral hoax about Bill Murray stopping a bank robbery), The Daily Currant, and the rest of the plague of woefully unfunny bottom-feeders who’ve clogged up our newsfeeds of late.” The site in question has been sued by pop icon Aretha Franklin, who argues that its unfunny fake story about her  getting into a fistfight with fellow diva Patti LaBelle is defamatory.  Aretha is going to lose, of course,* and worse, she is bringing more attention, traffic and income to the despicable website, which I will not link to and assist its sordid little game.

Getting links and traffic is the whole point of such sites: write and publish a plausible but strange made-up news story that enough news aggregation sites and bloggers believe, hope the story goes viral, and reap the monetary rewards of notoriety and ethical misconduct. “The News Nerd” had one of its “successes” recently by falsely reporting that George Zimmerman was peddling a new painting, this one of Trayvon Martin. It is a vile, if not especially new, creature on the web, one that makes the internet even less reliable and trustworthy than it was. Such sites’ victims are the trusting, hurried and inattentive. They masquerade as satire sites, but are intentionally poor ones. Their stories are not clever or sufficiently well-made to signal their allegedly humorous nature, and the disclaimers are hidden, perhaps a click away, or at the bottom of a screen, where the site-owners know many readers will never look. Continue reading

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Filed under Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, The Internet, Unethical Websites

Clinton Worship Ethics

_Smoking_Gun

Every now and then, when they aren’t indignantly denying it, mainstream media journalists let their guard down and hand the public smoking gun evidence of their unprofessional, unethical, partisan Democratic Party bias. There’s not much risk anyway: after all, the only ones likely to call them on it are card-carrying members of the conservative media, and they are biased, don’t you know. The hosannas and halleluiahs all over cable news and the web celebrating Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy, however, is pretty hard to spin. This is Clinton worship from the news media, and nothing less, part of the embarrassing effort by uncritical, star-struck liberal reporters and pundits, particularly feminine ones, to ram Hillary Clinton down America’s throat in 2016. There is no excuse or justification for it. None.as. There’s not much risk anyway: after all, the only ones likely to call them on it are card-carrying members of the conservative media, and they are biased, don’t you know.

Do you recall if Amy Carter had any children? How about the two Johnson girls? Does Caroline Kennedy have offspring? The Nixon girls? When Jenna Bush was pregnant, do you recall it being a headline? That’s because the pregnancies, if there were any, of these women were not newsworthy, beyond a “Lifestyle” section line in a gossip or “People and Places” newspaper column. Chelsea Clinton’s sole significance is the identify of  her parents, and nothing more. She has no independent significance to American life, welfare or history, and whether she is fecund or barren as a sack of flour makes no difference to the state of the union whatsoever. Her pregnancy is less interesting, objectively speaking, than the unfortunate daughter of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, as at least one  of her parents  is a genuine artist and the mother’s family’s inexplicable notoriety is a harbinger of the end of civilization as we know it. Chelsea? She’s a nice young woman, apparently. I met her once. She’s done nothing to justify an entry in Who’s Who, much less a headline. Yet yesterday, one would have thought that she was going to be mother of the presumptive King of the Colonies. Candy Crowley cheered! MSNBC was in rhapsody! CNN’s Headline News made it THE headline of the day!

How’s that Malaysian airplane doing? Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Alvin Holmes (D-Alabama)

Alvin-HolmesRep. Alvin Holmes is a hatemonger and a race-baiter, but is he a wacko?

This question was inspired in the aftermath to my post about the ridiculous Bob Marshall,  a Virginia legislator who blights the Republican Party in my home state. The question I raised in that post was whether it was true that GOP elected nut-cases are further out in orbit than their Democratic counterparts. The related theory offered (not be me) in the ensuing thread was that while liberal-slanted media sources criticize the deranged in their ideological camp, conservative media sources tend to defend the GOP’s mutants. In fairness, I thought that I should raise the case of Mr. Holmes.

He was recently featured in a column by the Washington Post’s mildly conservative—perhaps the better term is “wishy-washy”—columnist Kathleen Parker. She notes, accurately, that he has at various times… Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Race

More On The Dangers Of Godwin’s Law

 

Mike Godwin

Mike Godwin

In correctly diagnosing the Obama Administration’s and the Democratic Party’s continued use of the misleading “77 cents” statistic, I rejected the application of Godwin’s Law as a bar to the evocation of the Bog Lie’s most accomplished practitioners and champions, Hitler and Goebbels. I want to expand a bit on what I wrote explaining why.

Godwin’s Law, to begin with, began as a joke. An early Usenet moderator (and attorney) named Mike Godwin coined the “rule” in 1990 as a tongue-in-cheek  method to detect when internet debates had gone on too long, stating that  “if you mention Adolf Hitler or Nazis within a discussion thread, you’ve automatically ended whatever discussion you were taking part in.” The Wikipedia entry, based on the original “law” posted by Godwin, says that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches —​ that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler or Nazism.”

In the ensuing years, Godwin’s Law has been cited, but seriously, as a genuine discourse limitation; that it is somehow taboo to raise the Nazis or Hitler as comparisons or references in any serious debate, online or off. It is even cited as an absolute, frequently by people who haven’t given a second’s thought to why there should be such a “law.” This, of course, is classic morality reasoning. You can’t mention Hitler because an authority, “Godwin,” has decreed otherwise, and you blindly follow because, well, he says it’s right, so it is. I have wondered if anyone would take Godwin’s Law seriously if his name had been Mike Snotwelder, or something similar. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society, Workplace

To Hell With Godwin’s Law: As The Cynical “GOP War On Women” Strategy Officially Adopts “Big Lie” Tactics, Who Will Have The Integrity To Call It What It Is?

Sometimes recalling Der Fuhrer is necessary to give credit where credit is due.

Sorry. Sometimes recalling Der Fuhrer is necessary to give credit where credit is due.

One thing one can’t deny about the “Big Lie,” it sure works.

An H. F. Elson from Bethesda, Maryland indignantly writes the editor of the Washington Post:

“The April 10 news article “Senate Republicans block wage-equality legislation” reported that Republicans “say that the bill is unnecessary because discrimination based on gender is already illegal.” Pardon my sarcasm, but existing laws have worked really well, haven’t they? Republicans fear the bill would increase civil lawsuits, but the threat of lawsuits is the only way to get these needed changes in compensation made. When are Republicans going to stop antagonizing thinking, intelligent women?”

Let’s see…it’s hard to write such an incompetent and irresponsible letter while simultaneously being snotty about it, but H.F. was up to the challenge:

1. Discrimination based on gender IS already illegal. The law in question was Democratic showboating with a bad bill that would permit lawsuits when no evidence of intentional gender discrimination exists.

2. Yes, H.F., the existing laws have worked very well indeed. The remaining differences in pay by gender are almost entirely due to factors other than discrimination.

3. The only way to get the changes made in compensation would be for women to behave exactly like men, and adopt the same priorities and career paths. Lawsuits, on the other hand, are just a way to increase the costs of doing business, lose jobs, and give more money to trial lawyers—who are overwhelmingly male, by the way.

4. “When are Republicans going to stop antagonizing thinking, intelligent women?”  The real question is when will “thinking, intelligent women” stop accepting on faith outright misrepresentations about gender pay inequities, and do some research before adopting partisan talking points and writing snotty letters to the editor?

There are virtually no serious analysts of this topic that accept the proposition that “women get paid only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men in the same jobs” as an accurate measure of discrimination in the workplace and gender inequity. The misleading nature of that statistic and similar ones has been thoroughly explained and vetted in scholarly documents and the news media for decades, yet whenever Democrats want to activate their “base,” which includes a disproportionate number of women, their candidates and leaders shamelessly use the same dishonest figures. Obama and Biden used this tactic during the 2012 sliming of Mitt Romney, for example, because, after all, the ends justify the means, and besides, mean old Romney kept all those poor women in binders.

I just about fell off of my chair when President Obama sank to this abysmal deceit again in his 2014 State of the Union message, when he intoned, Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Research and Scholarship, U.S. Society, Workplace

And The Answer Is: “Well, Talk Show Host Arthur King On Maine’s WGAN, For One…”

WGAN logoOne of several cantankerous commenters on the inexplicably contentious Julian Batts post wrote, in the course of his generalized abuse, “Who would ever book you? LOL.” (Those familiar with this forum know it was the “LOL” that got him banned more than the insult). The  rhetorical question was also secretly ironic, because I was booked that very day (yesterday) on an early morning talk show, by Arthur King, an occasional commenter here who has  me on South Portland, Maine’s WGAN as his guest occasionally.

You can listen to the segment here. Much thanks to Arthur, for both a professionally run interview and great timing.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Education, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

ABC Quietly Apologizes For Being An Unethical, Unprofessional, Biased and Unfair News Organization. Not Accepted.

"Oops! Did we use THAT clip! Silly us!"

“Oops! Did we use THAT clip! Silly us!”

“Reporting”—in scare quotes because it was in fact advocacy, character assassination and blatant news manipulation—on the successful totalitarian movement by gay rights advocates to force Mozilla to fire its CEO (for the thought crime of not opposing an anti-gay marriage ballot initiative in California, but rather being so evil as  to exercise his rights of political speech and support the traditional definition of marriage), ABC news accompanied the report on “Good Morning America” with video of a Westboro Baptist Church demonstration, complete with its charming “God Hates Fags” signs.

This, of course, implicitly sided with those, led by the CEO of OKCupid,  trying to rob Brendan Eich of his job for having a different view than the intolerant Left, while imputing to Eich ugly attitudes that there is no evidence whatsoever he possesses. It seem ABC selected the same clip in 2012 in a story about the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling, making the illicit  suggestion in such a choice that there are just two sides in this issue; those who “hate fags,” like the Phelpsians, and those who want all Americans, whatever their sexual orientation, to be able to have their relationships with committed loved ones recognized as a legal marriage.

Mr. Eich has the money and the team of lawyers to make ABC pay dearly for this slur on his character (there is no similarly expensive way to make the network—and the others, for this was just ABC’s turn—accountable for blatant news distortion and advocacy in the guise of “objective news reporting.”), so ABC pulled the false video and issued this wan and dishonest apology: Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions, Religion and Philosophy