Category Archives: Journalism & Media

Ebola Ethics Train Wreck Update

train wreck - b

Wow! THAT train wreck picked up passengers fast!

  • News Media Car: “Good Morning America” co-anchors Paula Faris and Dan Harris, who  told their audience members, thereby lowering their IQ’s, that a flight ban makes no sense since Ebola can only be passed via contact with bodily fluids. Well, let’s just let the infected fly, then! How much imagination does it take to think of ways passengers can get another passenger’s bodily fluids on themselves?  (HINT: bathrooms).  Faris and Harris also know that infected people can move around the country quickly using planes—hell, do they watch their own medium, television? Movies? Thomas Eric Duncan had no  symptoms when he boarded a plane to the US, where he infected at least two people before dying.  In a situation such as this, effective pubic education is one of the most critical functions of the news media. Choosing to blurt out spontaneous misinformation instead is incompetent and irresponsible.
  • Desperate Obama Defense Derangement Car: American Prospect blogger Paul Waldman, who in an Ebola-like outbreak of the DODD that he has been suffering from for years, issued a truly despicable post including vile statements like these:
Put a scary disease together with a new terrorist organization and the ever-present threat of undocumented immigrants sneaking over the border, and you’ve got yourself a putrid stew of fear-mongering, irrationality, conspiracy theories, and good old-fashioned Obama-hatred that they’re luxuriating in like it was a warm bath on a cold night…When people are afraid, they’re more likely to vote Republican, so it’s in Republicans’ interest to make them afraid. And you couldn’t come up with a better vehicle for creating that fear than a deadly disease coming from countries full of dark-skinned foreigners. So what if only two Americans, both health care workers caring for a dying man, have actually caught it? You don’t need facts to feed the fear. And they only need two and a half more weeks. 
Yes, when all else in your party’s government fails and is failing, blame it on racism. After all, nobody would be worried about a highly infectious, horrible, organ liquifying disease with no vaccine and a 70% fatality rate if it came from Asia or Europe. This is all because Republicans hate the black President. By all means, keep pushing that slander: maybe a real Rodney King-style riot can be launched in St. Louis! That should turn out the base! The fact that the Center For Disease Control that said trust us, we’ll stop this disease “in its tracks” was revealed to be a clown act has nothing to do with the criticism.

Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Race, Unethical Tweet

CNN’s Smoking Gun Ebola Gag

Ebola joke

The photo above was deemed so cute and hilarious that CNN’s “New Day” senior producer John Griffin tweeted it to the world. CNN brass, at least those among them who are not demented nor insane, immediately ordered it taken down, but of course it was too late.

We now we know. We’ve known for a long time, those of us who were paying attention at least, but now we know for certain. The photo is smoking gun evidence of a tragic fact with frightening implications for all of us. Broadcast journalism, the occupation that Edward R. Murrow believed would transform and enrich America by creating a better educated, more knowledgeable, more civically literate and involved public, can no longer claim to be a profession, a pursuit dedicated to the public good. It is nothing more than entertainment, and not very professional or sophisticated entertainment at that. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Health and Medicine, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture

A Media Health Fick! Now Nancy Snyderman Has An Unethical Apology To Go With Her Irresponsible Conduct

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Dear NBC: Why does this woman still have a job?

First Dr. Nancy Snyderman endangered the public by defying a voluntary quarantine for possible Ebola exposure, apparently because she just couldn’t bear to be without her favorite soup. Now she eliminates all doubt about her trustworthiness and character—none to the first, not much of the latter— with a terrible, blame-shifting, non-apology apology:

“While under voluntary quarantine guidelines, which called for our team to avoid public contact for 21 days, members of our group violated those guidelines and understand that our quarantine is now mandatory until 21 days have passed. We remain healthy and our temperatures are normal. As a health professional I know that we have no symptoms and pose no risk to the public, but I am deeply sorry for the concerns this episode caused. We are thrilled that Ashoka is getting better and our thoughts continue to be with the thousands affected by Ebola whose stories we all went to cover.”

1. “Members” violated those guidelines? SHE did! The statement is deceitful and misleading.

2. “As a health professional I know that we have no symptoms and pose no risk to the public”—she can’t possibly know—yet—whether she and the rest of the exposed group pose a threat. And her conduct in this matter has been anything but professional.

3. Oh, she’s sorry for the “concerns.” She doesn’t apologize for sending someone who shared a car with her into a restaurant, risking the infection of large numbers of people, or violating the quarantine, or causing her group to have to be formally quarantined because she was too full of herself to eschew her favorite soup, or embarrassing the news media, NBC, and two professions: journalists and doctors. She’s just sorry all the uneducated hysterics out there got worried when she, the great Doctor Snyderman, just knows in her infinite expertise that silly precautions like quarantines don’t apply to her.

This episode certifies Snyderman as a fick, the Ethics Alarms designation for someone who is a mega-jerk and wants everyone to know it.  As for the yecch-worthy apology, it ranks at the very bottom of the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale. It is a Category 10: “An insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.”

 

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

Three Republican Candidates: Gaffes, Disqualifications, Or Something Else?

shooting-yourself-in-the-footI felt badly about piling up three posts recently on unethical female Democrats running for office, and was inspired by the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent to do some analysis of Republican candidates who, at least according to Sargent, deserve equivalent criticism to what has been leveled at Alison Lundergan Grimes for refusing to say whether she voted for President Obama. [She did it again last night in her debate with Sen. McConnell.]

Sometimes finding Republican candidates who deserve an Ethics Alarms slap is hard, unless they say something bat wacky like, say, Richard Mourdock. If a Democrat is flagged by The Daily Beast or the Post, I can be pretty sure there was something said or done that was objectively troubling, because the mainstream media will bury anything from a Democrat that is vaguely defensible. A Republican, however, might be accused of certified insanity for a statement that offends progressive cant. Fox and many of the right wing websites, meanwhile, will ignore any Republican whose pronouncements don’t rise to “I am the Lizard Queen!” level of derangement, and will find fault with Democratic candidates on dubious grounds. Here are the GOP candidates for today’s ethics audit: Joni Ernst (U.S. Senate in Iowa); Tom Cotton (U.S. Senate in Arkansas); and Greg Abbott  (Texas Governor race): Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

Jack Ohman’s Cartoon and Desperate Obama Defense Derangement

Ebola cartoon

This cartoon, which should cause editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman to hang his head in shame, has made me realize that there is an odd and pervasive parallel today with the familiar Clinton Derangement Syndrome and Bush Derangement Syndrome of yore, which caused the mouth-foaming political opponents of these polarizing Presidents to make ridiculous claims undermining the many more legitimate criticisms available to them. In the case of Barack Obama, it is Desperate Obama Defense Derangement (DODD) that we are seeing. So horrible is the prospect of having to admit that this President is an unequivocal, incompetent flop by almost every measure imaginable that disappointed, panicked partisans in the media, the President’s party and bitterly disappointed hope-and-changers are resorting to obvious rationalizations, absurd analogies and insane arguments to avoid facing the miserable, depressing truth.

This cartoon can stand as a graphic symbol of the malady. In order to preemptively duck accountability when yet another government agency, in this case the CDC, proves inept and another national policy–the measures designed to keep Ebola out of the U.S— proves ill-thought out and poorly managed like so many other agencies and national policies under this administration’s stewardship, DODD sufferers like Ohman and the sad Democrats posting it on Facebook are making the argument that Ebola is no big deal.

You know, like AIDS was no big deal. When the Reagan administration was being justly criticized for its tardy and in inadequate response to AIDS, I don’t recall any cartoonists listing the stats for all of the other causes of death to ridicule gays, humanitarians and sane people who were saying that this was a national crisis. But then, there aren’t very many conservative cartoonists, for which, in that instance, at least, we can be grateful.

Look at Ohman’s cartoon, and try to translate it into a coherent statement that makes any sense at all: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media

Ethics Dunce: NBC Medical Reporter Dr. Nancy Snyderman

Snyderman in the process of being infected. Nah, just kidding. What are the odds? Go get your soup, Nancy!

Snyderman in the process of being infected. Nah, just kidding. What are the odds? Go get your soup, Nancy!

Not surprisingly, since it describes jaw-dropping arrogance, stupidity, recklessness and irresponsible behavior from one of its own, the story of NBC’s health reporter violating a quarantine designed to minimize the risk of the spread of Ebola has received light coverage from the news media. If that were not true, I wouldn’t be posting the story here, because there is nothing about its ethical content that a 13-year-old shouldn’t be able to discern without my coaching.

Not Snyderman, apparently.

When the New Jersey Health Department  learned that NBC News reporter Dr. Nancy Snyderman had been spotted sitting in her car outside of The Peasant Grill, a restaurant in Hopewell, N.J., last week, it was not pleased. At the time she was subject to a voluntary quarantine placed on her and her crew after a cameraman contracted Ebola while working in Liberia. Why only voluntary? Sounds stupid and dangerous to me, but maybe they thought they could trust an M.D. who presumes to explain medical issues for a major network.

Nope.  Snyderman, 62, NBC’s chief medical editor, really likes The Peasant Grill’s yummy soups, we are told, and really, what’s the risk of a deadly outbreak of Ebola compared to a great bowl of soup? She was in a car, wearing sun glasses and with pulled-back hair—a disguise maybe?—while someone picked up her order for her. After she sneezed on him in the car. Well, that’s just speculation on my part. Never mind. I’m sure he was uninfected when he was in the restaurant.

Snyderman and her NBC News crew had been flown back to the U.S. after Ashoka Mukpo, a 33-year-old freelance cameraman, showed symptoms of the virus. Snyderman and the other NBC employees were asked to isolate themselves for 21 days. Snyderman’s a big shot, though, so she decided that the quarantine didn’t apply to her. The virus wouldn’t dare.

Unbelievable.

And undoubtedly, NBC will go right back to putting this foolish woman on TV to tell trusting viewers how to take care of themselves.

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Pointer: Michael Jordan

Facts and Graphic: Daily News

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts, and seek written permission when appropriate. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work or property was used in any way without proper attribution, credit or permission, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at jamproethics@verizon.net.

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Filed under Journalism & Media, Health and Medicine, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee

The Benefits of Mutual Respect and Civility vs. Hate and “Partyism”

A New York Times feature from October 3 tells the inspiring tale of a friendship between two scholars, one a Christian, the other an atheist. Their friendship does not thrive in spite of the conflict between their core beliefs, but rather because of it.

Prof. David Skeel, the Christian, recently published  a book, “True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World.”  His atheist friend, Patrick Arsenault,  is  acknowledged in the book and quoted as well, and the Times notes that “True Paradox” “might not have existed at all, or certainly would not exist in its present shape and voice, without the secular scientist as its midwife. And that odd reality is testament to a rare brand of mutual civility in the culture wars, with their countervailing trends of religious fundamentalism and dogmatic atheism.” Says Skeel:

“One of the things we talked about was whether it matters if we persuade each other. I long to have Patrick converted to my perspective. So how can we have a friendship? I see it as toleration in the deepest meaning. We don’t just ‘put up’ with each other’s beliefs. We interrogate them.”

Arsenault tells the Times that “in the culture wars, the rhetoric is acerbic on both sides. On the humanist side, there’s this tendency to view people of faith as not rational. And David is clearly rational. He’s just looked at the same evidence as me and come to a different conclusion.”

Contrast this attitude—rational, respectful, practical, fair, constructive and profoundly ethical, with the “partyism” and bigotry being practiced with increasing intensity as the mid-term elections approach. There is Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank in the video clip above, for example,  not merely accusing Republicans of fear-mongering, but suggesting that their criticism of the Secret Service is insincere: Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Religion and Philosophy, Character