Tag Archives: competence

Comment of the Day: “Remember That “Kaboom!” About ABC’s George Stephanopoulos’ Hypocritical Conflict Of Interest? Well…”

Still exploding after all these years...

Still exploding after all these years…

I knew I would quickly regret making the initial post about George Stephanopoulos’s undisclosed and hypocritical conflict of interest partially about me rather than just George. I couldn’t resist, though: I was still (am still) annoyed by the comments on the original post that suggested that there was nothing wrong with his cross-examination of “Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer and his mouthing all of the Clinton team’s talking points while sounding like a clone of Lanny Davis.

I’ll admit it: I am finding it increasingly difficult to hold anything but contempt for those who refuses to see, or admit that they see, how corrupt Hillary Clinton is, and how utterly unqualified and untrustworthy she is to hold any elective office. I have the least respect for the women who disgrace feminism (and embrace bigotry) by saying that they will (ewwww) “vote with their vaginas.” This is the essence of brain-dead tribalism: sorry, if all you care about in the White House is chromosomes, you’re a sexist idiot and a disgrace to democracy. I’m curious, too: is there anyone with a vagina that you wouldn’t vote for? Rosie O’Donnell?  Maxine Waters? Sofia Vergara?  Debbie Wasserman Schultz? Paris Hilton? Kris Kardashian? ANY Kardashian? Because, you know, I’d trust any one of them at least as much as I’d trust Hillary Clinton.

Stephanopoulos was angry and adversarial in the interview, while Schweizer was candid and unconfrontational. The ABC News star’s pro-Clinton orientation—sharp tone, annoyed expression, defense attorney language— was obvious to anyone not thinking “Go get him, George!” That’s not objectivity. That’s taking sides, without admitting it.

I was right again, you’ll note, when I concluded by saying that ABC wouldn’t discipline George, and that’s exactly what the network has said. The entire journalistic establishment should rise up and slam the network for this, but all but a few slivers of that establishment are as corrupt, biased and conflicted as George and his bosses. Tell me, ABC, why is he too conflicted to moderate debates, but not too conflicted to continue to interview candidates and critics challenging Clinton? Or to discuss controversies involving the Clintons, or to moderate—moderators are supposed to be fair and neutral–round table discussions about those controversies? Would an objective moderator keep putting a paid Democratic operative like Donna Brazile at his round table and pretend that she is an independent pundit?  ARRRGH!

I’ll have more after Dwayne N. Zechman’s spot-on Comment of the Day covering other aspects of this ethics fiasco, on the post: Remember That “Kaboom!” About ABC’s George Stephanopoulos’ Hypocritical Conflict Of Interest? Well…. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

Southwest Airlines And The Suicide Threat

Not exactly "friendly skies"

Not exactly “friendly skies”

We tend to assume someone was at fault when a terrible event results from the execution of a standard policy that was not appropriate to the crisis at hand. Who’s to blame in this nightmarish scenario?

Karen Momsen-Evers was on a Southwest Airlines plane about to take off from New Orleans to Milwaukee, where she lived. Then her husband Andy sent her a text asking her for forgiveness for his imminent suicide. “I go to sleep at night thinking what could I have done, what should I have done,” Evers said. She texted back “No,” but the text arrived as flight attendants were doing their final cabin checks. She wanted to call him. The flight attendant ordered her to turn her phone off, and when she insisted, was told that the FAA regulations prohibited any further use of her cellphone. “The steward slapped the phone down and said you need to go on airplane mode now,” Momsen-Evers told reporters.

Once the flight reached cruising altitude, the desperate woman explained the situation to another attendant. She begged her to have someone make an emergency phone call, but the attendant insisted there was nothing she could do.

So Karen Momsen-Evers sat in her seat, looking at the text and sobbing, all the way to Milwaukee. When she arrived home she was met by police officers, who told her Andy had killed himself. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family

Remember That “Kaboom!” About ABC’s George Stephanopoulos’ Hypocritical Conflict Of Interest? Well…

applause-sign

From Mediaite:

ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos was forced to apologize today after it was revealed that he donated roughly $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation in the past two years and never, in all his coverage of Clinton Foundation controversies, disclosed it.

[UPDATE: The new figure is $75,000 in the past three years.]

I don’t generally like to take bows, but I had this one pegged, ladies and gentlemen, exactly.

I had it so pegged that my head exploded, remember? I was astounded that this journalist of all journalists would have the cheese to raise an eyebrow and challenge “Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer’s credibility and integrity because he had been a Bush speechwriter, when George himself was playing defense for the Clintons as former long-time Clinton insider, staffer and adviser. Now we know that his conflict was far worse: George Stephanopoulos was debating the propriety of the operation of a Foundation he supported and contributed to.

This isn’t a minor conflict of interest. This is a major one, and not to disclose it—it is not credible that George forgot—is disqualifying for a news anchor…easily as disqualifying as Brian Williams’ tall tales.  The Clinton conflict has always been George’s ethical Achilles heel. I have argued in the past that he should be required to withdraw from covering any story in which the Clintons are involved—and that’s a lot of stories. This proves that Stephanopoulos is insufficiently sensitive to his conflicts, which means he is insufficiently sensitive to conflicts, which means he is insufficiently schooled in the ethics of journalism, which means he is not an ethical journalist, which means he is not a trustworthy journalist. ( The increasingly pathetic New York Times wrote that this makes Republicans less likely to trust him. Good lord. So it’s okay for a Democratic journalist to be conflicted and not transparent as long as he’s biased toward Democrats? What has happened to this paper?) At worst, it means that Stephanopoulos is still an agent of the Clintons. I just know I’ve written this before: a news organization that is properly concerned about its integrity and professionalism would fire him. At very least, he has to be suspended.

He won’t be, and I just explained why. The ABC statement: “As George has said, he made charitable donations to the Foundation to support a cause he cares about deeply. He’s admitted to an honest mistake and apologized for that omission. We stand behind him.” Yes, he’s admitted that he’s a biased, conflicted, dishonest, untrustworthy hack. Can’t wait to see him moderating those debates.

But we’ll have plenty of time for all that.

Meanwhile:

Thank you!

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen!

I’ll be here all week!

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

When Typos Have Ethical Significance

Law-Firm-Advertising-FAIL

I was chided over the weekend for mocking a misspelling in one of the cuckoo online comments cheering on Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s ridiculous “monitoring” of U.S. military exercises in his state. The thrust of my critic’s argument was that picking on such modes of expression was not only a cheap shot but an elitist cheap shot. I generally deplore the “You wrote ‘teh!'” school of online debate, and in my view, that wasn’t what I was doing when I pointed out this particular Texas paranoid’s spelling of government as “goverment” twice . His “position” didn’t require any rebuttal, as it was self-evidently batty; I alluded to “goverment” because I concluded that it was not a typo, but rather an indication that the commenter was as ignorant as granite block. If you can’t spell government, you haven’t read about government enough to have an opinion on it worth inflicting on the rest of us.

It led me to ponder, however, when a typo has undeniable ethical significance, and mirabile dictu, Above the Law today provided the excellent example you see above.

This is part of the marketing for a law firm—you know, those organizations that provide lawyers to ordinary citizens who need help negotiating the complexities of our nation’s increasingly impenetrable laws and regulations in order to live and prosper? Lawyers are supposedly trained in the precision of language, as the presence or absence of a comma or semi-colon in a statute, a motion or a brief can mean the difference between a client being a criminal or a free man, and an unnoticed typo in the draft of a contract, will, trust or settlement can decide the fate of millions of dollars, the ownership of disputed property, the existence of a prenuptial agreement, and other momentous, life-altering  consequences.

The very existence of an embarrassing  law firm marketing device like this one—I think it’s a coaster—leads to many conclusions:

1. It tells us that the law firm’s managing partners are inattentive to details, and in law, details are everything.

2. It tells us that the lawyers in the firm inadequately supervise the non-lawyers who work for the firm, and the ethics rules demand that lawyers be especially attentive to such employees and contractors.

3. It tells us that at least one firm lawyer, whoever approved the thing, either is illiterate or can’t be trusted to check the text of documents, even documents containing only three words.

4.It tells us, in short, that this law firm, and by extension the lawyers it employs, cannot be trusted to exercise care, competence and diligence when they are representing themselves.

How can it possibly be trustworthy when it is representing others?

__________________

Pointer and Source: Above the Law

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Marketing and Advertising, Professions

The Kinky Law Professor Principle: “It’s No Shame To Be Kinky, But It Still Might Be Newsworthy”

We haven’t had a “Naked Teacher Principle” story to mull over for a while, and this isn’t one. It raises some parallel issues, though.

I saw the story about the Drexel Law professor who who accidentally sent her students a link to a pornographic video about anal beads. I didn’t find it worthy of a post, though I thought it was funny. It is funny. But we had covered a similar issue here, in the ethics quiz about the hapless teaching assistant at the University of Iowa who somehow managed to send her class not merely sexually provocative photos of herself, not merely nude photos of herself, but something much more kinky. Attached to a message that read “Hi Class, I attach the solutions for number 76 and 78 in this email” were a series of images showing the young woman sans clothes and sans inhibitions having a lively cyber-sexting chat with a partner in which the two were pleasuring themselves in front of video equipment while streaming to each other.

That was funnier. She was “reassigned”—a not unreasonable result of presumed reduced respect from the class.  The Naked Teacher Principle doesn’t strictly apply when the students are adults, and Lisa McElroy, the professor at Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law who is apparently an anal bead fan–the video she sent by accident was called called “She Loves Her Anal Beads”—wasn’t naked. There is no “Kinky Law Professor Principle.”

However, Prof. McElroy was mightily offended that her cyber-goof was picked up by the professional publications and websites, and that she was embarrassed as a result. She even posted a Streisand Principle-defying op-ed in the Washington Post, blaming everybody—students, bloggers, and Drexel, which briefly suspended the professor pending an investigation on the basis of possible sexual harassment—but herself. She argued that she should not have been publicly shamed, because, she wrote,

“…there was nothing newsworthy about it. What happened was, in the grand scheme, pretty trivial. My students are adults. The link was quickly removed. There was nothing illegal in the video. The post occurred in the same two-month period when the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” grossed almost $570 million worldwide. Yet, because it was porn and I’m a law professor, news organizations spread the story around the world.”

Yup. Because it was funny. I understand that the Professor doesn’t see the humor of a law professor—especially her—inadvertently sending her private porn film about anal beads, which themselves are kind of amusing, to a staid law school class. It’s still funny. Trivial? Of course. But trivial can still be funny. Would it be kind for all of us to scrupulously refuse to communicate the hilarious tales of when we do dumb things or embarrass ourselves? Yes. But society as a whole benefits from being reminded that we are all equally fallible human beings—especially the elite and privileged. A lot of people think laughing at slapstick is cruel too.

I pity them. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, The Internet

The Clinton Foundation’s OTHER Ethics Problem—And An Ethics Trainwreck Update

clinton_foundationEven if it weren’t being used for what looks like influence peddling…even if the foreign contributions to it didn’t create a textbook “appearance of impropriety,” which is prohibited for a Secretary of State…even if Hillary Clinton’s unilateral destruction of thousands of e-mails makes her surrogates’ (and imagine: one of those surrogates is an ABC new show host, and the network sees nothing wrong with that) argument that there’s no “smoking gun” evidence of wrongdoing a shining example of gall for the ages…there is another ethics problem with the Clinton Foundation, one that is beyond reasonable debate, and one that even the most shameless Clinton acolytes won’t be able to deflect by attacking the messenger.

It’s an unethical foundation, by well-established non-profit standards, and that has nothing to do with politics. Continue reading

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KABOOM! ABC’s George Stephanopoulos’ Mind-Blowing Hypocrisy

Why this didn't happen to George this morning, I'll never know....

Why this didn’t happen to George this morning, I’ll never know….

I honestly don’t know why this one didn’t make  GEORGE’S head explode. For most people, there is only so much hypocrisy one can engage in without breaking down and screaming, “All right! ALL RIGHT! I admit it! I’m accusing someone of doing exactly what I’m doing THE VERY SECOND I’M ACCUSING HIM!!”

I will be discussing some of the more blatant efforts by the Hillary Clinton Shameless Rationalizers Brigade to spin away the fact of her unethical creation of a serious conflict of interests and appearance of impropriety once I have put my brains back into my skull. Meanwhile, I must briefly point out one of the most shocking examples of hypocrisy I have ever witnessed from a journalist, or anyone, for that matter.

On This Week With George Stephanopoulos this morning (that was Sunday, 4/27) the opening interview was with Peter Schweizer, a conservative reporter and author of the soon to be published book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story Of How And Why Foreign Governments And Businesses Helped Make Bill And Hillary Rich.”  He is in the news because the New York Times and the Washington Post will be using his book, notes and sources to bolster their own investigative reporting, and one of its revelations regarding donations to the Clinton Foundation from foreign interests is already making waves for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Stephanopoulos executed what I would call an adversarial interview, fair, but skeptical and hostile. It was also misleading, though not necessarily intentionally. George, like most journalists, isn’t too conversant in government ethics, or ethics generally. He kept hammering at the fact that no evidence of a crime had surfaced, as if that made everything fine and the story trivial. This is a classic Compliance Dodge: sneaky, dishonest, corrupt people are often expert at doing bad things without breaking the law. In fact, I just described the Clintons, and, sadly, a lot of lawyers. The fact that they didn’t break laws, or covered their tracks sufficiently not to leave evidence of law-breaking, does not mean that what they did wasn’t unethical, and seriously so. This is the case with the foreign contributions that just happen to have arrived in conjunction with matters where Clinton’ State Department had a decisive say that could benefit the donors. Accepting undisclosed contributions from such interests, in violation of a signed agreement that was a condition precedent to her confirmation as Secretary of State, is seriously unethical whether it was illegal or not. Because of this, it creates the appearance of impropriety, which officials in the Executive Branch, like Clinton, are prohibited by law from creating. This is a fact. Nothing more needs to be proved.

Stephanopoulos may not understand this, and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he does not. If so, however, he is incompetent to perform the interview with Schweizer, who does understand it, because George should be trying to enlighten his audience, not confuse them. Harping on whether a law was broken does confuse his audience, and also abets the Clintons’ denial and confound efforts.

Schweizer was prepared; he anticipated all of the questions and the attempts to undermine his findings. He was patient and clear. Then Stephanopoulos suggested that his research was unreliable because he had worked for the Bush Administration and had ties to Republicans in the past.

Kaboom!

George Stephanopoulos was a long-time, close political aide and confidante of Bill and Hillary Clinton! Continue reading

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