Tag Archives: conflicts of interest

Jon Stewart’s Betrayal

emergency-clown-nose

Politico has confirmed that on two occasions, Comedy Central’s Now I’m a comic-Now I’m a pundit-Now I’m a journalist Jon Stewart secretly went to the White House to meet with President Obama:

Jon Stewart slipped unnoticed into the White House in the midst of the October 2011 budget fight, summoned to an Oval Office coffee with President Barack Obama that he jokingly told his escort felt like being called into the principal’s office.In February 2014, Obama again requested Stewart make the trip from Manhattan to the White House, this time for a mid-morning visit hours before the president would go before television cameras to warn Russia that “there will be costs” if it made any further military intervention in Ukraine.

To engage privately with the president in his inner sanctum at two sensitive moments — previously unreported meetings that are listed in the White House visitor logs and confirmed to POLITICO by three former Obama aides — speaks volumes about Stewart and his reach, which goes well beyond the million or so viewers who tune into The Daily Show on most weeknights.

It mean rather more than that. The visits mean that what Stewart and Comedy Central represented to the public as independent commentary on public affairs by a wise, critical and trusted truth-teller was in fact state propaganda, dictated by the President of the United States to a messenger of influence. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Professions

UPDATE: Hillary’s Ongoing Corruption Of Democrats, Progressives, and…

moral decay

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how Hillary Clinton was gradually converting her admirers into sociopaths, making her a particularly toxic ethics corrupter. I haven’t written here as much about ethics corrupters as I should have, but Hillary will give me many opportunities to rectify that situation. To quote the Ethics Alarms glossary,

“An ethics corrupter is someone, usually a celebrity, a public official or an accomplished and successful individual, who behaves unethically and forces those who admire him or her, or what they have achieved, to defend indefensible conduct as a matter of loyalty or cognitive dissonance. As a result, the defenders warp their own values, using rationalizations to excuse or  justify conduct they once correctly understood was wrong…”

Now Reason has seen the light: Continue reading

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Filed under U.S. Society

Professor Schwitzgebel Concludes That Ethicists Aren’t Very Ethical—Luckily, According To Him I’m Not An Ethicist, So I Don’t Take It Personally

Greek phil

Eric Schwitzgebel is professor of philosophy at University of California, Riverside, as well as an author and a blogger. His essay “Cheeseburger Ethics” immediately caught my attention, as his thesis is one that I have embraced myself, occasionally here: ethicists are not especially ethical.

The essay is thought-provoking. He’s a philosophy professor and an academic, so naturally he views his own, isolated, rarified species of ethicist as the only kind. In announcing the results of his “series of empirical  studies” on the ethics of ethicists, Professor Schwitzgebel announces, “…by ‘ethicist’, I mean a professor of philosophy who specialises in teaching and researching ethics.” Got it, prof. I, in contrast, am the kind of ethicist typically denounced on other blogs as a “self-proclaimed” I don’t regard myself as an academic, my degrees are in American government and law, and my specialty is leadership and the role of character in developing it. My job isn’t to teach half-interested students about the abstract thoughts of dead Greeks and Germans; my job is to make professionals, elected officials and others understand what being ethical in their jobs and life means, how to distinguish wrong from right, and how to use proven tools  to solve difficult ethical problems they will face in the real world. I get paid for it too.

My audiences hate ethics, usually because of the people who Prof. Schwitzgebel has decided are the “real” ethicists. They have made ethics obscure, abstract and gnaw-off-your-oot boring for centuries, with the result that the mere word “ethics” sends the average American into a snooze. I have had corporate clients ask me to teach ethics without using the word “ethics.” The most common evaluation I read are from participants who write that they dreaded my seminar and were shocked that they were engaged, interested, entertained, amused…and learned something useful and occasionally inspiring.

Is it ethical to reduce the public’s interest in and respect for the very subject—a vital one– you have chosen to specialize in and teach, often because you have lousy speaking and teaching skills? Why yes, I’d call that very unethical. So I agree with Schwitzgebel’s assessment of his colleagues. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Education, Etiquette and manners, Health and Medicine, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, Professions, Religion and Philosophy, Research and Scholarship

Ethics Quiz: The Obamas’ “Private Party”

prince

President Obama and his wife, Michelle invited about 500 guests to a White House party where pop icons Prince and Stevie Wonder entertained guests. Among the guests were Al Sharpton, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his date, singer Ciara, Jon Bon Jovi, James Taylor, Tyler Perry, Connie Britton, Angela Bassett, Gayle King, Tracee Ellis Ross, fashion designer Naeem Kha, American Express exec Ken Chenault,  former Attorney General Eric Holder, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, as well as about 480 others of doubtlessly equal glitter who didn’t squeal about the blow-out on Twitter or Instagram or who weren’t mentioned by other guests who did.

The party was not mentioned on the President’s official schedule, and it almost managed to occur without publicity until the White House news briefing on Monday afternoon, when Josh Earnest was grilled about it. The White House spokesman said two interesting things, one audacious in its blatant dishonesty and Orwellian logic, and the other ….interesting. The first:

“I think the fact that we’re talking about a private event and the fact that details of this are known is an indication that the president is committed to being transparent. At the same time, the president and first lady are going to reserve the right to host private parties at the White House, and they did it on their own dime.”

Further proving how transparent the President was, Earnest announced that no guest list would be provided to the press or the public. Now that’s transparency. The other statement:

[T]”he President and First Lady are going to reserve the right to host private parties at the White House, and they did it on their own dime. I think that’s consistent with the kinds of values that they have talked about.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

“Are there any ethical problems with the Obama’s “private party”?

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Kaboom!, Leadership, Quizzes

The Progressive Corruption Of And Betrayal By The Democratic Party, PART II: Hillary Denial

dead donkey

It is not even June of 2015; the 2016 election is almost a year and a half away. Yet already there is so much smoke—but no smoking guns! Well, no new ones, anyway—around Hillary Clinton’s conduct, finances and character that it would have any major city’s fire department speeding to the source in panic. Her conduct as First Lady placed political expediency above common decency; her financial machinations were never fully unraveled but had the smell of a scam. She became Senator via nepotism rather than merit; she was made Secretary of State in a political deal. In that role, she engineered the fiasco in Libya, a “re-set” with Russia that backfired, and generally left fingerprints all over Obama’s epically failed foreign policy, including the disastrous withdrawal from Iraq.

The nation learned that she violated both her own agency’s policies and national security protocols to control her e-mails, then dumped 30,000 of them before they could be independently examined and subpoenaed by Congress. Her explanations for this ranged from ridiculous to untrue. She violated her deal with both Congress and the Obama Administration regarding accepting contributions to the Clinton Foundation from foreign governments, and attempted to use a Canadian affiliate to cover up some of them. Objective observers regard the Foundation as a huge Clinton Family advancement slush fund and a likely influence-peddling, quid pro quo device, though an uncommonly clever one. The Foundation itself has failed to meet non-profit best practices, and is regarded with suspicion in the non-profit sector by those who monitor charities. Meanwhile, the outrageous speaking fees raked in by both Clintons appear to be naked greed at best—taking scarce money, for example, for speaking to colleges in financial distress—and thinly veiled, plausibly deniable bribery at worst.

Every week–day?— brings more. Yesterday, we learned that shady Clinton advisor Sidney Blumenthal, whom the Obama Administration refused to allow Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to hire because, well, he is shady, was paid $10,000 a month by the Clinton Foundation to advise her informally on Libya. Foul. The Clinton Foundation is a non-profit charity and operating foundation that supposedly…

“convenes businesses, governments, NGOs, and individuals to improve global health and wellness, increase opportunity for women and girls, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and growth, and help communities address the effects of climate change”

…not one that “collects tax-deductible contributions under false pretenses so cronies of the Clintons can be paid stipends for work that has nothing to do with the Foundation’s mission.” Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, U.S. Society

And Now, A Rueful Parody: “Hillary, Brady and George”

hillary-brady-george

I’ll let Dion set the mood first…

Now my updated version, in its own way even sadder than the original. (You can sing along, if you like…)

Does anybody here care ’bout influence peddling?
Can you tell me why it’s wrong?
She got a lot of money
And it sure looks like quid pro quo
But Hillary’s prospects stay strong.

***

 Anybody here care ’bout conflicts of interest?
Can you tell me why they’re wrong?
George gave a lot of money,
To Hillary’s foundation
(He’s been a supporter all along.)

***

Anybody here care ’bout lying and cheating?
Do you think that they’re wrong?
The quarterback messed with
The balls that he scored with
And still is cheered by the throng.

 ***

Should we admire the values they stand for?
Won’t their lies corrupt it all for you and me?
And society
Some day soon, if we don’t make them sorry…

***

Everybody here see our old friend Bubba?
(I can’t stop my rising gorge)
As I watch  him walkin,’ and laughin’ at all of us…

With Hillary, Brady and George.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Popular Culture, Sports, U.S. Society

Another TV Doctor, Another Breach: Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Heroic And Self-serving Ethics Blindness

Are TV doctors entertainers, journalists or doctors? In a way the question doesn’t matter: if they are doctors, then they are obligated to follow medical ethics and the standards of their profession at all times, no matter what else they may be taking compensation for. This is why “Dr. Oz” is ducking the issue when he tries to avoid accountability for pushing quack remedies on his TV show (if it ducks like a quack…) by arguing that he isn’t practicing medicine, but engaging in entertainment. He’s still a doctor, every second of his life, once he takes that oath.

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta has largely steered clear of ethical issues in his tenure as the network’s medical expert. Not entirely, however; for example, in 2009, he was prominently mentioned as a possible Surgeon General, and was in discussions with the White House while continuing his reporting on the air, raising real and potential conflict of interest concerns. The most recent controversy is more serious. Continue reading

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