Tag Archives: conservative talk radio

The Thugs, The Talk Show Host, And The Obamacare Operator: An Ethics Drama

Sean and Earline

Sean and Earline

Here is what happened.

Conservative radio talk show host Sean Hannity called the Affordable Care Act 800 “Hotline” to determine what information was being disseminated there. After all, the news media, without calling the line, was misinforming the public about what awaited them: CNN Headline News’s cheery morning host Robin Meade, for example, said, “They don’t have to use the website to enroll, right? Now they can do it over the phone?” Wrong.

He called, and this transpired, as described by Mediaite (you can also hear the call at the link):

“After President Obama gave out the phone number for the official Obamacare registration hotline Monday morning, radio host Sean Hannity called in to speak with a human representative… Eventually, he made his way to a help line with a female operator named “Earline Davis.” Hannity proceeded to ask Earline questions about the difficulties experienced on HealthCare.gov, prompting her to explain that many people have called to vent their frustrations and that all she can tell them is that the site will likely experience difficulties for the next 42 hours. The radio host also asked the woman the particulars of her job: When did she begin working on Obamacare calls, how long she trained for answering calls, and whether her bosses have told her what to say when asked about the “glitchy” website. Hannity even managed to convince the woman to read the “script” aloud on the radio:

“Thanks for your interest in the health insurance marketplace. We are having a lot of visitors trying to use our website right now. This is causing some glitches for some people trying to create an account or log in. Keep trying and thanks for your patience. You might have better success during off-peak hours like later at night or early in the morning. We’ll continue working to improve the site so you can get covered.”

“And that’s the whole thing? So you went through a whole week of training so you can do that?” Hannity asked before attempting to cut her off, perhaps sensing the sensitivities involved with such a question. He then asked her questions for which she clearly had no answers: “Did you know how much the government spent on that website?” “Isn’t that crazy?” “Did you know the president promised the average family was going to save $2,500 dollars, and the average increase is $7,500 a year?” Hannity complimented for the operator for being so polite and kind, but also asked her questions that could possibly put her job on the line: “Have you ever gotten anyone who really likes it yet?” he asked at another point. “Um, not really,” she admitted, sending the radio host into a fit of laughter.

The conversation later switched to small talk about her residence in Panama City, Fla. , the weather in Florida versus New York, her non-registered voting status, and her lack of knowledge about Fox News or any major right-wing talk radio hosts.”

She was fired.

Hannity then had Davis on his radio and Fox TV shows, where she said she was fired for talking to the news media, though she had never been told that she was prohibited from doings so.  Hannity announced that he would pay her salary for the year and also help her find another job.

Now some ethics questions and answers about the incident: Continue reading

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How Do You Know The Shut-Down Is An Ethics Train Wreck? When I Have To Defend Harry Reid…

"Why wouldn't you want to help this adorable little  puppy, Senator?"

“Why wouldn’t you want to help this adorable little puppy, Senator? What kind of a monster are you”

The government shut-down is hurtling to ethics train wreck status, not because the shut-down itself is unethical, for it is not, nor because the use of the debt limit as a bargaining chip is unethical, for it is a perfect bargaining chip, especially when bargaining with a fiscally irresponsible administration that is happy to spend taxpayer money flagrantly, as if a endlessly growing debt does not pose serious dangers to the nation’s security and prosperity in the not-so-long term. No, the shut-down is a train wreck because everyone connected with it, including pundits and the news media, are behaving badly….and it is getting worse.

Yup: train wreck.

Tit-for-tat is beginning to reign supreme, which often happens in a political ETR. Witness what has befallen Harry Reid, who enjoys accusing Republicans of being sub-human curs, as a result of his  reasonable, if carelessly stated, answer to a silly question by a reporter, seeded by the President’s own careless rhetoric in the past.  In a press conference on Wednesday, the Nevada Senator was addressing a series of bills proposed by the House Republicans to fund benign programs everyone  likes rather than funding the whole government.  These bills would fund parks and other D.C. attractions, veterans needs, treating children with cancer and other research projects at the National Institutes of Health, and the National Guard, among other things. It’s a clever political move, because the bills would force a veto from President Obama if they passed through the Senate, which Democrats cannot allow since Obama and Reid have pledged not to negotiate on the budget until the “clean” CR passes. This is the exchange that has Reid defending against bogus accusations of being cruel and heartless: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

The Illegal Immigration Bill: A 37 Year Ethics Train Wreck Rumbles On, With No End In Sight

trainwreck6

The details of the “immigration reform bill” moving through Congress like a water buffalo through a snake are less important than the fact that some action is being taken regarding a problem that has been cynically, incompetently, dishonestly and negligently allowed to fester since the last illegal immigrant accommodation law was passed in 1986. This is one of the rare cases in which doing almost anything is more responsible than doing nothing, and that is the beginning and the end of the list of the bill’s virtues. This is an ugly ethics train wreck  in which there are no heroes, only dunces and villains. There may be a worse one, but at the moment, I can’t think of it.

The 11,000,000 or more illegal aliens in this country have to be given some way to attain citizenship and get out of the shadows. That is an unavoidable, pragmatic reality, the best of a stinking pile of unethical options. All the rationalizations for doing this are unethical, except one: they are here, we allowed them to get here and allowed them to stay, and now we are out of choices. It’s our fault, which is to say our incompetent, irresponsible government’s, and now we have to swallow hard and accept the consequences. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: Fox News, Serving Nobody And Disgracing Itself

The combatants on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show were flaming right-wing madman Bill Cunningham, a god-awful radio talk-show host who must have photos of Sean in flagrante delicto with Nancy Pelosi or something, and Fox house Obama defender Tamara Holder, who is none too sharp herself.  The topic is thoroughly obscured by the invective and petty bickering. It began as a discussion over whether Attorney General Holder committed perjury before Congress regarding his involvement in the James Rosen warrant (he didn’t, barely).

This video clip is self-indicting, but before you watch it, allow me make a couple of points:

  • This kind of uncivil, unprofessional, shouting, insulting, ranting gutter fight provides no information and no illumination. It is an insult to the audience.
  • If, because of misconduct by guests, such an atrocity breaks out on the air, a responsible network should pull the plug on it, and apologize to viewers.
  • A responsible host and moderator should never, ever permit a segment to deteriorate to the degree.
  • Sean Hannity did, and ought to be held accountable. He failed his duty to viewers and to the network.
  • Hannity was on notice that talk show host Bill Cunningham is an offensive, irresponsible blow-hard. This right-wing racist—anyone who habitually calls President Obama by his middle name is by definition a racist, as well as a jackass—is a serial offender that Hannity has on his show frequently. The man isn’t fair, civil, persuasive, pleasant to listen to, funny, wise or smart.
  • Tamara Holder should have walked off the set, if Hannity wasn’t going to be professional and tell Cunningham to be civil or leave. Instead, she eventually responded in kind—understandable, but wrong.
  • Fox should ban Cunningham from TV. Everyone should ban him, for that matter. The message has to be sent that this kind of conduct isn’t “good television,” it is an abuse of public speech.

Now, the clip:

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Filed under Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Journalism & Media, Professions

See, Rush, This Is Why A Lot Of People Don’t Trust You

It doesn't matter what you do, Bob...there's no pleasing Rush.

It doesn’t matter what you do, Bob…there’s no pleasing Rush.

This afternoon, Rush Limbaugh was mocking Bob Shieffer, of all people, for calling out White House lackey Dan Pfeiffer for his various attempts to deflect the Obama scandal barrage.  During the appearance of Pfeiffer as a White House spokesman on “Face the Nation,” Shieffer said,

“You know, I don’t want to compare this in any way to Watergate. I do not think this is Watergate by any stretch. But you weren’t born then I would guess, but I have to tell you that is exactly the approach that the Nixon administration took. They said, “These are all second-rate things. We don’t have time for this. We have to devote our time to the people’s business.” You’re taking exactly the same line they did….and I don’t mean to be argumentative here, but the President is in charge of the executive branch of the government. It’s my, I’ll just make this as an assertion: when the executive branch does things right, there doesn’t seem to be any hesitancy of the White House to take credit for that. When Osama bin Laden was killed, the President didn’t waste any time getting out there and telling people about it. But with all of these things, when these things happen, you seem to send out officials many times who don’t even seem to know what has happened. And I use as an example of that Susan Rice who had no connection whatsoever to the events that took place in Benghazi, and yet she was sent out, appeared on this broadcast, and other Sunday broadcasts, five days after it happens, and I’m not here to get in an argument with you about who changed which word in the talking points and all that. The bottom line is what she told the American people that day bore no resemblance to what had happened on the ground in an incident where four Americans were killed….But what I’m saying to you is that was just PR. That was just a PR plan to send out somebody who didn’t know anything about what had happened. Why did you do that? Why didn’t the Secretary of State come and tell us what they knew and if he knew nothing say, “We don’t know yet?” Why didn’t the White House Chief of Staff come out? I mean I would, and I mean this as no disrespect to you, why are you here today? Why isn’t the White House Chief of Staff here to tell us what happened?”

I’ve given Shieffer Ethics Hero status for this. Admittedly, in a competent, ethical journalistic environment, such a response to an obvious flack job like what Pfeiffer was peddling would be standard operating procedure, and with a Republican scandal-ridden White House, it might be. The news media’s pro-Obama bias is so strong, however, that Shieffer’s words are welcome, unusual and praiseworthy. So what were Rush’s objections? Continue reading

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Now Showing: “The Benghazi Chronicles,” or “How The Absence Of A Trustworthy And Objective Newsmedia Undermines Democracy”

If you think she would lie to Congress, you must be one of those Obama-hating conservatives!

Never mind what the e-mails say: if you think she would lie to Congress, you must be one of those Obama-hating conservatives!

Did you know that the Obama Administration’s handling of the Benghazi fiasco last September and its subsequent explanations to the Congress, the American people and the world is under legitimate scrutiny once again, and that there may be credible and irrefutable evidence that the Administration both botched the response and lied about it? Did you know that at least three whistleblowers—Mark Thompson, deputy assistant secretary of state for counter-terrorism; Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission/charge d’affairs in Libya; and Eric Nordstrom, who acted as a regional security officer in Libya for the State Department—who had direct knowledge of the inner workings of the government during and after the crisis, will be testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, perhaps this week? Did you know that there is a significant possibility that, as Conservative pundits and Republicans were screaming at the time, the Obama Administration executed a deliberate and purely politically motivated cover-up operation designed to withhold the truth about the Benghazi attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and other U.S. personnel until after the elections, if not permanently?

Since this is an important and perhaps transformational developing news story, one would hope that you would know at least some of thus if you have frequented any “respectable” news source over the past few days, and not been spelunking. One would hope, and one would have that hope dashed. There was nothing about Benghazi over the weekend in the New York Times, or on NBC, ABC’s Sunday Morning news show. There was plenty of coverage, all day long yesterday, at Fox, and you know what that means (and is supposed to mean, and in carefully manipulated by the rest of the media to make sure it means), don’t you? The re-opening of the Benghazi issue is a “conservative story,” just concocted, twisted and massaged by the Obama-hating cabal!

To its credit, CBS, via “Face the Nation,” covered the story on Sunday while ABC, NBC and CNN chose to focus almost exclusively on Syria and immigration reform. Bob Shieffer opened the segment by referring to it as “the story that will not go away,” a self-revelatory intro, I think, since Bob, like most of his Obama-worshiping colleagues, probably wishes the story would go away. Yet he quoted one of the so-called whistleblowers, Greg Hicks, who  reportedly told investigators that the Administration, contrary to what Susan Rice was sent out to tell the public and what the President told the world, knew “from the get-go” that the attack wasn’t a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Islamic video, but a coordinated terrorist act. Continue reading

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The Fourth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2012 (Part 2)

reid

The 2012 Ethics Alarms Awards for the Worst in Ethics continues (you can catch up with Part I here , and the Best is here), and yes, it gets worse…

Worst Friend and Relative

Lori Stilley, who faked cancer to get sympathy, favors, parties and money from those who cared about her.

Most Unethical Advice

Emily Yoffe, Slate’s “Dear Prudence,” wins for a year of bad advice in kinky situations, the bottom of the barrel being when she advised a daughter who observed her mother illegally filling out her invalid grandparents’ 2012 absentee ballots to reflect the mother’s electoral preferences to do nothing about this combination of elder abuse and voter fraud.

Shameless Bad Character Division Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Popular Culture, Professions, The Internet, U.S. Society

World’s Smallest Ethics Trainwreck: The OIHO ‘Gotcha!’

“You say OIHO, and I say OHIO…Let’s call the whole thing off!”

This is, even now, but a mini-train wreck, not even an H-O size train wreck, but more like a wreck involving those wooden Thomas the Tank Engine models, maybe between Percy and Duncan. Still, it’s depressing, and shows how far our political system and the media have sunk.

President Obama was campaigning in Ohio, and got conned into being part of a cheerleading-style array spelling out OHIO, except that he was in the wrong position, and ended up as the H in “OIHO.” This may have been legitimate fodder for Jon Stewart on a slow day, but otherwise was completely meaningless, and not worth the time it took to write or talk about it. Never mind, though: the conservative blogs and talk show mockers were out in force, pointing out that while the liberal media ridiculed Dan Quayle for misspelling “potato” and Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin for any number of ridiculous statements, they readily excused Mr. Perfect because in their eyes he can do no wrong. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, The Internet

Conservative Talk Radio’s Foolish Hypocrisy

The ever-reasonable Tammy Bruce

It’s early yet, and in fairness, I can’t say for certain that all the conservative talk radio hosts will be echoing what I’ve heard today from two of them, but if someone offers you that bet, take it. I get to monitor the Right’s talkers when I’m driving around, which is too often, and I will usually get to sample the day’s rantings from Chis Plante, Laura Ingraham, Rush, Hannity, Mark Levin, and when my gag reflex is under control, Michael Savage. Except for Savage, who resides on his own, hateful planet, the others seem to operate off of common talking points, usually cribbed from the Drudge Report. Based on what I heard on Plante’s and Ingraham’s shows, today’s prime topic is yesterday’s shooting at the headquarters of the Family Research Council, and specifically 1) how the media is downplaying it because a conservative group was the target, 2) how nobody is blaming inflammatory anti-conservative rhetoric for the shooting, in contrast to the media reaction to the Tuscon shooting and the recent massacre in the Sikh temple, and 3) how the media should be.

Fascinating. Continue reading

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Conservative Talk Radio Double-Reverse Hypocrisy: Laura Ingraham

Laura Ingraham, for my money, is the most civil and entertaining of the far right talk show hosts. She does not engage in off-the wall rants, like fellow lawyer Mark Levin, she does not intentionally provoke the Left with politically-incorrect eye-pokes, like Rush Limbaugh (though he is awfully good at this, and sometimes very funny), and her passion for dignity and decorum in the culture is admirable, though Laura’s sense of what is smut and “poison” seems to have been formed while watching re-runs of “Father Knows Best.” Today, however, she hit the hypocrisy jack-pot while complaining about Jimmy Kimmel’s low-life performance as the MC at the White House correspondents’ dinner, and the unseemly tenor of the annual event generally. To be fair, she was absolutely right about a great deal:

  • The event is a national and international embarrassment. When it was a private affair allowing the White House to show appreciation for the hardy crew of journalists that dogs its occupant’s every move, allowing the President to josh with the reporters and let his hair down if he had any, an argument could be made that the event was harmless at worst, and beneficial at best. Now that the dinner is broadcast on cable TV, however, it has become increasingly cringe-worthy, as the Chief Executive is required to play stand-up comic next to the likes of Kimmel, diminishing his stature and making foreign cultures even more contemptuous of the U.S. than they already are. It should be held privately, or not at all.
  • The President should not be subjected to a performance that includes vulgarity and crudeness. Kimmel was both vulgar and crude, as he always is—don’t blame him, blame the fools who hired him. The President should not sacrifice respect and dignity to appear “cool.” Then again, this President does not comprehend Presidential leadership, and apparently never will. I am not a Reagan worshiper, but Ronnie would have been livid at an entertainer who resorted to such words as “asshole” in his presence. JFK would have made heads roll, and Ike would have had to restrain himself from having Kimmel shot.
  • For the President to be seen and heard joking about life and death issues, policies and episodes is offensive. He is the one American who has to be perceived as taking these matters seriously…always.

The last is where Laura hit an iceberg. She played an audio clip of a White House spokesperson earlier this year declaring how serious the recent Secret Service scandal was (You remember, don’t you? South American hookers and all that?) being taken on Pennsylvania Avenue, and they played Obama’s scripted joke from the dinner making light of the episode. She then segued into the hypocrisy of the mainstream media, which happily gives this President, whom they all voted for, carte blanche to make such irreverent gags, but who attacked President Bush for his “searching for the weapons of mass destruction” video routine at one of his White House dinners. Good one Laura…wait, what? You didn’t criticize President Bush’s routine then. You’re being more of a hypocrite than they are. Not only are you applying a double standard to the Presidency according to who’s in the office, you’re criticizing journalists for applying the exact same double standard you are!

And here’s strike three on Ingraham: Bush’s joke was inexcusable, Obama’s was just a mistake. The WMD fiasco got the U.S. into war and led to the deaths of thousand of soldiers and civilians, American and Iraqi. There is no comparison to President Obama’s quipping about the Secret Service episode.

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

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