Tag Archives: honesty

Hillary’s E-mail Ethics Breach: The Only Questions Are 1) “How Can Anyone Trust Her?” and 2) “Is there Nothing Her Supporters Won’t Excuse?”

hillary-clinton-pointing2The ethics issue here is very straightforward and uncontroversial. As the New York Times put it:

“Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record. Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.”

I don’t know why the Times says “may have violated.” Her exclusive use of personal e-mail does violate the rules, and in fact the law, as the Times correctly states in the final sentence. Moreover:

1. This is a blatant example of Clinton again refusing to abide by rules and laws other officials are required to abide by. As the Washington Post notes, it was intentional: Clinton’s personal account was established on the same day that Clinton began her confirmation hearings to be Secretary of State., and the expiration on the domain is shortly after the 2016 election. Continue reading

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The Ethics Of Netanyahu’s Speech and the Consequences Of Lost Trust

netanyahu

One of my knee-jerk progressive Facebook friends is addicted to terrible analogies. Here is his recent attempt to frame the controversial appearance by Benjamin Netanyahu before Congress today:

“At the invitation of Speaker Yuli Edelstein, President Barak Obama will appear before the Israeli Knesset on Thursday to give a major speech on the Netanyahu adminstration’s bungling of the Palestinian conflict, territorial abuse to build settlements, and allocation of US foreign aide…”

What’s wrong with that? You have three seconds.

Time’s up. That is a lousy analogy, because the positions of the U.S. and Israel are not accurately reversed as a good analogy would demand. If Netanyahu was appearing before Congress to lecture it on U.S. policies regarding illegal immigration over the Mexican border, that would justify my friend’s hypothetical. What Netanyahu is here to talk about, however, is the future of his people and his nation, not ours.

As I wrote here about a month ago, there is no question that this is a breach of diplomatic protocol, nor is there any doubt that Congress is defying tradition, separation of powers and probably the Constitution to invite the Israel Prime Minister to, in essence, lobby the public regarding the President’s conduct of foreign policy. Congress’s actions are objectively unethical, a calculated tit for the President’s equally unethical tat of using executive orders to circumvent the lawmaking process. This episode is ethically more complicated than that, however, and when the criticism is doled out, other ethical considerations and principles are relevant.

Here is the chief one: Netanyahu does not trust the judgment, motives, negotiating skill and competence of the Obama Administration. Continue reading

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Time For Ethical People To Boycott Fox News

No-Fox

Brian Stelter, CNN’s media critic, just played a newly-uncovered tape of the phone call to then-reporter Bill O’Reilly telling him that a shadowy figure in the JFK assassination had committed suicide. This was the same gentleman that O’Reilly, in his best selling “history” book, “Killing Kennedy,” claims shot himself with a shotgun while O’Reilly was just outside his door.

Documentation of O’Reilly lies are proliferating like Republican Presidential hopefuls, and the Fox News Head Bloviator continues to respond with bluster, ad hominem attacks and threats. In doing so, he refuses to abide by the standards he articulated—correctly—explaining why NBC’s fabulist anchor Brian Williams could no longer be trusted by viewers.

Meanwhile, Fox News has disqualified itself as a news source even for those who (completely justifiably) distrust the left-biased mainstream media. At least NBC had the integrity and professionalism to (eventually) investigate Williams’ conduct and take him off the air. Fox, in stark contrast, has issued deceitful defenses of their most profitable commentator, and continues to back, promote, and air a proven liar. (We already knew Bill was a bully, a jerk, and a narcissist.) Continue reading

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Update: Fox News’ Self-Destructive O’Reilly Denial

You can't yell you're way out of this one, Bill..no, wait. Maybe you can.

You can’t yell you’re way out of this one, Bill..no, wait. Maybe you can.

And here’s another one. Questions are being raised about reporter Bill O’Reilly’s accounts of being “bombarded” during the LA riots.

This process resembles sexual harassment. One way you can tell the falsely accused from the genuine miscreants  is that one accuser opens the floodgates when there is substance to the complaint. Very few sexual harassers aren’t serial by nature–think Bill Cosby. Heck, think Joe Biden.  The O’Reilly debacle is following the script of the Brian Williams drama almost exactly, except that NBC finally acted responsibly, though not until it had tried the old “let’s see if this will just blow over” ploy.

So how many reports of O’Reilly hyping facts and enhancing his bravery and boldness will have to surface before Fox News stops covering for him and acts like a legitimate news organization? ( For those who have forgotten, such a news organization values trust and integrity, rather than emulates President Obama’s insistence that the I.R.S was as clean as the driven snow. ( It was and is not, and the news media’s partisan decision to bury the scandal rather than investigate it will haunt it for a long, long time.)

The network seems intent on destroying any credibility there was to the claim that it was dedicated to truth rather than bias, and qualified to expose the distortions of the liberal-biased mainstream media. Forced to deal with a  parallel incident to NBC’s Williams crisis, Fox has chosen profit over professionalism (Bill’s ratings while playing victim have been boffo!) and is botching a brilliant opportunity to prove its critics wrong.

Instead, Fox is proving critics correct. Eventually, all but the shameless will begin to feel like they are getting the news from charlatans, and seek enlightenment elsewhere. NBC was late to choose integrity; Fox News may be too late.

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Unethical Quote of the Week: Fox News

weasels

“Bill O’Reilly has already addressed several claims leveled against him. This is nothing more than an orchestrated campaign by far left advocates Mother Jones and Media Matters. Responding to the unproven accusation du jour has become an exercise in futility. Fox News maintains its staunch support of O’Reilly, who is no stranger to calculated onslaughts.”

—-Fox News, in a statement announcing that it was standing behind its beleaguered cash cow and star, Bill O’Reilly, who has been shown convincingly to have misrepresented his exploits on several occasions.

What an awful, slimy, deceitful statement. Yecch. It must have taken a veritable pack of weasels, plus some lawyers, to draft that. Let’s unpack it. Hold your nose: Continue reading

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Integrity Check For Fox As Another Bill O’Reilly Fib Surfaces

Wags say Bill's next book will be titled "Killing Credibility"...

Wags say Bill’s next book will be titled “Killing Credibility”…

Now another Bill O’Reilly misrepresentation of the facts has come to light, mandating action by Fox News management if it doesn’t want to appear guilty of being even less concerned with the integrity of its product than the mainstream media is with theirs.  After all, Brian Williams is no longer on the air. So far, Fox is resisting. Its  operative rationalizations are:

1. Bill’s not an anchorman, like Brian Williams, but a pundit. My response: He poses as a truth-teller and calls himself a reporter and a journalist.

2. These are nit-picky, minor factual variations, not outright fabrications as in Williams’ case. My response: Yes, Williams’ were worse, and there were more of them. So what? O’Reilly should be held to the standard he articulated quite well while covering the Williams situation: if you can’t trust “an anchor or commentator,” he isn’t worth watching.

3. The whole controversy was the result of an ideological hit job by angry liberals who wanted to take down a conservative talking head in retribution for the most popular left-biased network anchor being hounded off the air by conservatives. My response: Yup. So what? Fox needs to be professional and insist on the integrity of its product, whatever the motive that drove O’Reilly’s exposure.

As Ethics Alarms discussed a few days ago, Mother Jones and its ideological assassin David Corn published a piece accusing O’Reilly of repeatedly telling his audience that he had been in a “combat zone” during the Falkland Islands war, and sometimes leaving the impression that he was on the battlefield in the Falklands. The truth appears to be that O’Reilly was in a scary riot that occurred after the war itself, in Argentina. Unlike Williams, then, O’Reilly accurately described the incident, but intentionally mischaracterized its nature. (A riot, even a riot prompted by a war, is not a “combat zone.”)

I wrote: “Are you surprised? I’m not. O’Reilly has a lot in common with Williams—an addiction to self-glorification,  a monstrous ego, and an unseemly desire for celebrity.” Thus I’m not surprised that a second example of Bill spinning his own exploits has surfaced. From The Daily Beast:

In 1977, O’Reilly was a 28-year-old TV reporter in Texas investigating the assassination of John F. Kennedy. O’Reilly wrote in his 2012 book Killing Kennedy that he was knocking on the door of a CIA asset with ties to the Kennedys and the Oswalds when he heard the asset shoot himself to death. Pretty dramatic, but it’s entirely false, says Jefferson Morley, a former Washington Post editor and author of JFK assassination book Our Man in Mexico. O’Reilly is heard on phone calls obtained by Morley telling an investigator that he would fly to Florida from Texas the next day to cover the suicide.

It’s harder to argue this one away than the Falklands enhancement: it’s a Brian Williams-style fabrication, and it’s in print. (The Smithsonian has reportedly pulled O’Reilly’s best-seller from its book stores now, because it regards the whole book as suspect. Funny: I always regarded this amateur history exercise as presumptively unreliable.) He has also repeated this fictional version of the facts on the air.

There should be no debate. Fox News exists because of conservative conviction that the mainstream media news networks were biased and could not be trusted. Fox is obviously biased, but it can’t give an organizational pass to intentional fabrication and maintain any credibility at all, especially when the liar in question is, like Williams at NBC, the 800 lb. gorilla of the organization. If O’Reilly survives because he’s a ratings champ while NBC, though kicking and screaming, properly jettisons its own gorilla, then Fox is exposed as a journalistic fraud (which many people are convinced it is anyway.) Continue reading

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What’s Really Wrong About The President Refusing To Say That Islamic Extremists Are Islamic Extremists

(Other than the fact that it’s ridiculous, of course.)

war_is_peace

Not THAT again…

As far as preventing terrorist organizations from destroying civilization is concerned, the proposition being repeatedly made by Republicans that “you can’t fight something if you can’t accurately describe it” is also ridiculous. Obama can call ISIS Late For Dinner if he wants to, and still take effective steps to contain the group and others. I can’t remember ever experiencing such a long and intense debate over what something should be called, unless you count the Republican insistence that water-boarding isn’t torture after decades of the United States saying otherwise  in legal documents, treaties and places where English is spoken, That, however, was obviously deceitful wordplay to get around the law, lawyering at it’s worst. This is something else…but what is it?

Yesterday, poor Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson did the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows, and was asked to explain the Administration’s weird rhetorical line in the sand repeatedly. Presumably he was prepared beforehand, yet the best he could do was probably the version he came up with on Fox News, saying on the topic:

” [T]he thing I hear from leaders in the Muslim community in this country is, “ISIL is attempting to hijack my religion. Our religion is about peace and brotherhood and ISIL is attempting to hijack that from us.” And they resent that. Most victims of ISIL are, in fact, Muslims. So it seems to me that to refer to ISIL as occupying any part of the Islamic theology is playing on a — a battlefield that they would like us to be on. I think that to call them — to call them some form of Islam gives the group more dignity than it deserves, frankly.”

Wait..what? That’s it? So this is meant to, like, hurt their feelings? Why not go whole hog, and call them “Smoosh-Face Poopy-Heads,” then, or something similar? We’re officially denying what everyone knows to be true because moderate Muslims don’t like sharing a religion with the radicals, so to be nice, were speaking Fantasy rather than English? Continue reading

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