Tag Archives: misrepresentation

“Kill The Messenger” And The CIA Crack Story Ethics Train Wreck

I finally saw the 2014 docudrama “Kill the Messenger,” which completed—I hope—the passenger list for a 30-year-old Ethics Train Wreck.

The film purports to be the true story of Gary Webb, the San Jose Mercury News reporter who wrote the sensational “Dark Alliance” series of investigative reports in 1996. The series attributed the inner city crack cocaine explosion in part to Nicaraguan anti-government Contra rebels in  the 1980s funding their efforts by drug smuggling and sales, all with the knowledge and assistance of the  CIA. The agency, the series claimed, was acting to support the Contras despite Congress rejecting the Reagan administration’s request for aid. Like most Hollywood accounts of anything, the film distorts and misrepresents facts to make a better story. Unfortunately, Webb’s story is made more dramatic by making him out to be a tragic hero and victim of a sinister alliance between the mainstream media and the U.S. Government. That’s not exactly true, fair or accurate, and in this matter, affirmatively harmful.

The fastest way to survey this particular Ethics Train Wreck is to list the distinguished passengers, more or less in order of boarding: Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

Fairness To Ben Carson: There Is Nothing Wrong With Considering A Presidential Candidates’ Religion And Its Influences

It's true: if you don't think an Amish man should be President, you're violating the Constitution. Or something. Wait...What was the question again?

It’s true: if you don’t think an Amish man should be President, you’re violating the Constitution. Or something. Wait…What was the question again?

As with Donald Trump, I am once again faced with having to defend a Presidential candidate who should not be running and should have fewer supporters than Ted Nugent has functioning brain cells. For the second time in two days the victim is dead-eyed, hubris-infected, “I’m not a politician so I am allowed to be a lousy speaker and campaigner” Ben Carson, the candidate for those who are so disgusted with a President with no executive experience that they want a new President with no government experience or executive experience.

The gleeful news media freak-out spurred by the doctor’s silly generalities about the qualifications of Muslims for the U.S. Presidency was already embarrassing and intellectually dishonest (hence yesterday’s post) before the latest nonsense. The current narrative is that Dr. Carson doesn’t understand the Constitution. No fewer than three columns this morning in the Washington Post alone carried that message, and all quoted the same passage: Article VI’s directive that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office.”

Dr. Carson didn’t say that there should be a religious test for the Constitution. It is critics like Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Eugene Robinson, not Carson, who apparently don’t understand the Constitution. See, Eugene, Dana Milbank, Michael Gerson, Ted Cruz, The Nation, Whoopie Goldberg, Rachel Maddow, and too many others to name, the Constitution doesn’t tell citizens, including citizens you don’t like to see running for President, that they can’t use a religious test for any office, it says that the government can’t.

Did you miss that part?

I don’t know how! Continue reading


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

Unethical Quote of the Week: Donald Trump’s 2nd Amendment Position Paper


“The Second Amendment to our Constitution is clear. The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed upon. Period.”

—The first sentence of “Protecting Our Second Amendment Rights Will Make America Great Again ...Donald J. Trump on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms,” released today.

You can debate the various policy ideas in this typically simplistic approach to a complicated problem; that’s not my purpose. My purpose is to point out that a position paper on the Second Amendment that begins by misstating that amendment while saying the amendment is “clear” cannot and should not be taken seriously. Nor should its author.

Is he stupid, and not know that it is ludicrous to state what is not the text of the amendment with the emphatic “Period” ? Is he ignorant, and unaware of the wording of actual amendment that he proceeds to say “is America’s first freedom”? Or is he lying, using a false version of the Second Amendment to mislead his many followers who either haven’t read the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, or can’t read at all?

The Second Amendment may be many things, but clear is one thing nobody with any knowledge of the subject believes it is. It is not clear. It is, by far, the least clear of all the amendments, and that is why it is still controversial after centuries. The fake Second Amendment that Trump’s position paper uses is clear; too bad that’s not the real one. If the Second Amendment read “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed upon,” it would be clear, and opponents of gun ownership wouldn’t have any argument except to insist that we repeal  it.  The real Amendment, however, reads,

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

That could mean the same thing, or it might not. It would seem it was intended to mean something else, otherwise why wasn’t it worded as in the Trump version? The seas of ink that have been spilled over the interpretation of that strangely constructed sentence could flood Texas, and educated, thoughtful people who are honest, erudite and not simpleminded (unlike Trump) have written provocatively on the subject, often disagreeing, as in.. Continue reading


Filed under Character, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

Tales of The Corrupted: David Ignatius’s Hillary E-mail Scandal Whitewash, PART TWO….And, As Usual, The Sequel Is A Horrible Disappointment

David Ignatius: Liar, undisclosed Clinton operative, disgrace. Your move, Washington Post.

David Ignatius: Liar, undisclosed Clinton operative, disgrace. Your move, Washington Post.

This, it turns out, is even worse than I thought. Ignatius, whom I once respected, is more corrupted than I thought. The mainstream news media’s shameless and unethical enabling of Hillary Clinton’s lies and misconduct is worse than I thought, and I already thought it was bad.

In this post, I highlighted an op-ed column by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, which used classic rationalizations to argue that Clinton’s conduct wasn’t a “scandal’ because 1) it wasn’t a crime; 2) if it was a crime, it was unlikely to be prosecuted; 3) everybody does it, and 4) the public is used to such misconduct, so it can’t be a scandal.

One of Ignatius’s sources, extensively quoted, was, in his words, “Jeffrey Smith, a former CIA general counsel who’s now a partner at Arnold & Porter, where he often represents defendants suspected of misusing classified information.”

What I didn’t know, and Ignatius’s readers didn’t know, but Clinton knows, and Smith knows and Ignatius definitely knew but intentionally didn’t disclose to his readers, was that Jeffrey Smith… Continue reading


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

Legally Competent, Ethically Bankrupt: The Zealous, Despicable Monique Pressley, Esq.


Bill Cosby’s lawyer Monique Pressley decided to become a hybrid attorney-publicity agent yesterday, and in doing so provided an impromptu seminar on why people hate lawyers, and often should. She was carefully spinning and dissembling on behalf of her client without breaching the ethics rules against lying, parsing words and phrases with skill and deftness, all in the service of a serial sexual abuser and perhaps the greatest hypocrite pop culture has ever produced.


Also, Yeeccch!

The impetus for her media spin tour, for that is all it was, is the New York magazine issue that features the stories of 35 of Cosby’s accusers. First Pressley told CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield that the women were comparable to a lynch mob: Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

Ethics Dunce: Above The Law

Wait, you mean Above the Law ISN'T The News Nerd? Could have fooled me.

Wait, you mean Above the Law ISN’T The News Nerd? Could have fooled me.

The legal gossip and commentary blog “Above the Law” is a useful source of inside-baseball stories about the machinations and peccadilloes  of law firms, lawyers, judges and law students, and occasional hard news of special interest to lawyers. Today it sported an intriguing headline:

Samuel Alito Gets A Supreme Benchslap

…which was filed under the categories of Justice Alito, The Supreme Court, and benchslaps. The latter is legal jargon for a reprimand from a judge. The Supreme Court reprimanding one of its own justices is big news, and unprecedented. Like many others, I clicked on the link, and read a jaw-dropping, insulting rebuke of Justice Alito by Chief Justice Roberts, banishing him to  “to a minor appellate jurisdiction” until he writes ” a few decisions in some lower-pressure situations” and is ready to return.

The post explained at the end of the quote that Justice Alito had been temporarily removed from the Supreme Court and appointed to the Eleventh Circuit, and that, according to reports, Alito will be replaced by Judge Ricardo Gonzalez of the District of Puerto Rico.

Then Above the Law’s writer, Staci Zaretski, revealed that…

(This quote comes from The Onion, a satirical news site, but that in no way takes away from the overall awesomeness of imagining a Supreme Court justice being demoted as a form of spanking.)

Ah. So you just wasted my time, then.

I had begun to suspect that the Roberts quote was fake, both for its use of the neckname “Sammie” for one of his brethren, and also because it sounded so much like a manager’s explanation for why a player was being sent to the minors. Nevertheless, posting a fake story, announced with a plausible headline, is unprofessional and unfair to ABL readers: Continue reading


Filed under Ethics Dunces, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Unethical Blog Post

The Washington Post’s “Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc” Gun Control Deceit

This is Johns Hopkins, who already had to deal with his parents putting an s after his first name, and now the Bloomberg School of Public Health attaches a bogus study to his name. Poor guy.

This is Johns Hopkins, who already had to deal with his parents putting an s after his first name, and now the Bloomberg School of Public Health attaches a bogus study to his name. Poor guy.

If you want a graphic example of why climate change skeptics distrust—and are right to distrust— the studies and computer models on the subject indicating that we are doomed unless we adopt Draconian measures, look no further than the Washington Posts’ embarrassing story on a study released this week in  the American Journal of Public Health.

It is deceptive, biased, misleading and incompetent from the headline: “Gun killings fell by 40 percent after Connecticut passed this law.” The headline is designed to fool anyone so ignorant and unschooled, not to mention devoid of critical thought, to fall for the classic fallacy of “post hoc ergo propter hoc,” which means “after this, thus because of this.” The thesis of the study in question, swallowed whole by the gun-control shills on the Washington Post staff, is that because gun deaths in Connecticut fell after a mid-summer 1994 state law was passed requiring a purchasing license before a citizen could buy a handgun, the law was the reason. Of course, the rates also fell after the baseball players strike that same summer: one could make an equally valid argument that stopping baseball limits deaths by gunfire.

The story, and the study, epitomize biased journalism hyping bad research. You see, since rates of deaths by gunfire also fell after the Connecticut law in 39 states where no such laws existed, the claim that Connecticut’s limits caused that state’s drop is impossible to prove, and irresponsible to assert. Especially since… Continue reading


Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship