Tag Archives: misrepresentation

KABOOM!! Dana Milbank’s New Record For Flagrantly Dishonest Punditry

Exploding head

I am through with Dana Milbank, and also with anyone who quotes him, relies on him, believes him or—take note, Washington Post—employs him. There must be some level of insulting, dishonest, toadying, intentionally misleading punditry that qualifies as intolerable, and Milbank’s latest column for the Washington Post—syndicated elsewhere so the maximum number of weak minds can be polluted—defined it. I’m not going to reprint a word of it for fear that it will poison the blog, or cause your head to explode like mine just did—but I can describe its thesis. Get this: Milbank decries a “crisis of the week political culture” in Washington, and blames the news media, Republicans and Congress for the shifting attention. I am suppressing a scream as I write this.

There is a “crisis of the week” political culture because the incredibly inept and incompetent President of the United States has mismanaged every conceivable aspect of the government’s policies, domestic and foreign, while maintaining incompetents and political hacks in key positions and sending the message that there will be no accountability for abject failure, and because, despite pledging unprecedented transparency, the standard operating procedure for this group of ideologically doctrinaire and skill-challenged group has been to posture, obfuscate, stall, mislead and lie until various ugly chickens come home to roost, and then to rely on the news media to accept absurd excuses, explanation and blame-shifting theories, chaos has been percolating beneath the surface in dozens of vital areas—oh yes, more bad news is coming—and the full measure of various disasters are finally becoming known.

There is a crisis of the week mentality because a new catastrophe caused by the epic incompetence of this Administration is being uncovered every week, and sometimes every day.

And Dana Milbank blames the political culture, as if it is making this stuff up.

And he expects readers to agree with him.

And a lot of them will.

Kaboom.

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Kaboom!, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society

The Unethical Opposition To Tennessee’s Fetal Drug Abuse Protection Law

200439961-001Tennessee is one of the most activist states that it comes to protecting children; for example, it has the among most stringent laws in the nation regarding the mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse. It also has a new law that just went into effect this month that allows officials to arrest mothers for assault who illegally use narcotics while they are pregnant if the child is born with symptoms indicating that the drug use impaired the child’s condition.

Predictable and tiresomely, the media and “war on women” scolds are attacking this is yet another incursion on the rights of women to have dominion over their own bodies. Think Progress, dishonestly, calls it a “pregnancy criminalization law.”  This is intentional misrepresentation, a TP specialty. The law doesn’t criminalize pregnancy in any way, by even the most distorted interpretation.  The knee-jerk opposition to the law highlights the problems of consistency and integrity that the women’s rights and pro-abortion forces have in all the areas relating to childbirth. Essentially, their position is that if conduct is related to child birth—or preventing it—in any way, anything they say, want or do must be accepted, and asserting otherwise, no matter what the justification, makes the government an oppressor of women. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioethics, Childhood and children, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

A Too Common Media Practice That Is Per Se Unethical: The Purchased “Opinion”

"But remember---we tell you what opinion to express. Deal?"

“But remember—we tell you what opinion to express. Deal?”

Lanny Davis, the attorney and Washington D.C. political consultant who became a tiresome, repetitive and shameless presence on national television during the Monica crisis, has just authored a review of sorts of Hillary Clinton’s book, “Hard Choices.” On “The Hill,” he pronounces it a genuine portrait of its author, and as accurate as it is complimentary. “No, Hillary Clinton hasn’t changed through all the years: the importance of family and friends, the “service gene” as active today as I witnessed some 45 years ago,” David writes, ” motivating her to “never quit — never stop working to make the world a better place.”

Maybe the book is wonderful, and maybe it isn’t; about that, I do not care. Davis begins with a lie: he says that the book’s sales “are strong,” when the buzz on the web, and not just among those rooting for Clinton to fall on her face, is how disappointing sales are. But Davis is paid by his clients to shade the truth; I’m not going to quibble about the deceit inherent in “strong.”

This, however, matters, and it is a long-held pet peeve of mine: Lanny Davis works for the Clintons. He has for years. If he is not currently on Hillary’s payroll, he will be, or is angling to be: pick a, b, or c. The conclusion is the same no matter which it is: he is biased; he will personally benefit from endorsing Hillary and her book, and thus his article, which purports to be an honest, objective, reliable assessment, is almost certainly nothing of the kind. Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Professions

On Mockery, The Streisand Effect, Incompetent Lawyers And The Sleeping Yankee Fan

ESPN cameras caught Andrew Rector sleeping in his seat in the fourth inning of  the April 13 Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees game. In the time-honored tradition of TV play-by-play when something funny, weird or, most especially, sexy is spied in the stands, ESPN commentators Dan Shulman and John Kruk  began making fun of him. The clip ended up on YouTube, naturally, and thus on various sports websites, followed by the various idiotic, cruel, gratuitously mean-spirited insults, usually composed by brave anonymous commenters.

This is a familiar pattern of unethical public mockery, and we have become inured to it. Though the ESPN team’s jibes were rather mild in nature, and Rector’s legitimate embarrassment quota would be far, far less than, say, that of George Costanza when this happened at the U.S. Open, let me say for the record that picking fans out of the crowd at sporting events and making fun of them, whatever they are doing, is generally a rotten thing to do. I know: it’s public, you know you might be on camera, and the fine print on the ticket stub puts you on notice. Unless, however, the conduct involved is actually newsworthy or despicable (as in instances where an adult has snatched a baseball from a child), the Golden Rule applies. Who knows why Rector was sleeping? Maybe he was up all night with a dying relative or a grievously ill child—Shulman and Kruk don’t know. And if he chooses to pay for a ticket and nap during the game—and it wasn’t exactly a scintillating game, I should add—so what? Continue reading

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Filed under Etiquette and manners, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Sports, The Internet

The Mind Of The Unethical Advocate: 41 School Shootings Just Isn’t Enough—Let’s Pretend There Are More

Shootings

You have probably seen this map; it went viral on the internet almost immediately after it was first published on Twitter last week by  and editor at The Huffington Post. It purports to show the locales of the “1.37 deadly school shootings per week,” 74 in all,  that have occurred since the December, 2012 Sandy Hook massacre according to Everytown for Gun Safety. That is an anti-gun activist organization founded by Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts, and its release that “there have been at least 74 school shootings in America” since Newtown was just what the doctor ordered for the languishing gun control forces.

It’s an intentionally misleading number. Journalist Charles Johnson checked the facts, and these are not all “school shootings” in the sense that the public now understands the term and how honest journalists use it—episodes where someone brings a gun to a school and starts shooting teachers and kids. At least 33 of the “school shootings” just fit the conveniently broad definition used by Everytown for Gun Safety so as to make the strongest impression, fairness and truth be damned. They include not just Columbine and Newtown-type episodes, but also assaults, homicides, suicides, gang fights, and accidents involving guns that happened “inside a school building or on school or campus grounds.” Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Education, Ethics Train Wrecks, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society, Unethical Tweet

Political Correctness Files: X-Men, People Magazine And The Case Of The 6’4″ Dwarf

"Hey, look! It's Tom Selleck!"

“Hey, look! It’s Tom Selleck!”

Apparently political correctness in the media now requires affirmative misrepresentation.

The People Magazine review of “X-Men: Days of Future Past” contains this sentence:

“You’ll understand her motivation when you meet Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), a government type who creates the sentinel project, and is even more sinister than his Magnum P.I.-by-way-of-IBM looks would suggest.”

For anyone who has seen the movie, or even anyone familiar with the (excellent) actor, Peter Dinklage, I have this question: What is odd about that quote?

For it is extremely odd. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Etiquette and manners, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture

On Lawyers, Jerks, and Ethics Blog Comment Malpractice

Marilyn Ringstaff, an excellent and much-admired lawyer who has a some friends who need to learn how to write ethical blog comments...

Marilyn Ringstaff, an excellent and much-admired lawyer who has friends who need to learn how to write ethical blog comments…

In 2011, I posted this story and commenary:

Marilyn Ringstaff, a 2006 graduate of John Marshall Law School, had to pay a $250 fine as a result of a minor traffic accident she was a first year law student. She represented herself in court, challenging Abe Lincoln’s Rule that “If you represent yourself you will have a fool for a client and a jack-ass for a lawyer,” and then proved Abe correct—on both counts— when she argued on appeal that her own representation was ineffective.

Ringstaff paid the fine and sent along an obnoxious note with two smiley faces, reading, “Keep the change—put into a police/judicial education fund. I can certainly say this has been an educational experience. I am now a second-year law student and can honestly relate to what a crooked and inequitable system of ‘justice’ we have.”

Georgia’s Board to Determine Fitness of Bar Applicants took offense, and recommended that she should not be allowed to take the bar exam. It cited the note and her defense tactics, along with comments Ringstaff made during an informal board interview that “every police officer lies.”

The Georgia Supreme Court rejected the board’s conclusions, and Ringstaff’s path to a legal career is unencumbered. I agree with the opinion. Her snottiness and arrogance are hardly out of character for many in the legal profession, and at least there is a chance that she will mature, improve, and learn from this close call. More likely of course, is that a profession with more than its share of jerks just embraced another one. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, The Internet

Pop Ethics Quiz! What’s Wrong With This Picture?

speeding bullet

No, you don’t have to spot the mistake, now.  That’s too easy. The single, embarrassing mistake in this ad created for Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun group Everytown For Gun Safety is so obvious I’m pretty sure there are 5th graders who could spot it. A bullet doesn’t come out of the barrel with its casing. There would be no way to propel such a projectile. This ad couldn’t have been created or approved by anyone who ever fired a gun, saw one fired or watched a  Western, war movie or action flick.

The unethical conduct represented by the ad, however, are more numerous, though equally unforgivable:

  • It is incompetent and lazy. No one connected with the ad and its graphics bothered to do the minimum due diligence necessary to find out what a bullet coming out of a muzzle looks like, or how guns work.
  • It is untrue. Actually, anyone is faster than that bullet, which would drop harmlessly to the ground.
  • It negligently misinforms the public, passing along the ignorant misconceptions of the group and its hired artist to people who know as little as they do.

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet

I Repeat: April Fools Day Is Not For Ethical Professionals

april-fools-day-banner

In a much attacked post here way back in 2010, I offered some ethical guidelines for April Fool’s Day, which was just beginning to get out of hand. I was right, my critics were wrong, and maybe some of the mockers who are now trying to figure out when their favorite news organization is lying to them today for fun, as opposed to the rest of the year when it lies to them out of bias or incompetence, are beginning to appreciate my position.

I just watched three different morning news shows that contained fake news or commentary that the reporters and anchors, at least, seemed to think was hilarious. In one case, on Fox, conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham dead-panned a remarkably even-handed and fair explanation for HHS Secretary Sibelius’s much-maligned TV silence when asked about the Affordable Care Act’s unpopularity.  April Fool! Laura wasn’t being fair or objective, she was just tricking Fox’s audience into being angry at her for being fair and objective, or, in my case, admiring her integrity for pointing out that the incident had more than one plausible interpretation. Got me, Laura. I just heard an NPR host plead with the audience not to regard the upcoming segment as a hoax because of the date, an especially difficult plea since NPR springs virtual hoaxes on its audience all year.

The first and most important of my April Fools guidelines was this:

1. April Fools’ Day tricks are not for professionals to play on those who depend on them, trust them, or otherwise rely on them for information or services, unless there is a special relationship as well. The risks of harm and abuse are too great.

The succeeding four years have validated my position. Journalism, government and politics are the prime examples. CNN played a video that showed Jay Carney crowing yesterday about the Affordable Care Act’s success even as the Healthcare.gov website had crashed. Wait..is this a joke? Did the Obama White House film this for fun and games? They wouldn’t do this, you say? Government officials don’t use their high office for jokes and hoaxes? Really?

Sen. Ted Cruz, also on Fox, showed his new tattoo, apparently an April Fools’ joke, but also said he was certain that the Affordable Care Act would be repealed. Which is more likely, that the AFA will be repealed, or that wacky Ted Cruz would get a tattoo? Slate has a post up by someone called Rehan Salan, which is, clearly, a clever anagram for “En Anal Rash” or something, arguing that adults without children should be forced to pay extra taxes to support parents. Hah! Good one, Slate! That should turn the “pro choice” crowd on its head: lets; punish the choice not to have children via a penalty—I’m sorry, Chief Justice Roberts, a tax, wink-wink. Wait…that isn’t a joke? Ok, well, I’m sure about this, then: that fake video showing famous tough guy Don Baylor, a record holder for being hit by pitches when he played and now a coach for the Los Angeles Angels, “breaking his leg” catching the ceremonial first pitch of the baseball season. April Fools, right ESPN? No????

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Professions, The Internet, U.S. Society

Ethics Quiz (Movie Division): “The Impossible,” Whitewashing, and Betrayal

"Bennett" and Belón

“Bennett” and Belón

I suppose some of you may have thought about this two years ago, when the Spanish film “The Impossible” was first released. I, however, take a while to catch up with my movie-viewing, and though the film was much praised by critics and got Naomi Watts an Academy Award nomination, I had not seen the film until recently. “The Impossible,” about as accurately as a motion picture can, tells the amazing story of how Spanish physician María Belón, her husband Enrique Álvarezs, and her three young sons miraculously  survived the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami when the family was on vacation in Thailand.

It is an engrossing, harrowing movie. I was surprised to find out, however that the family’s name wasn’t “Bennett,” and that they weren’t British, as the movie presented them. Apparently to maximize box office receipts, the film makers decided to take the heroic story of a real family and make the characters “more relatable” by recasting them as English-speaking Brits. There was a minor controversy about the film “whitewashing” the story*, but not much of that made it into the mainstream media. Belón, after all, is white. She was an active participant in the appropriation of story and that of her husband and sons, and they all profited from it, at least financially. Still, the movie’s point of view left a bad taste in the mouths of some international critics. Here is Australian critic Ruby Hamad:

“Based on the true story of a dark haired and darkish-skinned Spanish family, the filmmakers admitted to changing their nationality and casting lily-white actors in order to make the story ‘universal’. In other words, only white people can stand in for the human race as whole. For this reason, Thailand and its people are mere backdrops for the story of a Caucasian family who learn the hard way that even western privilege is no match for the brute force of mother nature.”

Your (two-year late) Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz, therefore, is:

Is “The Impossible” unethical”?

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Character, Marketing and Advertising