Cain’s Mistress: Don’t Blame The Media This Time

One of the side-effects of the news media’s routinely displayed lack of fairness and integrity is that its motives can be challenged even when it does its job properly. The media itself is completely at fault for creating this opportunity for spin artists to confuse the public with blame-shifting arguments, but the blame-shifters are shameless and despicable.  Thus we have to listen to a conservative talk radio barrage of accusations that Ginger White, the woman who has surfaced with the tale of a 13-year long affair with Herman Cain, was “dug up” by “them” in a coordinated effort to “get” a rising black conservative. This morning, such claims were proliferating all over the AM dial.

Politico opened the door for this, of course, with its unsourced, anonymous, still detail-free account of sexual harassment complaints of an undefined nature filed against Cain and settled over a decade ago. The stories never should have run without names and facts, and the subsequent appearance of other Cain accusers can’t change that. Publishing such a story, in violation of basic journalistic ethics principles, was unfair, and did look like a media hit job, though when the media is involved, Hanlon’s Razor (“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”) applies. As William Jacobson wrote over the weekend, Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Wall Street Journal Blogger James Taranto

Useful fact: Mitt Romney is running for President, and Maureen Dowd isn't. You can't use her to judge his ethics, just as you shouldn't use him to judge her hair.

Oh James, James. What am I going to do with you? For the third time this year you have barged into Ethics Dunce territory, surely a place one of the most consistently perceptive, witty and reasonable of conservative commentators never belongs.

But what is an ethicist to do when you attempt to trivialize an outrageously dishonest and misleading campaign ad by Mitt Romney, in which a statement by President Obama [ “Sen. McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote: ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose,’ “referring to the 2008 economy under Bush ] is edited to suggest something completely different [ “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose,” implying that “we’ means the Democrats] from what he was really saying, by showing that other politicians and New York Times columnists play the same unethical game? So what? How do the unethical journalistic practices of the Times columnists you deftly expose on a regular basis in any way make Romney’s ad less reprehensible? Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Month: Herman Cain Attorney Lin Wood

What's that you say, Mr. Wood? Marital infidelity is irrelevant to a presidential candidate's qualifications? Did John Edwards tell you that?

“Mr. Cain has been informed today that your television station plans to broadcast a story this evening in which a female will make an accusation that she engaged in a 13-year long physical relationship with Mr. Cain. This is not an accusation of harassment in the workplace – this is not an accusation of an assault – which are subject matters of legitimate inquiry to a political candidate. Rather, this appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults – a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public. No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life. The public’s right to know and the media’s right to report has boundaries and most certainly those boundaries end outside of one’s bedroom door. Mr. Cain has alerted his wife to this new accusation and discussed it with her. He has no obligation to discuss these types of accusations publicly with the media and he will not do so even if his principled position is viewed unfavorably by members of the media.”

Attorney Lin Wood, on behalf of his client Herman Cain, in a statement to Fox News in response to its  interview with a Georgia woman, Ginger White, who says she had a 13 year adulterous relationship with the Republican presidential contender.

Sorry, Mr. Wood. You are dead, dead wrong. Continue reading

A Inconvenient Question About the Death of Walter Vance

"He's everywhere! He's everywhere!"

I have little to add to the tragedy of Walter Vance that can’t be found in the list of 15 Ethics Alarms about failures to rescue that I posted during the recent Penn State discussions. Vance was the shopper who collapsed in a South Charleston, West Virginia Target store during the Black Friday rush and was ignored by dozens of other shoppers, some of whom stepped over his body to seek more bargains. Vance later died.

I do have one little question, though.

I wonder how many of those shoppers who callously reacted to Vance’s peril with indifference told everyone who would listen earlier this month that had they witnessed Jerry Sandusky’s sexual assault on a child in the Penn State showers like Mike McQueary, they would have rushed to the rescue, even if it meant battling Sandusky.

My guess?

Every single one of them.

[More thanks to Rick Jones, who writes about the Vance episode here, and nudged me to comment on it too.]

Obamacare Recusal Wars: Right and Left Are Equally Deluded

Note to Drudge: Cheering your boss's victories is not unethical. It's not unusual. It is not even meaningful. It's called "smart."

I hadn’t written about the dual efforts to knock Justice Kagan and Justice Thomas off the Supreme Court panel considering the constitutionality of Obamacare’s individual mandate, because it is so obviously politics masquerading as ethics. I also though they would stop soon, since there is no chance either Justice will recuse at this point, and neither should.

The controversy is still occupying newspapers, blogs and talking heads, however, so I suppose it is worth discussing, especially to make this point: what concerns those seeking recusal is that they know, or think they know, how each Justice will vote on the issue, and they want to rig the process by finding a technicality that will prevent one or the other from participating. Does anyone really think that Kagan’s previous work as Solicitor General under Obama will bias her already liberal leanings? No. Does anyone really believe that Clarence Thomas would vote for an interpretation of the Constitution that opens that door for Congress to demand that we buy whatever it tells us to, were he not trying to please his conservative wife? Tell me another. Both recusal arguments are intellectually dishonest attempts to interfere with full judicial consideration of a politically explosive matter. Continue reading

The SAT Cheating Scandal

Over at Curmudgeon Central, Rick Jones appropriately eviscerates the Educational Testing Service for its role—the role being negligent facilitator–in an unfolding scandal involving students cheating on their SATs by having surrogates take their tests. 20 people have been arrested thus far as either the fake test-taker of the fraudulent scholar paying for said test-taker, and Rick’s guess that there must be a hundred times the ETS’s estimate of 150 incidents of cheating on the SATs  is extremely conservative. The problem is that the SATs are taken under incredibly lax  security, and Rick reveals something I never would have suspected: if someone is caught cheating after the SAT service investigates, he or she is given a refund and allowed to take the test again—and no college is ever notified! Rick writes…

“…in a just universe, the cretinous yahoos at the CB/ETS who decided on this policy would lose their jobs, have “unethical moron” branded into their foreheads, and be publicly pilloried. Preferably literally.” Continue reading

The Emma Sullivan Affair: Not Just An Aberration

Time to double-down.

Yes, it's student-hating teacher Natalie Munroe, back again to remind us that the welfare of our children is no longer guranteed to be the #1 priority for your child's teacher, principal or school board member.

Over the weekend, I managed to ignite a controversy with one sentence I included in my discussion of the ridiculous incident which began when high school student Emma Sullivan tweeted that Kansas Governor Sam Brownback “sucks” and ended with her being called on the carpet for it by her principal. Noting that the incident should have been cut short by the school district administrator telling Brownback’s lackey to stop bullying kids, I wrote,

“But the school district administrator had neither the integrity, courage or common sense to do that, which permitted the fiasco to be passed on to the next spineless incompetent, and which also, I submit, tells us all we need to know about why public education in the U.S. is a disgrace.”

“I disagree with your statement and think it is an unfair generalization!” wrote Michael Boyd. Tim LeVier wrote, “…how many public schools are there in the U.S.? How many students are educated (enrolled) by those public schools in the U.S.? How many “social networking” fiascos have there been? Do the positive situations get the same amount of attention as the negative?”

Obviously, I was insufficiently precise, as both Michael and Tim are solid analysts and deft critics here. I was not suggesting that this one incident proves anything about the U.S. public education system. No one incident in a Kansas high school can prove anything about the system as a whole. I was, however, asserting that the deficits of character, warped priorities and lack of common sense displayed by the administrators in this incident are emblematic of the problems of the educational system as a whole. There are too many incompetents in high places, and too often the priorities of the system lie with staying on the right side of the political structure rather than being concerned about the welfare and development of students. To be broader still, my statement indicated that this is the kind of incident that shows why I believe that we can no longer trust the educational establishment, which has “jumped the shark,” “nuked the fridge”, or any other metaphor you  designate to describe when a profession has lost its moorings to professionalism and ethics. Continue reading