Hypocrisy is a concept that is widely abused by critics, who misidentify it with startling regularity. Someone who has engaged in conduct that he now opposes is not necessarily a hypocrite, for example. It is not hypocrisy to reform or change one’s mind. Nor is it hypocrisy for someone to criticize conduct that he or she knows is wrong, but cannot control in his own life. Someone who opposes official approval of status that the individual secretly holds is not necessarily a hypocrite either. A closeted gay public official who publicly opposes gay rights may be self-loathing, but not hypocritical. A gay public official can plausibly believe that gay marriage is not necessary, or that marriage is a tradition that can only refer to a couple of opposite genders: holding a sincere position that is self-critical or against self-interest isn’t hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy is a lie, not mere inconsistency. It is knowingly posing as something you are not, pretending to believe something you don’t believe, demonstrated by not making an effort to meet the standards you insist that others follow. D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, lecturing children about the evils of illegal drug use while smoking crack in his spare time, was a hypocrite. Law enforcement officials who intentionally break the law are hypocrites. Rep. Joe Walsh, the Tea Party, “family values” Congressman who refused to meet his own child-support obligations, stands out among the many hypocrites in government.
Then there is Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters. One week after President Obama was re-elected, Watters told Fox Head Bloviator Bill O’Reilly that the Obama voters were mindless zombies who supported the President “as long as there was Obamacare, gay marriage and abortion on demand.” Now Federal Election Commission records have surfaced showing that Watters himself contributed $500 to the President’s re-election campaign.
Yes, he is a zombie.
There is nothing inappropriate about a journalist contributing to a candidate, though some media organizations foolishly ban it, as long as there is transparency. Contributing to a candidate and then giving her a soft-ball interview on the air is unethical, just as biased reporting of any kind is unethical. We know reporters have political views; we should also know what those views are, so we can assess the fairness of their reporting.
A journalist who denigrates the supporters of a candidate that he secretly contributed money to and presumably voted for, however, is a fraud, a fake, and a liar. Watters was expressing an insincere opinion to O’Reilly, arguing something he didn’t believe was true, unless one want to argue that he thinks he himself is a “zombie.” This implicates his integrity and credibility as an analyst and a commentator, I would say fatally. It also suggests, though doesn’t prove, that Fox News requires its reporters to adopt an ideological viewpoint and tone regardless of whether they believe what they are saying—in other words, that Fox dictates a specific bias. Another equally disturbing possibility raised by the episode is that Watters feared that his personal support of the President would place his job at Fox in jeopardy. There is no reason why a journalist’s personal political views should disqualify him from political coverage, unless he is incapable of being professional and objective anyway—you know, like most journalists today.
Jesse Watters should be fired, not for supporting Obama, but for rank hypocrisy and lying to his audience. Then Fox News needs to look at how many other journalists on its payroll are pretending to be something they are not—to keep their jobs.
Facts and Graphic: Politico
11 thoughts on “Now THIS Is Hypocrisy!”
I am not sure I buy it, Jack. There is a difference between the object of popularity and those that make the object popular. Watters may still think Obama is the better choice of the two top candidates even while admitting that the majority of Obama’s supporters are dolts and zombies….unless I am missing something here.
Of course, he didn’t say “the majority” of Obama supporters are zombies. He said his supporters were zombies. The statement is at very least deceitful, as it would lead a listener to believe that he is not one. Devising theories where he could have it both ways is just nit-picking. The implication is that supporting Obama is not an intelligent choice, not that he’s the better of two bad ones.
I’m outraged! How many others have done the same thing? For one thing I feel totally slimed by Dick Morris and yes, even Karl Rove, who continually gave us false hope about the landslide that was inevitable. We should have known better. Obama’s thugs would never have allowed that to happen. And all they had to do was register more voters, which they did. Anyone can register. Just list the last 4 digits of your SSN, any 4 will do, and check a box that you’re a citizen and sign. Bingo. You’re registered. This is never checked against who is and isn’t an actual citizen. It’s physically impossible to check with the questions asked. No proof of citizenship required. And that my folks is exactly what happened. The only way I can see to correct this is to purge all the voter records and start over again. Everyone has to sign up, in person, with proof of citizenship. It could be done. But not under the current administration that’s for sure. As for Watters, good riddance. I never liked his segment anyhow. Good grief, does it ever end?
This is why the electoral college formally elects the president. The presence of voter fraud does not invalidate the electors choice, though it would severally undermine the system’s credibility.
Supposing voter fraud did exist, I don’t see how the electoral college would save us.
All government officials have been replaced by impersonations! All it takes is some plastic surgery and heavy makeup. And that my folks is exactly what happened. The only way I can see to correct this is to purge all elected officials, take a DNA sample from all newborn babies, and wait until they are old enough for office. It could be done, but not under the current administration that’s for sure.
What’s the difference between Watters giving an analysis, or conclusion, about voters-for-Obama that is at odds with his campaign contribution, and a lawyer who defends a not guilty plea for a person the lawyer knows is the perp? Personally, I don’t think every media face/voice/author owes me the truth about who they favor or intend to vote for; I expect them to tell me the truth about whomever they are reporting on, that’s all.
Oh, just everything. A defense attorney is not asserting what he believes, nor does the system regard him as doing so. A defense attorney is charged with advocating the position that the prosecution has not proven guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, because the accused has an absolute right to assert his innocence under the law. Indeed, a defense attorney has an ethical duty to do so, and the attorney’s personal opinion on the matter, just as a real estate attorney’s opinion regarding whether the property his client wants him to help secure is worth securing, is 100% irrelevant to the lawyer’s ethical duties, except that the client is owed the lawyer’s honest advice. You could hardly have picked an example that has less to do with dishonesty of hypocrisy.
In Watters’ situation, his stated opinion is by definition a lie, unless he believes he himself is such a zombie. Nothing in the post suggests every media face/voice/author owes me the truth about who they favor or intend to vote for; I simply stated that the information would be useful to help us know who’s objective and who’s a phony. Watters falls into the phony category. Obviously. As a Fox News reporter, he has no parallel duty to the lawyer to ape his employer’s political biases. He has a duty to say what he really believes, or at least just the facts. Giving an opinion that he doesn’t believe is unethical.
Okay, thanks, I’ll take as a learning point what I understand you to be saying above about the defense attorney’s role in the circumstances I posed: It is incomparable, unrelatable, to the journalist’s role. It is not hypocritical for a defense attorney to thwart the enforcement of a law that is applicable to someone who the attorney knows is culpable for a violation of that law.
But an attorney behaving like that still eats at me as somehow wrong, even if it isn’t hypocritical. If I am a defense attorney with a client who confesses to me their guilt of a charge I am supposed to defend that client against conviction for, I cannot, will not, continue defending that client with a goal of innocent-as-accused of the guilt confessed. Call me simple, but that’s just how I am.
“Nothing in the post suggests every media face/voice/author owes me the truth about who they favor or intend to vote for; I simply stated that the information would be useful to help us know who’s objective and who’s a phony.”
Well, I did not understand that you “simply stated” what you said you stated. In your post, you said: “We know reporters have political views; we should also know what those views are, so we can assess the fairness of their reporting.” I interpreted “we should also know…” to mean that you think the journalist DOES owe you, and everyone, the truth about their personal views, which can then be matched with others who are known to hold the same or similar views, which would at least hint at who the journalist favors or votes for…because, how else would we know who’s objective and who’s a phony?
I prefer not to hear journalists’ views, at least, not in the course of their coverage of third parties – and, I prefer that journalists refrain from and avoid as much as possible any slanting of coverage of third parties according to their, the journalists’, views. So it’s tough for me to put up with what passes for journalism these days, because there seems to be no journalist or journalist-employer who isn’t grinding one axe or another and distorting reality.
Criminal defense: http://ethicsscoreboard.com/list/defense.html
Journalists: That does not extend to having to announce who they are voting for. But should we know their biases? Absolutely. Walter Cronkite posed as an objective, politically neutral, fair commentator, but he was in fact a committed liberal. When he announced that the Vietnam War was a lost cause, it moved public opinion because he was seen as a trustworthy, non-partisan analyst. But he was not. How do we prevent that problem? If we are expected to trust someone, we have a right to know who they are.
Any potential that Jesse didn’t make this contribution? Or are the facts plain and accurate? I’m just wondering if some joker made this donation on his behalf.