“After our own due diligence and a thorough review of the facts, the firm decided to give great weight to the total body of Lee’s work over his 25-plus years as a lawyer. Lee [Smolen] is a well-respected attorney who has learned from his experience and taken all the necessary steps to move forward as a productive member of our team.”
—-A statement by mega-law firm DLA Piper at the time of its hiring of attorney Lee Smolen in February, 2013. Smolen had recently resigned from his previous firm because, we now know, he was under investigation for unethical conduct. This week, he was formally accused of bilking his former firm and its clients with inflated and inappropriate expenses.
You know, I have no idea why I chose this photo to accompany this post. Just seemed appropriate, somehow…
What would possess a major law firm to make a bone-headed, Ethics Dunce decision like this? According to accounts, before the Piper firm made its commitment, Smolen “tearfully” explained all or some of his transgressions to the firm’s partners, transgressions which amounted to cheating his fellow partners at his previous firm and fraudulently charging a client for expenses that were either inflated or that had nothing to do with the client’s needs.
He swore that he had learned his lesson, and would never do anything similar again, but look: even if he was sincere, what he had done is a cardinal sin for lawyers, virtually always leading to serious punishment and often disbarment. A lawyer who knows of such conduct is required by the bar ethics rules of all but a couple of states to report it to bar disciplinary authorities as “a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer.” How could a law firm justify taking on a new law partner after acquiring the same knowledge that would have obligated it to report the man, if he weren’t under investigation already? Continue reading
Caught by Newbusters: ABC’s David Muir referred to Alec Baldwin’s tweet calling Daily News reporter George Stark a “toxic little queen” as an “alleged slur,” while omitting any mention of Baldwin’s follow-up tweet announcing that the actor would “put my foot up your f–king ass, George Stark, but I’m sure you’d dig it too much.”
Baldwin’s slur isn’t alleged, it’s preserved in screen shots all over the internet. Muir’s claim that the obvious slur is only alleged can only mean “toxic little queen” in the context of an exchange alluding to the male target enjoying violent anal penetration can be reasonably interpreted as anything else. It cannot.
I didn’t notice—did ABC also refer to Paula Deen’s admitted use of the term “nigger” as an “alleged slur”? If it did, I apologize: Muir isn’t biased…he’s just an idiot, following ABC’s idiotic policy. But if it did not—-and it didn’t-–then Muir’s effort to go easy on a fellow liberal’s bigotry is just one more of the little bits of proof of how left-biased the news media is that slips out periodically if one is objective and paying attention.
Of course, the Democrats and liberals among us who benefit from having the news slanted to support their candidates and issues only see alleged media bias when these smoking guns appear—just as Muir sees “toxic little queen” as an alleged slur.
Pointer and Sources: Newsbusters
Ethics train wrecks can develop at any time, though sometimes the participants and the incidents involved limit the results to small-scale ethics damage. Let’s call these “Ethics Lionel Wrecks,” in honor of the model train sitting in a cardboard box in my basement. This week’s tale of Hilaria Baldwin’s mistimed tweets defines the genre.
1. George Stark Starts the Train
This one began when the pregnant wife of actor/ pitchman/liberal blowhard/ bully Alec Baldwin was called out by the Daily Mail for tweeting trivial, giddy messages during the funeral of recently departed actor James Gandolfini. That would have been certifiably disrespectful conduct in the rare sub-category of Funeral Ethics; indeed Ethics Alarms certified it. The problem is that Mail reporter George Stark was wrong.
Salon explained that the error was caused by “a technical glitch on Twitter that reflected GMT instead of ET…an analysis of the source code of Hilaria Baldwin’s tweets reveals that she tweeted between 11 am and 2 pm, as opposed to 8 am to 11 am. The Daily Mail has stated that “the tweets did appear accurately timed on mobile devices such as smartphones and iPads,” but “the only way MailOnline was able to establish the REAL time the tweets were sent was by viewing the twitter web page source code, something almost no normal member of the public would ever do.”
I have no idea what the hell that means, but I was one of the people who relied on Stark’s report, which seemed convincing, with screen shots of the tweets themselves and their timestamps. Was he unethically sloppy, as Baldwin and others have claimed, or was this just an excusable mistake? Twitter is new enough that there may be some justification for not checking the source code before using the time stamp to conclude something from a tweet: I can’t determine whether there is a journalistic protocol for this at the Daily Mail or elsewhere. Before a reporter attacks the conduct of a pregnant woman at a friend’s funeral, he would presumably be obligated to be certain of his facts, since readers, like me, will assume that he was. If this really was, as Salon says, a freak Twitter glitch, then Stark was unlucky rather than unethical.
2. Ethics Alarms rides the rails Continue reading
If they think like Ann Coulter, they do.
And that is disgusting.
Lookin’ good Ann! And talking bad…
I’m sure Coulter has written in the same vein, but I refuse to read her sometimes amusing but uncivil rants—and they are all rants. Caught in a traffic jam on Route 50 in Arlington, however, I heard her verbal rant on Sean Hannity’s radio show, and of course Sean aped her sentiments, which are roughly these:
It’s outrageous and stupid for Republicans to support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are already here, because they and their relatives will all vote Democratic, and within ten years, that will mean that GOP will never win another election.
The short answer to this is: So what?
So what if the new American don’t like the Republicans? That is not a reasonable, fair or ethical reason to withhold a path to citizenship, if a path to citizenship is the best and fairest course for all concerned. I thought that the conservative objections to “amnesty” were principled, and based on the rule of law: it’s wrong to allow scofflaws and cheaters to benefit from their wrongdoing. That would be true if every single former-illegal was a Ronald Reagan worshiper, and a group as dedicated to principle as the opponents of so-called immigration reform claim to be would oppose giving potential Republicans an un-earned pass to the voting booth as vociferously they would block an illegal immigrant Hillary Fan Club.
Is this really all that the opposition amounts to ? A self-serving effort to avoid adding votes to the Democratic column? Continue reading
How DARE the Supreme Court not defer to Congressional judgment when it knows Congress is incapable of competent decision-making!
After reading more of the hysterical, sneering attacks on the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, I have concluded that I initially neglected to recognize the deep bias and contempt for basic rights that underlie them. The critics have no legitimate arguments to support allowing the current formula set out in the Voting Rights Act to continue, except that they believe trampling on innocent citizens’ rights is acceptable government practice if it makes the civil rights establishment happy, and allows the myth to be perpetuated that Republicans sit up late at night trying to figure out ways of stopping blacks from voting. “It may be unconstitutional, but it works!” is the best of their claims, a pure embrace of that hallmark of corrupted ethics, the ends justify the means. Note that this is also the justification being offered by the Obama Administration for drone strikes, PRISM, and tapping the phones of reporters. This isn’t an argument but a philosophy, and one that is offensive to core American values.
The Times, no longer the premiere news source in the country but certainly the premiere Democratic Party ally masquerading as a news source, clinched it for me. In its scathing editorial condemning the decision, the only arguments it could come up with were… Continue reading
[Update: June 28…The tweets that inspired this commentary were shown to be wrongly time-stamped, and the reporter’s newspaper have apologized for the error, but not before there were some other developments, discussed here. Ethics Alarms apologizes to Hilaria too. The criticism of her is withdrawn; the commentary below about tweeting at funerals, and Hilaria’s husband stands.]
In case you wondered what kind of a woman would marry actor Alec Baldwin during his late career, “mega-jerk and proud of it phase, wonder no more.
Baldwin’s wife Hilaria demonstrated that she is at least as self-centered, rude and lacking respect for basic human courtesies by tweeting her head off during James Gandolfini’s funeral in New York.
It’s simple, really. You don’t have to attend anybody’s funeral (though, as Yogi Berra famously warned, if you don’t go to theirs, they won’t come to yours), but if you do, you are obligated to put aside the petty details of your life for a few hours while you solemnly and respectfully join family members and friends in remembering and honoring the concluded life of the deceased. You don’t spent the time passing notes with knock-knock jokes on them to other mourners, you don’t hum inappropriate ditties, and you sure as hell don’t spend the funeral tweeting inane stuff like like this... Continue reading
“The idea that allowing two loving, committed people to marry would have a negative impact on anyone else, or on our nation as a whole, has always struck me as absurd.”
—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, after calling Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act “a great, historic day for equality in America.” Reid voted for the law when it was overwhelmingly passed by the U.S. Senate, back when treating gays like second-class citizens was popular.
Harry Reid, embracing absurdity when it is politically expedient…
It’s hard to say which of the legislative lions prowling the cloak rooms of Capital Hill are more loathsome—Republican Mich McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, or Harry Reid. It’s easy to decide which is more shamelessly cynical and hypocritical, however. That would be Harry Reid.
If he “always” thought that DOMA was “absurd,” why did he vote for it? Are we to take from this that he not only is willing to vote for absurd measures (he has voted for many), but also votes for measures when he believes they are absurd? Or does he just say whatever he thinks will sound good to the low-information, knee-jerk progressives who have a memory of about two weeks (if that) regarding any issue, and possess the naïve belief, also absurd, that only Republicans lie to them? Continue reading