Ethics Dunce: Fox News, Serving Nobody And Disgracing Itself

The combatants on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show were flaming right-wing madman Bill Cunningham, a god-awful radio talk-show host who must have photos of Sean in flagrante delicto with Nancy Pelosi or something, and Fox house Obama defender Tamara Holder, who is none too sharp herself.  The topic is thoroughly obscured by the invective and petty bickering. It began as a discussion over whether Attorney General Holder committed perjury before Congress regarding his involvement in the James Rosen warrant (he didn’t, barely).

This video clip is self-indicting, but before you watch it, allow me make a couple of points:

  • This kind of uncivil, unprofessional, shouting, insulting, ranting gutter fight provides no information and no illumination. It is an insult to the audience.
  • If, because of misconduct by guests, such an atrocity breaks out on the air, a responsible network should pull the plug on it, and apologize to viewers.
  • A responsible host and moderator should never, ever permit a segment to deteriorate to the degree.
  • Sean Hannity did, and ought to be held accountable. He failed his duty to viewers and to the network.
  • Hannity was on notice that talk show host Bill Cunningham is an offensive, irresponsible blow-hard. This right-wing racist—anyone who habitually calls President Obama by his middle name is by definition a racist, as well as a jackass—is a serial offender that Hannity has on his show frequently. The man isn’t fair, civil, persuasive, pleasant to listen to, funny, wise or smart.
  • Tamara Holder should have walked off the set, if Hannity wasn’t going to be professional and tell Cunningham to be civil or leave. Instead, she eventually responded in kind—understandable, but wrong.
  • Fox should ban Cunningham from TV. Everyone should ban him, for that matter. The message has to be sent that this kind of conduct isn’t “good television,” it is an abuse of public speech.

Now, the clip:

44 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Fox News, Serving Nobody And Disgracing Itself

  1. There’s nothing remotely credible about Fox News. It’s an entertainment program,nothing more. The fact that this Bill person,whom I’d never heard of,has a following shows just what’s wrong with America. Jeez Louise.

    • That’s a bit over the top. There’s nothing credible about Hannity, that’s for sure. Surveys have found that Fox’s actual news reporting is, on balance, at least as balanced as the other networks, and often more so, except it tilts right rather than left (CORRECTED). Chris Wallace, Shep Smith, Megyn Kelly,Britt Hume and several others are strong and fair.

      Your description does fit MSNBC, except how anyone could find Al Sharpton entertaining is beyond me.

      • “Surveys have found that Fox’s actual news reporting is, on balance, at least as balanced as the other networks, and often more …”
        I forgot about Brit Hume. He’s a decent guy and great newsman. I think Greta is pretty good too. It’s been ages since I’ve watched Fox News because of the right wing slant. Don’t like MSNBC for it’s left slant. I’ve heard Hannity on the radio. When someone comes up with an honest question or rebuttal he talks over the top of them,dismisses them as leftwinger morons and hangs up on them. No wonder he didn’t stop that Bill person.

  2. P.S., when the left starts denouncing hate-spewers like Ted Rall and Dan Savage, then we can talk. Until then, I see nothing wrong with using the same tactics.

    • “The other guys do it too”. How many times on this site have I seen that denounced as an ethics failure? Many.

      • “The other guys do it too”. How many times on this site have I seen that denounced as an ethics failure? Many.

        “The other guys do it too” only works if they openly get away with it.

    • What? When do you see Rall or Savage as panel guests on news shows? Why do you presume either would act as offensively as Cunningham? How does the conduct of others justify unprofessional conduct on Fox? I doubt that greatly. That’s a pathetic excuse for Fox’s performance in this instance.

      • (Takes deep breath, sorry, but both those guys REALLY raise my blood pressure)

        Rall HAS been a guest on Hannity’s show when it was Hannity and Colmes, he was a jerk then, just as he almost always is. Savage has been a guest on CNN (or one of the other all-news networks) and is a frequent flier on MTV’s quasi-“news” shows, although he usually keeps his filthy mouth in check then, You yourself saw Savage’s behavior at that conference with the journalism students, and justifiably had some well-chosen and fully justified choice words for him and his behavior.

        I’ve read the hateful, unfunny, prejudiced and profane (more so in Savage’s case) writings of both men, and both lead me to wonder how they’ve gotten as far as they have gotten without someone decking them, They are ranters, plain and simple, and I have no reason to believe they would suddenly become eloquent on a news show.

        That said, I will admit I think I lost one of the main points here, which was that the network should have stepped in and stopped it before it went that far, otherwise all you get is an entertaining (maybe) but not all that informative shouting match, and if we want those we can switch to reality TV. So, what I should have said is that I am ok with ranters on the right like Cunningham to counterbalance ranters on the left, BUT you are right that the ostensibly neutral media should try to keep the smoldering enmity from both between bursting into bright red flame on the air.

        • Many of my appearances on FoxNews are available on YouTube for anyone who cares to check them out. I defy anyone to point to a single instance where I acted like anything other than a complete gentleman. To the contrary, hosts — especially Hannity — were incredibly rude and boorish to me.

          I don’t particularly respect the “other guys do it too” argument even when it’s accurate. But in this case, it just isn’t.

            • Actually make that Bernard Goldberg, though I can’t imagine Jonah having too much to say that was complimentary either.

            • …was Ted Rall googling himself or what? How’d he get here?

              Ted, I doubt we’ll ever cross paths again, but I just want to say: I don’t really read political cartoons anymore, (though someone I know linked to the recent one about Roger Ebert, which measured up to your previous entries).

              When I did read them, I found yours to be almost universally awful. It’s not because I disagree with them (usually, I don’t); it’s because they’re clumsy, blunt and artless. (They’re also not funny, but that’s almost all political cartoons nowadays, so it wouldn’t be fair to complain about that. I recall seeing something of yours in Mad Magazine and having the same reaction to an apolitical cartoon of yours.)

              You have the virtue of clarity. Instead of drawing “Taxes” on a bull and giving it a Hawaiian shirt, you just write “well, this happened and this is why this is bullcrap.” Sincerity is something I suspect is lacking on the Internet, probably because it’s easier to hide behind cynicism. Nevertheless, I really never had any use for your cartoons. The only thing they illuminated was how Ted Rall understands the world.

              Or doesn’t.

              Good luck out there, Ted.

  3. “…anyone who habitually calls President Obama by his middle name is by definition a racist, as well as a jackass…”

    Jack, would you please explain how that is so?

    • Really? Right-wing attack-dogs like Cunningham do it to emphasize what they feel is the President’s “otherness,” to dog-whistle those who believe he is a secret Muslim, or at least in sympathy with Islam, and to question whether he is a “true American.” John McCain courted Cunningham’s ire when he rebuked him for using “Hussein” in his remarks introducing McCain during the 2008 campaign.

      • Jack’s right, I’ve used the same tactic myself, and it’s just that, a tactic, to either stoke up fellow Obama-haters or knock Obama-supporters off their game by distraction.

      • Call me naïve. Of course using the full name is meant as a put-down by some big mouths who can’t control their disgust and disdain. But I am not convinced that everyone who uses Obama’s full name while speaking in public, even using it frequently, is a racist jackass, or biased as we all know (or should know) Cunningham is. Until I can be shown otherwise, I am convinced that many of Obama’s most fervent supporters often use his full name to express their love for the man, if not also for his governance.

        Are we also to assume that anyone who frequently uses “Hillary Rodham Clinton” is some kind of hateful warrior-against-women? (Just trying to get out ahead of the inevitable additional speech-controlling.)

        I am glad I missed the shouting between Cunningham and Holder on Fox. I appreciate the warning about the video clip. I intend not to watch it. At least Fox News has guests on the air now and then who differ and argue. I have almost stopped watching all the other “news” and “analysis” programs, and nowadays watch Fox only infrequently. O’Reilly and Greta can still get my attention now and then, but it’s tough at night, because I would rather sleep – tougher still during baseball season.

        • But I am not convinced that everyone who uses Obama’s full name while speaking in public, even using it frequently, is a racist jackass, or biased as we all know (or should know) Cunningham is.

          Nobody claimed the users are racist jackasses…just that they are playing to them.

          Until I can be shown otherwise, I am convinced that many of Obama’s most fervent supporters often use his full name to express their love for the man, if not also for his governance.

          Can you show any evidence for this? Even one case where someone was using Obama’s middle name to praise him?

          You might as well say “Until I can be shown otherwise, I am convinced that dryer gnomes steal my socks.”

          Are we also to assume that anyone who frequently uses “Hillary Rodham Clinton” is some kind of hateful warrior-against-women? (Just trying to get out ahead of the inevitable additional speech-controlling.)

          Is Rodham a dog whistle for female or something? I don’t get it.

          • “Are we also to assume that anyone who frequently uses “Hillary Rodham Clinton” is some kind of hateful warrior-against-women? (Just trying to get out ahead of the inevitable additional speech-controlling.)

            Is Rodham a dog whistle for female or something? I don’t get it.”
            I agree tgt. When people hear the name Hussein they think =Muslim = Arab/black. It’s used to associate him with the “enemy.”

    • Of course it’s racist. And I’m saying that as someone who dislikes the President intensely. It’s also childish — much like the ridiculous meme that right-wingers use when they call it the “Democrat Party” (it’s the DemocratIC Party). People and parties and countries are entitled to be called whatever they want (why do we refuse to call it Myamnar, but we had no problem with Kampuchea?) to be called. Like when people who dislike my politics call me “Teddy.” I don’t care, but it makes them look silly. Once you’re down to name-calling, you’ve lost the argument.

      • There it is again (at least, as I see it): A presumption that use of one word, even one of a person’s names, is a sure-fire marker of specific attitudes and motivations of the word-user – specifically disfavored attitudes and motivations, that is, and implicitly, attitudes and motivations that no one who has any sense or standing ought to possess. No. Not always so. This is bordering on more effort at speech control. I will have none of it.

        Ted, I can’t fault someone for using “Democrat” to refer to the Democratic Party, no matter who uses the term or how well-known the speaker’s biases are. Each member of that party is correctly called a “Democrat.” It is not a leap into hatred and all manner of bias, especially in today’s corrupt, dumbed-down, sound bite-beholden media and culture, for someone to not use the adjective with the “-ic,” and use the noun instead, when referring to the party.

        Sure: A right-winger could snicker in his own mind and stroke himself for using a “sneaky mean gotcha” when his mind is set on believing that “the Democrat Party is anything but democratic.” But that’s the right-winger’s personal speech-control problem. It cannot and will not be fixed by petty scolding – recognition and rejection of which is an ethical response to what is widely and correctly recognized as a sure-fire marker of control freaks.

        • This is bordering on more effort at speech control. I will have none of it.

          It’s not speech control. You can still say whatever you want. If you say things that have clear secondary meanings though, you’re going to be called on it. Why is that so hard to understand?

      • Of course it’s racist. But leaving the “ic” off Democratic is usually either just lazy or ignorant. Why would you think it’s intended as a slur? That never even occurred to me. Since members of the party are called “Democrats,” a part of Democrats could accurately be coined the a Party of Democrats, or the Democrat Party. The Party of Republicans is the Republican Party, after all. I’m not disagreeing that it’s a misnomer, but what’s childish about it?

        • Nothing. It’s grasping at straws. Changing a letter or a syllable, which is common on both sides of the aisle (i.e. Democrap, DemoRAT, Rethuglican, Repulsivecan), is similar to junior high behavior where you would change someone’s last name to something easily made fun of or change a male’s name to its female equivalent to poke fun at him (also done on this level, like calling Bush “Shrub” or referring to Obama as “Obummer”), and that IS childish. However, again, sometimes it’s a tactic used to knock your opponent off his game by making him mad or forcing him to take a detour.

          Eeyoure is right on the money with the statement that trying to force someone else to use the words you want is simply the mark of a control freak or an attempt at verbal judo. Adults don’t get to control other adults’ behavior, unless they’re signing their paychecks at the end of the week. Period.

          • Intentionally using the wrong term is the mark of an asshole. Complaining that their opponent is a control freak when they’re calling on their assholishness? A super asshole.

            Adults don’t get to control other adults’ behavior, unless they’re signing their paychecks at the end of the week. Period.

            If you don’t think we should criticize bad behavior, what are you doing on an ethics blog?

            • Call them out? Sure. Criticize? Sure. Control, no. And going from “asshole” to “super asshole” is the mark of someone who either is 13, has a very limited vocabulary, or is looking for a fistfight. That’s the kind of talk kids throw around the schoolyard or that idiots engage in around closing time at bars. . I never said bad behavior shouldn’t be criticized, I said that adults don’t get to tell other adults what to do, unless they are the boss. That’s simply a fact. You can call someone out on behavior you find objectionable, but don’t be surprised if he then tells you to kiss a certain part of his anatomy.

              • Call them out? Sure. Criticize? Sure. Control, no.

                Who’s being controlled?

                And going from “asshole” to “super asshole” is the mark of someone who either is 13, has a very limited vocabulary, or is looking for a fistfight. That’s the kind of talk kids throw around the schoolyard or that idiots engage in around closing time at bars.

                I was actually trying to be light. If I were trying to be descriptive, I’d say the first is the mark of an unethical person, and the latter is the mark of a shamelessly unethical person.

                I never said bad behavior shouldn’t be criticized, I said that adults don’t get to tell other adults what to do, unless they are the boss.

                I don’t see anyone controlling behavior. Telling them something is wrong is criticism.

                That’s simply a fact. You can call someone out on behavior you find objectionable, but don’t be surprised if he then tells you to kiss a certain part of his anatomy.

                Of course. Has anyone argued differently? Assholes have the absolute right to double down on being assholes.

                  • Uh…what? They have the right to be assholes, that doesn’t mean they have the right to not be criticized and marginalized by society.

                    • Quod erat demonstrandum. Frankly I don’t think you are proving anything other than that you know how to call someone whose opinion you don’t agree with, and who you are frankly underwhelming with your dull wit, names. I made reference above to being surprised that certain people who can’t or won’t bridle their tongues having gotten as far as they have in life without someone decking them, and let me tell you in no uncertain terms that if we were having this conversation in person, you might have gotten to your third use of the word “asshole” which you seem so enamored of, before I would have laid you out like a Sunday suit. You want to discuss the ethicality or non-ethicality of things I say, fine. You want to hurl insults, we’re done.

                    • I know what Q.E.D. means. My comment was that I had no idea why you would say that there.

                      You (and Eeyoure) are talking about force and control, but what’s actually occurring is criticism.

                      The asshole comment applies to: “Jack’s right, I’ve used the same tactic myself, and it’s just that, a tactic, to either stoke up fellow Obama-haters or knock Obama-supporters off their game by distraction.” The

                      That’s asshole behavior. You’d lay someone out because they appropriately called you an asshole? You’re just justifying my comments.

                    • Yes I would. It’s never appropriate to curse someone out because you don’t like their behavior. Like I said, you don’t like what I have to say, fine, let’s discuss it. You think certain tactics are unfair, fine, say so and say why. You seem to think use of profane insults lightens things up, I fail to see that. Cursing your opponent out simply drags down the discourse and makes it personal. My first impulse is not to laugh or say let’s have a drink when someone uses the word you seem to be so stuck on, I fail to see how anyone could see it as other than a challenge to take this from discussion to brawl.

                    • Yes I would [lay someone out for appropriately calling me an asshole]. It’s never appropriate to curse someone out because you don’t like their behavior.

                      1) Calling someone an asshole is not cursing them out.
                      2) Punching someone because you don’t like their language is an actual example of using force to control language. You claimed to be against that. It seems like you don’t have a true position on the matter. You’ll switch to whichever side might help rationalize any view you hold.

                      Like I said, you don’t like what I have to say, fine, let’s discuss it. You think certain tactics are unfair, fine, say so and say why.

                      You said you intentionally try to screw up people’s arguments, and then pretend their to blame when they call you on it. There’s nothing to discuss. That’s wrong. It’s self explanatory. If someone says “Haha! your wife left you!”, there’s no reason to explain why that’s offensive. This is the same thing.

                      My first impulse is not to laugh or say let’s have a drink when someone uses the word you seem to be so stuck on, I fail to see how anyone could see it as other than a challenge to take this from discussion to brawl.

                      I think that says more about you than about the statement. If you act like an asshole, and then are called an asshole, all that’s happening is that you are being accurately labeled and criticized. Are you so insecure that you must result to physical violence after an accurate verbal insult?

                    • If you can’t see why going from argument to personal insult would escalate further, then there’s nothing more to talk about.

                    • If you can’t see why going from argument to personal insult would escalate further, then there’s nothing more to talk about

                      Since when was this situation about going from argument to personal insult?

                      You said you do something that’s uncool. I said that such was assholish behavior. It’s not simply saying “Well, you’re an asshole!”. It was a comment about specific behavior which you claim to do. If you change the situation, I can see escalation, but a physical reaction would still be way overkill.

  4. Hannity didn’t seem to react at all to the finger pointing or Cunningham’s asking if Holder was “going to cry.” Disappointing.

  5. I wish these shows had a built in 3 minute delay, with an intelligent persons’ finger on the STOP button.

    Most news shows will not show the act of murder or suicide (yesterday’s wing walkers’ death in point – video is stopped before the actual moment of the crash).

    I don’t understand why they will censor themselves when it comes to graphic images in the news, yet allow verbal abuse to occur unabated (and in fact, seem to appreciate such commenters as “improving ratings”). Surely they are just both sides of the same coin of ugly.

  6. Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and
    gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell
    to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I
    had to tell someone!

  7. Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and
    gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell
    to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    ***************
    Scarred for life!!!
    (j/k)

  8. Hannity was on notice that talk show host Bill Cunningham is an offensive, irresponsible blow-hard. This right-wing racist—anyone who habitually calls President Obama by his middle name is by definition a racist, as well as a jackass—is a serial offender that Hannity has on his show frequently. The man isn’t fair, civil, persuasive, pleasant to listen to, funny, wise or smart.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.