I just got home from another day trip, and am too weary to essay a significant post. Allow me, instead, to give readers a taste of what goes through one’s mind when you have begun to focus exclusively on ethics in preparation for a key, out-of-state presentation:
- The incompetence of supposed professional broadcasters. Shortly before leaving for the airport on Sunday, I watched the local Fox affiliate report on the new Vogue cover, featuring Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. One of the two anchorwomen noted that there was a parody of the cover titled “Vague” featuring Kermit and Miss Piggy in the same poses. She pronounced it as “Vagg.” Her partner did not correct her. I think newsreaders should be able to read, don’t you?
- Dishonesty in headlines. With the Kardashians still gnawing at my brain, I noticed an issue of “Star” in an airport magazine rack. The headline read, “Kardashians Cancelled!” Filled with momentary hope for civilization, I looked up the corresponding story in the rag. It stated that cable’s “Keeping Up With The Kardashians had been renewed, but that the family was worried that it might be cancelled next year. Yes, the headline was “X” and the story was “Not X.” I don’t care that the Star is just a glossy paper tabloid—how can anyone justifying this? Deceitful headlines are bad, but at least they are literally true, if misleading. Tabloid ethics are as low as ethics can be, but this flat-out false cover headline seems to have breached them… a neat trick.
- More incompetence of supposed professional broadcasters. CNN’s John Berman showed a clip of Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton with Jimmy Kimmel and said…”Next…what Jimmy Kimmel did with three generations of Clintons.“
- CNN’s unprofessional and irresponsible content choices. I watched, via CNN, of course—the all-missing Malaysian airliner all the time network—the announcement that the jet had crashed and was presumed lost at sea. This was the the result that matched the assumption the minute the plane’s vanishing was first reported weeks ago, and was the first news about the incident since then that deserved the “breaking news” designation that CNN had been giving to every report, rumor, whisper, theory and announcement regarding the plane since. The travesty of the network’s coverage while dozens of more important stories were ignored or barely mentioned exceeded the irresponsible coverage of the deaths of Princess Diana, John Kennedy Jr. and Michael Jackson, all of which were disgraceful in their excesses. It was a breach of duty and trust. From the one 24 hour news network that gives viewers a choice between Fox’s 24-7 conservative slant and MSNBC’s relentless (and increasingly desperate) stumping for President Obama and Democrats actual news reporting be damned, the slow-motion Russian invasion of the Ukraine, the embarrassingly lame U.S. response, revelations of new problems with Healthcare.gov, the New York Times revelations about Pakistan’s support of Al Quida, Syria, misuse of government funds by Attorney General Holder, the General Motors recall (and previous cover-up), and, of course, the latest developments in the Kardashian family all took a back seat to…what, exactly? Endless, breathless speculation about a tragedy with tangential relevance to our lives.
- The creepy CGI Audrey Hepburn ad for Galaxy chocolate. It is disrespectful and wrong to regenerate the image of a dead actress and make her a digital slave.
- Gratuitous and misplaced political correctness. I had intended to show the Daniel Muessig lawyer ad I wrote about earlier as an intro to my professionalism program for a large law firm, but the senior partner in charge wouldn’t let me, saying that the end of the video, where Muessig plays with a dreidel and says “Did I mention that I was Jewish?”, might offend some of the firm’s lawyers. The program was about professionalism, which means conduct by lawyers that undermine the profession’s credibility and image. How am I supposed to illustrate offensive conduct if I can’t risk offending other lawyers? And what is “offensive” about Muessig’s gag—and it was a gag—anyway? He is Jewish. He’s tweaking stereotypes. It’s funny, and even if an attendee didn’t think so, it is relevant to the topic!
I need a vacation.