Ethics Hero: Democratic National Committee Spokeswoman Mo Elleithee

The public tolerates the news media being such a full-throated shill for the Democratic Party that there is no reason for partisan websites to be outrageous about it. Thus when Talking Points Memo breached not just journalistic principles of fairness and objectivity, but also honesty, it needed to be called out. To its credit, the Democratic National Committee delivered the slap-down to its loyal ally, even though, as usual, the victim of the biased media mugging was a Republican.

TPM published an online account of last week’s contentious debate between CNN anchor Carol Costello and RNC spokesman Sean Spicer over the media’s treatment of Republicans in the wake of rancher Cliven Bundy’s offensive comments about blacks and slavery. Costello’s argument was that it was fair to tar the GOP with Bundy’s ignorant views, since many in the party supported his anti-government actions. Astoundingly, TPM though that it would enhance Costello’s views if its readers thought that Spicer was a skinhead. Thus it doctored a photo, using CNN’s set, showing Spicer like this, after he had shaved his head for charity a while back:


In fact, he had appeared on TV looking this way:


This unethical garbage was even too much for the Democrats to accept, and Spicer’s counterpart in donkeyville, DNC spokeswoman Mo Elleithee, tweeted that the picture was a fake, and the TPM  “uses pic 2 look like white supremist.”

You see, websites such as TPM,  like cable network MSNBC, aren’t interested in conveying facts, being fair, or even telling their readers and viewers the truth. They are full time, around the clock ideological propaganda machines, as is, ironically, the website that broke the story of TPM’s fakery, The Daily Caller, Brietbart, and others from the conservative end of the spectrum. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to get my political news straight, so I can decide what the issues are without some hollow-eyed ideologue pointing the way with tricks and lies. Maybe if both parties start protesting the worst abuses that issue from their own camps, we can start getting back to real journalism again.

Well, I can hope, can’t I?


Sources: Daily Caller, 1800 Politics


15 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: Democratic National Committee Spokeswoman Mo Elleithee

  1. Just another way in which “The Simpsons” foresees the future. Remember when Mayor Quimby was running for re-election against Sideshow Bob and the station airing the debate showed the Mayor with devil horns and flames surrounding him?

  2. Usually, I can at least figure out why someone does something like this. But I see nothing to be gained. The thought that Mr. Spicer was being portrayed as a skinhead never entered my mind… but then, short of the guy with the “murder” neck tattoo, what people look like isn’t a big concern for me. It boggles the mind that such a switch would be made–not because it’s dishonest (that’s plenty common enough), but because it’s dishonest for no apparent reason… or am I naive, and everyone else immediately thought “skinhead”?

    In answer to Jeff’s question, I’d guess that they simply superimposed an old photo over the new background: hence the difference in hair, the different coat, different shirt, the tie…

      • How?

        I’ve mentioned many times the power of hate, and how many have been convinced to not just disagree with the Right, but to hate it, and therefore find anything plausible that denigrates it.

        • Well, my assumption is that readers read to be informed, and stimulated. If they just want to hang out with those who will feed pre-existing hate, why bother with fake news sites? Just listen to Joy Behar, or Wand Sykes. And doesn’t everyone hate people who lie to them?

  3. And more’s the pity for that: TPM has never been a bastion of journalistic excellence, but they’re actually right about some stuff, just as Breitbart was right about Weiner (but also a pathological liar). Being partisan is one thing; being dishonest is another.

  4. Nothing beats being a big white guy with a shaved head and fashion taste that runs to jeans, plain dark tee shirts, and boots- particularly when you live in a college town and don’t toe the appropriate super-progressive line. Nobody ever gave me a free tie, though.

  5. I just typed a lengthy re-consideration, which I then proceeded to lose to the ether.

    Here’s the gist: TPM doesn’t appear to have “doctored” (your term, Jack) the photograph, but rather to have used an old one instead of a new one. (That set has been around for a while.) I’ve done that not infrequently on my blog, and utterly without malice*: because the old one fit the layout better, or was from a better angle, or simply because it was what came up first on a web search when I went to add a photo. “Doctoring” would be unethical by definition; using a different photograph of the same person, even one taken a while ago, a lot less so.

    And the photo itself isn’t unfair: As I said last night, it never occurred to me that Mr. Spicer was being portrayed as a skinhead (I’ve seen relatively few skinheads sporting that nice a suitcoat, for one thing), and I suspect very few others leapt to that conclusion, either, at least without prompting. (Remember, this all came about in response to an RNC dog whistle.) Spicer isn’t caught with a distorted face in mid-sneeze; there’s no visible broccoli between his teeth; he doesn’t appear either out of control or inattentive. And I’d be willing to bet there was a moment in the actual interview when, however momentarily, he didn’t exactly look his best. Using that 1/125th of a second would be, to my mind, far worse than what TPM actually did.

    I’m not asserting that TPM didn’t do something out of line: they might have. And certainly the use of the older photo would suggest in context that Mr. Spicer looked like that this week, when he didn’t. But if, as I believe, there’s nothing inherently problematic about the old pic, perhaps the answer to “why would TPM do that stupidly unethical thing?” is that they didn’t. “Innocent until proven guilty” and all that–it could have been (and I think probably was) a relatively minor lapse of rigor rather than a conscious attempt to defame Mr. Spicer and/or to manipulate the reading audience. The fact that Mr. (not Ms.) Elleithee apologized doesn’t mean an apology was required, or even warranted.

    All of which suggests that evidence is better than innuendo, whichever way it happens to point this time.

    *I’ve done plenty of things with malice, just not that.

    • It’s a good point, and a fair one, Rick. The skin-head innuendo would not have occurred to me at all. If the innuendo was accidental, TPM should say so, and explain how the photo came to be used. It’s suspicious due to the subject matter, the position Spicer was taking against Costello, and TPM’ reflex orientation. I agree that it could be an inadvertent gaffe. (I assumed that a photo of Spicer post-shave had been placed into a studio shot; why wouldn’t the current photo be available? But wen you Ass-U-me…)

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