Unethical Quote of the Week: Daily Beast Editor Justin Miller

“Fuck you…”

—-Daily Beast editor Justin Miller, in a tweet to U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) Miller was irate that Paul blamed media bias on the uproar over his irresponsible and foolish comments regarding mandatory vaccination. The tweet continued: “Today I am getting my booster vaccine. Wonder how the liberal media will misreport this.”

After Paul’s office pronounced the tweet “unacceptable,” Miller deleted the tweet, and apologized, telling Politico, “I replied from my personal account to what I felt was spin after Senator Paul said factually incorrect things about vaccines. It would’ve been better to respond with facts than an obscenity, and I deleted the tweet so it wouldn’t reflect on the Beast. I’m sorry for the insult.”

Observations:

1. Did Miller personally apologize to Paul? There is no indication that he did. This, therefore, is not an apology to the person directly aggrieved. We are seeing more and more of this: “I am sorry, Politico, that I behaved wrongly toward X.” That’s lazy, deceptive and cowardly.

2. A respectable, professional news organization would fire Miller, apology or not. In fact, any organization would fire a high placed executive who delivered a public “fuck you” to an elected official, and should. It is outrageously unprofessional conduct. It reflects badly on the organization. It shows miserable judgment, and makes trust all but impossible. I cannot think of a single job I ever held, in academia, in associations or in the non-profit sector where a tweet like that to a member, donor or customer, never mind a member of Congress (or, heaven forbid, a judge), wouldn’t have gotten me fired so fast the words “I’m sorry” would have been completed after I was locked out of the building, and rightly so.

3. Miller won’t be fired, in all likelihood, meaning that The Daily Beast will have endorsed his disrespect. The same can be said of CNN’s disgusting refusal to discipline Carol Costello for taking open glee in Bristol Palin’s distress, and the New York Times’ craven refusal to condemn columnist Charles Blow for an anti-Mormon slur against Mitt Romney. These are symptoms of an unethical, biased media counting on its target audience approving the bias. They are supposed to be concerned about doing their job ethically and well.

4. The tweet is the inevitable result of the increasingly mainstream “fuck you” style of opinion commentary, practiced most prominently by Bill Maher and, sadly, Jon Stewart, who now knows he can get a cheap laugh by relating a statement by any of his usual Republican targets, then mugging at the camera, and shouting this or another vulgarity. Yes, he’s our generation’s Will Rogers, all right…

5. Here’s a quiz: which Senators would Miller never dare tweet “Fuck you” to, knowing he would be fired? The answer should be “all of them.” But that would only be true if the Daily Beast was fair, objective and ethical…and it’s not.

Meanwhile, the pusillanimous, shamelessly spinning, ethics dunce who is inexplicably a viable Republican Presidential nominee made this whopper of a “clarification” of his anti-vaxxing remarks:

“I did not say vaccines caused disorders, just that they were temporally related — I did not allege causation.”

He is a liar. What he said was,

“I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.”

And now this utter weasel is suggesting that we should believe that he was merely saying they were temporally related, as in a completely unrelated coincidence? What a massive, disqualifying insult to every American who Paul apparently thinks is so stupid that they will accept an explanation like that and say, “Duh, sure! He wasn’t alleging causation! It was as if he said, “I have heard of many tragic cases of  happy children whose dogs were run over by cars after vaccines.”

Of course Paul was alleging causation; there is no other way to interpret what he said. No wonder Miller wanted to tweet “Fuck you” to this guy. So do I, and he deserves it. But my job, like his, is to deal in enlightenment, not gratuitous abuse. It’s not always easy. In fact, I’m going to watch this clip of the Duke just to make me feel better:

22 thoughts on “Unethical Quote of the Week: Daily Beast Editor Justin Miller

  1. Paul should have just tweeted back “fuck you and your family.” I think it is supremely cowardly to hurl insults over a computer, but since Paul can’t wait for this guy to come to him or go seek him out, it’s probably allowable to respond in kind. Face to face he’d be well within his rights to punch Miller right in the nose or jaw a la The Duke’s clip.

    • That clip never gets old, and makes me smile every time I see it.

      But you can’t seriously say that is good for the culture, society, the young, political discourse or anything else for elected officials and journalists to get into “Fuck you!” “Yeah? Well, fuck YOU!” exchanges. How degrading.

      • Frankly, if I had my druthers, the first “fuck you” anyone hurled at me would be met with a clout to the jaw, because that’s not discourse, that’s gratuitous insult, and saying “fuck you” back isn’t a stronger response that might deter the other guy from going that low again. This makes me think of the scene in “The Untouchables” where Sean Connery’s James Malone tells Kevin Costner’s Elliott Ness that “He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of your guys to the hospital, you send one of his to the MORGUE! That’s the Chicago way, and that’s how you get Capone.”

        • I think it’s a solid rebuke, and while absolutely rude, sometimes it’s therapeutic. You’re faced with a person who just doesn’t get ‘it’, whatever it is. You’re frustrated, you don’t think he’ll ever get ‘it’. It’s a vent and a transfer. Fuck you isn’t a conversation starter, it’s a conversation ender.

          That said…. I think we can reasonable expect more from the media, and our politicians, for that matter. Heck, anyone who speaks publicly for a living.

          • Yup, it’s a conversation ender and a fight-starter, because it’s a personal insult and attack, no different than “kiss my ass” or some other expression of that nature. Usually if I’m faced with someone who doesn’t “get it” it goes one of two ways. If I know him and I know he’s not going to “get it” I just don’t begin the conversation with him so I don’t waste my time and energy on a fight that’s not going to change anyone’s mind. If the conversation starts but it starts to go south, usually I extricate myself before it gets to “fuck you,” it’s easy enough to say “I think we’re just going to disagree” or “this is a conversation I can’t have.” Other folks aren’t going to change their minds unless they want to change them. Is it frustrating sometimes? Damn straight. Does it invoke strong feelings? You bet your boots. Is that an excuse to vent those strong feelings in a rude manner and a direct attack? Emphatically no, and if you decide it is, and you piss the wrong person off, you have no one but yourself to blame when you find yourself lying in an alley with a broken nose and concussion, or with your mouth on the curb, awaiting the stomp that’s going to end you.

          • Hahaha, yes. Although, at least in the movie, a number of his lieutenants DID fall the Chicago Way, including Frank Nitti. “I said your friend died screaming like a stuck Irish pig. You just think about that when I beat the rap. (shove) Ness: Did he sound anything like that? CRASH!

  2. One thing in particular I really don’t like about Paul is that he is a master in vague language. His backpedalling there wasn’t false. He DIDN’T say that vaccines cause mental disorders, but he sure as hell implied it. And that’s kind of par for his course, he’s very coy, especially on issues that are polarizing, and I think he falls back on people’s biases to take what he says and translate it into what they want to hear. And sadly, that might actually help him in the primaries, at least until he becomes a serious contender and someone takes the time to point it out.

    • No I don’t! What could you be talking about?
      (OK, OK, I fixed it. Why I did that, I have no idea. Maybe it was wishful thinking that the Daily Beast would be critical of a Democrat for a change.)

  3. The American people do not want to be enlightened — they want to know who they are supposed to say “fuck you” to. Imagine Scott (AM) as a reporter. That would be his style. And you tolerated it and appreciated his “art form” for a long time — as did many of your readers.

    I’m tired of the anti-vax debate as apparently it’s hopeless. Researchers have determined that there is absolutely nothing one can say or proof that one can demonstrate to make them change their minds.

    So, it’s time for state laws on the topic. Sorry to be a Statist on this one, but the evidence is pretty overwhelming.

    • Saying FU can be very satisfying on a visceral level, and has its expressive value, which was my point in supporting/tolerating Scott. And there are reporters and pundits like Scott who are influential and popular—like Jon Stewart. Remember, his choice of words didn’t get Scott banned here.

      • I know that. But you write above that you shouldn’t use such language because an ethics blog is supposed to be about enlightenment. It just seems to run counter to supporting frequent contributors that use such language. I guess I’d give someone from the Daily Beast (or Rush or Jon Stewart) a pass on this before I’d give you or a Washington Post reporter.

        • I think I’ve been pretty consistent about insisting that we shouldn’t use such language, and also that such language has expressive value and that I’m not going to censor it for all the reasons we went around and around with in the debate here with Bruce Bartop and Barry. 1) Non epithet-filled language can be just as harsh as “fuck you!” 2) As Barry insisted, tough arguments could also be hurtful, hence his banning of mine mine when I called his readers on their race-baiting regarding the George Zimmmerman jury, and 3) Nobody here currently uses such language routinely or anything but rarely. I gave Scott unique dispensation as a show of support for uncensored expression at a time (continuing) of cultural pressure top censor, in part because he more than balanced his verbal excesses with intelligent commentary. My reward for that was his telling ME to go fuck myself, a result I could and should have predicted. I won’t give anyone that leeway again. 4) Both civility and non-censorship of speech for content are forms of ethical conduct I support vigorously. When they are in opposition to each other, it constitutes and ethics conflict. 5) I have, and usually will, pick non-censorship when I have to choose—HERE. Journalists, however, are not ethics blogs.

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