The Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards, Part II: The Worst of Ethics 2015

Donald and Hillary

Ethics Corrupters of the Year

(Awarded to the unethical public figure whose prominence, popularity and success most corrupts the public’s ethical values)

A Tie: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  Nobody else is close.

I’m sorry that these two are so dominating the awards. They also dominated the posts last year. If they dominate the awards next year, God Save The United States of America…

Double Standard Of The Year

The deference accorded to anti-white protesters on dozens of college campuses, not just by spineless administrators but much of the news media. Similar protests, conduct and rhetoric by white students would be immediately condemned for what it would be: blatant racism.

 Lie of the Year

Hands Up! Don’t shoot! The lie was uttered in 2014, but acquired new status after the Justice Department unexpectedly and definitively determined that the evidence did not support the inflammatory myth that Mike Brown was shot dead in Ferguson while trying to surrender to Officer Wilson. Never mind: the lie is part of the manifesto of Black Lives Matter and similar groups; it is still alluded to by activists and shameless politicians; it still divides the nation and focuses hate on police departments; and it has contributed to getting police officers killed while making communities more vulnerable to crime. It may be the Lie of the Decade.

Uncivil U.S. Official of the Year

Justice Antonin Scalia, who crossed all lines of judicial restraint, collegiality and civility when he excoriated his colleague, Justice Kennedy, who was the fifth vote in the majority of SCOTUS’s ruling  that same-sex marriage was a Constitutional right no state could deny, with this comment in a footnote:

“If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”

——U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia,


The Jesse Jackson Award 

(For the Year’s Worst Amateur Diplomat)

Barack Obama.  I know, this is snarkier than I like to be in these awards, but the signature diplomatic measure of the past year, the astounding, one-sided, dangerous and Munich-like deal with Iran, could only be the product of an ideological tyro placing wishes and hopes over diplomatic responsibility, and not for the first time. For most Presidents, trading dangerous terrorists for a deserter would be nadir. History has seen many tragedies seeded by world leaders with no diplomatic skills: the disastrous Treaty of Versailles,  Potsdam, and the treaty that this one most resembles, negotiated by the hapless Neville Chamberlain. We can only hope that the worst case scenario doesn’t materialize, but if it does not, it will be moral luck.

Most Unethical Sports League

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady speaks at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts, May 7, 2015. REUTERS/Charles Krupa/Pool ORG XMIT: BKS06

The NFL, for the third year in a row. “Concussion,” Tom Brady, Deflategate, more evidence that NFL players are slowly killing themselves with brain damage, Johnny Manziel.  What a great sport pro football is.

Sports Cheat of the Year

Tom Brady, New England Patriots ball-deflating quarterback.  Brady eventually avoided punishment because the NFL botched both its investigation and its imposition of penalties, but his smirking, cynical comments about the incident made it clear that he thinks cheating is no big deal, and most of his fans agree.

Not surprisingly, Brady supports Donald Trump.

Unethical Lawyers of the Year

Law Firm Division:  Lawyers Stephen Diaco, Robert Adams and Adam Filthaut of the Florida firm Adams & Diaco were found to have “maliciously” set up the drunken-driving arrest of their opposing counsel in a  high-profile defamation trial. The plot involved a comely paralegal and a cooperative DUI cop. Last I checked, it looked like all three lawyers would be disbarred for life.

Scary Lawyer Division: California lawyer Douglas Crawford  held a can of pepper spray a yard from the face of the opposing lawyer saying, “I will pepper-spray you if you get out of hand.” Then the lawyer pointed a stun gun at Traver’s head and said, “If that doesn’t quell you, this is a flashlight that turns into a stun gun.” To show he wasn’t kidding, Crawford discharged the stun gun the startled lawyer’s face.

Hard-working Lawyer Division: Massachusetts lawyer,  Karen Andrade, was  charged with prostitution after a police investigated a report by a suspicious neighbor and  found online reviews of both the lawyer’s legal services and her escort services

Celebrity Lawyer Division: Michael Cohen,  one of Donald Trump’s lawyers, told the Daily Beast that it was legally impossible for a man to rape his wife. He was only a couple of decades and many court cases behind on his research. That piece of legal scholarship came after he had threatened the website’s staff in language usually associated with loan sharks and pimps.

Unethical Prosecutor of the Year


Baltimore’s City Attorney Marilyn Mosby

Unethical Judge of the Year

TIE! Ferguson, Mo. Municipal Court  Judge Ronald J. Brockmeyer. Until the Justice Department stopped him, he  sent poor citizens  to jail for being unable to pay fines. Yet Brockmeyer personally owes the US government $172,646 in taxes.

Or is Alabama’s Judge Marvin Wiggins worse? He’s the one who gave indigents defendants the choice of going to jail or giving blood.

Unethical National Broadcast Journalist Of The Year

Former NBC anchor Brian Williams

 The Stephanopoulos  Award

(for the Broadcast Journalist Conflict Of The Year)

George Stephanopoulos!

Most Unprofessional Journalist

Drunk Lemon

CNN’s Don Lemon, who got drunk as a skunk on national TV, hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve coverage.

Worst Abuse Of Power and Reputation by a Respected News Source

Broadcast Division: NPR, which deceptively edited a Ted Cruz interview to make him appear more radical, less rational, and dumb.

Print Division: The New York Times, which hyped an anti-gun editorial by placing it on the front page, and used it to misrepresent facts, the law and the issues.

Unethical TV Talk Show

Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, because Bill O’Reilly hosts it. Bill has a leg up for the 2016 competition already, admitting on the air that he promised a guest (Donald Trump, but still…) he wouldn’t raise an issue and raised it anyway.

The Kitty Genovese Award For Unethical Bystanders Of The Year

No Award This Year.


2015’s  Ethics Outrage That Most Makes Me Regret That Ethics Alarms Has No Real Influence

That both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton led their respective parties for the Presidential nominations.

Fallen Hero of the Year

Cosby meme

Bill Cosby 

Celebrity Race-Baiter Of The Year

Danielle Watts, the African American actress  (“Django Unchained”) who in 2014 engaged in lewd, if non-felonious, public conduct, then exploited the tensions arising out of Ferguson to claim victim status, police harassment and race prejudice. When the L.A. police were exonerated by the recording of her arrest and she was ordered to apologize by a judge (and asked to apologize by civil rights leaders, who were embarrassed after they rallied to her support only to find that she had played the race card without  justification), she failed—twice—to deliver a sincere apology.

Unethical Celebrity of the Year

Dr. Ben Carson. With absolutely no qualifications or relevant experience whatsoever, the retired neurologist whose sole claim to celebrity was his attack on President Obama’s policies at a National Prayer Breakfast cashing in his 15 minutes of fame for a run to gain the Republican Party nomination. In the process he has embarrassed doctors, the devout, Republicans, conservatives and himself with bizarre and ignorant statements, added nothing to the process, diverted attention, wasted our time, and made Donald Trump seem qualified by comparison.

Jumbo of the Year

(Awarded To The Most Futile And Obvious Lie)

Jumbo film

High School Principal Mark Stenner, who delivered a commencement address to his school’s graduating class that was completely plagiarized from a much-circulated address by Massachusetts’ English teacher David McCullough except for changing a few locations. Never mind: Stenner denied that it was plagiarism anyway, even though McCullough’s address was turned into a book and quoted—with attribution— in thousands of other speeches.

Dumbest Ethics Controversy Of The Year

“In retrospect, do you think your brother made a mistake invading Iraq?”

2014 Conflicts of Interest of the Year

  • Conflicted Celebrity : Jon Stewart. The much-worshiped pseudo-pundit/satirist was busted as an undisclosed guest of President Obama on at least two occasions. So much for objective, non-partisan, rapier-like satire. We always knew Stewart was a Democratic operative, but if he was going to collaborate with one of his supposed targets, he had an obligation to be transparent about it.
  • Conflicted Journalist: Tucker Carlson, who pulled a column by a Daily Caller contributor because it criticized Fox News, where Carlson has a gig as a weekend host of the network’s embarrassing happy conservative talk morning news show
  • Appearance of Impropriety Award:  Hillary Clinton.  Who else?

Unethical Quote of the Year


“Romney didn’t win, did he?”

Senator Harry Reid to CNN’s Dana Bash, when she asked him whether he regretted his outright lie during the 2012 Presidential campaign accusing GOP nominee Mitt Romney of not paying any taxes at all for the past 10 years.

At the time, I designated this the Unethical Quote of Millennium. I still can’t think of a worse one. Otherwise, the award would go to this quote and its speaker:

“If there’s 10 people that have been accused and under a reasonable likelihood standard maybe one or two did it, seems better to get rid of all 10 people. We’re not talking about depriving them of life or liberty, we’re talking about their transfer to another university.”

—-Colorado Democratic Representative Jared Polis, at the congressional hearing on campus sexual assault.


We’re not through yet, unfortunately.

PART III is coming.

PART I is here.





17 thoughts on “The Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards, Part II: The Worst of Ethics 2015

  1. Is it really fair to say, “…Donald Trump…led [his] respective part[y] for the Presidential nomination…”? All we had as evidence of this was public opinion polls, with no way to tell who was asked, who replied, who didn’t answer the phone, who gave a joke answer. Though it’s a small electorate, the first group of Republicans given a chance to actually cast a vote clearly refused to designate Trump as the party leader.

    • During 2015? Sure it is. As a result, we were bombarded with Trump on the TV day and night. Want to see how corrupting he has been—starting NOW I’m going to look for typical Trump support: Ready?

      Here (that took 3 minutes, 23 seconds. I can’t do this with any other candidate, of either party.

      Donald Trump, The Modern American Lion!

      jwcody JohnWick • 2 days ago

      We need an American for President in 2016… Trump is the only one, overly Qualified…

      TrajanOptimus jwcody • 2 days ago

      That comment was AWESOME! I spit popcorn all over the living room when he got after the donors.They’re nothing but a bunch of corrupt bastards Good on ya Trump!

      Mike TrajanOptimus • 2 days ago

      I loved it. Especially when he put his finger to his lips telling Yeb to STFU. And it was obvious that the place was packed with GOPe and their money guys. Hilarious. Reince Priebus thinks he is too clever by half.

      TrajanOptimus Mike • 2 days ago

      That donor comment by Trump is going to win him a lot of votes.

      Concerned AMERICAN Citizen TrajanOptimus • 2 days ago

      I HOPE SO!!

      Felix Rodriguez TrajanOptimus • 2 days ago

      That was a great line, but I liked his response regarding waterboarding better.

      Disco Obama factsobill • a day ago

      President Trump! President Trump! President Trump!

      Disco Obama factsobill • a day ago

      Don’t you love how the name President Trump just rolls off the tongue, like it’s meant to be. Practice saying it with me, President Trump! President Trump! President Trump! Wooooooooooo! 2016, here we come!

  2. How is what Scalia said of Kennedy’s opinion uncivil? (Now I have to re-read the Obergefell opinions – again.) Jack, you might be surprised to see me say that I disagree with Scalia’s characterization of Kennedy’s opening as a “mystical aphorism.” I might call it a deflection plus a set-up for a strawman, but there is nothing “mystical” about it.

    Related to Tom Brady: thinking about your post on Martin Shkreli (I have not gone back to be sure I have seen all comments on that), “fick” is nicely compact, for a term to describe what you have defined. But, I can’t stop wanting to use more syllables to describe such flagrant ethics dunces. I recommend “Shkreli Bradyfick” for the “ultimate fick.” Until some better names for ethics dunces come along, anyway.

    • How is 1) suggesting that one’s opinion was bought, impugning a colleague’s integrity, 2) saying it was so disgraceful that it warranted hiding one’s head in a bag 3) telling a Supreme Coury justice that instead of legal reasoning he is employing the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie uncivil? A lawyer who said or wrote that about a judge would be held in contempt, fined and probably suspended. That is not accepted civil discourse among justices—it’s not substantive, it’s name-calling.

      • “That is not accepted civil discourse among justices…” Now I understand you better – thanks. For now, I will defer to you on what is, and is not, accepted civil discourse among justices. I could be mistaken, but I thought I had seen much more direct, name-calling attacks by one justice against another, in other case opinions. So my impression was that what Scalia said of Kennedy was in the “penumbra” – if I may use such a Supreme Court-y term – of what the justices accept among themselves as civil discourse.

        I also now understand that you consider what Scalia wrote – “…the price to be paid for a fifth vote,…” – an inference, even an accusation, by Scalia that Kennedy’s opinion was bought. I honestly did not read that part that way at all. I still read it only as a hypothetical by Scalia, about the consequence of beginning an opinion in a way Scalia considers disgraceful – namely, hiding one’s head in a bag – with no connection at all to any external buyer’s influence on the (hypothetical) opinion-writer.

        Barack Obama has not been packed into the Supreme Court yet (or, did I mean “PACed?” as part of some sort of pact?), so it is encouraging that the justices are not yet calling each other poopie-heads, or, say, kindred spirits of like minds with Islamic State brutes. Still, this discussion of what justices consider civil discourse reminds me of something the late, well-paid and perhaps even “one-percenter” anarchist, George Carlin, said in one of his more famous rants. Paraphrasing Carlin, it’s a tiny but powerful club, and none of us are in it. This federal government of what has been called the United States is hurtling toward establishing itself as a latter-day racketeers’ paradise reminiscent of the Knights Templar, just before they ran out of their magical bullshit. There was nothing mystical there, either.

        • Scalia was speaking truth to power. I attended law school in the early-mid 1990’s and most people there were leftists and nobody even dreamed that the Constitution somehow mandated gay marriage. The Constitution did not change — what changed is attitudes about gay marriage. The attitude change is a good one, but it does not change the Constitution.

          Supreme Court justices should not be able to re-write the Constitution and Scalia was right to call them out on it in strong terms. Yes the majority should be embarrassed. From the perch Scalia is on he is uniquely situated to call out those who amended the Constitution by judicial fiat — he is an ethics HERO for doing it.

          • No, because being insulting focused attention on the messenger, nor the message. Scalia is superbly intelligent and eloquent. He didn’t need to get personal to make his point: it was tantrum.

            Also, you cheated there, Dan. The Constitution doesn’t mandate gay marriage, but it does mandate not giving some citizens benefits that are withheld from others on an arbitrary basis (and yes, it’s always been this way” is arbitrary, unless there’s a compelling reason of substance too.) It doesn’t mandate integration, either.

            Gay marriage is the exactly the kind of issue that shows where “originalists” are out to lunch, and I suspect Nino knows it.

            • Of course your argument is the best one that could be made, and it was not the ground that the Supreme Court used.

              Opponents of gay marriage don’t think its arbitrary at all. They think the traditional definition of marriage is beneficial to children, among other things. Maybe you disagree. So do I. This is a classic policy dispute.

              On your logic, there is nothing stopping a future court from declaring all race-based affirmative action unconstitutional, or a constitutionally-mandated ban on same-sex bathrooms. So long as one side of a policy dispute can be marginalized as not only being wrong but having a useless position in the eyes of five lawyers, anything is possible.

    • I love the term “Fick”. For the longest time, I thought it was just some descriptive term, long in use, that I’d never heard before. I was delighted to find out that it’s actually the name of a living, breathing putz. I do hope he’s aware of its use here. Then again, he would probably be proud of it.

  3. “Ball-INFLATING quarterback?” Now, that woulda been harder to get out of.

    “Tom, are you french kissing that ball?”

    “FFFFFFFFFFFFF – (gasp) – What did you say?”

    • Brady looks like he’s doing the mime’s trapped-in-a-glass-cage bit. I hate to overuse that word, but the act always looked creepy to me.

  4. Digging a little deeper in that quote at the end, it’s unethical on so many levels. Even if we grant that 20% of the accused are guilty and that switching universities is no hassle to them, WHAT THE HELL IS ACHIEVED BY SENDING A RAPIST TO SOME OTHER UNIVERSITY?!?! Wasn’t the Catholic Church (rightly) criticized for shuffling abusing priests around? Did this guy actually think through what he was suggesting?

    • There is no end to the distance or places NIMBYs can send people they don’t want to deal with, be responsible for, or care about.

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