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
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
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)
Most Unprofessional Journalist
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
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)
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 Elected Officials: The insider-trading members of Congress.
- 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
- Conflicted Organization: The Better Business Bureau. T
- 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.