Michelle Fields, a stand-in reporter for Breitbart, gets manhandled at a Trump rally while trying to ask The Donald a question. She complains, the Trump organization attacks her, her Trumpized employers refuse to back her, and now battery charges have been filed in North Carolina against Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, whom Fields says grabbed and bruised her. Meanwhile, multiple members of the Breitbart staff, including website star Ben Shapiro and the reporter, have resigned.
What’s going on here, and why does it matter?
1. It matters because what should have been a minor episode has turned into a full-scale ethics train wreck, with the still-growing passenger list including Donald Trump, his campaign, Breitbart, Fox News, the justice system, Fields, Shapiro, the Washington Post, Piers Morgan, and Trump’s embarrassing supporters. Nothing has escalated into a nasty and destructive battles of wills, because Donald Trump creates a culture in which winning and never apologizing turns every dispute into ugly confrontation and warfare.
2. This is how Trump as President would and could start a real war. His entire philosophy precludes common sense and diplomacy. Just because an incident is trivial in substance doesn’t mean its implications can’t be significant, and this is an excellent example. Look at how it developed. Trump’s staff embraces the culture he has created and endorses—thuggishness, misogyny, a contempt for manners, a refusal to be gracious, insistence on winning above all, even when the benefits are dwarfed by the costs. A government and nation under Trump would do the same. A complaint over fishing rights or an imagined diplomatic gaffe would deteriorate and escalate, with President Trump shouting insults from the Oval Office.
3. Was Field’s hypersensitive? Maybe: it doesn’t matter. Was the conduct of Lewandowski really worthy of a criminal battery charge? Probably not: that isn’t important either. What is important is that the entire incident could have been defused immediately with a simple apology by Lewandowski, ordered by Trump if the campaign manager wasn’t sensible and ethical enough to do it on his own. Instead, Lewandowski behaved like his boss—like an arrogant jerk, in other words—and Trump has backed him, putting the usually ethical value of loyalty where it often has unethical results, blindly supporting wrongful conduct. He’s ratifying foolish, egocentric, irrational behavior, and his mushy-brained followers are getting the warped message that this is how leaders should act.
4. Why was Lewandowski physically interacting with a reporter anyway? That’s not his job. He was doing it because Trump has encouraged a paranoid and hostile attitude toward both demonstrators and journalists. It is part of the unethical culture Trump champions.
5. Trump himself has been denigrating and attacking Fields, threatening to sue her, “punching down,” bullying as usual, once again showing that he views lack of deference by women as the ultimate insult. As in his astonishing, even for him, attack on Ted Cruz’s wife and his subsequent Big Lie barrage against Cruz, Trump is, in Anderson Cooper’s term last night, engaging in five-year-old playground ethics in which “They started it!” is considered just provocation.
6. What an asshole. Remember: this is what really matters.
7. Those who care to derive useful intelligence from this stunningly unintelligent episode may ponder Trump’s pledge to appoint and hire “the best people” once he is elected. Every example so far of the kind of people Trump considers competent has signaled the opposite: he likes boors, frauds, liars and fools who reason by rationalizations…like him. Lewandowski behaved unprofessionally. Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer and spokesman, threatened The Daily Beast in a vulgar rant and announced that it was legal for a man to rape his wife. Trump’s handpicked TV spokespersons are like characters in an anti-Trump Saturday Night Live skit. There is the jaw-dropping Katrina Pierson; the vile Omarosa; the shameless Sarah Huckabee Sanders —would any other candidate dare have any of these hacks represent him on camera?
8. The Fields-Lewandowski affair and Trump’s handling of it give us a neat microcosm of what a Trump Presidency would be like. Trump’s fans, who are denigrating Fields and cheering on Trump as he botches the episode, think that’s just groovy, because they don’t get it. They don’t get much, really. For observant, responsible, aware citizens, however, this is yet another warning sign to be heeded.
8 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On The Michelle Fields-Corey Lewandowski Ethics Train Wreck”
Minor correction: Florida not North Carolina.
I dunno what to think. It used to be that as men grow they were encouraged to “kick ass and take names,” “never take no for an answer,” and multiple other expressions of toughness that didn’t allow for anything other than win at any cost. Those assigned to teach boys to become men sometimes weren’t shy about using intimidating tactics like yelling in your face, cuffing you in the back of the head, or squeezing and twisting your arm almost to the point of it breaking. That’s how I got involved in more than my share of fights growing up, and lost as many as I won, and have occasionally let my temper drive me into the same kind of tactics. Trump is the same kind of person with the same kind of approach, except in his case it’s not tempered with wisdom. Of course, measure him against the MMA-practicing Putin and the ISIS thugs and he appears positively sane.
Since when has “win at all cost” been the virtue taught to ethical men?
I think that’s nonsense.
I certainly know the rough and tumble “make sure you are right, then go ahead” and when David Crockett said “go ahead” he meant pour out all your passion, spirit, and effort into winning. But not until that first bit “make sure you are right” is completed. Nothing in that formula means win at all costs – read as win by sacrificing being right.
Oh and nothing about Crockett’s formula precludes getting into just the kind of scrapes you describe. As Crockett proved many times and finally.
I take it you read the same kids history of him I did, where the one kid deliberately spills his ink, but Davey can’t fight him then and there, so he waylays him on the way home from school and beats the tar out of him?
Not sure how that anecdote supports your view. But feel free to try.
I think the incident occurred in, and the prosecution is occurring in, Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Florida.
Dik Browne, in his Hagar the Horrible cartoon, uses a paraphrase of Grantland Rice’s words :
Lucky Eddy: “It’s not whether you win or lose it’s how you play the game.”
Hagar: “where did you get that stupid idea?”
Lucky Eddie: “Off this guy’s tombstone”
There are places where winning is everything – gunfights and knife fights spring to mind – but as a rule for life it is rather flawed. It is especially flawed when we are discussing ethics where ‘how you play the game’ is, by definition, everything.
I ran the list here for a while, settling on #7, “Tit for Tat”, before deciding that in essence every ethics rule stands in opposition to a ‘win at all costs’ mentality. Mind you, if caught in a gunfight I’m pretty sure that the Gunfighter Rationalisation; “If someone is going to be tried and someone is going to be buried it’s me that’s going to be tried” is perfectly ethical!
It is not surprising that Donald Trump’s rise coincides with this growing movement by university students to demand that offensive speech be censored.