Monthly Archives: October 2016

As We Watch The Hillary Corrupted News Media Today Facilitate Her Campaign’s Furious And Desperate Attack On James Comey, Let Us Not Forget What The Real Threat To The Election’s Integrity Is…[UPDATED]

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…and that would be the dangerous alliance between the party controlling in the White House and the organizations and individuals trusted by the public to fairly and objectively inform it sufficiently to make a responsible choice.

I’ll be covering the astounding wave of disinformation, distortions and unethical conduct by those who should know better in the ongoing effort to crucify James Comey in a bit. Meanwhile, another Wikileaks hack provides some more perspective on the perils to democracy posed by the Democratic Party’s and the Clinton organization’s belief that cheating is an acceptable way to obtain and keep power.

As Ethics Alarms pointed out, DNC Chair Donna Brazile melted into sputtering protests, denials and gibberish when confronted with the clear evidence, via a Wikileaks hacked e-mail, that she unethically used her position at CNN to pass along a question to Hillary Clinton in advance of a CNN town meeting, so Clinton could prepare an answer in advance (and pretend that she had no prior knowledge of the question. This kind of lie, and it is a lie, never makes it onto the lists when Hillary enablers claim that Trump lies more than she does.) She would never do that!, Donna postured.

Another e-mail, from the same source, shows that this too was a lie.

In the latest revelation, Brazile, still working for CNN and bound by journalism ethics, told Hillary what question was on the way, and identified the questioner:

donna-b-tweet

“Rigging,” anyone? Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Rights, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump

From The Ethics Alarms Mail Bag: A Reader Asks, “Is The Verizon Wireless “Can You Hear Me Now?” Guy Unethical For Going Over To Sprint?

Question: Is the former Verizon Wireless spokes-character  whose tag line was “Can you hear me now?” unethical to star in commercials for Verizon competitor Sprint?

Answer: No, because that character, “the Test Man,” wasn’t real.

The real actor who played him, Paul Marcarelli, was playing a character and reading a script. He was acting the role of someone who told the audience how good the Verizon Wireless network was. He didn’t have to believe what he said was true. His loyalty extended no farther than his contractual obligations. The actor wasn’t ethically obligated to use Verizon Wireless, like it, understand it or believe in it, any more than Dos Equis’s “most interesting man in the world” has to really be interesting. Once the first ad series was dropped, he was a free agent.

Verizon could have included some kind of non-compete provision in the contract, forbidding Marcarelli from doing ads for a competitor, at least for a while.  It definitely could have prevented him from playing the same character as he played in the Verizon commercials, because that character is owned by Verizon. However,  Marcarelli uses his real name, Paul, in those Sprint ads, so he can argue that he’s not playing the Verizon character, but himself, and he owns the rights to “Paul Marcarelli.”

However, I do think the Sprint ads are unethical, and so obviously dishonest that they reflect poorly on Sprint. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Marketing and Advertising, Professions

Ethics Hero: The Daily Commercial’s Editorial Board

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The Daily Commercial, a local paper serving Leesburg, Florida, issued a striking editorial apology for its biased coverage of the Presidential race.

In an open letter titled “The media, the election and bias,” the editors apologized to its readers and observed that the paper “hasn’t done enough to mitigate the anti-Trump wave in the pages of this paper….You deserve a more balanced approach to the coverage of elections and other weighty issues.”

The editorial says in part… Continue reading

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Social Media Ethics: Speaking Of “Rigged” Elections….

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Can someone give me a benign explanation for this?

From Zero Hedge:

“Does anyone else find it odd that ‘FBI Emails’ does not appear to be a hot topic, trending, big deal on any social media?”

Facebook… “Trending”…

 

Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Social Media, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society

James Comey’s Ethical Conflict

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We now know that James Comey’s decision to inform Congress that the Clinton e-mail investigation had been re-opened (If I hear one more Clinton spinner  tells me that no case is ever “closed,” even one that is “completed,” I am going to run naked through the Safeway, screaming dirty limericks in pig latin. Be warned.) was “against Justice Department policy,” specifically the policy of “not acting in such a way as could influence an upcoming election.” Comey understood he was violating these guidelines, sources tell us,but felt he was obligated to do so because he had promised members of Congress he would inform them of any further developments related to Clinton’s email server misuse. Thus he sent a letter to F.B.I. employees after alerting Congress of the (possible) new evidence that necessitated re-opening the investigation. In the letter,  Comey acknowledged that his actions were unprecedented, but explained that…

I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression. In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.

According to the Washington Post,  Comey was also concerned that the discovery of the emails would be leaked to the media after he briefed a team of investigators about them, causing the  F.B.I. to be accused of a coverup to benefit Clinton.

Some ethics conclusions:

1. Comey’s actions are consistent with an understanding of the Ethics Incompleteness Principle, which is often discussed on Ethics Alarms:

The human language is not sufficiently precise to define a rule that will work in every instance. There are always anomalies on the periphery of every normative system, no matter how sound or well articulated. If one responds to an anomaly by trying to amend the rule or system to accommodate it, the integrity of the rule or system is disturbed, and perhaps ruined. Yet if one stubbornly applies the rule or system without amendment to the anomaly anyway, one may reach an absurd conclusion or an unjust result. The Ethics Incompleteness Principle suggests that when a system or rule doesn’t seem to work well when applied to an unexpected or unusual situation, the wise response is to abandon the system or rule—in that one anomalous case only— and use  basic ethics principles and analysis to find the best solution. Then return to the system and rules as they were, without altering them to make the treatment of the anomalous situation “consistent.”

Assuming that the “policy” is a sensible and ethical one to begin with (though it isn’t), this was an anomalous case. The FBI, and Comey personally, were rightly under intense criticism for their handling of the investigation. Among other puzzling decisions, Clinton’s aides were given immunity for no apparent reason; Clinton’s interview was neither videoed nor under oath; and Cheryl Mills, who was directly involved in the private server fiasco, was allowed to serve as Clinton’s lawyer when she was questioned. The policy was designed to protect the Justice Department and its component from suspicions of bias and partisan complicity, and the inept handling of the investigation  had already created those suspicions. When such a policy appears likely to have the opposite effect that it was established for, the rational and ethical approach is to make an exception, which is what Comey did.

2. This was courageous. Continue reading

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“Black Mirror” Ethics

black-mirror

I finally am getting around to examining “Black Mirror,” the British anthology series that explores, sometimes in a science fiction context, ethics issues involving technology. It is a critical hit, and has just had its  third season posted on Netflix.

Technology ethics is a dynamic and crucial topic. I sure hope the series is better than the  first episode, “National Anthem.”

If you are going to do a series about ethics, knowing something about ethics is mandatory. This episode is so absurd and its resolution so idiotic that it’s barely worth analyzing, No spoiler alert necessary, because I’m only going to reveal what would be in any preview synopsis. The Royal Family’s princess is kidnapped by terrorists—I think that’s a fair description—and they release a video on YouTube in which the terrified young woman announces that she will be executed unless the Prime Minister has live sex with a pig, on all TV networks.

The rest of the episode’s 60 minutes involves the PM’s “ethical dilemma” as social media weighs in and his staff and family apply various kinds of pressure. I wouldn’t waste an Ethics Quiz on this alleged “dilemma.” Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: “Rolling Stone” Founder/Owner Jann Wenner

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I’ve been awarding Ethics Dunces for more than a decade now, and I’m beginning to find the title too generic. For example, Jann Wenner, in this instance, is a particularly repugnant Ethics Dunce. In short, the title’s too good for him.

Wenner’s iconic baby, Sixties relic Rolling Stone magazine, is a defendant in a  $7.5 million lawsuit brought by Nicole Eramo, a former Associate Dean of Students at the University of Virginia, who claims that the 2014 Rolling Stone article “A Rape on Campus” depicted her as a villain in the shocking story, which was ultimately shown to be about a gang rape that never happened. (Ethics Alarms covered this episode extensively, an ethics train wreck, here.) Testifying in video excerpts from his deposition, Wenner said his magazine was wrong to retract the  article, despite the fact that it was based on false allegations. In his videotaped testimony Wenner claimed that much of the material in the article was accurate

How Dan Rather of him! In a classic example of agenda-driven reporting, Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely accepted the tale of a never-identified student called  “Jackie” who claimed to have been brutally raped at a party that never happened, at a misidentified fraternity, primarily by one student who was falsely accused. Because of the article, the  fraternity system at the University was temporarily shut down and permanently subjected to more stringent regulations. The male student body was tarred as teeming with sexual predators. The entire thesis of the article was based on the fabricated rape account. There is no ethical justification to continue to present such an article after its diseased heart must be removed. Continue reading

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