A Banner Day For Unfairness, Pettiness, Dishonesty, And Hypocrisy, Raising The Ethics Query: How Low Can Democrats And The News Media Go?

Actually, mudslinging would be an improvement...

Actually, mudslinging would be an improvement…

…as well as the related queries..

1. How low do they think they can go without alienating every American with a conscience and a brain?

2. Does any leader with integrity, courage and influence exist in either journalism or the political left to call out this escalating madness?

Yesterday was a stinking garbage scow of unfiltered anti-Trump hate and public deception.

The Prayer Breakfast Freak-Out: I wondered if the Washington Post, which has made very clear its own attitude regarding prayer (and religion generally), would have the gall to criticize the President for not being sufficiently pious during yesterday’s Prayer Breakfast. Just two weeks ago, the Post mocked the Secretary of Agriculture nominee for once “praying for rain.” (The mocking headline has been scrubbed now) Sure enough, the Post did have such gall; so did MSNBC and other media outlets that regularly display contempt for the genuinely religious, a significant majority of whom are conservative and Republican.

The critics of the President’s comments care nothing about prayer, basically like me, but unlike Ethics Alarms they are willing to plow new ground in hypocrisy by using this superfluous event to launch more gratuitous outrage. The Prayer Breakfast has the same origins as the addition of God to the Pledge of Allegiance. It was an anti-Godless Communism grandstanding stunt by Fifties era Republicans at the height of their Red-Baiting mode.  Now the same anti-religion liberals who routinely condescend to the faithful, and lobby for taking all references to “God” out of official documents, the same anti-religious  zealots who have condemned Betsy DeVos for her support of Catholic schools, are deeply, deeply offended that the President joked about “The Apprentice” at a Prayer Breakfast.

The Frederick Douglas freakout: The President spoke of Douglas in the present tense in his random remarks about Black History Month on February first, prompting multiple cheap shots and despicable contrived insults. The Post wrote yesterday,

“The world may never know whether President Trump just got a little sloppy with his verb tenses on Wednesday morning or simply had no idea that the famous black abolitionist Frederick Douglass was, in fact, dead.”

The Atlantic asked:

“Does Donald Trump actually know who Frederick Douglass was?”

Syndicated African-American columnist Eugene Robinson wrote yesterday,

“[Trump] displayed comic ignorance of our history (somebody please tell him that Frederick Douglass has been dead since 1895).”

Bias makes you stupid.

Over the last several years, Ethics Alarms repeatedly criticized right wing cheap shot artists who claimed that President Obama was ignorant of the geography of his own country because he once referred to campaigning in ” all 57 states.” It’s called “a slip of the tongue,” and anyone who has to speak in public as much as Presidents do will utter some pretty embarrassing examples.

Decent people and journalists, applying the Golden Rule and knowing how often they have inadvertently said stupid-sounding things themselves, behave appropriately and smile. Thus the mainstream media largely ignored Obama’s slip, and of course that’s all it was. They accorded him the respect and good will that any human being, not just any President but anyone, deserves. Not this President, though. Not him, even though, unlike Obama, we now have a long, long record of his off-the-cuff rhetorical monstrosities, and anyone who wants to be fair and rational knows that the man is the sloppiest speaker ever to hold the office.

Do these ultra-biased leftist Furies really believe that any 70 year-old man with a private school, graduate level education doesn’t know who Frederick Douglas was? If they do, it is they who have been embarrassed by this episode. If they don’t, then they are engaging in the kind of intentional smearing of the nation’s President that they would have labeled rank racism if a critic treated Obama with such contempt.

The Gorsuch “Fascist Club” freakout: This one belongs in the Fake News Hall of Fame. The lies and misrepresentations regarding Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch deserve a post all by themselves (especially since so many of them are issuing from the same Democrats who voted to confirm him for his current seat on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals), but yesterday the journalism dirt machine was in high gear. The Daily Mail reported that while a teenager at Jesuit Georgetown Prep, young Neil showed the proclivities that would make him a future choice of this Hitlerian POTUS by starting a “Fascism Forever Club.” The proof of this was a mention of the club in Gorsuch’s senior yearbook. The story seemed ridiculous on its face, as anyone familiar with Jesuits schools would know that such a student club would never be permitted then or now, but—did I mention that bias makes you stupid?—many U.S. news outlets, blogs and, of course, social media users accepted it as fact, and so informed their readers.

Of course, it was a false report. Steve Ochs, a history teacher at the Jesuit-run Georgetown Preparatory School, told America magazine that the “Fascism Forever Club” report was nonsense.  “There was no club at a Jesuit school about young fascists,” he explained. “The students would create fictitious clubs; they would have fictitious activities. They were all inside jokes on their senior pages.” Even Snopes debunked the story.

The Hair Growth Drug freakout: “Donald Trump’s Longtime Doctor Says President Takes Hair-Growth Drug,” trumpeted the New York Times, and most of the news media breathlessly followed with their coverage of this life-and-death revelation. Ugh…

1. How is this something the public has a right or need to know? Did the news media seek to discover if Obama used hemorrhoid ointments? Would reporters have deemed this newsworthy if they had learned that he did?

2. The President’s doctor’s revelation of the information is an unequivocal breach of patient confidentiality and privacy. This is not in the same category as, for example, the dangerous and addictive cocktails of drugs and medications Jack Kennedy was receiving regularly while President, and which reporters kept as secret as his many adulterous sexual trysts. The news media frequently decides that some news isn’t fit to print. How did this unethical breach of doctor-client privilege qualify as newsworthy?

3. The objective of the story was to embarrass the President of the United States, and to continue to make every effort to diminish him in the eyes of the American public and the world.

***

This is as appropriate a place as any to make this announcement.

Henceforth, Ethics Alarms will endeavor to exclusively refer to Donald Trump as The President. I never supported Trump for the office; far from it. I do support the President of the United States, however, as I have supported and will support all Presidents of the nation I proudly call my home. Those who seek to use bias, lies, personal attacks and violence to undermine the office and withhold the basic respect it must maintain in order for the United States to thrive and survive are not ethical, nor are they good citizens.

Ethics Alarms will be as vigorous in its criticism of the ethical breaches of this administration as it was with the previous one, but at this moment, the greatest threat to the health, safety, values and  unity of the nation is the escalating anti-democratic and un-American conduct of the Democratic Party, progressive activists, and the mainstream news media. Do they really not understand that their vicious tantrum continues and escalates a cycle of government by spite and vengeance, and will permanently damage the Presidency for all future occupants? Apparently so, and that basic civic ignorance is far more consequential than not knowing who Frederick Douglass is.

Joseph Welch’s decisive question to Sen. Joseph McCarthy never had more currency: “Have you left no sense of decency?”  It is long past time for the President’s angry and hateful foes to come to their senses, for the good of the nation, and themselves.

21 Comments

Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

21 responses to “A Banner Day For Unfairness, Pettiness, Dishonesty, And Hypocrisy, Raising The Ethics Query: How Low Can Democrats And The News Media Go?

  1. All these great topics. Don’t think I’m ignoring them. Just strolling around the Alamo today.

  2. charlesgreen

    Jack,

    I totally agree with every comment in this post, save one:

    “the greatest threat to the health, safety, values and unity of the nation is the escalating anti-democratic and un-American conduct of the Democratic Party, progressive activists, and the mainstream news media.”

    I realize there’s probably no way that two people with differing opinions could ever come to agreement about the relative levels of ‘threat,’ but failing that, let me just remind us all of:

    -an announced intention to get rid of the 1954 instantiation of the separation between church and state,
    -an announced intention to throw babies like fiduciary standard and own-portfolio trading rules out with the Dodd Frank bathwater
    -the conspicuous absence of the mention of Jews re the Holocaust
    -a continued demonstration of mental issues on the part of the POTUS
    -Bannon; ’nuff said.

    IMHO those, and a dozen others, constitute bigger threats than liberal press bias and the out-of-power party. Remember who won this presidential election – and the House, and the Senate, and the gubernatorial races. The biggest threats generally come from those IN power, not out of it.

    Just saying…

    • Those are matters of legitimate concern (although the Johnson Amendment didn’t address any problem that was detectable when it was passed.)

      I firmly believe the current Democratic “resistance” is an existential danger, and at a different level altogether.

      May…May…

    • Have faith in our institutions.

      The president is powerful, but the president is a single component in a vast system of checks and balances. The Left as a bloc possess far more power than just the presidency. It’s an easy judgment call to make- the Left is a greater danger to America than Trump, by leaps and bounds.

      If your concern is how much the power the presidency has accrued, one ought look at the causes of that growth in power and gripe at the world view that led to that as well as, as I said before, have faith in our institutions- Trump may very well be just the catalyst we need to start putting the presidency back into an originality perspective.

    • Andrew Wakeling

      Well said Charles Green. The press only has influence. The President has power, and shows every sign of being ready to use it. Those who think the President is wrong have every right within the law to ‘resist’ and protest. Those who think the press are irresponsible can stop buying the paper or reach for the remote; or start a new paper or write a blog. I find it very hard to see how ‘resistance within the law’ could ever be an ‘existential threat’. And if the ‘resistance’ is outside the law, then call the police.

  3. Jack wrote, “It is long past time for the President’s angry and hateful foes to come to their senses, for the good of the nation, and themselves.”

    You’re absolutely correct that it’s long past time for these people to do exactly what you said; however, there are too many lefties are suffering from Traumatic Political Stress Disorder (TPSD). They are so entrenched in their twisted ends justify the means unethical behavior that there is likely no suitable treatment for the symptoms and certainly no cure; even reasonably moderate Democrats have fallen or are falling into the abyss of complete moral bankruptcy.

    I have little to no hope of “President’s angry and hateful foes to come to their senses”. This is all going to get a lot worse before it gets better. We’re in for a rough ride.

  4. “‘Frederick Douglass,’ Trump said, ‘is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.'”
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/02/01/trumps-first-100-days-nuclear-option-bad-phone-calls-and-frederick-douglass/?utm_term=.fc93c618903e

    As one well-versed in grammar both official and vernacular,
    I say Trump’s critics do commit an error most spectacular.
    While Douglass, we can say “was” a most mighty abolitionist,
    He still “is” an example phrased in grammar most traditionalist.
    If he “was” an example then his influence has waned to naught.
    The present tense reflects that he is still a force in public thought.
    Upon reflection for a moment, maybe they know what they say.
    His principles and substance are things they would rather sweep away.

    By this same token they attempt to place a filter o’er the lands.
    But for our future we must take it off with firm but gentle hands.
    In short, in matters of precision, sense, and lyrics, I insist
    I’m very much superior to a modern major journalist.

  5. Has anyone seen or heard from the ‘good’ Democrats, the moderates who represent the core values and soul of their party? Tho ones who should be talking their fringe down, calming the waters, stating to the world that “this is not who we are, and we do not stoop to this behavior?”

    Legit question, as I have not. (I may exist in a self-imposed bubble, since I do not waste my time reading much MSM propaganda as an exercise in maintaining skull integrity)

    Anyone?

  6. Chris

    I have to say I’m not sure I agree that most of these are examples of journalistic malpractice or any kind of “threat” from the left.

    1) Despite the anti-religious bent of most leftists, I’d say most of us still recognize that when you address a religious audience during a religious ceremony, you are supposed to treat those in attendance with respect. Using the breakfast to boast about one’s relative TV ratings is disrespectful to those gathered for the breakfast. Period.

    I thought the “pray for rain” headline was wrong, but I doubt even the person who read that headline would go into a church or in front of a religious gathering and act as Trump did.

    Most also pointed out the hypocrisy of Trump supporters who would have been livid if Obama had ever behaved that way at the breakfast.

    2) The benefit of the doubt applies to people who have earned it. Yes, it absolutely is believable to me that President Trump does not know who Frederick Douglas is. He doesn’t even know the difference between a refugee and an illegal immigrant. This would not be beyond his normal level of stupid. The vagueness with which he addressed Douglass implies to me he doesn’t actually know anything about him. Does the present tense indicate he’s still alive? It could be a slip of the tongue, but Spicer used the same tense when describing him later, which indicates neither of them know what they’re talking about.

    3) I did see some liberal friends falling for the Daily Mail story. Given that this tabloid has a terrible reputation, they should have known better. At the same time, the Mail usually promotes lies to serve a right-wing agenda, so maybe they thought it was more believable because this goes against their usual bias.

    What other media outlets reported the story? If it made its way to the MSM I agree that this is part of the “threat” you describe. If it was limited to outlets like the Mail, which are already known distributors of fake news, than that’s a separate problem.

    (Also: “even Snopes?” That’s the first place I checked, because they often do debunk lies told about right-wing politicians. “Even Snopes” is an unfair phrasing.

    4) Yeah, I’m with you on this one. Beneath the standards of the Times.

    • Chris Bentley

      “I’d say most of us still recognize that when you address a religious audience during a religious ceremony, you are supposed to treat those in attendance with respect.”

      Not trying to be antagonistic, I swear, but that’s a very specific set of circumstances for which the religious are universally deserving of respect in your eyes. What about addressing a religious audience in a non-religious setting? Is it then ok for someone to be sloppy (as Trump is), or downright disrespectful (as many non-believers are)? What about addressing a mix of religious and non-religious outside of a church setting?

      Why does one have to be directly addressing the faithful in order to be respectful of their beliefs? Is the rule for respecting Islam limited to only when addressing Muslims, and only in a Mosque?

      Again, not trying to bust your chops here, as Im sure yours was a throwaway line, and had you known someone would question it, you would’ve put more thought into your choice of words. And yes, common sense still rules that when an invited guest into someone else’s “domain”, you politely play by their rules, unless you have good reason not to. I guess Im getting at, that the respect (i.e, respectfully critiquing and criticizing), as long as it is not forfeited, should extend outside their place of worship, and outside of their presence, at least when done publicly. Too many of those “Keep praying to your invisible sky monkey…lolz” people out there, who seem to get off by antagonizing the faithful, just don’t seem to get that.

      (Looking for a step stool to climb down off my soapbox)

      • Chris

        I think people in general should be more respectful of religions other than their own, if that answers your question. (Of course, Trump claims to be a Christian; I’m not sure if that makes his disrespect at the Prayer Breakfast better or worse.)

  7. E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

    Re the “Prayer Breakfast,” I have long thought this was a sham and mostly a photo-op. though I am sure there are those who share real religious beliefs. I think the concept of a religious POTUS went right out the window with Bill Clinton going to church every Sunday, Bible in hand, at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

    Re a prep school year book joke: When I was in high school and on the yearbook staff, we routinely made up organizations that we said we belonged to. And in college — graduated in three years with National English Honor Society as a credit — I also listed (with a few of my girlfriends) “Crazy Ladies 4,” as the imaginary club we ‘belonged’ to in our senior year. Good thing I’m not in the public eye, for who knows what that might mean to to anyone trying to pillory me.

    These are trifles writ large by ideologues who cannot and will not get on the the business of either governing or reporting that process. Still sick. Back to PG.

  8. luckyesteeyoreman

    Okay, okay – I’ll stop calling Trump The Apprentice. I might not be able to resist continuing to refer to Cheeto dust now and then…

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