Ethics Alarms wraps up the Worst in 2016 Ethics with the usual education and journalism breaches, Ethics Dunce of the Year, and more delights for the sadistic…
Unethical Government Fiasco Of The Year
The Flint, Michigan water crisis. A failure of competence, diligence, responsibility and honesty, compounded by bureaucrats, elected officials, the city of Detroit, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and the EPA made people sick and cost billions.
Good job, everybody!
Scam of the Year
Sen.Ted Cruz’s fake “official” mailer before the Iowa Caucus. Cruz’s campaign sent out mailers labeled in all capital letters, “ELECTION ALERT,” “VOTER VIOLATION,” “PUBLIC RECORD,” and “FURTHER ACTION NEEDED.” On the other side, the mailer said, in red letters at the top, “VOTING VIOLATION.” The text read:
You are receiving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area. Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses.
This is why Trump’s nickname for Cruz, “Lyin’ Ted,” was crude but accurate.
Ethics Dunces Of The Year
All the social media users and others who ended Facebook friendships, genuine friendships and relationship over the 2016 election. Haven’t they ever seen “It’s A Wonderful Life”? Morons. Shame on all of them.
Weenies of the Year
The college students who demanded that exams be cancelled, therapists be available, safe spaces be found, puppies be summoned and cry-ins be organized because the awful candidate they supported in the Presidential election lost, as candidates often do.
Unethical University Of The Year
Liberty University. This is the most competitive of categories, with all the schools that railroaded male students based on questionable sexual assault claims while quailing in fear of the Dept. of Education’s “Dear Colleague Letter,” and all the schools that signaled that the results of a simple election justified PTSD treatment for their shattered charges, as well as making it clear to any students who dared to tilt Republican that they were persona non grata. Nonetheless, Liberty University takes the prize with its unique combination of greed, hypocrisy, and warped values. From the Ethics Alarms post:
Last week, with great fanfare, Liberty hired Ian McCaw as its new athletic director. “My vision for Liberty is to position it as a pre-eminent Christian athletic program in America,” McCaw said during a news conference.
This is his first paying assignment since May, when he left his job as the athletic director at Baylor, also a Christian university. His departure was made essential after a thorough investigation that found that those overseeing Baylor’s football team as well as the management of the athletic department—that is, McCaw— had been informed of multiple gang rapes and sexual assault by team members and had ignored it, as any good football-loving Christian would….especially when a star was involved.
Unethical University Administrator Of The Year
Stephanie Clemons Thompson, Ohio State University assistant director of residence life. …who, incredibly, still has her job after urging her followers to have compassion for the Somali refugee killer, Abdul Razak Arta. The poor guy had expressed a desire “to kill a billion infidels” and then carried out a car and knife attack on the Ohio State Campus. She also urged students to “think of the pain he must have been in,” and used the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #SayHisName, which BLM uses to denote victims of police racism and brutality. In short, she mad it clear that she believes that police shooting a man who was running amuck with a knife, stabbing ten people, were exhibiting brutality and racism, because the man was black.
Most Unethical Professor
Rutgers University lecturer Kevin Allred, who tweeted to the campus,
“Will the 2nd amendment be as cool when i buy a gun and start shooting at random white people or no…?”
The University had him arrested and sent to Bellevue mental hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
OK, he might not be the most unethical professor, but he is definitely the dumbest unethical professor.
Most Unethical Graduate School
Georgetown University Law Center. Yes, my alma mater. My diploma is not worth a bucket of warm spit:
- First, the faculty got into an embarrassing and unseemly pissing match because the Dean dared to send out a memo expressing sorrow at the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
- Then James Feinerman, the James M. Morita Professor of Asian Legal Studies , who also serves as its associate dean for transnational programs, was hired by the U.S. government as an expert witness to bolster the prosecution in a spying case, and plagiarized a substantial potion of the report submitted to the court from Wikipedia.
- As the crowning achievement, we just learned that in 2016, GULC adjunct professor Jack Vitayanon was selling meth, just like in “Breaking Bad.”
The Pazuzu Award
(Named for the demon that possessed Linda Blair in “The Exorcist” and made her say the nastiest things, the Pazuzu Award is bestowed on the prominent individual who denies responsibility for his or her actual words and actions, claiming that they did not express what he or she really believes )
Dani Mathers, a former Playmate of the Year, who used her cell phone to take a photo of an unsuspecting member of her gym who was undressing, then posted the pic on Snapchat with the caption, “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either.” This is signature significance for a terrible human being, but Dani, once caught, claimed a full Pazuzu, saying on an apology video, “This isn’t who I am.”
Most Unprofessional Journalist
Don Lemon. Lemon discharged his Times Square New Year’s Eve duties for CNN by getting roaring drunk, on camera. This is remarkable, because it involves wrapping up the award in the first seconds of the new year. (He got drunk this year too, but I’m not counting him as a serious journalist any more.)
The “Breitbart Most Untrustworthy News and Commentary Website That Isn’t A Hoax Site
Award” That Will Always Be Awarded To Breitbart
Most Unethical Broadcast Pundit
Sean Hannity. He’s not really a journalist, but often takes that role on Fox anyway. His shameless on-air promotion of Donald Trump, often in open defiance of the facts, and his angry attacks on Republicans and other pundits who, sensibly, did not support Trump was as ugly a display of unrestrained bias as television has ever witnessed.
Most Untrustworthy Broadcast News Anchor
Chris Cuomo . Here was his high point (that is, low point) in 2016. Note that CNN took down the incriminating video that proved Chris was a dolt (and a ridiculously incompetent lawyer as well as untrustworthy journalist) when it should have taken down Cuomo.
Partisan, arrogant, and incompetent is no way to go through life, Chris.
Unethical Political Columnist of the Year
Jamelle Bouie. Even among such tough, one-note, vicious partisans like Charles M. Blow of the Times and Paul Krugman of the same paper, Slate’s professional race-baiter and anti-white demagogue stands out. He reached his nadir in 2016 with “White Won,” his post election assessment, which said in part,
“After eight years of a black president—after eight years in which cosmopolitan America asserted its power and its influence, eight years in which women leaned in and blacks declared that their lives mattered—millions of white Americans said enough. They had their fill of this world and wanted the old one back. And although it’s tempting to treat this as a function of some colorblind anti-elitism, that cannot explain the unity of white voters in this election. Trump didn’t just win working-class whites—he won the college-educated and the affluent. He even won young whites. Seventeen months after he announced his candidacy, millions of white Americans flocked to the ballot box to put Trump into the White House. And they did so as a white herrenvolk, racialized and radicalized by Trump.”
Most Unethical Broadcast News Source of 2016
CNN. Is there any other choice? First, in 2015, CNN paved the ground for Trump’s improbable take-off by giving him airtime any time he felt like calling, making it nearly impossible for anyone else in the large GOP field of contenders to make a positive impression. Then, once he had wrapped up the nomination, the network so obviously slanted its coverage against Trump and in favor of Hillary Clinton that there was a palpable backlash. As an icky special frosting on the unethical CNN ethics cake, CNN paid the price for using Democratic operative Donna Brazile as an in-house analyst when she used her connections within CNN to illicitly forward Clinton advance notice of questions at a CNN Town Hall and a debate.
Most Unethical Print News Source of 2016
The New York Times. Looking back over the Times’ shockingly unprofessional and biased performance in 2016 (and 2017 is not beginning any better), the paper might well have won this category even had it not chosen, in August, to explicitly abandon ethical journalism in order to defeat Donald Trump and just as important to the Times, to elect its party’s candidate, Hillary Clinton. But the paper did announce that its own ethics code no longer was operative while covering the 2016 campaign, thus lapping the strong field in unethical reporting, and also calling into question whether the one-time flagship of American journalism should ever be trusted again.
The Fuzzbuster Award
(Awarded to new technology with no redeeming ethical uses)
Google’s app “Choice Language.” With the addition of this Google add-on to one’s Chrome browser, each and every appearance of the term pro-life will be replaced with, “anti-choice,” rescuing abortion advocates from having to endure a term that reminds them that there’s a material difference between abortion and choosing which flavor to get at Baskin -Robbins. Thus journalistic, scholarly and expositional communications from individuals with varying views will be edited without their approval, and can be copied, and theoretically quoted and distributed in that weakened and distorted form. The app can be adapted to alter other phrases as well, and is thus one more way for partisans to sabotage free expression. Ugh.
Unethical Small Business
Turner LP Gas in Skowhegan, Maine. Proprietor Michael Turner, in the dead of winter, told customers that if they voted for the current President of the United States, they could find someone else to sell them propane so they didn’t freeze to death.
Untrustworthy Corporation of the Year
Wells Fargo. In September, we learned that banking giant Wells Fargo employees secretly created millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts without their customers requesting them or being informed. Employees even created phony PIN numbers and fake email addresses to enroll customers in online banking services. The stealth accounts allowed the bank to charge millions in illicit fees, while Wells Fargo employees boosted their sales figures to earn unearned bonuses. Wells Fargo fired a 5,300 employees over the last few years as they discovered the misconduct, but didn’t tell customers what had been going on. Bank employees opened over 1.5 million unauthorized deposit accounts.
Despicable Business Executive of the Year
Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan. Mylan is the maker of the EpiPen, a spring-loaded syringe-like device designed to deliver a measured dose of epinephrine, which instantly reverses life-threatening reactions to peanuts, bee stings and other allergens. After making sure it had a virtual monopoly, the company under Bresch pushed press releases and public awareness campaigns on the perils of anaphylactic shock, particularly in children. Mylan’s lobbyists successfully persuaded legislator to force schools to have EpiPens available. Then Bresch continually and ruthlessly raised the price of the lief-saving device. A pack costs more than $600 now, creating a financial and health crisis for poorer families and those whose insurance may not cover the EpiPen.
Unethical Employee Of The Year
Melissa Harris-Perry. The former MSNBC race-baiting specialist—you may recall that she once joined her guests in mocking Mitt Romney for having a mixed-race grandchild—was finally sacked, as she should have been following her very first show. This occurred after she threw a public tantrum when her program was curtailed and re-scheduled. Predictably, Harris-Perry responded by accusing MSNBC of racial prejudice, which is condign justice for the cynical network for employing someone with her proclivities, but despicable nonetheless. She wrote in part…
The purpose of this decision seems to be to provide cover for MSNBC… I will not be used as a tool for their purposes. I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by Lack, Griffin, or MSNBC.…I have a PhD in political science and have taught American voting and elections at some of the nation’s top universities for nearly two decades, yet I have been deemed less worthy to weigh in than relative novices and certified liars….
You know, there’s just nothing quite like calling your colleagues certified liars and your bosses racists…
Runner-up: Talia Jane, the entry- level Yelp employee who presumed to tell her CEO how to run the company, in a grandstanding “open letter” calculated to embarrass Yelp while giving her a career boost. Well, it embarrassed Yelp.
Show Business Miscreants Of The Year.
The Cast of “Hamilton.” …which harassed an audience member (that he was the Vice-President Elect is immaterial) with rudeness and hostility in a smug display of unprofessional grandstanding that also corrupted the ethical standards of the entire theater world, as most of the anti-Trump artists abandoned their profession’s long-standing principles to show solidarity with a Broadway mega-hit and its misguided genius author. (This was easily my least favorite unethical episode of 2016.)
Most Unethical TV Show Of The Year That Wasn’t A Reality Show
Gratuitously Vulgar TV Ad of the Year
Most Unethical TV Ad
Worst Newly-Revealed Past Unethical Conduct Of The Year.
Marlon Brando’s on-screen rape of Maria Schnieder.
Celebrity Jerks Of The Year
All the celebrities who threatened, swore and promised that they would leave the country if Donald Trump was elected. (Oddly, and sadly, none of them have left.)
Most Unethical Profession of the Year
2016’s Unethical Trend of the Year
Shameless partisan double standards
Whew. That’s it.
The Best in Ethics 2016 is on its way.