Good morning, and welcome July!
Once famous American radio news commentator Gabriel Heatter (September 17, 1890 – March 30, 1972) sued to begin his World War II-era broadcasts by saying, “There’s good news tonight!” I’ve been trying to find an equivalent up-beat introduction for the Warm-Up from an ethics perspective. The problem is that this requires there to be some genuinely good ethics news. Not today. Maybe tomorrow…
1. The furor over President Trump’s pathetic attack tweets on two pretty awful MSNBC cable TV hosts continues, with “the resistance”—you know, like the New York Times—citing it as proof of madness, and right-wing media and bloggers increasingly rationalizing that it’s high time someone slapped down “media bullies” like silly Joe and biased Mika. The Left’s reaction is disingenuous, and the Right’s is incompetent.
Yesterday on the progressive echo chamber end of my Facebook spectrum, they were going nuts over the tweets, and one woman posted that she had voted for Trump but she regretted it now. She never would have voted for him, she said, if she thought he would act like this. I don’t know this idiot, but I had to reply:
“What? Trump tweeted and talked exactly like that for the whole campaign, and had been similarly gross and boorish publicly for thirty years! Remember Trump talking about blood coming out of Megyn Kelly’s “wherever” after the very first debate in 2015? “Little Marco”? Mocking Carly Fiorina’s face?”
One could reasonably hope that being President might cause Trump to curb this habit, but one could not reasonable vote for him and not realize that similar conduct was a distinct possibility. On the news media and political side, the tweets prompted a re-run of the exact same (undemocratic, unethical) arguments they have made from the beginning for trying to overturn the election, as if something was new. This isn’t new. That’s part of what’s wrong with it. It also is the predictable conduct of the man elected by voters who were well aware he acted this way. I know you think they are cretins, Good People in Progressive Land, but that’s not a justification for invalidating their votes, and you are not going to get away with it if you try.
As for defenses of Trump like the opinion piece at Mediaite (“President Trump Deserves Credit For Taking On Bullies Like Mika Brzezinski“), how silly can you be? He’s the President of the United States: you can’t “bully” him. Even powerful media figures can’t bully him. He has all the power. They are punching up (more like slapping and griping and sneering up), and he is punching down, provoked by mites, lowering himself and his office by doing so.
3. In case you missed it, here was the quote from the second CNN producer—Jimmy Carr, the Associate Producer for CNN’s “New Day,” the CNN morning show where the hosts routinely mouth Democrat talking points while interview Republicans and Trump administration officials— to get tricked into being honest to a hidden James O’Keefe hidden video camera:
“On the inside, we all recognize he is a clown that he is hilariously unqualified for this. He’s really bad at this and that he does not have America’s best interests. We recognize he’s just fucking crazy… He’s not actually a Republican. He just adopted that because that was the party he thought he could win in. He doesn’t believe anything that these people believe. The man is on his third wife. I guarantee you he’s paid for abortions. He doesn’t give a shit about abortion. He doesn’t care about gay marriage.”
The rationalization for this being floated by the properly defensive news media and the, incredibly, their defenders who insist that there is no hard-left, anti-Trump bias, is that “this is no surprise and not news.” No, it’s not a surprise to anyone who has been objective and properly alarmed as journalism has stopped being a democratic institution and has turned into a partisan political weapon. It just makes the point that those benefiting from this transformation have been denying. Who really thinks that news show run by, overseen by and written by people like Carr are capable or likely to be fair to a President they regard as “not having America’s best interests” in mind and “fucking crazy”?
Others in the news media are trying to deny the obvious using smoke and dust to discredit O’Keefe (stipulated: he’s an unethical fake-journalist and a partisan hit man. But the videos show what they show.) Paul Farhi of the Washington Post embarrassed himself and his paper with a supposed debunking of the first video, the one showing the CNN producer talking about how the Russia story was a “witch hunt,” , saying “it’s what the video doesn’t show that may be as important as what it does.” What are the sinister omissions Farhi calls out?
- The video identifies the man on camera as John Bonifield, a “supervising producer,” but fails to specify that he works on health and medical stories.
Bonifield’s an insider, he knows the culture, he’s been at the network long enough to know the personnel and the attitude of management. Trivial omission.
- The video doesn’t explain that Bonifield is based in Atlanta and “not in Washington or New York, where most of CNN’s coverage of national affairs and politics are produced.”
Actually it does, but so what? CNN is headquartered in Atlanta. He’s talking about CNN’s corporate environment and attitudes.
- The video doesn’t tell us who the man making the video is or how he gained access to Bonifield.
We know all this, though. The man taking the hidden video is an unethical slimeball, like anyone working for O’Keefe, and he gained access by lying. What else do we have to know?
Ann Althouse puts her finger on the futility and dishonesty of of Farhi’s rescue attempt, writing, “There’s absolutely nothing saying that Bonifield’s statements were edited to distort or take anything out of context or encourage misinterpretation.”
Instead of trying to deny that the video means what it obviously means, the Post should be condemning this kind of smug and biased environment in news organizations. It’s can’t, though: because it knows that it’s own, 95% Democrat, progressive, smug, arrogant staff thinks exactly the same way.
4. Quick notes on the Serena Williams-John McEnroe foofaraw. It began when McEnroe, a professional tennis troll, told NPR that Serena Williams was the greatest female tennis player ever but would rank about 700 or so on the men’s tour.
“That doesn’t mean I don’t think Serena is an incredible player,” McEnroe continued. “I do, but the reality of what would happen would be I think something that perhaps it’d be a little higher, perhaps it’d be a little lower. And on a given day, Serena could beat some players.”
Serena and others took offense, and demanded that he apologize. The aging tennis brat refused, saying, that there was nothing wrong or disrespectful about what he said.
a. Insults can be insults even if they are true. There is no way to say “she’s a great player” and “male players you’ve never heard of would beat her silly” without still sounding gratuitously mean. How hard would it be for McEnroe to say: “I’m sorry: that came out wrong”?
b. Serena returned fire by playing the mommie card, alluding to her pregnancy to enhance her victimhood, tweeting,
“I’ve never played anyone ranked “there” nor do I have time. Respect me and my privacy as I’m trying to have a baby. Good day sir.”
Women have to make up their minds about whether they want special dispensation for their gender and related matters, or want to be treated like everyone else. Serena and Hillary should hole up somewhere and talk it through….
c. In line with that point, women should either compete with the men in sports like golf and tennis, or admit that they can’t play on the same level, aren’t as entertaining to watch, and justly receive less money because of their limitations. McEnroe’s comment was unnecessary and rude, but the uproar was mostly because he dared to be candid. Serena herself was once similarly candid, but no one accused her of being sexist when she told David Letterman in 2003,
“If I were to play Andy Murray, I would lose, 6-0, 6-0, in five to six minutes, maybe 10 minutes. The men are a lot faster, they serve harder, they hit harder. … It’s a completely different game.”
d. Part of the phenomenon on display here is cognitive dissonance: anything—“the sky is blue;” “puppies are cute”-— seems worse when it is said by a famous asshole, like John McEnroe