Morning Ethics Round-Up: 7/8/17

Good Morning!

Trying to warm myself up too, as I have to address a room full of new D.C.  bar admittees and tell them about their new ethics rules less than two hours from now….let’s see how much I can get down before by wife starts threatening me for not being dressed yet…

1. If anyone pays attention, Fox News is providing  nifty lessons to all organizations about how fish rot from the head down,  and how a pervasive unethical culture keeps going like the Energizer Bunny until it is decisively changed by responsible leadership. Yet another Fox News host,”Making Money’s” Charles Payne, is being disciplined and may be on the way out after  allegations of “professional misconduct,” sexual harassment, and more. It seems that the married analyst was having an affair with one of the blonde clones Fox’s Roger Ailes liked to have on the air, and had her fired after their tryst went sour. I assumed that Fox News was a hotbed of this kind of thing even before Aisles was exposed as a serial harasser; it was laughably obvious, with so many women dressing and sounding like cheerleaders and the on-air banter on “Fox and Friends” often crossing lines. If Payne is the last employee publicly fingered for harassment, it is only because Fox News is handing out preemptive settlements like Halloween candy. This was all right there, in front of millions, for anyone to see, and for Fox News management to stop, for decades before it blew up. Incredible.

2. I watched “Spotlight” again last night, and couldn’t stop thinking about CNN. The Catholic Church sexual molestation scandal doesn’t have much in common with the current descent of the U.S. newsmedia into ethical corruption and professional disgrace, except this: in both cases, leadership of  institutions that depend on and are based on trust and faith have willingly embarked on a course directly in opposition to the core values they were supposed to be committed to, and used the rationalizations  #13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause” and #14. Self-validating Virtue to blind themselves for years, doing immeasurable and perhaps permanent harm to society and themselves in the process, not to mention their millions of victims. When in the movie did this parallel start occurring to me? When the film started showing angry Catholics attacking the reporters for daring to expose the truth, because the Church did so much good, and because anyone exposing an institution that was so vital to society was the real villain. Today what I hear is that because we need a courageous, reliable, independent free press (ironically, “Spotlight” shows why) we should pretend the press we have meets those standards, even when it has rejected them for partisan bias.

I envision a time when the whole news media looks back on 2016 and 2017 and wonders how they could have behaved so badly, and done such damage to the public trust.  I just hope that time arrives soon.

3. I can’t imagine a more audacious, in-your-face-display of inappropriate partisan arrogance than New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s decision to fly to Hamburg, Germany, to join leftist and anarchist protesters at the G-20 summit. To do this, he is skipping the swearing-in of a new  class of NYPD recruits  at a time when the assassination of Officer Miosotis Familia, would seem to dictate a mayoral show of support for the police, and it was recently reported that his city is experiencing a rise in homelessness to levels not seen in decades. What a great time to relive his student protesting days instead of doing his job!

Fun question: who is the more egregious jerk, Governor Christie, or DeBlasio?


Ugh…I am being threatened with defenestration if I don’t shave. Back later…

22 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Round-Up: 7/8/17

  1. “Fun question: who is the more egregious jerk, Governor Christie, or DeBlasio?”
    Most obvious: Christie
    Most egregious: DeBlasio

      • And worst of all to the people he expects to protect and serve those citizens in spite of his arrogant disregard. And, they will. In spite of his incompetence.

    • I don’t know. I’m still leaning Christie. DeBlasio is wrong, he’s a partisan hack who probably thinks he’s doing the right thing, and expressing some busted priorities that in my opinion should haunt him come election time….

      But Christie… He knew what he was doing was shitty, but he did it anyway because “I’m the Governor.” And then lied about it. “I didn’t catch any sun” (His lawyer later said that wasn’t a lie because Chris’s baseball cap kept the sun off him…. Not to put too fine a point on it, but there’s no “cap” that big.). No, Christie’s a bigger jerk in my book.

  2. Regarding Christie’s recent dunce-hood on the beach, I will try one more time to query Jack (earlier post evidently was spammed):
    Isn’t there a needed subset of Rationalization #14, that should be called “The Authority’s Appeal to Itself?”
    It’s really becoming a more and more brazen rationalization used by politicians and political hacks in our part of the world in middle North America: “I’m [insert title of authority or presumed authority here], – not you.”

  3. Funner question: who is the dumber jerk, Christie or DeBlasio? Answer: DeBlasio, Christie has almost nothing left to lose. He’s done next January and will probably never have to face voters again, and is headed for either a post with the Trump administration (less likely) or self-employment picking up six-figure consulting fees wherever he goes (more likely). DeBlasio has to face the voters again this November, and he just handed his opposition a powerful howitzer shell to lob at him. The outer boroughs, where ordinary people who pay mortgages and work for a living still live, united to put David Dinkins in the street in 1993. It’s possible that they could unite again to put a mayor who is more interested in playing standard-bearer of the hard left and joining a protest (?) overseas (??) than governing his city out on his well-padded backside, IF someone can emerge to rally around, although that’s a very big if.

    Christie’s over-the-top jerkiness now combined with arrogance has more than earned him his Ethics Villain designation. However, DeBlasio’s extremism, myopic partisanship (remember his editorial after the 2014 election telling the Democratic Party to go FARTHER left? If you don’t here it is: ), and now frankly, abuse of his position and neglect of his duties for the sake of engaging in a protest that has nothing to do with those duties should definitely earn him a place in the Ethics Blindness hall of fame.

    As for the media, I don’t know what else can be said that hasn’t been said already. Most professions have codified standards, and they have oversight bodies to ensure that those codified standards are adhered to. Putting aside the obvious ones like the bar, medicine, and architecture, the administrative courts of this state hear matters from over fifty different boards, commissions, and committees that oversee the standards for everything from policing and firefighting and nursing to haircutting and pet dealing. However, there is no such entity that oversees journalism.

    No commission sets any level of writing required for journalists. There is no commission that oversees an industrial standard for fact checking. No committee sets the rules for journalistic objectivity, without which an article can’t run, or can’t run as news. No one has to meet any requirements before being certified to act as a reporter or editor, and professional consequences for anything shy of absolute malfeasance (i.e. the Killian documents mess that cost Mary Mapes her job and may have hastened Dan Rather’s retirement) are rare. There are no consequences for slanting a story (too often to mention) or making deceptive cuts (the editing of the George Zimmerman phone call that made it look like Zimmerman was after Trayvon Martin no matter what) or running with a proven false narrative (“Hands up!”), or doctoring a picture to make it look better or worse (photoshopping smoke to appear blacker, etc.) What is more, because there are no standards, almost anyone with a blog or a camera can claim to be presenting the truth, when in reality he is just feeding the biases of his audience, and low-level “community newspapers” that never see the light of day outside of one city or one neighborhood can play to one agenda and inflame local anger and local tension without too many folks outside that City ever knowing or giving a damn. I think it is long overdue that such a commission be established. Let it give its seal to those that meet its standards, so the public knows what it’s getting.

    Freedom of the press, like any other freedom in the Constitution, isn’t absolute. Freedom of speech can be reasonably restricted as to time, place, and manner. The right to bear arms has limits and apparently doesn’t necessarily extend to the right to carry concealed, depending on the state. The right to be secure does not extend to all searches and seizures, only to unreasonable ones. The left has asked that we revisit the second amendment in light of changing technology, the electoral college in light of recent developments, and the first amendment in light of the ease with which any speech can reach anywhere, anytime. I don’t see why we can’t revisit a different part of the first amendment in light of the fact that not only can any article reach anywhere, anytime, but that the power of the press is being abused.

    • All of which are reasons “journalism” is not a Profession. It’s just a job that requires no professional certifications, etc. Based on current people employed it would seem if you can read, walk & chew gum, you too can be a ” journalist”.

      • Is that even possible?
        The “profession” used to be self-policing. Veteran reporters and editors were very good at demanding professionalism from beginners, but I’m not sure that’s still happening. When you see how young and uninformed many reporters are, especially journalism student reporters, and how unlikely their editors are to shape them up it’s not all that surprising that they’re dumb jerks.

        • Do a degree, professions required some level or form of licensing. Which ultimately meant some level or form of Government policing. In which case you can’t license the 1st Amendment.

        • I despair of the press learning correct grammar and logical thought processes… and learning to proofread! Drives me nuts when ‘their’ and ‘there’ or confused, because of over reliance on spell checker.

          Products of progressive schools…

  4. Jack, Thanks for adding your personal touches to stories which you evaluate. You are a man of boundless energy, with a highly gifted intellect. My only comment is that, as a generalization, In our imperfect world, it is very easy to spot the countless flaws that we all possess, make prejudgments, and come quite hard down on those, whose inner motivations we fully do not understand.

    • Of course. But it is even more easy to look by them, shrug them off, and neglect teh duty to strive to improve because everybody does it, and nobody’s perfect. This and its predecessor were born of te realization that ethics as the issue in actual misconduct is almost never discussed in the news media. Not know why something is wrong is one step away from not knowing that it’s wrong at all.

      • Agree and accept your retort. However, an action can be strongly condemned without the need to character assassinate the perpetrator of the action.

        • 1. Not a retort, but an explanation.
          2. I never do what you just did, rather hypocritically, I’d say. Assuming that your comment has some connection to the post its attached to, are you seriously claiming that calling Christie and DeBlasio “jerks” is character assassination? Seriously? No, really—seriously?

          That is a mild and excessively kind description of the kind of person who would ever behave like these two guys, even once, and both are habitual and shameless jerks. Unlike your unsupported accusation that I am a character assassin, i have extensively documented why both of these men deserve the diagnosis, and that’s all it is…a diagnosis based on observable data.

          Ethics Alarms operates on the principle that calling a spade a spade is not only liberating, but important, and essential to making unethical actors aware that they aren’t fooling everybody.

          • Thank you for taking the time to justify certain references used to characters performing their various unethical deeds.

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