Two Unethical News Stories, One Conclusion [Updated With Poll]

Story One, from Fox News:

Roy Moore accuser worked for Clinton campaign as interpreter, reports say

This is horrible, insulting, boot-0lick journalism. First, the proper response is “So what?” It is ridiculous to presume that anyone who works on a Democratic campaign is a Democrat. The janitors? The drivers? The caterers? Nonsense. It is ridiculous to suggest that someone who worked in the Clinton campaign in a non-political job would be inclined to falsify a story—to attack a Senate candidate in Alabama.  It is also ridiculous for Fox or anyone else to rush to defend a candidate whose presence on any ballot from Senator to dog-catcher is a blight on democracy, even if he had the romantic scruples of George Bailey.

Furthermore, of the four ex-teens who described encounters with Moore, Clinton’s interpreter is the one who painted Moore in the best light, saying that “nothing bad happened.”

Such forced and inept partisan defense maneuvers just reinforce the worst stereotypes about Fox  News, and also give credence to the rumor that the network is run by bonobos.

Bias makes you stupid. Stupidity makes you biased. And biased and stupid news reporting only works with biased and stupid viewers.

Story Two, from NBC News:

Trump Bodyguard Keith Schiller Testifies Russian Offered Trump Women, Was Turned Down

My God—isn’t this impeachable?

This stunner tells us,

“After a business meeting before the Miss Universe Pageant in 2013, a Russian participant offered to “send five women” to Donald Trump’s hotel room in Moscow, his longtime bodyguard told Congress this week, according to three sources who were present for the interview.

Two of the sources said the bodyguard, Keith Schiller, viewed the offer as a joke, and immediately responded, “We don’t do that type of stuff.”

This isn’t news. This isn’t something the public needs to know. Simply publishing it falsely suggests it is both.

I once had to spend time in China on the way to an assignment in Mongolia. At my hotel, I was constantly asked it I wanted women sent up to by room. It was a real nuisance. I kept saying “I don’t do that type of stuff,” or words to that effect. I even complained to the hotel desk.

Yes, I was colluding with China.

No one has either control over or responsibility for what someone offers them. I have been offered illegal drugs. I have been offered corrupt quid pro quo deals in business settings. Since I turned them down, the offers do not have any relevance to me whatsoever, and the rejected offers made to Trump through his bodyguard, whether they were for women, goats or midgets, have nothing to do with him, the United States, or national news.

Bias makes you stupid. Stupidity makes you biased. And biased and stupid news reporting only works with biased and stupid viewers.

UPDATE: Please take the poll!

To my surprise, some readers have argued that the NBC story was intended to be positive for the President, because it debunked some of the allegations in the notorious “Russian Dossier.”  Did you read it that way?

36 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

36 responses to “Two Unethical News Stories, One Conclusion [Updated With Poll]

  1. John Billingsley

    The rumor that FOX News is run by bonobos is a scurrilous calumny. I expect you will soon be hearing from PETA. #BonoboLivesMatter

  2. “It is ridiculous to suggest that someone who worked in the Clinton campaign in a non-political job would be inclined to falsify a story….”

    This is like saying that it’s ridiculous to be suspicious of a trick if a woman is seen floating above the ground without visible means of support, and then finding out thst she used to be Harry Blackstone, Jr.’s housekeeper. Ordinary expectations cease to be relevant.

    • But it isn’t like that. The job is apolitical. I doubt there is a single translator in the country who can afford to pick and choose assignments like that based on partisan positions or orientation. Bad comparison. The news media often sells the fiction past employer and employment conveys some kind of lifetime loyalty.Usually, it doesn’t. In law, for example, the rules act to protect against the reverse: a lawyer harming a past client ti benefit a current one.

      In your example, the issue isn’t loyalty or conflict, but knowledge and experience. Completely different. Now, if the argument was that because contact with the House of Clinton made her more likely to recognize a sex freak when she saw one, that would make a little more sense—but Fox was trying to discredit her, not use the Clinton connection—an attenuated one_–to suggest bias. Let’s see: Moore isn’t running against Clinton or a Clinton ally. For all we know, the woman had a terrible experience working for Clinton (see Donna Brazile)’ there is no evidence from the work experience that the woman is a Democrat, a liar, or anything but honest…there are no dots to connect.

      Or wires to see.

  3. charlesgreen

    Hmm, I’m not so sure…

    Both are responsive to stories legitimate and big news stories – the infamous dossier, and Roy Moore’s alleged sexual abuse of a minor. Both stories’ story-lines run counter to the major allegations. So, I think of them both as legitimate.

    I have to say, though, one stands up a lot more than the other. Keith Schiller was there, and was Trump’s right hand man As such, he had standing, and his specific denial of the more salacious charges against Trump thus carry some weight as a result.

    By contrast, as you note, past employment as an interpreter does not give the person standing, and the fact is not apparently related to the charges against Moore. Hence very little weight as a result.

    Or so it seems to me.

    • Isaac

      I don’t see anyone doubting a single thing about Keith Schiller’s story. The point is that nothing about the story reflects badly on Trump in any way. It’s just an example of grasping for a reason to use “Trump” and “Russia” in the same sentence.

      • That is exactly how it struck me. And it adds to my kudzu-like growing belief that the news media wouldn’t be resorting to this non-news if there was anything substantive to the Russian conspiracy theory, other than the fact that journalists are so emotionally and politically invested in it.

        • charlesgreen

          Jack and Isaac,

          I see it totally the opposite: this happens to be a 100% good news story for Trump, casting serious doubt over THE most salacious aspect of the dossier, and casting doubt on its overall veracity. That is seriously pro-Trump. Which flies in the face of our claim that it’s part of an ongoing anti-Trump campaign.

          Rather then the NYT “grasping for a reason to use ‘Trump’ and ‘Russia’ in the same sentence,” I suggest this is the two of you grasping at any attempt to denigrate the NYT, even at the risk of seizing on decently reported factual stories that run AGAINST the liberal grain you enjoy pointing out.

          Let me suggest an alternative version: it’s the NYT doing what it does best when it does it (which is most of the time) – reporting both sides of an important story.

          I think that’s a lot more credible than claiming that a pro-Trump story is actually part of an anti-Trump narrative. You’re both far down the rabbit hole on this one, where up looks like down.

          • Chris

            Agreed with Charles. Anti-Trump bias in the media is of course very real, but this is not an example of it.

          • The Times flogged for weeks the story where a Russian source offered dirt on Hillary Clinton and nothing happened at the meeting as proofs that the efforts to “collude” were ongoing, but suddenly they are taking the opposite slant, which is if it didn’t happen, then suspicion is unwarranted? The headline was:Trump Bodyguard Keith Schiller Testifies Russian Offered Trump Women, Was Turned Down

            Headline writing 101: the main fact starts out. You’re claiming they think its important that the offer was turned down. That’s “Trump Bodyguard Turned Down Russian Offer Of Women For Boss” No, the Times emphasizes the offer, not the refusal. Anti-Trump confirmation bias makes that a negative headline, and anti-partisan news media confirmation bias suggests the same reading. I think you are part of a teensy-weensy group that would read that headline as pro-Trump–the “I’m desperately trying not to believe that the news media is as u trustworthy as Jack says it is” group.

            • Chris

              If it was as untrustworthy as you say it is, they wouldn’t have included that in the headline at all.

              The meeting with the Russian lawyer is a bad comparison. Yes, if the Russians offered Donald Trump prositutes if he showed up to a specific meeting and his response was “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” and then appeared at the meeting, then yes, that would make Trump look bad. If he then denied that anything came from that meeting, he’d be met with justifiable skepticism. But this story isn’t like that at all, so yes, suspicion is unwarranted.

              • I refer you again to the headline and the tone of the story. Nothing suggested that this was news because it reflcted well on Trump’s team. It was a story that reflected negatively on the Russians, hence Trump, because we all know they are colluding with each other. It’s the only possible reason that would interest the Times, which has come to bury Trump, not to praise him.

                • charlesgreen

                  Wait a minute…
                  Are you seriously claiming that a headline that puts the result after the cause is evidence of bias, compared to a headline that puts the cause after the result? Come on.

                  Here’s what you’re putatively saying it should have said:

                  Not:
                  Trump Bodyguard Keith Schiller Testifies Russian Offered Trump Women, Was Turned Down

                  But rather:
                  Trump Bodyguard Keith Schiller Testifies he Turned Down Offer of Women To Trump

                  THAT’S your evidence of bias?

                  There’s probably some of headline writing that says one is better than the other, but as a lay reader I’m damned if I can sniff out a bias between the two of them.

                  • I’d love to take a survey. My instant reaction was: “what possible justification us there for telling us there was a salacious offer of sex to Trump when it was rejected? How does this implicate the President in wrongdoing?” I wonder how many people saw the headline as benign?

                    • charlesgreen

                      As you well know, that “infamous dossier” is infamous for lots of reasons. Much of it has been proven right; some of it has yet to be proven right or wrong; and some of it has now been proven wrong.

                      This story is about casting doubt on the most salacious part of that dossier; which would make another “proven wrong” part of the dossier. That is certainly news, and it’s pro-Trump news. Not benign, pro-Trump. Which again goes against the “liberal” narrative you’re seeking in all Times coverage.

                    • charlesgreen

                      New news. (Oddly, I find myself in sync with Fox News).

                      This morning, on Fox New radio, Howard Kurtz’s Media Buzz show, had the following (my summary, not to be confused with direct quotes):

                      “It is just now coming out that Keith Schiller, the president’s long-time bodyguard, has blown a gigantic hole into one of the biggest innuendo campaigns by the MSM, Dems, etc.

                      “I’m talking of course about the very widely whispered infamous ‘dossier’ that was featured on every left-wing talk show and every late-night comedy…everyone was making jokes about it and claiming it ‘wasn’t right’ to quote it directly – but everyone knew.

                      “Now, come to find out – and not through the MSM, which is not playing this up at all, but only through a leak – that a major hole has been blow in this left-wing narrative. Trump’s bodyguard says he was asked about providing prostitutes for Trump, that he laughingly declined it, that he told Trump, and the two of them had a good laugh about it.”

                      “Not total disproof, to be sure, but close; and more importantly, the real narrative is now coming into play. The Dems paid for this research…and DNC…and Hillary etc.”

                      “The MSM was all over this with a major whisper campaign, but now some serious testimony comes out throwing water on it – where are they?

                      You get the gist of it.

                      I find myself thinking the NYT got this exactly right. They put out the facts – Key Trump aide contradicts dossier in testimony – and let the rest of spinmeisters weave it into whatever narrative we think it supports. Seems to me that’s their job – to put it out there.

                      My ‘spin’ is much like Fox’s – this is a piece of data that runs counter to the dossier’s theme. I’m still not sure how one spins it as counter-Trump.

                    • It’s funny that we were discussing the Times, when the version I wrote about was NBC’s. I didn’t get the Times version until this morning. All the time you were talking about the NYT, I was thinking of NBC. It’s like the daughter-milk cow scene in “Fiddler on the Roof.”

                      Anyway, I agree that the TIMES version, and definitely its headline, reasonably means what you took it to mean.

                • charlesgreen

                  It didn’t reflect negatively on the Russians: It reflected on the charges contained in the “infamous dossier,” which therefore reflects specifically on the LACK of collaboration between Trump and the Russians.

                  I at least read it as a straightforward doubt-casting on the veracity of the salacious charges against Trump. Did I read it wrong?

                  • If the story can be read multiple ways, there is no “wrong.” I took is as a manufactured smoke “so there must be fire” appeal to anti-Trump bias. As with suspicions of the Post’s motives in the Roy Moore story—if you establish yourself as having a political agenda—remember the Times, to its undying shame, announced during the campaign that stopping Trump justified the paper jettisoning independence and objectivity—then it is natural that readers will interpret what such a news source presents as furthering that agenda.

                    I’m going to add a poll to the post. I’m curious.

                    • charlesgreen

                      Good idea, I’m curious too.

                    • charlesgreen

                      by the way, as an addendum to my note about Fox News complaining the MSM buried this story, you can easily google the Schiller story and find it on ABC, NBC, CBS, NYTimes, LATimes, and I’m sure pretty much any other MSM site.

  4. Rich in CT

    First you get the sugar, then you get the power. Then you get the women….

  5. Julieta Rienstra

    Yes. That is what I got out of the story about President Trump.

  6. Can’t we just impeach the man for enjoying a McDonald’s hamburger like 79% of the rest of America?

  7. Kyjo

    It seemed to me that the NBC story was geared toward showing that the Russians were working to compromise Trump or get him in their corner. Perhaps my interpretation is colored by my mistrust of the media on the subject of Trump and Russia.

    • Or perhaps your distrust of the news media is colored by reading so many slanted stories of dubious motive, like that one. So far, in the completely scientifically meaningless poll on the post, about 79% do not see the NBC headline and story as legitimate news.

      • charlesgreen

        Interesting. I accept the data, unscientific as you note it may be. The question it raises though, is – what does that mean?

        Does it mean the story should never have been published? That it should have been given less prominence (I’m not sure where it appeared on the print version, not that that matters so much these days). Does it mean that the whole dossier story (of which this was a sub-stream) was un-newsworthy?

        Remember, the header was Trump’s batman refuting a well-known claim about the dossier. Is this not part of “all the news that’s fit to print?” I still have trouble accepting that it isn’t newsworthy. Unless you buy that the whole dossier story was un-newsworthy – or perhaps over-played.

        Anyway, thanks for the polling.

  8. charlesgreen

    Ah, interesting…and I only heard about the NBC version this AM on Fox. Blind men and the elephant, anyone?

    • For the record, I still don’t think the story is worth a bucket of warm spit, for the reasons I listed in the post, and more. So the bodyguard turned down one request. How do we know he didn’t accept another, like the offer of 10 burros in tutus? How do we know Trump dodn’t say, “Next time, accept!” Or, from the other perspective: what do offers prove, except that someone made the offer?

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