Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/18/17: (Part Two) Debunking WaPo’s False Claim That Shep Smith Debunked The Uranium One Scandal, And More

And good morning again!

(Continuing from Part One…)

5. Why journalism is beyond hope…Shepard Smith, the #1 Fox New anchor who is reliably skeptical, independent and brave pointed out that the reporting, especially by his own colleagues at Fox, on the Hillary/Russia/Uranium One scandal:

“Now, here’s the accusation,” Smith said.

Nine people involved in the deal made donations to the Clinton Foundation totaling more than $140 million. In exchange, Secretary of State Clinton approved the sale to the Russians, a quid pro quo. The accusation [was] first made by Peter Schweizer, the senior editor-at-large of the website Breitbart in his 2015 book “Clinton Cash.” The next year, candidate Donald Trump cited the accusation as an example of Clinton corruption.

Smith pointed out that the statement  was “inaccurate in a number of ways.” “The Clinton State Department had no power to veto or approve that transaction,” he noted, explaining that it had to be approved by an interagency committee of the government consisting of nine department heads, including the Secretary of State.

“The accusation is predicated on the charge that Secretary Clinton approved the sale,” Smith said.  “She did not. A committee of nine evaluated the sale, the president approved the sale, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and others had to offer permits, and none of the uranium was exported for use by the U.S. to Russia.”

This was reported by the Washington Post as Smith “debunking his network’s favorite Hillary Clinton ‘scandal'” Now I have to debunk the Washington Posts’ false’ characterization of what Smith did and said.

Smith had obviously read the fact-check by the most reliable and objective of the various fact-checking organizations, It makes the same point Smith does, but also concludes,

“It may be that individuals and companies sought to curry favor with Hillary Clinton and even influence her department’s decision on the Uranium One sale. But, as we’ve written before, there is no evidence that donations to the Clinton Foundation from people with ties to Uranium One or Bill Clinton’s speaking fee influenced Hillary Clinton’s official actions”

There’s no evidence that fugitive Marc Rich’s ex-wife’s huge gift to the Clinton Library influenced President Clinton to pardon her scumbag, irredeemable ex, either, but the timing was sufficiently suspicious that most have conclude that it was indeed a quid pro quo. These transactions are notoriously hard to prove, which is why there are ethics rules requiring Secretaries of State to avoid harming the public trust by engaging in “the appearance of impropriety.” Allowing her foundation to accept millions from foreign entities with a matter of interest before Clinton’s department was a direct violation of the conditions under which she was confirmed by the Senate. The fact that she alone didn’t have to approve the sale doesn’t alter the fact that she had a major conflict, and was obligated to recuse herself entirely. She didn’t. Scandalous, and suspicious. If Bill didn’t get all taht money, far more than his usual fee, because of the pending approval of the uranium deal, why was he paid so much? Suspicious. Scandal.

Yes, we know the Clintons were masters at influence peddling, and covered their tracks better than most. Smith explained to viewers that his own network and President Trump, among others, were misrepresenting the facts. Good for him.

But he did not “debunk” the accusation that the Clintons’ conduct was suspicious, irresponsible, a breach of government ethics standards, and quite possibly corrupt. A Fox anchor corrected his own network’s hyping, and then the left-biased news media used that clarification to mislead the public in the other direction.


6. A new Proethics service for Al et al.? I will soon post the apology Al Franken should have issued. I do not understand why virtually ever public figure is so inept at apologizing. I am seriously considering offering this as a new ProEthics consulting service. I wonder what we should charge?

7.  From my sister...Yes, the smart, mostly rational, left-leaning younger sister I refer to from time to time is not a fictional device like archie the cockroach—that would be unethical—and she just launched a website, Citizens Comment, to “do four main things beyond making people generally aware of the Notice and Comment process” as they get involved in opposing Trump Administration policies and regulations: :

  1. Identify particular proposals by the Executive Branch of the federal government to eliminate or otherwise change federal regulations, where the proposed action may adversely affect important public interests.
  2. Explain in as simple terms as possible what is being proposed, what issues are raised by the proposal, and available facts that relate to pros or cons of the proposal.
  3. Provide links and references to other resources and sources of information that individuals interested in a “deeper dive” may want to consult before formulating views or comments of their own.
  4. Provide simple step-by-step instructions on how to submit your comment to government agencies on current proposals to dismantle regulatory protections or restraints.

Would that all opposition efforts and rhetoric be this rational, professional and civil.

3 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/18/17: (Part Two) Debunking WaPo’s False Claim That Shep Smith Debunked The Uranium One Scandal, And More

  1. I now follow both you AND your sister. Nice balance. The WaPo story, fact-check, and Shep were all at least slightly wrong. HRC could not alone approve the sale. TRUE. She was not directly involved. PERHAPS. As it’s Secretary and alleged leader, she was responsible for state Department final positipn on the CFIUS review. ALSO TRUE. The NRC said that uranium could not be exported outside the US and Canada. PARTIALLY TRUE. An exporter would have to apply to the NRC for an export license. These are rather routinely approved provided it is to a “safe” country. There is a list of prohibited exports and we have Agreements for Cooperation with EU and many countries that need uranium for reactor programs. Most significantly, all uranium must be further processed to be used in power programs. So, where would the uranium be chemically converted and enriched for use on fuel? Canada for the first chemical conversion, UK or France for conversion, UK, France, or Germany for enrichment (export license virtually automatic) or Russia. Export license to Russia would probably have been routinely approved at the time in question, although the Russians could NOT have then reimported the low-enriched uranium to the US for sale due to an agreement settling a trade case brought by US uranium producers, conversion company, and enrichment company. Why would the Russians want US uranium? No doubt in part duebto some sales of natural uranium to US companies as the Russians could not import Russian uranium in any form except in quantities limited by the trade case agreement. Is the percent of US production controlled by Uranium One less than indicated by the NRC as the WaPo indicated? YES AND NO. Yes, at this time. But the NRC assessment was mostly correct at the time made. CONCLUSION: The facts cited by the WaPo fact-checker and Shep are either PARTLY FALSE or MOSTLY TRUE spending almost entirely on one’s own biogas toward the story.

  2. 6) two phase approach-

    Step one: determine if they are truly remorseful and regretful and repentant.

    If they are not then you do not draft an apology for them, lest you engage in deceit on their behalf.

    Step two: guide them in the process of writing their own apology, do not write it for them.

    • Yup, that’s pretty much it. Although I see no ethical problem with ghost-writing an apology if the individual involved really accepts what it says. PR flacks and publicists write apologies, and screw it up, because thet are ethically ignorant.

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