Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 1/18/2018: Enemies Of The People [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

I can say “good morning,” can’t I? Can I tweet it? Is it moderate enough?

About calling the news media “the enemy of the people”...Foolishly, people are cheering Senator Jeff Flake’s dishonest and cheap characterization of President Trump’s description of the news media as “words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies.” They were also words used by playwright Henrik Ibsen about 70 years before Stalin used them.  The device of finding the most revolting person ever to use a phrase and then connect a current speaker to that person is an unethical abuse of the cognitive dissonance scale, and as low a political tactic as I can think of right now, but I’m sure “the resistance” will come up with a lower one.

Flake’s entire speech was below the belt demagoguery. By what measure, for example, is a Presidential aide’s ad lib comment on cable TV about “alternative facts” “enshrining “alternative facts” into the American lexicon.” The news media did the enshrining, Senator. The White House never mentioned the term, not even once. “2017 was a year which saw the truth — objective, empirical, evidence-based truth — more battered and abused than any other in the history of our country, at the hands of the most powerful figure in our government” is simply a lie. 2017 was a year which saw the truth battered and abused by the one profession whose job and duty it is not to abuse the truth: journalists. Worse, the did much of it to create fear, disrespect and distrust of the elected President of the United States, because they wanted someone else to win.

Flake reminds us that the press is protected by the Constitution, and he seems to believe, as the news media does, that this special status that they abuse daily, hourly, by the minute, should insulate them from deserved criticism and distrust no matter how they misinform and the degree of harm they do in the process. Let’s take just a single cable anchor: Chris Cuomo. He told the public that they could not legally read the Wikileaks leaks, but the news media could. He tweeted that “hate speech” was not protected by the First Amendment. He sid last week that the President’s alleged use of “shithole” irresponsibly polluted the minds of children, when if he spoke that word at all, he spoke it behind closed doors, with the understanding that he was dealing with responsible professionals who would not intentionally breach their implied promise that the meeting was private and confidential. Those are three flagrant examples of journalism malpractice, and off the top of my head. If I chose to, I could find dozens more, and that’s only one “respected journalist.”

The resistance to the President’s description is in some cases denial, and in more cases a deliberate deception to allow wrongdoing to continue. I am cross-posting the following from my comments today on another post:

If judges started sentencing based on political views, would I call them the enemy of the people?

Yes.

If doctors defied “first do no harm” and began letting the poor, criminal and stupid die to benefit the nation in their warped view, would I call the medical profession the enemy of the people?

Yes.

If accountants decided that their fealty was to the companies that paid their salaries and not the public, so they were willing to lie on financial statements, audits and tax returns, would I call them the enemy of the people?

Yes.

If lawyers routinely betrayed client confidences, and criminal lawyers made half-efforts to defend clients they thought were guilty, would I call the legal profession the enemy of the people?

Yes.

If church leaders sent child-raping priests back into parishes because they wanted to protect their denomination’s reputation, would I call their church the enemy of the people?

Yes.

In fact, I will.

Thus I am consistent—and correct, and responsible,—in calling a profession dedicated to independent, objective, competent communication of vital facts to the public that instead engages in deception, incompetence and partisan manipulation to the detriment of the political process, civic literacy and societal comity the enemy of the people.

And so is the President.

UPDATE: Pointer to Other Bill, who sent along this John David Davidson quote from Real Clear Politics:

“The one thing Jeff Flake gets wrong and the mainstream media gets wrong is that the number one threat, if there is a main threat to our democracy, when it comes to the media, it’s that the media has totally thrown away its credibility with the American people. There was this Gallup poll that showed more Americans have a negative view of the media that have a positive view of the media. That is not good for a democracy. We need to have a robust, credible media to hold power accountable and to inform the citizenry. We don’t have that right now because the media does not see itself as the guardians of free speech, the guardians of common Americans, holding power accountable. They see themselves as protectors of the status quo.”

2. And speaking of sinister…Are our elected representatives really so naive and addled that they can’t see the danger in this? From CNBC:

Facebook, Google and Twitter told Congress Wednesday that they’ve gone beyond screening and removing extremist content and are creating more anti-terror propaganda to preempt violent messages at the source.

Representatives from the three companies told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that they are, among other things, targeting people likely to be swayed by extremist messages and pushing content aimed at countering that message. Several senators criticized their past efforts as not going far enough.

“We believe that a key part of combating extremism is preventing recruitment by disrupting the underlying ideologies that drive people to commit acts of violence. That’s why we support a variety of counterspeech efforts,” said Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management, according to an advance copy of her testimony obtained by CNBC.

 Bickert said that in addition to using image matching and language analysis to identify terror content before it’s posted, the company is ramping up what it calls “counterspeech.”

Facebook is also working with universities, nongovernmental organizations and community groups around the world “to empower positive and moderate voices,” Bickert said.

Google’s YouTube, meanwhile, says it will continue to use what it calls the “Redirect Method,” developed by Google’s Jigsaw research group, to send anti-terror messages to people likely to seek out extremist content through what is essentially targeted advertising. If YouTube determines that a person may be headed toward extremism based on their search history, it will serve them ads that subtly contradict the propaganda that they might see from ISIS or other such groups. Meanwhile, YouTube supports “Creators for Change,” a group of people who use their channels to counteract hate.

“Counterspeech”?

The “Redirect Message?”

“Empowering positive and moderate voices?”

George Orwell, is that you?

Google is being sued, and credibly so, by James Damore, engineer who  filed a class-action lawsuit Monday claiming that the technology giant discriminates against white men and conservatives. Twitter is being sued on similar grounds, by one of many conservative commentators who had his feed suspended. Facebook, as we discussed earlier this week (Item 3), is changing its news feed to allow less outside news and opinion to penetrate the echo chamber, because it makes people anxious. Facebook wants to emphasize “what’s good for people.”

What the three tech giants are describing is censorship, indoctrination, partisan propaganda and thought manipulation, and our elected representatives are saying, “Duhhhh, GREAT!”

Morons.

No, I don’t trust Google to decide what views are “extremist.” I don’t trust Facebook to be wielding “counterspeech,” or to determine what a “moderate message” is.  And I don’t trust Twitter to …well, I don’t trust Twitter period.

Our elected representatives are too lazy, ignorant and incompetent to know an existential threat to freedom of thought and speech when they see one.

81 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, Science & Technology, U.S. Society

81 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 1/18/2018: Enemies Of The People [UPDATED]

  1. Other Bill

    Thanks for taking on Jeff Flake. What on earth is he up to? Why doesn’t he just switch from R to D? Who’s he representing? He’s a self-proclaimed lame duck. I think he’s clinically depressed and engaged in some sort of weird, slow motion, public career suicide. Really weird behavior. Doesn’t he feel any loyalty to his constituency?

    • Chris marschner

      Let’s not ascribe a psychiatric condition to Flake. I believe this is calculated. He may plan to run for governor when Brewers term is over. By ingratiating himself to the growing Hispanic population in AZ he could become the next governor giving him the ability to claim executive experience in a future presidential run. By that time the speech on the Senate floor will be forgotten.

      This would demonstrate that he embraces Machiavellian tendencies to get what he wants for himself.

      • Other Bill

        Interesting theory, Chris. The current R governor of AZ is a guy named Doug Ducey.

        I just don’t see Arizona turning Democratic any time soon. But I may be wrong. Are illegals allowed to vote? I will say, the Mormon Church seems to be on a bit of a campaign to get Trump. So maybe there’s something to what you propose. If the LDS Church says elect Flake, he’ll be well on his way vote wise.

        • Chris marschner

          Sorry, my error on the new gov. I should have double checked before the post. Still demographic shifts there would suggest he wants to put up a firewall between himself and Trump for future political aspirations. He is young and telegenic which means he is not going to fade into the orange glow of the AZ sunset.

          • Other Bill

            No apology required.

            I think Flake should switch party affiliation and become the next Harry Reid. But maybe the AZ Dems wouldn’t accept him? Man without a party.

            I think the Dem’s belief they can turn Arizona and Texas into more of California and New Mexico (and Old Mexico) is a bit of a pipe dream. But I could be wrong. And aren’t Hispanic families basically conservative and entrepreneurial? I keep waiting for the Hispanic vote to trend Republican. But maybe they’re yellow dog Democrats at heart.

            • Chris marschner

              Flake may be thinking that the Hispanic is anti- Trump. Whether his assessment is correct or not will only be known in the future. He may think the 800,000 dreamers will become voters by the time he needs them.

        • Flake doesn’t speak for the LDS Church, which has a policy of not endorsing political candidates anyway.

          Also, for what it’s worth, Trump has higher support among Mormons than any other religious group:
          https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900007499/mormons-give-trump-highest-support-of-any-religious-group-in-poll.html

          • Other Bill

            So there’s no politicking at the stake level. Hmmm. Of course they have a policy of not endorsing candidates. You think they want to lose their tax free status?

            • Other Bill

              The Mormon church is a massive monolith that dominates nearly all aspects of the Inter-Mountain West. They are super active in politics for many reasons, the main one being, that’s where the money is.

    • charlesgreen

      Flake witching from R to D?

      He has voted for nearly every Trump position the president has put out there. He’s from the state of Barry Goldwater and Joe Arpaio. When was the last time a Democrat got elected dogcatcher in Arizona? He’s a classic conservative.

      The ONLY thing that makes him different from other Republicans is his willingness to denounce the personal fitness of Trump – (which to be fair he is probably only doing because he’s a lame duck).

      But to be clear: a Democrat he ain’t, not by a long shot. Don’t confuse Trumpism with conservatism, nor its opposite with democratic politics.

  2. Rich in CT

    Facebook, as we discussed earlier this week (Item 3), is changing its news feed to allow less outside news and opinion to penetrate the echo chamber, because it makes people anxious. Facebook wants to emphasize “what’s good for people.”

    Now I see the problem, Thank you!

  3. SGS

    I remember a case some time back where FB was being sued because it did not show advertisements for certain houses to FB subscribers it had marked as black and latino, which the company tried to euphemistically call “affinity groups” – https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2016/11/07/facebook-sued-housing-and-employement-bias/93424824/ If it turns out that the targets of YouTube counterterror propaganda videos are disproportionately represented in a particular race, religion, region, or gender, wouldn’t THAT be interesting.

  4. Rich in CT

    No, I don’t trust Google to decide what views are “extremist.” I don’t trust Facebook to be wielding “counterspeech,” or to determine what a “moderate message” is. And I don’t trust Twitter to …well, I don’t trust Twitter period.

    What is really scary is that Google is currently extremely bad at figuring out what people are “interested in”. Back after the Berkeley Riots, I was doing research on who caused the violence. One article even said “Suddenly, anarchists descended onto the campus!” Not a single news organization (as least those indexed by Google) did any sort of investigative journalism into where these “anarchists” came from, or what their motives were.

    What did Google gleamed from this about me? “You have shown interest in Milo Yiannopoulos”.

    Same thing with “You have shown interest Lucian Wintrich”, when I was researching the university’s response to what’s-her-face steeling his speech. I had never heard of either before, and do not care what their view is on anything – but I am interested in the causes and consequences of their censorship.

    Then their is the scary part of Google and Facebook claiming they will “subtly” present ads that counteract ‘extremist’ ideology. There is nothing subtly about their approach! At the end of last year, I was looking for a new calendar/planner. Suddenly, every ad on every website I visit is for planners! I was looking for a very cheap second car – suddenly, every ad is for used local cars! I was looking for a USB cable on Amazon – suddenly every ad is for USB cables!

    If someone is already mad at the western world and believing it is driving humanity into sin and depravity, a bunch of robots tracking and trumpeting Pro-Western Propaganda is NOT the answer!

    “I hate America” – Suddenly, every ad is about how Great America Is!

    Subtle.

  5. Neil Dorr

    Jack,

    “The device of finding the most revolting person ever to use a phrase and then connect a current speaker to that person is an unethical abuse of the cognitive dissonance scale, and as low a political tactic as I can think of right now, but I’m sure “the resistance” will come up with a lower one.”

    Agreed, it turns real events into little more than cheap historical references and adds narrative to present conditions which may or may not be synonymous with those faced by the original speaker. Why, then, were you so keen on comparing progressive quotes to Goebbels a few weeks back? Is there a difference here?

    Sincerely,
    Neil

    • Chris marschner

      Neil,
      I am not answering for Jack but my take is that Joseph Goebbels was the instrument of crafting messages to evoke a visceral animus toward others and touting a Arayan supremacist ideal ay the behest of Hitler whereas, references to Stalin, Hitler, et al were the ones who upon whose orders millions died. Goebbels did not order the executions he just ensured that they were not exposed and that the preferred narrative was pushed on the people.

    • Absolutely. The Big Lie was an original description of a propaganda tactic that had no name before Hitler named it. I also had no fair use or non-malign implications. Enemies of the people, however, exist. The only disagreement is over who they are, but the term itself is neither right nor wrong, fair or unfair. The application is. Flake’s tactic is just a way to smother free expression.

  6. Mrs. Q

    2. It’s just going to get worse from here. While we continue to be distracted by shitholes and news that’s been at least partially fake since the days of yellow journalism (not talking about Asians) Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter, etc. have been collecting all the data they can on us. Machines deep learning is just another way of saying that AI will eventually be able to regulate everything we do.

    From our BMI’s (cars can now tell the weight of drivers), to what gets us off (sexbots), to our water intake (smart meters), to how much we exercise (Fit Bits) – we are allowing constant access to our private lives by tech firms and possibly gov’t agencies. FB, Twitter, etc. got us used to giving up private info for their data collection…it’s only natural for them to now go further.

    Anyone who is familiar with the merging of climate change UN 2030 policies and smart tech knows where this is going. To prevent the earth from crying tears of industrialization us wasteful humans will need something “smarter” than us. Deep learning requires as much data as possible. Ironically that creeping vine of total surveillance is gladly accepted for convince even now. Smart TV’s, Alexa, smart phones, cameras in every room, Fit Bits, all that data goes somewhere and all that data is utilized. After all we all want more “peace and safety” right?

    These companies will continue to attempt to exert control if we keep giving them our data. Heck I’m even doing it right now.

    But it’s ok! With all the money these tech tycoons are investing in transhumanism, soon enough we can just transfer our brains to the god in the machine and be truly happy. After all if the Dalai lama says he wants to, it must be ok!

    http://2045.com/dialogue/29819.html

  7. Glenn Logan

    Facebook, Google and Twitter told Congress Wednesday that they’ve gone beyond screening and removing extremist content and are creating more anti-terror propaganda to preempt violent messages at the source.

    The page and handmaiden of Satan. Of course, they get to decide what qualifies as “extremist.” Social media is our lurch toward the end of freedom, and we’re going there willingly as sheep to the slaughter.

    YouTube (owned by Google) has demonetized and restricted videos apparently at random, often without violating their terms of service. They’ve also taken to restricting channels having anything to do with guns, because guns are evil, or something. But apparently, anti-gun channels don’t have the same problem.

    Facebook is also working with universities, nongovernmental organizations and community groups around the world “to empower positive and moderate voices,” Bickert said.

    Of course, we know who gets to define what qualifies as “positive and moderate,” don’t we? Progressive left welcome, everyone else gets looked at askance.

    Our elected representatives are too lazy, ignorant and incompetent to know an existential threat to freedom of thought and speech when they see one.

    I’m not really sure what they are supposed to do, short of declaring YouTube, Google, Facebook and Twitter to be public utilities. I guess they could raise the alarm, but would anyone listen? Not enough, I reckon.

  8. Chris marschner

    I am always leery of those that espouse egalitarian ideals and promote equinamity when they also want to be the ones deciding how to distribute the equality.

  9. Chris

    About calling the news media “the enemy of the people”…Foolishly, people are cheering Senator Jeff Flake’s dishonest and cheap characterization of President Trump’s description of the news media as “words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies.” They were also words used by playwright Henrik Ibsen about 70 years before Stalin used them. The device of finding the most revolting person ever to use a phrase and then connect a current speaker to that person is an unethical abuse of the cognitive dissonance scale, and as low a political tactic as I can think of right now, but I’m sure “the resistance” will come up with a lower one.

    I’ve never read that Ibsen play. Can you explain the context of the title, and how Trump’s usage is closer to Ibsen’s usage than to Stalin’s usage?

    • It’s not close to either. I’m also willing to bet that Trump was aware of neither origin.

      • Chris

        The Stalin comparison strikes me as valid. It’s Trump labeling his opposition to discredit them. Whether he is aware of the origin doesn’t seem relevant to whether the comparison is valid.

        Of course Trump isn’t going to kill his enemies like Stalin did, but “enemy of the people” implies lawlessness and the need for legal consequences in my mind. It’s what Emperor Palpatine would call the Jedi.

        Looking up the Ibsen play on Wikipedia, it seems that he was using the phrase satirically to describe himself, and public reception to his previous play. If that’s the case, the Stalin usage is obviously far closer to how Trump is using it, and the Ibsen comparison you brought up strikes me as “It’s a sheriff’s star” levels of deflection.

        • Stalin was using the term to describe political enemies, not the press. The press is not supposed to be opposed to any politician; that’s part of its problem. Nor does the press have any obligation to news makers, other than fairness. If journalists betray anyone, it has to be their constituency. As I keep pointing out, Trump is 100% correct. Stain was trying to make his enemies public enemies.

          • Chris

            I have to confess I’m not following. The press isn’t supposed to oppose any politician, but it clearly *does,* and clearly *is* the political enemy of the president. He certainly seems to think so.

            I agree the press is failing in its obligation to be fair and truthful, but note that this applies equally to sources which Trump does not include in his “enemies of the people” designation. Is Fox any less dishonest than any other news network? Had Trump called them the enemy of the people? If not, we have to conclude that he labels the left-leaning MSM this way because they’re his enemies, not because he legitimately thinks the press is failing its obligation to the people. The man admires Breitbart and InfoWars for God’s sake.

            I’m consistent on this too: I’ve seen liberals call Fox News the enemy of the people. They’re being hysterical and freakish.

            • Trump may be getting the label right, for the wrong reasons.

              But Trump’s characterization of the media is immaterial to Jack’s, who has approached this objectively and rationally, and can see the conduct of the Left-wing media is inimical towards the Republic and the People therein, thus earning the label “Enemy of the People”.

              • Chris

                “Enemy of the people” isn’t a rational term. It’s an emotional one. Trump’s conduct is inimical to the Republic and the people therein, but calling him an “enemy of the people” would still be hysterical and freakish.

                Fox News ran false and biased stories about Obama at least as often as the MSM runs false and biased stories about Trump, and corrected them less often. Had Obama called them the “enemy of the people,” you’d have called Obama an authoritarian trying to chill freedom of the press. And you’d have been right.

                • You’ve already been shown the difference between the Media and an elected official, who through the election is vicariously fulfilling the will of the People. The standard of determining a President then becoming an Enemy of the People would be vastly vastly different than the standard that applies to the Media.

                  You’ve been shown this, soundly. Quit bringing it back up, because it does nothing against the argument.

                  Come up with a better argument.

                  “Fox News ran false and biased stories about Obama at least as often as the MSM runs false and biased stories about Trump, and corrected them less often. Had Obama called them the “enemy of the people,” you’d have called Obama an authoritarian trying to chill freedom of the press. And you’d have been right.”

                  If Fox News has gone all in on partisan demagoguery, sure, they can earn the label also. I’m not sure this is an objection to the argument towards the whole industry. It’s easy to identify the Left wing media as having gone whole hog in this venture, so it’s much easier to apply the label to them. With Fox, though falling under the general condemnation of all the biased Media would certainly require a second look if we wanted to break out individual media outlets to evaluate their individual impacts on this great undermining of the Republic.

                  It would be a Quality v Quantity evaluation. If think Fox News has gone as overboard as the Left wing MSM, you’d have an argument, but have they? If you think that Fox has the same kind of impact as the lone voice crying in the wilderness compared to the left wing MSM, you’ve may have an argument.

                  Fox New is no paragon, but if it lacks the expansive impact of the MSM combined with a generally less egregious violation of Journalistic Standards, then individually, it may not necessarily earn the characterization of “Enemy of the People”.

                  But even if you did manage to summon such an argument and make it believable, you haven’t undermined the notion that it IS fair and accurate to label the Left Wing Media as enemies of the People.

                  • Chris

                    You’ve already been shown the difference between the Media and an elected official, who through the election is vicariously fulfilling the will of the People. The standard of determining a President then becoming an Enemy of the People would be vastly vastly different than the standard that applies to the Media.

                    You’ve been shown this, soundly. Quit bringing it back up, because it does nothing against the argument.

                    You’ve said this, but I don’t agree with it. It strikes me as a double standard. It’s immunity by virtue of profession.

                    What it comes down to is that I really don’t think you understand how using “enemy of the people” to describe journalists makes you look. It’s foolish. It’s hysterical. You may as well scream at the sky.

                    • “You’ve said this, but I don’t agree with it. It strikes me as a double standard. It’s immunity by virtue of profession.”

                      You were given reasons why there is a distinction between the messaging of an Elected Official and the messaging of journalism to demonstrate that there is no double standard.

                      The proper response to try to show:

                      1) that those distinctions do not exist, that is the two entities are essentially the same regarding this subject

                      OR

                      2) those distinctions exist but are irrelevant to this subject

                      You have not done this.

                      That is why you do not get to *merely* say “I don’t agree with it” and pretend this is settled.

                      This method of yours makes *you* look foolish.

                    • Chris

                      You were given reasons why there is a distinction between the messaging of an Elected Official and the messaging of journalism to demonstrate that there is no double standard.

                      The proper response to try to show:

                      1) that those distinctions do not exist, that is the two entities are essentially the same regarding this subject

                      OR

                      2) those distinctions exist but are irrelevant to this subject

                      The distinctions are irrelevant to this subject because your premise is that an “enemy of the people” is anyone who acts in a way “inimical to the Republic.” Literally every president has been accused of acting in a way “inimical to the Republic” by someone. Would it be fair for them to describe those presidents as “enemies of the people?” No.

                      Besides that: it is blatantly ridiculous. When you use this phrase you sound like the villain of a dystopian novel. Stop it.

                • “ ‘Enemy of the people’ isn’t a rational term.”

                  Fair enough, let’s go at it from another angle: Howse about anger-addled, tail-chasing, hyper-partisan dumb f**ks?

                  MT SoS Corey Stapleton:

                  “Instead of focusing on the policies and impact of leadership decisions across the political spectrum, mainstream media has become obsessed with the sideshows of personality and politically incorrect language of today. Media has become language cops instead of investigative reporters,” bolds mine)

                  http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/2018/01/17/secretary-state-blasts-media-monthly-newsletter/1041267001/

                • “Fox News ran false and biased stories about Obama at least as often as the MSM runs false and biased stories about Trump”

                  That’s demonstrably false, and just a talking point. In fact, MSNBC all by itself matches or exceeds Fox in bias and negative spin,, then we also have CNN, CBS, ABC, and NBC. NPR, the Times, the Post. Moreover, FOX hasn’t been nearly the Trump cheerleader that the MSM was for Obama….we’re talking news, now, not Hannity.

                  • Valid point. I didn’t want to point it out since it wasn’t ultimately aiming at diverting the discussing via a “they’re just as bad too” argument.

                  • Chris

                    That’s demonstrably false, and just a talking point.

                    Ok, so demonstrate it.

                    Is Tucker Carlson news? This week he had a guest on, a congressman, who spread the conspiracy theory that the Vegas shooter was part of ISIS, and then had Mark Steyn on to push white supremacist propaganda by complaining that there are too many Hispanic elementary kids in Arizona schools. Is he an “enemy of the people?” No, because that term is hysterical.

                    • I’ve demonstrated it for years.

                      Of course Tucker Carlson isn’t news. It’s like Crossfire. He’s not a journalist and never was.

                    • Chris

                      No, to demonstrate that Fox didn’t run as many false and biased stories about Obama as the MSM does about Trump, you’d have to show statistics on that subject. Anecdotal evidence wouldn’t be enough. You haven’t done that. To be fair, it would be very hard to do.

                    • You’re just denying what any fair observer would have to concede, Chris.

                      The statistics on the degree of negative Trump coverage including Fox points the way.

                    • Chris

                      Negative coverage of Trump is a different thing from biased or faulty coverage of Trump. Some negative coverage is justified with every president, and a lot of negative coverage is justified with this one. Fox isn’t biased against Trump—they may have been in the primaries, but not now. If they’re covering Trump negatively, it’s because he earns negative coverage.

                    • Damn you are hard headed, Chris… typical progressive tactic (you don’t believe your lying eyes, do you?)

                    • Chris

                      You’re gonna need to write something more substantive if you expect me to engage with it, slick. I have no idea what part of my comment you’re criticizing.

                    • …I have no idea what part of my comment you’re criticizing.

                      Your entire thread starting at Jan 19, 6:46 pm

                      Don’t bother to engage: my comment was rhetorical on how you NEVER let things go.

  10. luckyesteeyoreman

    I am beginning to feel addicted to the “counterspeech” this blog provides to all the speech-springing-from-dead-ethics that seems ever more unavoidable. I have started to hope for inventions of speech-analysis engines and Artificial Intelligence that literally, as “counterminds” to their own inventors, independently “appropriate” (as in “cultural appropriation”) much of the ethics Jack articulates here and further turn against their inventors – to render the inventors’ ideologies, their political biases and partisanship, and their power-hoarding agendas universally rejected, forever shunned and unachievable, and marginalized into virtual irrelevance and powerlessness.

    • luckyesteeyoreman

      Would the introduction of an “ethics virus” into the cyberspeech-controllers’ tools, such as I have outlined above (and given that such is feasible), be ethical?

  11. Rusty Rebar

    They are calling this “Flake News” now.

  12. charlesgreen

    Jack, you’ve got me thinking (not for the first time) – this time about press ethics, one of your favorite topics.

    It drove me to wonder if a society of journalists has a code of ethics; and of course, they do. (Or, at least one group, the Society of Professional Journalists does): https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

    I believe you deal quite frequently with ethics codes, yes? And it wouldn’t surprise me if you were familiar with this one.

    My question: Do you think what ails US journalism is its code of ethics, or its failure to live up to its code of ethics?

    (And, if that’s a flawed question, it would be interesting to hear your comments on that as well).

    • It’s an excellent code of ethics, but as you know, codes without enforcement mechanisms aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. Most journalists never read their codes (priming! Priming!) and more don’t care about them.

      • charlesgreen

        Jack, honest question: who in the world of journalism today do you consider to be an exemplar of good journalism? Or perhaps just the least offending?

        • honest question: who in the world of journalism today do you consider to be an exemplar of good journalism? Or perhaps just the least offending?

          This is an excellent question, charles!

          Like national politicians, I am not sure one can survive the process by which one becomes a journalist without embracing bad journalism practices.

          (The only national politicians I can name off the top of my head as remaining true to their roots are Ronald Reagan and Trump. Even Ted Cruz has been ‘slippery’ on occasion. And both Reagan and Trump became great disruptors while in office. Trump is the same Trump he was in business, which does not play well in politics, so there is that.)

          I may be wrong: I do not generally pay attention to the reporter who wrote the story unless that is pertinent, so would not notice a ‘good’ journalist as they would be transparent (as they should be: report the news, leave your politics, personality, and opinions out of it)

          I am interested in Jack’s take as well.

          • Chris

            What does “true to their roots” mean to you? Reagan campaigned as a small government conservative and then massively expanded the scope of the federal government, so I don’t see how you can argue he stayed true to his roots.

            • Can you support your assertions? As you have noted recently, just saying it does not prove it.

              • Chris

                Are you…seriously asking me to support the fact that Reagan massively expanded the scope of the federal government?

                This is a thing you need explained to you?

                • Go ahead, I am waiting… the facts should roll off your tongue.

                    • Reagan was President 30 years ago. Do you really think that the government needs to keep adding employees indefinitely, never eliminating agencies, redundancies, red tape? I can’t believe you do. Let’s assume that Reagan only hired new employees that were really needed, which I doubt. What possible relevance does that have in 2012? Or now? Do you really think there are over a million more jobs we need in the Federal government? Yes, the ideologues at ThinkProgress think the government should hire everyone without a job. You know that. Why read this junk? You don’t think technology has made thousands of jobs superfluous?

                      Articles like this are like hitting yourself over the head with a hammer.

                    • charlesgreen

                      “I can’t believe you do.”

                      And indeed I don’t; whatever gave you the idea I did? I was simply providing a link to demonstrate the claim that Federal jobs went up, not down, under Reagan.

                    • I thought so, but people generally link to articles to indicate their agreement with them, mot just selected facts contained therein. Because that’s a really, really, dumb ThinkProgressy piece.

                    • charlesgreen

                      Thanks; I explicitly don’t endorse the piece, just the core piece of data it was built off ot.

                  • And you are using an Alinsky tactic, Chris. ‘Pick at words, and the alternate meaning of words, and distract from the conversation. Then insist that if this minor nitpick is wrong (even if it is not) then the entire assertion is wrong.’
                    This is dishonest.

                    The post was not about Reagan, or bigger government, or anything like that. I simply made an offhand comment about two politicians I viewed as ‘true to their roots’ in the context of charles’ question about ‘true to journalism’ journalists. It was an example, and a fairly benign one. You made it into a ‘gotcha’ for no reason, a knee jerk reaction. Ask yourself why you felt you had to attack instead of letting it pass. Why?
                    This was dishonest (to the conversation) and unnecessary.

                    My follow up posts explained that many conservatives believe Reagan was, overall, true to why we elected him. We get to have that opinion. You chose to pick a fight (and we were getting along so well this week!) using a tangential argument often used by progressives to disparage Reagan. You used a topically biased source (as you just admitted, they hate ANY government growth) without comment or quotation, leaving the reader to interpret for themselves.
                    This was dishonest.

                    I already stated that you were technically right, if you read my post. You seem to think that a 3% growth is ‘drastic’ growth. I gave a nuanced answer which you apparently did not read, or did not bother to comprehend.
                    This was dishonest.

                    Honestly, I baited you into the conversation, in part because I resented your unmerited attack. I wanted you to have to support it, and see if you had valid reasons to pick this fight, which is usually just a progressive smear and a way to shut down conversation. I am here, after all, to learn about other viewpoints, to better understand where others are coming from. I learned nothing substantive: you acted like a political hack.

                    And you likely don’t even see that your tactics were wrong, interjected without regard for the conversation, and stifled honest open debate. This is another reason we can’t have nice things 🙂

                • Still waiting on Chris…

                  • Chris

                    The question was embarrassing, slick, which I’d hoped you’d realize. That Reagan massively expanded the federal government is a fact that any mild politically informed person should know. But since you don’t know that, here you go:

                    https://mises.org/library/sad-legacy-ronald-reagan-0

                    • (sorry in advance for the length of my post. this one seemed to write itself!)

                      Chris,

                      So you and charles went for hatchet jobs on Ronaldus Magnus… this is why I wanted to see where you are getting your information. YOU HAVE BEEN LIED TO, as in misled by cherry picked statistics by those with an agenda. You asked a deeper question than you thought, so I wanted to reply to specifics if I could.

                      First, I won’t even address the pathetic thinkprogress article… progressive spinning propaganda, and poorly thought out even by those standards. Thinkprogress is owned by the Center for American Progress, and is a far left think tank. This was nothing but a smear job.

                      Next, did you even read the 1988 article from Mises, Chris? It spins everything as bad:

                      They hated the creation of the Veterans Administration.

                      They credit Carter for deregulation of oil prices. (Really?!?)

                      Tax revenues (which went up under Reagan despite the tax cuts) are derided, despite the fact that the tax cuts broadened the tax base, grew the economy, created new industries, and benefitted the middle class.

                      That should be enough on that source.

                      This is all a liberal progressive recasting of history, otherwise known as ‘cherry picking,’ to make an opponent look bad. Reagan was very successful at MAGA, so he must be denigrated at every opportunity. This is what Reagan’s ‘roots’ were.

                      The size of the federal civilian workforce decreased by 5%, however, the absolute number of ‘government workers’ did increase by about 3% (note this is not ‘massive) And it is true that modern improvements have lowered total government workers in more recent administrations, as things like typing pools and mimeograph copying have ended. This growth was in part due to the addition of enormous increases in military spending, bringing on contractors as Reagan ended the Cold War. Some Federal departments grew (or were added) while others were reduced. Unions were busted, and no federal workers union has dared to strike since.

                      Any projection of government growth trends show he reduced the growth curve since the Truman Administration (yet added to the overall number) such that the principles under discussion here are supported.

                      In other words, government became less intrusive and regulations were reduced. Energy became cheaper, allowing new markets to grow. Taxes were slashed and the economy stimulated, as the potential of the American worker was tapped and the middle class (even the Black middle class) grew and prospered. This is what a conservative calls ‘true to his roots.’

                      Reagan revived the economy, the military, and America as a superpower. His administration made decisions that beggared the USSR, effectively ending the Cold War. America’s enemies believed that he would act and not just talk (like Carter) and thus he made the world a safer place.

                      His legacy has been tarnished by years of progressive sniping, yet the lessons are there for those who will see: less regulation, less taxation, strong image on the world stage. These things make for a better America, as Reagan promised.

                      God help me, even Trump has learned these lessons. When will progressives?

                    • Chris

                      Slick,

                      My goal was not to “tarnish” Reagan. Mises believes that all growth in government is bad, and I don’t agree with a lot of their ideology.

                      You are bringing up a lot of tangents while failing to address the main point. Ronald Reagan drastically increased the size of the federal government. You have not rebutted this, and it is not rebuttable. It is a fact. You can view him as “true to his roots” on the other metrics you brought up, but he was not the small government conservative that he portrayed himself as, nor as he is still portrayed by under-informed conservatives. I am not even saying this is a bad thing; my view of Reagan is actually a great deal more favorable than the view of most progressives.

        • Most are old. Off the top of my head: Woodward is principled. Bob Schrieffer tried. Chris Wallace. His late Dad, for the most part. Brit Hume. A while back I would have said Jake Tapper, but he’s been poisoned by CNN. Sharyl Attkisson. Glenn Greenwald. I’m sure there are many trustworthy local journalists, but then again, who knows? Without standards, nobody is completely trustworthy.

          • Charles Kuralt? Paul Harvey?

            I know Andy Rooney was a progressive hack: his commentary on 60 minutes was enjoyable when I was growing up… until I got old enough to know something about the stories he alluded to, and realized he was lying, spinning, and partisan. This was my first such realization about the media, and caused me to pay attention more closely.

          • charlesgreen

            Good list, I agree. (I still fondly remember a guy whose name I can’t recall, I think CBS in the morning – gruff, skeptical, smoker’s voice, kind of a cross between Roger Mudd and Charles Kuralt…)

            What’s your take on Zaccaria?

            And those are all individuals; is there an organization that you consider to be a trustworthy news organization? Or, failing that, the least untrustworthy?

  13. Pennagain

    Over the past couple of decades, approximately, I have become increasingly uneasy, depressed, anxious, angry, isolate and finally maddened by what has gone into the methodical and insanely deliberate betrayal of ideals and freedoms, the destruction of respected, useful institutions, the disregard for all the high, bright values in “my” society, my culture. But even when the detrimental changes began to affect me directly — my person, my quality of life, my safety and security (such as it was: I’ve never needed much) — I clung to the mantra this too shall pass. But, as my historian friend kept reminding me, the 500+ year old Roman Republic went belly up within the same amount of time, and never found its feet again. Still, I wasn’t scared out of my wits until I read the word “COUNTERSPEECH.”

    Counter. Speech. Against speech. Not just anti-First Amendment, something to STOP PEOPLE FROM SPEAKING. Not just “free” speech; simply not using any words that mean anything. The language of technology, the language that becomes more abbreviated with all its faster-than-life(sic) changes, a spoken version of texting and twitting, a dumbing of vocabulary, a numbing of nuance. . A muffling of all meaningful voices. The left will pull the blanket over its head first, and willingly, and not even understand what is happening until it wakes up in the middle of the night with its headphones glued to its brains, silently screaming.

    Much as I hate to bring up the name of der Furher because it has become such a cliche, he has the most appropriate description of what “Counterspeech” can become. It is akin to what Hitler first announced at the Wannsee Conference in 1942 as The Final Solution.

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