Thanks To CNN, Ethic Alarms Welcomes Rationalization #42, The Irrelevant Mitigation: “He’ll/She’ll/They’ll get over it.”

He’ll get over it…

When I hear or read an obvious rationalization that somehow had been left off the Ethics Alarms list, now closing in on ninety ( the new addition makes 89), I think, “That must be on the list somewhere!” When I check and it is not, I marvel, “How did I miss that one?” This was especially true with Rationalization #42, which, please note, bumps “The Hillary Inoculation” to 43, and every subsequent rationalization up one. This is not just a rationalization, but one of the near-evil ones, employed by unrepentant miscreants who count on gullibility, generosity, kindness, forgiveness and fading emotions to allow them to avoid accountability, and harm the same people again later

I almost christened the new arrival “Jake’s Rationalization,” for it was CNN’s Jake Tapper, once a real journalist, now in the final throes of  Sienenization, who uttered it. The topic was the recent CNN “town hall” on guns (described here and here), with an audience packed with angry Florida students and their  families, yielding questioners who were rude, hostile, and frequently full of misinformation.

The The Hollywood Reporter described the reactions of CNN head Jeff Zucker and Tapper as they tried to deny that their disgraceful stunt was what it so obviously was:

…[E]ven as the town hall was receiving plaudits from the mainstream media, the Florida event was being used as an example of how CNN has morphed into a partisan player. “CNN has decided to take this path where they are kind of left-wing advocates,” says Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union and organizer of CPAC.

It’s a characterization that CNN president Jeff Zucker finds insulting. “That criticism is silly,” Zucker tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The fact is we were there, we presented both sides. People who want to criticize are looking to just criticize before they even think about it.” He points out that Sen. Marco Rubio could have been joined by Trump or Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott, but both declined CNN’s invitation. “That’s not CNN’s problem,” he adds.

Yes, it was being used as an example because it was an example. The fact that the mainstream media gave this monstrosity “plaudits” confirms that it isn’t only CNN that has morphed into a partisan player. “Both sides” were represented like “both sides” were represented at the Alamo. The audience was unbalanced (in more ways than one), the questions were ridiculously unbalanced (but that’s what happens at town halls when the audience is unbalanced), anti-gun activists and pandering anti-gun Democrats were allowed to make factually misleading statements on national television without corrections from the passive moderator (Tapper, in slug-mode), and the two designated defenders of the Bill of Rights on the stage, Marco Rubio and NRA pretty face Dana Loesch were inept and defensive (or perhaps defensive and inept.)

Most inexcusable of all, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel used the forum to accuse the NRA of being responsible for the 17 deaths, while knowing, though not revealing, that his own officer had breached his duty on the scene of the shooting, and that his office had ignored 39 calls  from the killer’s home over  a six-year period. NRA spokesperson Loesch tried to confront Israel with the latter, but botched her facts, perhaps because she’s a paid shill, but also perhaps because she’s not used to speaking while audience members are shouting that she’s a murderer.

No, Mr. Zucker, it is CNN’s problem when the network ends up with outnumbered and inept advocates for one side of a contentious issue in what is supposed to be a balanced exploration. It is CNN’s duty as a news organization to make sure such a program is balanced and fair. Rubio is an established weenie under fire (ask Chris Christie), and Loesch is neither bright nor quick. A fact-checker would also have been a responsible addition, since the grandstanding students were more emotional than informed. A competent moderator would have helped.

HR’s next paragraph is both revealing and a hoot:

“From a ratings perspective, Zucker’s town hall was a big hit, winning its time slot with 2.9 million viewers (Fox News still led the night with an average of 2.5 million compared with CNN’s 2.4 million). “I think it was a really important milestone in this conversation because for one of the few times, people who have different points of view were together,” says Zucker. “And the problem is: all too often, whether it’s on blogs or websites or partisan television networks, people are just talking to themselves. And nothing will ever change if we don’t start talking to one another.”

I refuse to believe that anyone could have watched that fiasco and described it as people talking to each other, with Rubio being hectored about promising not to accept donations from the  NRA (Marco didn’t have the wit to counter by asking the student activists to reject their contributions from George Clooney and Oprah) and Loesch being insulted by questioners and the audience. This is, however, what that “conversation about guns” that anti-gun zealots keep promoting looks and sounds like. Zucker is engaging in a Jumbo: “Elephant? What elephant?“, except it’s “Slanted and biased forum? What slanted and biased forum?” The key piece of information in that paragraph is the first part: the program got big ratings. That’s all Zucker cares about.

The article—a pro-CNN whitewash— closed with this obnoxious quote from Tapper:

“However offended anybody was at the passion in the town hall, and however upset they were at mean words that were said to Sen. Rubio or Dana Loesch, they’ll get over it. And the people in that stadium, they won’t.”

Nice, Jake. That’s also the worst of the worst Rationalizations on the list, #22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things”: “Yeah, so what if I let the town hall degenerate into shouting and insults by emotional and ill-informed teens and anti-gun activists? Kids were shot! How can you complain about little things like incompetent journalism?”

But you did remind me to add this to the list…

42. The Irrelevant Mitigation: “He’ll/She’ll/They’ll get over it.”

The Irrelevant Mitigation is one of the true rationalizations. Many on the list have occasional legitimate applications, even the biggest one of them all, “Everybody does it.” But #42 is pure callousness mixed with consequentialism, and thus beyond redemption or ethical application.. It holds that wrongful conduct is somehow mitigated by the fact that the wound heals, forgiveness is granted, or time breeds forgetfulness.

It isn’t. How and whether victims recover or get over their anger does not alter the original misconduct, mitigate it, and certainly does not erase it. Those who cite this rationalization are shrugging off accountability and are signalling that they will repeat their unethical conduct or worse, counting on their victims to give them an opportunity to harm them again.

Anyone who employs The Irrelevant Mitigation cannot be trusted

35 thoughts on “Thanks To CNN, Ethic Alarms Welcomes Rationalization #42, The Irrelevant Mitigation: “He’ll/She’ll/They’ll get over it.”

  1. The Irrelevant Mitigation: “He’ll/She’ll/They’ll get over it.”

    I use this rationalization all the time, mostly to be angrily or callously dismissive of someone who gets an outcome they least desire, but I consider them deserving of. I should probably be ashamed of it, but I’m not, except to the extent I use it to attempt to end an argument. Unfortunately, I’ve been known to do that, too. It usually prompts invective and resentment, though — justifiably.

    “However offended anybody was at the passion in the town hall, and however upset they were at mean words that were said to Sen. Rubio or Dana Loesch, they’ll get over it. And the people in that stadium, they won’t.” [my emphasis]

    To me, I highlighted the worst part of this particular point. It not only shows the haughty dismissal of other points of view, but also engages in the kind of virtue-signaling that has infected our culture like herpes simplex.

    His apparent disregard for the traditional and ethical role of the media is the most troubling thing, not his holier-than-thou attitude or his condescending comment. When a putative “moderator” is transparently biased to one side or the other, what can one expect except farce, even if CNN had managed to mitigate the overall balance of the forum’s studio audience?

    As we have seen for some time, CNN and much of the media have convinced themselves that they are on the right side of history, and that the appearance of bias, impropriety and unfairness is balanced by the desirability of the outcome. Like many on the left these days, process is irrelevant and only to be discussed when it favors their position. If it becomes a hindrance, rationalize it or invoke emotion to mitigate it.

    This reminds me of what my wife sometimes says to me: “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.” CNN thinks it is right, and if journalistic ethics must be sacrificed on the altar of social justice, well … eggs, omelets.

    • Fortunately, unlike the left, my wife never says we “have to have a conversation.” Which, when spoken by the left, means “I need to lecture you to set you straight and get you on the right side of history.” It’s annoying when people deliberately and maliciously misuse a word like that. It’s like a mobster ending a sentence with, “my friend.” Anyone who uses that little tag on is not your friend.

      • Well, we’ve already established a pretty good lexicon for the left. There should also be a list of tactics common to the left, like saying you’re not going to do something when it’s exactly what you’re going to do. If your wife says “I’m not trying to eat up your day off, but…” you know she’s got a long honey-do list that will do exactly that, but it might not sell as well if she said, “I need you to hang those new doors for the sitting room this morning, then I need you to clean the pool, edge and mow (make sure you get those edges perfectly straight, mom noticed they were a little off last time, she says you can do better) and bring that dryer around for heavy metal collection this afternoon, and when you’ve finished you can fire up the grill. I’ll be home from my spa appointment at 5 sharp and I’d like to eat immediately, but not have the food get cold.”

        I’d tell her to go hire a contractor, a gardener, a pool cleaner, a lackey and a cook, all with money she alone earned, and then I’d go fishing, just like I’d tell some lefty who wanted to lecture me exactly where he could put his lecture. People only walk over you if you let them.

    • If you read between the lines, it’s also very patronizing to their intended audience:

      “however upset they were at mean words that were said to Sen. Rubio or Dana Loesch, they’ll get over it. And the people in that stadium, they won’t.”

      They’re Republicans. They have thick skins, they can take our lies, slanders, absurdities and rudeness…. I mean, they’ve been doing it for the better part of their lives anyway, by now they might as well be encased in rawhide. We’re tender, emotion having snowflakes, wither us with even a side glace and we’ll literally shake through our office chairs.

      I mean…. It might even be true. But for a demographic that has generally taken umbrage at the characterization as being delicate, coming straight out and saying it seems in bad taste.

  2. I’m not sure mitigation is even the word. Mitigation usually implies that the person who did the wrong makes it up later, like “I knocked over the statue now by accident, but I’ll see that it is replaced later.” This is just a brushoff, saying that what I did to you doesn’t matter, because I expect you’ll eventually get over it and life will go on. It’s basically a justification for treating the nice guy like crap precisely because he is the nice guy. “Joe, you’re usually pretty easygoing about these things, so can you switch desks with Jim? He’s complaining about the window again.” “Jane, Lisa said she needs to leave early again today, so can I count on you to pick up the slack?” “Mike, I forgot my necklace and I really want to wear it to the show out here, I’m hoping you’ll swing by my place and grab it before you come out?”

    The universal response if Joe says he doesn’t want to change desks, or if Jane says “seriously?” or if Mike says “you know, my car’s already loaded and I want to leave right from work” is likely to be “you’ll get over it” or “pull up your big boy pants/big girl panties and be the adult here” or “oh, pick up the pieces of your shattered life and move on.” Essentially if you resist, your thoughts, opinions and feelings have no value.

    Then there’s deliberate jerky behavior, shoving, embarrassing someone in front of others, etc., and then telling them to get over it. Like it or not, sometimes you have to attack back, or put the fear of God into the callous to get the point across, and then the nice guy is no longer so nice. Sometimes you have to tell someone no, and stand firm. Sometimes you have to decline requests for favors and reject attempts to guilt you. “Well, if you’re not going to be helpful…” “No, you forgot your damn necklace, and that’s not my problem.” Sometimes you have to pull someone aside, get in his face, and tell him “if you ever embarrass me in front of the council again I will throw you through the window.”

    Getting over it is just a license for bullies to act like bullies.

  3. The Irrelevant Mitigation is one of the true rationalizations. Many on the list have occasional legitimate applications, even the biggest one of them all, “Everybody does it.”

    I’m not sure it has no legitimate application. In fact, I use it as a part of the reason for ethical actions everyday, when dealing with my three year old. If I thought not having a cookie would actually scar her for life, like she would like me to believe, of course I would give her the cookie. But I know from experience that she’ll throw herself on the floor, kicking and yelling for about 45 seconds, then she’ll move on to something else.

    Of course, we hope adults shouldn’t have to be treated like three year olds. But… If Alice says she’ll be absolutly crushed if you don’t come to her party, that would be part of an ethical consideration. But if she also said she’d be totally crushed and hate you forever if you didn’t have lunch with her Tuesday, and check on her dog for her, and go with her on vacation, and each time you said no she called you the next day… obviously “she’ll get over it” if you want to read a book instead.

    • What’s the reason for denying the cookie? If the reason is you are teaching delayed gratitude, or you are teaching moderation, or you are teaching you don’t always get what you want, or you are teaching that good behavior is always rewarded but is a reward itself, then THOSE are the good rationalizations for denying the cookie, not “she’ll get over it”.

      • The reason might be any of those, but my point is that if I truly thought the impact on her would be as severe as she makes it out to be, none of those might be worth it.

        Think also of the teenager who says she’ll never talk to you again if she doesn’t have those jeans– of course you’d buy overpriced jeans rather than sever all contact with your child, damn lessons about savings and financial responsibility! But she will, in fact, get over it, so her emotional distress is not an ethical consideration.

        Situations where you know you’re dealing with emotional manipulation, dismissing that from ethical consideration will leave you on the right ethical path.

        • Gee, Emily, I wish my kids had been as easy as your 3-year-old seems! I think kids’ aptitudes for committing blackmail are DNA-based. (My wife must NEVER read this!) My precious, darling first-born wasn’t a year old before I went into my own version of PTSD, in shock that I had conceived such a brilliant bundle of irresistible, irrepressible, incorrigible manipulativeness. The instructiveness of Ronald Reagan and the notion of “not negotiating with terrorists” came along not a moment too soon. I’m sure the kid even reasoned #42, except, I NEVER got over it.

      • Not sure those are good rationalizations, but I supposed they need to be taught – “you don’t always get what you want” is a fact. “Delayed gratitude” is a game-playing tactic, often an inch away from goalpost moving. “Moderation” is a value that should be taught, but a 3yo isn’t going to get it. “Good behavior is its own reward” just like “good work is its own reward” is the wrong way to phrase it and sounds like bs. Maybe “good behavior is a minimum expectation?”

        • If either of my kids (or my grand kids, for that matter) threw themselves on the floor for even one second to get a cookie or a car or a college scholarship, I’d tell them to get up, swat them on the butt and send them to their room because their behavior is unacceptable. Failing to do so would scar them for life and constitute parental malpractice. Incompetence is unethical.

          You’re doing just fine, Emily.

  4. Unfortunately events like this Town Hall are invariably going to be a lose/lose for conservatives, this one more so than others.

    If you decline to attend the ambush it will be said it’s because you are unable to defend your position; if you do attend you are dropped into a dog-fighting pit and surrounded by a pack of rabid baying wolves whilst the fight promoter pushes you away from the wall.

    If Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch had treated this as a backs-to-the-wall knife fight, which it was, there would have been a hue-and-cry about their lack of sensitivity to the traumatized youth.

    All that still being accurate, they where perhaps not the people for the job and they were not prepped by their team, if they had one. There were a number of very obvious contact points that they should have been well prepared to rebut, all be it they have to try and remain calm and polite whilst doing so; it’s a pretty big call.

  5. Does anyone else think that it’s ironic that the anti-gun school kids are being funded by George Clooney; who made that money, at least in part, by portraying gun violence for profit?

        • Maybe Clooney’s funding of the anti-gun forces is a sin offering. ?
          Now I have to go look up his history – and watch for his future roles.

            • Damn, slick. I wish you hadn’t added “in theater” … I’ve had a
              “don’t watch” list for decades, starting with a complete Claude Rains boycott way back in ’57 (personal), and a disinclination for Woody Allen practically from the beginning for his on-screen, not life’s, ego-maniacal personae: his snide Manhattitude, mostly, (only to find later that he was as ugly inside as well as out).

              All along, though, I figured it was okay to watch so long as I didn’t pay for them directly. I didn’t care if they profited; just not by me. I wasn’t on a campaign to explain their racism (that includes “Get Out” and most of Spike Lee) or expose their gratuitous homophobia (embedded particularly in Eddie Murphy’s films). So the list grew and grew. Only all the time I was thinking just about the Net profits — those headliners everyone hears about – so-and-so was paid so-many millions up front or so-and-so got, wow!, how much for her share in the movie’s fabulous opening weekend! Only recently did I start to think about the gross income, the “residuals” : pay TV, DVD, broadcast rights, online revenue . . . Well, then, to be ethical, I have to cull the list mightily (except for those previously mentioned by name) knowing that if the names are still there, I will be promising myself never ever to watch these movies in any form. And that, once on, they stay on.

              Of course, other than YouTube, which has pretty much closed down on whole film runs anyway (though happily ignoring all the great b&w’s from the last century), or signing up for an adult film-appreciation class at a local school, or making token heel-dragging marks on friends’ carpets while agreeing to accompany their young Dick or Demarco to the latest IMAX action/adventure or young Jane or Aliyah to a *sigh* romance/adventure in outer space on ice, or slip into a Netflix choice (theirs, not mine!) without reading the credits . . . oops, I can feel the wiggle-room already.

              • I made my peace with renting the movies on Redbox if I really had to see them. Most of them I find I do not. Matt Damon’s bombs from last year, for instance, look like pleasant diversions, but I may never bother to even rent.

                I pay a little over a dollar to rent a movie: whatever the star gets for that is small enough that I don’t care.

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