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