Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/17/2018: Blacklisting, Boycotts, And A Fox News Ethics Breach

Good Morning, all.

1 The blacklisting of R. Lee Ermey. Ermey, the ex-Marine turned actor who gained fame playing a Marine drill sergeant in “Full Metal Jacket,” died this week. I had thought he might already be dead, since I hadn’t seen him show up in movies or TV shows for quite a while. No, it appears that he was blackballed by Hollywood after he criticized President Obama in 2010, while he was being hired with some regularity. Speaking at a Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots rally, he said it was difficult to raise money for the charity because “the economy sucks” and went on to blame the Obama Administration, saying,

“We should all rise up, and we should stop this administration from what they’re doing because they’re destroying this country. They’re driving us into bankruptcy so that they can impose socialism on us, and that’s exactly what they’re doing, and I’m sick and damn tired of it and I know you are too.”

Ermey’s agent and the sudden reduction in his offers persuaded the tough Marine to beg for forgiveness with an abject apology for daring to critique Obama so harshly. Never mind:  His contract as a GEICO character was terminated, and the company removed Ermey’s commercial from their official YouTube channel. He later told interviewers that he had been blacklisted by Hollywood, and that he never had major film offer after he criticized Obama.

Observations:

a) I wonder when fair, decent, ethical Americans who believe in freedom of thought and expression will become sufficiently alarmed about progressives and Democrats using blacklists and boycotts  to enforce ideological conformity. This increasingly totalitarian end of the political spectrum needs to be informed that its ethics alarms are seriously malfunctioning.

b) Actors identified with products and companies cannot complain when they lose those jobs after making divisive political comments. If Ermey wanted to do commercials for anyone other than the NRA, his comments about Obama were just plain stupid.

c) As an actor in films, however, Ermey played villains and parodies of military characters.  His political views in those contexts should have been irrelevant, and certainly wouldn’t harm receipts for movies he was in. If he really was blacklisted, it was an act of punishment for refusing to accept the Hollywood community’s lockstep worship of a weak and divisive President.

d) In contrast, recall this public rant from actor Robert DeNiro in January regarding the current President of the United States:

“This fucking idiot is the President. It’s The Emperor’s New Clothes – the guy is a fucking fool. The publication of the Pentagon Papers was a proud moment for American journalism. The Times and the Post challenged the government over critical First Amendment issues. And the press prevailed. Our government today, with the propping-up of our baby-in-chief – the jerkoff-in-chief I call him – has put the press under siege, trying to discredit it through outrageous attacks and lies.’

I don’t think Bobby has lost any roles over this. To be fair, if there is a place where The King’s Pass, aka “The Star Syndrome,” rules supreme, it’s Hollywood. A major star like DeNiro obviously has more leeway than a narrow-range character actor like Ermey, and Ermey had to know that. Still, the double standard is striking.

e) Writing about Ermey’s fate, Hollywood blogger Jeffrey Wells wrote…

“The Right wrote the book on political blacklisting in the late ’40s and especially the ’50s. So much so that they kinda “own” blacklisting in perpetuity, as they put many good people of conscience and principle through considerable misery, and thereby earned a good amount of poison karma for themselves, and so any blacklisting that comes back at their descendants is just too effing bad. Blacklisting is a bad thing, but they can’t deny the discriminatory karma that’s in their blood. If you hatch ugly eggs, you can’t complain when the chickens come home to roost, even if it’s a half-century or more later.”

What an idiot.  This lowers Ethics Dunce-hood into Ethics Retardation territory. So R. Lee Ermey deserves to be blacklisted because Hollywood was blacklisting suspected Communists during the Red Scare and the McCarthy era. I wonder how many people read garbage like this and nod in agreement. If it is even one, it is one too many.

2. And speaking of no tolerance..It’s hard to imagine a strong rebuttal of conservative blogger Jim Treacher’s verdict on the Starbucks mess:

I hope this fiasco proves instructive to Howard Schultz and everybody else at Starbucks. No matter how liberal you are, no matter how hard you work to establish and maintain your #woke credentials, all it takes is one slip-up. Just one viral video, taken on one of the cameras that we all carry now, and the angry mob will descend on you. Nothing you do or say will appease them. No apology will be sufficient. You can’t grovel low enough.

Treacher reminds us that the same Starbuck management now threatened with a boycott based on one mishandled incident once distributed this questionnaire in its stores:

 

3.  Sean Hannity’s undisclosed conflict of interest. During the hearing this week over materials gathered during the raid of Michael Cohen’s office and home,  it was revealed that Fox News pundit was one of Cohen’s clients. The problem? Hannity had forcefully condemned the raid, while never telling his audience that he had a personal stake in the incident, which might have vacuumed up some of his secrets as well as the President’s.

That’s a bright line breach of ethics, extending beyond the obvious conflict of interest into outright dishonesty. Hannity is presenting himself in such commentary as an objective, disinterested observer and analyst. By definition, he was not and is not.

When the relationship between Hannity and Cohen was revealed, Fox News provided a statement from its star pundit:

“Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective. I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third party.”

Sorry, Sean, but to be a lawyer’s client, you don’t have to retain him, get an invoice, pay legal fees, or use him in a matter between you and a third party.  If you get legal advice from a lawyer, you’re his client. You are admitting that by saying that you assumed your conversations with him were confidential.

Some of Hannity’s defenders are trying to make a distinction between his ethical duties as a pundit as opposed to his disclosure obligations as a journalist. In this scenario, there is no distinction.

64 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Workplace

64 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/17/2018: Blacklisting, Boycotts, And A Fox News Ethics Breach

  1. 1. The link below on one of the favorite targets of the “righteous” – Israel. This, big surprise, is from Cambridge, Ma.

    http://www.bostonherald.com/opinion/op_ed/2018/04/human_rights_abusers_push_cambridge_resolution_vs_israel

  2. I agree that Hannity should have disclosed his interest in the matter before opining on it. But it is incorrect to say the mere rendition of legal advice establishes an attorney-client relationship. At least in New York, where Hannity and Cohen reside, there usually needs to be a specific undertaking on the part of the lawyer to do something. Also, one does not need to be a client to obtain the protections of attorney-client privilege and confidentiality. Under Rule 1.18 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyers are to provide confidential treatment for information received from prospective clients who are not clients. Thus Hannity may be entitled to protections even if he was not Cohen’s client.

    • Dan, this is true regarding a potential representation, but Hannity would have to be consulting with Cohen with the intent of forming an attorney-client relationship if Cohen agreed. If the representation was refused, then Cohen could not give Hannity advice—that completes the relationship. Providing legal advice IS a “specific task.” The understanding is that the lawyer is using his legal skill and knowledge to answer a question that will be relied upon by the “client.” Providing legal advice by a non-lawyer is called unauthorized practice.

      Those cases you cite, and the cases they relate to, do not involve a lawyer giving legal advice. Here is an ABA post on the matter:

      The relationship begins when there is a mutual understanding that the client is going to confide in the attorney and the attorney is going to listen. The attorney-client relationship may commence even if there is nothing in writing. The relationship may commence even if no money has changed hands. Although there must be a mutual understanding that the client has engaged the lawyer and the lawyer has accepted representation, it is the attorney’s responsibility to make it clear to the potential client when this has occurred, and when it has not.

      Some suggestions:

      Do not give legal advice outside your field of expertise. Although it is obvious to most attorneys that a lawyer who primarily does family law is not qualified to discuss the niceties of intellectual property law, it is not obvious to all laypersons. If you are discussing an area outside your normal field, clearly indicate that fact: “I am not a tax lawyer and I don’t know enough about tax law to properly advise you. You should really talk to a tax professional about whether you are properly deducting that expense.”
      Do not give legal advice on a situation pending in a jurisdiction where you are not licensed to practice. Rules and procedures, and even statutes of limitation, vary wildly from state to state.
      If you determine the other party already has a lawyer, resist the urge to second guess. The fact is the other lawyer has spent a lot more time on the case than you and is familiar with a lot of facts that the person you’re speaking with may not have disclosed. You would not appreciate unsolicited advice from a lawyer telling you how to do your job. Consider that before telling someone that you would handle a situation differently than that person’s attorney.
      Make it clear the person may have a legal problem that he or she should consult with a lawyer about. If that lawyer is you, offer to schedule an appointment in your office and discuss what you will charge.
      Encourage the questioner to seek formal advice quickly, especially if there is a statute of limitations affecting a possible claim.
      Always follow up in writing. Reiterate what you advised, your understanding of the facts that you relied on in formulating the advice, the existence of the statute of limitations, and the importance of obtaining competent legal advice.
      Remember that whatever the client told you is presumed to be in strictest confidence. You cannot share juicy gossip with your other friends simply because you learned about it in casual conversation. If the other party reasonably believed the information was subject to the attorney-client privilege, then it was. This is so even if you expressly decline representation.

      • My initial post was not precise enough and you are right — if an attorney gives legal advice under circumstances where the recipient can be expected to rely on the advice, that attorney has a client. And ambiguities over whether an attorney-client relationship exists sometimes lead to malpractice lawsuits. You are also right to point out the Hannity’s statement is not inconsistent with an attorney-client relationship.

  3. The next word I say in defense of Hannity will be my first, but it seems a bizarre outcome that the government could “out” someone’s legal consultations by raiding his or her attorney’s office. I’ll suggest that raiding an attorney’s office is presumptive illegitimate, so that voicing opposition to the act is presumed legitimate.

    • Michael R.

      Does it make a difference if the leaked information about Hannity came about because the FBI team found the information in Cohen’s files and sent it on to their colleagues in the press?

      • Well that cannot be because the raid is squeaky clean and purely on the up and up and there is no way this raid has any political motivation whatsoever.

      • valkygrrl

        There’s leaked information about Hannity?

        • Michael R.

          How did they know that he had a relationship to Cohen? I couldn’t find that out. What if it came from the raid?

          • valkygrrl

            If you missed the news yesterday, you could have tried looking at the article Jack linked. Here’s the link again. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/16/sean-hannity-cohen-attorney-trump-527897

            Hannity’s relationship with the embattled attorney was revealed during Monday’s hearing over materials gathered during the raid — and only after a judge pressed Cohen’s attorney on the identity of a previously unnamed third client.

            • Michael R.

              OK, the news sources I saw on this didn’t mention this, they just stated it as a fact. Of course, now I am more confused. The special prosecutor in charge of investigating ‘Russian Collusion not involving Democrats’ orders a raid on Donald Trump’s lawyer, the judge in the case demands that the attorney name all his clients, and he only has 3 clients? My head hurts. Back to trying to figure out why our teacher’s union is considering demanding marijuana legalization before they agree to go back to work. I think there is hope I will be able to understand that.

              • Chris

                The special prosecutor in charge of investigating ‘Russian Collusion not involving Democrats’ orders a raid on Donald Trump’s lawyer

                That is not what happened.

              • valkygrrl

                I do not know what you use for news sources but they are letting you down.

                There’s a lot to unpack here. Quickly.

                It wasn’t the special counsel, he decided the case was outside his mandate and passed it over to the regular prosecutors. They’re the ones who decided to get a search warrant.

                After the search Cohen went to a judge to argue over what happened and who gets to see what.

                The judge wanted a client list.

                Yes apparently there are only three. As to why, one can only speculate.

                I don’t know where you are or what teacher’s union and that’s a really strange assertion. Teacher’s Union demands pot legalization seems like the kind of news one of the aggregates I check would have picked up. Maybe you want to double check that?

                • Michael R.

                  “It wasn’t the special counsel, he decided the case was outside his mandate and passed it over to the regular prosecutors. They’re the ones who decided to get a search warrant.

                  After the search Cohen went to a judge to argue over what happened and who gets to see what.

                  The judge wanted a client list.”

                  I actually don’t think this is significantly different from what I said. You somehow think these people are all independent of each other and impartial. After following this ‘Russian Collusion Scandal’, and seeing the connections between the DNC, Fusion GPS, Steele, the FBI, the Justice Department, and the FISA judge, I do not. That is the difference. This is not a difference of facts, it is a difference of point of view.

                  Oh, the teacher’s union thing came from a Facebook group of people in the teacher’s union discussing it.

    • This is where my concerns arise.

  4. “If you get legal advice from a lawyer, you’re his client.”

    I mean… Hannity doesn’t need to be Cohen’s client for there to be a conflict of interest here, and there obviously should have been disclosures…. But that sentence just isn’t true, and you know it.

    • WRONG.

      When a lawyer is approached for legal advice, gives it, and the approaching individual regards that advice as confidential, an attorney-client relationship has been formed. No competent lawyer gives professional advice under those conditions, and many, many, MANY lawyers have been sued for malpractice and lost after exactly such a client as Hannity took said advice and came to sorrow.Al it takes is for an individual such as Hannity to decide, based on such contact, that the lawyer is his lawyer. It is completely subjective with the client; a lawyer is bound to make certain the client understands and accepts this. Lawyers have been held to represent clients even when they provided a written statement that they were not.

      Don’t feel badly: a lot of people don’t understand this, and a lot of lawyers. That’s why I teach it frequently. I suspect, however, that whoever wrote Hannity’s statement DID know it, as it pointedly avoids saying “I was never Cohen’s client.”

      • JutGory

        I would say that the relationship is formed, even if the client does not regard the advice as confidential. I had a case where an individual was being deposed as a witness and he had consulted with me about being jointly represented on the case as a party. He was not represented at the deposition and I had to make repeated objections on the basis of attorney-client privilege, even though he insisted that he had never hired me that I was not his attorney. Had he been represented at that deposition, he might have been able to give an intelligent waiver of that privilege, but the privilege was there, whether he knew it or not.
        -Jut

  5. Steve-O-in-NJ

    (Shrug) Hollywood has come a long way from the days when its lead refined socialite was more badass than Ah-nuld ever was (David Niven was a commando and stormed ashore on D-Day) and another famous leading man was a brigadier general and combat pilot (Jimmy Stewart). When former SAS and SOE officer Christopher Lee died three years ago at the age of 93 (BTW, he was the ONLY member of the Lord Of The Rings cast to have actually met the author) he represented the last relic of an era long gone, and both the film industry and the nation are the poorer for it.

    I’ve talked about the ideological split and the widening ideological chasm in this nation a few times, so I won’t repeat myself. A slightly different angle is that it was also known and understood in Hollywood as in most places that in the end we were all on the same team. Many if not most of the actors and directors grasped that firsthand because they’d been on that team. I don’t doubt that the Red Scare and Joe McCarthy’s excesses didn’t help either the government’s or the Republican Party’s reputation in Hollywood, but you still didn’t see things really slide far left until Vietnam. I don’t know if it was Hollywood picking up on the rising counterculture or the emerging counterculture pulling Hollywood with it, but good old-fashioned values eventually became passe’ and even perceived as silly, and mainstream Hollywood forgot how to do genuine heroes.

    Of course the actors coming up for the most part didn’t have the background of the Greatest Generation folks. In some cases they had studied drama on the far-left campuses of that time, in other cases they had gone straight into action at an early age, so they tended to not have very informed or realistic views on politics or other issues. Just to point out the source of the quote referenced above, Robert De Niro is a high school dropout with some on and off education in acting. I wouldn’t give his opinions on the president or the presidency any more credence than I’d give my next-door neighbor’s, in fact I’d give them less, since my neighbor lives in the real world.

    That brings me to my next point: how many of these Hollywood and music industry folks really can even grasp the life of ordinary folks? How many of them really worry about their kids’ safety when they live in gated communities and have armed guards at their beck and call? When last did any of them staycation it for the third year in a row because travel was too expensive? How many of them even know the price of a loaf of bread?

    I just don’t understand it, in Hollywood it is rarely even about money, I think since so many have so much of it. I think it’s about a few very rich, very powerful, very liberal people running the whole scene and being the arbitrators of who’s in and who’s out. Cross the ideological lines even once, and you won’t get invited to all the right cocktail parties anymore. Frankly I don’t see the point, as someone who’s been to a few post-concert cocktail parties at Carnegie Hall and similar venues. It’s not that interesting walking around a room with a $25 glass of wine in your hand seeing people in tuxedos and short dresses engaged in vacuous discussion that amounts to either gossip or big but uninformed opinions. In fact one singer who I engaged in a somewhat substantive discussion about her work with veterans asked me to step well away from the main gathering, because she just found the chatter there deathly dull.

    I think there you have it – enforced conformity of ideas makes for a pretty dull scene, and a dull industry, which is why Hollywood is probably going to suck until Trump is out of office.

    P.S. Jim Treacher is absolutely right. There is zero room for mistakes or dissent among those who consider themselves “woke.” In the time of the Reformation there were nuncios or their equivalent, religious representatives who watched the civil authorities, ready to denounce or excommunicate anyone who deviated doctrinally. In the Cold War there were zampolits, political officers who looked over the military officers’ shoulders, one hand on their pistol holsters. Now we have bloggers, ready to zap a video with a pithy comment around the world in two seconds and destroy the subject of that video in five. Starbucks decided they wanted these kinds of people as their primary clientele. They can’t complain now that one mistake that went too far has now come back to take a big chunk out of them.

    • “I don’t know if it was Hollywood picking up on the rising counterculture or the emerging counterculture pulling Hollywood with it, but good old-fashioned values eventually became passe’ and even perceived as silly, and mainstream Hollywood forgot how to do genuine heroes.”

      Crappy ideas that don’t work in real life, or work while making life a little less livable always find homes in places where copious amounts of money flow IN and therefore those crappy ideas don’t have to actually succeed in order thrive.

      This is one reason so many academic institutions become sanctuaries and fortresses for the silliest ideas and another reason why left-leaning owners of huge corporations very rarely seem to operate their businesses using left-leaning economic principles.

    • Of course the actors coming up for the most part didn’t have the background of the Greatest Generation folks.

      What I think you are seeing is that almost no one has faced a societal existential threat, and so gets wrapped up in ‘less important’ minutia. The Greatest Generation was the last such in American history.

      This is why large empires fall: they lose focus on reality.

    • Lovely context. As years have gone on I’ve been discounting Hollyweird opinions more and more, and could never articulate it like this. I saw it as the fall of the hero as a cultural foundation. Just because Jefferson was screwed up in slavery, doesn’t mean he was any less a hero to articulate a finer standard.

      The dismissal of heroes as ideals, is a cancer. (I’m not talking ‘bad boys’ who don’t always conform, but when push comes to shove, try to do the right thing… they are still heroes)

      Failures will happen, even for heroes. Hercules didn’t die well, but that didn’t erase his striving. Trying, learning, and becoming better on the journey shines even brighter. Washington may not have ‘woke’ when he was younger, but he did make it so at the end. Jefferson and Lee failed their journalese, but that doesn’t negate their accomplishments.

      An actor shoots off his mouth, Isn’t that their jobs? Don’t some artists act like they believe they are god? I expect some woo-woo, they usually want attention and saying something jerkish does that. I get more riled if they are hypocrites or get criminal.

      Emry said something dumb, but the punishment was disproportionate. He got the attention but probably more than intended, and there is no mercy today, culture leaders extend no mercy until they are the victims. I want to see if Starbucks learns moderation and kindness from the other side. I don’t expect it though, they will double down trying to look even more just to redeem their mistake instead of stepping off the carousel.

  6. Ugh. Sean Hannity is a colossal idiot, and I hate having to be a potential Devil’s Advocate here, but:

    IF, we assume that *any* objective and rational take on the Cohen raid is that there IS something problematic about potential violations of attorney-client privilege, THEN everyone who approaches this objectively and rationally ought to have a similar take on the raid: skepticism or criticism.

    If that IS the case, then is there a requirement to disclose a relationship like that if the appropriate response would be criticism or skepticism *anyway* regardless of the prior relationship?

    If 4 is my favorite number, am I required to disclose that when giving what I think the answer to 2+2 is?

    • I don’t think people’s privacy should be violated and will argue vociferously against potential infringements in that regard on their behalf…if I’m suddenly the victim of such a violation, how does my conclusion change one iota?

      It doesn’t. I’m right in my conclusion whether or not I’m the victim.

      • Yes, but that does not relieve any journalist or pundit from the obligation to make full disclosure of any factors that a reasonable reader or listener might believe affected his judgment. See: George Stephanopoulos.

        • I think Jack is right, if all things were equal. Journalism and Commentary (are they the same? Should they be?) requires full disclosure. This is ethical.

          Unfortunately, all things are NOT equal. The left has not disclosed such relationships for decades. I am finding it more and more difficult to fault the right for doing what the left has done to box them in. We are seeing real world consequences for mere differences on political ideology. We are seeing people go to prison (Scooter Libby, but Flynn also comes to mind) for bullshit, made up crimes that are not imposed on the prosecutor’s fellow travellers. Many have lost their jobs for signing a decade old petition (that was the ‘in’ thing when they signed it) when the left decided the winds now blow from a different direction, and they need someone to make an example of. People are blacklisted for not being in lock step with the ever changing leftist progressive narrative. You are no longer even allowed to disagree, as the Pompeo confirmation hearings highlighted.

          Ethics should not be a suicide compact. The old guard Right were defeated by using their ethics and morals against them. Can you blame the New Right for playing the game the Swamp prepared?

          (Seriously up for debate)

    • Chris

      Even if you assume the raid was problematic, Hannity still had a duty to disclose his relationship with the target of that raid before condemning the raid on his show. Obviously.

  7. 2- Anyone care to lay odds that the Starbuck’s boycott may play out differently than the devastating pox David Hogg placed on Laura Ingraham?

    http://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/383482-ingrahams-ratings-spike-a-wake-up-for-advertisers

  8. Fred Davison

    Walter Cronkite and Alan Dershowitz were at a cocktail party and Cronkite asked Dershowitz how much he charged to answer a legal question, to which Dershowitz replied $10,000 per question.

    “My, that is a lot of money, isn’t it?”

    “Yes it is. …And your third question?”

  9. Sarah B.

    Jack,
    I would like to request clarification on your statement that “to be a lawyer’s client, you don’t have to retain him, get an invoice, pay legal fees, or use him in a matter between you and a third party. If you get legal advice from a lawyer, you’re his client.”

    While I am not suggesting anything related to Hannity, my family brought a legal matter to a law firm as recommended by an officer of the law. Upon discussing a matter with the law firm, they said that we had no recourse and that they recommended we do nothing except continue our lives as if the aforementioned discussion with law enforcement never happened. They also stated that they had no interest in taking us on as clients. In this case, we received legal advice, but it didn’t seem that we were clients. Were we actually clients? I know that I would have stated that we were not.

    • JutGory

      You were, albeit to a very limited extent. Had the Government, or anyone, gone to that lawyer and asked that lawyer if you had talked to them about the legal matter, the lawyer should say: “I cannot reveal whether or not I have spoken to that person about any legal matter, and, even if I could, I could not tell you anything that we discussed.”

      If the lawyer is required to treat your identity as confidential and your communications as privileged, an attorney-client relationship of some sort must have been created.
      -Jut

      • Luke G

        Interesting- so what I’m learning today is that there’s essentially two definitions of “client.” One in the colloquial common sense, where a “client” is a lawyer’s customer who is being represented/advised by that lawyer or at least has them on retainer. The other is the legal sense, where even the preliminary discussion required for Sarah to be turned down as a “client” in the first sense still makes one enough of a “client” for privilege to be created.

        Legal definitions are weird and fascinating.

        • JutGory

          But, it has to be that way. If a criminal client comes to me and, for one reason or another I am not hired (he did not like the fact that I told him he would go to jail, or I did not think I could represent him), I can’t be forced to testify as to what was told to me. That would defeat the purpose of the privilege (or make it very difficult to consult with a lawyer (another purpose of the privilege)).
          -Jut

          • Luke G

            Oh, I totally get what you’re saying, and it makes sense when it’s laid out that way. I just think it’s interesting, and while your average Joe would say “no, that guy’s not your client, you decided not to represent him” that isn’t how the actual legal chips fall.

            I can see how people become misinformed when the word “client” can mean one thing when an average layman says it and another when used in a court of law. I wouldn’t put the fault on the word, but it IS an important illustration of why people should try to educate themselves before assuming a word in a professional context means the same as it would mean in casual conversation (I’m a scientist, the same applies to the word “theory”).

            • Sarah B.

              Mr. Luke G.

              Yes, the “theory of evolution” or the “big bang theory.” I love talking with non-science types about theories. (sarcasm) Of course, I also love it (still sarcasm) when I’m explaining that some ideas of my science-addled friends are preposterous because they break the laws of thermodynamics. “But Sarah, laws are meant to be broken. We know that just because there is traffic law that we can still speed. The laws of thermodynamics don’t mean anything, really.” I hate being the only person in the room who understands what science theory and law mean some days. If they are willing to accept correction and willing to learn, it is something great, but otherwise…

      • Sarah B.

        Thank you for the clarification. To be honest, I did not know that when I asked a lawyer if they could represent me, that it was confidential. I (mis-) understood that it wasn’t confidential until I had signed the paperwork and forked over thousands of dollars.

        • JutGory

          Sarah B.,
          In the interest of public education, there are two ways to form an attorney-client relationship (generally speaking, and this is what Jack has gotten at). There is a “contract” basis, which is what you have when attorney and client have an agreement regarding representation. The other way is the “tort” basis (which most non-lawyers don’t think creates the relationship, but lawyers should know), where no agreement is reached, but the relationship is created by the conduct of the parties.

          -Jut

  10. Chris

    If Fox doesn’t fire Hannity for this, are they ethics dunces?

    • valkygrrl

      I think they’re on double-secret ethics duncedom by now.

      • When will Stephanopoulus be fired? Is ABC on ‘double-secret duncedom?’

        BTW, +2 for the Animal House reference, valkygrrl!

        • Chris

          What conflicts of interest has Stephanopoulus not disclosed?

          • He did not disclose that he was a Clinton Foundation donor while reporting on the Clinton Foundation controversies. Many younger viewers do not know about his connections to Bill and Hillary, and he should disclose that, up front, any time he is interviewing or covering anything where a pro-Clinton bias might be relevant. Every time.

          • valkygrrl

            Doesn’t matter, it’s pure whataboutism. Stephanopoulus has done nothing to Hannity so nothing else Stephanopoulus has or has not done changes Hannity’s ethical obligations.

            • nothing else Stephanopoulus has or has not done changes Hannity’s ethical obligations.

              This is a correct statement, but you moved the goalposts. The smear you agreed with was about Fox News. When you hold both sides as accountable then we will agree to consequences, and not before.

              #progressivehypocrisy

  11. Emily

    3) My issue with the Hannity thing is that the government put Hannity in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position.

    This investigation is leakier than a rotton boat. If he admitted that he was Cohen’s client, people were going to go digging for the details (which they clearly are now. I’ll be shocked if we don’t know by next month.)

    If he refused to comment on it, in his position, that’s as good as admitting it. As a political pundit there’s not a lot of convincing cover for avoiding this story.

    If he covered it and didn’t admit it, he was breeching professional ethics of journalism.

    Obviously what he did was unethical, but he’s clearly in the middle of an ethics trainwreck here.

    • If Hannity consulted me, I would have said, “Begin this way: I know Michael Cohen, and have consulted him for advice in the past. However, none of that affects my conclusions about this incident.”

      • Emily

        That’s absolutely the ethical thing to do, but it still would have shone a big spotlight on the presence of something that he obviously expected (and had every right to expect) would be totally confidential, including that it even existed.

        I just find the whole situation really unsettling, from the way the FBI has leaked through the whole investigation, to the not-at-all obvious questions about probable cause for such a major potential for rights violations, to other people getting caught up in the quicksand.

        Hannity has never been in the same room with ethics, and you were totally right to call him out. It’s just, that’s not the part of this that smells the worst to me. I can’t help feeling like there’s something crisis-level unethical going on that happened to put him in the situation where he could even make this particular ethics breach.

  12. 2. Too bad this was the DPS (Dreaded Private Sector). A public employee – say the Massachusetts State Police – would be placed on “administrative leave (with pay)” until an investigation took place. The investigation process would be complete by the time the next ice age rolled around. Now if the public was aroused enough then other options exist. (1). Early retirement if you have the time or (2) a reassignment.

  13. Re: No. 2:

    Here is an article/opinion piece by Anthea Butler over at the Huffington Post:

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-butler-starbucks-arrests_us_5ad62d07e4b0edca2cbe75c9?2f5

    Apparently, Starbucks is an symptom of white gentrification and spatial racism. “Spatial racism, the erasure of black faces in a predominantly white city, is in full effect in both Crown Heights and Center City Philadelphia. This racism demands that bodies that don’t conform to a mandated “white” status quo can be redlined out of a space. This has happened in cities across America through geography, Jim Crow, sundown laws, or housing prices ― boundaries designed to keep black bodies out of white spaces ― even if those spaces have long been owned by black people.”

    jvb

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