Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/29/18: White House Correspondents Dinner Edition (And Other Things…)

 

Good Morning!

1 The RedState purge.  Salem Media, the conservative website RedState’s owner, froze the site and fired many of its most read and respected writers, all of whom were distinguished by one other common feature: they are all NeverTrumpers, conservatives who revile the current POTUS almost as vehemently as the Left’s mainstream media.

I view this decision as a declaration of war of sorts, or perhaps an assertion that a war is already going on. The Democrats, progressives, the news media and “the resistance” have been trying to unseat the President of the United States by “any means necessary,” a strategy that not only every conservative but every responsible citizen ought to oppose as the dangerous and undemocratic strategy it is. The dilemma is that NeverTrumpers’ anti-Trump bias not only makes them less than effective in opposing this unethical plot, it arguably makes them accessories to it.

Salem’s action is depressing but significant. It is one more indication that the news media, new and old, is dividing down rigid ideological lines while embracing political agendas rather than ethical journalism’s traditional mission. There is a place for fighting “the resistance,” but objective journalism shouldn’t have to censor dissent to play its part. Its part is to report the truth. Actions, however, have equal and opposite reactions, and as the media on the Left, which is to say most of the media, openly and  unapologetically indulges its Trump Hate, confident that its market will approve (thus making the abandonment of fairness and responsibility profitable), the polarization of whatever news media remains becomes inevitable.

This is not good for journalism, punditry, the nation or democracy, but I don’t know what can halt it now.

2. Terrible…but kind of funny, you have to admit. More than half the paintings owned by a small art museum in Elne, France, 82 of its 140 works, are fakes.  “It’s a catastrophe,”  said Yves Barniol, the mayor of Elne, near the Spanish border. Ya think? Over $170,000 was paid out by the museum for the phony artworks—not a lot by art museum standards, but when most of your collection are forgeries, there’s an open question why anyone would trust such a museum again.

Dishonesty and incompetence are a destructive combination.

3.  Verdict: Obviously! From an editorial by the British website Spiked:

“There’s something weird about the glee that overcame certain Brits when they heard Trump is visiting Britain in July. They can’t wait to dust down their placards, don their pussy hats, and take to the streets to rage against the ‘tangerine tyrant’. But if they’re so political, surely they’d have marched against Theresa May at some point, over Syria, or Windrush? And why didn’t they raise a peep during the visit of Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman last month? He really mistreats Muslims: represses them, beheads them, plunges them into famine (see Yemen). He denies women basic rights, yet no pussy hats for him. Next month President Erdogan of Turkey is coming here: there are no excitable tweets about railing against this persecutor of journalists and warmaker against the Kurds. Why Trump and not them? Because protesting against Trump isn’t actually political – it’s therapeutic, it’s visceral, it’s virtue-signalling with bells on. It’s about venting an often snooty emotional angst about the state of the world and against disobedient voters who won’t do as they’re told and choose Hillary or the EU. The big anti-Trump demo won’t really be a political march – it will be a middle-class primal scream.”

Glad this recognition has crossed the Atlantic, but the U.S. has been plagued by the same phenomenon since November 2016. Of course, primal screaming for 18 months goes beyond futile to tortious. [Pointer: Pennagain]

4.  White House Correspondents Dinner Report. Since President Trump has appropriately withheld his presence, robbing the annual gathering of any buzz or reason for anyone to give a damn, it is now calling itself a celebration of the First Amendment—ironic, since the conduct of the attendees has undermined public support for the freedom of the press it sees increasingly and brazenly abused.

Here were some of the jokes from Michelle Wolf, the classy entertainment:

“Like a porn star says when she’s about to have sex with a Trump, let’s get this over with.”

“Of course, Trump isn’t here, if you haven’t noticed. He’s not here. And I know, I know, I would drag him here myself, but it turns out the president of the United States is the one pussy you’re not allowed to grab.”

“People call Trump names all the time. And look, I could call Trump a racist or a misogynist or xenophobic or unstable or incompetent or impotent. But he’s heard all of those and he doesn’t care. So tonight, I’m going to try to make fun of the president in a new way, in a way that I think will really get him. Mr. President: I don’t think you’re very rich. Like I think you might be rich in Idaho, but in New York you’re doing fine.”

“[Trump] loves white nationalists, which is a weird term for a Nazi. Calling a Nazi a white nationalist is like calling a pedophile a ‘kid friend.’ Or Harvey Weinstein a ‘ladies man.’ Which isn’t really fair. He also likes plants.”

“She has the perfect last name for what she does, Conway … You guys have got to stop putting Kellyanne on your shows. All she does is lie. If you don’t give her a platform, she has nowhere to lie. It’s like that old saying, if a tree falls in the woods, how do we get Kellyanne under that tree? I’m not suggesting she gets hurt. Just stuck. Stuck under a tree.” [Note: Conway was at the dinner.]

“There’s also, of course, Ivanka. She was supposed to be an advocate for women, but it turns out she’s about as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons. She’s done nothing to satisfy women. So, I guess like father, like daughter.”

Nice.

And, in a way, transparent. This is exactly how the people in that room feel about the President of the United States, and their coverage reflects that, every day.

Nah, there’s no media bias…

62 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, The Internet, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

62 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/29/18: White House Correspondents Dinner Edition (And Other Things…)

  1. adimagejim

    Bias seems such a weak word to describe what this really is. Seditious, even traitorous, come to mind.

    Call ’em, like you see ’em. Just saying.

  2. Other Bill

    4. And the press preposterously lambasts Trump for not attending.

    • Andrew V

      I hope that his four years of non-attendance relegates that farce to obscurity. The Presidency is far too important of an office, no matter who holds it, to be subjected to a roast.

      • Sue Dunim

        I must respectfully but completely disagree. It is far too important for the institution of the presidency for presidents *not* to be the subject of a roast.

        This wasn’t a humorous and satirical roast though, it was something mean-spirited and petty. Like the current incumbent.

        • Andrew V

          I understand your perspective, but let me clarify. I’m not saying that the Presidency should ever be above criticism; in fact, it should be held to a high standard and criticized vigorously. The nature of the WH Correspondent’s Dinner, however, is what I take issue with.

          When the media is out to crucify the President, as they are now, it takes on the mean-spirited and petty character you mention. Instead of using humor to criticize the President, it just sinks to the level of spitting profanity in his face. No wonder Trump doesn’t show.

          On the other hand, if the media is too obsequious, as they were with President Obama, thay fail to hold power accountable. The press should be adversarial with the President, not so chummy that they can sit around and swap jokes with each other. It gives the appearance that the press and the administration are on the same side.

          In either case, I don’t see how the public is served by the existence of this dinner.

  3. Chris Marschner

    You neglected to mention the vile comments lodged against Sarah H Sanders who was on the dias. The references of her related to characters in the Hand Maidens Tale.

    Every joke was an attack on the person not on policy.

    What was transpiring was equivalent to a juvenile bullying attack by middle school girls against the unpopular one. It is a shame that Sarah Sanders cannot retaliate ala Carrie.

    • dragin_dragon

      Could just be waiting for the proper time, ya’ know.

    • valkygrrl

      Every joke was an attack on the person not on policy.

      What was transpiring was equivalent to a juvenile bullying attack by middle school girls against the unpopular one. It is a shame that Sarah Sanders cannot retaliate ala Carrie.

      She had blood coming out of her eyes, she had blood coming out of her wherever.

      • Sue Dunim

        True – but when they go low, we’re supposed to go high.

        There is no way that exhibition met the standards of previous events of its kind.

        While it’s just another part of Trump’s America, it wouldn’t be possible unless those involved were complicit. This was an own goal, and I think fatal to yet another worthy US institution.

        When one side jumps into the sewer, there’s no need to imitate them.

        • valkygrrl

          When one side jumps into the sewer, there’s no need to imitate them.

          There’s also no reason to accept any sort of criticism from them. You don’t jump in the sewer and then try to tell me I need a shower.

        • I keep waiting for progressives to actually go high, ethically or morally. You are delusional if you think the state of modern progressivism is ‘high,’ unless you stipulate that drugs may be involved.

  4. Greg

    https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5ae535a3e4b02baed1bac776

    Huffington Post calls its highlight clips, “Michelle Wolf’s Boldest Moments at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” as if there were somethingb courageous about saying things that 90% of the people at the dinner agreed with

    It would have been bold to say something favorable about the President, knowing that a large percentage of the people who have power over your career would exert themselves to make sure that you never work again

    • Chris

      Huh.

      So…it wasn’t courageous for Wolf to joke about the president, because the president wasn’t there.

      But the president wasn’t there by choice, and I’m 99% sure if he had been, Wolf would have told the exact same jokes.

      So what does that say about the president’s courage, or lack thereof?

      Perhaps this joke says it all:

      “Of course, Trump isn’t here, if you haven’t noticed. He’s not here. And I know, I know, I would drag him here myself, but it turns out the president of the United States is the one pussy you’re not allowed to grab.”

      • That’s really BS, Chris. It’s not a matter of courage when you avoid being abused, mistreated and embarrassed, and there is no countervailing purpose justifying the sacrifice. It’s like saying a woman who avoids walking by a construction site where she is harassed is being cowardly.

        This one is really a derangement test, and you appear to be failing it.

        • Chris

          It’s not a matter of courage when you avoid being abused, mistreated and embarrassed, and there is no countervailing purpose justifying the sacrifice.

          Not when one routinely abuses, mistreats, and embarrasses others. You are, as usual, analyzing this as if it exists in a vacuum. But context being what it is, Trump is not a victim here.

          It’s like saying a woman who avoids walking by a construction site where she is harassed is being cowardly.

          If that woman is the most powerful woman in the world and has spent years publicly denigrating construction workers and directing harassment toward them from her followers, then yes, it is extremely cowardly for her to avoid walking by a construction site, especially if she knows the “harassment” she experiences there will not be physical or violent and will amount merely to some mean jokes at her expense.

          • Spin like this is why Trump was elected.

            Calling bad good, and good bad.

            If the shoe were put on ANY other foot, you would not make the same spin. But no holds barred on Trump.

            • Chris

              You’re kidding.

              Trump said that Megyn Kelly asked him a tough question because she was on her period.

              He said Mika Brzezinsky was suffering from a bad facelift.

              He said about Carly Fiorina, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”

              He compared his wife’s appearance to the appearance of Ted Cruz’s wife, implying that the latter was ugly.

              And those are just his statements about Republican women.

              But a comedian tells some off-color jokes about the women in Trump’s administration…and “this is why Trump was elected?”

              The only message I can glean from that attitude is that apparently, a Republican can win by being as mean and foul and vulgar as humanly possible, but a Democrat candidate can’t win because…other liberals are mean and foul and vulgar about the Republican candidate?

              And you’re saying the left has a double standard?

              • And my point is: he acted exactly like Democrats do.

                Drives you bat shit crazy, doesn’t it? 😉

                • Chris

                  No, that can’t be your point, because no previous Democrat candidate for president has ever acted in the way I described above, and you know it.

                  • A diversion. I never said a Democrat POTUS candidate acted that way, just that Democrats act that way. He just has a way to get that vitreol directly to the public in a way your progressive allies in the media cannot suppress.

                    You dislike being treated as you and Democrats have treated their opponents for decades.

                    • PS: Come to think of it, Hillary came close to acting like Trump does, during the campaign. Her mask slipped often (‘deplorables’ ‘Australian Gun Policy’ etc.)

                      Just noting an ‘inconvenient’ observation

                    • Chris

                      Show me where I’ve insulted women based on their physical appearance, slick, and then you can say that I dislike being treated as I and Democrats have treated our opponents for decades.

                    • Chris

                      PS: Come to think of it, Hillary came close to acting like Trump does, during the campaign. Her mask slipped often (‘deplorables’ ‘Australian Gun Policy’ etc.)

                      Just noting an ‘inconvenient’ observation

                      It isn’t inconvenient, it’s idiotic. “Deplorables” wasn’t “acting like Trump,” it was pointing out how many Trump supporters act. She was talking about the die-hard racists. You know, these people:

                      https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-04-20/they-spewed-hate-then-they-punctuated-it-president-s-name

                      Are you going to tell me “deplorable” isn’t a fair word for those people?

                      And promoting second amendment violations isn’t “acting like Trump does,” either. It’s just left-wing authoritarianism.

                    • It isn’t inconvenient, it’s idiotic. “Deplorables” wasn’t “acting like Trump,” it was pointing out how many Trump supporters act.

                      res ipsa loquitur

                    • Chris

                      Boy, you really have nothing today.

  5. Sarah B.

    Jack, I am confused about your stance on #1. It seems that firing biased writers is a good thing for a news group. As you say, NeverTrumpers are acting in such a way (with most of the progressives) as to cause destabilization of our government. Isn’t getting rid of their platform what you have suggested?

    What am I missing?

    • Firing biased writers may be a good thing for a news group but it is a terrible thing for a business. Most consumers of editorial content want their writers to be biased, as long as the writers agree with them.

      Here, the website named “redstate.com” is historically what one would expect of a website with that name — traditional conservative red meat. It became an anti-Trump site during the primaries, when many of its writers supported Ted Cruz. It attempted to remain anti-Trump conservative site but evidently found that few people wake up and say “I’d like to read an anti-Trump conservative with my morning coffee.”

      • Chris

        It attempted to remain anti-Trump conservative site but evidently found that few people wake up and say “I’d like to read an anti-Trump conservative with my morning coffee.”

        I’ve seen no evidence that the move was based on lack of readership for the NeverTrumpers.

        Also, the idea that conservative NeverTrumpers are too “biased” to be reliable, while the dead-ender conservatives who abandoned every single principal they once had once Trump became the nominee aren’t…

        I’m sorry. That is not an idea worthy of respect. It is worthy of only mockery.

        • Neither group has anything to be proud of. The NT group would be the more ethical one, if if could avoid slipping into reflex, resistance-like knee-jerk criticism and double standards…and most of them can’t, like ex-Post conservative Jennifer Rubin.

    • Other Bill

      I wondered the same thing. Thank you, Sarah.

    • Pick your bias. Erick Erickson, who founded RedState and was a NeverTrump himself, claims that the NeverTrumps are the UNbiased ones, giving criticism when deserved, and blame when earned. The message f the firing is “this site supports Trump to oppose the Democrats and resistance.” There are NeverTrumpers like me who would never vote for the man, but who will give him due deference based on his office and position, defend him against smears and double standards, and give him credit when his policies are sound, and the NeverTrumps who are just hateful and irrational, like Bill Kristol. “Support Trump against the Left no matter what” and “Oppose him because he’s not a true conservative” are equally unethical and biased positions.

  6. charlesgreen

    Let me just register my bias here on the White House Correspondents’ dinner. Along with (I’m guessing) nearly all my brethren (and sistren) on this thread, I found the comments over the line. Well over the line.

    The WHCA ought to issue an apology. This is precisely the kind of thing that drives Republicans and others to deride the press. Entirely self-inflicted wound. Those dinners have recently been creeping into Friars Club territory, and it’s utterly demeaning.

    No defense from me on this one.

    • Other Bill

      Nice comment, Charles.

    • “Friars Club territory”—exactly. And even in “roasts,’ good will is presumed. Here, that isn’t the case.

      • Sue Dunim

        Good will was entirely absent. Without that, the institution is dead, a nasty mockery of its former self.

        In the age of Trump, resuscitation is impossible. I fear that some wounds are likely beyond healing even after the deluge.

    • Sue Dunim

      Concur with Charles.

      • Sue Dunim

        Henry V Act 4 Scene 1

        GOWER
        Why, the enemy is loud. You hear him all night.

        FLUELLEN
        If the enemy is an ass and a fool and a prating coxcomb, is it meet, think you, that we should also, look you, be an ass and a fool and a prating coxcomb, in your own conscience, now?

        GOWER
        I will speak lower.

        FLUELLEN
        I pray you and beseech you that you will.

        White House Correspondents please note.

        • I note with pleasure and satisfaction that the Bard used the term “the enemy.” Which is how they regard him, the President, who is the representative of the American people.

          • Sue Dunim

            Wasn’t it the President who first described the Press as “enemies of the people”? A phrase redolent of Tumbrills, the Red Terror, and Volkskammern?

            Under those circumstances, what choice had they? What choice have they?

            Perhaps one. If memory serves, there was one Congresswoman who voted against the law that declared that a state of war had existed with the Empire of Japan after Pearl Harbor.

            Quick Google – yes, Jeanette Rankin. So yes, they did have a choice.

            While I consider Congresswoman Rankin’s position to be very much the opposite of my own, she was a woman of unshakeable principle, despite the personal and political cost.

            In light of Auschwitz – or even Nanjing – she was dangerously wrong, and should have known it. Yet I consider her an American heroine.

            I know of the like her in the fourth estate. Or any of the others. There might be one or two in the Judiciary.

            • Chris

              Wasn’t it the President who first described the Press as “enemies of the people”? A phrase redolent of Tumbrills, the Red Terror, and Volkskammern?

              I hate to be the one to break this to you, but the official position of Ethics Alarms is that it is appropriate and fair for the president to refer to the media as the “enemy of the people.”

              I know, I know.

              • You know NOTHING apparently. The conduct of the journalists proved my point. The President is the one elected individual who represents all the people, and the news media has decided to try to destroy him, in violation of its professional duties, and in defiance of our system of government. An enemy of the President of the United States—not principled opposition, but an enemy—is by definition an enemy of the American people.

                Don’t get condescending with me. Your position is that the news media SHOULD try to destroy a nation’s elected leader if they don’t approve of him . You want it to be the enemy of the people—you just won’t admit the obvious. And this is why the resistance is deranged, dangerous, and despicable.

            • What choice? What? How about “not acting like the enemy of the people”? How about that? How about fair and objective news reporting? How about dropping the hate and bias? How about being journalists rather than agents of the resistance? You think doubling down on hate and defiance of elections is the reasonable response when you have been called on your unconscionable behavior?

    • Chris

      I don’t agree, charles and Sue, but maybe I missed some of the worse jokes. Of the ones Jack posted, I can’t find much to be offended by:

      “Like a porn star says when she’s about to have sex with a Trump, let’s get this over with.”

      Verdict: Funny. (It would have been funny about Kennedy and Clinton too.)

      “Of course, Trump isn’t here, if you haven’t noticed. He’s not here. And I know, I know, I would drag him here myself, but it turns out the president of the United States is the one pussy you’re not allowed to grab.”

      Verdict: Hilarious, and well-deserved. It’s also a great test for Trump supporters: watching them claim to be offended by this joke while defending the basis for it as “locker room talk” has exposed their hypocrisy, which I suspect was part of the intention of the joke.

      And Trump is a coward for not attending. If he had not spent the past few years insulting everyone who opposes him in incredibly vulgar ways, then he might have a leg to stand on by claiming to refuse to attend because of the vulgarity of comedians. But since he has done exactly that, he is just someone who can dish it out but can’t take it. There is nothing to admire about that.

      “People call Trump names all the time. And look, I could call Trump a racist or a misogynist or xenophobic or unstable or incompetent or impotent. But he’s heard all of those and he doesn’t care. So tonight, I’m going to try to make fun of the president in a new way, in a way that I think will really get him. Mr. President: I don’t think you’re very rich. Like I think you might be rich in Idaho, but in New York you’re doing fine.”

      Verdict: Funny, fair, and not the least bit offensive to anyone but Trump himself, who banned reference to his finances at his Comedy Central roast a few years back.

      “[Trump] loves white nationalists, which is a weird term for a Nazi. Calling a Nazi a white nationalist is like calling a pedophile a ‘kid friend.’ Or Harvey Weinstein a ‘ladies man.’ Which isn’t really fair. He also likes plants.”

      Verdict: As a serious argument, it’s unfair to say Trump “loves white nationalists.” He does retweet them a lot, and Bannon probably was a white nationalist. But as a joke, she has comedic license to exaggerate.

      “She has the perfect last name for what she does, Conway … You guys have got to stop putting Kellyanne on your shows. All she does is lie. If you don’t give her a platform, she has nowhere to lie. It’s like that old saying, if a tree falls in the woods, how do we get Kellyanne under that tree? I’m not suggesting she gets hurt. Just stuck. Stuck under a tree.” [Note: Conway was at the dinner.]

      Verdict: Funny.

      “There’s also, of course, Ivanka. She was supposed to be an advocate for women, but it turns out she’s about as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons. She’s done nothing to satisfy women. So, I guess like father, like daughter.”

      Verdict: Mean and unfunny. It’s pretty gross to pair a joke about Ivanka’s work with a joke about her dad’s sex life. One could try and rationalize this away by saying Trump himself has made far grosser sexualized statements toward his own daughter, but she’s the victim in that, and subjecting her to further such statements is unfair to her. That said, I hope everyone complaining about this joke has demonstrated far greater outrage over Trump’s sexualized comments about his daughter.

      Were there other jokes that were worse than this? Because I gotta say…nothing here is pinging my outrage-dar.

      • Of course. Because you don’t think Trump or anyone connected with him deserves basic decency and respect. That’s derangement. It is, as others have said, pure bullying to ridicule someone in a genuinely nasty way in a group. That is bullying by definition. Everyone is a guest at the event, and the duty is to ensure they feel welcome.

        As I said, it’s a derangement test. You flunk.

        Funny is not the only criteria, not in a group. Laughing at people is different from laughing with them. These are insults. The Golden Rule applies.

        • Chris

          Standing up to a bully isn’t bullying. Fact: Trump is a bully. Try and deny this; you can’t. People who work with and enable bullies are jerks, and deserve to be ridiculed, in person, to their faces. Doing so is ethical and right.

          • Cry baby progressives cannot stand ANYONE who uses their own ways against them.

            Reap the whirlwind

            • Chris

              I mean…this could double as an exact response to the snowflakes crying about Wolf’s jokes.

              • Gee, Trump acts just like a Democrat and gets elected… that burns, huh?

                ANYONE but Hillary. Bernie might have beaten Trump, but she cheated, didn’t she?

                We could have had a Conservative candidate, but Hillary and the media colluded to get Trump the primary win, on the assumption he was easy to beat. They gave Trump billions in free publicity.

                Now you are complaining that Trump acts like a progressive but is better at it, AND is using the tactic against the True Believers of the Left.

                You are right. Trump is NOT conservative. But he DOES have sense enough to see what progressive policies are doing to HIS nation, and put a (temporary?) stop to some of them.

                This should have been the Age of Progressive Nirvana, Obama 2.0, where we change America to get rid (or silence, at least) those deplorables who are too stupid to see our righteousness and join us in the Light.

                And by being too cute by half, Obama and his minions lost the election… to TRUMP.

                This is why the meltdown on the left. They know, deep down, in the quiet sleepless hours before dawn, that they did this to themselves.

                They woke middle class America up to quickly.

  7. Jeez, if those were the jokes then I am sure glad I wasn’t listening when they were trying to be serious. Might make me want to pour battery acid on my keyboard.

  8. I thought roasting and comics were supposed to be witty and require a certain level of intelligence to develop their “jokes”…

    • Sue Dunim

      Yes. Satire with goodwill on both sides is wit. Without – half that.

    • Have you watched any of Comedy Central’s Roasts? That type of roast died with Dean Martin, Don Rickles, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Jack Carter, Milton Berle, Foster Brooks, Phillis Diller, and the rest of their generation of comics.

      • Even in the recent past, when the anti-anything-not-Progressive comedians got on their angry burn routines laced with spite, they were at least *witty* about it.

        But yes, I do acknowledge that loooooooooooong gone are the days of the good faith, good will, all-in-good-fun jabs that were thrown back and forth.

      • (And I don’t watch Comedy Central)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s