(I am grimly soldiering on, despite the horrifying Red Sox loss to the Yankees last night. Duty calls...)
1 From the “Facts don’t matter to Trump, and facts don’t matter to Trump enemies” files:
1) The New York The Times reported that Secretary of State Pompeo was absent from Washington when Trump announced he was pulling the U.S. out of the nuclear deal with Iran, and framed it as a gaffe, headlining the story, “At a Key Moment, Trump’s Top Diplomat Is Again Thousands of Miles Away.” The paper knew why Pompeo was absent, though: he was heading to North Korea make sure that three imprisoned Americans got released and returned home without a hitch. The story under the accusatory headline said so. Pompeo also went to North Korea to arrange a date and venue for Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un. And, of course, Pompeo arriving with some of the benefits of Trump’s tough policy toward North Korea was an excellent backdrop for the Iran announcement.
Ethics verdict: bias and misrepresentation.
2) Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti included transactions by one or more Michael Cohens who have nothing to do with Donald Trump in a report Avenatti released about the President’s personal fixer’s alleged banking transactions. There are already questions being raised about how the lawyer acquired any banking records before legal discovery, but this is just rank incompetence.
3) Yesterday the President tweeted,
“The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success w”e are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?
Wow. What a mess that tweet is!
- Yes, fake news IS working overtime, but
- A recent study showing that 90% (not 91%—jeez, how hard is it to get the figure right?) of Trump’s coverage is negative comes from the Media Research Center, which has a strong conservative bias. The figure sounds plausible, and whether the President’s coverage is 91%. 90% or 80% negative, the bias is unethical and obvious. However “positive” and “negative” are subjective judgments. I’ll wait for the next Pew study, thanks.
- The tweet suggests that “negative” and “fake” are indistinguishable to President Trump. Naturally, his critics jumped all over this, and rightly so. Does he really believe that only positive reporting is accurate, and that all criticism is “fake”? Who knows? Whatever he meant, it was a stupid thing to tweet.
- “Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt?” is a perfectly legitimate question. There is no reason for the White House to be cooperative with news organizations who have announced themselves as practitioners of partisan politics rather than ethical journalism.
- In extreme cases—April Ryan and Jim Accosta come to mind—pulling press credentials could be justified, but not worth the uproar and backlash it would cause politically. If news organizations had proper concern for the health of their own industry and wanted to win back the public trust it has forfeited in the last few years, they should be the ones to ditch hacks like Ryan and Accosta. Trump was trolling, as usual.
4) In yet another tweet a week ago, the President wrote,
“As everybody is aware, the past Administration has long been asking for three hostages to be released from a North Korean Labor camp, but to no avail. Stay tuned!”
Stealth Democratic Party organ Snopes was on this like a shot, pointing out that two of the three hostages were arrested after Trump’s term began, so in fact the Obama administration was unable to free only one American from North Korea. Oh. Good catch. Nevertheless, the President’s point is valid even if his facts, as usual, are wrong: Obama couldn’t free an American hostage, and Trump could. Presumably if he couldn’t help one, he couldn’t help three.
This is the perfect Trump tweet controversy, perhaps the best I’ve ever seen. His foes scream, “See? He lies about everything!” and have the facts to prove it. His supporters say, “Oh, so what? He freed the Americans, and did what Obama wouldn’t or couldn’t.” They aren’t wrong.
2. Invitation ethics and ethics zugswang. Before it decided to invite Bill Clinton to its annual philanthropic summit, held yesterday, Town & Country magazine invited Monica Lewinsky. Once it was confirmed that Clinton was attending, Monica was disinvited, prompting this tweet from the ex-President’s ex-sex toy:
please don’t invite me to an event (esp one about social change) and ―then after i’ve accepted― uninvite me because bill clinton then decided to attend/was invited.
emily post would def not approve.
(Monica is apparently morphing into ee cummings…)
Actually, I’m not sure what Emily would have said. Inviting both Bill and Monica was a gaffe. Having them both at the conference would have been a massive distraction and would also have undermined the purpose of the conference. Obviously having Clinton there was more important to the conference than having Monica. Clinton’s camp claims that Bill never knew Monica was coming and never insisted that she be disinvited. I believe that: I think that once Clinton accepted, the decision was made internally that Lewinsky had to go, and indeed she did have to go.
This was ethics zugswang, with any move being unethical, and not moving at all an unavailable option. The magazine issued an apology on Thursday morning, writing in a tweet, “We apologize to Ms. Lewinsky and regret the way the situation was handled.” In truth, there was no other way to handle it.
It is unfair and tragic that Monica still suffers because a President of the United States abused his power and position for sexual jollies, but the real villain in this case, and always, is Bill Clinton, not Town & Country. It’s high time I designate the Monica Lewinsky scandal an ethics train wreck, because it’s still rolling, and still picking up passengers.
3. ‘We hate you and it doesn’t matter what you do!’ A young African American twitter user called Channn announced,
“So my dads tire blew up on the freeway and this dude, with a confederate flag tattoo, wearing a confederate flag t-shirt, with confederate flag car stickers, stopped and changed our tire. My mind is blown, don’t judge a book by its cover y’all.”
The accompanying photo:
The Horror! Good social justice warriors are supposed to judge books by their covers, people by their tattoos, and citizens by their choice of attire! Thus Tariq Nasheed, film producer, author and racist, tweeted out to 206, 000 followers,
“This here is why parents should teach their children about how white supremacy works at a young age. Just because a SWS does a good deed for an INDIVIDUAL Black person, that doesn’t mean he is not going to stop maintaining SYSTEMATIC white supremacy.”
Got that? The only thing Channn or Nasheed know about this man is that he came to a stranger’s aid in a crisis, but Nasheed, a leader in the black community, concludes that what matters is his skin color. The producer’s prescription for African Americans: teach your children not to trust whites. Even when they are rescuing you.
This is societal poison, and Nashid is far from the only one dumping it into our culture, with predictable results.