Halloween Ethics Warm-Up, 2018: Problematical Communications Edition


1. How can CNN, or anybody, continue to justify employing Don Lemon as a “journalist”?

He defaults to emotion regularly. He is incapable of objectivity. His partisan and ideological bias is palpable. ( He gets drunk on the air every New Years…) And he says idiotic things like this. Good for Scalise, the perfect individual to flag Lemon’s incompetence. His Twitter followers have also noted many other cases of Democrats “killing people.” Or is Lemon and CNN going to stand on the fact that nobody was killed by the Bernie Sanders-supporting sniper who seriously wounded Scalise? I wouldn’t be surprised.

2. Stop making me defend Hillary Clinton! During an interview with Recode executive editor Kara Swisher (full disclosure: I had some unpleasant experiences dealing with Swisher in her Washington Post days, and wouldn’t trust her to walk my dog around the block.)  in New York City over the weekend. Swisher asked Clinton a question regarding a quip that was previously made by Holder, but mistakenly attributed it to Senator Spartacus, Cory Booker. “What do you think of Corey Booker … what do you think about him saying ‘Kick them in the shins,’ essentially?” “Well, that was Eric Holder,” Clinton said. “Yeah, I know they all look alike.” “No, they don’t,” Swisher responded.

Now Clinton is being called “insensitive” by her party’s political correctness posse. It was a joke, and also a rebuke of Swisher. The former was absolutely fine (and funny); the latter was a mean-spirited “gotcha!” suggesting unfairly that Swisher thinks of all blacks as fungible, a bigoted attitude, when she just made a mistake. (I get Cory Booker confused with Kirk Douglas sometimes.) Then Swisher turned the finger-pointing back on Hillary, implying that Clinton meant her remark literally rather than sarcastically.

3. Trump’s argument is just as stupid when he makes it  as when progressives make it. In his interview with Axios, the President said, We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for eighty-five years with all of those benefits. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.” Predictable, the news media and pro-illegal immigration activists—but I repeat myself—jumped on the fact that other countries also have birthright laws, so the U.S. is not the “only country in the world.” This allowed then to change the subject to the well-worn “Trump lies” narrative, or, in the alternative, the “Trump is ignorant narrative.” As for me, I was fascinated by the “Trump doesn’t know how to speak English” aspect of the statement, because his trademark rhetorical sloppiness resulted in an inadvertently accurate statement:  the U.S. is the only nation where a baby “is essentially a citizen of the United States.”

What is really wrong with Trump’s argument is that he is adopting the refrain of progressives and others for whom “Everybody does it” is proof of good policy. It isn’t, not is there any reason why the United States should regard a foreign consensus or majority position as evidence that it is in the best interests of the United States, consistent with our values, or worth the United States considering on that basis. This has been the lazy default argument of nationalized health care advocates for decades, the “We’re the only First World Nation that still does X” chant, as well as anti-gun zealots. The complete rebuttals are “So what? and “Who cares?” No other countries have our free speech and press protections. No other countries have our culture, history, population, problems or values. For example, while the U.S. admits about a million legal immigrants every year, Canada, which has a birthright citizenship law, takes in around 250,00, while not having a constant influx of illegals from the South. Canada’s policy is irrelevant to ours. Meanwhile, many countries have modified their citizenship laws in recent years. Ireland ended its birthright citizenship law in 2005, and France ended the birthright in 1993., not that these cases should have any bearing on U.S. policy either.

So the President is now adopting the false argument used by his political adversaries, thus validating their bad logic when they next use the argument against, oh, just about anything uniquely American.

Focus, sir. You are the nationalist, remember?

4. Speaking of scary… Two years ago a Chattanooga paramedic named Gordon Brett Stokes intentionally drilled into a patient’s bone without anesthesia, then  told other first responders this was a “teachable moment” on how to deal with troublesome patients. The same paramedic  instructed another first responder to insert a plastic breathing tube deep into the same patient’s nose but told her to coat the tube with alcohol-based hand sanitizer instead of lubricant.

How do we know about this? Stokes wrote about it, indeed boasted about it, on Facebook. “If you should ever find yourself drunk in my ambulance, do not become belligerent,” the paramedic posted, “I have a drill and I ain’t scared for a second to use it.” Stokes also posted a photo of the patient on Facebook during the bone injection. Someone then commented on Stokes’ post, referring to the patient as an obvious drug user, according to state records. .Tennessee Board of Emergency Medical Services helped cover this up while it was investigating, but the story got out after it revoked Stokes’ paramedic license last month. In the intervening time, the public was unaware that there were vigilante paramedics who “have a drill and I ain’t scared to use it.”

Stokes’ response to the accusations are not comforting.

“It’s ridiculous. This was all a little witch hunt they did off a stupid Facebook post,” Stokes told The Tennessean. “I was trying to teach them something. I don’t know if they weren’t interested in learning or trying to save their own skin, but needless to say the whole thing came back and bit me in the ass,” he told reporters. Now he wants his license restored so he can become a nurse.

28 thoughts on “Halloween Ethics Warm-Up, 2018: Problematical Communications Edition

  1. I saw the Hillary Clinton clip last night and I came away with a different impression. It seemed to me that she did say “Yeah, I know, they all look alike” in a mean spirited fashion. In fact, I could imagine her saying it exactly the same way to Donald Trump. However, if Donald Trump had said the same thing as Swisher and Clinton responded the same way, Clinton would be praised by every media outlet except Fox. So, I don’t see why anyone should be upset. No one would be upset if she said that to Donald Trump, so no one should be upset that she said that to Kara Swisher.

  2. #2 Personally I thought it was a joke too; however, to be completely honest and reasonably verifiably truthful, if this had been a Republican/Conservative that had “joked” in such an insensitive manner the court of public opinion e.g. the social justice warrior cult, would absolutely destroy the person.

  3. More Lemon today:

    “We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them,” Lemon said to fellow CNN anchor Chris Cuomo during a segment Monday night.

    “There is no travel ban on them,” Lemon continued. “There is no ban on ― you know, they had the Muslim ban. There is no white guy ban.”


    This man is completely unserious. He could be Whopi Goldberg or Barbara Streisand — a blatant partisan with only fame to recommend him. I guess that’s what CNN (and MSNBC, for that matter) has become — a channel of Democrat-leaning actors masquerading as journalists. They’d be better off hiring Streisand or Goldberg — at least they have core competencies in something.

  4. 1. Don Lemon is an idiot, but worse, he is a partisan biased progressive with a platform from which to preach. A useful idiot, in other words.

    When a progressive DOES kill someone (and it is moral luck so far that they have not) it will be the victim’s fault. You heard it here first.

    2. My take on this: it was scripted to create controversy, which breeds media coverage, which is good for both ‘ladies.’ Hillary wants to stay relevant and in the public eye, and Swisher is a never-has-been looking to make her bones.

    Hillary agrees with Holder’s quote: she said it in so many words in her ‘you cannot be civil’ quote from last week. This makes it more likely, in my opinion, that this was scripted: Swisher was sure to know the answer before she asked the question.

    3. Trump needs to hire good speech writers and listen to them. We all know he won’t, though.

    4. How this fine fellow is not being sued to hell and back is beyond me. Imagine the pain of hand sanitizer up your nose and down into your lungs?!?

    5. There is no number 5

  5. Regarding #4, while Mr. Stokes is originally from Chattanooga, he was not a “Chattanooga paramedic” but worked as a paramedic in Blount County (near Knoxville, TN) at the time of the incident in 2016. He told reporters he plans to sue to have his license reinstated, God forbid.

      • No harm, no foul. I only pointed out the discrepancy because I have worked extensively with, and have a number of friends in, several city and county Fire/ Rescue/Emergency Medical Services in the Chattanooga metro area and I cannot conceive of conduct such as Mr. Stokes’ being committed, much less tolerated, condoned or overlooked, by medics or supervisors in any of their organizations. I am not familiar with the practices of AMR – Rural Metro, the private contracted EMS service for which Mr. Stokes worked at the time of his misconduct.

      • I consider myself a Boston ethicist…

        Wait! Boston ethics?!?

        Okay, I am back. The slipped gears are back in place, and I lubed the chassis while I had it on the rack. There were some snide comments I had to chase out of the communications systems as well: good thing those gears broke when they did!

  6. Maybe Kara Swisher didn’t want to become the next Sam Rubin.

    I know if anyone had made a comment like that to me, I’d have fired back immediately.

    But I find myself also unable to disagree with slickwilly — asking the question, not actually answering it, and generating buzz via controversy is a win for both Swisher and HRC.


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