Mid-day Ethics Warm-Up, 11/28/18: Thanks, Twitter, A Properly Derisive Label Needed, And More Mainstream Media Bias That Is All In My Mind

Having a nice day?

1. A tardy recognition of things to be thankful for. Several of the regular readers here, notably Other Bill, valkygirrl, Pennagain, Michael West, Neil Dorr and Zoltar, but also others, have been flagging ethics stories for possible Ethics Alarms coverage. This has been especially helpful during my recent bronchitis battle, but I can always use tips, especially since my amazingly productive ethics scout of many years, Fred, had to take his talents elsewhere. The best way to send me your links and recommendation is at jamproethics@verizon.net.

2. This explains a lot. Pollster Frank Luntz says that 67% of Democrats believe it is “definitely true” or “probably true” that “Russia tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected.” There is no evidence, none, that Russia tampered with vote tallies. There isn’t even evidence that Russian-planted “fake news” in social media and other meddling had any measurable effect on the election. Never mind: two-thirds of Democrats are convinced that Hillary Clinton couldn’t possibly have lost to a creep/Nazi/ lunatic/ moron/racist  like  Donald Trump without sinister forces making it so.

This delusion does explain a lot. As a foundation for false beliefs, it is strong impetus to confirmation bias, which Democratic officials and the news media have aggressively and cynically—and successfully—courted. I thought Republicans should hide their heads in bags after polls showed that about 40% of them as recently as 2016 believe that Barack Obama probably wasn’t born in the U.S. Two-thirds of Democrats believing Russians hijacked the election is, if possible, worse. Of course, Republicans didn’t force an endless investigation over Obama’s qualifications to be elected President, so that’s in their favor.

We do need a name for the Left’s conspiracy theorists regarding the 2016 election, though, since the group appears to comprise the majority of Democrats. “Truthers”…”Birthers”…and?

Submissions welcome. Here’s the poll data (more here):

3. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! (1) The news about Paul Manafort’s travails with the Mueller investigation continue to be given front page headline coverage. In the New York Times, it is routinely in the main story column, front page, right hand side. Nobody can explain this, except as a pure guilt by association ploy. Manafort’s alleged crimes had nothing to do with the Trump campaign or Trump himself, and precious little to do with the Russian investigation. Manafort himself is only known at all because he was briefly Trump’s campaign manager. The Times and other news media have made this an ongoing story for no other reason or justification than to suggest wrongdoing by the President through innuendo. Anything to undermine public support and to prevent him from doing his job.

4. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! (2) Virtually every U.S. newspaper online used this headline to describe an incident at the border over the weekend: “Migrant mom falls from border fence, is impaled in front of her children.”  Many added “young children.” No, what happened is that an irresponsible mother endangered herself and her two young children trying to break U.S. law and enter the country illegally. The headline is calculated to create sympathy for the lawbreaker, as has the coverage of the caravan’s border push in general. Similarly, news agency photographers have chosen to take a disproportionate share of heart-tugging photos of mothers with young children at the border, giving the false impression that the army of would-be illegals is substantially composed of families. In fact, it is overwhelmingly male.

Apparently the conclusion has been reached by editors that the “Think of the children!” bias is strong enough to completely overwhelm the reason, logic and critical thinking of a majority of citizens, especially women and those who want open borders anyway.

5. Prediction: this will be the big new ethics story in 2019. The fact that social media platforms are deliberately manipulating public debate and opinion through persistent progressive bias has finally begun to escape the conservative media bubble, where it could be mocked and denied by the mainstream media and the beneficiaries of the manipulation, into other channels. Twitter recently went on a banning binge, cherry-picking conservatives for unspecified “violations” while allowing repeat hate-purveyors like Louis Farrakhan to tweet away unimpeded. The tipping point may be the bizarre episode where Twitter “permanently” banned conservative radio host and commentator Jesse Kelly for vague offenses, and told him there was no appeal. Right-winged law professor Glenn Reynolds, who had already had his account suspended and restored last year, announced that Twitter was engaged in ideological censorship and that he was closing his account for good. Reynolds is a regular USA Today columnist and perhaps the most read conservative blogger, and his noisy withdrawal threatened to provoke a mass Twitter exodus. Yesterday Twitter restored Kelly’s privileges, dishonestly claiming he was never banned, only suspended. Now Congress is investigating whether Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey lied under oath when he testified that his platform employed no ideological or partisan litmus test for continued use of the platform.

Observations:

  • I only use Twitter to broadcast links to Ethics Alarms posts. I’m pretty sure that is does little to boost traffic, but it doesn’t cost anything.
  • Twitter makes you stupid. See: Tribe, Larry. Trump, Donald.
  • Yes, yes: Twitter et al. can ban whoever they want to. However, as social media increasingly becomes an essential means of expression and the dissemination of political and social opinion. biased and partisan censorship and lack of due process becomes a legitimate government concern.

Stay tuned.

 

 

46 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship, Social Media, U.S. Society

46 responses to “Mid-day Ethics Warm-Up, 11/28/18: Thanks, Twitter, A Properly Derisive Label Needed, And More Mainstream Media Bias That Is All In My Mind

  1. Michael R.

    I guess we can call them Russoliarsm or Russocorruptors.

    The problem is, I see plenty of Russian collusion with the Democrats. The Russian government, the mainstream media, the FBI, and the justice department all blend together seamlessly in FusionGPS until you can’t tell where one ends an another one begins.

    I was unaware that it was legal to discriminate in business based on political affiliation. I didn’t know that a car dealership could refuse to sell a car to someone who voted a way you didn’t like. I didn’t know you could refuse to rent to someone who didn’t share your view of immigration policy. Did I not know this because I am sheltered or did I not know this because no one in their right mind ever thought this was appropriate until we had a bunch of Democrats running businesses?

    • Only a very few states, notably California, make that kind of bigotry illegal.

      • Michael R.

        And yet these social media companies are based in California.

        If you listen to the liberal logic, this is an irredeemably racist country. If so, why didn’t anyone figure out they could refuse to rent to people based on party affiliation? Since almost all blacks in the US are Democrats, why hasn’t this been used? Or perhaps the country isn’t nearly as racist as portrayed.

    • Russoliarsm or Russocorruptors are too long and not punchy enough, but I haven’t done any better. “Morons” is too generic.

    • Russians have been “colluding” with Democrats since the Cold War. Initially not with DNC approval, but the Soviets were actively infiltrating what would ultimately become bastions of Left wing ideology during the Cold War. Recall, for the longest time the USSR was the ideological fortress of extreme left wing ideology.

      This has become manifest in the modern generations as the Left and its brain trusts have all skewed wildly to the left and wildly anti-American.

      Of course, when Democrats blame Republicans for some sin, odds are they’ve been giddily engaged in it for decades under the cover of a complicit Media (one of those brain trusts that were infiltrated in the Cold War).

      The only derisive name that is apt for people who think Russians physically changed vote tallies is “morons”.

  2. 1) do you have a preferred subject line for pointers?

    I gave up emailing about 2 years ago because it seemed like the emails were getting spammed or lost in the mix of generic email subject lines.

  3. Jack wrote, “We do need a name for the Left’s conspiracy theorists regarding the 2016 election, though, since the group appears to comprise the majority of Democrats. “Truthers”…”Birthers”…and…”

    Russkierthers

    McCarthiers

    R.E.T.E.N.T.I.O.N. Russia Elected Trump Ensuring Neo-Nazi Takeover In Our Nation. The Russian’s R.E.T.E.N.T.I.O.N. of the USA is to ensure the ultimate demise of the USA.

  4. Luke G

    You could go with “Bear hunters,” but then again if you use that to mock Californians you’ll probably be called Homophobic.

  5. Rusty Rebar

    Over the last couple days I have also been hearing (even from conservative sources) that Wikileaks passed information gained from the Russian hack of the DNC to Trump surrogates. The weird thing is, as far as I know (and I have been keeping my eyes out for this) there is no evidence to support that the information from the DNC was hacked by the Russians, let alone that Trump gained info from this. The only evidence I have seen to date has come from VIPS and that strongly suggests that the info was leaded, not hacked.

    I am having trouble understanding why all these sources are claiming that Wikileaks is a “Russian front operation” now, with zero evidence of this, and the only evidence out there refuting this.

    • Even if this was all true, and there is considerable reason to doubt those accounts, it’s not collusion, it’s not criminal, it’s not cheating, it’s nothing. The individual allegedly involved was not a member of the campaign. If I know that X has damaging information on my political opponent and ask for it without making any deals or promises, so what? If I say, “Oh, be sure you tell the world about that!” again, so what?

      The fact that stuff like this is breathlessly reported just indicates that there is no there there.

  6. sgs

    Re: Twitter. Could you please clarify if Twitter and Facebook and their ilk can continue to claim Section 230 safe harbor protection if they exercise editorial choice to censor posts?
    Re: the YouGov poll: interesting to see the “definitely not” % increases with income. Since education is also strongly correlated with family income, it would have been interesting to see how the agreement broke down along educational categories, too.

    • Luke G

      Interesting point regarding Section 230. I don’t know where the line would fall here, but I do know that there are cases where if you perform any enforcement/control you can be held liable for things you’d normally be insulated from.

      (Example: A friend in tech support for a university says they are specifically instructed not to monitor any connections for any illegal activity- if they bust one student once, another student getting in legal trouble could leave them liable for having taken on the monitoring role and not doing it very well).

      • Michael R.

        This is how student newspapers work. The school can’t be sued because it does not exercise any control over what is printed. Students have no money, so it means people can’t (essentially) sue student newspapers. However, if the school were to exercise any type of control over what is or isn’t printed in the paper, they can be sued for anything published. So, if the school tells the newspaper to stop making fun of Chancellor Hooker’s name, they become liable if the paper states that Bill Gates is a thief. Since Twitter is specifying what can and can’t be posted to their site, I could see them being found liable for anything on it.

  7. Rich in CT

    Pollster Frank Luntz says that 67% of Democrats believe it is “definitely true” or “probably true” that “Russia tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected.”

    1) Democrats ALSO believe that Donald Trump is a 100% lying when he says there is rampant voter fraud.

    ….Britannia was always at war with Eurasia….

  8. isaac

    Lest we forget, it was liberals who wanted to use the Fairness Doctrine to force radio stations to balance out conservative talk shows with liberal ones. If conservatives were equally “principled” they’d be trying to force YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook to promote an equal number of conservative and liberal ideas.

  9. Trumpiacs?

    Trumpets?

    AntiTrum?

    Trumptrolled?

  10. Arthur in Maine

    RE #2: I pondered and pondered on a cute, memorable little meme to describe this category. I failed. Just can’t think of anything better than Batshit Fucking Crazy.

    • Other Bill

      I’m not sure it’s such a great idea, AIM. That’s what my son calls his father because I don’t agree with 93 (or is it 97) percent of scientists that the globe is warming and CO2 emissions have caused it and there are any number of things we can and should do to immediately rectify the situation.

      • dragin_dragon

        Back in the ’70’s, when global COOLING was seen to be the problem, somebody had the bright idea of covering the Antarctic with lamp-black…soot. This was supposed to melt part of the ice-cap, thus solving the problem. Whatever that was.

  11. Willem Reese

    Russuckers? Votesheviks? Russkitools? (Russkifools?) Russoflakes?

    Almost completely unrelated…but I think the Me Too! movement should go the single-name celebrity route and simply rebrand themselves with the mashup “Moo!”.

  12. Dwayne N. Zechman

    I’d like to suggest “Putin-heads”.

    Properly pronounced, it would sound a lot like “puddin-heads”.

    –Dwayne

  13. Faux-sian (fake russian)
    Bear Little (chicken little as the sky didn’t fall)

  14. valkygrrl

    1: So we are going to get to read ethic takeaways from A Christmas Prince?

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