Welcome to the Ethics Alarms Dead Zone!
Increasingly, almost nobody comes here on Saturdays. For me, Saturday is when I have time to catch up on ethics issues, and that’s fun for me. Everybody else doesn’t find ethics fun? How strange…
1. Another day, another fake news story designed to thrill and energize the “resistance.” BuzzFeed published a “bombshell” about Michael Cohen, that impeccably reliable witness, telling investigators that President Trump instructed him to lie to Congress about his pre-election hotel plans—odd that, since there is nothing illegal about planning to build a hotel in Moscow. Without checking sources, without considering the media source’s record of those of the reporters (one of whom has a well-documented pattern of making stuff up), the mainstream media was off to the impeachment races, with CNN and MSNBC in particular talking about almost nothing else all day. Then, as the day edged into evening, the Mueller investigation dropped its own bombshell, taking the remarkable step of declaring the BuzzFeed story a lot of hooey. Some pundits on the Right who trust today’s incompetent news media as much as I do even suggested that BuzzFeed knew its claim was false all along, but were confident that nobody could prove it except the Mueller investigation itself, and of course it would never speak up. The same logic was behind Clifford Irving’s Howard Hughes autobiography hoax (Irving assumed that the reclusive Hughes would never come forward to expose him—but he did.)
The Daily Caller quickly compiled a list of eleven previous botched news reports related to the “collusion” narrative, and it was not all of them by any means. I haven’t checked, but I am quite sure that there were not this many mainstream media headline-generating news stories that proved to be false in the past ten Presidencies combined. What will it take for the industry to declare its performance a crisis? What will it take for even the “resistance” to conclude that their pals the journalists are hacks? Blogger Ann Althouse is so disgusted that she has taken to drawing rat cartoons and diagramming the sentences in anti-Trump screeds. “How embarrassing for the Trump haters,” she writes. “I didn’t even write about the BuzzFeed story myself. I’m so jaded about the latest impeachment bait.”
Why isn’t everybody? It isn’t just bias that makes you stupid. Hate makes you stupid too. Worse than that, it makes you LOOK stupid.
2. How can anyone take a journalist seriously after he says something this brain-meltingly incompetent? Second Lady Karen Pence announced this week that she will be teaching at Immanuel Christian School, a K-8 Christian school in Springfield, Virginia. The Horror. The private school reserves the right to refuse applicants or expel students who engage in homosexual or transgendered behavior, or otherwise violate “the moral principles of the school.” Discussing the controversy with a panel (There is not, in fact, any actual controversy at all), CNN’s John King said “Does it matter that all taxpayers pay for her housing, all taxpayers pay for her Secret Service protection? It’s not her fault she needs protection, that’s the world we live in. But all taxpayers pay for – subsidize her life. Does it matter?”
Does WHAT matter? The Vice-President and his family are entitled to Secret Service protection no matter what they do. Karen Pence’s life choices are not constrained at all by that requirement, nor could they be. Is King suggesting that by protecting the First Lady while she engages in religion-related activities the government is somehow violating the separation of Church and State? So, I suppose, no President should be protected by the secret Service if he goes to church?
John King is trusted with analyzing the news, and that’s his level of comprehension.
3. And now, a brief BuzzFeed/ Imcompetent News Media break:If you can’t do better than this, shut up. I was suckered in to some clickbait called “These People And Movies Don’t Deserve Their Oscar Wins And Need To Give Them Back ASAP.” These periodic posts and essays about how past Oscars were wrongly awarded are silly by definition, but if you are going to write one, the least a reader should be able to expect is some kind of substantive argument. Not here! I happen to agree with some of the designated mistakes, but the author is displaying a lack of critical thinking and argument skills that can only appeal to readers similarly handicapped.
Gary Oldman’s Oscar for portraying Churchill “doesn’t match up” to his competition. Oh! Well that settles it, then! Paul Scofield’s 1966 Best actor Award in “A Man for All Seasons” was undeserved “because he beat one of the greatest performances by Richard Burton (in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?”)… that was much more memorable and influential during that time in movie history.” Actually, Scofield’s performance was immediately recognized as one of the all-time great film portrayals by one of the the greatest actors alive, and nobody, including Burton, was surprised when he won. Cuba Gooding Jr’s Oscar for “Jerry Mcguire” was undeserved because he hasn’t earned one since and two fine actors he beat, Edward Norton and William H. Macy, haven’t won one yet. Roberto Benigni’s Oscar for his performance in “Life Is Beautiful” was a robbery because ” there’s something wrong with a comedy winning an Oscar”—we are never told what—and the author really, really liked Tom Hanks in “Saving Private Ryan” better.
Every single one of the author’s “arguments” come down to “I would have given the award to someone else.” Why is this worth publishing? If you cannot support an opinion, then your opinion is just pollution and static, useless, pure grandstanding…and encourages others to proclaim what they think without thinking.
When a comment comes in to Ethics Alarms that only says, “I disagree” or “You’re wrong” without a credible and supporting explanation of why the comment er feels that way, it gets trashed.
4. Back to BuzzFeed: CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin said last night, “The larger message that a lot of people are going to take from this story is that the news media are a bunch of leftist liars who are dying to get the president, and they’re willing to lie to do it. And I don’t think that’s true.“
That’s because Jeffrey Toobin is a constant enabler of those Leftist liars, who are his friends, colleagues, and ideological compatriots. If it’s not true, why have they published so many false stories and assertions? For example, here’s MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, tweeting before the jig was up yesterday:
Nixon was not impeached, literally or otherwise.