Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/21/2019: Smollett And His Friends

Good Morning.

(Be honest: how many of you once thought this song was sung by The Beatles?)

1. Jussie Smollett hoax notes:

  • The actor is in custody, is being charged, and the Chicago’s Police Superintendent just gave a withering speech condemning him, asking rhetorically what kind of black man uses a noose as a prop for a false hate crime accusation. It also appears that Smollett had previously sent himself a fake hate crime letter.

Has Smollett wrapped up “Asshole of the Year”? Only in the Hollywood Division, would be my guess, but the year is young.

  • Speaking of contenders, stop making me defend Adam Schiff. The House’s #1 Trump-Hunter deleted this tweet…

Now he’s being criticized by conservatives for trying to send his embarrassing embrace of Smollett’s facially absurd story “down the memory hole.” I don’t blame anyone for deleting stupid social media posts, especially public figures. Why give your enemies a graphic club to bash you with…forever? Of course, a public statement that he was wrong, rash and inflammatory would be appropriate, but this is Adam Schiff we’re talking about. Watch him spin when the Mueller report turns out to be a dud.

  • Here’s part of a Boston Herald editorial:

As Jussie Smollett’s account of his alleged assault falls apart, it is important to note that politicians, the media and influential voices did their best to fan the flames of outrage, based on nothing but the dark premise that conservatives and Trump supporters are evil….It was a flimsy yarn from the outset, which only became more precarious with each passing day. That didn’t stop those most deeply invested in the narrative of Evil Trump to jump into action.

Presidential hopefuls Cory Booker and Kamala Harris each labeled the supposed attack a “modern-day lynching,” with Harris adding that, “We must confront this hate.” Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted, “This is a sickening and outrageous attack, and horribly, it’s the latest of too many hate crimes against LGBTQ people and people of color. We are all responsible for condemning this behavior and every person who enables or normalizes it …” Joe Biden tweeted, “What happened today to @JussieSmollett must never be tolerated in this country. We must stand up and demand that we no longer give this hate safe harbor; that homophobia and racism have no place on our streets or in our hearts. We are with you, Jussie.”…freshman congressman, Rashida Tlaib, tweeted, “The dangerous lies spewing from the right wing is killing & hurting our people.”

… Hollywood notables also reacted as expected. Director Rob Reiner tweeted, “The horrific attack on Jussie Smollett has no place in a decent human loving society. Homophobia existed before Trump, but there is no question that since he has injected his hatred into the American bloodstream, we are less decent, less human, & less loving. No intolerance! No DT!”

The media has comported itself badly as well. Almost immediately after getting the Covington Catholic story so wrong, many in the news industry immediately accepted the Smollett story as true…. a Washington Post writer named Nana Efua Mumford wrote this: “If Smollett’s story is found to be untrue … The incident would be touted as proof that there is a leftist conspiracy to cast Trump supporters as violent, murderous racists. It would be the very embodiment of ‘fake news.’ And that reason, more than any other, is why I need this story to be true.”

In other words, Trump supporters are violent, murderous racists. That dark premise is a lie, fake news and untrue. Let us hope one half of the country can correct their horrifically jaded view of the other half before we lose ourselves.

  • The biased mainstream news media is spinning madly to try to avoid accountability. CNN’s joke journalism “watchdog,” Brian Stelter, lied outright, not for the first time, claiming that the major media outlets were suspicious of Smollett’s account and didn’t automatically accept it. “I think it was mostly in the celebrity press and among activists and among Twitter people. I think it was a really careful reporting by news organizations. But it all gets lumped in together at the end of the day,” Stelter said. (He is a constant disgrace to the ethics field, the journalism field, and the bald-headed professional field.) But Reuters, Newsweek, the Washington Post and Stelter’s own CNN, among many others, reported Smullett’s attack as fact; the Post referenced the story three times without the obligatory “allegedly.”

Now the focus is on wielding the “Conservatives pounce” trope, shifting the emphasis of the story from the lie to the “I told you so” reaction to the lie by those nasty conservatives.

  • A legal ethics question— Smollett’s lawyers said, earlier this week, regarding the claims that Smollett’s tale was a hoax: “Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.” In fact, that’s what their client’s position was. It’s dishonest and unethical for lawyers to make statements like that, when they in fact do not have facts to back up their certitude, and may even know that their statement is untrue. Such grandstanding also hurts the profession. No, bar associations don’t come down on lawyers who say things like this.

They should.

2. A reminder of why no rational person should trust Snopes’ “factchecks”: The untrustworthy site “factchecked” an obvious gag story by the conservative satire site the Babylon Bee. “Was ‘Empire’ Actor Jussie Smollett Offered a Job at CNN?” Snopes asked and answered. Admittedly, CNN has hired other unbelievable miscreants, but this is like factchecking Saturday Night Live or The Onion.

I wonder why Snopes didn’t factcheck this Bee story?

Viewers Starting To Doubt Objectivity Of Reporter With ‘KAMALA 2020’ Face Tattoo






3. Stay classy, Tucker. Tucker Carlson reacted to a guest who accused him of being “a millionaire funded by billionaires” and a mouthpiece for Fox News by saying,

“Moron! I want to say to you, why don’t you go fuck yourself ― you tiny brain. And I hope this gets picked up because you’re a moron,” the host yells. “I tried to give you a hearing, but you were too fucking annoying.” 

To be fair, at the point he began shouting obscenities Carlson knew the interview would be spiked and never be aired. Nonetheless, this is obviously unprofessional conduct, as well as incompetent.

4. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!

In the 116th Congress, if you’re a Democrat, you’re either a socialist, a baby killer or an anti-Semite. That, at least, is what Republicans want voters to think, as they seek to demonize Democrats well in advance of the 2020 elections by painting them as left-wing crazies who will destroy the American economy, murder newborn babies and turn a blind eye to bigotry against Jews.

No left-wing bias there! Oddly, almost all of the Democratic Presidential candidates signed on to the extremely socialist—and crazy—Green New Deal; the party is making “Medicare For All” and universal free college tuition (form the agenda of Socialist Bernie Sanders) a mainstream demand…Virginia Democrats pushed for a  bill that the Governor said would allow post-birth abortions…and two Muslim freshman House Democrats,  Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, have made repeated and overtly anti-Semitic statements without any tangible consequences. However, I’ve been reading the Times at home for four years, and never recall any similar  story about how Democrats were demonizing Republicans by labeling them as Nazis, racists, xenophobes, and sexists.

  • The Good Isis Expatriot! Here’s the New York Times presentation of the story about the U.S. refusing to let a woman who joined ISIS back into the country:

Awww! She’s a mother!  How mean we are! She only tried to kill Americans, but now she’s sorry! [Pointer: Althouse]

5. Nice. From NPR:

In the days after Superstorm Sandy soaked the East Coast, New York City Department of Transportation workers cataloged the damage to the agency’s fleet of vehicles. That information was handed over to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which would give the city enough money to replace the damaged vehicles with new ones.

Only one problem: Many of those vehicles were damaged before Sandy hit. Some hadn’t been operational in years and had been marked for salvage long before the storm.

The city has agreed to reimburse the federal government $5.3 million for its false claims, according to the settlement proposed Wednesday.

City officials who certified that the vehicles were damaged during Sandy either knew they were making false statements or did so “with reckless disregard or willful blindness as to their truth,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman said in a complaint accompanying the proposed settlement.

6. Network TV humor in 2019: This “joke” by Stephen Colbert was selected by the NYT for its “Best of Late Night” summary:

“I just want to remind you that that mildly nauseous feeling you have is because for the last two years, Donald Trump has been spinning you in a tumble-dryer full of turd.”

HiLARious! Where do you find writers who can come up with brilliant stuff like that?

A late night comic who made an equivalent comment like that about any other President would have been suspended or fired. It’s not witty; it’s not clever; it’s just ugly hate-mongering and gratuitous disrespect for the nation’s leader. In truth, the “tumble dryer” has been stocked and operated by Colbert and “the resistance.”

50 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/21/2019: Smollett And His Friends

  1. I never thought “Lies” was by The Beatles – because when it came out, I owned every record The Beatles had released in the US.

    Listening to the song just now, though, I must say that it’s a VERY clever and well-executed Merseybeat ripoff.

    • A pretty neat song. I’d forgotten it. Speaking of lies, funny how the boys are lip synching. But of course production qualities on TV dance shows were minimal. And darned if I could find anyone even attempting to mimic the lead guitar line. All I saw was a bass and a rhythm guitar. I guess the lead guitar was provided by a studio musician. And why did the lead singer have a sax hanging from his neck? Ah, the ’60s. We were so easily duped. But I do remember liking the biting edge to those lyrics. Verboten now. And that dissonant, syncopated chord is pretty neat as well.

      • They were wannabes out of New Jersey, led by a couple of brothers who were Italian but took the surname “Charles” for the stage. According to Wikipedia, they tended to chase whatever sound that was currently popular on the radio; they apparently dabbled in a Four Seasons-ish sound prior to charting a couple of times in ’64-65, once with this particular song.

        As for the sax, the lead singer (who signed on shortly before this song was recorded) DID actually play it, but not on this particular song. And he had had a prior taste of the pop charts in 1958 as a member of the group that recorded the eminently forgettable song “Short Shorts.”

        Their drummer, a chap named Jimmy Walker, left the band a few years later recorded with Bobby Hatfield under the name “The Righteous Brothers” when Bill Medley left for a solo effort. Hatfield and Medley ultimately re-teamed and Walker was out of a job. The band never really reached much success after their two top-twenties and folded in the early ’70s, though they did reform a few times.

        Badfinger sounded a lot like The Beatles at least in part because various members of The Beatles and their circle promoted them, signed them to Apple Records, produced them, and wrote one of their early hits (“Come and Get It,” written by McCartney).

        • McCartney did a demo of “Come and get it” for Badfinger, and it sounds almost exactly like what the final record sounded like.

          Hey, “Short-shorts” was a classic! It also was used in a TV commercial for something just last year.

  2. Re: 1, CNN – Stetler.

    I know that you supply of duct tape is running low, but I thought you would enjoy this little comment from the one, the only Don Lemon:

    He is very concerned that “Sean Hannity’s going to eat Jussie Smollett’s lunch every single second. Tucker Carlson is going to eat Jussie Smollett’s lunch every single second… the president of the United States is going to eat his lunch. And who does the president of the United States watch every night? Cable news. So that’s all I’m saying. That’s all I’m saying.” The transcript does not include interruptions from Lemon’s guests cheering him on, as nicely shown in the video. Lemon, as Jack previously noted, interjected himself into the story line by declaring that he worried about Smollett. Now, he is afraid that Fox News and the President will pounce on Smollett.


  3. The actor is in custody, is being charged, and the Chicago’s Police Superintendent just gave a withering speech condemning him, asking rhetorically what kind of black man uses a noose as a prop for a false hate crime accusation. It also appears that Smollett had previously sent himself a fake hate crime letter.
    Has Smollett wrapped up “Asshole of the Year”? Only in the Hollywood Division, would be my guess, but the year is young.

    #BelieveSurvivors #BelieveAllSurvivors #BelieveVictims #BelieveAllVictims

  4. In a comment to a prior post, I argued that Smollett should be spared jail time, because I was under the impression this was his first offense, and could show “otherwise good character.”

    I’ve since found out that Smollett in fact has a DUI on his record, so this is not a first offense. Further, during his arrest for that DUI he gave a false name – his brother’s name. I have to consider it Signature Significance to offer up an innocent family member in an attempt, however clumsy, to escape responsibility for your own misdeeds. He cannot show “otherwise good character.”

    I still maintain his sentence, should he be convicted, should track with those handed out to others for crimes of similar severity, considering the same factors in mitigation and in aggravation set forth by statute. However, his list of mitigating factors has grown much thinner.

    • I’m curious about the federal investigation into his apparently sending a white powdered threat in the U.S Mail. Isn’t that a terroristic threat and a federal felony? Doesn’t he have some serious exposure if that’s what he did?

      • I’m curious as well, as I can count at least two federal felonies – one for the threatening letter and another for communicating the false impression of a chemical or biological attack using the white powder.

    • I understand what you’re getting at, Dave, but part of me thinks there should be a sentencing enhancement for stupidity. He paid his co-conspirators with a personal check, for Pete’s sake! If you’re not going to bother to plan your crime with *at least* as much care as most people put into choosing which dipping sauce to get with their McNuggets, you sort of deserve a little extra punishment, don’t you?

      As this story unfolds, I’m starting to have difficulty believing that Smollett could be as dumb as he’d have to be to bumble this badly. I now think he’s a criminal super-genius who is seven steps ahead of everyone else, and this is somehow all part of his diabolical plan. The only other explanation is that all three men involved in the “planning” and execution of this hoax are in possession of a supernatural level of stupidity.

      • Jeff, he’s an actor. He reads lines in front of a camera. His mistake was thinking he was a playwright, script writer or director. Hah.

      • I think, if you pay enough attention to the criminal dockets, you’ll find that stupidity seems more of a universal feature than a factor in aggravation in sentencing. Those who possess a respectable amount of foresight and good sense tend to get by in life without committing crimes; those with at least a measure of criminal cunning rarely get caught.

        • Oh, absolutely. The smart crooks don’t usually get caught. But this guy appears to have an uncommon level of stupidity for a crime that he intended to draw national attention. If you know it’s going to draw a lot of heat, at least spend a half hour thinking through maybe one or two ways to minimize the evidence against you, like not using your own phone to plan it, paying for it with cash, etc…

          • His real mistake was in not realizing how pissed off the situation would make the Chicago PD. They knew they’d be held accountable if they didn’t find the perpetrators so couldn’t let the whole thing slide.

  5. If Trump loses re-election, do conservatives immediately get to be a part of the Resistance of the new president? Should we get in the business of printing “Resist Kamala!” “Resist Socialism” and “Resist Sanders” bumper stickers now? I bet we all could make a pretty penny just coming up with all 30 variations for each democratic candidate for the DNC nomination.

  6. I am wondering if he is going to cooperate and get immunity. It does seem suspicious that he, a campaign worker for Kamala Harris, decided to stage a fake lynching by Trump supporters when Harris’ anti-lynching bill is going through. If he claim he orchestrated it with her (whether true or not), he may yet escape punishment.

      • No, but Harris needs something to get her in the news and to put her ahead of the pack in her Presidential bid. An anti-lynching bill is a meaningless, but high-profile bill (how many lynchings have you heard of recently?). No one is going to vote against such a bill. Having an attempted lynching of a gay black man is the best publicity for her that she could have asked for. And it came almost to the day for the maximum effect.

  7. There’s a question whether the “Alabama woman” is a US citizen. Pompeo says no, but she was born in the US to a Yemeni father whose diplomatic credentials had allegedly expired. That’s an interesting case: US citizenship isn’t granted at birth to the children of diplomats, but it is ordinarily granted to just about everyone else born here, including the children of illegal aliens.

  8. 4. Althouse also explores whether or not the Madonna of Birmingham (or Raffa) is or is not an American citizen. When the Madonna was born, her parents were in the U.S. as Yemeni diplomats or former diplomats.

  9. There still exist some pretty lame…I mean…physically challenged attempts to deflect by laughably trying to put lipstick on the accused felon PIG, AKA Jussie Smollett.

    What incuriously escapes them is the FACT that this will impact how REAL hate crimes will be viewed from here on in.

    Regardless, it’s a TRUE heart-breaker because it had everything, and I mean EVERYTHING:
    *EVIL Righties
    *Ski Masks
    *White Supremacy
    *Subway Sandwiches

    Wait a minute…bleach-n-Subway sandwiches? Welp, bleach comes in EVIL white bottles & Subway’s mostly come in White bread, am I right?

    Anywho, the FELONY Fake Hate Crime Hoax had EVERYTHING but the one thing that is the bane of Lefty’s existence.


    Lefty specifically, and Le Resistance generally, juuuuuust can’t deal with a fact-based reality falling far short of their narrative.

    There’s simply not enough hatred, racism, homophobia, & violence occurring to convince-n-herd Lefty’s idiot base, ergo, it must be manufactured.

    Just like Christine Blasey-Ford, just like Nathan Phillips, so goes Jussie.

    Watch; Chi-Town and the Feds are livid that this moron not only wasted 1000’s of man-hours that could have been, you know, like, spent investigating REAL CRIMES rather than chasing Jussie’s pipe-dream, but took LE for chumps and made them look stupid as well.

    And let’s not forget ALL the celebs, media, and politicains that got sucked into it like a bunch of trained seals.

    If you’s think THEY aren’t pissed they’ve been made to look like fools, think again!

    The ones yelling Squirrel is Signature Significance!

    Sheesh, if I thought I needed to contort myself philosophically, existentially, intellectually, & emotionally like that just because I thought my World View demanded it, I hope I’d have the self-awareness to put myself out of my misery.

    • “this will impact how REAL hate crimes will be viewed from here on in.”

      I disagree with that concern, Paul. I see no reason whatsoever that “hate crimes,” when they occur, will not be reported fairly. Did anyone question whether Dylan Roof shot and killed all those poor people in that church in South Carolina? No. This “concern” vastly underestimates the American public.

      Having said that, how tortured was the coverage of the Pulse night club massacre? The victims were gay but the shooter was Muslim, so those two teams involved cancelled each other out. Was that called a hate crime? Or even terrorism? I’m not sure I remember. The Obama FBI seemed to go out of its way to steer clear of motive.

    • Bleach also whitens. It’s a confusing narrative he was trying to construct if you think about it. By attempting to whiten him, they were attempting to spread their privilege and create a more egalitarian world. This would take away his power of weakness – imagine if we didn’t have any differences to complain about! Without the power to grouse about lack of equality, what would the leftalitarians have left? This scheme of urban equalification would destroy a massive movement. How dare those inner-city, white, MAGA-country, Trump voters attempt to solve what they are told is a problem in rapidly-expanding compulsory venues! He was intending his hearers to receive this hidden message.

      /s (How would this have played without this?)

  10. In my opinion, Mr Smollet’s hoax was itself a hate crime as he tried to further the illusion that Trump supporters are violenr racists.

  11. Of course, a public statement that he was wrong, rash and inflammatory would be appropriate …

    You ought to know how this sort of thing gets handled. Suppose DNA one day happens to identify the (illustrative, representative) person who happens to be buried at one of the world’s Tombs of the Unknown Soldier, and suppose he (yes, he) happens to be a known scoundrel: does that vitiate either the idea or any of the many respects paid at that particular site? Or if a genuine serial killer got caught up and sent to a Nazi death camp, does that exonerate what was done to him? No – and (spot the gap in the argument here) the defenders of these hoax accusations will argue similarly, each time treating it as a one off, that the hoax was only as effective and affecting as it was because it was a good (illustrative, representative) example of the sort of race hate incidents out there, all endemic all the time. So why deplore and detract from previous support of one particular (illustrative, representative) case, just because of the historical accident (unillustrative, unrepresentative) that it never actually happened? Or again, consider that A.P.Herbert once wrote a printed article that criticised technical writers for using overly abstruse technical jargon like “to dehydrate” for “to dry”, ending his amusing essay with a throwaway remark about looking forward to putting on his socks once they had been dehydrated; he was put down gently but thoroughly by a letter to the editor from one of these technical types, pointing out that Herbert was probably reaching for the technical term “desiccated” as he might have difficulty putting on the thin, grey ash that would be all that remained of his socks after they had been dehydrated (thus showing that technical terms do indeed matter for making technical distinctions) – but Herbert’s theme was sound, and not vitiated by the unlucky accident that he reached out for a weak branch for support through not, himself, actually knowing what he was talking about. We’re talking higher truth here, and there are those that can and do argue higher truth.

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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 )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.