Hi, everybody! It’s good to be back home!
I was torn whether to mention in this morning’s post that I would be Northern Virginia-bound from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area (Washington County) for most of the day. Who knows what banned and lurking commenters would seize on that intelligence to raid the forum here while I was unable to moderate, as occurred yesterday?
1. I wonder if most lawyers have the same reaction… The Pennsylvania lawyers I spoke to all seemed to share the same impression of the Michael Cohen testimony that I had. Why would anyone believe someone like that? What is the point of Congressional testimony by a convicted liar and disbarred attorney? No one disagreed that Cohen couldn’t be a witness in any proceeding, not would his testimony be admissible. How could anyone see this as anything but a transparent and base effort by Democrats in Congress to try to smear the President with ad hominem slurs and unprovable allegations by someone obviously trying to somehow improve his own, self-made, miserable position? The lawyers are also concerned Congress is weakening the crucial attorney client privilege by encouraging a witness to breach it.
2. Ethics Corrupter: Nancy Pelosi. How dare the speaker of the House insult the President before the public by saying, “Do the country a favor, don’t run in 2020?” The democratic Congress continues to lead the effort to strip the President and his office of all the respect and basic deference they both must have for the government to function. Her snide condescension is unprofessional and nauseating….as well as bizarre, coming after the Trump-led economy just had its best month of growth in a decades—just as he promised it would. Given the state of her own party right now, a plea of “Do Democrats a favor, don’t run in 2020” would be more logical.
3. Engineering ethics. My GM rental car was keyless. It’s cool and all, but why? Congress is trying to pass new safety regulations because keyless cars are killing people. Drivers leave them running without realizing it, and sometimes poison themselves or other with carbon monoxide. They also may be easier to steal.
What, exactly, is the problem that keyless ignition was needed to solve? The “improvement” adds to the cost of cars, and appears to be a classic example of fixing something that ain’t broke, just Americans like gadgets. I have attacked the “if it saves one life” idiocy of the anti-gun lobby, but that’s because guns have very valid uses. If a completely gratuitous change in engineering and technology kills anyone without conferring some counter-balancing advantage, then that change is irresponsible and reckless.
4. Not good enough—not even close. The Washington Post, which is being sued by lawyers for 16-year-old Nicholas Sandmann for its role in focusing partisan hate on a student who had in fact done nothing wrong, issued an “Editor’s Note” on the episode late yesterday. Here it is in its entirety:
A Washington Post article first posted online on Jan. 19 reported on a Jan. 18 incident at the Lincoln Memorial. Subsequent reporting, a student’s statement and additional video allow for a more complete assessment of what occurred, either contradicting or failing to confirm accounts provided in that story — including that Native American activist Nathan Phillips was prevented by one student from moving on, that his group had been taunted by the students in the lead-up to the encounter, and that the students were trying to instigate a conflict. The high school student facing Phillips issued a statement contradicting his account; the bishop in Covington, Ky., apologized for the statement condemning the students; and an investigation conducted for the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School found the students’ accounts consistent with videos. Subsequent Post coverage, including video, reported these developments: “Viral standoff between a tribal elder and a high schooler is more complicated than it first seemed”; “Kentucky bishop apologizes to Covington Catholic students, says he expects their exoneration”; “Investigation finds no evidence of ‘racist or offensive statements’ in Mall incident.”
A Jan. 22 correction to the original story reads: Earlier versions of this story incorrectly said that Native American activist Nathan Phillips fought in the Vietnam War. Phillips said he served in the U.S. Marines but was never deployed to Vietnam.
Allow me to translate: we got the story completely wrong because we did not follow basic reporting procedures, interviewing all key participants, evaluating different versions of the story, and flagging our own biases while correcting for them, resulting in the paper misleading the public and harming an innocent child.
Here’s another, blunter translation: we are cowardly and suck, and don’t even have the integrity to apologize for a disgraceful display of terrible journalism that would be embarrassing for a newspaper in Hole-In-The-Wall, Any State, but is absolutely unforgivable for the Washington Post.
- “Subsequent reporting, a student’s statement and additional video allow for a more complete assessment of what occurred…” is a lawyer’s phrasing of the fact that the original reporting was incompetent and negligent.
- “Subsequent Post coverage, including video, reported these developments…” Sure—after a full-scale, nation-wide, anti-Trump, anti-white, anti-Catholic, hate campaign against the students in general and Nicholas Sandmann in particular has been seeded, encouraged, and launched. Celebrities like Bill Maher called for the kid to be physically attacked. He received death threats, as he was tarred as a racist.. A competent, ethical, unbiased newspaper doesn’t do this.
- Where is the direct apology to Sandmann, whose life and reputation were falsely stained, and who was the individual the Post’s wrongdoing harmed?
I know the Post doesn’t ever read its own Ethics Code, but I do, it being my job. Here’s what it says at the outset:
We fully recognize that the power we have inherited as the dominant morning newspaper in the capital of the free world carries with it special responsibilities:
to listen to the voiceless
to avoid any and all acts of arrogance
to face the public politely and candidly
Was the Post listening to the voiceless when it baselessly accused a 16-year old of harassing an elderly Native American without bothering to get the student’s account of the event? No. Was the Post’s determination to exploit this incident to impugn supporters of the President and pile on in the ongoing effort to vilify whites as inherent bigots arrogant? Obviously. Is this Editor’s Note candid? Of course not.
Here is the Code’s section on fairness:
Reporters and editors of The Post are committed to fairness. While arguments about objectivity are endless, the concept of fairness is something that editors and reporters can easily understand and pursue. Fairness results from a few simple practices:
No story is fair if it omits facts of major importance or significance. Fairness includes completeness.
No story is fair if it includes essentially irrelevant information at the expense of significant facts. Fairness includes relevance.
No story is fair if it consciously or unconsciously misleads or even deceives the reader. Fairness includes honesty – leveling with the reader.
No story is fair if reporters hide their biases or emotions behind such subtly pejorative words as “refused,” “despite,” “quietly,” “admit” and “massive.” Fairness requires straightforwardness ahead of flashiness.
Did the Post story omit “facts of major importance or significance.” It sure did. Was it complete? Clearly not.
Was the reporting fair?
Did the story “consciously or unconsciously mislead or even deceive the reader”? Absolutely and beyond debate.
Was the reporting fair?
Does the Washington Post admit, in its “Note,” any of this, or state directly that the story violated the Post’s published ethics standards?
No! That means that the “note” itself violates the Post’s standards!
One more ethics point that Post editors may not be aware of, having pretty much jettisoned any commitment to journalism ethics over the past three years: newspapers are supposed to be especially careful when reporting on children—yes, even when they are wearing MAGA caps. Here are Accountable Journalism’s “Editorial Guidelines for Reporting on Children,” and a useful excerpt:
Journalists should report on children in an ethical manner, and specifically:
• Seek the truth and report it accurately and as fully as possible;
• Act independently;
• Minimize harm
• Ensure balanced reporting that is in the best interests of the child ;
• Listen attentively to children.
Let’s see: Nope…nope…nope…HAHAHAHAA!..nope. The Post was 0 for 5 in the Covington story.
It was disheartening, when the truth of this bias-driven nit job on an innocent teen came out, that so many Democrats, progressives, pundits still couldn’t muster the integrity to admit how unethically the coverage was. Columnist David Brooks shrugged off the episode (in which is own paper was complicit) by tweeting that after the facts finally were revealed, all of the uproar over the incident seemed “silly.”
Biased, incompetent and unethical reporting that harms children and misleads the public isn’t “silly.” It’s serious, and it’s dangerous.
5. Back to the top: My wife and I were listening to a countdown of the best pop and rock records from 1965, which might have been my favorite year for music (and some other things) of all time. We both giggled to hear Barry McGuire’s hilariously over-heated rendition of the apocalyptic “Eve of Destruction,” which, I am proud to say, struck me as absurd when I first heard it, unlike so many of my politically addled friends and those of my parents. I still love the song for its wacky lyrics and the invaluable perspective it provides in times like these, when the cynical, the dishonest, the hysterical and the stupid are claiming that this is the worst state of affairs the United States has ever been in, and that we are surely doomed.
If I wrote a contemporary issues (Climate Change! School shootings! Rape culture! Nazi in the White House!) parody of “Eve of Destruction”—and I’m tempted—would the “woke”even realize it?