Ethics Dunces: Fox News, Martha MacCallum, Paul Watson, And Oh My God This Is Terrible…[UPDATED]

Watch all of this, if you can stand it…

As I watched this horror show—I would normally say “jaw-dropping”—all I could think of was how my Dad would have reacted, other than being furious to see a fellow World War II veteran betrayed by his son and humiliated on national television. If  I ever get to that stage, he would say, “shoot me.” He was only half-kidding when he would say that, but I’m pretty sure this video would obliterate the facetious half.

This vulnerable man, now dependent on the good will and judgment of his caregivers and his fellow citizens,  s being exploited by his son as a prop, nothing more, as he is hauled around the country, half-aware, to promote his son’s project. Kant had this kind of unethical conduct pegged: he said it was always wrong to use a human being as a means to an end. I don’t have to guess what the philosopher  would say about a son using his barely conscious veteran father as his ventriloquist dummy to advance his own agenda.[Credit goes to Arthur in Maine, who flagged this video, for the ventriloquist analogy]

It is disgusting that Martha MacCallum and Fox would be complicit in such mistreatment of a veteran in their studios.The elder Watson didn’t consent to this appearance: it is obvious that he isn’t capable of consent. This was like a particularly cruel Saturday Night Live skit. The least, the very least, that elderly veterans have earned in their long, brave lives is their dignity, and Fox News, MacCallum, and Watson’s son robbed him of that before the nation.

There is a special place in Hell for Paul Watson. As for Fox News, this is why we cannot trust these people.  They lack judgment, common sense, and decency.

Thank you for your service, Mr. Watson. I’m so sorry they treated you this way.

[Notice of correction: I misspelled Martha’s name two different ways in the original post. GOOD. But I fixed it. Thanks for the readers who flagged the error. It’s hard to spell when one is gagging…]

15 thoughts on “Ethics Dunces: Fox News, Martha MacCallum, Paul Watson, And Oh My God This Is Terrible…[UPDATED]

  1. I see your point but it may be a bit unfair to suggest Mccallum and Fox took advantage. I would bet that the show’s young female producers saw the clip of the aging ww2 vet at the White House and contacted the son who is promoting the tour. It was obvious that the segment consisted of a remote video and it is unlikely that what transpired would have been known in advance. McCallum’s reactions to the guests seemed to be respectful but punctuated with nervous utterances when it was clear dad was not totally with it.

    I did a remote interview years ago for PBS and the only preevent contact was from a producer giving me the time and date the location team would arrive.

    McCallum’s show is a live broadcast or at least only modestly delayed. Without knowing McCaullum’s reaction afterwards I cannot automatically conclude what she did was unethical. I believe a most of the ire should be directed at the caregiver son that seems to be using dad as a means to travel, raise money to fund travel, and only secondarily is to help his dad avoid the regret he stated as the reason for the tour.

    • And the second they saw the old soldier, they should have cancelled the segment. I’ve never been in a TV news show where the host didn’t chat with me first, before the segment. The guy is sitting there immobile with his mouth hanging open. DING! That’s it. Fox is responsible for its incompetent producers, and so is MacCallum, who should have cut the segment immediately once she realized what was happening.

      • We have different experiences with on air interviews. I never even said hello to the MPT host until the actual on air interview. I also don’t know how much she can control the flow given that others are actually determining the segment length.

        Nonetheless, I found the segment exploitive and I place most of the blame where it belongs – on the son.

  2. I’m going to cut McCallum a WEE bit of slack here; segments like that are managed by producers; McCallum almost certainly went into the segment with no idea what a shitshow this would turn into. And having done a fair amount of live broadcasting, I know personally what happens when a segment that’s been mapped out goes off the rails.

    But hey, only a wee bit of slack. Because what she should have done is said, about thirty seconds in, when it becomes apparent the guy is incompetent, something along the lines of “Mr. Watson, I hope you enjoy your tour and God bless you for your service. We’ll be back right after this.” And if the control room didn’t react within a second or two, she could have gone into real ethics hero status and explained why she wanted the cut. I’m not sure she’s smart enough.

    One hopes she’s smart enough to shitcan the producer or producers who thought this would be a good segment.

  3. (sigh) I have been to a bunch of WWII and veterans’ events. It was one thing in 2002 when some of these vets were still reasonably cogent and could tell compelling accounts of what they experienced. I’ll never forget my first visit to WW2 weekend at Reading when I heard “Tex” Hill of the Flying Tigers and “Dutch” van Kirk of the Enola Gay tell their stories. I count myself lucky to have a lithograph signed by Dick Cole, last of the Doolittle Raiders, who just passed away at over 100. The sad fact is that now, when a lot if not all of these men are over 90, they really can’t do or say much. 2016’s gathering of the Warhawks at Peachtree City was good as far as the planes (how often do you get to see 5 P-40s in one place?) but as far as the Tigers themselves, who could barely speak, you wondered if it was cruel to put them out there. Last year the Virginia International Tattoo had six Medal of Honor winners featured, including Hershel “Woody” Williams, last of the winners from the WWII USMC and from Iwo Jima. He could still stand and wave to the crowd (who duly gave him a standing ovation), and later said “wasn’t that a show?” but he was very frail-looking. Still, if he wants to do it who are we to say no? If he can’t say yes or no, though, then forget it.

    I do still defer to veterans, especially WW2 ones, of course. In fact when I was a little impatient to get a quart of milk because one such old man was standing in front of the supermarket refrigerator, I was about to bark something to the effect of “Ya mind?” at him, but quickly bit my tongue when I saw the WW2 veteran cap. His granddaughter (probably 40-somethingish) ushered him away, silently mouthing “thanks for understanding.” I thought to myself that no understanding was necessary for the Greatest Generation.

    • About 30 years ago, I attended a Memorial Day picnic. A veteran was invited to get up and speak about his experiences. I would have loved to have heard more, as the veteran was certainly young enough to remember and speak about it. Unfortunately, so many people around me were chatting up a storm and not paying the man a bit of attention, it was hard for me to hear. I have never forgotten such blatant disrespect.

  4. Paul Watson is riding on his father’s coat-tails.

    Anyone want to place odds on whether Paul Watson will be writing a warm and fuzzy book about the nation-wide tour with his father and it’ll be published shortly after his father’s death. The book sales and the sale of the movie rights should keep Paul Watson financially comfortable for the rest of his life.

  5. I”m not even going to watch the video.

    Just last week a neighbor told me his Dad had been one of Merrill’s Marauders. Two thousand guys were dropped behind Japanese lines in India and Burma to wreak havoc. Three hundred survived. They were among the predecessors of the Green Berets, Special Forces, etc. My friend’s father was a BAR guy because, as he said, he “wanted the biggest, baddest gun they could give me.” Two Silver Stars.

    I asked my neighbor if he’d ever seen his dad have any emotional issues from his war experience. He said the only incident he could remember was being on the lake at their summer place in Missouri and a couple of drunk young guys cut the ropes mooring his family’s boat to the dock to get in front of them for fuel. My neighbor’s father grabbed both the young drunks, dragged them into the water and held them underwater until my friends’ mother’s screams finally convinced him to let the guys up and not kill them on the spot.

  6. Awful. I couldn’t get halfway through it. Where’s Michael Ejercito to suggest the death penalty for Paul Watson’s dishonorable abuse of his father? I’d be tempted to allow it in this case.

  7. I share your “outrage” that they ran with the piece.. I was freaked out watching the piece and wondered why Fox didn’t cut it sooner, edit it or just can it but let it drag on, the son making his Dad sing?.. very embarrassing for sure.. The son Paul should be ashamed of the why he ran with it.. and it wasn’t up to the normal standards of Fox productions.. for sure.

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