It’s a real ethics poop-poop platter…
1. Red Sox lousy start ethics. Boston Red Sox starting ace Chris Sale, widely regarded as one of the top two or three pitchers in baseball who signed a rich multi-year extension with the team right before the season began, lost his fourth straight start yesterday to begin the season. He told reporters, “This is flat-out embarrassing. For my family, for our team, for our fans. This is about as bad as it gets. Like I said, I have to pitch better…It sucks. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I just flat-out stink right now.”
2. The Hollywood writers vs agents mess. I haven’t posted on this because I can’t find a copy of the controversial “Code of Conduct” that the agents refuse to sign. I also need to bone up on the agency laws in New York and California. This article is a good summary of the show-down. Regarding the question of conflicts of interest in the practice of “packaging” and agents going into the production business, , however, it seems clear that the writers have the better arguments. From the article:
Packaging is a decades-old practice under which agencies may team writers with other clients from their stables for a given project. With packaging fees, an agent forgoes the usual 10 percent commission fee paid to them by individual clients; in its place, they are paid directly by the studio….The writers argue that agencies violate their fiduciary obligations to their clients when they make money from studios instead of from the people they are representing. The practice of accepting packaging fees, the writers say, allows the agencies to enrich themselves at the writers’ expense when they should be using their leverage to get more money for writer-clients.
Any time an agent gets paid by the party the agent is supposed to be negotiating with, that’s a textbook conflict. I’m amazed the agents have been getting away with this practice for so long. As for the production deals…
There are agency-affiliated companies that have moved into the production business — and this does not sit well with the writers unions. W.M.E., for instance, has an affiliate company called Endeavor Content. It was formed in 2017 and is a distributor of the show “Killing Eve,” as well as a producer of an epic drama coming from Apple TV Plus called “See.” C.A.A. also has an affiliate: Wiip. It is a producer of “Dickinson,” a comedy series that is also part of the Apple rollout scheduled for the fall. United Talent Agency is also getting in on production, with an affiliate called Civic Center Media. It has teamed up with M.R.C., the producer of “House of Cards,” to make new shows.
The agencies have argued that these affiliates are artist-friendly studios that will help writers, because they add to the number of potential buyers — which means more competition for writers’ services and bigger paychecks. The writers have said that agencies have a conflict of interest when they act as studios. How, they ask, can an agent represent you and also be your boss?
Bingo. The short and easy answer is “They can’t.”
3. Florida lawyer suspended for social media incivility! This is unusual: Ashley Ann Krapacs, a Florida lawyer, launched a series of social media attacks on other lawyers and a judge so furious and uncivil that she was suspended in an “emergency” action by the Florida Supreme Court. Florida is perhaps the strictest jurisdiction regarding lawyer civility, and its authority is the mysterious catch-all provision in the ethics rules that prohibits conduct “prejudicial to the administration of justice.” Among her attacks on Fort Lauderdale attorneys, Russell Williams and Nisha Bacchus:
Williams had represented Krapacs’s ex-boyfriend in litigation against Krapacs….Krapacs discussed Williams’ behavior at a proceeding on a LinkedIn post, stating, “Oh, and opposing counsel blatantly flat-out LIED on the record. The judge didn’t even bat an eye.” In other social media postings, Krapacs refereed to Williams as an “old white male attorney” who was harassing her with meritless legal action. She also claimed the judge was part of the “Old Boy’s Club” because he ruled against her. Some of her posts were followed by #metoo, #endsexism, and #holymisogyny.
…Williams sued Krapacs for defamation. Williams hired Bacchus, his former intern, to represent him in the suit. Krapacs then composed derogatory posts against Bacchus…For example, Krapacs posted an Instagram directed at Bacchus, consisting of a Home Alone meme showing a kid pointing a gun at an individual captioned with “when opposing counsel tried to use the same exact trick you saw in your last case.” Krapacs also created YouTube videos calling the defamation lawsuit “25 pages of garbage, lies and fake news” and insulting Williams as “a moron, a sexist and a bully.”
4. Regarding Pete Whateverhis name is: Ann Althouse has an especially snarky post about the Washington Post’s Amber Phillips most recent media hype for Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend. Ann concludes,
Let me restate Phillips’s 5 theories: 1. Buttigieg seems like a Republican. That feels kind of safe and it just might work. 2. He’s openly gay and he’s really really young. That’s exciting. 3. He’s not a Senator. Ugh! All those Senators! 4. You can picture him using his fancy words to flummox Trump.
5. Obama! Dreams of Obama! O! BAAAA! MAAAAAA!
In other words, no substantive reasons at all.
Obama rode to the Presidency with similar unicorns and rainbows rhetoric, which you would think, given his feckless and incompetent (and corrupt, as we continue to discover) Presidency, might make smooth-tongued cultish candidates less popular rather than more popular with voters who take their responsibility as citizens seriously.
There are two ethics issues here. One is that Buttigieg has no business running; he lacks both life and leadership experience, and his most likely effect will be to distract from more legitimate candidates and mess up the nomination process. The second is that the news media, as it did with Trump in 2015, is using a Fad of the Month justification to make Buttigieg better known and momentarily popular without doing it’s job, which is to examine his policies and background beyond his curriculum vitae.
The fact that he is running third to Bernie and Joe can and should be looked on as an insult, given that Joe is a serial harasser in the Age of #MeToo, Bernie is hypocritical socialist without significant executive experience, and both are too old.
We’ve seen other questionable Presidential candidates rise inexplicably and quickly fall to Earth. Ben Carson comes to mind. It is depressing that pure style and tribal membership status is enough to make people get excited about a candidate, but don’t worry: young and gay can’t overcome the fact that the Democrats have painted themselves into an unethical corner. They have to nominate either a “candidate of color” or a woman, even if nobody fitting those categories are strong candidates. The party has been bashing men and whites for years now. The party is stuck, and boy, does it deserve it.
5. The mirror image of letting poor people steal...has been the special leniency granted by prosecutors, judges and juries to the rich and famous, especially misbehaving Hollywood celebrities. The word out of Hollywood is that former “Full House” ingenue Lori Loughlin didn’t plead guilty like her fellow cheating helicopter mom/actress, Felicity Huffman, because she doesn’t believe any jury would send her to jail. We shall see if the “oh, she would never do anything like THAT” bias saves her as it did O.J., Errol Flynn, Robert Blake and so many others.