1. Feel the restraints on free expression that inconveniences ideological agendas tightening? I do… A couple of friends and commenters confirm that Zscaler, a service many companies use to monitor and block employee traffic on the web, blocks my ethics blog as containing “Pornography, Adult Content, Nudity, Hacking, Illegal, Racism, Hate or Violence, Phishing.” Nice. So good for my reputation and business too.
2. It’s past time to conclude that no polls are trustworthy, and no one who cites polls as evidence regarding public opinion is trustworthy. All week long I’ve been reading progressive blogs and sites telling us that the President’s support as measured by the polls is “collapsing.” Then today I see the latest Gallup survey claims that 49% of adults approve of the President’s performance, up from 43% two weeks ago. That would be the highest yet according to Gallup, if you trust any of these things now. I don’t, and you shouldn’t.
3. Press secretary ethics. This is not the way to build trust. Kayleigh McEnany, the President’s fourth press secretary, began her first press conference by promising, “I will never lie to you, you have my word on that.” That’s a big promise, especially when one holds the job of a paid liar, which is essentially what a press secretary is, and, to varying extents, has to be. A press secretary for Donald Trump, moreover, is in a permanent conflict of interest. The President is fully capable of making two mutually exclusive assertions at the same time. For him, the Jumbo (“Elephant? What elephant?”) is routine.
McEnery is presumably smart; she’s a Harvard Law graduate. Legal debate skills should assist her in double-talking, denying and spinning. She should be smart enough, however, not to make a promise like that, when she is about to embark on a spinning routine Ed Sullivan would have loved.
Discussing the sexual harassment accusation against Biden by Tara Reade, she stated that the President has “always told the truth on these issues.” Like with Stormy Daniels? Come on. McEnany then said the Mueller investigation exonerated President Trump. She’s a lawyer; she knows damn well that not finding evidence of a crime doesn’t exonerate anyone. In discussing the developing story about the possible prosecutorial misconduct toward Michael Flynn, McEnany stated that one of the FBI notes recently uncovered said, “Quote, ‘We need to get Flynn to lie,’ quote, and ‘get him fired.’” She was paraphrasing, which would be fine, but if you paraphrase, you cannot say “quote.” The note really said, “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
It is fair to say that reporters now know the new press secretary will lie to them.
4. Yeah, you can’t trust private equity firms either. In November, the private equity firm Ethos Capital announced it was buying the company that owns every .org domain on the web for an estimated billion dollars. Nonprofits, which make up the majority of the .org domains, signed a petition created by the National Council of Nonprofits demanding that the deal be blocked. There are about 10 million .org domains on the internet. The petition signers were concerned that this purchase could result in increases in domain prices and censorship.
Now, the purchase has been blocked. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) board announced it would veto the sale, saying “it was the right thing to do.”
5. You wonder why journalism ethics have rotted? This is why journalism ethics have rotted. Mark Tapscott reports that journalism professors have signed a letter to the chiefs of ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and MSNBC demanding “that the live, unedited airing of the Daily White House Task Force Briefings stop….Because Donald Trump uses them as a platform for misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19, they have become a serious public health hazard—a matter of life and death for viewers who cannot easily identify his falsehoods, lies, and exaggerations.”
They also ask that “no speech, rally, or press conference involving the president be covered live anymore. The risk of passing along bad information and harmful advice is too great. News organizations need to attend carefully to what he says and only share information that they can independently verify. By asking themselves ‘is what he said something we should be amplifying?’ news organizations can offset the damage these briefings are producing.”
Tapscott writes, correctly and with appropriate indignation,
“That is a demand for censorship, pure and simple. Damn the First Amendment. Damn the people’s right to know. Damn transparency and accountability in government. Journalists these professors trained will decide what the rest of us will be told about Trump… This is elitism of the worst sort. Sure enough, all of the “best” schools are represented, including Harvard, Yale, Penn, Northwestern, NYU, Southern Cal, Fordham, Jefferson’s UVA, Michigan, Missouri, and so on…
Were it my decision, every one of these people now in positions of authority in the education and preparation of America’s journalists would be fired today. People who advocate censorship should be kept as far away as possible from journalism classrooms.”
I agree. As for the argument that Tapscott is hypocritically calling for the censorship of contrarian professors, it is flawed. A journalism teacher who advocates censorship is like a medical school professor who teaches that doctors should let bad people die. The professor has a right to the opinion, but no right to engage in educational malpractice.