Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/19/2020: They Can’t Handle The Truth

You want warm? I’ll give you warm!

1. That candidacy flamed out quickly! A movement seemed to be underway to have New York governor Andrew Cuomo replace doddering Joe Biden as the Democratic Presidential nominee when his press briefings regarding his state’s handling of the pandemic seemed so much clearer and straightforward than President Trump’s. (Not exactly a high bar, that.) Then the actual consequences of his leadership became apparent. Cuomo had issued a directive on March 25 requiring nursing facilities to accept patients recovering from the Wuhan virus,  and the policy, as many health experts predicted at the time, was a disaster. More than 5,400 New Yorkers have died in nursing facilities from the virus, forcing Cuomo to withdraw his directive last week. Then New York officials admitted to miscounting nursing home Wuhan virus deaths by only counting residents who died from the disease in the facility itself , intentionally omitting the deaths of residents who died after being transferred to a hospital.

The other problem for Cuomo when he was suddenly thrust into the limelight is that the man is an arrogant jerk who can’t seem to hide it, though the news media usually labors mightily to help him try. Over the weekend, however, a reporter asked Cuomo, “Governor, what would you say to families who have suffered losses inside nursing homes? They’re looking for accountability, and they’d like to see justice.”

Imagine the uproar if Donald Trump had given Cuomo’s answer, which ended with a shrug:

Older people, vulnerable people are going to die from this virus. That is going to happen despite whatever you do. Because with all our progress as a society, we can’t keep everyone alive. Despite what everything you do and older people are more vulnerable. And that is a fact. And that is not going to change.

Oh, I think it matters what you do, Governor. For example, deliberately placing people with a highly contagious disease in a crowded facility filled with the kind of people most at risk of dying from the virus pretty much ensures that more of those vulnerable people will die than would have otherwise.

2. The  “Obamagate” Jumbo: All of the information isn’t in, but there’s enough smoke to raise eyebrows at those who say, “Smoke? What smoke?,” be they partisan pundits or Deranged friends and relatives. Washington Post op-ed writer Eugene Robinson has always been a particularly embarrassing example of newsroom diversity at work; he ‘s an obvious hack, and settled into the role of Obama enabler and cheerleader the second Barack arrived on the scene. Robinson’ op-ed today, however, is embarrassing even for him, as he calls the legitimate questions being asked about Obama’s role in the efforts to undermine the Trump Presidency a “smear.”

This is the old, old Obama Teflon trick, and I would have thought nobody would be so foolish as to keep using it: if one criticizes that President’s conduct, it has to be personal (Pssst! That means racist!) because everything Obama did and said was beyond reproach. Sure.

Robinson flags his own lack of seriousness and credibility with one howler after another, like…

  • “Trump is also racist, and on some level it may be impossible for him to accept that a black man had a successful, scandal-free eight years as president while he has presided over a shambolic mess and faces the likelihood of a humiliating defeat.”
  • “Maybe Trump just cannot abide the fact that Obama is a Nobel laureate…”
  • “He cannot compete with Biden on the basis of ideas, integrity or performance…”

How can the Post justify employing a writer who could offer such nonsense? To be fair, I should mention that unlike many of his colleagues, Robinson is probably sincere. He is a true believer; he really does worship Barack Obama, and any facts that don’t support his adulation just bounce of the force field without effect. Of course, that makes him useless as a pundit, except to please similarly biased Post readers.

3. And more...From the other side, “Federalist” editor Mollie Hemingway suggests that if the news media tries to bury the emerging scandal regarding what looks like a coordinated effort to subvert the Trump Presidency, it will have irredeemably doomed itself….

Many of our supposedly smart media elites are dinosaurs who are completely unaware of the asteroid headed right to them. Instead, they are doing their part in an all-hands-on-deck effort to continue pushing out Democratic talking points that got them into the mess. This week, that meant they regurgitated the Democratic claim that the Obama administration’s spying and leaking was “normal” and that to be concerned about it is nothing more than a “distraction.”…

The less deft at pushing out the partisan talking point include MSNBC’s Brian Williams, who literally asked implicated former CIA chief John Brennan if he could “once and for all” explain to people who had heard about the scandal despite his corporation’s best efforts why it was no big deal. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo complained that a biased NBC News piece that itself attempted to wave away the scandal was not biased enough for his liking. The Daily Beast’s Sam Stein begged Axios not to cover the issue lest it help Trump, in the way that covering Hillary Clinton’s email scandal may have helped Trump.

Susan Glasser at the New Yorker suggested that acknowledging the Obama administration’s recorded attempts to undermine a duly elected administration through spying and leaking was a form of political agitprop

…if reporters think they can continue to ignore the very real concerns about politicization of intelligence agencies under Obama, or gaslight Americans by claiming such spying and leaking is normal and even good, they should wake up. Unlike the Russia collusion fiction that was maintained by the Obama administration, holdouts in the Trump administration, and finally the Mueller special counsel posse, the spying and leaking campaign story is coming out with facts. Declassifications, court documents, and investigative reports have all shown the falsehood of the Russia collusion hoax and the truth of the spying scandal. More could be coming.

…The truth is an existential threat to journalists, which is why the more activist among them are scrambling to kill the story and paint it as a distraction. These reporters won book contracts, TV gigs, promotions, and political success by peddling the hoax. They truly can’t be honest about it. But others who weren’t so complicit have a shot here. There is no getting out of this easy, so if there are any reporters who care about their reputation, much less the truth, they should get on the side of truth now.

Robinson is hopeless, but I suspect that Hemingway is correct that some journalists will have the sense to start playing fair. Once again, the news media is trying to prove Lincoln wrong, that you can fool all of the people, or at least enough of them.

Talk about a flat learning curve.

29 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/19/2020: They Can’t Handle The Truth

  1. 1. Well, see what happens when a reporter other than his brother interviews him? We can get real questions asked instead of group hugs.

  2. One of the problem with Clinton’s Email scandal was that it was impossible to have a proper conversation about it. The problems in play were specific, unique and complicated, none of which really played well in the public sphere, full of people who had no reason to know the specifics, details, or nuance. It didn’t help that the left seemed bound and determined to learn as little about classifications as possible, the better with which to claim ignorance, assume ignorance, and wield that ignorance like a club. It also didn’t help that the right generally were bad at making the case, usually because they *were* just as ignorant as the left seemed to think they were.

    There were, and are, legitimate concerns about the Clinton server scandal, specifically on the topics of classifications and FOIA avoidance, but the public is even less interested in learning about it now.

    This however, is perfect. Despite most of the theories the left trotted out for the last few years being thoroughly and obnoxiously stupid, the fact of the matter is that they, themselves, made these arguments. And because Obamagate mirrors The Trump/Russia theory so well, that mirror can be applied to the people that made those theories, and the reflection isn’t kind. It will be hard, if cathartic, at least to me, if, for instance, certain people were forced by reality to admit a paraphrase of “Well, of course this isn’t actually a problem, and I know I said the exact opposite last year, but I was completely full of shit”.

    Of course, the actual utterances will never actually be close to that, we’ll have to read between the lines. But I think this will be fairly common because unlike Clinton’s FOIA foiling, the left has had a vested interest at least pretending like they knew what they were talking about.

    • ~ 4 years some ago, a commenter here (IT guy, I suspect) laid out a (IMO) brilliant, step-by-step, unpacking of all the ethical breaches, security missteps, technical foibles, arrogance, sloppiness, and broken laws that resulted from the communications/actions of the HRC private server.

      Wish I’d had the foresight to archive that for future reference and posterity.

    • Email scandal, my opinion. Myself, federal employee for most of last 25 years, with security clearance. No intent required and there were at least 2 cases prosecuted and found guilty during the same time period of low level military and civilians. The Comey? statement would have fit equally well as the prosecutions summation at the end of a trial. She was gifted with prosecutorial discretion on not being charged and that was another example of the two tiered system of the Rule of Law in this country. I think Trump even pardoned one of the folks early in his term.

      • Even if there was nothing prosecutable (it seems to me there was, but I’m not a legal expert) it’s not hard to look at parts of what happened and point out the failures…. A lack of clarity, a lack of leadership, a lack of competence, a lack of intelligence, and a fundamental, all encompassing, basic lack of honesty. Not every scandal involves a crime and prison time, HRC’s server scandal was a cherry on the “Why I Shouldn’t be President” sundae, and she’s not president.

  3. Journalists, as I recently posted here, were only taught bias by left-wing partisans. They therefore will struggle, at best, to deal with any reality not originating from or taking the leftist perspective.

    All the idiot Eugene Robinson did was puke up the propagandist lies they have all been behind since Obama (the outright traitor) was elected and then after the November 2016 election when their fantasy future world showed signs of imminent crumble. Any facts to the contrary will be smeared as will those who dare speak to, broadcast, or print them.

    Ask Sharyl Attkisson and Catherine Herridge.

  4. 1. Cuomo also said that every human life is precious, which makes me laugh, considering his very liberal views on abortion (even lighting up the ESB to celebrate it) and this callous attitude toward the older and vulnerable. He’s a New York liberal, and that’s not unusual for New York. He’s also got some corruption issues, and that’s not unusual either. He is an arrogant sob, most politicians who get this far are. However, these traits do not a suitable presidential candidate make. Presidents need to be likable, and they need to have some veneer of being decent people. A former co-worker of mine thought he was a hero for “calling Trump out for the filth he is,” but Trump’s weathered a lot more than demands from another politician who’s at least as big a jerkass as he is, and a lot less charismatic. Then there’s that little matter of Cuomo pushing to get Trump’s tax returns and pushing a law that says anyone he pardons can still be tried for crimes in NY. If I were Trump, I’d tell him that the question of further Federal aid to the states is still open, but New York will be dead last to see any such aid, and I will not, under any circumstances, authorize any aid for the state’s own mismanagement issues.

    2. So Eugene Robinson had his nose firmly pressed to Obama’s anus for eight years and still has it there, deeply inhaling his fart gas, that’s no surprise. The Washington Post is also firmly in the anti-Trump camp, and that they would publish what amounts to a love letter to Obama and a hate screed against Trump comes as no surprise. The true believers can have it, no sense trying to convince them otherwise.

    3. The media isn’t trying to fool all the people all the time. You don’t have to fool all of the people all of the time. You just have to fool enough of the people enough of the time to get your way. That’s a much more achievable goal.

  5. I had an off topic question to ask, sorry for the hijacking:

    Did the Democrats feel it necessary to put Joe Biden forward as their candidate because otherwise the basis for the impeachment was meaningless? (Remember, going after Hunter Biden was only a problem because Joe Biden was going to be Trump’s opponent…as long as you had a crystal ball.)

    Or

    Did the Democrats feel it necessary to put Joe Biden forward as their candidate because they knew Trump, as an incumbent, was likely to win any potential match-up and they wanted to put someone out there that they could later trash and say, “Trump only one because we f’d up.” Is this an “own goal” strategy? Lose the battle, but fight another day?

    • I think the Dem power structure thought Biden was their best bet to get the black vote. He was Obama’s VP. They assume white Dems will vote for anyone but Trump but I suspect they fear that unless they generate some Obama-like enthusiasm among black voters, the black vote will simply not show up. I’m not sure Dems run sacrificial lambs. The GOP does (Bob Dole), but not the Dems.

        • Did anyone catch Biden with Anderson Cooper the other day? Cooper was hoping Biden was going to announce that Stacey Abrams would be his running mate but Biden seemed to forget why he and she were there. Watching her face cave from elation to exasperation was TV gold. Simply delicious.

          jvb

        • No doubt in my mind. Unlike the 1944 Democratic National Convention, when it was only the Democrats who knew FDR was picking his sooner-rather-than-later successor, the entire country should realize that, this July, they will be picking the woke minority woman who will take the Oval Office from him when he inevitably dies or cracks completely.

          The only question is whether she will have more or less time than Harry Truman did.

          If you wouldn’t vote for her for President, don’t vote for her for Vice-President.

          • I find the thought of what appears to me to be an extremely juvenile and inexperienced Stacey Abrams in the White House terrifying.

    • The Democrats don’t really do that. They haven’t yet admitted they ran the wrong candidate in 2016. Their strategy is to keep Trump an illegitimate President should he win which means that they will go for voter fraud (which, according to them, doesn’t exist) or more foreign collusion or…I dunno…space aliens.

      Of course, it would be perfectly in character for them to accuse him of overkill in battling the virus so that he would benefit from being a “wartime President”.

  6. 2. and 3. I think these journalists and the John Brennans and Jim Comeys are already in too deep. There’s no turning back. The shore is way out of sight. What on earth are they going to do when Trump wins re-election?

  7. Re: Nos. 2 and 3. Obama and the Slobbering Media.

    Ol’ Eugene sure does love him some Barack. Yes, he does. So does most of the elite media. Barack gives an online college commencement speech and you would think the heavens parted, the White Dove descended upon the world and peace was sown throughout the land. Pundits were declaring that his speech displaced the Sermon on the Mount in terms of breadth, width, scope, depth, and all around good talkyness.

    Then, we get a new Trump scandal. That’s right. A new one. Ready for it? Here it is:

    Trump won’t host the traditional unveiling of the Office Barack Obama Presidential Portrait, the poopyhead that he is. Check out this Business Insider article:

    https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-refusing-to-unveil-obama-portrait-at-the-white-house-2020-5?fbclid=IwAR3sKpOTW1kfzcDZRssS1cAqTfMOTdHw_h1tE-XTY2zrVWgHS2lvrUnw1Kw

    I loved this line from the article, written without any sense of irony or reflection:

    “Obama has generally avoided the limelight since leaving the White House. In the rare instances he’s criticized Trump, the former president has often done so without saying his successor’s name.”

    Now, I always assumed that these traditions were important because they showed continuity of the Presidency as an institution and the Nation as a thought experiment, not necessarily the person: “You may not agree with the current President but he/she is the President so let’s rally around the Presidency for the good of the country.” Right? But, Obama violated most post-presidency traditions anyway. I don’t recall George Bush the Younger criticizing St. Barack after Bush left office. Clinton did it a few times about Younger but not with vitriol. Obama, with his razor/scalpel rhetoric he so famous for, cuts at Trump all the time. Obama still doesn’t realize that Trump, for all of his faults, has a better read on the culture than Obama would ever have. It also shows that Obama is livid that Trump has undone most of Obama’s legacy with the same Executive Orders Obama utilized to create it.

    And St. Barack wonders why Trump holds him in such low regard.

    jvb

    • I find it hard to believe he’s tried to avoid the limelight, but, if he has, the media hasn’t let him. We’ve never lost the dreamy Barack Obama articles about how classy, fashionable, perfect he and Michelle are.

      Which is why Barack Obama gets away with holding a high school commencement ceremony hostage to a political rant that would have Trump vilified from sea to shining sea. Bush the Younger said that Obama “deserves my silence”. Too bad Obama didn’t take a page from his wife’s book (and W’s) and “go high”.

    • Ann Althouse on Robinson’s opinion piece:

      “I’m reading Eugene Robinson over at WaPo:

      “‘President Trump’s increasingly frantic attempts to smear former president Barack Obama reek of panic. As disgusting as these efforts are, they are likely to backfire, perhaps in spectacular fashion.’

      “Maybe there are readers at WaPo who lap this stuff up. They want Trump to be going nuts and they’d like to see his attacks backfire spectacularly. But there’s no way an interpretation like this could influence Trump. He’s not going to think: I’d better calm down and realize that attacks on Obama will only hurt me. It makes much more sense for him to interpret a column like that to mean that his attacks are effective.”

      jvb

    • Obama also repeatedly blamed HIS predecessor for what went wrong in his administration, once considered low and undignified by any POTUS. Now Trump has done the same, and the media is shocked.

  8. 1. Cuomo

    Remember when Super Mario demanded Trump send him more ventilators, and spent day after day railing against Trump’s failure to do so?

    In retrospect, that would make a great campaign commercial — for Trump.

    2. Obamagate

    I hate that we have to put “-gate” after every scandal. That alone makes me want to ignore this, even if there does turn out to be actual “there” there vis-a-vis the former president’s involvement.

    As to Robinson, I can’t add anything to what you wrote. But it does make me wonder what would happen if irrefutable evidence of a real scandal, like… Fast and Furious, or the IRS scandal, or Solyndra, or… oh, wait.

    If a scandal falls on a sold-out news media, does it make a sound?

    3. Media dooming itself

    Jack said:

    From the other side, “Federalist” editor Mollie Hemingway suggests that if the news media tries to bury the emerging scandal regarding what looks like a coordinated effort to subvert the Trump Presidency, it will have irredeemably doomed itself….

    You mean it hasn’t doomed itself already? I mean, if it isn’t doomed by now, with the constant cheering for one side and false/gotcha reporting on the other, how is this going to do it all by itself?

    I don’t get it.

    • I generally agree about the -gates, but don’t you think the name is pointed in this case? Watergate was about a President who used his powrer and cronies to try to illegally undermine a political opponent.

  9. I guess that’s a good point, but it’s just so overdone I can’t like it, or even agree with it. This, to me, is potentially more serious than Watergate depending on what Obama knew, and when.

    It is conceivable, although I’m skeptical, that Obama deliberately set in motion a coup d’etat designed to continue past his own presidency, with the intent to undo an election even after he left office. That makes Watergate look like mere dirty politics.

    If what I just described is anywhere near accurate, it was arguably treasonous conduct (although, as we all know, not actual treason!). I really don’t believe it is, just because… well, it sounds too crazy, and such conspiracies can never be kept secret.

    So I oppose the -gate prefix because of overuse, no matter how apropos it might be.

  10. “Trump is also racist, and on some level it may be impossible for him to accept that a black man had a successful, scandal-free eight years as president while he has presided over a shambolic mess and faces the likelihood of a humiliating defeat.”

    Perhaos you can enumerate the scandals of this “scandal-free” administration.

    How can the Post justify employing a writer who could offer such nonsense?

    Remember that the Post ran a pro-segregation editorial.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-to-make-sure-racism-cant-win-on-college-campuses/2017/05/10/0e9596be-3584-11e7-b373-418f6849a004_story.html

    At AU, African American and other students demanded a “sanctuary space” be established for minority students at a campus cafeteria; a policy granting extensions for final exams to minority students; and an open-door policy for outside groups such as the NAACP to investigate hate crimes and racial incidents at the university.

    Eager to ease tensions, administrators granted those demands, and have gone the extra mile, or miles, by agreeing to additional nighttime patrols and racial-sensitivity training for students; offering a $1,000 reward for information that helps to identify the banana vandal, whose blurry image appears on security camera videos; and contracting with a prominent historian of American race relations, Ibram X. Kendi, to set up an anti-racism center on campus.

    That’s a smart, proactive agenda, one that might serve as a blueprint for other universities facing similar problems.

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