Notice Of Retraction: No, Nora O’Donnell Did NOT Use A Photo of A Trump Rally To Falsely Show Enthusiastic Hispanic Biden Supporters [UPDATED]

Item #2 in today’s warm-up was wrong, false, and based on bad information that was, I believe, deliberately posted by others on the web to deceive. As you can see by viewing the entire context of the report, O’Donnell and CBS did nothing unethical or misleading.  This screenshot

..shows a chyron that had been up  through several video clips, and at the second the screen above appeared, the voiceover referenced Trump’s Hispanic support.

There is no way anyone who had watched the segment could have concluded that the shot was intended to fool viewers into thinking those were Biden supporters.  The claims to the contrary were deliberate disinformation, and they hooked me, in part because of confirmation bias, as I believe the news media is capable of even the most dastardly lies in their campaign to mislead the public, and in part because I didn’t think anyone would claim something this easily checked  if it wasn’t true.

Well, @AZ GOP LD 25, a ” Trump Victory Field Organizer Realtor/Owner of Tracy DuCharme Group” did: she’s a liar. Then The Last Refuge, a right wing website did, and its false story was picked up by The Citizens Free Press, the news aggregator.

Then I spread the lie further.

Careless, and stupid.

I apologize to readers, Nora O’Donnell, who was very nice to me when I was a guest on her show, and CBS. Much thanks is due to mermaidmary99, who sent me the video above.


I wanted to get that up as soon as possible, but I have more to say.

  • I can’t check the veracity of every story I discuss here. I just can’t; I don’t have the time, and I don’t have the resources. I know that’s a real weakness of Ethics Alarms, just as I can’t  cover all the important ethics issues that need to be covered and analyzed.  All I can do is the best I can, and in this case, I didn’t even do that.
  • I hate deliberately false stories, even supposedly humorous “hoaxes” when they are not obviously gags. I don’t forgive sources that fool me, either. I am inclined to trust people. I take it personally when someone exploits that trust, and by doing so cause me to disappoint those who trust me.
  • This particular “gotcha!” emerged from the muck of Twitter. That should have tipped me off. I would seriously consider firing an employee who set off a chain of misleading stories with an irresponsible tweet like hers. Twitter should ban her for using Twitter to perpetrate a fraud. There have to be consequences for using social media like that.
  • The Citizens Free Press has has a good few months as it has captured some of the Drudge Report’s readers who have become disgusted with the recent anti-Trump tilt of the formerly favorite news aggregator of the Right. I had not been convinced of CFP’s legitimacy; for one thing, its headlines are too often sophomoric: “CBS News is so busted…” was the link to the fake story about O’Donnell. It’s 9:30 pm now, and the false story is still up. That’s it for me: I won’t be using Citizens Free Press again.
  • But then, who can I trust? There’s no news source that both covers a wide range of topics and issues and is objective enough to rely upon.
  • Finally, this happened in part because I was rushed. As the post’s heading suggested, I was dealing with an unusual number of crises and distractions from the moment I got out of bed. One of my ethics rules that I emphasize in trainings is that pressure and haste lead to unethical conduct.

It’s easy to explain why this true; obviously it isn’t as easy to avoid the problem.

10 thoughts on “Notice Of Retraction: No, Nora O’Donnell Did NOT Use A Photo of A Trump Rally To Falsely Show Enthusiastic Hispanic Biden Supporters [UPDATED]

  1. Thanks for being honest and forthright in addressing the issue. It is a refreshing change from many of the media outlets that broadcast falsehoods and never even issue retractions, let alone one just as prominent as the original story.

    Just another reason this is the first blog I read every day.

  2. IF EVERYONE was as committed to truth as you are, we’d have a trusted press, and better relationships and people would think twice about posting fake crap.

    Maybe it’s GOOD this happened. Now everyone can see how EASY it is to offer a sincere apology and take full responsibility and make it right!

    Since very few do, maybe it will serve as an example! Glad I could be of help!

    • Steve-O
      The smartest thing Trump could do would be to say that any selection of a new justice will occur after the election. That will undermine the Dems argument that he is an authoritarian dictator and will force the never Trumpers to vote for him and incentivize anyone who leans even the slightest bit right to vote for Trump. Any Republicans that vote against him will carry with them the blame that they had the opportunity to ensure the makeup of the court but did not do so. Trump’s second term may only last 4 years but the Supreme Court appointment will be hung around their necks for generations if Trump loses.

      With that said I believe that nation’s focus should be on the Ginsburg family loss and not the politics at this time. There will be loads of time for the politics in a few weeks.

  3. I’d say “nobody’s perfect” to this but that would be an unethical rationalization.

    That being said your quick correction is purposeful because at some point we all will make a mistake like this. Being accountable and making it right is the ethical response.

    You remain an excellent example.

  4. You issued a correction at the earliest possible opportunity.
    A full correction and explanation.

    I disagree with you on two points. It was not stupid. It was only mildly careless. Moral luck works both ways. The consequence was disproportionate to the carelessness – and the consequence wasn’t that severe, just one false turd in a sewer.

    How can I condemn someone for an honest and only mildly careless goof when I’ve committed the same?

    You’ll try not to do it again. What more could anyone reasonably ask?

    • Well said! He innocently shared it believing his source was accurate. Nothing wrong with that. And when you learned it was incorrect, you immediately fixed it! And…


      Pointing out you were wrong wasn’t easy. Why? Most people get defensive, and act like jerks. You didn’t.

      There’s so much good to be learned with how you handled it. 🙂

  5. It was important for you not to only retract, but to explain why you were wrong in the first place.

    The other path leads to things like using forged memos, or defaming teenage boys, or saying that “peaceful protests intensified”, or that “protests were fiery yet peaceful.”

    I suspect that the journalists and editors who did the above did not start out as lying propagandists. They likely started out as simply wanting to share and defend the truth in the world. But when their worldview was challenged, they took unethical shortcuts and excused them.

    And thus they slowly fell, like Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars franchise.

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