Saturday Ethics Nightcap,12/12/2020: Bad Journalism, Bad Governors, Bad Santas


That’s just ginger ale, in case you’re wondering…

1. “Nah, there’s no outrageous, flagrant, shameless mainstream media bias!” April Ryan, arguably the worst, most unethical, most biased and most unprofessional of CNN’s reporters (but it’s such a lively competition), attacked the confidential sources responsible for leaking a recording of Joe Biden making weaselly comments about his stance toward the “defund the police” movement. Ryan demanded to know who was responsible for allowing the embarrassing comments to be made public, because, as we all should know by now, the job of the media isn’t to report the facts, but to empower and protect Democrats. (She didn’t come out and say the last part, but after her performance over the last four years, she doesn’t have to.) Jonathan Turley appropriately nailed this one:

The fact is that Ryan was just stating what has become the approach of many in the media. As we recently discussed, we are moving dangerously close to a de facto state media with the cooperation of Big Tech companies.  Ryan believes that it is outrageous to rely on unapproved material if it is critical of Joe Biden (despite her use of such material for the last four years against Trump)…CNN has not expressed any disagreement with Ryan’s view of the new journalism.

2. Santa Claus Ethics: If you can’t do any better than these Santas, you shouldn’t even try. But they do provide one reason to be grateful for social distancing. I think my favorite is this one…


3. Democrats think the Supreme Court justices are just partisan puppets, the President thinks the Supreme Court justices are just partisan puppets, the public thinks the Supreme Court justices are just partisan puppets. but the Supreme Court justices are not just partisan puppets.

The court, in a brief unsigned order, held yesterday that Texas lacked standing to pursue its lawsuit that had asked the court to throw out the presidential election results in four battleground states, saying it “has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections.” Two conservative justices, Alito and Thomas, dissented from the standing argument, but also suggested the suit was less than persuasive.

Trump then tweeted that the Supreme Court “really let us down” by rejecting the lawsuit. Who’s “us”?

4. You know what? I don’t let elected officials tell me what I “should” do, especially ridiculous elected officials like my state’s governor, Ralph Northam of blackface fame. In an announcement this week, he told residents of Virginia that they “should” wear masks inside and outside, shouldn’t leave their houses between midnight and 5am, and should avoid groups of more than ten individuals even with social distancing.

If Virginia passes a constitutional law, that’s a different matter. But I don’t trust Northam, I have no reason to respect him, I’m smarter than he is, and I’ll decide what I “should” do. He, in contrast, can bite me.

5. “Nah, there’s no outrageous, flagrant, shameless mainstream media bias!…The Sequel:

This would be unbelievable, if we weren’t so used to it:

NBC headline

29 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics Nightcap,12/12/2020: Bad Journalism, Bad Governors, Bad Santas

  1. 3. Alito and Thomas believe that SCOTUS can’t refuse to hear any case where they have original jurisdiction, the other seven rightly understand that it would lead to grandstanding red and blue state AGs suing each other non-stop for the headlines, sucking up all of the already overworked court’s time.

    • Given my understanding of the case, I think Alito and Thomas are correct.

      Texas filed a motion to be heard, right?

      It did not file an initial complaint, right?

      If the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in such a case, it is the place for the dispute to be heard. It is not in the Court’s discretion to decline to hear a case it is charged with hearing.

      Of course, that would not obviate the Standing issue, which is what Thomas and Alito said.


      • I believe he’s reading the same thing I am.

        The NBC headline that says DOJ is investigating corruption charges against Hunter Biden, and in the sub-headline it says that President Trump and his allies made ‘unfounded and baseless’ charges of corruption against Hunter Biden.

        Yeah, that quote seems appropriate. Clearly NBC had to cover their eyes in order to write such a thing.

      • Right now, midway through Wells’ Raksura set. Finished the longer Murderbot. Read A Promised Land</i), some short Tim Powers stories and re-read Dinner at Deviant’s Palace. May finish up McCulloch’s Path between the Seas (put it down a while back when I got bored with it…I know how it ends 😉 ). Never read A Clockwork Orange</i), so that's teed up.

        One of those claims is untrue.


        • Glad you asked!

          Rereading Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books.
          Reading a new author (to me), Daniel Abraham’s The Long Price 4 book series — halfway through volume 2 and not too bad so far.
          I enjoyed ‘Path Between the Seas’ along with a lot of other books by McCulloch.
          Reading Newt Gingrich’s thriller series with Major Brooke Grant. I strongly recommend the Gettysburg trilogy he & William Forstchen wrote, as well as the two book Pearl Harbor set. Sometimes you get a collaboration where the two authors together are much better than they are individually. Gingrich & Forstchen are such a pair, as were Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle (who I also heartily recommend).
          Also working on Nora Robert’s post-apocalyptic trilogy ‘The One’. The first book was really good, fixing to read the second. Roberts is one of those rare authors who write a huge number of books and do a good job with them (she probably writes at least half a dozen novels a year).

          My family gets together for Christmas each year and we order 15-20 books that all three of us are interested in, and jointly give them to all three of us. Just got in that big shipment, so my post Christmas reading time is set.

          • Actually, Diego, I was speaking to Valky. I had promised, some time back, not to kill her if she gave me some reading suggestions.

            You can have the same deal, though. I’m familiar with some of what you mentioned, but not others…I’ll check on those. Thanks.

            Good luck on your family reading. My sister, for some reason, once gave me a James Patterson novel. I still sort of hold a grudge against her for that.

        • 40% of the way through The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow, so far it’s everything The Ten Thousand Door of January promised but didn’t deliver. Before that was the surprisingly good Ninth house by Leigh Bardugo and next, not sure, maybe I’ll finally get around to reading Unconquerable Sun.

            • Stay away from the Ten Thousand Doors of January. So many people gushed and I’m at a complete loss as to why. It tries to be fantasy or magical realism tied into a bit of historical fiction about a mixed-race girl of privilege learning how fragile the privilege she holds really is in a time where being either of those things makes you second-class and being both… well.

              The whole thing is muddled and contained very long stretches that–if I’m being charitable–I’d call boring. 60% of the way through I was still waiting for the story to really get moving and I’m someone who doesn’t mind a novel that takes its time.

              The Once and Future Witches while also dealing with issues of magic race, and gender–suffragettes!– manages to keep things interesting–and magical–the whole way through. No long stretches of I have no fucks to give.

              If you like that sort of thing, if not then Uncouqurable Sun is gender-flipped Alexander The Great innnnnn spaaaaaaaace!

  2. 3. You asked who is “us”. Well, for about 75 million people who wanted their day court to have every court save one refuse to even hear the complaints about changing election law improperly.

    However, the anger of those 75 million should be directed at the Republican legislators in those states who failed to fight when their constitutionally prescribed powers were unilaterally usurped by governors, secretaries of state and election officials.

    Had any one of those legislators in PA, GA, MI or others joined the suit the issue of standing would take on a whole new meaning.

    Personally, I believe Kavanaugh and Barrett succumbed to the fear they would be cast forever as Trump lackeys while Roberts wants to stay on the good side of the cocktail party circuit. I have no opinion on Gorsuch. There is no way to say decisions are not swayed by partisanship when you can anticipate the way some jurists will decide.

    Like elections SCOTUS decisions come down to winning the independents.

    We are no longer a nation of laws not men because some men are treated differently under the law.

    Perception is reality.

    • I think it’s even simpler than that – the court didn’t want to get involved in this. You might have something there with if the legislators had taken action, but I think if any of them wanted to they would have. I DO think this is going to result in a major cleanup of the election process in GA, where a GOP governor and legislature can still take action. I have zero faith in the other states, for the moment. However, Tom Wolf is term-limited out in 2022 and the odds are probably good the next PA governor will be from the GOP, so hopefully they can clean it up before 2024. Not sure about the other two.

    • So like with a couple of months flooding the courts with every rant and bit of innuendo we could think of and we could have had the email lady instead of Orange Mussolini?

      I’m sure you would have taken that well.

      • You know I find it interesting that all the people who call Trump and called Bush fascists and dictators — well, they are all still here to continue doing so.

        None of those people have been sent to concentrations camps, nor disappeared which certainly is what dictators do to their opponents. I’d be willing to bet that if I looked in my Yellow Pages for the address of my local concentration camp, I’d come up empty.

        I wonder why that is.

      • You lose any shred of credibility when you suggest Trump acts like Mussolini. Fascist want control over everyone’s lives and use the corporatists to make people knuckle under the government’s iron fist. Such comparisons are a complete fiction and you are simply a shill for the authoritarian regime. You are not even worth a response.

  3. Of course, neither side would think of the SCOTUS as partisan puppets if they hadn’t ACTED like an unelected super-legislature for close to fifty years. You can thank FDR for that, who, although he couldn’t pack the court, did manage to bully them into going his way more often, then stuffed the bench with his own people. The left has been counting on the SCOTUS to keep giving them what they wanted for all that time, and has never forgiven the institution for Bush v. Gore. I think it is CRITICAL that the GOP hold at least one of the seats in GA, otherwise I think the court is in very real danger of direct attack.

    • In large extent I would agree about Georgia, but I feel the Court is in a lesser danger than many other things. I’m only talking about the Supreme Court here, but with such narrow majorities in both houses of Congress, I think there may be enough legislatures who have a modicum of historical knowledge and respect for this country that they likely will not be able to pass a law to pack the Supreme Court. Perhaps the Democrats should listen to, oh, Senator Joe Biden when he addressed this issue back in the 80s.

      However, and especially concerning the other threats that people like Schumer have made, much much better for all if the GOP retains control.

  4. #4 So now a Governor can enact a curfew? Says who?

    I was dangerously close to walking outside and standing in the street for a minute or so after midnight last night, just to say “Bite me.”


    • It’s all those evil Covid germs that wait until after 10pm to pounce. You could be risking your life to venture out onto the streets!

      Perhaps the germs have a late dinner before venturing out to infect the unwary passerby….

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