From The Ethics Alarms “What Were They Thinking?” Files: The Weiner Virus


I don’t understand this kind of thing at all. I didn’t understand it when Anthony Weiner nuked his career; I haven’t understood it in similar cases before and since then. The current episode comes from the world of baseball, which apparently had a vote or something last year that all news about the sport had to be embarrassing until the stars turn cold.

Jared Porter, who labored in the trenches for the Boston Red Sox from 2004-15 (there was obviously another vote that all of the worst stories had to be connected to the team I’ve rooted for like a fool since I was 11) and finally scaled the metaphorical ladder and got his dream job, becoming general manager of the New York Mets last month. But the team discovered yesterday that in 2016, while he was was working for the Chicago Cubs in their front office, Porter sent graphic, uninvited text messages and images to a female sports reporter, includingso-called “dick-pics.”

Mets owner Steve Cohen said Porter was fired this morning. “We have terminated Jared Porter this morning,” Cohen wrote on Twitter. “In my initial press conference I spoke about the importance of integrity and I meant it. There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”

Ya think?

Porter had agreed to a four-year contract after spending the past four seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks as senior vice president and assistant general manager. When he engaged in this per se unethical and almost certainly illegal behavior, he was 35. He was no kid. ESPN, which broke the story yesterday precipitating the Mets action, said the woman was a foreign sportswriter who had moved to the United States to cover Major League Baseball. She met Porter in a Yankee Stadium elevator in June 2016, and she said they spoke briefly about international baseball and exchanged business cards. She never spoke to him again. But Porter started texting her compulsively, first complimenting her appearance, then inviting her to meet him in different cities, and finally asking why she was ignoring him. He sent the first “dick-pic” and after the woman ignored about 60 more texts he sent another. The woman told ESPN that Porter’s harassment was a primary reason that she quit sports journalism and returned to her home country.

What Porter did was workplace sexual harassment by definition, and no sentient male in any workplace in America could possibly not know that in 2016. No decent, ethical male shouldn’t have known that in 1926, if they had texts and selfies then.

This is amusing: ESPN said it contacted Porter last night and he acknowledged the texts, but insisted that the “dick-pics” were not of him. “Those are like, kinda like joke-stock images,” he said.

Oh! Then never mind, that’s okay then!

This is also amusing, or at least ridiculous: Mets president Sandy Alderson said in a statement that “Jared has acknowledged to me his serious error in judgment, has taken responsibility for his conduct, has expressed remorse, and has previously apologized for his actions.” Yyyyyyyyeah, I’d say he made an “error in judgment” all right, if you consider things like, “Hey! I think I’ll see what happens in I put my face under that pile-driver!” errors in judgment. What decisions like that demonstrate is that an individual has no judgment and must never be trusted with more responsibility than is required to put on socks by himself. Remorse? I bet he’s remorseful: he just made himself unemployable for life. As for apologizing, you can’t apologize for what he did. It’s like apologizing to the squished body you just ran over with your truck.

Doing something like this—and yes, I consider Jeffrey Toobin’s conduct in the category of “like this” (Bill Clinton’s too)—is inconsistent with a man rising to the top levels of management in a challenging and competitive field. How can someone have sufficient judgment to succeed in such a field for decades without being hauled off in hancuffs or a strait jacket and not have sufficiently operable ethics alarms installed for the tiniest flicker of the thought, “Gee, I wonder if I should send some naked, erect penis photos to this woman I met at work who barely knows me” not to trigger the intra-cranial message,


thus rattling his teeth?

I just don’t get it. It’s easy to say “He’s sick,” but is he sick or is it the culture that’s sick? Is the Weiner virus lurking out there still, the weird product of the worst of the Sixties, the backlash against feminist excesses, and #MeToo? Jared Porter is ruined and deserves to be ruined, but isn’t this in the category of unethical behavior that should literally never happen?

16 thoughts on “From The Ethics Alarms “What Were They Thinking?” Files: The Weiner Virus

  1. I think it’s both. With the widespread usage of sexting and the notorious Instagram what use to be the trademark of dirty old men flashers and pervs is now common. Sending dick pics to women who haven’t requested it is the equivalent of a cat bringing a dead mouse to a woman’s doorstep and expecting it to be appreciated.

  2. I’d say this lands solidly in the category of Rationalization 23A: the heart wants what it wants.

    St. Thomas Aquinas stated, “Sin darkens the intellect,” and the now-disgraced Fr. Corapi paraphrased that as, “Sin makes you stupid.” There are things that we desire, and at times we give that desire full permission to tell our ability to reason to go jump in a lake. It doesn’t matter who we are, what the ramifications might be, or how much we know better, there are some things that we choose to indulge in that any one else would immediately recognize as career-limiting.

    Having working ethics alarms goes a long way to paring down the number of things we might indulge in. Muting those alarms (say, by taping down the “silence” button so that those alarms NEVER sound (no, we’ve never done that at my work place, or been fined for doing so, really)) on the other hand, makes it more likely we’ll engage in even more destructive activities. The problem is that we have desires, especially sexual desires, and those can be powerful. Once we start to surrender to those desires, it is like we place a mute on the alarm that warns, “You could get caught. You could lose your job/wife/friends/everything.” We don’t want to hear that. We want to hear all those details of how we’ll get what we want.

    If you throw in a Rationalization #11 on top of those desires, it gets even more complicated. Then you have situations where you sleep with your best friend’s wife, get her pregnant, try to convince your best friend to sleep with her to cover your tracks, and then finally have him killed so he can’t claim the baby wasn’t his. Of course, the mere fact you were trying to cover your trail means that in hindsight you recognized that was a bad course of action.

    It is interesting that no matter how many examples we have of other people getting caught doing the things we’re contemplating doing, it doesn’t manage to deter us. Keep in mind, I don’t mean that we all give in to temptation to send nude selfies to near-total strangers, but that we each have our own weakness where we can be especially tempted, and on occasion will succumb to no matter how many reasons exist to do otherwise. I don’t think it is an Anthony Weiner virus, but part of the human condition. This is why we need ethics, logic, rhetoric, and the capacity to say, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.”

    • Agreed, Ryan. This is a human condition problem, except for your example where the friends beds his best friend’s wife, impregnates her and later kills him to cover his tracks – that’s a Shakespearean condition, at best.


      • What kind of heart? I would hazard that it is someone who has an infatuation with his own penis, who is so intent on getting laid that his brain cannot conceive that a woman might not love his penis as much as he does.

        Actually, the more I think about it, there might be another explanation. Looking a brain studies, when someone is sexually aroused, the various portions of the brain work to narrow one’s focus down to one thing, and one thing alone: achieving orgasm. The closer to orgasm, the narrower the focus, and the harder to interrupt what’s going on. If someone has something of an exhibitionist fetish, even if he does not regularly engage in that behavior (perhaps just fantasizes about it), it is possible that upon self-stimulation, and as he focused more and more on just himself, the idea of some minor act of exhibition (especially to a target playing hard-to-get) became more and more arousing, until the benefits of such an activity seemed to far exceed any consequences. So he takes the picture, sends it, orgasms, and then regrets what he did, but maybe still hopes that he’ll get a positive response from the object of his desires.

    • I think in most of those years, it would have been kept under wraps, even by ESPN. Honor among thieves. Again, remember how infuriated Bill Clinton was when he wasn’t given the run of the place as if he were JFK re-incarnate. THAT’s what really, really got ol’ Bill steamed.

  3. He’s been married and divorced. Probably couldn’t keep it zipped except at home with all the attraction he got from women being around baseball. I’d suspect he’s just an immature, over-grown frat boy jock constantly stalking pussy. There are lots of sordidly entitled fairly young guys on the loose out there. I’m not sure they ever really mature into responsible men. They don’t have to.

    Not that I follow baseball anymore, but all these Theo Epstein/Billy Bean disciples/clones are tiresome.

  4. I wonder how these sorts of outrageous things happen. It is either the willful blindness of everyone around or the cowardice of people who know what is happening but don’t want to get blamed for the aftermath (which will happen).

    You think about Jimmy Saville. Johnny Rotten got blackballed for outing the pedophile in the early 80’s. Johnny Rotten was sort of surprised by this because everyone knew what was going on at BBC. Of course it continued for 25 more years. Everyone knew, no one said anything. In a small town, an attorney volunteered to take all the cases of indigent minor boys at no charge. All the judges and lawyers in town knew what was going on, but hey, the city didn’t have to pay for those kid’s legal defense. Parents complained, but for 10 years no one did anything about it until a parent put a recording device in her son’s pants and gave the recording to the media. When the police showed up, the attorney was naked, with 3 naked minor boys and porn playing on the TV. He was out on bond for several years and then they quietly dismissed the charges. At a university, people in the department were gossiping about a professor who was meeting with a female undergraduate researcher in his office every night for hours with the door closed. The professor said the student was having issues at home and school and just needed to talk. After about a month, the student dropped out of school. A few months later, as the professor was trying to meet some serious deadlines for his tenure, his wife divorced him. People felt sorry for him. At his unofficial tenure party, he showed up with the undergraduate, who was 6 months pregnant, and had an engagement ring on her finger. The department could have notified the administration and had his pending tenure denied, but they did nothing.

    All the above situations are why people do things like this. Too many people get away with outrageous things and rarely does anyone do anything about it. Laws and rules only apply to the ‘little people’ in most cases.

  5. I am willing to wager that 99.9% of dick pics sent to women are sent “uninvited”. Having been the recipient of more than a few myself, I just thought it’s what men did; those not sending them having better manners or perhaps more self discipline. I guess I’m a little surprised that y’all are surprised. Maybe that speaks to the differences in the male/female experience in texting, sexting, online dating apps, etc.

    At any rate, after receiving such a pic, I’d usually just roll my eyes and block the sender from my phone.

  6. I can’t think of any time that sending a photo of someone else’s penis makes it better. If it was unsolicited, it’s unwanted, period. If it’s solicited, then sending someone else’s would be deceitful.

    I have my doubts as to whether this is the first and only time he’s done this. How do you avoid this problem when you can’t just block a potential source for information you need for your job?

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