Sunday Ethics Reflections, 10/30/2022: What’s Going On Here?

I have no idea if the various scandalous theories about the Paul Pelosi beating have any truth in them, but I will say this: the Democrats and members of the media that immediately leaped to the Gabby Giffords replay that Republican rhetoric seeded the attack richly deserve to be humiliated, which they will be if the incident turns out to be a gay hook-up gone wrong. The Axis immediately defaulted to exploiting the incident before they had the facts—if they are settled, I haven’t seen them— and now there at least appears to be some chance that the whole thing was misrepresented. The key takeaways ethically are 1) leaping to use the attack as a political weapon was indefensible and 2) if we had ethical journalists, reporters from major outlets would be digging to find the facts. Right now, it is only the fringes of the conservative media and blogosphere that even appears curious. Why did Paul Pelosi refer to his attacker as “a friend”? Why wasn’t there evidence of a break-in? Is there security footage, and what does it show? Glenn Greenwald tweeted, “Many journalists see the glaring questions and evidentiary holes in the Paul Pelosi narrative. But they also know how important that narrative is to Dems right before the mid-terms. So why stick their heads up, provoke a liberal Twitter mob, and be branded? That’s the climate.”

Well, it’s an unethical climate.

1. How hard should we be on Eric Burton? The Texas native and the founding member of The Black Pumas took the field at Minute Maid Park to start off Game #1 of the World Series with his rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and botched the lyrics. This has happened to many more prominent singers before, most famously Robert Goulet, in a performance he was mocked for until the end of his career. Having botched lyrics I know cold in a public performance myself (more than once, in fact), I am inclined to be kind and forgiving, but his rendition was also pitchy, and just didn’t sound very good. To my ear, it seemed that he was more interested in showing off his voice and riffs than actually doing the song justice, and that song deserves respect.

2. Oooh, Ann Althouse, increasingly impatient with the biased mainstream media, scooped me on two examples of slanted commentary. First, she justly criticized Maureen Dowd for taking “a ridiculously cheap shot” at Donald Trump, in her column, “The Pelosis and a Haunted America”

Dowd said that Trump saluting the now departed rock-and-roll great Jerry Lee Lewis but not sending his sympathies to Paul Pelosi was classless, and Ann replies,”There is no general principle that if you talk about anything, you must talk about everything in proportion. It’s a fake principle relied on only to criticize people you want to criticize anyway….you can see why Trump’s best choice was to say nothing. He’s not going to tone down his rhetoric. Of course, he is criticized for saying nothing.”


Then in assessing the Washington Post’s coverage of the Pelosi attack in “Alleged assailant filled blog with delusional thoughts in days before Pelosi attack”, she says,

WaPo casually defames Jordan Peterson:

In late August, DePape became engrossed in the decision by Twitter to ban Jordan Peterson for his posts about transgender people. The Canadian psychologist turned conservative podcaster had once said that being transgender was comparable to “satanic ritual abuse.”

Jordan Peterson did NOT say that “being transgender was comparable to ‘satanic ritual abuse.'” Peterson compared the belief that one is transgender to the belief that one has been a victim of satanic ritual abuse. He did not suggest that transgender people are like satanic abusers! He was discussing the phenomenon of “social contagion.”…

DePape also misunderstood Peterson, but not as badly as the Washington Post.

Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!

3. Here’s an inadequate news report with an slanted headline, from 538: “Overturning Roe Has Meant At Least 10,000 Fewer Legal Abortions.” I’d like to know if not being snuffed out by those 10,000 abortions will result in 10,000 human beings having a chance to live. Talk about burying the lede…this aspect of the matter never surfaces in the 538 story at all.

4. More speech-chilling from the Left’s allies. Wyoming Republican congressional candidate Harriet Hageman received a letter from researchers at North Dakota State University telling her they are “monitoring” her Twitter account and will collect her tweets using “toxic language.”

“Dear Harriet Hageman, We are two independent researchers at North Dakota State University,” the emailed letter informed her. “We are not affiliated with any partisan group in any way. We are writing to let you know we are conducting research on the use of toxic language on Twitter by candidates, specifically how use of such language affects election outcomes. Just before the election, we will write a post on the Monkey Cage blog of The Washington Post that discusses our findings regarding patterns in the use of toxic language.”

“Bite me” would be the appropriate response, but Hageman, who defeated Rep. Liz Cheney in the GOP primary and is expected to win her seat, had a good one too: “I’ll tell you what’s ‘toxic’ — trying to freeze free speech with ominous warnings that ‘we’re watching you’ from pointy-headed college professors and the leftist corporate media,”

Daniel Pernstein, one of the authors of the email, explained that his research team has been studying“toxic language” on Twitter across party lines. “We have attempted to equally monitor candidates across parties, but, because Democratic party candidates use Twitter more than Republicans, our sample includes more Democrats than Republicans.”

Then do it, and be damned. “We’re watching you” warnings distort what is being studied. These resaerchers haven’t heard of the “observor effect” and the The Heisenberg uncertainty principle?

20 thoughts on “Sunday Ethics Reflections, 10/30/2022: What’s Going On Here?

  1. Regarding Pelosi, ABC news said that the suspect carried zipties, in an eirie parallel to the Jan 6. They really did. Twice even, to make sure you caught the connection.

    I for one am shocked, shocked by this damning parelell.

    Less absurd, the attacker allegedly called for Nancy, which, which Jan 6 rioters also did. Still….

    • My AOL headline: AP source: Pelosi attacker carried zip ties, in Jan. 6 echo.

      They are going to double down on this and no questions will be asked until after the midterms. Then the facts will be buried.

      • They are going to double down on this and no questions will be asked until after the midterms. Then the facts will be buried.

        Yeah, it’s sad really, they (Pelosi’s and Dems) will use all their influence and power to keep the full facts of this incident from being revealed.

        If, by chance, the actual complete facts of the incident did emerge, I’d be more surprised than when Trump won the 2016 election.

      • Hilarious. What a massive, multi-pronged coverup is underway. Merrick Garland must have gotten a phone call at five in the morning to issue that warning.

      • Yep. I get that Pelosi was on his underwear because it was late, but the alleged assailant? And when Pelosi called the police (you know, the ones that weren’t defunded) he told them them the assailants name was “Dave”. There’s a while lot more going on.


  2. I’ll say it again, I don’t think narrative will sway a single voter. Those who may buy into this (or pretend to do so) were already voting for the Dims. No GOP voter will care, and the independent voters have many more important issues/concerns on their minds and have for the most part, especially after the last 2-3 yrs, opened their eyes to the lies and propaganda of most of the MSM, especially those we used to respect and trust.

    • Oh, I agree completely. But if the narrative falls apart, and it might, the Axis will look ridiculous, dishonest, and desperate. They literally can’t win with this. But they will try anyway, because it’s all they have.

      • Some mainstream media outlet will refuse to cover for the House Majority Leader and the jig will be up. She’ll be Barney Franked and run out of Congress in disgrace by some of the younger Dem congress people. AOC will be minority leader.

  3. #1:
    Also a bit of journalistic incompetence by the right. While (understandably) mocking Burton for his flubs, the author gives us this gem: ” ‘What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last streaming,’ he (Burton) sang. For the unaware, nowhere in ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is ‘streaming’ ever mentioned.”
    Of course, “streaming” is the last word in the fourth line.

  4. #2: Our favorite bat-out-of-hell and rapist-enabler, Mrs. Clinton, was fact checked on Twitter by Elon, himself on this.
    Using the pic and info from this LA Times article, , @HillaryClinton tweeted:

    “The Republican Party and its mouthpieces now regularly spread hate and deranged conspiracy theories. It is shocking, but not surprising, that violence is the result. As citizens, we must hold them accountable for their words and the actions that follow.”

    Elon responded:
    “There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye” with links to other info.

  5. And yet, watching the Real Clear Politics projections, every two or three days, it seems like the forecasts for the GOP go up another seat, or two, or three.

    What we hear from politics watchers is that if there is a wave election, the tide turns sharply the last two weeks before the election. I cannot help but think that that is what we’re seeing.

    And honestly, I hope so and I hope I am not just projecting. If Biden were a retailer, he could be sued for bait and switch advertising and actions. Someone who campaigned as a ‘uniter’ has done nothing but divide us further and gin up hatred. They deserve to be squashed.

    • And yet…the sainted 538 still claims that the Democrats will hold the Senate. Either it knows something nobody else does, or bias has made it stupid or it’s deliberately lying to keep it’s party energized.

      • After 2016, 538 lost any kind of sainted status. The site only had it in the first place because they got everything right with regard to the 2012 election. After that they have not achieved anything like that, and it is increasingly looking like that was a fluke. The Senate is still going to be a very near run thing, but the wind is definitely behind the Republicans. However, it has only recently gotten behind them and the question is will it be enough to put them over the mark. It’s looking that way, and it’s also following the pattern that fortunes turn sharply at the very end of wave election campaigns, but, until the ballots are counted and certified, we really don’t know.

      • Pelosi herself said that the Democrats are going to hold the House and she has plans for when they do. I don’t know if that’s puffery or if she is just that out of touch. Given her behavior over the past few years, I’m inclined to think the latter.

      • Even 538 has moved significantly towards GOP control of the Senate — from 31 to 49% in the last four weeks or so.

        Keep an eye on Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico governors races. RCP has Michigan as a GOP pickup, and the other two as tossups. 538 shows the Republican gubernatorial candidate getting 43-45% of the vote, i.e. not even close.

        RCP is also starting something new — they’ve figured out how much off the polls have been at this point in the race since 2016 and adjusted their forecasts to allow for that. Two observations — like the polls themselves, the amount they were off in prior elections is also closing as we get closer to election day. Second, it will come as no surprise that most of the battleground states under polled the Republican candidates. That, and the fact that that margin has been getting smaller the closer we get to election day — well, let’s just say it should cause some raised eyebrows……

      • One last thing on polls (the big poll is next Tuesday).

        I notice this morning that the NYTimes/Siena has issue new polling results in four of the key Senate race — Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Arizona. By a strange coincidence they are all pretty much outlier polls, showing more support for the Democratic candidates than other polling information.

        Now you can judge those particular polls yourself. I have. But what they unquestionably due is shift the RCP average for those four races a point or two in favor of the Democrat. That shifts the narrative a bit.


        When you see two polls on the same race at the same time that are wildly different — say one poll showing the Democratic candidate up by 2 and the other showing him up by 17. Why are there no consequences for the pollster who gets it so wrong? Or is it that that pollster is actually producing the results him employer wants to see?

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