Dan Rather, Ethics Villain; Esquire, Ethics Villain Enabler

My, this is ironic! In an essay defending journalism while attacking President Trump for labeling current day journalists as “enemies of the people,” Esquire writer Ryan D’Agostino both manages to prove Trump correct, and while lionizing disgraced journalist Dan Rather,  inspires Rather to show how he exemplifies what’s rotten within his profession.

“In a wide-ranging interview,” the essay/interview ‘s description says, “the legendary reporter gives a clinic on journalism, its intersection with politics, civil rights, and the future of American culture.” This alone would normally keep me from reading such a piece, were it not part of my job to expose unethical mind rot. Rather is a legend, as the cliche goes, in his own mind. Having him give a clinic on journalism would be like  Sweeney Todd giving a clinic on barbering, and no one should care what he says or thinks about anything, having proven himself to be untrustworthy and afflicted with warped reasoning.

Here, for example, is Rather’s description of the fake news scandal that cost him his reputation and career. Well, let me take that back: first read part of D’Agostino’s self-indicting introduction of it:

There were proven technical and even journalistic flaws in the evidence Rather’s team found—but no one questioned the truth of what they were saying. Bush never disputed the veracity of the claims. It was a strange situation: By way of a possibly forged document, they had uncovered a damning truth about the sitting president.

Wow.

  • Equivocation and deceptive verbiage: “Proven technical and even journalistic flaws in the evidence Rather’s team found.” The “technical flaw” was that the only tangible evidence Rather found was a forgery, and the journalistic “flaw” was that Rather’s report was built on a lie, which is what a forged document is.

That’s not “flawed” journalism; it’s a political attack disguised as journalism. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Bryant Johnson.

Incredible.

I’m not sure which is more nauseating: that the late Justice’s personal trainer would be so crass, or that the mainstream news media would unanimously describe Bryant Johnson’s self-promoting stunt as “honoring” Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He should have been ejected from the Rotunda. If someone had tried that at my fathers funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, I would have thrown him out myself.

I’m surprised Johnson didn’t hand out his business cards to onlookers.

Try doing push-ups at the Alamo, or at Westminster Abbey. If Ginsburg’s personal chef had used his 20 seconds of national exposure to make an omelette in front of the late Justice’s casket, would the news media be applauding that too?

Oh, probably, if the chef were black. To do otherwise would be condemned as racist, as we know. George Floyd, you know. Being immune from accountability is now one of the ways being black matters.

Johnson joins the increasingly competitive Ethics Alarms race to be 2020 Jerk of the Year.

Ethics Dunce: “Streiff”

William B. Crews, an official at the National Institutes of Health, announced his retirement  this week after he was outed as surreptitiously attacking the NIH and particularly Dr. Anthony Fauci  in  posts on Twitter and on the right-wing website RedState using the screen name “Streiff.”

Crews worked for and promoted the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases while simultaneously undermining  the agency’s work with his posts since March. His deception and betrayal was exposed by The Daily Beast.

A representative comment Crews wrote on RedState in June read, “We’re at the point where it is safe to say that the entire Wuhan virus scare was nothing more or less than a massive fraud perpetrated upon the American people by ‘experts’ who were determined to fundamentally change the way the country lives and is organized and governed.”

This is a perfect Ethics Dunce performance, because what Crews did was both unethical and dumb. Screen names tend to get discovered, and something like this is a career-breaker. It’s also a cowardly and ineffective way to make an impact, if the objective is to actually accomplish something. Secret whistle blowing only works these days if your objective is to take down the President.

The ethical way to have an effect on policy and public opinion is to make objections like “Streiff’s” public and under one’s real name. It also helps if you can prove your claims. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/25/2020: “Snap Out Of It!”

This is applicable to so many aspects of today I don’t have space to list them. Prime among them are the apparent re-runs of the George Floyd riots in various cities, this time tied to the death of Breonna Taylor and the fact that the cops who didn’t murder her weren’t charged with murder.  Hmmm…are these more stupid than the St. George riots, less stupid, or exactly as stupid?

1. I wonder…has the NFL killed more innocent black men than police over the years? Gale Sayers, the legendary Chicago Bears running back, died this week from “complications of dementia,” almost certainly meaning he was another victim of CTE suffered from playing what a friend calls “Concussionball.”

Well, as much as NFL fans might resent having players pollute entertainment with half-baked politicsal grandstanding, you can bet they would rather watch meaningless kneeling during the “Star-Spangled Banner” than forfeit the fun of watching human beings destroy their brains for cash.

2. This guy isn’t helping...Officer John Goulart, Jr., reported that at a shopping center in Pineville, La, Goulart was shot once in the leg and anotherbullet hit the back door of his patrol car. However, investigators determined that Goulart  fired those shots, including the one that hit him in the leg,  himself.  Now he’s under arrest. [Pointer: valkygrrl] Continue reading

Shameless Clickbait Or Frightening Evidence Of Late Stage Trump Derangement…Or Both?

The post is The Death Of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Pushed Me To Join The Satanic Temple.” Once upon a time headlines like this were cause for mirth when they appeared in the old National Enquirer or the World Weekly News. I think the best headline I ever saw—yes, even better than “Headless Corpse Found In Topless Bar“— was “Boy, 6, Gives Birth to Sextuplets.”

Still, this one is pretty special. The author says she is a lawyer, and she is clearly a lunatic, yet not that far removed from about half of my Facebook friends. Here are some of her statements…

 I am not the type of person who would normally consider becoming a Satanist, but these are not normal times. 

Rationalization #28, The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times.”! And the reason these are not normal times is because of hysterics like her…

Continue reading

Thursday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/24/2020: It’s “Supreme Court Day”!

Literally!

On this day in 1789, The Judiciary Act of 1789 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George Washington, thus establishing the Supreme Court of the United States. Notably, it was then designed as a tribunal made up of only six justices—an even number! (The Horror!)  President Washington quickly nominated John Jay to preside as Chief Justice, and John Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair, Robert Harrison and James Wilson to be Associate Justices.  You should know Rutledge: he sings that cool song about slavery and the Triangle Trade  in “1776.”  You also should recall Wilson from that show—he’s the one slandered by being portrayed as a total weenie, which he most assuredly was not.  Two days later, the six appointments were confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Nobody thought it was a big deal.

1. We knew the New York Times’ “1619 Project” was flagrant Black Lives Matter-inspired propaganda and based on lies, correct? Ethics Alarms discussed this when the Pulitzers honored the thing’s Liar in Chief, Nikole Hannah-Jones, who even admitted that it was really more about creating a useful “narrative” than accurately presenting history. Ben Crump, the serial race-hustler who gets huge damage settlements for family members of black victims of various tragedies by proclaiming the police and America as racist, cited  the “1619” project’s narrative yesterday while helping to incite riots. See? It works!

But the project is used in many school systems as “history,” and the central dishonesty was a problem, so the Times, without announcement or explanation, erased the central claim of the 1619 Project, which was that the year the first slaves were brought to Colonial Virginia was the “true founding” of the United States.

The  initial introduction to the Project, when it was rolled out in August 2019, stated that

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from the New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

Sometime this year, the text became,

The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.

The change was discovered after Hannah-Jones denied  last week that the project’s core thesis was what she and the Times  had said it was. It “does not argue that 1619 is our true founding,” she said. Well, not any more. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: CNN’s Don Lemon

“You know what we’re going to have to do?… You’re going to have to get rid of the electoral college….And if Joe Biden wins, Democrats can stack the courts and they can do that amendment and get it passed.”

—Don Lemon, juvenile CNN host, in another one of his increasingly frequent whiny rants, this one about how unfair the  Electoral College is.

Because Lemon was talking to the dumbest broadcast journalist on television,  Chris Cuomo, and because if Lemon’s colleague realized how ignorant this statement was—never a sure thing when Cuomo is involved—he might have decided that it was better to mislead CNN’s viewers than to point out that Lemon doesn’t know the U.S. Constitution from an anchovy, nobody corrected this howler.

Lemon apparently thinks the Supreme Court “passes” amendments, or something. He clearly doesn’t understand how amendments actually get passed, and why this particular amendment will never, never be passed. Since he doesn’t know what he is talking about, it is incompetent, irresponsible and unprofessional for him to talk about it. Journalists are supposed to enlighten, not make the public more misinformed than it already is, a condition that poses a danger to democracy without being made any worse.

It is also incompetent, irresponsible, nonprofessional, reckless and a breach of duty for CNN to allow someone who couldn’t pass junior high civics to pretend to be able to analyze the nation’s political scene. Continue reading

The Breonna Taylor Non-Indictments [Updated]

We’ll see just how much Facts Don’t Matter in the Breonna Taylor fiasco aftermath. I heard shameless race-huckster Ben Crump speaking on TV, and when he started blathering on about 1619, I changed the channel to a re-run of “The Andy Griffith Show.” As a friend says, memorably but grossly, “There is some shit I won’t eat.” The sentiment is apt here.

The Kentucky grand jury did not indict current and former police officers for the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, though her name has been prominently linked to that of George Floyd and others during the promotion of protests and rioting in the George Floyd Freakout. As with Floyd, there was no evidence of racism in the death of Taylor, other than the fact that the three cops involved are white and she was black. That’s enough for the presumption or racism to stick, as we have learned in other cases, thus “justifying” Crump’s pronouncements.

Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, was sleeping in her apartment on March 13 when police officers Jonathan Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove  and Brett Hankison, operating with a no-knock warrant that was mistakenly processed, burst in. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, thinking that the apartment was being invaded, shot at them, and they returned fire. Taylor was accidentally killed by a bullet from Cosgrove’s gun in the crossfire, and five other bullets struck her as well.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron held a  press conference after the grand jury’s decision was announced, explaining that because Walker fired first, Cosgrove and Mattingly were “justified in their use of force after having been fired upon.” The result was pre-ordained from the beginning unless prosecutors violated all ethical standards and pushed the jurors to indict the officers for Taylor’s death anyway as a sop to Black Lives Matters and an attempt to stem the violence likely to follow if the officers weren’t sacrificed to the mob.

I, legal experts, and anyone paying attention  doubted that the grand jury would or could return murder indictments on this set of facts. The 12 jurors did return three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree against Officer Hankison for shooting his gun into the apartment next to Taylor’s, but that is unlikely to calm the fury of those who want to riot on general principles, if you can call “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!” a principle. Continue reading

Noonish Ethics Quickies, 9/23/2020: Still More Weird Tales Of The Trump Deranged!

1. Senator Murkowski has the integrity of a shack made of cream cheese. She thought she could get cheap virtue signaling points by announcing that she would refuse to vote to confirm President Trump’s nomination to fill the SCOTUS vacancy, but now that it looks like her stand will be futile, she says she might vote to confirm after all. Throughout her nepotism-built career, Murkowski has repeatedly demonstrated that if you don’t like what she advocates, wait a minute. She’s untrustworthy, and the fact that Alaskans keep re-electing someone like her strongly suggests that they just don’t give a damn.

2.  A good friend just wrote on Facebook that 200,000 Americans would still be alive if Donald Trump wasn’t President. He really wrote this, and there was no joke attached. He cannot possibly believe that. What was he doing? Sucking up to his many Trump Deranged friends? Having a stroke? I was temped to respond, but decided to let it go. The post was embarrassing: even the average Trump Deranged citizen who now has the IQ of a winter squash could tell THAT claim is nonsense.

The social media narrative, echoed by the news media and Democrats, that somehow the deaths from the pandemic in the U.S. would be fewer, or far fewer, if only President Trump had “followed the science” and done something different that no one can quite identify, is , in my assessment, signature significance for either a fool or a liar. Every other day I mark a shift in the “scientific” consensus or some new theory, because the health community still doesn’t understand what it is dealing with.  The New York Times, simultaneously with pushing the “blood on his hands” Big Lie (that’s #9, if you’ve lost count), regularly includes items that contradict the narrative. On August 24, for example, it noted in a column in the Business Section–nicely buried!— that the CDC didn’t advocate wearing masks until April, after saying in January that wearing masks wasn’t necessary.

If Americans allow this ongoing and self-evident lie to influence their vote in November, they are as incompetent as the idiots, if there were any, who voted against Hillary Clinton because they believed that she was operating a child sex trafficking operation out of a D.C. pizza joint. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/22/2020: Death, Ethics, And Rationalizations

I just learned that my sweet, kind cousin Kathy has died as the result of several recently discovered brain tumors. I hadn’t seen her for decades, so in my mind she’s still 35, vibrant  and beautiful. I have to come to terms with the fact that we had no relationship at this point, but her loss still stings. She lived alone after her marriage with a real creep fell apart; never had children. Like all of the Coulourises (my mother’s side), family was so important to her. I could have picked up the phone.

1. I suppose today’s anniversary of Lincoln signing the  Emancipation Proclamationin 1862 has to be noted, but it was a strategic act, not an especially ethical one. After all, it exempted slaves in the border states, which allowed slavery  but had not joined the Confederacy. After the Union’s sort-of  victory at the Battle of Antietam earlier in the month,  Lincoln announced that enslaved people in areas still in rebellion within 100 days would be free. Then, on January 1, 1863, Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation, which declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebel states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”  Note that it freed no slaves that he had the power to free, but the maneuver successfully made the Civil War about human rights. Anti-slavery nations like Great Britain and France, which the Confederacy desperately wanted as allies,  couldn’t back the Confederacy after Lincoln made the war explicitly a statement against slavery.

2. Does Mitt Romney have any core principles at all?  If he does, I don’t know what they are. It has always been clear—I hope— that he is a pure pragmatist, doing whatever he thinks will work at any given time. Non-ideologues often make effective leaders: FDR was one. Lincoln too. Romney would hate this, but Donald Trump is like Romney in that regard. (So are Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.). Over in the Facebook hive, the Deranged are gnashing their teeth over Romney’s announcement that he’ll vote for a qualified nominee for SCOTUS. I guess they thought that he would be like John McCain, and be governed by spite. Sure, Romney voted for impeachment because it was meaningless except to give the President a poke in the eye. He is still a Senator from Utah, however. he’s not going to torpedo an effort to solidify a conservative majority on SCOTUS.

If he were a Senator representing Massachusetts, it would be a different tale.

3. Black Lives Matter quietly deleted the “what we believe” page on its website. You know, that was where the group said its mission is to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure,” to “dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work ‘double shifts’ so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work,” as well as “foster a queer-affirming network” by “freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual.” Maybe they were afraid all of those corporations, sports teams and politicians proclaiming their support might finally decide to read about what they were endorsing. Continue reading