Category Archives: Ethics Train Wrecks

Breaking Ethics Thoughts: The White House Bars The NYT And Others From Its Press Briefing

accessdeniedWASHINGTON (CBS SF/AP) — The Trump administration ramped up its war against the press Friday, blocking several major outlets from a scheduled White House press briefing.The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN and Politico were among the news organizations excluded from the meeting, reportedly an untelevised gathering with the press instead of the usual on-camera briefing with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

I am not aware of the specific reasons for the action, but:

1.  I read the New York Times daily. It is routinely making every effort to present the actions of the Trump Administration in a negative light, often engaging in outright deceit to do it. It is behaving, as it has for years, as a Democratic Party organ.

2. CNN simply teems with anti-Trump hostility, in the tone of panel discussions, in the framing of the news, in the sneers and body language of its talking heads. This is not ethical journalism.

3. Politico is left-biased, but I haven’t followed it closely. The LA Times has conditions for use that I can’t meet. I’m not sure how biased they have been.

4. There is nothing per se unethical about a Presidential administration deciding that a news source it considers untrustworthy, unreliable and allied with groups that want to literally bring it down should be treated accordingly. Competent, unbiased, fair and ethical journalism is not an excessive requirement.

5. The response to Trump’s very clear warning to the news media last week was, “You can’t stop us, and we will be as hateful as we please.” This is his response to that. Hubris has its consequences. After MSNBC’s “Morning Joe’s” co-host Mika Brzezinski ‘s comment this week, some attitude adjustment seems to be mandatory. She said of the President,

“He is trying to undermine the media and trying to make up his own facts. And it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think. And that, that is our job.”

No, Mika, actually leaders always  lead, which always means trying to persuade the public.  That is their job. You job is to keep the public informed without telling them what to think, since as this statement proves, you don’t think all that well. At all.

6.  I am surprised that the Washington Post wasn’t shut out as well, especially after a slime job like this story.

7. Would I recommend this action by Trump? No. But it is a defensible response to a real threat to his ability to govern, and an informed democracy. It may not be a responsible or prudent response.

8. The best response would be for journalists to start doing their real job, and report the news fairly and competently without aligning themselves with political agendas.

____________________________

Pointer: Zoltar Speaks!

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In Which Your Host Decides To Defenestrate A Trending Facebook Screed…

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Yesterday, I spied on Facebook an obnoxious bit of anti-conservative hostility that I hoped was an aberration. It wasn’t. I resolved to post an emphatic rebuke the next time one of my friends posted it, and the opportunity arrived quickly. Here is the original screed:

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JOE CONSERVATIVE

Joe gets up at 6AM and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards.With his first swallow of coffee, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised. All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer’s medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance – now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast of bacon and eggs. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry. In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside, and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.
He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor. Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays, and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he’ll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn’t think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It’s noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FDIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression and AGAIN under Republican Rule in The 2000’s Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives to his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers’ Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans. The house didn’t have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification.

He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security (an Earned Income Credit btw NOT an entitlement!) and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn’t mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day.

Joe agrees: “We don’t need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I’m a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have!”

COPY and PASTE if you wish to share.

This was, of course, followed by the usual chorus of seals barking and clapping, which many likes and loves.

Now, I could have, had I chosen to waste an incredible amount of time de-bunking a load of lazy, unresearched garbage  that anyone not already so biased and smugly satisfied with  their inadequate education in history and logic would immediately recognize as such, written a definitive and thorough flaming of this monstrosity. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep, and the rantings of some pimply OccupyDemocrats hack just isn’t worth it. Thus I spent about ten minutes on refreshing myself regarding some details of what I already knew, and another eight or so composing this, which I have now used to reply to three Facebook Friends. I have also posted it on my own page.

I now post it here for Ethics Alarms readers who may encounter “Joe.” As I said, I could do much, much better, and be much, much more emphatic, but this particular gnat requires only a slap or two…

…not a bazooka. But feel free to adapt  and enhance what follows yourself yourself, and post it as needed: Continue reading

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Integrity Test For The Angry Left “Resisters”: Why, In Light Of Your Conduct And Rhetoric Since November 8, Is This Analysis Unreasonable?

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The last time Ethics Alarms  highlighted a provocative post by conservative writer Kurt Schlicter, it was designated here as irresponsible. I’m not as certain that his latest is. I wonder if there are Democrats and progressives who can make a substantive argument that he isn’t expressing a legitimate concern. ( Ad hominem arguments not accepted.)

The post is called Straightforward From Here To The Left’s Fascist, Maybe Violent, Endgame.

Here are some excerpts, with my initial reactions:

The Democrat Party, its Media serfs, and Social Justice Incorporated are all outraged because we uppity normals are again presuming to rule ourselves, and their agony is delightful. Less delightful is how, in the process of trying to claw their way back into power, they are incinerating the norms and rules that preserve our political order. That stuff Hillary babbled about honoring the legitimacy of elections? Yeah, no. There’s an invisible asterisk only liberals can see that explains that the norms and rules are void when liberals lose.

I don’t see how this statement can be rebutted. The tone is hostile, but the analysis is accurate.

Think what they will do if they take power again. They are certainly not going to risk us ever being able to repeat November’s rejection. California’s decline lays out their tyrannical road map. When the Democrats took power here, they “reformed” the election laws to lock-in their party, co-opted the “nonpartisan” redistricting process, and changed the ballot initiative system to make sure we will never see another unapproved proposition. They ensured there is no way to stop illegal aliens from voting because they want illegal aliens voting.

Over the top, but not too far. California no longer has a two party system, and has embraced progressive cant as policy even when there is no evidence that it won’t be disastrous, as with the high-speed rail debacle and the commitment to double the minimum wage. Of course, Democrats will take power again. If too many conservatives feel about them like Schlicter does, the conservative “resistance” may make this “resistance” look like child’s play.

Do you think Hillary Clinton or whatever aspiring Hugo Chavez they offer up next is going to protect us from violent leftist thugs, or encourage them? Remember how Obama weaponized agencies like the IRS against conservatives? Multiply that by a thousand. Think about the “hate speech” rules used to silence conservatives on campus; imagine them as federal law. That’s coming, just like in Europe – it’s now a crime in France to speak out against abortion. Do you imagine leftists don’t dream of doing that? No, once back in power they will ensure we will never be able to challenge their rule. One man (or woman or other), one vote, one more time, then never again.

It is, in fact, now illegal to oppose abortion in France. In the U.S. Robert Kennedy III has advocated imprisoning climate change skeptics. The popular progressive, globalist argument that progressives always use to advocate government health care, gun bans, and elimination of capital punishment are easily adaptable to free speech restrictions, and Democratic members of Congress have endorsed those already. The casual shrug the mainstream news media gave to the IRS scandal while the Holder Justice Department refused to investigate it was just as ominous as Schlicter implies. Continue reading

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The New York Times’ Unethical Headline (And Fake News)

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It is,  I have come to believe, the perfect example of dishonest, manipulative and partisan journalism, and here it is again: The Times headline on my morning paper—in ominous, “this is really important” block letters—

MORE  IMMIGRANTS FACE DEPORTATION UNDER NEW RULES

The headline refers to the President’s order yesterday concerning the enforcement of existing immigration laws. My maternal grandparents were immigrants from Greece at the turn of the 19th Century to the 20th. They did it by the book: Ellis Island, the whole thing. They were immigrants, not illegal immigrants, and the kind of rules this intentionally deceptive headline evokes would not have threatened them in any way. Yet they would have been alarmed by such a headline. Were they in danger of being sent back to Greece? Is the U.S. government now determined to deport immigrants?

That confusion is exactly what the Times and other news sources that have made a conscious decision to engender by eliminating the clear and material distinction between immigrants and illegal immigrants in news reports. The deceptive use of language allows partisans to tar the President and those who seek to enforce the law as “xenophobes,” and also to create fear among legal immigrants, who have nothing to fear.

We know that the Times does this intentionally, because an honest, informative, undeceptive headline is not elusive at all. “New Trump Deportation Rules Allow Far More Expulsions” is the web headline for the story, and that is accurate, since President Obama limited the number of law-breaking immigrants who would actually face enforcement of the immigration laws the violated and continued to violate. “Trump administration clears the way for far more deportations” headlines the LA Times: it’s not so hard to be clear and informative. The Times wants to  mislead. Continue reading

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The President Is Right About The Mainstream News Media, And It Can’t Handle The Truth, Part III: The Tweet

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Part I in this series began with a random choice of a New York Times anti-President hit piece of the day. This is the one of truths that the mainstream media wants to pretend  doesn’t exist: the intentionally, relentlessly negative, innuendo-filled reporting regarding the Trump administration, with the goal of alarming the public, undermining its trust in the government, weakening his Presidency, or bringing it down entirely. Just to be up to date, let’s look at today’s front page…and what do we find? “A Back-Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, Courtesy of Trump Associates.”  The article includes a prominent graphic titled “Donald Trump’s Connections in the Ukraine.” But the article itself, and any research into the individuals shown in the graphic, show no association between Donald Trump and the Ukraine whatsoever. We see…

Andrii V. Artemenko: Ukrainian politician with a peace plan for Ukraine and a file alleging that its president is corrupt.

Felix H. Sater: Russian-American businessman with longstanding ties to the Trump Organization.

Michael D. Cohen: Trump’s personal attorney, under scrutiny from F.B.I. over links with Russia.

Paul Manafort: Former Trump campaign manager with pro-Russian political ties in Ukraine now under investigation by the F.B.I.

There is no evidence or even allegation that Artemenko has even spoken to Trump. Sater was involved in helping businessman Trump seek deals in Russia, and that is all the article tells us about him. Cohen is Trump’s lawyer, and a lawyer’s clients are not “linked” to other clients, unless you think Patty Hearst was “linked” to O.J. Simpson through their mutual lawyer, F. Lee Bailey.

Then there is Manafort, who is not  in the Trump Administration, and was fired from the campaign before the election. Back when he was the campaign manager, Politifact did a “check” on him, and found that he had done political consulting work for Ukrainian politicians. Among the international clients Clinton consultant James Carville lists on his website are politicians in Argentina (lots), Columbia, Bolivia,  and yes, the Ukraine, that’s just “some” of the them, meaning that some of the others either don’t want to be known or wouldn’t make Carville look good if they were known. Was Hillary Clinton “associated” with everyone on Carville’s client list? (Also a Carville client: the late Senator Ted Kennedy, serial pussy-grabber and un-prosecuted negligent homicide suspect). Of course not, but that’s the degree of “association” with the Ukraine that the Times article pins on the President, once you get past the front page headline and graphic. The photo over the online version of the article even shows President Trump, who is barely mentioned in the substance of the piece at all, except in such references as “Mr. Trump’s lawyer.”

Might all of these “associations”—this use of guilt by association would be too attenuated even for Joe McCarthy–eventually add up to something sinister, and a scandal that involves the Trump administration? Sure, anything is possible. THAT would be news. THAT would belong on the front page. THIS story, however, is a dog’s breakfast of innuendo, speculation, “hmmmm..” and nothing. It is fake news…not fraudulent in its facts, fraudulent  in its presentation, placement in the paper and intentional suggestion that what is known justifies suspicion of the President. The defenders of the ongoing journalist attacks on the President continue to argue that fact-based smears and rumor-mongering stories published in major news sources are not “fake news,” and after a story like this, I have to wonder about their honesty too. There is only one way this kind of smoky article makes a front page above the fold.

Now on to the Tweet Heard ‘Round The World. As discussed in Part II, the President was performing  a public service when he told the newsmedia to its reporters’ smug  faces that they were biased, hateful, incompetent and dishonest. Somebody had to do it. Their supposed “watchdogs” like CNN’s Brian Stelter won’t do it, because he is too busy bashing the President himself while defending his pals.

It would be much better if someone in academia, or a prominent journalist pointed out how terrible a biased and untrustworthy news media is for the nation, but this is the Left’s attempted coup, after all. Try finding an objective authority in academia or journalism. So the leader of the nation, on national television, has to tell the self-congratulatory journalists that they are failing their duty to the nation, which is to inform the public. They see their duty as bringing down a President their Progressive Masters hate.  In other words, the President is saying, essentially..

The follow-up tweet elaborated by specifying just how much of a betrayal this is, saying,

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

Look at this as the second slap. Better yet, look at it as the journalism version of Ronald Reagan slapping the Soviet Union with the well-deserved label, “The Evil Empire.”  Many commentators, including former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, traced the beginning of the unraveling of the Iron Curtain to Reagan’s brutal frankness. Continue reading

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The President Is Right About The Mainstream News Media, And It Can’t Handle The Truth, Part I: This Morning’s New York Times Headline

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I actually had dreams, nightmares really, about this theme as it rattled around in my head last night. It began with a planned post titled “The President vs. The  Press,” but it  dawned on me, as I was “lying awake with a dismal headache and repose was tabooed by anxiety,” that even that headline would fail to convey the important ethics story beneath. When I got up, too early, I grabbed my morning paper off the front walk to see if the New York Times had once again manufactured an attack piece on the President as its main story.

It had. This one was titled “For, $200,000, A Chance To Whisper in Trump’s Ear At Mar-a-Lago.” It is a special variety of fake news, the kind that the biased news media defenders deny is fake news, because it contains facts and is merely deceitful, misleading, hyped and given far more prominence than the facts deserve. But all that makes it fake, because it misleads readers, and is intended to. It’s on the front page, so this must be important, think the Times’ readers, forgetting, or ignoring, the fact that this very paper vowed to jettison journalistic ethics in October to make sure Donald Trump never won the Presidency. Now it is using its power and influence to prevent him from being President.

He called them on it last week, unleashing their fury. More on that later…

This wasn’t the worst of the endless trail of Times stories sowing distrust, but it was what greeted me this morning. The headline suggests that Trump is selling influence for cash—you know, like the Clinton Foundation, or like Bill did when he rented out the Lincoln bedroom to rich Hollywood donors. The story’s placement in the paper suggests this is crisis-worthy. But we knew all about all the components of this “crisis” before.

We knew Trump’s corporation (not Trump personally, which is intentionally blurred in the article) owns a lot of properties, including this one. We knew this created a conflict of interest, and that it would allow critics to claim self-dealing whenever they thought it would help smear the President, as with the ridiculous claim that the seven Muslim nations on his Middle East travel halt were chosen because he owned no hotels in any of them.

We knew that Trump had been spending weekends at the resort since he took office.  Aside: The Times, cable news, and others are bashing him for that. Having made sure that Washington, D.C. is hostile territory, filled with marchers, protesters, people carrying signs insulting him and a population that voted 97% against him and wants him dead, the news media also wants him to be the Prisoner of the White House…all the better to kill him with stress and prompt the psychotic break they are sure is coming and that they can’t wait to occur. The President would be mad NOT to flee to his Palm Beach resort on weekends. I would. So would every hateful reporter, if they weren’t certain that The Golden Rule doesn’t apply to Donald Trump, like fairness and most other ethics principles.

We also have known for a month  the private club had doubled its dues since the Inauguration. That was an obvious, if ruthless,  business decision by the management. I doubt Trump had anything to do with that call, but then I’m rational and fair, unlike most on the left today. The club members are literally all mega-millionaires and billionaires, and $200,000 is not an unusually high figure for dues at  top-line exclusive golf clubs. $200,000 sounds like a huge expenditure to the typical American reading the Times. It’s not,  for these members.

Moreover, there are few memberships open, and almost all of the 500 current members predate Trump’s campaign:

“Membership lists reviewed by The New York Times show that the club’s nearly 500 paying members include dozens of real estate developers, Wall Street financiers, energy executives and others whose businesses could be affected by Mr. Trump’s policies. At least three club members are under consideration for an ambassadorship. Most of the 500 have had memberships predating Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, and there are a limited number of memberships still available.”

You know, their businesses could have been affected by Mr. Trump’s policies whether they were members of the club or not. What’s the implication here, that the President is going to calibrate his policies to benefit duespayers? If these people were friends of the President (the news media has been telling us that he has no friends, but that was in a different set of hit pieces), he could meet with them, text with them, have a phone conversation with them any time he chose. Ah, winks the Times, but if they pay their $200,000, “the President himself could stop by your table for a quick chat”!

What a deal. Do the reporters and their editors really think that successful “real estate developers, Wall Street financiers, energy executives” and others are morons, or are they the morons? Or do they just count on their readers to be gullible fools? Continue reading

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Two Unethical And Unconstitutional Laws On Guns, One From The Right, One From the Left, Bite The Dust. Good.

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I.

As last year’s flat-out demagoguery about banning gun ownership for citizens placed on the FBI’s no-fly list proved, Democrats will never let the Constitution get in the way of an emotion-based attack on gun rights. A rule  implemented by former President Obama after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting (“WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!!!”) would have required the Social Security Administration to report the records of some mentally ill beneficiaries to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Those who have been deemed mentally incapable of managing their financial affairs — roughly 75,000 people — would have then been prevented from owning guns.

The American Civil Liberties Union and advocates for the disabled opposed the restriction, which was so broadly drawn that an Asperger’s sufferer could have his Second amendment rights taken away. And what, exactly, is the link between not being able to handle one’s financial affairs and violence? Hell, I can barely handle my financial affairs.

By a 57-43 margin, the Republican-led Senate voted last week  to repeal the measure, and it now heads to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, a leading Republican critic of the rule, said that it was filled with “vague characteristics that do not fit into the federal mentally defective standard” that could legally prohibit someone from buying or owning a gun. “If a specific individual is likely to be violent due to the nature of their mental illness, then the government should have to prove it,” Grassley said

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut where the Sandy Hook massacre occurred, and thus obligated to grandstand regardless of the fact that he’s on shaky 2nd Amendment, 5th  Amendment and also Equal Protection  ground, declaimed on the Senate floor,

“The [Congressional Review Act] we have before us today will make it harder for the federal government to do what we have told them to do for decades, which is to put dangerous people and people who are seriously mentally ill on the list of people who are prohibited from buying a gun….If you can’t manage your own financial affairs, how can we expect that you’re going to be a responsible steward of a dangerous, lethal firearm?”

Well, I guess nobody in Congress should own a gun either, right, Senator? Continue reading

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