Unethical Quote Of The Week: PBS Commentator Mark Shields…Or Is It This Unethical Tweet By CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin?

The “resistance’s” freakout over the Mueller report is deep, wide and epic. So many journalists, pundits, celebrities and Democrats are making utter asses of themselves by  throwing  public tantrums, uttering or writing emotional nonsense, and making claims that just aren’t true, and obviously so, except to those in the grip of the Orange Man Bad Fever.

Yesterday gave us two throbbing examples.

#1.

Here’s long-time PBS commentator Mark Shields, in a panel discussion about the Mueller report. I’ve met Mark, and used to listen to him regularly. He’s a nice guy, a Red Sox fan, and the kind of old-style Boston liberal–Ted Kennedy, Tip O’Neill, Kevin White, Ray Flynn—that I grew up surrounded by. But this is hysteria:

“[I]f there’s an imperative that comes out of this whole sordid tale, it’s for a new 9/11 Commission…to investigate what happened. How do we avoid it ever happening again? What do we need to do, statutorily, collectively in the country? And the Russians did — they subverted and sabotaged our election. And the Obama administration was remiss in its response in 2016. And President Trump has chosen for two-and-a-half years to deny what Russia did. And the most public of sacraments that we have as a people, a presidential election, was subverted and sabotaged. And they’re about the same evil mission again with no — we ought to have that. It ought to be bipartisan. It ought to be Republicans and Democrats. And we ought to just demand that American elections be only — involve Americans. And it has to bring in all of the Silicon Valley and all the companies, and we have to do this to preserve our democracy and to restore some sense of public trust.”

Shield’s outburst  has to be categorized as clinical, indeed pathological denial, but a helpful variety, since it provides a window in the mid of the deranged, kind of like the hole in a Canadian trapper’s gut that allowed Dr. Beaumont to study the workings of the human stomach.  You can see that the problem hearkens back to November 2016. Amazingly, Democrats still cannot accept that they lost the Presidency to someone like Donald Trump. It has driven them literally crazy. Imagine: Mark Shields, who was once as sane as you or I, is really arguing that after a two and a half year, 20 million dollar investigation of Russian interference in the election, what we really need now is…an investigation of the election. No, we really don’t, and Shield’s ridiculous comparison of the piddling Russian disinformation campaign designed to confuse and confound American morons and sow discord (though that objective has been advanced far more effectively by the news media and the “resistance”) with a terrorist attack that killed more than 3000 Americans in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania shows how conspiratorial and, to be blunt, whacked-out the Left has become. Continue reading

Friday Ethics Warm-Up, 4/19/2019: There’s More To Ethics Than Mueller Freakouts, You Know…

Happy Easter weekend

(For me and other Greek-Americans, Easter presents a yearly choice: Greek Easter is calculated on a different calendar (it also has only boring red eggs), and just once in a red moon coincides with the non-Greek holiday.  This year it’s a week later, so we’re not putting our eggs in any baskets until next Sunday. We celebrate Greek Easter in honor of my Mom, who was fanatic about all holidays. The Greek Orthodox Church was dead to us once a priest told the congregation that the offspring of “mixed marriages”–that is, Greek and non-Greek spouses like my parents—were considered illegitimate by the Church. (My dad walked out of the service.)

(The other Churches became dead to us a bit later, and for varying reasons.)

1 A brief Mueller interlude…a) Rep. Gerald Nadler is grandstanding by demanding the full, unredacted report. Giving secret grand jury testimony to Congress would be  illegal. Anything to inflame the public, I guess…b) It’s incomplete, but Scott Horton, a smart libertarian who has been tracking the various complexities of the Russiagate investigation far more closely than I have, tears the Mueller report to shreds in convincing fashion. I’m accepting the conclusions of the report on faith, but Horton demonstrates how open to attack the investigation may be. The post is long and overly colloquial, and I don’t have time to check Horton’s facts, but it is worth reading. c) April Ryan, the CNN hack who has a long history of attacking Trump press secretary Sarah Sanders, now says Sanders should be fired for “lying.” Sanders at one point said that “countless” FBI agents had said that they had lost trust in James Comey, then later said that “countless” was a misstatement. With very few exceptions over the last 50 years, Sanders’ job is that of a paid liar and obfuscater; I got tired of flagging all of the lies and spin issued by Obama’s three spokesmen. They all should be fired, I guess, but not for offenses like using the word “countless” when the correct word would be “plenty.” Heck, I even heard through contacts and back-channels that FBI agents were disgusted with Comey. How could they not be?

2. And now for something completely different: Walrus Ethics. This isn’t a Climate Change Denial post, it’s a “See, this is why so many people don’t trust climate change doomsday scenarios” post.

Netflix’s climate change propaganda documentary  “Our Planet,” narrated by David Attenborough, showed masses o the walruses climbing up cliffs in northeast Russia because, we were told, of a lack of sea ice. Then we saw the large pinnipeds over the cliff edges onto the rocks below, leaving hundreds of dead animals piled on the shore. Attenborough said their poor eyesight made it hard for them to return safely to the ocean.

 Dr. Susan Crockford, a Canadian zoologist specializing in evolution and the ecology of Holocene mammals (including polar bears and walrus), claims that the scene was a hoax. She called Netflix’s narrative over the “Our Planet” scene i“contrived nonsense… fiction and emotional manipulation at its worst”:

“The walruses shown in this Netflix film were almost certainly driven over the cliff by polar bears during a well-publicised incident in 2017.” Even if the footage shown by Attenborough was not the 2017 incident in Ryrkaypiy, we know that walruses reach the top of cliffs in some locations and might fall if startled by polar bears, people or aircraft overhead, not because they are confused by shrinking sea ice cover.”

Anthony Watts, a weather technology expert and author,  also suspects the footage captured was the 2017 Siberian incident.

I’ve been able to show that Crockford’s supposition about the geographical origin of the footage is correct: analysis of the rock shapes in the film and in a photo taken by the producer/director both match archive photos of Ryrkaypiy. The photo was taken on 19 September 2017, during the events described by the Siberian Times.

But whereas the Siberian Times and Gizmodo website, which also reported on the 2017 incident, were both quite clear that the walruses were driven over the cliffs by polar bears, Netflix makes no mention of their presence. Similarly, there is no mention of the fact that walrus haulouts are entirely normal. Instead, Attenborough tells his viewers that climate change is forcing the walruses on shore, where their poor eyesight leads them to plunge over the cliffs.

This is all very troubling as it raises the possibility that Netflix and the WWF are, innocently or otherwise, party to a deception of the public.

If the climate change urgency is as real as we are constantly told, why can’t it be demonstrated with real facts rather than fakery like this?  Is it any wonder the public is skeptical? [Pointer: Legal Insurrection] Continue reading

Early Ethics Observations On Reactions To The Mueller Report

It was exactly 12:45 pm when I was informed by NPR that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer had issued a joint statement claiming the Attorney General Barr’s four page summary of the report released today had misled Congress. The report had been released at 11:00 am, and was over 400 pages long, as well as extremely dense, full of detailed legal arguments that even lawyers…like me…would have to read slowly and maybe more than once. What are the chances that Chuck and Nancy had read the report  by 12:45? I think “none” is a fair answer. It’s highly unlikely that any of their staff had read the report by them either. The accusation against Barr was a lie.

See that graphic above? That’s the dishonest fundraiser Democrats sent out almost immediately to inspire indignation from Democrats who haven’t read the report. If there are any ethical Democrats whose reaction to this isn’t “How dare my party treat me like I’m an idiot and give me false and misleading information and analysis to separate me from my money?” I’d like to hear from them. Maybe there just aren’t any ethical Democrats at all. At this point, I’m willing to entertain that possibility.

By the way, I’m about 40% through the report, though not in sequence. It is thorough, professional and appears to be fair. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/18/19: Redacted Mueller Report Freak-Out Edition

Good morning!

1. Mueller report ethics!

  • Note the names and employers of the pundits and reporters who opine on the 400 page report (to be released today around 11:00 am) before they could possibly read it. [Althouse this morning: “What can they do, once 11 rolls around, to avoid continuing to analyze the Barr presentation (which will include denouncing his decision to do a press conference and dominate the news in advance of the release of the text)? You can be cynical and say the text won’t affect the media, and everyone will keep saying what they were already saying, and that is, in fact, my baseline assumption. The TV news is awful.” Yes, it certainly is.]
  • The New York Times and others are incensed that the Justice Department briefed the President on the report before it was released to the public. This is Trump Derangement, pure and unadulterated. The President has a right to see the report, and the Justice Department is part of the executive branch, which the President oversees.I’d want to be briefed ahead of the release if I were President, especially with a biased news media and a crazed “resistance” preparing to make it look as bad as possible no matter what it says. The complaint is one more entry in “Journalist making the public dumber.”
  • Ken Starr, also indulging in “future news,” says that he is concerned that the report will read like an anti-Trump manifesto. I will be surprised. It is true that the Mueller had some questionably aggressive prosecutors on the team, but the report has Mueller’s name on it and it is his historical legacy. He is regarded in D.C. and in legal circles as professional and fair. I would expect him to keep the report as factual and non-political as possible.
  • In Attorney General Bill Barr’s (completely appropriate) press conference this morning, he said in  part,

Continue reading

Fascinating: The New York Times Thinks The Public Has A Right To Know That It And Its MSM Buddies Obscured What It Had A Right To Know

The chart above comes from the New York Times, which apparently decided that it’s safe to spill the beans now: the Trump tax cut really is a tax cut for most Americans. The ironic thing about the Times article, “Face It: You (Probably) Got a Tax Cut”

is that it reveals one of the more effective anti-Trump, anti-Republican Big Lies, this one being that the 2017 tax cut was really a sham, benefiting the rich while soaking the poor. The Times, in many ways, large and small, helped sustain that lie, with the results above. What is this? Is it like the amateur magician who has to reveal how his trick was pulled off? Is it the practical jokester who has to shout “It was all a gag!” so he can see your shock? You can almost feel the Times’s metaphorical chest swell with pride as it writes,

If you’re an American taxpayer, you probably got a tax cut last year. And there’s a good chance you don’t believe it. Ever since President Trump signed the Republican-sponsored tax bill in December 2017, independent analyses have consistently found that a large majority of Americans would owe less because of the law. Preliminary data based on tax filings has shown the same. Yet as the first tax filing season under the new law wraps up on Monday, taxpayers are skeptical. A survey conducted in early April for The New York Times by the online research platform SurveyMonkey found that just 40 percent of Americans believed they had received a tax cut under the law. Just 20 percent were certain they had done so. That’s consistent with previous polls finding that most Americans felt they hadn’t gotten a tax cut, and that a large minority thought their taxes had risen — though not even one in 10 households actually got a tax increase.

The Times goes on, infuriatingly, Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 4/16/2019: The Wide, Wide World Of Ethics

1. Notre Dame fire ethics:  Michael West, whose rare (of late) comments are valued as pearls, offered a proposed poll regarding the proper response to the destruction of the ancient cathedral’s spire. Here it is, with a few tweaks from me:

At the risk of tainting the voting, I have a pretty strong opinion about this. The structure  should be left as it is. Did they repair the Great Sphinx’s nose? Did they cover up the crack in the Liberty Bell? Once a part of an ancient structure or monument us gone, it’s gone. Replacements and restorations are ersatz and deceptive. The fire is part of the cathedral’s history, and what remains should reflect it. There are far better—and more ethical– uses for the many millions it will take to restore the spire.

2. Thanks for all the kind comments in light of Ethics Alarms hitting two major milestones on the same day. In commemoration, the blog will launch a new series, Ethics Alarms Retrospective (EAR), focusing on one or more of the  10,000+ posts I have immodestly placed here, most of which even I have forgotten.

For the first installment of EAR,  I offer “The Unethical Humiliation of Sister Rita X”from August 10, 2010. The topic was Sean Hannity’s practice of allowing clearly deranged progressives to have extended exposure on his radio call-in show, so he could engage in cheap mockery with the implication that they are representative of the Left generally. The comments are especially fascinating, almost all of which were Hannity fans who concocted all manner of distortions and rationalizations to justify what was the equivalent of exploiting the mentally ill for laughs. Comment highlight? This:

Again- I don’t expect you to respond- because you already said you would cut this conversation off.
Again- typical lib.
And I have facts.
What have you got besides a hollow ideology and kool aid?

That’s me, all right: a typical lib! By the way, that (minor) post was shared 4 times on Facebook, where as the last several hundred or so have received none. Continue reading

And The Self-Destruction Of America’s Journalism Continues: I Pronounce The Boston Globe Ethics Alarms DEAD

The Boston Globe is the first newspaper I ever read, admittedly because it long had (no more, alas) the best sports section in the country. Even after fate took me away from my beloved home town and deposited me, apparently forever, in Washington, D.C., I continued to subscribe. Many times, notably when the paper’s special investigative unit blew the top off of the city’s deep and long-rotting child molestation scandal among its Catholic priests, leading to the exposure of the unimaginable world-wide scandal that went all the way to the Vatican, the paper validated my loyalty and admiration.

But political bias was always the Globe’s Achilles Heel. The editorial staff was a Kennedy family lapdog, and this metastasized into knee-jerk  Democratic Party support even when it could not be logically justified. Eventually, it was obvious that the paper’s ethics alarms, if not dead, were barely pinging. in April of 2016, the paper suffered a crippling Donald Trump-sparked nervous breakdown, turning itself into a print version of Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds.” It featured a phony front page —a portent of the fake news to come, but not just at the Globe—showing the dystopian future that awaited in the hopefully alternate dystopian universe where  Trump was elected President:

I wrote in part,

So disturbed is the editorial staff of the Boston Globe over the nauseating threat of a Donald Trump presidency that it has jettisoned all established principles of journalism ethics in an embarrassing, self-destructive effort to “stop” him. Mark this down as one more wound on the culture that Trump has inflicted with his luxury ego trip, with the assistance of his irrational supporters, of course….

“This is Donald Trump’s America. What you read on this page is what might happen if the GOP frontrunner can put his ideas into practice, his words into action. Many Americans might find this vision appealing, but the Globe’s editorial board finds it deeply troubling,” the editor’s note reads. Then follows an editorial urging the GOP to stop Trump.

The editorial is fine. The Globe could have even chosen to place it on its real front page instead of creating a National Lampoon imitation and been well within journalism ethics standards. Publishing fake news stories about what a theoretical President Trump might do? This is a spectacular  failure of professionalism and a journalistic disgrace. A newspaper is pledged to report the news, not imagine it. It is not ethically entitled to morph into Saturday Night Live or the Onion because it really, really, really feels strongly about an issue.

(Gee, I really called the news media’s eventual total abandonment of journalism ethics, didn’t I? Where are my bouquets? My Pulitzer?)

That was the end of my regular reading of the Boston Globe. This is the end of my regarding it as a newspaper. The correct term is “rag.” Come to think of it, that may be an insult to rags. Continue reading