Category Archives: Journalism & Media

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/11/17

GOOD MORNING!!!

1. From sources within Google management, we learn that the firing of the diversity memo writer, James Demore, was hotly debated, but in the end...

“…Damore’s focus on biology really made it clear that he had crossed the line.” What turned the tide, said sources, was when it was noted that if Damore’s dubious contentions about women’s skills were replaced by those about race or religion, there would be no debate.’

Ethics diagnosis: Bias made them stupid…that is, Google’s political correctness bias. If someone says that blacks, for example, are biologically handicapped for certain jobs, that’s bigotry and ignorance, the equivalent of poor Al Campanis’s  infamous statement to Ted Koppel that blacks “lacked the necessities ” to manage a baseball team. If someone says that holding religious beliefs suggests one may have biological disadvantages, then that individual is, of course, an idiot.

Women, however, are biologically different from men. If this was the reasoning behind Demore’s dismissal, then it is an example of regarding fealty to cant and politically correct mythology as more important than dealing with complex realities.

2. Professional Trump apologist Jeffrey Lord reacted with a tweeted Sieg Heil! to  Left Wing attack group Media Matters organizing a boycott of the Fox News star’s sponsors to force Sean Hannity off the air.  CNN responded by firing Lord, saying, “Nazi salutes are indefensible.”

Except that Lord was not performing a Nazi salute, but alluding to it to make the very accurate point that the Media Matters wing of progressive America is anti-free speech, and, Nazi-like, determined to shut down inconvenient dissent. Sieg Heil!, in the context of Lord’s tweet, did not mean “Yay Hitler, and let’s kill some Jews!” but rather “Media Matters embodies fascism of the left.”

Which it does.

This story is just full of detestable people and organizations. Jeffrey Lord is a dishonest hack whom CNN keeps parading before its viewers to pretend that the network is “balanced” in its relentless critical commentary on the President. Typically Lord is the sole defender of the Administration on a panel of multiple virulent critics, presided over by one of CNN’s myriad anti-Trump hosts. Sean Hannity is a knee-jerk conservative without scruples, perception or shame. Media Matters is a left-wing propaganda machine that makes a mockery of the term “media watchdog” by its very existence, and it is not unfair to rate its creator and leader, David Brock, as unstable. And I don’t like Nazi salutes either, though to call them “indefensible” is just plain wrong. They are defensible on the History Channel, to show how Nazis behaved. They are defensible in films like “Valkyrie,” since Tom Cruise’s doomed hero’s reluctant salute was a central theme.

It is defensible in Mel Brooks movies, which feature the salute frequently, to mock the Nazis. It is defensible in “Dr. Strangelove,” to make the running joke that mysterious ex-Nazi genius has a Nazi arm with mind of its own.

And it is defensible to use the Nazi salute derisively to say,”David Brock and Media Matters are fascist in the their methods and attitudes towards free speech.”

CNN’s firing of Lord falsely implied that he was referencing the salute positively. By doing this, the increasingly unprofessional and untrustworthy network was also able to impugn President Trump; after all, if his most visible defender in a Nazi, that makes the President Hitler, right?

In this particular basket of deplorables, CNN may be the most unethical of all. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/9/2017

Good Morning!

1. On the matter of whether James Demore’s Google memo was unethical in its distribution, which some commenters here dispute, apparently he took the precaution of hiring an employment lawyer before he sent the memo. This strongly suggests that he was not merely opening up an internal discussion, but intentionally provoking a confrontation. If he just wanted to alert management to a problem, the ethical approach was to speak directly to management, not put out an e-mail that he had to know someone would leak to the internet.

Meanwhile, Google’s firing Demore for politely raising legitimate culture issues belies its “Don’t Be Evil” motto. It also may be illegal: Federal labor law bars union AND non-union employers alike from punishing an employee for communicating with fellow employees about improving working conditions. California also has a very strong anti-political discrimination law which “prohibits employers from threatening to fire employees to get them to adopt or refrain from adopting a particular political course of action.”

2. I noted this in yesterday’s post, but it’s worse than I thought: the left-wing news media, which is to say the news-media, has displayed neither discipline, common sense (you can’t keep signalling how biased you are, guys—eventually people will notice) nor ethical journalism by outrageously misrepresenting the message and the tone of the memo. CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, for example, described the memo as saying  “I don’t really like women anywhere near a computer.” That’s false reporting. Do these people understand that anyone can read the memo and see that either they are lying, or haven’t read the memo?

3. The memo’s allegedly “controversial” statement that men and women have some innate physiological, emotional and psychological differences that make their genders (in general, not in specific cases) better or less-well-suited for certain jobs, tasks or fields takes me back to my multiple battles with feminists who insisted that I cast female actors in “Twelve Angry Men.” They simply put their fingers in their ears and hummed when I pointed out that the play was about the group dynamics when twelve disparate male strangers are locked in a room. Do women in such a situation keep threatening each other physically? I think not. Actually, the play is an advertisement for diversity: having women in that largely dysfunctional fictional jury would have probably solved many of its problems, but because women are different from men, not because they are exactly the same, as the Georgetown feminists insisted. Women really need to decide what their stand is: are they different in ways that can be advantageous, or not different at all? They can’t have it both ways. On Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds recalled “The Althouse Rule of Gender Research”, which is, : “Scientists: remember to portray whatever you find to be true of women as superior.”

This goes for commentators, pundits, journalists, educators and, of course, Presidential candidates. ‘We need a woman in the White House (because men screw things up)’ is wise and true, and not sexist at all. Continue reading

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That Viral Google Diversity Memo

I’m going to vary a bit from typical Ethics Alarms practice, and ask for comments on the long, viral, controversial memo by a Google  software engineer named James Demore regarding the company’s diversity initiatives before I do a thorough analysis of it.  The author has been fired, of course. He had to know he would be.

The essay covers a lot more than diversity—gender stereotypes, the radioactive question on innate differences between men and women, ideology over reality, fairness, oppressive cultures, and much more. It is courageous; it’s also unethical. Ambushing an employer like this—it is fair to say that the essay has caused a PR crisis for Google—is never fair. He would argue, I suspect, that this was a form of whistleblowing, as well as taking a stand for other employees who feel as he does but who fear making their opinions known.

I have taught diversity seminars, often in conjunction with sexual harassment and bias training. The area is inherently dishonest. Of course all races, genders and creeds, ages and types should be welcome in a work environment. The claim that diversity is inherently valuable for its own sake, however, is nonsense, a phony “fact” declared to bootstrap other initiatives, such as affirmative action. The alleged innate value of diversity is cited to justify the and out-balance the inherent disadvantages and injustice of not hiring the best applicants for a job or position based on their demonstrated abilities and experience. This is a myth, and pretty obviously so. Diversity is not a virtue when it leads to incompetence, bias, resentment, and staffing that is less talented and effective than it might be. Diversity should never take priority over getting a job done as well as possible.

The bias in the news media’s coverage of the memo has been palpable, and would be very revealing regarding how ideological bias warps coverage, if so much evidence didn’t already exist. This particular biased reporting is likely to mislead more than it should, because the memo is long, and most readers will accept on faith (why? WHY???) the false characterizations of it. It is not a “screed” (The Atlantic), a “tirade” (TIME), or “sexist.” (Recode). The memo does not say that women are inferior,  or “genetically unsuited” for tech jobs. (Washington Post). Nor does he write that women are “biologically unfit” for tech jobs. (CNN). The memo isn’t even “anti-diversity” (Vanity Fair, Forbes). This is how ideological propaganda works: slap labels on inconvenient arguments that will pre-bias an objective or open-minded readers.

You should read the whole thing, which is below. As you read it, think about the fact that Google has stated that the content of the memo violated aspects of Google’s Code of Conduct. I find that incredible, and a greater indictment of Google than the memo itself.

The highlights in blue are mine, and reserved for what I regard as ethically significant sections. Continue reading

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More Speech Policing In The Service Of Political Correctness: The Matt Joyce Affair

“GET HIM! He used a bad word!!!”

An obnoxious fan was verbally abusing Oakland A’s player Matt Joyce during 8-6 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, and he responded in kind, or perhaps worse than in-kind, since what the fan was saying has not been reported. In his angry exchange with the fan, however, Joyce used what is only described as an “anti-gay slur,” which I assume to be “fag” or faggot.” If it was “cocksucker,” which I don’t believe is an anti-gay slur as used by athletes and others, then the description is misleading.

I have no problem with the fact that Joyce was disciplined for this. He’s a professional, and major league players have to put up with fans, even those who behave despicably. (Harassing a player with abusive verbiage is unethical, and the fan should have been ejected.) However, the player’s offense was a single word, and the punishment was two games suspension, which in Joyce’s case is about a $60,000 fine. $60,000 for a single word hurled in the midst of an argument is cruel and unusual punishment. Worse, Major League Baseball required that Joyce now participate in an outreach program with PFLAG, a “family and ally organization” supporting the LGBTQ community. That’s indoctrination, and an abuse of authority. The issue is incivility, not insufficient sensitivity to a minority group.

Joyce grovelled and apologized all over the place on Twitter, as if he had condemned the entire LGBT community. He needed to apologize to the fan he used the word on. That’s all. As we discussed in the case of a previous ballplayer, Kevin Pillar, disciplined this year for using the same term during play, this appears to be virtue-signalling by MLB, and unfair. Would Joyce have been suspended for, say, calling the fan “fuckhead”? Would he have to go to Fuckhead Sensitivity Training?

I wrote, Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/7/17

Good Morning!

1. “Data from the Association of American Medical Colleges indicate that race is a substantial factor in medical school admissions, not one of many. For example, from 2013 to 2016, medical schools in the United States accepted 94 percent of blacks, 83 percent of Hispanics, 63 percent of whites and 58 percent of Asians with top MCAT scores of 30 to 32 and grade-point averages of 3.6 to 3.8; for MCAT scores of 27 to 29 (G.P.A. of 3.4 to 3.6), the corresponding figures are 81 percent, 60 percent, 29 percent and 21 percent. For low-range MCAT scores of 24-26 (G.P.A. of 3.2 to 3.4), 57 percent of blacks were admitted, 31 percent of Hispanics, 8 percent of whites and 6 percent of Asians.” (New York Times, August 4, 2017) Yet the announcement that the Trump Administration Justice Department Civil Rights Division will be looking at illegal discrimination in university admissions was condemned across the progressive spectrum as an effort to bolster white supremacy and proof of the President’s “racism.”

Those statistics are res ipsa loquitur to me; no further evidence is needed. How can they be otherwise? Medical school admissions are discriminating on the basis of race. A similar set of statistics in any field where blacks rather than Asians were at the bottom would be treated by courts as “disproportionate impact” discrimination no matter what the explanation was.

In the same issue of The Times where this appeared, the paper devoted its entire letters section to readers expressing indignation that any Times writer could praise the President for anything.  Micheal Kinsley had triggered them with a tongue-in cheek (Michael has only one tone) “he’s not all-bad” column. This shows the blindness and bias of “the resistance,” Democrats and the Left generally. They cannot even see that open, blatant discrimination based on color, which would have certainly been embraced by a Clinton Administration, is a blight on  democracy, and that striking it down will be an absolute good for which any President responsible would warrant praise.

2.  When the NFL is involved, all ethics alarms freeze up, apparently. In September, former NFL quarterback Michael Vick will be inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame. Vick is a convicted felon and confessed animal abuser as a central figure in a dogfighting ring. The case study by the Animal Legal Defense Fund states, “After his three co-conspirators pled guilty and began cooperating with authorities, Vick also pled guilty, admitting to funding the dogfighting operation and the associated gambling operation. He admitted to knowing about four dogs that his co-conspirators killed in 2002, and he admitted to agreeing to the hanging and drowning of 6-8 dogs who underperformed in 2007. Vick admitted he provided most of the operation and gambling monies, but he claimed he did not gamble by placing side bets or receiving proceeds from the purses”.

As I have noted before, admitting athletes like Vick is defensible for Halls of Fame that make it clear that only what a player does on the field matters. The athlete can be a child-molester, serial rapist, mass murderer or airplane bomber, but as long as he could hit his receiver 70 yards down field, he should be held up  as a great role model for kids and fit to represent the entire sport forever.

Oops!  The Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame has a character clause, unlike the NFL’s Hall. It says an admittee “must be of good character and reputation [and]not have been a source of embarrassment to the university in any way.”

I guess we can assume that the school isn’t embarrassed in any way by its alum being responsible for this…

and this…

or even this…

Good to know. Continue reading

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Unethical Op-Ed Of The Month: “Don’t Weaken Title IX Campus Sex Assault Policies” (The New York Times)

Do you know what this monstrosity of an op-ed finds outrageous about Betsey DeVos’s efforts to undue the Obama administration’s “guilty unless proven innocent”  standard for campus rape allegations?  It involves too much due process, as in basic fairness before a citizen is grievously punished and harmed by the determination that he or she has committed a crime.. The authors, Jon Krakauer and Laura L. Dunn, put it this way:

Damn right it does. Before someone is punished for a vile crime like rape or sexual assault, the accuser’s credibility and motives must be established. Astonishingly, with all the horrific examples of men being falsely accused of rape, like here, here, and here, the campus activists, feminists, progressives and the social justice warriors continue to insist that any female accuser should be presumed to be a victim, meaning that the accused is de facto presumed to be guilty.

“Sex-crime trials, like all criminal proceedings, set an extremely high bar for conviction to diminish the chance that an innocent person will be unjustly incarcerated. In contrast, the harshest penalty a university can inflict in a Title IX hearing is expulsion, an outcome that does not demand such a stringent burden of proof. In these hearings, neither party is favored, and by leveling the procedural playing field, Title IX makes it more likely that students will report sexual violence.”

The problem with this supposed fairness of “neither party is favored” is that for one party, there are no negative consequences of an insufficiently-supported accusation being rejected. For the individual accused, the stakes are far greater, life altering and potentially dire. More:

“Whenever a student is accused of sexual assault, university administrators need to render their judgment with tremendous care, because erroneously determining that a student is responsible for sexual misconduct can cause lasting harm. But just as much care needs to be taken to make sure that students who commit sexual assault are not let off the hook.”

In other words, the ends justify the means. This is the same mindset expressed in 2015 by Democratic Congressman  Jared Polis, at a congressional hearing on campus sexual assault. 

He said, earning him an Unethical Quote and an Incompetent Elected Official designation on Ethics Alarms,

“If there’s 10 people that have been accused and under a reasonable likelihood standard maybe one or two did it, seems better to get rid of all 10 people. We’re not talking about depriving them of life or liberty, we’re talking about their transfer to another university.”

Krakauer and  Dunn similarly shrug off the consequences to a young man of being falsely tarred as a rapist and kicked out of school: it’s not like staying in the college you enrolled in is a right. Like Polis, they pretend that there are minimal adverse life consequences from being branded a rapist. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/6/17 [UPDATED]

 

CORRECTION: somehow, and I have no idea why, this somehow was posted with “Comment of the Day” in the headline. And because today has been marred by illness and unexpected events, I didn’t see the mistake until 7:43 PM. I’m sorry for the confusion. I need a vacation.

1. Continuing my informal survey of the Trump Hate obsession at the New York Times,  the trend I noticed last week in the flagship for “the resistance” on the Times staff, the Sunday Times Review section, continued dramatically. Is this evidence that Times readers are finally getting sick of the paper’s unethical obsession? Time will tell. There was just one Trump Hate piece in the ten page section, out of 16 separate essays and op-eds. (A professor of anti-American studies has an essay that attacks all Trump voters and supporters as racists. Should this count? Nah. If you’re not a Democrat, you’re a racist, that’s all. It isn’t about Trump.) Oh, one of the editorials was questioning the Trump policy approach, but that’s within the normal range of newspaper editorials. The one hate essay was borderline, Maureen Dowd being snarky about the Russia investigation. She’s more of a humor writer than a true pundit, inclined to go where the most laughs lie, and her last paragraph was so, so dumb that it effectively discredited anything else she wrote, or will write, really. Dowd wrote,

“On Thursday, the president pout-tweeted that it was Congress’s fault that “our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low.” So he was blaming lawmakers who punished Russia for a cyberattack on our election rather than blaming Russia for sticking a saber in the heart of our democracy.”

Right, Maureen: Russia letting the American public know that the Democratic Party rigged its nomination, that Barack Obama knew about Hillary Clinton’s breaching her own department’s cyber-security requirements, that the Democratic Party’s candidate was running illegal pay-to-play shakedowns of foreign governments to fill the Clinton Foundation coffers (and her husband pockets), that reporters were colluding with her campaign to make certain she was elected, and that the DNC chair used her CNN position to help Hillary cheat in a debate stuck a saber in our democracy. In other words, Russia stuck a saber in our democracy by uncovering genuine evidence that the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton had stuck multiple sabers in our democracy. I have actually described the “Russian interference” almost exactly this way to die-hard Hillary-ites, and they see nothing amiss with that analysis.

Or was Maureen just making another joke?

2. Some NFL players are now speaking up, protesting that free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being “blackballed” by NFL owners because of his ridiculous anti-National Anthem stunt last season while playing for San Francisco. “Blackballed” implies something unethical and subterranean. We all know why Kaepernick hasn’t been hired: a) he’s not very good and b) he can’t be trusted not to embarrass his team and annoy fans by creating racially divisive (and incoherent) political theater on the field.

Does this “chill” his political speech? All of our political speech is “chilled” to the extent that when we speak out about controversial matters while representing our employers, we risk losing out jobs.  If the NFL put pressure on the teams not to hire this jerk, that would  raise ethical and legal issues, but why would they have to? He was a disruptive employee who wasn’t good enough to get the unethical benefits of the King’s Pass. No team in its right mind would pay millions to Kaepernick. Indeed, teams have an obligation not to. Their job is to win games, make money, and entertain fans. Keapernick undermines all three objectives. Continue reading

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