This Just In: Journalism Ethics Is Still Dead…

An ad currently running on the New York Times website:

Drone footage that shows Greenland melting away. Long narratives about the plight of climate refugees, from Louisiana to Bolivia and beyond. A series on the California drought. Color-coded maps that show how hot it could be in 2060.

The New York Times is a leader in covering climate change. Now The Times is ramping up its coverage to make the most important story in the world even more relevant, urgent and accessible to a huge audience around the globe. We are looking for an editor to lead this dynamic new group. We want someone with an entrepreneurial streak who is obsessed with finding new ways to connect with readers and new ways to tell this vital story.

The coverage should encompass: the science of climate change; the politics of climate debates; the technological race to find solutions; the economic consequences of climate change; and profiles of fascinating characters enmeshed in the issues. The coverage should include journalism in a variety of formats: video, photography, newsletters, features, podcasts, conferences and more. The unit should make strategic decisions about which forms are top priorities and which are not.

The climate editor will collaborate with many others throughout the newsroom, but will operate apart from the current department structure, with no print obligations. (The Times is also searching for editors to lead similar teams exploring education and gender.)

This is, of course, smoking gun evidence of a political agenda, bias, and the intent of the Times to warp policy and public opinion according to what it has already determined is “the most important story in the world.”  Continue reading

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Filed under Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions, Science & Technology

Did You Know Hillary Confessed To Repeated, Intentional And Blatant Unethical Conduct As Secretary Of State? Because She Did…

Confess

Now, to be fair, you may not have realized that Clinton made this unusually candid—for her—admission, because the statement was made in a phone interview with CNN, with a typically ignorant and incompetent interviewer (“THIS is CNN!”) who either doesn’t know the first thing about government ethics, or doesn’t care if Clinton complied with them. Moreover, virtually no mainstream media sources pointed out the significance of what Clinton said, because…well, read the last part of the last sentence.

Talking about the various news reports and new email content that indicated a disturbingly close relationship between Clinton’s Foundation interests—that is, raising money that assists the Clintons’ personal fortunes in various ways—and her State Department duties, which were supposed to occur completely free of such conflicts of interest, Hillary said, straight out…

“I know there’s a lot of smoke and there’s no fire.”

Bingo! Gotcha! DINGDINGDINGDINGDING!

And there we have it, Ladies and Gentlemen, a confession of official wrongdoing! For as an officer of the Executive Branch and a government employee, Clinton was subject to  Executive Order 12731 of October 17, 1990, “PRINCIPLES OF ETHICAL CONDUCT  FOR GOVERNMENT OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES,” as are all such officers and employees today. That order, which has the force of law, as well as the order it amended, states very clearly, in black and white, that.. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

Observations On S.F. 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s Anti-America Protest

Colin-Kaepernick-24

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of the national anthem before Friday night’s 49ers-Green Packers exhibition game as a protest against the United States. He has apparently been doing all NFL preseason, but it wasn’t noticed until the most recent game.

Questioned about his certain to be controversial gesture, the mixed race athlete—he had one white parent, and was raised by a white adoptive parent—explained thusly:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Observations:

1. Give him credit for one thing: he isn’t trying to take advantage of the King’s Pass. His star immunity is at low ebb, since Kaepernick’s status with his team is shaky and his job as a first string quarterback is in doubt, not because of his political views, but because he has been injured too much and not all that great when healthy. What he did was not in his own best interests. It took guts.

So does leaping naked into a zoo’s tiger exhibit.

2. His action wasn’t a protest. It was grandstanding. It generated publicity for a message that was incoherent. All his gesture said was “Colin Kaepernick is upset and has an irrationally inflated concept of how much anyone cares, or should care.”

3. Kaepernick could have salvaged his act by being ready with a well-reasoned, well-stated, articulate and persuasive explanation. Based on what he said, which was ignorant, counter-factual and foolish, we must assume that he actually gave thought to his response, and that this pathetic statement was the best he could come up with. That shows him to be incompetent, ill-informed, and not very bright. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, History, Race, Sports

Comment Of The Day: “The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies: An Ethics Drama”

Angry-Blogger

I haven’t made one of the spammed Ethics Alarms hate comments a Comment of the Day for a while, but this one really asked for it. The commenter, who calls herself Sarah Bradley but isn’t, was spitting vitriol over a five-year old Ethics Alarms post that I remember well, the story about a mother’s attempt to shame and bully a cooking show star, Ina Garten, who politely turned down her sick son’s “Make A Wish Foundation” request that she hold a special live cooking exhibition just for him.  The mother  used her blog to call down the web Furies on the chef’s head, and I, as you may notice that I often do, pointed out that the conventional wisdom that the chef deserved the abuse was ethically obtuse, writing in part…

Garten’s refusal was not wrong, and it was not justification for criticism. There are many legitimate reasons for her choosing not to give Enzo an audience, including just not wanting to do it. Do all of us have an obligation to do a favor for a stranger simply because they asked for it? No. Do we have an obligation to do the favor if the stranger is sick? Young? Old? Dying? No, no, no and no. Accept any other answer, and we are declaring that whenever the Make-a-Wish Foundation delivers a request, it is really a demand, backed by the threat of public humiliation….dictatorship of the desperate, attack of the compassion bullies.

Would I make Enzo’s wish come true, under almost any circumstances? Yes. Ina Garten doesn’t have to. Would most celebrities? Yes…and Ina Garten still doesn’t have to. Being kind and generous is ethical, but saying no when there is no ethical duty to say yes is not unethical. If Enzo is making a request, then the request can be refused. If its isn’t really a request, but an order, Enzo has no right to issue it. There is a duty to rescue. There is a duty to confront and report wrongdoing. But a duty to comply with the random desires of sick children? Absolutely not.

I wish all of my posts were as clear and well-argued as that one. Yet “Sarah” thought it was deserving of an abusive, ethics- and logic- free attack, because she reasons like about 85% of the commenters on most blogs and news aggregating sites. There no objective logic, no balancing of interests, no understanding of values, no ability to distinguish rationalizations from ethical analysis, no ability to see a complex situation from multiple perspectives, no objectivity. All there is to support “Sarah’s” indignation and fury is knee-jerk emotion and pre-digested platitudes. She is typical of the average member of the public who has never been trained in logic or ethics, doesn’t understand why that’s a handicap, and who allows their lizard brain to guide them through life, making society and the culture a mine field for the rest of us.

I didn’t get into the ethics field to help people like Sarah, because people like Sarah are too far gone to help. I’m an ethicist to try to help people, and their kids, and anyone they may have an influence upon, to avoid becoming like her. When you can’t think any clearer than Sarah, you are incompetent at life, and others will suffer.

Here is Sarah Bradley’s Comment of the Day, on the post, The Barefoot Contessa and the Compassion Bullies: An Ethics Drama: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Comment of the Day, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity

About That Obviously Dishonest Disclaimer On Movies And TV Shows

“The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.”

The character of Jake LaMotta is fictional, and any similarity to Jake LaMotta is purely coincidental...

The character of Jake LaMotta is fictional, and any similarity to Jake LaMotta is purely coincidental…

This and disclaimers like it on movies and TV shows have driven me crazy for a long time. So often the text is an obvious lie. I first began obsessing about it during the early days of “Law and Order,” when Dick Wolf’s show would herald the fact that its episodes were “ripped from the headlines,” then end with a disclaimer that said it was completely fiction. Sometimes, an episode was obviously based on a specific crime and specific individuals, and the actors were made up to look like the actual criminals. The disclaimer was and is a lie, and since it was obvious, why did they bother? Legally, it does no good to publish a boilerplate disclaimer that says, “We’re not really doing what any fool can see we are doing, ” except to discourage potential lawsuits by stupid people. I am of the (minority, unfortunately) position that it’s unethical for lawyers to author legally meaningless language like this for the sole purpose of misleading the ignorant.

The background of the disclaimer is interesting; Slate just published the story, which I realized I once knew but had forgotten.

The 1932 MGM film “Rasputin and the Empress”, was based on the events leading up to the fall of the Romanovs, and starred John, Ethel and Lionel Barrymore. Its most famous sequence was a version of the antic assassination of Rasputin, an event largely known because of the book written by one of the assassins, Prince Felix Yusupov, portrayed as “Prince Paul Chegodieff” in the film. The film also suggested that the Prince’s wife, “Princess Natasha,” was raped by Rasputin—suggested but not shown, since Rasputin was played by John Barrymore (Drew’s grandfather) and the princess was played by his sister, Ethel.  Princess Natasha was the avatar for Princess Irina Alexandrovna of Russia, who, like her husband Prince Felix, had escaped Russia before all the royals were killed.

Yusupov, living in Paris, heard about the film and decided that since audiences would recognize him as  the fictional killer of Rasputin, they would also assume that his wife was raped by Rasputin. She wasn’t, or if she was, only she and the Mad Monk knew about it. Officially, Irina and Rasputin had never met. An MGM researcher had pointed out this factual discrepancy to the studio during production and warned that the Yusupovs could sue, but was pooh-poohed off the lot. She was correct, however, for Irina Yusupov sued the studio, and after watching the movie twice, the British jury awarded her £25,000, or about $125,000. MGM took the film out of circulation for decades, and when it turned up on Turner Classic Movies, the pseudo-rape scene was gone. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, History, Law & Law Enforcement

A Horror Story From The Law vs. Ethics Files: The Mario Hernandez Saga [UPDATED and BACKDATED!]

Mr. Hernandez? Mr. Unger would like a word with you...

Mr. Hernandez? Mr. Unger would like a word with you…

This is complicated.

Occasionally a trusted source sends me to a link or a news item that turns out to be old, sometimes many years old. I assume it is current (I need to learn to check the dates), write the post, and then find out that what I wrote about took place in 1978. I usually trash the post. There have been a few like this. Now this story came to me from a trusted source, and linked to a current story, or so I thought. The post, on a site called “America Now,” is dated August 25, 2016. But WordPress pointed out, right at the bottom, that I had in fact written about Mario Hernandez’s citizenship problems two years ago. What? For a second I thought there were TWO Marios (Mario brothers?), who had the same problem, but no, they are the same guy.

The story  I was given today, based on this New York Times story from May of 2014, led to the post below. There is an ending to the story, which was explicated by me in the post of two years ago. However my two posts were on two different ethics issues, and today’s though inspired by a stale story, is still ethically useful. Pretend Mario plight isn’t two years old: that doesn’t alter the principles involved, or my analysis. I’ll tell you what happened at the end of the post..

***

Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, War and the Military

Ann Coulter’s “In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!” : Unethical Book Title Of The Millennium?

Ann Coulter: Take seriously at your own risk. Just like Donald Trump...

Ann Coulter: Take seriously at your own risk. Just like Donald Trump…

I have long been waffling over whether to bother mentioning Ann Coulter’s cheerleading for Donald Trump, which began almost a year ago. Coulter is freakishly unethical and proud of it, a rare professional fick, whose shtick (I guess one shouldn’t use fick and shtick in the same sentence: sorry) is to pander to The Angry Right in such obnoxious and inflammatory terms that the Angry Left goes bananas with hate, thus selling books and providing her with media appearances to promote them. I have  assigned her to the dark corner reserved for performance artists who posture and lie for a living, for that’s Ann. I have no idea what she really believes, just as I have no idea what James Carville, Milo Yiannopoulos or Rush Limbaugh really believe—and anyone who really thinks that they know what Donald Trump really believes is beyond redemption, since it is quite evident that he doesn’t know himself.

Thus when I heard that Ann’s latest book, doubtlessly written in about five hours of dictation and containing some measure of her trademark snark, which she is very skilled at, was called “In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!,” I was sorely tempted to express my disgust, especially since Coulter, an educated woman and a lawyer, actually stooped to using that mark of an illiterate, “awesome,’ like the book was authored by a modern day Gidget. But why play into Ann’s hands? This is why she writes this crap: to cause buzz on the net and cable so she can sell the books to right wing idiots who will be soothed by her calculated pose.

The title is an absurd, almost Orwellian (“War is Peace”) lie. Trump, as much as anyone alive,  cannot be trusted regarding anything, especially to hold great power. The reasons for this are evident and undeniable, and have been so long before running for President, wrecking the Republican Party, threatening the United States’ public’s faith in democracy and handing the White House to the most corrupt candidate a Presidential race has ever featured was a twinkle in the Donald’s eye.

However, listening to Trump blather about immigration last week, and seeming to renege on his signature promise to depart each and every illegal immigrant, almost compelled one to direct massive schadenfreude Ann Coulter’s way. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics