Tag Archives: accountability

My Mistake! I Thought Having Trump As President Would Teach Our Kids To Be Uncivil, Vulgar Assholes…I Didn’t Foresee Anderson Cooper Helping Out

[The title above is a reference to this post from last year, in case you missed it despite my linking to it just about every other day since…]

On the May 19, 2017 edition of Anderson Cooper 360, the CNN host became frustrated with President Trump’s flack Jeffrey Lord—consider him this President’s less slick version of Lanny Davis or less repulsive version of Paul Begala—-as Lord defended the President’s alleged description of former F.B.I. Director James Comey as a “nut job,” leading to this immortal exchange.

Cooper: If he took a dump on his desk, you would defend it.

Lord: What? [Starts laughing.]

Niiiiice! So professional! So respectful to the President of the United States and any CNN viewers left who have a shred of civility, decency, and sense of  etiquette in public discourse!

So disgusting.

As we know, a back-up weekend weatherman who said this about the  previous President or any before him would have been fired before he finished the 7 day forecast. Cooper, however, is permitted this gutter level breach of courtesy and professionalism, because 1) as CNN’s star, he is held to a lower standard (The Star Syndrome) than weekend weathermen, as we saw in when Cooper smirked and joked with Rachel Maddow about the gay term “teabagger” in order to mock the Tea Party movement,  2) CNN has normalized blatant partisan gestures and outbursts by its talking heads, and 2) this President of the United States  has been found  unworthy of respect and courtesy, or professional journalism standards. CNN will do nothing to discipline Cooper or send te message that his conduct is unacceptable, because the dirty little secret is that as long as President Trump is the target, it is acceptable. At this point in its devolution, CNN is cheerleading what has been accurately called a slow-motion attempted coup by the one-time news network’s party of choice. A Harvard media study released last week showed CNN to be the most unbalanced of all major news outlets in its reporting on the President’s first 100 days, with 97% of its coverage negative in substance or tone.

Cooper later apologized to Lord in the segment, saying, “I like having your voice on here and I think you’re an important voice to have, so I’m sorry I was a little crude. And you defend the president very well, and that’s your job.”

A little crude? Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, language, Professions, U.S. Society, Workplace

The Flint Water Bills: Is This The Most Outrageous Ethics Story Of The Year?

“What do you mean it’s brown and poisonous? Water is water! Pay up.”

This story out of Flint, Michigan is so wrong, so astoundingly and obviously unethical, such a satire of government ineptitude at its worst and bureaucratic soullessness at its most damning, that I literally didn’t believe that it could be anything but a momentary hiccup, and that it would be resolved by the state, the city, an elected leader with guts and the sense God gave a mollusk, within a day or two, after the voices of millions were heard screaming. “WHAT????”

I was wrong. You want to know why it is insane to place your freedom, health, livelihood and survival and that of your families in the hands of government? THIS is why. Exactly this.

Thousands of Flint, Michigan residents risk losing their homes if they don’t pay their overdue water bills  less than three years since the start of a prolonged, botched, water safety crisis that led to extremely dangerous levels of lead in the city’s water pipes. In a move that will stand through the ages as the epitome of shamelessness and gall,  the Flint government sent threatening letters to more than 8,000 residents warning them they will face a tax lien if they do not pay water and sewage bills they have avoided for six months or more. Residents have until May 19 to pay the delinquent bills, and after that, a process begins that could end with foreclosure on their homes. Flint sends these letters annually to property owners whose payments are at least six months late, but skipped this process in 2016, given that the water the residents weren’t paying for was only technically water at all. The better label was “poison.” This year’s letters cover two years of past-due balances. Continue reading

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Filed under Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

Update On Stephen Colbert’s “Cock Holster” Slur: Questions Answered Regarding The Comic, CBS, His Fans And Supporters…And The News Media

As discussed here yesterday, Stephen Colbert strung a gross, vulgar, precedent-shattering string of ugly ad hominem insults against the President of the United States this week, a volley that included the homophobic slur “cock holster,” insinuating, because such an image is so hilarious, that the leader of his country fellates Vladimir Putin. Last night he answered the collective criticism. Here is what he said, and said with the repulsively smug “aren’t I clever and amusing!” smirk that has always made this comic hard to watch for me (Samantha Bee does the same thing). As a professional director, I think it’s bad technique, and hackish. But I digress…back to Colbert:

“I’m your host, Stephen Colbert. Still? I am still the host? I’m still the host!!…Now, if you saw my monologue Monday, you know that I was a little upset at Donald Trump for insulting a friend of mine. So at the end of that monologue, I had a few choice insults for the president in return. I don’t regret that. He, I believe, can take care of himself. I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So, it’s a fair fight…While I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be.”

Then he pandered to the critics who condemned his “cock holster” joke as homophobic by blathering briefly about how anyone who expresses love for any human being is a “hero” [Translation: “I love you all, Gay Progressives! Don’t be mad at me! Remember when you got mad at Alec Baldwin for calling a photographer a cocksucker? You forgave him because he votes for the right party, and so do I! “], and introduced gay actor Jim Parsons, who plays the uber-nerd in “Big Bang Theory” to prove it.

What did this moment tell us about Stephen Colbert?

Stephen Colbert doubled down on using the phrase cock holder on the air in a high profile network show. He did not apologize or retract the worst vulgarity that has ever been allowed to go out to millions on a pre-taped network show, and that record-worst vulgarity was directed at the President of the United States, who, like it or not, is the representative of our democracy world-wide and who, like it or not, carries the mantle of all who preceded him.

Colbert’s  justification for this is that the President insulted Colbert’s “friend,”  “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson [if you believe that Colbert and Dickerson are any more real friends than Colbert and the CBS cafeteria ladies, I have a bridge to sell you], so this justified exporting obscenity, uninvited, into millions of American homes, and further polluting political discourse and civil society.

This is signature significance. Stephen Colbert is an irresponsible, hateful, fame-addled, unprofessional asshole without the decency or ethical awareness to know when he has crossed a big, bold, long-standing cultural ethics line, or the courage to accept responsibility for it. His ethics ignorance was on display in his scripted–scripted! Like “cock-holster,” somebody was paid to write this garbage—comments. He expressed or embraced the unethical logic of Rationalizations #2, 7, 13, 14, 19A,  52,  and more.

Revealingly, Colbert, an alleged comedian, did not cite #54, The Joke Excuse, though as a holder of the Jester’s Privilege, that one was properly available to him. This signaled that Colbert was NOT joking, but being genuinely and intentionally hateful and insulting the President of the United States in as gross and demeaning a manner as he could, and that he meant it. Well, that’s an abuse of his position and the platform provided to him by CBS.

Meanwhile, Colbert stacked all of his chips on  Rationalization #11. The King’s Pass, The Star Syndrome, or “What Will We Do Without Him?” He knows he can get away with conduct that would get lesser lights suspended or fired, so, like all organization high-performers who double as ethics corrupters, Colbert acted accordingly. Not only that, he gloated about it. “See? Can’t fire ME!”

There needs to be a special word for “contender for king of the assholes.”

On the plus side for Ethics Alarms, Colbert did give me a new Rationalization for the list, which I will add today: “The Pest’s Justification.” That’s when misconduct and abuse is justified because the abuser is less powerful than the abused. Abuse is abuse. “He can take care of himself” is not a justification.

Finally, the statement that he would change “a few words” is cowardly and slimy, displaying the character of a banana slug. Why would you change those words, Asshole? Because they got you in trouble? Why were they “cruder than they needed to be”? Needed to be for what purpose? If you won’t apologize for using those words, then say what the words are, again, right here, so we don’t think  you meant “Pricktator.” Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society, Workplace

Ethical Quote Of The Month: Jake Tapper

“Hillary Clinton today accepting full responsibility for the election loss, except for the part when she blamed Comey, Putin, Wikileaks, misogyny, and the media.”

—-CNN’s Jake Tapper in his show intro yesterday, referring to Hillary Clinton’s comments at the Women For Women lunch in New York while being interviewed by Christiane Amanpour.

Bravo, Jake.

What prompted Tapper’s stinging irony was Clinton ‘s first one-on-one interview with a journalist, CNN anchor ( and fan) Christiane Amanpour, since she lost the 2016 election. The setting was a Women for Women International event in New York. Clinton discussed the 2016 election, and framed her answers regarding the stunning loss with this…

“Of course. I take absolute personal responsibility. I was the candidate, I was the person who was on the ballot, and I am very aware of the challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had.”

You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it does. Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Month: ‘Late Show’ Host Stephen Colbert”

I admire various regular commenters here for different qualities: eloquence, perspective, courage, perseverance, integrity, loyalty, humor. Steve-O-in NJ is a one of the commenters I admire for his honesty, and willingness to subject his own conduct, past and present, to uncompromising analysis and objective criticism. This is one of the most difficult, and most useful, skills in improving our life competency of being positive participants in society’s ethical evolution. It also requires no small amount of humility and courage.

Here is Steve-O’s Comment of the Day on today’s post, Unethical Quote Of The Month: “Late Show” Host Stephen Colbert:

This isn’t a monologue. This isn’t analysis. This isn’t humor. It’s a rant, plain and simple, a bunch of angry thoughts and insults strung together and delivered harshly. I’m a seasoned ranter, to the point where judges, colleagues, and my family have told me I would do better if I dropped out the 20% of what I write that’s trash talking. I usually use it as spice, but let’s not kid ourselves, it’s pandering to my like-minded friends who will think it’s funny if I refer to Hillary’s appearance or Bernie’s age or whatever.

I have done a lot worse in the past, the lowest point being my storming up the stairs to my office (before I was in public service) angry after a dispute over a parking space with an Indian guy. I got about a minute and a half into a rant about “these fucking dotheads, who the hell invited them over here? They don’t wash, they don’t know how to drive, they stink of curry and onions, they can’t speak the language, they take jobs away from people who were born here, someone needs to call dotbusters on them…” before a horrified colleague yelled “Steven! Listen to what you’re saying!” Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, language, U.S. Society, Workplace

Unethical Quote Of The Month: “Late Show” Host Stephen Colbert

“The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster.”

Comic Stephen Colbert, in the climax to an anti-President Trump hate-rant, on CBS’s “Late Night”

Ten points regarding Colbert setting several new lows for network fare, in entertainment, in comedy, and in political discourse:

1. “Cock holster,” needless to say, all by itself and without context, is gutter language. It does not belong in network TV monologues. It does not belong at the dinner table. You would not, if you had an atom of respect, common sense, dignity or decorum, use the term as a guest in a home,  in the workplace, in a conversation with your mother, in a conversation with a stranger, or in an exchange with someone within earshot of a child. There is no excuse for using such a term in public, and anyone using such a vulgar phrase in metaphorically littering our civic and cultural environment.

2. Colbert is a performer on a network TV show. The fact that it is on late at night is no mitigation of the ugly conduct here, just a rationalization (#22): at least it wasn’t on “Sesame Street.” Once, the four major TV networks, especially CBS, the Tiffany Network, the network that fired the Smothers Brothers for being excessively disrespectful to President Lyndon Johnson, had departments of standards and practices whose job it was to keep their bonds of trust with the American public that once invited into the collected homes of the nation, they would not abuse the privilege.

Stephen Colbert abused the privilege, and did so deliberately and flagrantly.

3. CBS, as a (once) respectable, responsible cultural leader and communications icon was obligated to suspend Colbert immediately.

If he had made such an ugly comment about Barack Obama, CBS would have done so. If a late night host had made such a comment about any previous President, it would have done so. (If he had made such a comment about President Hillary Clinton, Colbert would have been fired.) It should make no difference to CBS’s assessment of its obligations that it may calculate that a sufficient number of CBS audience members are poisoned with hate and have the manners and tastes of crude lowlifes. The network’s role in society is to maintain and even elevate our cultural standards, not to accelerate their degradation. Continue reading

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Willful Amnesia And The Great Cat And Dog Massacre

Did you know that animal-loving British families killed an estimated 400,000 household pets—cats and dogs—in the first week after Great Britain declared war on Germany in September, 1939? Neither did I, and now a new book by Hilda Kean, “The Great Dog and Cat Massacre,” sets out to remind us of that ugly episode.

As the New York Times review of the book notes and Kean explains, the mass euthanasia was “publicly lamented at the time,” but has since been erased from memory.  But why has it been erased from memory, and how? This is a disturbing cultural phenomenon that Ethics Alarms has covered before, notably in the post about dance marathons in the U.S. during the Depression. One of the definitions of culture is what we choose to remember and what we choose to forget. Forgetting, however, while often psychically soothing and an easy way to avoid guilt and accountability, is a pre-unethical condition. That which has been forgotten can no longer teach us, and a society that collectively decides to pretend something cruel, horrible or traumatic didn’t happen risks allowing it to happen again.

This, of course, is one more reason why the recent progressive mania for historical airbrushing is dangerous, irresponsible and unethical. Keep that statue of “Joe Pa” on the Penn State campus. Leave  King Andy on the twenty dollar bill.  Don’t take down that bust of Bill Cosby in the TV Hall of Fame. All civilizations have fallen heroes, moments of panic, times when they forget their values and betray their aspirations. Of course it is painful and embarrassing to remember these things, but also essential if human ethics are going to progress instead of stagnating, or even going backwards. We associate the elimination of cultural memories with totalitarian regimes, and for good reason, for they are blatant and shameless about it.

No nation is immune from the process’s appeal, however. When I was going to grade school and studying the Presidents of the United States, Jackson and Woodrow Wilson were routinely hailed by (mostly Democratic) historians as among the greatest of the great. The first Jackson biography I read barely mentioned the Trail of Tears. I read four well-regarded biographies of Wilson that ignored his support for Jim Crow, and the degree to which he deliberated reversed advances in civil rights, being an unapologetic white supremacist. The influenza epidemic that killed millions was excised from my school’s history books. Thomas Jefferson’s concubine, Sally Hemmings? Who? Continue reading

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