Tag Archives: accountability

From “The Pazuzu Excuse” Files: The Justly-Fired TV Reporter’s Lament

Colleen Campbell, a local  Philadelphia television reporter, got herself fired for an obscenity-packed rant berating a cop  outside a Philadelphia comedy club. What she didn’t know was that the whole, ugly thing was filmed. You know that rule that says “ethics is what you do when nobody’s looking except your embarrassed companion and a policeman who you have no respect for anyway because he’s just a cop? That’s the one Colleen whiffed on.

Campbell ae was kicked out of the club for “loud whispering” throughout the show. Once outside, she denied being disruptive to an officer who removed her. The officer replied that Campbell and her male friend needed to just leave the scene. The reporter replied, charmingly,

Or what? Or what, motherfucker? Lick my asshole. How about that? Fucking piece of shit. That’s why nobody likes fucking police … idiots in this fucking town.”

Campbell, 28, didn’t know her act was caught on camera and posted to Facebook until after she received word from the station that she had been fired. Now she says…

“That’s not me or how I talk or act or anything at all…I don’t know what to do. I feel ruined and embarrassed for me and my family….I feel awful…That’s not me or how I speak or how I talk or how I was raised. I had to delete all my social media, because I’m getting threats….I wanna apologize to the officer. I don’t remember the whole altercation at all. I remember feeling attacked. I would never talk like that. It was like watching a whole different me.”

The Kathy Griffin episode sparked several of those currently popular blog posts and web essays about how social media destroys people who make “one mistake” and if it could happen to them, it can happen to you. Ethics Alarms has had several of these posts in the past, always about regular citizens who had an ugly e-mail distributed to the universe by an angry girl friend, or a tasteless or misunderstood tweet to a friend gone viral. No question: these web lynchings are out of proportion to the offense. Continue reading

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Judge John Boccabella

“[These defendants are] good people who made a terrible mistake…Why no one made a phone call to police is beyond me.”

—-Dauphin County (Pennsylvania) Court of Common Pleas Judge John Boccabella,  as he sentenced three former Pennsylvania State University officials, including  former university president  Graham B. Spanier, to jail terms last week for doing nothing after they were informed that told in 2001 that a former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, had been seen molesting a boy in a locker room shower. Sandusky was found guilty of subsequently molesting many other children.

Of course he’s good person—just look at the guy!

This is, of course, the last act of the Joe Paterno/Penn State/Jerry Sandusky tragedy, which burgeoned into an Ethics Train Wreck and occupied as much attention on Ethics Alarms as any other event in the blog’s history. You can review all of that here, if you have the interest or the time.

Right now I want to ponder the judge’s statement with a few questions and observations….

1. By what standard can the judge call this “a mistake’? This is like George Costanza in “Seinfeld” asking his boss if having sex on his desl with the office cleaning woman was wrong, as if the option posed a legitimate puzzle at the time he did it. Was it a mistake because Sandusky turned out to be a serial child predator rather than just trying it out that one time? Was it a mistake because for once the justice system held a university president and other administrators criminally responsible when they looked the other way to protect their precious institution while endangering innocent children? Did Spanier et al. make a “mistake” in calculating the odds? Was the  alleged “mistake” not understanding that “I saw Jerry a huge 50-year old man naked in a shower with a little boy” meant that something was amiss? Do you really believe that was how these men were thinking? Did the judge?

2. Why does the judge say these were good people? Because they had responsible, prestigious jobs? Because people trusted them? Because they are white, or wealthy, or have no criminal records? There are millions of prison inmats who have done less damage than Spanier, Peterno and the rest. Are the good too? Better than the Penn State enablers?

3. It your ethics alarm fails when it is most essential that it ring like crazy, what good is it?

_______________________

Sources: Washington Post, New York Times

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Ethics Verdict: Hillary Clinton Is The Worst Loser In US Presidential History (PART II)

You read PART I here.
As I was saying…
Following Clinton’s invention of a fake reason for her defeat for New York Magazine readers, she told Wellesley grads,

“When people in power invent their own facts and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society,” Clinton said. “That is not hyperbole, it is what authoritarian regimes throughout history have done.”

OK, technically Hillary is not in power, even though she says she won the election. Nonetheless, she is throwing around alternative facts like confetti. The news media was biased against her. “Voter suppression” cost her Wisconsin. My personal favorite was when she gave the cheering, indoctrinated Wellesley fems the alternative history that Richard Nixon was impeached. No, Hillary, your husband was impeached. Nixon had the requisite respect for the office to resign.

Yet I was willing to let bygones be bygones and let all of this go, until yesterday’s head-blowing interview. At Politico, another Hillary booster during the campaign, it was written that while Hillary “made a point to say that she took responsibility for her campaign and ‘every choice’ she made,” she then proceeded to blame everything and everyone else for her fate. This has been her pattern since the Benghazi hearings. Clinton uses some bizarre definitions of “accountability” and “responsibility” that allow her to believe she is being accountable while maintaining that nothing was her fault.

I’ll highlight her most outrageous statements yesterday, noting that neither of her interviewers had the professionalism or integrity to say, “Wait, WHAT???”

“[T]he use of my email account was turned into the biggest scandal since lord knows when. And you know, in the book I’m just using everything that anybody else said about it besides me to basically say this was the biggest nothing-burger ever. It was a mistake, I’ve said it was a mistake, and obviously if I could turn the clock back, I wouldn’t have done it in the first place, but the way that it was used was very damaging. Well, if you went all the way back, doing something that others had done before was no longer acceptable in the new environment in which we found ourselves. And there was no law against it, there was no rule, nothing of that sort. So I didn’t break any rule, nobody said, “Don’t do this,” and I was very responsible and not at all careless. So you end up with a situation that is then exploited, and very effectively, for adverse political reasons. And it was maddening, because in the middle of a hard-fought campaign, it’s hard to stop and say, “Wait a minute, what you think you know about this is not accurate, let me tell you.”

KABOOM!

Speaking of Big Lies…Clinton is even lying about her lies, and going back in time to repeat her false denials when the secret server story broke in 2015. I’m not going to re-hash why her e-mail machinations were unethical and incompetent, how we know that they violated her own department’s policy, and how the “it was done before” and “it was just a mistake” are transparently false. I made myself nauseous writing about it: you can look up the posts and all the supporting links if you have a masochistic streak. But for Clinton still to be selling this spin to misrepresent her deliberately endangering U.S. security so she could hide her personal schemes from the Freedom of Information Act is an act of self-parody.

“The other side was using content that was just flat-out false, and delivering it in a very personalized way, both sort of above the radar screen and below. And you know, look, I’m not a tech expert by any stretch of the imagination. That really influenced the information that people were relying on. And there have been some studies done since the election that if you look — let’s pick Facebook. If you look at Facebook, the vast majority of the news items posted were fake. They were connected to, as we now know, the 1,000 Russian agents who were involved in delivering those messages. They were connected to the bots that are just out of control. We see now this new information about Trump’s Twitter account being populated by millions of bots. And it was such a new experience. I understand why people on their Facebook pages would think, “Oh, Hillary Clinton did that, I did not know that. Well that’s going to affect my opinion about her.” And we did not engage in false content. We may have tried to put every piece of information in the best possible light, and explanations, but we weren’t in the same category as the other side.”

What fake news items on Facebook caused people not to vote for Hillary? The Russian hacks, if they were Russian, merely reveled the ethical rot within the DNC, Hillary’s campaign, and the Clinton Foundation. These were not “lies.” They were inconvenient truths, like the fact that Donna Brazile was using her position at CNN to give Hillary debate questions in advance.

I get the nomination. So I’m now the nominee of the Democratic Party. I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party. I mean it was bankrupt, it was on the verge of insolvency, its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong. I had to inject money into it …Donald Trump, who did nothing about really setting up any kind of data operation, inherits an RNC data foundation that, after the Republicans lost in 2012, and they thought they had a very good operation with the setup that Romney did called ORCA, they thought that was really state of the art, they lose.

So they raised — best estimates are close to a hundred million dollars, they brought in their main vendors, they basically said, “We will never be behind the Democrats again,” and they invested between 2012 and 2016 this hundred million dollars to build this data foundation. They beta tested it. They ran it … somebody was able to determine about 227,000 surveys to double check, triple check, quadruple check, the information.

So Trump becomes the nominee and he is basically handed this tried and true, effective foundation.”

The GOP also thought their data system was sound in 2012, too. No Presidential election data foundation is “tried and true” until it works in the election. Meanwhile, Clinton is blaming her party for her loss, though her campaign vastly out-raised and out-spent the Republicans.

“Seventeen agencies, all in agreement, which I know from my experience as a Senator and Secretary of State, is hard to get. They concluded with high confidence that the Russians ran an extensive information war campaign against my campaign, to influence voters in the election. They did it through paid advertising we think, they did it through false news sites, they did it through these thousand agents, they did it through machine learning, which you know, kept spewing out this stuff over and over again. The algorithms that they developed. So that was the conclusion. And I think it’s fair to ask, how did that actually influence the campaign? And how did they know what messages to deliver? Who told them? Who were they coordinating with, or colluding with?…so the Russians — in my opinion and based on the intel and the counterintel people I’ve talked to — could not have known how best to weaponize that information unless they had been guided…Guided by Americans and guided by people who had polling and data information.”

This is pure conspiracy theory ranting. The most damaging information that came out were the actual e-mails showing the DNC’s and Clinton’s campaign’s corruption, and the transcripts of Hillary’s speeches pandering to Wall Street. Any idiot could see that these things would be damaging to Clinton without “polling and data information.” How much polling does one need to know that corruption, lying, influence peddling and cheating are bad?

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Ethics Verdict: Hillary Clinton Is The Worst Loser In US Presidential History (PART I)

Yes, having to write this post makes me feel like Michael Corleone in “Godfather III.”

I considered giving Hillary her well-earned Worst Presidential Election Loser award after her embarrassing Commencement speech at Wellesley, but the wag who wrote “Why did Hillary dress up like Monica Lewinsky at Wellesley? to accompany this photo…

…made me laugh, and in my lightened state decided, “Nah! Why bother? Leave the poor woman alone.”

For I do feel sorry for Hillary Clinton. I feel sorry for anyone who loses the Presidency despite winning the popular vote. I would think it could drive someone crazy. In the play “Inherit the Wind,” there is a scene in which the wife of Matthew Harrison Brady (a thinly-disguised fictional avatar for three time Presidential loser William Jennings Bryan) begs for sympathy for her blow-hard husband, asking a critic to imagine what it must be like to have a Presidential election victory speech written and in his pocket three separate times and to never get to deliver it. Well, knowing you received the most votes and still can’t give the speech has to be much, much worse.

Then came yesterday’s orgy of excuses and recriminations as Clinton, looking and sounding angry and bitter, was interviewed at a tech conference hosted by Recode’s Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg. And she puuuulled me back!

So now I have to review Hillary’s revolting and self-indicting Blame Everyone tour. Let’s begin by stating that no defeated Presidential candidate has ever done anything like this before, not even Richard Nixon. Nixon’s poor loser meltdown was after he lost the California Governor’s race in 1962. When he lost to Kennedy in 1960, his conduct was exemplary, refusing to demand a recount even when there was evidence, as there frequently was with the Kennedys, of shady operations. For a loser to engage in repeated recriminations and bitter pronouncements less than a year after losing is unprecedented. It is also —and forgive me for repeating myself from prior posts–disgusting, despicable and shameful for a defeated candidate to join a “resistance” against the lawfully elected winner. This is especially true in Clinton’s case, when she furiously condemned candidate Trump for suggesting that he might not accept his defeat. Continue reading

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Unethical Quote Of The Week: New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. [UPDATED and CORRECTED]

“Our followers on social media and our readers across the internet have come together to collectively serve as a modern watchdog, more vigilant and forceful than one person could ever be. Our responsibility is to empower all of those watchdogs, and to listen to them, rather than to channel their voice through a single office.”

—-New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr, announcing that the Times was eliminating its “public editor” and its public editor position.

The decision was bad enough, the disingenuous excuse was almost worse. Yes, by all means, the Times doesn’t need an independent, internal expert on journalism ethics to blow the whistle when the Times ignores its duties of competence, independence and objectivity and breaches its own ethics code: the overwhelmingly left-wing readers the Times panders too daily will keep it on the straight and narrow! Besides. why does the Times need an ethics cop now? After all, the public’s trust in the news media, of which the Times is supposed to be the role model, has never been higher!

Well, no, actually, the public’s trust in journalism has never been lower, and the New York Time’s blatant bias during the 2016 campaign and in the wake of Donald Trump’s election is one of the main reasons. Tell me: if an organization finds its public trust diminishing drastically, which act shows a sincere interest in addressing that distrust and reversing it…

A. Hiring an independent journalism ombudsperson who investigates instances of dubious journalism ethics and reports to the public in the paper, no matter what the results, entering criticism and recommending changes as needed, or

B. Eliminating the above position entirely?

The New York Times chose B. What this indicates is that the Times doesn’t care about the public trust, just its readers’ trust. It knows most of its current readership wants an aggressive progressive advocacy rag, not bold, objective and independent journalism. When a new less-progressive-than-usual op ed writer dared to suggest that critics of climate change orthodoxy be listened to respectfully, Times readers tried to get him fired. Continue reading

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When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: A Coach With CTE Continues To Allow Young Players To Risk Brain Damage

…but he felt really guilty about it, so that’s OK.

The New York Times had a very strange sports story yesterday. Its subject was the late Don Horton, a prominent assistant coach at Boston College and North Carolina State for nearly 20 years who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease but was also experiencing symptoms linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated hits to the head strongly linked to football. The sensitive reporter, Bill Pennington asks,

“Was his deteriorating health, Horton wondered, a consequence of his many years as a football lineman?” Even worse, he worried, was he responsible for exposing hundreds of players to the kind of head trauma now impairing his life? After all, as he had recruited and encouraged scores of athletes to play major college football….There was only one way to be sure if he had C.T.E. His brain would have to be examined post-mortem, the only way to confirm the disease since there is no reliable test for the living. At first Horton balked, but as his cognitive difficulties intensified, he relented and even insisted that the findings of his brain examination be made public.”

The Times article makes this sound like a noble and brave resolution of his crisis of conscience. It was not, however. Having his brain dissected after his death was no sacrifice at all; Horton would be dead, of course.  In the meantime, Horton, despite his symptoms and his wife’s investigation into them, continued sending young men out to get their brains beat in.

We learn,

In 2009, seven years before Horton died, [Horton’s wife] called Chris Nowinski, a co-founder and the chief executive of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, and told him that she thought her husband had C.T.E. She also raised her suspicions with Horton’s doctors, but they said that, even if true, it would not change the course of his treatment.

Horton continued his duties at North Carolina State.

“He never missed a day of work and still produced great offensive linemen,” said Jason Swepson, an assistant coach at North Carolina State at the time. “You could see him struggling sometimes, but he never opened up about it because, I think, he didn’t want to feel like he was letting the group down.”

At home, however, Horton’s illness was leading to a variety of changes, physically and philosophically. His daughters, Libby, 14, and Hadley, 9, had begun playing soccer, but Horton pointedly refused to allow them to head the ball in games or in practices, aware that some studies had linked heading to brain injury.

“Don told them, ‘If I ever see you head the ball, I’ll run onto the field and yank you off myself,’” Maura said.

Although Horton kept his misgivings about football’s potential consequences within his household, he talked about it regularly.

“Don would ask, ‘Are we just carrying this cycle on?’” Maura Horton said. “That was a question I couldn’t answer. But it’s definitely the right question to ask.”

It’s not just the right question to ask, it was a question with an obvious answer, and both Hortons knew it. YES he was just carrying the cycle on. YES, he was continuing to coach college players when he had first-hand, personal knowledge of the horrible fate in store for some or many of them as a result, and said nothing.Was he responsible for exposing hundreds of players to the kind of head trauma now impairing his life?” If he refused to let his daughters head the ball while playing soccer, we know he was responsible, and so did Coach Horton. Was he in denial? Was he willing to let his player risk crippling cognitive impairment because he wouldn’t and couldn’t give up the only job he knew? Why does the Times suggest that there was any question about his culpability or breach of duty?

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A GOP Candidate Wins A House Seat In Montana Despite Attacking A Reporter The Night Before The Election. What’s Going On Here?

Yesterday, in an Ethics Alarms post pointing out that nobody should vote a person who physically attacks reporters, or indeed, who attacks anybody, into Congress, I wrote,

What kind of person would vote for Gianforte after last night’s display? The kind of person who argues that character doesn’t matter in elected officials, only their positions.

And idiots, of course.

Candidate/Thug Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate, won the election nonetheless with over 50% of the votes. Rob Quist, the Democrat, received only 44%. Does this mean that over 50% of Montana voters are idiots? No, that wouldn’t be a fair conclusion. An estimated 60% of voters had turned in their ballots already, so the Gianforte voters in that batch weren’t necessarily idiots. (As I implied in the post yesterday, the advocates for voting before election day, thus allowing late-arriving information about the candidates—as in, “Hey! This guy is an unstable, volatile jerk with the judgment of a bar room goon!” to have minimal effect on  election results, have embraced an irresponsible, idiotic even, policy.)

Gianforte’s victory illuminate  other ethics issues, hwoever:

1. Addressing supporters in his victory speech, Gianforte apologized to the reporter he body-slammed, the journalists who witnessed the attack, and Montanans, saying “When you make a mistake you have to own up to it. That’s the Montana way.”

Ugh, yecchh, gag, petui!

If that’s the Montana way, why did Gianforte sit back and allow his campaign to blame the episode on the reporter? Remember, the statement from Gianforte’s staff, which is to say Gianforte,  said that the reporter,

“entered the [campaign] office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions….After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”

That isn’t owning up. That’s covering up, spinning and lying. Does the new Congressman’s apology mean that he acknowledges that his campaign was lying? When will he own up to that?  An apology now is cheap, cynical and meaningless, for Gianforte won, and Montana is stuck with him for two years.

2. A Montana TV station refused to inform its viewers that Gianforte had assaulted and battered a reporter. NBC affiliate KECI, recently purchased by the conservative media conglomerate Sinclair Broadcasting, adamantly kept the report of the attack and the audio of the incident,  arguing that “The person that tweeted [Jacobs] and was allegedly body slammed is a reporter for a politically biased publication.”  That “biased publication” was the Guardian, and the tweeter was Ben Jacobs, the victim. His account was confirmed by reporters from Fox News…you know, that liberal network that is always trying to make Republicans look bad. The anchor of the evening newscast, Laurel Staples, read a statement that said, in part, “NBC Montana takes pride in reporting only verifiable facts from an independent, reliable sources.”

 NBC News, including the Today show and affiliates across the country, played the audio of the altercation between Jacobs and Gianforte, who was charged with misdemeanor assault, indicating that reports of the episode were reliable. Continue reading

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