Now Entering The Ethics Alarms “Bias Makes You Stupid” Hall of Fame: James Hohmann

His bio says that Hohmann is a Stanford University grad and a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, as well as  the author of The Daily 202, the Post’s political newsletter. Here is his recent tweet:

I wonder if he had the same math teachers as Mara Gay and Brian Williams (Item #2)?

The reporter was so eager to mock the President that he concocted a  cheap gotcha! and made himself look foolish. Or maybe not at the Post: this is similar to a lot of the alleged “lies” on the Post’s Trump Lie list, and about as well reasoned: “The President said that he had seen gas selling for 91 cents a gallon, when the average price was $1.94.”

Again I ask, how can the public trust journalists like this to do political analysis? Why would they, unless readers want biased reporting?

_____________________________

Pointer: Instapundit

Aside: A commenter at the Instapundit link above writes,

I may have shared this story on here before, but I remember in my Latin American History course at college, a journalism major raised her hand and asked the following:

“I’ve been doing the reading like you assigned, but there’s one thing I don’t understand. They keep talking about the Andes, but they never say what that is. Are they like some sort of political group?”

True story.
I got more, too.

 

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/8/2020: War, Defamation, Bias, Abortion…What Fun.

ARRGH!

Another day, another “crisis”…

Current reports indicate that Iran regards its casualty free missile strikes last night as a sufficient “tat” for the killing of their master terrorist “tit.” If so, the “ARRGH! WORLD WAR III!!” anti-Trump hysterics were, as usual, wrong, and just embarrassed us, nothing more.. Meanwhile, Iran is refusing to hand over the black box of the Ukrainian airliner that just coincidentally crashed right around the time the missiles were flying. The fact that so many Democrats have allowed their brains and loyalty to rot to the extent that they defend  this awful place in order to attack their own nation’s President is all we need to know about the trustworthiness of their party.

1. Wrapping up the Golden Globes’ ethics issues…Michelle Williams is getting predictable hosannas from her acceptance speech at the Goldden Globes, in which she thanked abortion for her success. She said she wanted a life “carved by my own hand” and “wouldn’t have been able to do this without employing a woman’s right to choose.” The New York Times called these words “potent.” I call them deceitful. I’ll praise an equivalent speech when the woman has the integrity and courage to thank the human being who involuntarily gave up his or her chance to carve out a life with their own hand. The use of “choice” as euphemism for “I get to kill someone who stands in my way” is self-deception.

2. Thinking about Trump’s threat...The President backed down from his threat to target Iranian cultural cites in retaliation for any attacks on Americans after being informed that this would be a war crime under international law. I confess, I did not know this was prohibited, and I am not certain what to think about that. I knew the destruction of ancient architecture and important cultural cites became an issue for the Allies in World War II, but this has yet to make sense to me. The whole concept of the “nice” war is ethically incoherent. The idea of war must be to win as quickly as possible, minimizing deaths and chaos on both sides, especially one’s own. If the prospect of losing a nation’s treasured cultural structures is a deterrent to war, then to say that has no “military value” is simply not true. If you can’t tolerate risking your cultural treasures, don’t get into wars.

The values involved in this controversy are also incoherent. In “The Monument Men,” George Clooney’s sort-of accurate account of the special forces whose job was to track down and rescue great artworks stolen by the Nazis, the question is asked repeatedly, “Was retrieving this painting or statue worth sacrificing a human life?” I have no problem voting “Sure!” If the question is changed to refer to a thousand lives, or 10,000, I’m not so sure. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/25/2018: Thuggery, Double Standards And Hypocrisy…Actually, I Could Use This Title EVERY Morning

Good morn..oh, who am I kidding? It’s a crap morning…

[The Warm-Up is going to be uncharacteristically short. (UPDATE: Well, not that short, as it turned out…) Between my hotel check-out and my arrival home, I spent 11 hours in lines, crowded airports, an airplane, listening to violent thunderstorms and trying to get online with the wi-fi going in and out, not to mention the usual excessive intake of junk y food purchased at exorbitant prices. On top of that, I’m really ticked off, behind the 8-ball in too many projects to mention, out of food, and can’t figure out how to release the emergency brake on the only functioning car we have, my son’s Mercedes.]

1. Another Republican Trump ally abused. The new “resistance” tactic continues to escalate… From the Tampa Bay Times…

“A group of protesters accosted Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi outside the screening of the new documentary about Mister Rogers at the Tampa Theatre on Friday night, questioning her about her recent actions on health care policy and her stance on immigration.

A video of the confrontation, taken by progressive activist Timothy Heberlein of Organize Florida, shows several people shouting down Bondi as she leaves the theater escorted by law enforcement after seeing Won’t You Be My Neighbor….”

Comments:

  • Again, there is an ethical obligation for principled Americans to confront these fascists—meaning the protesters. Every citizen has the right to go to a movie, eat out, or walk their his or her dog in the park without being abused and harassed. Stand up for that right (see: The Declaration of Independence) , or lose it. Bondi should have been rescued on the spot before authorities had to be called.
  • You can check Ethics Alarms by searching for “Pam Bondi.” I am not a fan; indeed, she is an outrageously unethical prosecutor. But the way to address that is through appropriate regulatory bodies, not through the acts of vigilante thugs outside a movie theater.
  • “What would Mister Rogers think about you and your legacy in Florida? Taking away health insurance from people with pre-existing conditions, Pam Bondi!” Maria José Chapa, a labor organizer, can be heard yelling to Bondi in the video. “Shame on you!” Who cares what Mister Rogers “would” think, if he weren’t, you know, DEAD? A. Nobody knows what he would think. B. “What would Jesus think?” is idiotic enough, but Mr. Rogers? This wasn’t only unethical harassment, it was incompetent harassment.

2. Tales of the double standard… From Mediate: Continue reading

Gee, Would It Really Have Been So Hard For Democrats And The News Media To Just To Admit That Rep. Richmond’s ‘The President’s Female Counselor Looks Like She’s Used To Giving Blow-jobs’ Joke Was Wrong, Period? Apparently So. Wow.

Great apology there, Cedric. Ugh.

Why do I think this story is a big deal? I think it’s a big deal because it exposes–

…the white-hot hatred of Republicans by so much of the Left, on the level we have seen with Sarah Palin being attacked for running for office while being a mother, and Martin Bashir on MSNBC wishing that someone would defecate in her mouth, to the extent that they are literally willing to abandon and reject their own alleged core principles…

…calling into question whether they even are core principles, rather than calculated pandering to receptive groups, and thus..

…raising the specter of epic hypocrisy, which is a lack of integrity and honesty.

Then there is this: I have a brilliant younger sister. She is a lawyer, a litigator, a singer, and actress, the hardest working person I know, and someone who has always been able to match or surpass me in every field. Yet I have watched as her achievements have occurred in the teeth of a stiff wind of sexist bias, often making her unhappy, angry, resentful and stressed when she deserved so much better. Growing up with her, it never occurred to me that this kind of prejudice existed until I was the captain of the high school chess team, and saw how the other teams’ players—all male: our team had the only female players (3) in the Greater Boston chess league— were openly contemptuous that a “girl” would presume to challenge them. It was great: my sister slaughtered them. She is a merciless chess player, a killer, and didn’t merely beat her male opponents but humiliated them. She had the best record on the team. Yes, gender bias is personal with me. I hate it.

To briefly recap: Cedric Richmond, an African American  Democratic Congressman, leeringly implied, as a speaker at an event, that KellyAnne Conway’s posture in a photo taken in the Oval Office, “really looked kind of familiar in that position there. Don’t answer — and I don’t want you to refer back to the 1990s.” It was a reference to fellatio, and the old, old slur against successful women that they “suck their way to the top.” This was obvious and blatant, and yet when conservatives and Republicans–and only conservatives and Republicans—protested, Richmond, incredibly, denied that his comments had any offensive content or intent. He is a liar.

Then, in the wake of  stunning silence of any leader of the Democratic Party, major feminist, major news organizations and liberal pundits, CNN’s Jake Tapper pressed Rep. Richmond’s leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, to condemn his remarks. She refused, and also lied. One prominent Democrat without portfolio or post, Chelsea Clinton, did condemn that “joke,” which hardly salvages the party’s integrity and honor. Her mother? Madeleine Albright? Elizabeth Warren? Donna Brazile? Michelle Obama? Senator Gillibrand? Maureen Dowd? Rachel Maddow? Anyone? Hello? Bueller?

Crickets. Yet it was undeniable, as one pundit noted, that a Republican who made such a comment about Valerie Jarret would have been “run out of town.” Wrote The Federalist’s Bethany Mandel yesterday,

This “on her knees” comment from a sitting Democratic lawmaker was largely ignored by the liberal media and those who consume it. This comment is just one of many recent incidents of sexism aimed in Conway’s direction, justified because she’s a traitor to her gender, as many feminists have claimed; a female Uncle Tom. Instead of being applauded for her groundbreaking work as a campaign manager on the biggest upset political campaign in American history, Conway is fodder for attacks on her looks and sexuality, often at the hands of individuals who claim to be feminists.Our president may have a history of misogyny, but it’s becoming increasingly clear many of those in the resistance against him are merely fair-weather feminists: happy to wage or at best ignore attacks on women based on their sex because they think it’s fair to attack the president at any cost.

Bingo.

Now comes the next chapter, as those who have exposed their deep hate and corrupting hypocrisy try to worm their way back into the public trust. Continue reading

Finally, A 2017 Inspiring Ethics Story! A 5th Grade Basketball Team Teaches Adults About Priorities And Values

st-johns-vote

I love this story out of New Jersey.

A Catholic Youth Organization 5th grade basketball team out of Clark, New Jersey had played all season with an 11-child roster including nine boys and two girls. In late January the director of the CYO league informed the team that the word had come down from the archdiocese that playing as a coed team offended Jesus or something and thus violated league protocol T team would either have to remove the two girls from the team or forfeit the rest of its season.

The adults running the team had screwed up, you see.

Oops. Sorry kids. Our bad, you pay for it.

These options were unacceptable, and any 10-year old would see it. In fact, any 10-year old did. Continue reading

Bias Makes The News Media Stupid, But It Makes Politicians Untrustworthy Jerks

Dad warned me about people like you, Al...

Dad warned me about people like you, Al…

The Stupid: Journalists

Let me begin by saying how happy I am that the mainstream news medias “fake news” gambit, where it attempted to blame President Trump’s election on ridiculous hoax stories spread on social media to distract from its own biased, dishonest and incompetent reporting, has blown up in its metaphorical face like those Acme booby traps do to Wile E. Coyote.

Here’s a new and especially stupid example of the biased, dishonest and incompetent reporting, although “dishonest” wasn’t in play.

The website Pop Suger posted an extremely inept and confusing story concerning U.S. Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who made history in the 2016 Olympics as the first female Muslim American to medal for the United States and the first American to compete in the Games wearing a hijab. The site and the reporter signal their untrustworthiness and Bias Makes You Stupid (BMYS) credentials by writing of the controversial immigration halt Executive Order,

“The executive order blocked thousands of refugees, immigrants, and visitors from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the United States before it was struck down by a judge many days later.”

No, you ignorant dolts, the order was not and has not been “struck down.” It has been subject to a temporary restraining order, which is absolutely not the same as being struck down, as any second year law student intern could have told you if you cared more about accurate reporting  than bashing the President.

The story described Muhammad’s statements when she took the stage at a conference last week  and answered a question about the “travel ban” by saying that she had been personally “held at Customs for two hours just a few weeks ago.”  The athlete is not as adept at time sense as she is at her sport, because she eventually had to clarify that “just a few weeks ago” meant “in December.”   The website followed  with an update, but never mind. TIME saw her statement, didn’t check the time frame or notice the update, and tweeted yesterday (remember, the story was clarified two days before, and was wrong to begin with) the headline in TIME’s “Motto.”

“Olympic athlete Ibtihaj Muhammad was detained because of President Trump’s travel ban”

The U.K.’s Independent went with a story titled, “US Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad says she was detained by Customs after Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban.’

The Hill published an article whose opening paragraph read, “A Muslim-American Olympic medalist says she was detained by Customs for nearly two hours without explanation after President Trump’s travel ban was instituted a few weeks ago.”

Sports Illustrated and ESPN also published stories implying that Muhammad’s Customs detention was triggered by Trump’s immigration order,  and other journalists and pundits expressed indignation on social media.

Remember,  Muhammad was detained in December of 2016. Barack Obama was President. Trump’s Executive Order was just a twinkle in his eye. Continue reading

Nate Silver Explains How Not Only Does “Bias Make You Stupid,” It Makes Others Stupid Too.

natesilverEthics Alarms covered some of this topic years ago in a post about how the news media’s unceasing and uncritical fawning over Barack Obama made him a less effective, indeed a bad, President. (If someone can find the link, I’ll post it. I don’t have the energy this morning.) Now polling and stat guru Nate Silver has written an intriguing analysis of the 2016 election that argues that liberal news media bias—you know, that thing that doesn’t exist—perversely helped elect President Trump. In an earlier January essay, Silver wrote,

National journalists usually interpreted conflicting and contradictory information as confirming their prior belief that Clinton would win. The most obvious error, given that Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes, is that they frequently mistook Clinton’s weakness in the Electoral College for being a strength. They also focused extensively on Clinton’s potential gains with Hispanic voters, but less on indications of a decline in African-American turnout. At moments when the polls showed the race tightening, meanwhile, reporters frequently focused on other factors, such as early voting and Democrats’ supposedly superior turnout operation, as reasons that Clinton was all but assured of victory.

In his most recent article, Silver explains… Continue reading

Super Bowl Sunday Ethics Quote Of The Day: Professor David DeSteno

pro-brady

“It’s not about the true facts, or about how honest you believe a group is, or what the group’s past behavior is. It doesn’t matter what sport it is, or what team it is, or even if it’s sports at all. Just being a part of a group, any group, is enough to excuse moral transgressions because in some way, you’re benefiting from it. Your moral compass shifts.”

—-David DeSteno, Northeastern University Professor of psychology, explaining why Boston fans believe the New England Patriots, their coach, Bill Belichik, and their star quarterback, Tom Brady, are as pure as the driven snow, while the rest of the country sees them as detestable

The professor’s point will be familiar to any Ethics Alarms readers who have perused the various pots here regarding cognitive dissonance, or even those familiar with the mantra, “Bias makes you stupid.”  However, he has done some interesting research on the phenomenon described in the Times Sports article this morning.

In a psychological experiment, researchers separated people into two groups and offered some of them an option: Complete a fun, 10-minute task, or take on a difficult, 45-minute one. Placed in a room alone, they were told to choose which task they would have to do, or let a coin flip decide. Either way, the person entering the room next would be left with the other task.

Afterward, those people were asked to rate how fairly they had acted, and 90 percent said they had been fair. Except that they were lying. In fact, they had picked the easy task for themselves, without even flipping the coin, wrongly believing that no one was watching…

DeSteno and his former student Piercarlo Valdesolo conducted studies that showed that even strangers placed into groups quickly start favoring the people in their group, as they would favor themselves, even if that group was created randomly, and only minutes earlier. Morality, as it turns out, can change by the second, and for no good reason.

Professor DeSteno told the Times that this isn’t a conscious decision, but an innate survival reaction…. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Marketing/Consulting Firm CEO Melinda Byerley

Shape up, you mouth-breathing, violent  bigots in Middle America, or Melissa won't grace you with her company!

Shape up, you mouth-breathing, violent bigots in Middle America, or Melissa won’t grace you with her company!

It takes a remarkable lack of common sense and fairness for a sentient person to go on Twitter and condemn half the country as stupid, violent, and racist, but Melinda Byerley, CEO and co-founder of a San Francisco marketing consulting firm was up to the challenge. For no apparent reason, she decided to take Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment to the next stage, and instructed all those lesser human beings in the fly-over states regarding what they had to do to become fit for association with superior people like her. You know: progressives. Or assholes, if she’s any kind of fair representative.

She wrote…

melinda_byerley

Ethics Alarms noted the inherent bigotry of the TV ads run by the dating service “Farmers Only”, spots that portray “city folk” as pompous, self-absorbed, nasty people who deserve to be abused and abandoned. Melinda and her ilk, and she does have ilk, were undoubtedly the templates for these grotesque stereotypes.

Byerley fulfills all of the worst assumptions those who gulped hard and voted for Donald Trump held regarding the “elites.” The places where “middle America” lives consist of nothing but bars and lousy schools!  What kinds of schools produce arrogant, ugly bigots like Byerley? (Let’s see…Cornell!) Who would want to make their community someplace that would draw people like her? Continue reading

Are No Professions Safe From The 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck? Now Even Restaurant Critics Have Gotten On Board!

circus-train-wreck

As a professional ethics specialist, I find the enthusiasm with which alleged professionals have used the election of Donald Trump to excuse their abandonment of such ethical values as fairness, responsibility, respect and citizenship deeply discouraging, and I am seriously considering becoming a beachcomber. I already knew that the journalism profession no longer could distinguish ethics from a hairy crab, so this wasn’t too surprising, nor was it too much of a shock that the New York Times has become a non-stop anti-Trump fear-fest and rant machine. Let’s see, in today’s edition alone  there is a hit piece on Trump advisor Steve Bannon called “Bannon’s Coriolanus Rewrite,” then  “Donald Trump’s Racial Ignorance,” “Where the Right Went Wrong,” (an amazing title, given the current balance of political power after Hillary’s botched campaign), “How the Truth Got Hacked,” “Is Democracy in Danger?” “Trump, the Russian Poodle,” and “Is This Collective Trauma?” The  last, I guess,  explains why mass trauma is inevitable for progressives, moderates and “Never Trump” Republicans when “the political order they long took for granted — defined by polarization, yes, but also by a commitment to basic principles of democracy and decency — is suddenly gone.”  One would almost wonder from that sentence which side of the political spectrum is calling for armed insurrection, pre-inaugural impeachment, and the overturning of the election results. The Times is also a showcase for columnists whose minds have snapped like dry branches in the wind,  causing them to leap manically onto the Trump Hysteria Express. Economist Paul Krugman has long been a hyper-partisan scold for whom fairness is alien territory, but this tweet was spectacularly vicious even for him:

“Thought: There was (rightly) a cloud of illegitimacy over Bush, dispelled (wrongly) by 9/11. Creates some interesting incentives for Trump.”

An ethical newspaper wouldn’t want someone capable of such a comment working for it.

Many broadcast journalists were stunningly unprofessional, indeed amateurish, on election night. Martha Raddatz choked up with emotion reporting Clinton’s loss; now there’s an objective reporter. Rachel Maddow described the evening as a “nightmare.”

Education has been racing journalism to the ethics barrel bottom for years, but I did not expect universities to send such intimidating messages to their students that they were expected to either be in mourning or on the verge of emotional breakdowns because the Democrats lost. Once, higher institutions of learning aimed to teach students critical thinking skills so they could make up their own minds regarding civic affairs. High school administrators and teachers also forgot their duties, and allowed students to skip school because, you know, TRUMP!!!!, and “ARRRGHHHHH!!!!”

Lawyers have lost their ethical bearings, of course, as have law professors, with perhaps the best example of the latter being the Georgetown Law Center adjunct who claims that the Constitution is unconstitutional, because following it will elect Donald Trump. My law alma mater isn’t faring too well in the train wreck: another professor, Paul Butler, argued that Supreme Court justices shouldn’t normally attack a President Elect, except when it’s Donald Trump.

Other academics have disgraced themselves. A prominent historian, for example, even resorted to making up history to provide an excuse for Democrats losing to such a horrible creature. Professor Larry Lessig of Harvard Law, who heads an ethics institute there, is encouraging electors to be “faithless,” as in “double-cross the voters who elected them.” Some ethics institute you have there, Harvard!

Artist, actors and show business professionals have debased themselves even more than usual, beginning with the Broadway cast of “Hamilton’s” breach of the Performer’s First Commandment: DON’T ABUSE THE AUDIENCE. They have even started turning on each other: Jon Voight, whose sin was that he expressed support for the man elected President, was booed at recent awards show by his fellow actors. Nice.

But as bad as this has been, I didn’t expect food critics to be corrupted. Continue reading