Tag Archives: bias

Unethical Quote Of The Month, And A Bonus Kaboom: The New York Times Editors

“But if your man is really innocent, what’s the worry?”

The New York Times in an editorial, “Fox News v. Robert Mueller”

Yes, the New York Times really printed that, under its banner.

Well,

KABOOM!

There goes my head.

As much as I have learned to distrust the objectivity and motives of the New York Times, I did not expect the traditionally liberal paper to make a sinister argument typically associated with totalitarian regimes. This is nothing but a  rephrasing of the traditional “nothing to hide” rationalization for obtrusive state surveillance, as well as illegal police searches and abusive prosecutorial methods.

“If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear” is such a cliché of oppressive state action that it has its own Wikipedia entry. It is often attributed to Joseph Goebbels or “1984,” though there is no documentation for either. It was uttered by villain Pius Thicknesse in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”:

“As your new Minister for Magic, I promise to restore this temple of tolerance to its former glory. Therefore, beginning today, each employee will submit themselves… for evaluation. But know this: you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.”

In the film version of the novel, the actor (Guy Henry) playing Pius was cast to evoke Goebbels. (above).

Progressive writer Upton Sinclair used an inverted version in 1918 in “The Profits of Religion: An Essay in Economic Interpretation” (1918):

“Not merely was my own mail opened, but the mail of all my relatives and friends—people residing in places as far apart as California and Florida. I recall the bland smile of a government official to whom I complained about this matter: ‘If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.'”

The statement adopted by the Times editors as well as the attitude behind constitute a rejection of democratic values and an endorsement of state sponsored fear and subjugation of individual rights. “It you are innocent, why worry?” literally stands for the proposition that one is guilty until proven innocent, which is an accurate description of the position of the Times, the mainstream media and “the resistance” regarding the baseless allegation of  “collusion” with Russia to steal the election from Hillary Clinton. In the context of the editorial, which dismisses legitimate questions about the objectivity and conflicts of interest among Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, the argument is especially disingenuous. If one is innocent, one shouldn’t worry if a biased team of lawyers is trying to find a way to make you look guilty? Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/10/2017: Posts Collide! Journalists Self-Destruct! Women Undermine Themselves! And A Poll…

Good morning!

1  Bingo!  Amy Alkon, aka the Advice Goddess, has been staking out lonely territory as a feminist who feels the #MeToo mob and its attendant hysteria is setting the cause of women back, not advancing it. Here most recent post begins by mocking an LA Times hysteric who wrote that

“What happens when society ignores sexual assault? You get Lesotho, where girls aren’t even safe at the grocery store…”

Akon responded in part…

This sort of ridiculous hysteria — that our country is anything like a place where 19% of teenaged girls are forced to marry — makes things here cumulatively worse, not better.This is the safest, most modern, most individual rights-driven country in the world.

If you are in a profession where there’s a great deal of money and power, there are likely to be sociopaths of various stripes who will prey on you — whether you’re a man or a woman. No, sexual assault should not be ignored, but we also don’t help ourselves by turning an invitation out for a drink by a co-worker into some sort of victimization.

If it isn’t your boss trying to manipulate you into the sack when you want no such thing; if there’s no quid pro quo; if requests for a date stop when you ask for them to stop (or maybe after the second time), do you really need to identify as a victim?…

People have conflicting goals and desires. Any two people. Heterosexual men negotiate these with each other. They’re very comfortable with it — as am I, no matter what sex or sexuality you are or have. If one person isn’t holding the other down or saying “fuck me, or you lose your job…” …If there’s merely a need for a mild rebuff (like, “Sorry, I don’t date co-workers), well, this seems to me like a normal part of adult life.

I predict two things from the current hysteria (where, say, a stolen kiss from a drunken co-worker is equated with Harvey Weinsteining and may even be seen as a firing offense):

1. Employers will think twice about hiring women, especially when they have the option of hiring a commensurately qualified male.

2. Men will start seeing escort workers in larger numbers than ever, and it will become more acceptable than it’s ever been to pay for sex.

2. Who will save journalism, and when will it admit is needs saving? Washington Post politics reporter Dave Weigel‏ mocked the President for declaring his Florida rally “packed to the rafters” last week. Wiegel’s tweet included a picture of a half-empty Pensacola Bay Center.This was, it turned out, a mistake, but also a mistake brought about by confirmation bias, sloppiness, and hostility to the President. Once again, the news media handed the President the ammunition to discredit it, as it deserves to be discredited.Trump tweeted after the rally...

“@DaveWeigel WashingtonPost put out a phony photo of an empty arena hours before I arrived the venue, w/ thousands of people outside, on their way in…Real photos now shown as I spoke. Packed house, many people unable to get in. Demand apology & retraction from FAKE NEWS WaPo!”

Weigel apologized, tweeting,

“Sure thing: I apologize…Was confused by the image of you walking in the bottom right corner…It was a bad tweet on my personal account, not a story for Washington Post. I deleted it after like 20 minutes. Very fair to call me out.”

Weigel is a well-known Washington Post reporter, and the fact that he botched this in his own name rather than the Post’s doesn’t diminish its harm to the credibility of the already reeling news media one whit. The apology was nice, but it was also unavoidable. While Trump certainly has primed journalist skepticism with his adversarial relationship to reality, reporters are supposed to be professionals, and leaping to conclusions without confirmation or sufficient evidence isn’t professional, or worthy of public trust. Fact: Weigel would not have done this to Barack Obama.

Weigel’s gaffe was minor compared to CNN’s fiasco the day before, or the Brian Ross episode at ABC, but it deserves to be considered as part of the same pathology. Wrote Glenn Reynold on his blog today,

In attempting to “denormalize” Trump, they’ve denormalized themselves. If they simply reported fairly and accurately, without their screamingly obvious bias, they’d be able to do him much more damage. But they can’t help themselves.

Bingo. They can’t help themselves, and the ethics alarms when bias looms just don’t sound. Today the New York Times has a front page story, complete with a creepy photo of the President, featuring a long, insulting quote from Nancy Pelosi about how “unprepared” Trump was for the job. Oddly, nobody thought, “Wait, did we publish anything like this about the most unqualified President elected up to that  point? You know, the last one?”
Continue reading

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December 8, 2017, When Our Old And New News Media Proved Beyond A Doubt That They Were Untrustworthy And If Not Completely Useless, Close Enough For Horsehoes

I am marking down today to cite the next time someone tells me that the news media isn’t disastrously biased, or that President Trump is threatening the First Amendment when he tweets about “fake news” or untrustworthy journalists.

Or perhaps, as an alternative, I will hurl myself into a woodchipper.

Democracy cannot survive, must less thrive, without an informed citizenry, which can only be achieved with an objective, independent, competent journalism sector.

We no longer have one. Behold the nauseating developments of today: Continue reading

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“Hello. Yes, Once Again, I Want You To Meet Larry. You Remember That He Was A Respected Harvard Law Professor, But The Scourge Of Anti-Trump Mania Has Left Him Silly And Obsessed. Won’t You Help Sufferers Like Larry With A Generous Donation?”

 

The steady deterioration of former Harvard Law professor Lawrence Tribe is truly a cautionary tale. Bias makes you stupid, but Larry had IQ points to spare, once.  Trump Derangement makes you stupid, and this strain of political hostility is far, far worse than the Clinton, Bush and Obama strains. Once Tribe was infected, his intellect was in peril.

Then he became addicted to Twitter. I tell my legal ethics seminar attendees that Twitter lowers a lawyer’s IQ by anywhere from 40-60 points. Once, Larry could have sustained that and still given me a good game of Scrabble. On top of his ossifying liberal bias and the ravages of Trump Derangement, however, Twitter delivered the coup de gras to his gray matter.

We saw the beginning of this in 2016, when he shattered a basic legal ethics tenet–Larry used to teach this stuff–with a mind-blowing tweet. After Trump’s election, Tribe began making silly claims that the President was impeachable,  and took to Twitter to spread batty “resistance” conspiracy theories, while calling a White House aide  “non human.”

Now it seems beyond dispute, sadly, that Lawrence Tribe is in the end throes of Anti Trump Brain Virus infection. Continue reading

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Being Fair To Elizabeth Warren: An Ethics Challenge

It appears that Senator Elizabeth Warren may have blundered into another ethics controversy.

On  a Harvey Weinstein-themed segment of “Meet the Press,” Warren declared that she also had a  #Me Too” story to tell. As she related the memory to host Chuck Todd…

“I was a baby law professor and so excited to have my first real teaching job and there was a senior faculty member who would tell dirty jokes and make comments about my appearance. And one day he asked me if I would stop by his office, which I didn’t think much about, and I did, and he slammed the door and lunged for me. It was like a bad cartoon. He’s chasing me around the desk trying to get his hands on me and I kept saying ‘You don’t want to do this. You don’t want to do this. I have little children at home. Please don’t do this…and trying to talk calmly, and at the same time what was flickering through my brain is, if he gets hold of me, I’m gonna punch him right in the face.”

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is the host of “The Kuhner Report” on WRKO AM-680 in Boston. I know the station well, having grown up listening to it. Kuhner is not an admirer of Warren, to say the least, and decided to try to check the veracity of her “Me Too” tale. His conclusion: she’s lying. Kuhner writes on his blog:

The faculty member Warren is referring to is law professor Eugene Smith, who was her mentor and close friend at the University of Houston. The reason we know this is because at Smith’s memorial service in 1997 Warren recounted and spoke about the incident. But the account then was dramatically different. In fact, the very opposite.

According to Warren, Smith was her buddy and they were joking around in the office, in which she was laughing uproariously. Numerous witnesses say that, even when speaking at the memorial service, Warren laughed about the alleged incident. Which begs the question: Who cracks jokes about being sexually assaulted? Unless, of course, it never happened.

More importantly, Warren conveniently—and deliberately—left out a seminal fact: Smith suffered from polio. That’s right. He was unable to walk or move around without a wheelchair or crutches. According to his former colleagues, Smith’s polio was so severe they felt pity for him.

Warren herself, while trying to be humorous at Smith’s memorial service, inadvertently revealed how utterly disabled he was. She told a second story about when Smith took her to the faculty lounge for lunch. Smith ordered a steak. After it came, he then pushed the plate towards Warren, asking her to cut it up for him. “Can’t you see I’m a cripple?” he allegedly told her. “Sure. But I thought you knew that when you ordered the steak,” Warren retorted, which she says made him laugh.

The real point, however, is obvious. How does a man who is—in Warren’s words—a “cripple,” unable even to cut his own food (never mind walk), chase a woman repeatedly around a desk seeking to sexually assault/rape her to the point that she is so terrorized she is wondering how to escape though the door? The answer: It’s impossible. This is why many of Smith’s former colleagues say that, although they recall the incident, it was dramatically different from how Warren is describing it now. According to them, it was one big joke. Smith pretended to chase her around the desk, and Warren pretended to be shocked and outraged.

Moreover, in 1997, Warren was then a law professor at Harvard. If she had really been assaulted by Smith, then why did she travel all the way to Houston, deliver a glowing eulogy and praise Smith for his “character” and “moral integrity”? A woman who was truly sexually abused or harassed would never have done it. In fact, she would want nothing to do with him. Warren, however, did do it because she wanted to do it. She liked, even admired, Smith.

From this, Kuhner concludes,

“Warren may be the most depraved, cynical and mendacious member of Congress—and that’s saying something. Think about it: She is willing to smear the memory of a dead, disabled friend in order to win votes and prop up her feminist image.”

Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/22/2017: My Unfair College Admission, U. Penn’s Bigoted Grad Student, Fox News Imitates The Weinstein Company, And THIS Is An Unethical Lawyer…

Good Morning!

1 Yesterday’s ethics  bombshell was the news that Fox News extended its contract with star bloviator Bill O’Reilly earlier this year, knowing that he had agreed to a $32 million settlement with a woman who accused him of  repeated harassment, a non-consensual sexual relationship, and other offenses. Nonetheless, it decided  it decided to sign him a four-year, $25 million a year, contract extension. The New York Times scoop reported that Rupert Murdoch and his sons,  decided that it was worth it to keep O’Reilly even as Fox News was trying to recover after having to fire Roger Ailes for multiple sexual harassment claims. Fox added to the O’Reilly’s extension a clause that allowed for his dismissal if new allegations of harassment or other relevant information came out regarding the previous accusations.

Boy, am I glad that I didn’t lift my personal Fox New boycott after O’Reilly left.

This is unconscionable conduct by Fox, equal in its slimy ethics void to what the Weinstein Group did when it acknowledged its founders sexual predator proclivities in his contract. Fox News, by keeping O’Reilly knowing that he had harassed its employees (and worse),

  • demonstrated to its staff that it cared more about ratings and profits than principles and the safety of its female employees and guests
  • sent the message that if you were a big enough cheese at Fox you can get away with abusing women
  • proved that the sick and sexist culture nurtured by Roger Ailes from the beginning was still flourishing.

Ugh. But I can’t say I’m surprised. [Mr Kimble (Alvy Moore) on Green Acres: ” I can’t say I’m surprised. Actually, I can say I’m surprised. I’m surprised! But I’m not surprised.”]

How many other companies tolerate sexual harassers in their executive offices outside of Hollywood? A lot.

O’Reilly, demonstrating again that he is a liar as well as as a sexual predator, absolutely denies that he ever harassed anyone. He needs better lawyers, then. Harvey Weinstein paid off an actress he raped for just $100,000, and poor Bill had to fork over 32 million bucks for something he didn’t do!

2. This morning’s “Wait—WHAT?” ethics headline is this one, from the ABA News: “Lawyer who blamed ethics case on mother can’t discharge $500K in student debt, federal judge rules.

Illinois lawyer Donald Rosen argued that his three-year license suspension for misappropriating over $85,000 in client funds made it impossible to find appropriate work and so should be allowed to discharge his $500,000 student debt. (How did he end up with a $500,000 student debt?). ‘Uh, no,’ ruled U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, perhaps because Rosen had paid only about $11,000 in student debt over the previous 37 years.

Why did Rosen blame Mom? He claims his 82-year-old mother, who worked at his firm, inadvertently used client funds to pay business expenses.  Rosen said his mother was embarrassed by her actions and falsified bank statements to cover it up. Then, Rosen says, he innocently provided those fake bank statements to police and the hearing board considering the ethics case against him.

3. How can this happen? Why is it happening? Who defends this? How long will it continue? Continue reading

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Unethical Tweet Of The Month: “Civil Rights Activist” Danielle Muscato

“In the event of an impending head explosion, immediately place both hands, fingers spread,  firmly around your skull, applying pressure to both the top and the sides, until the pressure begins to subside…”

This could have been an Ethics Dunce, or an Unethical Quote of the Month. It was nearly a KABOOM!, if I hadn’t immediately clasped my hands, hard, over my skull when I read it, just in time to stop my brain from exploding. I also almost included it in draft post called A “This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President” Potpourri.

Upon reflection, I decided that a self-described “civil rights activist” tweeting this was so unethical, so ignorance-promoting, not to mention hateful, bigoted and sexist, that it deserved to stand alone.

An ethical,  sane, democracy and American values-supporting “lady” , confronting such a curfew, would realize that a totalitarian regime had taken over, and either join a citizen rebel army, or get the hell out of the country. Yeah, I read the thread, being a “dude,” and realized that what passes for feminism in a lot of cases is misandry and hypocrisy. Also that what passes for a “civil rights activist” is occasionally a crypt-fascist who neither understands civil rights nor supports them.

Imagine if her tweet had substituted “African-Americans” or “Muslims” for “men,” and “dudes”, and “White, law-abiding citizens” for “Ladies.”

If Muscato is to be believed, and frankly, I wouldn’t believe someone who tweets something this stupid to tell me what number comes after “3”, Danielle is often featured in or on the New York Times, Time, CNN, NPR, and Rolling Stone.

What does that tell you? Continue reading

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