Tag Archives: biased journalism

Mid-Day Ethics Warm-Up, May 1, 2018: Generally Disgusted

Good day to all, I guess.

Me, I feel like quitting.

1.  Basic ethics blindness regarding the White House Correspondents Dinner. The ethically obtuse responses I am reading in columns and blogs regarding the self-defining journalism ethics event–you know, as in none—doesn’t bother me too much. I assume these people have the ethics of jackals. The similar responses I am reading here from intelligent readers who have been supposedly paying attention, however, discourage me greatly. Really: why bother writing a couple thousand words a day about ethics when  your readers react to a high profile, unequivocal act of disrespect and rudeness by resorting to “I don’t like the guy, so I’m glad,” “he started it!” and “they had it coming”?

Or, my personal favorite, “this one insult everyone is talking about isn’t one if you spin it hard enough, so the other 30 insults don’t matter”?

There is no ethical defense whatsoever for inviting individuals to a formal dinner and intentionally making them feel like they are being singled out for abuse. Ever. Period. No exceptions. This is so obvious and uncontroversial that it prompt debate in a civilized society.  That anyone is trying to defend the association, and its hired gun, Ms. Wolf, simply validates my two years-and-running correct prediction that electing Trump as President will turn this into a nation of assholes, though I was expecting those transformed to be primarily young, shallow and easily influenced. I did not expect so many professionals to re-enact the donkey-scene in “Pinocchio.”

And yes, as far as I’m concerned, Wolf, with the journalists’ consent, insulted the President of the United States and his daughter to their virtual faces. It is just moral luck that Trump did not attend, and there is no reason to believe that Wolf changed her act one iota because he wasn’t there. She was prepared to call the President of the United States a pussy, a monster and a Nazi to his face, with him a captive audience member. The ethics-free, rationalized justification I am reading on this blog is , “Yeah, well he made fun of a disabled man in 2016!”  Wow. I really am wasting my time, I guess. How else can I interpret that?

Off the blog, some other ethically dim justifications have surfaced, like today’s New York Times column absolving Wolf from all responsibility because she performed the same kind of anti-Trump material that she always did. Funny, nobody gave Don Imus, the briefly ascendant shock-jock, that easy out when he embarrassed President Bill Clinton by calling him a “weasel,” among his less offensive terms, when he entertained the same group. Hey, protested the I-Man, I call Clinton a lying weasel every day on my show, why would anyone expect me to do any differently at the dinner? Why? Because professional entertainers have calibrated the appropriate content of their performances to their audiences’ tastes and sensitivities forever, that is why, and professionals are expected to be professional, which includes responsible. Go ahead, look me in the eye and tell me that Wolf would have made equally denigrating jokes if Obama was the President. Jokes about his flirtation with being gay. Jokes about eating dog. Jokes about him being a weenie with Putin and the “red line.” Jokes about the most “transparent” administration ever. Jokes about Joe Biden feeling up women during photo ops. About the IRS. About “you can keep your plan.”  No, the association always assumes that its entertainers would keep their material appropriate to the venue and the event. The argument being used to excuse Wolf would be like excusing infamous “blue” material comics like Buddy Hackett, Redd Foxx and David Brenner if they made dick jokes on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” No, they toned down their material, out of respect for the audience. Respect. What a concept. And this was an audience of middle class Americans, not the President of the United States.

Of course, Wolf easily could have assumed that she was expected to be uncivil, cruel and offensive, since she knew that her hosts, like her and her fellow professional Trump-bashers, constituted the “resistance’s” Agents of Presidential Destruction. That doesn’t relieve her of ethical responsibilities, though. The association was irresponsible to hire someone with her proclivities, and she is accountable for her own disgusting, divisive conduct. Continue reading

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Stelter, Wolf, And The Mainstream News Media Unmasked

NBC says that many journalists at the White House Correspondents Dinner were embarrassed and angry about her ugly attacks on the President, his family, and his staff, as you can plainly see from the reaction of the guests to the comic after her performance….

Observations on an ethics fiasco:

1.  I can’t decide if I regret not writing about Brian Stelter’s self-rebutting, smoking gun screed  excoriating the President for not attending the annual White House Correspondents Dinner before the dinner took place, as was my original intention. It looks even more ridiculous after the dinner, which, as even a fool could have predicted, was a festival of Trump-hate. One reason I didn’t write it earlier was that I had written essentially the same post earlier this month,  after two Washington Post writers criticized the President for not throwing out the ceremonial first pitch when the Washington Nationals opened their season. I wrote in part,

Boy, you can’t get much more intellectually dishonest than this. Gee, why wouldn’t the President subject himself to loud, open-air jeering from the majority of a crowd of 40,000, a demonstration of contempt that would be played over and over on CNN, MSNBC,  NBC, CBS and ABC, with mocking commentary? What a puzzlement! I have no theories, do you?… Boy, I cannot imagine why President Trump wouldn’t be eager to walk into this trap. The dishonest authors of the Post article,

They want to see the President embarrassed, and are disappointed that he isn’t so foolish as to allow himself to be…

Well, I was wrong. You can get more intellectually dishonest, and CNN’s hack media critic, Brian Stelter, was just the man for the job.  In an essay that managed to pretend that the journalists at the event, including him, hadn’t spent three years denigrating and ridiculing Trump personally and 18 months trying spin the news to drive him out of office, he wrote in part,

Presidents don’t always want to show up and tell jokes and socialize with the press corps, but until now it’s been a part of the job in the modern media age.

“Historically presidents have felt that it’s important to send the signals, both to Americans and to the rest of the world, that they support this sort of quintessential part of American democracy, the First Amendment,” correspondents association president Margaret Talev said on CNN Saturday morning.

Trump evidently believes it’s politically advantageous to snub the affair and hold a rally instead. “Big crowd tonight, will be live on T.V.,” he tweeted on Saturday morning.

Well, he certainly doesn’t believe it’s politically advantageous to walk into an event where he has a target on his back, and have to sit quietly with a forced smile while everyone laughs as he is humiliated and insulted. Until now, it has been part of the job of journalists covering a presidency in any age to display a base level of respect for the man in the office, because he is in the office. Before Trump, journalists could be expected to treat Presidents with respect at least for a single night. Not now. Who would not assume that last night’s dinner would be a Trump-bashing orgy whether he attended or not? Is Brian Stelter unethical beyond belief, or is he just stupid? I have frequently wondered, and his article made me wonder more. The President isn’t doing his job by not allowing vicious and unethical journalists to undermine him in a public display of contempt? I am grateful to the President for avoid such an embarrassment for the office and the nation.

As for Taley, whom we will hear more of later, what self-serving crap.  The news media has disgraced itself and its mission, and neither President Trump nor any American citizen should support the way today’s journalists abuse their special status. Trump would be a hypocrite to help corrupt and biased journalists celebrate their poisoned craft, and to applaud while they pat themselves on the backs for misinforming, inflaming and dividing the American public.

2. Then came the actual dinner, and it was worse than even Trump could have imagined. Gee, Brian,  now what do you say? Were you shocked? Really? You couldn’t see this coming? Can you see now that the President was wise—not that it took any great feat of analysis, though it was obviously beyond your meager intellect— not to force Americans like me—you know, those who respect the office and still are stirred when they hear “Hail to the Chief” no matter who the Chief is—to see the office denigrated and insulted while arrogant, entitled, ink-stained wretches guffawed? He had a duty not to attend. Do you understand now?

3. As I noted in yesterday’s warm-up, the hired entertainment, deliberately recruited from the cabal of anti-Trump cable and network comedy shows, delivered as she was expected to, and was uniformly vile, even to the members of the White House staff who were the journalist’s guests. The representative Ethics Dunce for the fiasco was Bloomberg correspondent and president of the association Margaret Talev, who dropped one astoundingly disingenuous statement after another to rationalize it.

“My goal in putting together last night’s dinner was to unify the room and the country around journalism and the First Amendment, and I shared what I believe about those subjects in my own remarks,” she said at one point. Yeah, having the President of the United States called a pussy, a Nazi, a racist, a misogynist,  xenophobic,  unstable, incompetent and impotent is obviously the way to do that. After Michelle Wolf’s ugly act was widely panned, Talev said,

“The association, by tradition, does not preview or censor the entertainer’s remarks. Some of them made me uncomfortable and did not embody the spirit of the night. And that is protected by the First Amendment. I appreciated Sarah Sanders for joining us at the head table and her grace through the program.”

Ugh: Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Month: Journalist Matt Pearce”

I thought a bit of rancor was appropriate for a Comment of the Day on this topic, which I’m sure some Ethics Alarms readers are getting sick to death of, the collapse of journalism ethics. I fight every day to find a balance between posting more evidence of this corrosive and wholly avoidable infection within our society, for more evidence appears daily, and leaving the issue alone for another day in order to examine different topics. But while in other areas of professional ethics I see sincere and genuine efforts to identify unethical conduct, address it, and reform it…Yes, even in politics…I see none  in journalism. To the contrary, I see obstinate denial that there is a problem, especially from those who perceive themselves and their ideological agendas as benefiting from the increasingly egregious mainstream media bias. Until there is an acknowledgment of this problem and its seriousness within journalism itself, it will only continue to get worse, and our society and nation will get even sicker as a result.

Here is Steve-O-in NJ’s Comment of the Day on the post, Unethical Quote Of The Month: Journalist Matt Pearce:

CAN journalists legitimately try to hide their agendas from anyone with a functioning brain and ethical compass after they “cut loose” in 2016? The evidence of media bias has been getting bigger and bigger since 1992. The media’s running interference for Bill, attempt to swindle the voters in 2004 with a lie, and industry-wide push for Obama were all pretty damning pieces of evidence, but the open abandonment of objectivity in 2016 in an attempt to save this nation from itself irrevocably broke the scale. I think for a while they even had you [ Host’s note: That is, me] persuaded, though not consciously so, since your thinking moved through the idea that Hillary would do less damage than Trump before you decided that Hillary was also unworthy of your support.

It’s frankly time for the mainstream media to own up to the fact that it isn’t objective anymore and hasn’t been for some time, and that its job is to push the progressive agenda any way it can. It won’t though. Continue reading

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: Journalist Matt Pearce

“Journalism *is* activism in its most basic form. The entire basis for its ethical practice is the idea that a democracy requires an informed citizenry in order to function. Choosing what you want people to know is a form of activism, even if it’s not the march-and-protest kind.”

—-Matt Pearce, national correspondent for the LA Times, tweeting his support for the definition of journalism endorsed by Rebecca Schneid, co-editor in chief of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School newspaper, as Brian Stelter, CNN’s fake broadcast journalism ethicist, silently stood by, since it is mean and bad form to tell teenagers dictating national policy that they don’t know what they are talking about.

Choosing what you want people to know.

Choosing what you want people to know.

Choosing what you want people to know.

Choosing what you want people to know.

Nah, there’s no media bias!

Yup…

“Enemy of the people.”

Res ipsa loquitur.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/13/18: Bad Quotes, Faithless Speakers

GOOD MORNING!

1 O.J. was guilty??? I’m shocked! I was going to run a quiz about whether Fox broadcasting the 12-year-old O.J. Simpson interview in which he “hypothesizes” about what really happened—when Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman ended up with the lives stabbed out of them and a trail of O.J.’s blood leading from the scene to his home—was unethical or just icky, as in “revolting taste.”

Never mind: I’m willing to say it was unethical. Fox was aiding and abetting a murderer’s efforts to cash in on his crimes. Yes, yes, I know: in the eyes of the law, Simpson is innocent. But Fox, and you, and I, and O.J.’s lawyers and certainly O.J. all know beyond a shadow of doubt that he did it, and Simpson deserves a full shunning from the culture in every respect.

Fox, many forget, produced this interview as part of the promotion for O.J.’s book, “If I Did It,” written by a ghostwriter after interviews with Simpson. Simpson got $600,000 in the deal, denying later that he had anything to do with the project, and saying, “Hey, they offered me $600,000 not to dispute that I [wrote] the book…Everybody thinks I’m a murderer anyway. They’re not going to change their mind just because of a book.”

The consensus is that the Simpson’s statements in the Fox interview amount to a confession to double murder. I saw the key portion in a promotion,, where O.J. says that he remembers being at Nicole’s home, grabbing a knife, then seeing lots of blood…but not remembering what happened in between. But Simpson is a liar and a sociopath, and because of double-jeopardy, he can say that he watched Nicole and Ron get attacked by an army of zombies he recruited and it wouldn’t make any difference.

The degree to which Fox debased itself by running this offal cannot be exaggerated, and anyone who watched it without being paid to do so is an accessory after the fact to the unjust enrichment of O.J. Simpson.

2. Bonus O.J, ugliness: Read this hateful, racist, biased and legally ignorant essay by Michael Herriot at “The Root.” Herriot is another of many contributors to CNN whose anti-white racism is palpable, but deemed acceptable mainstream punditry. How deep and widespread is this kind of blind, unreasoning hatred of white Americans in the black community? How can anyone read something like this and wonder where the upsurge in white nationalism comes from?

3. And speaking of CNN’s  race-baiters…Here is Van Jones on his newly minted CNN show, whining and grovelling to Oprah Winfrey:

“It meant so much to us, and, you know, I have to let you know how it is for us now. We had you. We had the Obamas in the White House. Even on a bad day, you had a north star. You had some hope. And then it was like the universe looked just said, psych! And threw us in the toilet and closed the lid and now we’re just stuck in this crazy situation, swirlingHelp us, though, help us though!…I go out there and I try to tell people, let’s not become what we are fighting. Let’s not be what we’re fighting. They tell me, shut up, Van, because we got bigots out here, we got Nazis out here, we’re getting bullied, we are tired of going high. We want to go low and kick them in the private parts!”

There is disturbing evidence that “the resistance” and the anti-Trump mob, including the news media, is heading into a new and even more deranged stage, which is scary, since the previous stage has been putting unprecented stress on the nation’s mental and political health. We saw this deterioration with Jill Abramson’s open admission that she keeps a totem of Barack Obama in her purse to stave off despair. We are seeing more and more alternate-reality rants, like this one by David Remnick in “The New Yorker.”

The rhetoric is getting more shrill and hyperbolic every day, even when the news is good. At least Paul Krugman is consistent: his rhetoric about Trump has been shrill and hyperbolic from the start. Here he is this morning:

“Now, it’s a commonplace, but also a euphemism, to say that Trump has authoritarian instincts. A more accurate statement would be that he expects the kind of treatment tin-pot dictators demand, free from any criticism inside or outside his government and greeted with constant hosannas of praise. And everyone who isn’t willing to play the full game, who has tried to play by something resembling normal democratic rules, seems to be fleeing the administration. Soon only the shameless sycophants will be left. This will not end well.”

Sigh. All of America’s strong Presidents have had autocratic instincts, with the arguable exception of George Washington. Jackson, Polk, Lincoln, Cleveland, Teddy, Wilson, FDR, Truman, Ike,  LBJ, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton. Obama did as well, though he wasn’t a strong President. It’s just that people like Krugman are so offended by Trump being President that when he behaves essentially like the rest, they think it’s sinister. The complaining about this President surrounding himself with yes-men is especially hypocritical, since there were few complaints from the same critics about President Obama’s dangerously deferential inner circle, bolstered by a worshipful rather than properly objective press.

Krugman’s title is “Springtime for Sycophants.” Trump is Hitler, get it? Continue reading

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Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 2/17/18: Mueller And A Movie

Good afternoon..

1 Well, we have some exit poll results…on my integrity and denial question in the Mueller indictment post I started at 4 am, hence the late Warm-up. Based on the comments so far, I am going to be disappointed: the “Trump is guilty of something” crowd is, so far, arguing that an indictment statement including  “There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election” means that the President’s election was illegitimate and that he is guilty of wrongdoing. We also have such jaw-dropping moments as a commenter praising the Mueller investigation for not leaking the indictments beforehand—wow. Leaks are unethical, and when a grand jury is involved, illegal. The leaking from the Mueller investigation and the Justice Department have been a national disgrace, and we are now at the point when government lawyers not breaking the law is deemed worthy of praise in some quarters.

Of course, we don’t know what was leaked. Since leaking grand jury testimony is so serious and always sparks its own investigation, I wouldn’t bet against reporters having been tipped off, but using the advance notice to prepare their “Trump’s still guilty!” responses.

A better example could not be found of how the the news media and the intentionally divisive partisan rhetoric of the past decade have caused a fracture in the ability of Americans to perceive facts unfiltered by confirmation bias. I find this disheartening. But exit polls are not always accurate…

2. An unexpected take on the indictments. Eccentric conservative blogger Da Tech Guy  had some interesting observations:

“Section 1 and section 24 notes that it’s against US law for “certain foreign nationals” to enter the US without a visa providing truthful and accurate information to the government. Apparently these laws don’t apply to dreamers and those who brought them…section 41 talks about identity theft including social security numbers; again, this could be a charge against the DACA kids…Section 85 completes the list, the illegality here is that they pretended to be Americans and didn’t register as foreign agents while doing activities that if done by Americans would be completely legal…Does that mean that DACA folks and illegals who have held political rallies will be indicted next?…Section 89-95 on count 2 and section 96 again notes identity theft and moving money via such theft., boy this could be an indictment of the illegal alien DACA crowd if they wanted. But they don’t.”

3. Ethics movie review! I watched Denzel Washington’s “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” twice last week, in part because it is a legal ethics movie, and in part because Washington’s portrayal of an idealistic autism-spectrum civil rights attorney whose ethics alarms get corrupted is so unusual for him. I’ll basically pay to watch Denzel play canasta. Continue reading

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The Mueller Indictments: Observations And A Spin Report

Late yesterday afternoon the Justice Department announced that it had indicted thirteen Russians and three Russian companies for participation in a scheme to interfere in the United States political system. From the Justice Department website:

“The Department of Justice announced that a grand jury in the District of Columbia today returned an indictment presented by the Special Counsel’s Office. The indictment charges thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian companies for committing federal crimes while seeking to interfere in the United States political system, including the 2016 Presidential election. The defendants allegedly conducted what they called “information warfare against the United States,” with the stated goal of “spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.”

The full 37-page indictment is here, giving citizens a rare example to read everything reporters know and to thereby be able to gauge exactly how accurate and fair their reporting is, if the citizens are so inclined. SPOILER ALERT: The spin efforts thus far have been staggering.

The press release also tells us in part:

According to the allegations in the indictment, twelve of the individual defendants worked at various times for Internet Research Agency LLC, a Russian company based in St. Petersburg, Russia. …Internet Research Agency allegedly operated through Russian shell companies. It employed hundreds of persons for its online operations, ranging from creators of fictitious personas to technical and administrative support, with an annual budget of millions of dollars. Internet Research Agency was a structured organization headed by a management group and arranged in departments, including graphics, search-engine optimization, information technology, and finance departments. In 2014, the agency established a “translator project” to focus on the U.S. population. In July 2016, more than 80 employees were assigned to the translator project….To hide the Russian origin of their activities, the defendants allegedly purchased space on computer servers located within the United States in order to set up a virtual private network. The defendants allegedly used that infrastructure to establish hundreds of accounts on social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, making it appear that the accounts were controlled by persons within the United States. They used stolen or fictitious American identities, fraudulent bank accounts, and false identification documents. The defendants posed as politically and socially active Americans, advocating for and against particular political candidates. They established social media pages and groups to communicate with unwitting Americans. They also purchased political advertisements on social media.

Also:

The Russians also recruited and paid real Americans to engage in political activities, promote political campaigns, and stage political rallies. The defendants and their co-conspirators pretended to be grassroots activists. According to the indictment, the Americans did not know that they were communicating with Russians.

Thirteen paragraphs into the release is this statement: “There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”

Talk about burying the lede!

Observations: Continue reading

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