A Presidential “Othering” Ethics Puzzle: What IS This Statement? Misleading? Ignorant? Biased?

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In a column today, Washington Post political columnist Chris Cillizza writes,

“The simple fact is that Trump has never had real friends in the sense you or I think of the term. The relationship world of Trump has long been split into two groups: (1) his family and (2) people who work for him. And people who work for you are rarely your actual friends.”

This was written in the context of an article titled “The very peculiar isolation of Donald Trump.”

What’s going on here? It is definitely one more “othering” exercise from the news media, part of a concerted effort to avoid “normalizing” this President so that tactics previously regarded as unthinkable, undemocratic and unAmerican will be accepted by the public when they are used against him. The message is that this President is strange, weird. He’s not like us. He’s a monster. Today, for example,  MSNBC’s Katy Tur insinuated that the President might be planning to start murdering journalists, asking a guest.

“As we know, there’s, since 2000, been a couple dozen suspicious deaths of journalists in Russia who came out against the government there.Donald Trump has made no secret about going after journalists and his distaste for any news that doesn’t agree with him here. Do you find that this is a dangerous path he is heading down?”

I was struck by Cillizza’s column  because the topic is one of several upon which I wrote my honors thesis in American government. (If you are in Cambridge, Mass., you can find a copy in Widener Library.)  Cillizza’s statement made me realize, for the first time, really: Ah! There’s at least one aspect of his personality that is typical of American Presidents!” I studied exactly that aspect of Presidential biographies to test my thesis that the U.S. Presidency attracted a specific character type, and the type was not “normal” by the public standards. Continue reading

Fake News Headline Of The Afternoon: “Electors Demand Intelligence Briefing Before Electoral College Vote”

fake-newsWow! The Electors have been so impressed by the CIA’s unsupported guesswork that Russia was trying to help Donald Trump win that they are demanding an intelligence briefing! The Electors! You know…well…

…Nine Democratic electors who are already pledged to vote for Hillary Clinton, and self-important paramedic Chris Supron, Republican Never-Trumper who has already said he is voting for John Kasich.

This headline by Politico (The Hill’s is just as bad:” Electors Want Briefing on Russian Interference”)  is deliberate and calculated fake news, and far more disruptive to the election and the nation than anything the Russians leaked. It’s in the specialized category of deceitful reporting to mislead, as well as click-bait. “Electors” sounds like the news media’s unconscionable drum-beating for Democrats trying to undermine both the election and Trump’s Presidency has a chance of actually overturning the results. “Ten electors”—the truth— sounds irrelevant to anything, which it is: Nine partisan Democratic electors and a faithless Republican who has already made up his mind comprise a pathetic and biased group of bitter-enders, and nothing more. It isn’t worthy of a news story at all. I wonder, what is the minimum number that The Hill and Politico would try to justify referring to as “electors.” Five? Two?

Among the Democrats, by the way, are Christine Pelosi, Nancy’s daughter, New Hampshire’s Carol Shea-Porter, a former member of Congress, and three three former  Democratic New Hampshire legislators, Terie Norelli, Bev Hollingsworth and Dudley Dudley. (Yes, Dudley Dudley.) Then there is D.C. Councilwoman Anita Bonds, former Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Clayborne Pell, Maryland progressive activist Courtney Watson, and Colorado  delegate Micheal Baca, who has been working since the election to use the Electoral College to veto the votes of millions. No political agendas there!

And Chris, of course, the sole Republican.

I certainly hope the public understands and remembers how the Democratic Party disgraced its traditions and role in American politics by trying to win an election through twisting the rules after the votes were counted. I thought the fixed Senate impeachment trial of Bill Clinton was a travesty, but this is infinitely worse.

I haven’t heard any prominent party leaders condemning this attack on democracy, which tells us how just corrupt and unprincipled this increasingly anti-democratic party has become. The news media is complicit, of course, as Politico’s inexcusably misleading reporting shows.

Both deserve to pay a high price in the loss of respect and public trust.

Never Mind “Fake News,” How Do We Protect Ourselves From “Fake Newsweek” And An Industry That Won’t Police Itself?

madam-president

From The Washington Examiner:

A Newsweek editor admitted Wednesday that he and other staffers didn’t actually read their recalled commemorative “Madam President” election issue before it was published.

Newsweek political editor Matthew Cooper said Wednesday on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that the magazine’s issue, which incorrectly anticipated a Hillary Clinton win, was not produced by Newsweek but by a third party.

“Well, no one on our staff wrote that,” Cooper said. “Again, we subcontract out to a company.”

Cooper later stated that  “we did not review it before it went out.”

Carlson, who was aghast, asked at one point what would have happened if the sub-contractor, a hack outfit called Topix Media Lab, had printed “Mein Kampf” in the special edition under Newsweek’s banner.  “That would have been even worse,” answered Cooper. Continue reading

Res Ipsa Loquitur! The News Media’s Anti-Trump Bias Expressed As Naked Censorship

first version

“Nah, the news media isn’t biased! It’s just right wing Faux News lovers who say that! The news media OTHER than Fox is fair and objective!”

I get these protests all the time, and I am considering being more direct and unpleasant in my responses when I do. For this statement is either proof of ignorance, stupidity, or dishonesty. There is no fourth option, and the recent example I will now describe shows why.

Earlier this week, a woman noticed a four-month-old girl in a locked car in a New Jersey Kohl’s parking lot . She screamed, alerting passer-by Steve Eckel, the New York Daily News reported.  Eckel called 911 but didn’t wait: he used a sledgehammer to break a window in the car, rescuing the cooking child.

During an HLN interview on cable TV,  the retired New Jersey police officer wore a T-shirt with the legend, “2016 Trump for President.” Yet when the CNN headline news channel ran the interview an hour later, the message was blurred out.

Would a pro-Hillary Clinton, pro-Obama, Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood, anti-gun or virtually any other non-obscene message or image be so censored? Never. My assumption, if I saw such a blur, would be that the T-shirt was wildly offensive in some undeniable way, making that blur a slur on Eckel’s character.  (A pro-Trump T-shirt doesn’t exactly speak well of him either, but that’s irrelevant.) Continue reading

Did You Know Hillary Confessed To Repeated, Intentional And Blatant Unethical Conduct As Secretary Of State? Because She Did…

Confess

Now, to be fair, you may not have realized that Clinton made this unusually candid—for her—admission, because the statement was made in a phone interview with CNN, with a typically ignorant and incompetent interviewer (“THIS is CNN!”) who either doesn’t know the first thing about government ethics, or doesn’t care if Clinton complied with them. Moreover, virtually no mainstream media sources pointed out the significance of what Clinton said, because…well, read the last part of the last sentence.

Talking about the various news reports and new email content that indicated a disturbingly close relationship between Clinton’s Foundation interests—that is, raising money that assists the Clintons’ personal fortunes in various ways—and her State Department duties, which were supposed to occur completely free of such conflicts of interest, Hillary said, straight out…

“I know there’s a lot of smoke and there’s no fire.”

Bingo! Gotcha! DINGDINGDINGDINGDING!

And there we have it, Ladies and Gentlemen, a confession of official wrongdoing! For as an officer of the Executive Branch and a government employee, Clinton was subject to  Executive Order 12731 of October 17, 1990, “PRINCIPLES OF ETHICAL CONDUCT  FOR GOVERNMENT OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES,” as are all such officers and employees today. That order, which has the force of law, as well as the order it amended, states very clearly, in black and white, that.. Continue reading

Seven Facts About News Media Bias, And Yet Another Smoking Gun That Reaffirms Them

smoking gun

Here are seven facts about mains stream news media bias. People deny them, some even sincerely, but they have been well proven over many decades. 

FACT: The U.S. mainstream news media is partisan and biased.

FACT: It is shockingly shameless about this.

FACT: The results of this bias include slanted news, withheld information, warped priorities, and discrediting new sources that cover stories thye intentionally ignore, all with the collective and intentional result of misleading the U.S. public.

FACT: This is arrogant, unfair, incompetent, unethical, and harmful to the proper functioning of democracy.

FACT: The news media employed this bias to make certain that Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, and has already made it obvious that it intends to be at least equally biased in its efforts to make certain that Donald Trump is not elected in 2016.

FACT: Among the techniques the news media employ is holding Republican candidates and elected officials to different standards than what it applies to Democratic candidates and officials.

FACT: Journalists, pundits, and Ethics Alarms readers who continue to deny that there is a mainstream media bias favoring Democrats and progressive policies are either lying, not paying attention, or in denial.

I must say, the last is very frustrating, and often infuriating. I have a good friend who really does believe that the mainstream news media is outrageously biased toward conservatives, because he is so far at the end of the ideological spectrum that everything is too far right for him. I have a business and a life-style that both compels me to follow many news sources on all sides of the political spectrum, and my profession and training requires me to work hard at achieving objective analysis. (I know I don’t always succeed.) I know my biases and preferences, and have to say that all seven of the facts I presented above are facts, not opinions, and because they describe a very dangerous situation, the fact that so many progressives refuse to acknowledge them makes me wonder if their ideology is inconsistent with basic integrity.

All American citizens should want and demand as objective, unbiased and fair a national news media as possible. We won’t get one until progressives admit that even though their President, elected officials, candidates and policies are the beneficiaries of unethical journalism, it is still wrong, still unhealthy, and still has to stop.

This is why I must salute Joe Concha, Mediaite’s thoughtful conservative reporter, for his excellent work in finding one of the most powerful smoking gun proofs of this bias I have ever seen.

Last week, Donald Trump horrified the pundit class when he announced that he was stripping The Washington Post of access to his campaign, announcing,

“Based on the incredibly inaccurate coverage and reporting of the record setting Trump campaign, we are hereby revoking the press credentials of the phony and dishonest Washington Post.”

Of course this was a petty, cowardly and anti-democratic move by Trump. I didn’t post on it because the ethics  position here on Trump is clear and immutable, and because if I covered all of the unethical things this crude, reckless idiot says and does, I’d have no time for anything else. The man has little judgment, few values, no restraint, and an arrested (at about age 10) ability to distinguish right from wrong. We know this, or should. Nobody should be surprised, and this incident should not change anyone’s opinion of him.

The news media, however, reacted to it as if Trump had leaned in to kiss a baby and bitten its head off:

The Post’s Chris Cillizza “Barring reporters from public events because you disagree with what they write is a dangerous precedent.”

Slate: on Trump’s decision: The revocation “marks an unprecedented escalation in his war” against media.

WaPo executive editor Marty Baron: Trump’s decision is “nothing less than a repudiation of the role of a free and independent press.”

  CNN Contributor Bakari Sellers: It was “fascism at its worst.”  Also on CNN, Sara Murray opined that Trump’s revocation of The Washington Post’s press credentials was “alarming.”

Give Concha credit. Although his own opinion of Trump’s actions were as low as those of his Trump-hating colleagues, the spark of a memory stirred. He went back into the archives. What’s this? In 2008, candidate Barack Obama kicked reporters from three papers that had endorsed Republican John McCain off his campaign plane! Continue reading

Ethics Questions And Answers Regarding The Flint, Michigan Water Crisis

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First, a background question: What is the Flint water crisis?

Here is what has happened so far:

1. In March of 2013, the Flint City Council voted to leave the Detroit water system and join a new pipeline project that would deliver water to the city from Lake Huron. The state agreed that it was a good idea, since it would save the financially strapped Flint 19 million dollars over 8 years. [ Addendum: The news media and progressive spin is that the cruel state unilaterally imposed this decision on Flint. That’s not true, and don’t trust any source that claims it is. Here’s one such hack, who states “In 2013, the Emergency Manager for Flint, Ed Kurtz, signed the order that Flint would stop relying upon Detroit for water and, instead, switch to a the Karegnondi Water Authority run out of Lake Huron.” The Flint City Council voted 7-1 to take this course prior to the sign-off. It was approved by Kurtz, but this blogger’s statement that the crisis “is a direct result of reckless cost-cutting by the unelected bureaucrat who Governor Snyder appointed to run the city under the state’s controversial “Emergency Financial Manager” law” is deceptive and false.]

2. Detroit retaliated by announcing that it would cut off Flint’s water supply. Since the new pipeline wouldn’t be ready for three years, Flint had to find a temporary supplier of its water needs. It then spent millions upgrading its water processing plant.

3. The months leading up to the Detroit shut-off deadline generated many meetings with the state and regulatory bodies. Mayor Dayne Walling, a Democrat, announced that the temporary supply would come from the Flint River. The plan for the switch was implement by state-appointed emergency manager, Darnell Early. The system went into operation in April of 2014.

4. Immediately, residents started complaining about the water’s taste and appearance. Early (the state) and Mayor Walling (the city) insisted that it was safe to drink. Four months later, there was a fecal content alert, meaning that the water wasn’t being sufficiently purified. In October of 2014, General Motors said that the water seemed to be corrosive, and it would no longer use it in its plant.

5.  In January of 2015, Flint told its residents that the water wasn’t safe because of chemical contamination that could cause serious health problems. Detroit offered to go back to the old arrangement. Flint declined. Erin Brockovich (yes, that Erin Brockovich)  publicly argued that there was a water safety  crisis in Flint. The Mayor asked the state for assistance, and was assured that they were “working on it.”

6.  Activists said that the water was dangerous and the city should go back to its old arrangement with Detroit. The city hired an expert who claimed the water was safe. More work was done to fix the problem, but the City Council voted to re-connect to the Detroit system, and Lake Huron water. However, the vote had to be approved by the State’s emergency manager for the city. He didn’t approve it. The advocates for going back to Detroit water sued in Federal court, and lost.

7.  This mess  dragged into last fall. In September of 2015, researchers from Virginia Tech University reported online that their testing of Flint’s water found it “very corrosive” and that it was “causing lead contamination in homes.”  “On a scientific basis, Flint River water leaches more lead from plumbing than does Detroit water,” the report concluded. “This is creating a public health threat in some Flint homes that have lead pipe or lead solder.” The very same day, Michigan told Flint that the earlier chemical contamination had fallen within acceptable levels due to improved treatment methods, and the water was officially compliant with all standards, and safe.

8. Later that month, however, testing showed frightening levels of lead in the blood of Flint infants and children. A new lead warning was sent to Flint residents.

9. In October, 2015, the County issued a warning that Flint’s water was dangerous, and asked the Governor to declare a State of Emergency. The next day, Governor Rick Snyder announced various measures to address the problem.

10. Again, the city, this time through a special advisory committee, recommended that Flint switch back to the Detroit supply. On October 8, Snyder announced a multi-million dollar plan to reconnect Flint to Detroit’s water.  A week later, the Michigan Legislature and Snyder approved  $9.4 million in aid to Flint, including $6 million to  switch its drinking water back to Detroit.

11. Thanks to the water problem, Walling was defeated in his race to be re-elected as mayor  by Karen Weaver. The switch didn’t stop the lead problem, because the corrosive water had prompted a deterioration in Flint’s lead pipes. It took a the entire holiday period for this to become sufficiently obvious, for some reason, as many residents drank lead-contaminated water they had been told was now safe.

12. Shortly after Christmas, Snyder fired Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant and apologized for what was happening in Flint. He declared a state of emergency.

13. On January 13, Governor Snyder activated the Michigan National Guard to  distribute bottled water and filters in Flint, and asked the federal government for assistance.  The same day, Michigan health officials reported an increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases during periods over the past two years in Flint and the surrounding county. Snyder requested a major disaster declaration from President Obama, and more federal aid. Obama signed an emergency declaration last week, ordering federal aid for Flint and authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate relief efforts.

Why doesn’t everybody know about this? Continue reading

Dishonest Headline and Story Of The Month: Breitbart And Reporter John Nolte

"Trump Telling The Truth" is about as believable...

“Trump Telling The Truth” is about as believable…

When Andrew Breibart died, the conservative punditry world befouled it self with weepy odes to his bravery and dedication to right’s mission, whatever it is. In fact, he was a sloppy and unethical ideologically biased pseudo journalist, who made Fox News really look fair and balanced and MSNBC seem like the epitome of professionalism. Journalism with an agenda isn’t journalism, and Breitbart’s website never let nuances like facts get in the way of a good smear or a dubious accusation.

Earlier this week I read for the first time—since I avoid Breitbart like I avoid centipedes—that there were rumors that The Donald was sending favors the way of the website, and in return, it had grabbed the niche of pro-Trump media mouthpiece, thus setting itself up to run the Ministry of Truth when he gains power and begins rounding up the Unsuitables. THere’s no proof of this, but it could explain articles like this one today, titled Trump 100% Vindicated: CBS Reports ‘Swarm’ On Rooftops Celebrating 9/11.

To cut to the chase, nothing in the article vindicates  or supports Trump in any way, and certainly not “100%.” That’s pure linkbait, though the disgraceful story holds on to the like like grim death, tossing excuses, equivocations, deceits and logical fallacies at it as if this junk can turn lead into gold. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Whining”

(Pssst! John! JOHN! You're not running! )

(Pssst! John! JOHN! You’re not running! )

The resilient and provocative Charles Green offers a challenge to the underlying point in “Whining,” the recent post about efforts by some (but not all) members of the news media to pooh-pooh Republican objections to what they (and I ) regarded as outrageous disrespect and bias displayed by the CNBC panel in the recent Republican debate.

I have a five word rebuttal and bit more afterwards, but for now, here is Charlie’s Comment of the Day on the Ethics Alarms Post, “Whining.” Continue reading

“Whining”

Whining

I said that we would learn a lot about individual political commentators fairness and integrity by observing their reactions to the nakedly anti-GOP bias displayed by the CNBC moderators, especially John Harwood, in the recent Republican debate, and indeed we have. To any objective analyst who isn’t poisoned by partisan prejudice—and no such analysts has any business practicing journalism until they are cured of the malady—the breach of objectivity and professionalism evinced by such antagonistic queries as…

 

  • “Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?” (Harwood to Trump)
  •  “I talked to economic advisers who have served presidents of both parties. They said that you have as chance of cutting taxes that much without increasing the deficit as you would of flying away from that podium by flapping your arms.” (Harwood to Trump)
  • “So what analysis got you to the point where you think this will work?” (Quick to Carson)
  • “You want to bring 70,000 pages to three? Is that using really small type? Is that using really small type? (Quintanilla to Fiorina)

…is obvious, alarming and unacceptable. Those are attacks framed as questions, and the moderators are not supposed to attack the candidates.  Debate questions should be tough; here is one of the first televised debate questions ever from journalist Sander Vanocur to Richatrd Nixon in the initial Nixon-Kennedy debate:

VANOCUR:  Mr. Vice President, since the question of executive leadership is a very important campaign issue, I’d like to follow Mr. Novins’ question. Now, Republican campaign slogans – you’ll see them on signs around the country as you did last week – say it’s experience that counts – that’s over a picture of yourself; sir- implying that you’ve had more governmental executive decision-making  experience than your opponent. Now, in his news conference on August24, President Eisenhower was asked to give one example of a major idea of yours that he adopted. His reply was, and I’m quoting; “If you give me a week I might think of one. I don’t remember.” Now that was a month ago, sir, and the President hasn’t brought it up since, and I’m wondering, sir, if you can clarify which version is correct – the one put out by Republican campaign leaders or the one put out by President Eisenhower?

Tough. Yet there is no sarcasm, or editorializing insults in the question, no mockery, as in the “really small type” crack. Indeed, Vanocur’s question could be from a friendly journalist and Nixon ally (giving him a chance to defuse an embarrassing incident) or a hostile one. That is professional journalism…ah, I had almost forgotten what it looks like! Faced with across the panel hostility, however, the 2016 class of Republican candidates had two choices: accept the status quo, represented by

  • CNN’s Candy Crowley interfering with the last 2012 debate and throwing President Obama a misleading life-line when he was being pressed by Mitt Romney on his participation in the same lie that Hillary’s e-mails exposed regarding the Benghazi attack
  • ABC’s Martha Raddatz allowing Joe Biden to flout debate ettiquette by constantly interrupting Paul Ryan in the 2012 Vice Presidential debate.
  • Anderson Cooper shutting out the one moderate in the Democratic debate, James Webb, several times not asking him questions that the other fur candidates were given chances to answer.*
  • Obvious and documented favoritism toward Barack Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 debate
  • The evisceration of Sarah Palin based on her “lack of experience” in the 2008 campaign, with Obama’s greater lack of experience virtually ignored,
  • The major news organizations, except for Fox, openly lobbying the public for Democratic proposed policy measures, like gun control, amnesty for illegal immigrants, the Affordable Care Act, and more.
  • Statistics showing that progressives outnumber conservatives in the media by more than 4-1.

…or to start objecting to it, as well as the dangerous warping of the democratic process it represents. They have, and it should be taken as a non-partisan boon to the nation.

It is not healthy, and indeed dangerous to have journalists so lopsidedly supporting  one party against  the other, so allied with the government, and so far from objective. The danger, and the fact that CNBC crossed any reasonable limits of bias and unfairness  were immediately acknowledged by such predictable liberals as Juan Williams, Piers Morgan, Tina Brown’s Daily Beast, Bill Maher, and Carl Bernstein, among others.

Another segment of the media, however, those who believe that their occupation gives them the license and obligation to tilt news reporting and public opinion the “right” way, as well as Democrats, who hope to hold on to power with the news media as their front line, hit on a proven strategy from the playground to marginalize and trivialize the issue. Dismiss the complaints as “whining.”

Those who abuse their power to the detriment of others have always used this unethical tactic. Continue reading