Was Charlie Rose’s “Apology” The Worst Of All?

I’m thinking about it.

Harvey Weinstein, you recall, announced that he would devote himself to crushing the NRA. Analysis: Desperate deflection and virtue-signalling.

Kevin Spacey decided to finally announce that he was gay. Analysis: Appeal for support and sympathy from a minority group he had spurned for decades

Bill O’Reilly continues to insist that he never did anything wrong, and that it was all a partisan hit job. Analysis: Deny, deny, deny.

Louis C.K. explained that he misread signals—as if there is any signal from a woman that says, “I want to see a chubby, homely, middles aged guy masturbate nude.” Analysis: Ridiculous and pathetic.

George H.W. Bush sought sympathy—he’s old and in a wheelchair—and anyway, it was all in good fun. Analysis: Generational ignorance

Al Franken gave an apology that said that female accusers should be believed, though he didn’t agree with his female accusers account, and that there was no excuse for his conduct, though he was just joking and jokes sometimes look bad in retrospect. Analysis: Cynical double-talk

One common thread that cannot be missed is that all of these men are assholes. Their words brand them as such. This figures, since only assholes harass women in the workplace, or anywhere else. I think this is why Charlie Rose’s statement angers me so much, specifically when he said,

“I have learned a great deal as a result of these events, and I hope others will too. All of us, including me, are coming to a newer and deeper recognition of the pain caused by conduct in the past, and have come to a profound new respect for women and their lives.”

Don’t drag me into this, Rose, or any of the millions of men who always treat women as equals, respectfully, and fairly, both socially and professionally. I don’t need any “newer and deeper” recognition, you fecal creep, that putting hands on women’s upper thighs uninvited, parading naked, groping butts, making lewd phone calls  to co-workers and making young interns watch sexually explicit films are all unambiguously wrong and intolerable. I didn’t need it 40 years ago, and I don’t now. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/24/17: It’s The Andrew Sullivan Show!

Still trying to clear the decks..

1 Last week, Andrew Sullivan delivered a couple of excellent pieces of commentary with ethical clarity. My definition of an ethical analyst is one who can steer away from the magnetic pull of cognitive dissonance, and realize that, for example, just because Democrats and progressives deplore President Trump as much as you do doesn’t mean you have to regard their battiest and most unethical positions as better than they are. Sullivan qualifies. Here he is making what I once thought was an obvious point: that Democrats and progressives embracing open borders (and condemning as racist anyone who doesn’t) was irresponsible:

I don’t believe it’s disputable at this point that the most potent issue behind the rise of the far right in America and Europe is mass immigration. It’s a core reason that Trump is now president…[and the] reason why I have dwindling hopes that the Democratic Party will be able to defeat Trump in 2020. Instead of adjusting to this new reality, and listening to the electorate, the Dems have moved ever farther to the left, and are controlled by ever-radicalizing activists. There’s a nuanced, smart — and shockingly honest — piece in Vox by Dara Lind about this. Money quote:

For Democrats, it’s been a simple calculus. Democrats’ attempts at “tough love” centrism didn’t win them any credit across the aisle, while an increasingly empowered immigrant-rights movement started calling them to task for the adverse consequences of enforcement policies. Democrats learned to ignore the critics on the right they couldn’t please, and embrace the critics on the left who they could… Democrats in 2017, in general, tend to criticize the use of immigration enforcement, and tend to side with those accused of violating immigration law, as a broad matter of principle beyond opposing the particular actions of the administration … Democrats are no longer as willing to attack “illegal immigration” as a fundamental problem anymore.

This is, to be blunt, political suicide. The Democrats’ current position seems to be that the Dreamer parents who broke the law are near heroes, indistinguishable from the children they brought with them; and their rhetoric is very hard to distinguish, certainly for most swing voters, from a belief in open borders. In fact, the Democrats increasingly seem to suggest that any kind of distinction between citizens and noncitizens is somehow racist. You could see this at the last convention, when an entire evening was dedicated to Latinos, illegal and legal, as if the rule of law were largely irrelevant. Hence the euphemism “undocumented” rather than “illegal.” So the stage was built, lit, and set for Trump.

Bingo.

2. A post that fell through the cracks months ago involved one more example of California morphing into Bizarro USA. Then the post was about a speech-dictating bill passed by the legislature; this month, Jerry Brown signed it into law. The bill was SB-219, changing the laws regarding health care facilities, including nursing homes. Continue reading

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

Sexual Harassment, Victim Blaming, Toxic Corporate Cultures, President Trump’s Defense and Other Ethics Notes On Bill O’Reilly’s Fall (Part II))

The Ethics Alarms audit of the Bill O’Reilly canning by Fox (okay, technically it wasn’t a firing, but it was) continues…

9. One problem with the Left’s thinly veiled joy at getting O’Reilly is that it encourages the Right’s narrative that O’Reilly’s only crime was being conservative. Also not helping were President Trump’s interview statements about O’Reilly to the New York Times, in which he said in part,

“I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person… I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”

Stupid, stupid, stupid; irresponsible. Maybe two stupids and two irresponsibles. Do otherwise good people engage in sexual harassment? Of course: good people do bad things. But when a prominent individual says publicly that a sexual harasser is a good person, it sends a message that sexual harassment, like all abuse, doesn’t create a rebuttable presumption that someone is not a good person. Add to that Trump’s last statement, “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong,” and the toxic messaging is complete. Either that statement means that the President is, based on nothing, claiming that the allegations against O’Reilly are untrue, or worse, he is saying that there is nothing wrong with sexual harassment. Based on his infamous exchange with Bill Bush, there is good reason to believe that this is exactly what he means.

10. That interview, in turn, led inevitably to this fatuous and offensive article by conservative blogger Roger Simon. Sure, Roger, you dummy, O’Reilly did nothing wrong except support Donald Trump. Count the rationalizations in this piece of offal by one of the shimmering stars in the Pajama Media firmament of conservative thought-leaders.

The sad truth is the many conservatives—most?—really don’t think sexual harassment is a big deal. It is one of many ethics blind spots.

11. One conservative who lacks that blind spot—though she has lots of others—is Sarah Palin, who had this exchange yesterday with CNN’s Jake Tapper: Continue reading

Sexual Harassment, Victim Blaming, Toxic Corporate Cultures, President Trump’s Defense and Other Ethics Notes On Bill O’Reilly’s Fall (Part I)

As you probably know by now, Twenty-First Century Fox Inc ended its relationship with Bill O’Reilly at Fox News following what are being called allegations of sexual harassment, the revelation of them in the news media despite Fox’s pay-out of over $13,000,000 to the women who were involved, and a subsequent wide-spread boycott of his high-rated show “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Ethics Observations:

1. Good. Long, long overdue, but good. Fox News should have fired O’Reilly after the first sexual harassment episode which was years ago; it is a firing offense in ethical organizations for most employees, and the fact that Fox allowed its most influential and most profitable star to skirt accountability and survive to harass again was a classic example of the rationalization known as The King’s Pass, or The Star Syndrome.

2. The fact that Fox News creator, leader, and boss Roger Ailes was also jettisoned after a sexual harassment scandal showed at the time that the organization had developed an unethical culture that was hostile to women….as Ethics Alarms pointed out last July. (“There seems to be a culture of sexual harassment at Fox, coming down from the rotting fish head in charge, Roger Ailes.”)  This was the other shoe dropping.

3. O’Reilly issued a carefully crafted statement composed with the assistance of a “crisis consultant”:

“Over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant news network in television,” O’Reilly said in a statement. “It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today. I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers. I wish only the best for Fox News Channel.”

I would say the Bill is lying through his teeth with the “unfounded” part, but sexual harassers often don’t think they have done anything wrong. They think they were just being “nice,” or they think their advances were misunderstood, or they believe that the harassment accusations are a cover for something else. Ailes also denies that he did anything wrong. This is typical. It would have been a wonderful thing if O’Reilly could admit that his conduct was wrong and apologize to the victims while sincerely promising to change, but like most harassers, he couldn’t mount the character and the acknowledgement of hard reality to do it.

4. What is more damaging, perhaps, is that so many of O’Reilly’s fans and followers will believe his self-delusion because they also don’t “get” sexual harassment, and think the whole issue is manufactured feminist nonsense and political correctness. Boys will be boys! Everybody does it! 

5. If there is anyone who is informed and intelligent and still followed Bill O’Reilly without constant cognitive dissonance, they should be ashamed of themselves. If one was alert, Bill constantly revealed himself as a blowhard who was convinced he was smarter than he was, or perhaps more accurately, knew he was faking it and adopted a assertive, intimidating and self-righteous persona as cover for his own insecurities.  Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: President Trump

“I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong. I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person.”

President Trump to the New York Times , speaking of the sexual harassment allegations intensifying around star Fox News Bloviator Bill O’Reilly.

Now President Trump is acting like President Obama. The President of the United States abuses his power and position by ever commenting upon or registering an opinion about matters that do not involve the national welfare or his direct responsibilities. These include local law enforcement episodes (Trayvon Martin, the arrest of an African-American professor in Cambridge by a white cop), employment matters, private lawsuits, pending criminal trials, TV shows (Saturday Night Live), media coverage (don’t get me started), legal business decisions and sports controversies (Colin Kaepernick). Obama never learned this (among other leadership basics, a problem fagged as “flat learning curve” on Ethics Alarms), and, not surprisingly, Trump is going to be even worse. Continue reading

O’Reilly, Fox News, And Sexual Harassment…AGAIN

Bill O’Reilly’s five accusers…so far.

I saw an online article that called Bill O’Reilly the “Bill Cosby of Fox News.” That’s not entirely fair: O’Reilly is likely just a serial sexual harasser, whereas Cosby is a rapist. Then again, they are both named “Bill,” and there are other similarities. Both have paid hush money to accusers, both have had a series of accusations made against them by women, the watermark of the sexual harasser (though Bill Cosby, so far, is way ahead in that category), both angrily deny the charges against them, and both have indignant defenders.

Both also are probably sociopaths.

Is it possible that Cosby has been wrongly maligned? Let me think…NO. Of course not. Over 50 women (what is the current count now?) do not accuse the same innocent man of sexual assault. Is it possible that the other Bill is a victim, not a predator? My “no” here isn’t quite as emphatic, perhaps, but…no. The New York Times piece yesterday thoroughly covers the evidence, and the odds against  all this being meaningless boggles the mind: Continue reading

No, Bill O’Reilly Shouldn’t Be Fired For Making Fun Of Rep. Maxine Waters’ Hair

Bill O’Reilly should have been fired before he made fun of Maxine Waters’ hair. Now would be the worst time imaginable to fire the blow-hard, untrustworthy Fox News pundit, because it would allow partisans to silence an opinion-maker whose opinions they hate by employing shameless and unjustified race-baiting. That tactic, employed repeatedly and futilely against Rush Limbaugh and other high profile conservatives, is unethical, and must not be validated by success.

In case you don’t follow O’Reilly, 1) I salute your taste and time management, and 2) here’s what caused the controversy:

O’Reilly was stopping by the set of “Fox and Friends,” and along with the gang on the couch watched some of Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ speech attacking President Trump. After the clip, O’Reilly said, “I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig.”

Being in the Land of the Dimwits, O’Reilly sparked an idiotic defense from co-host Ainsley Earhardt, who said, fatuously, “You can’t go after a woman. Plus, I think she’s very attractive.”

Why in the world can’t you “go after a woman” when the woman is an elected official who says ridiculous things as routinely as clockwork? Earhardt’s statement was sexist on its face, and as O’Reilly quickly found out, it wasn’t sexism that he was going to be accused of with his mean James Brown wig comment. By the way…

…he had a point.

It’s a nasty, ad hominem, unprofessional point, however, that lowers political discourse into the gutter. O’Reilly has been doing this in various ways from the beginning of his career, when he wasn’t misrepresenting his credentials, his conduct, or other matters. This, however, was a relatively minor example.

Never mind though: Waters is black, so by the infinitely adjustable weaponizing definition of racism used by progressives, black activists and Democrats for the previous eight years, to criticize her at all is to be a racist. This was a sub-version; criticizing a black woman’s hair is racist. OK, comparing a black woman’s wig to an iconic black soul singer’s wig is racist. Or something: just cry racism, and the hope is that it will tar O’Reilly so badly that he will become unemployable, and no progressive will ever have their blood pressure raised by him again.

All over social media, progressives of note and non-note called for Bill’s head because his comment was “racist.” This really takes chutzpah, since mocking Donald Trump’s hair and skin-color virtually became a national pastime in Leftist Land during the 2016 campaign, and is still. What’s the standard being advocated here? Calling a white President”s comeover anything from a dead animal to decomposing vegetables is perfectly acceptable political discourse, but comparing a black House member’s wig to the hair of a dead rock icon is too horrible to tolerate? The Washington Post published a feature called “The 100 Greatest Descriptions of Donald Trump;s Hair” last June. It included such entries as

  • A mullet that died in some horrific accident
  • Combed like he’s televangelist Benny Hinn.
  • Like Biff, from “Back to the Future”
  • Like Lucille Ball
  • Like a troll doll

And most worthy of discussion,  this: Continue reading

Major Ethics Alarm: American Journalism Is Crumbling Before Our Eyes [Post Script: Glenn Greenwald]

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Muckraking journalist Glenn Greenwald provided excellent background and searing commentary today on this issue, in his essay, “WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived.” Read it, please.

Some highlights:

In the past six weeks, the Washington Post published two blockbuster stories about the Russian threat that went viral: one on how Russia is behind a massive explosion of “fake news,” the other on how it invaded the U.S. electric grid. Both articles were fundamentally false. Each now bears a humiliating editor’s note grudgingly acknowledging that the core claims of the story were fiction: The first note was posted a full two weeks later to the top of the original article; the other was buried the following day at the bottom.

The second story on the electric grid turned out to be far worse than I realized when I wrote about it on Saturday, when it became clear that there was no “penetration of the U.S. electricity grid” as the Post had claimed. In addition to the editor’s note, the Russia-hacked-our-electric-grid story now has a full-scale retraction in the form of a separate article admitting that “the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target or hack the utility” and there may not even have been malware at all on this laptop….

***

After spreading the falsehoods far and wide, raising fear levels and manipulating U.S. political discourse in the process (both Russia stories were widely hyped on cable news), journalists who spread the false claims subsequently note the retraction or corrections only in the most muted way possible, and often not at all. As a result, only a tiny fraction of people who were exposed to the original false story end up learning of the retractions.

*** Continue reading

Major Ethics Alarm: American Journalism Is Crumbling Before Our Eyes [Part 2: Sounding The Alarm]

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The analysis below was preceded by Part I: Signature Significance. I suggest reading it first. After listing and commenting on several recent examples of news media bias and incompetence, the post ends with the Ethics Alarms starting point for ethical analysis:

What’s going on here?

What’s going on is pretty terrifying. There is literally no major news media outlet that isn’t biased and untrustworthy, and the profession does not appear to care. Is it denial? Is it terrible training? Is it a misguided sense of mission? Arrogance? Whatever it is, it is res ipsa loquitur–it speaks for itself.

Don’t argue that the news media isn’t always wrong or constantly allowing partisan bias to skew its reporting: the point is the same as what Ethics Alarms explained in its Snopes post.  Once bias is manifest, the reliable reporting must occuring spite of that pollution, and there is no way for the public to know when it is being informed according to proper journalism ethics, and when it is being manipulated. The examples above are egregious. They would not have been permitted even 20 years ago, and yet now they are.

This doesn’t require much acumen to spot the problem, or elaborate measures to address. Look at the examples in Part I. How hard is it to figure out that once a reporter has been shown to be colluding with one party over another, it’s “Bye-bye and welcome to the baby zoo animal beat!” If it is so impossible for a Sunday news show to find four expert commentators who aren’t in Trump-freak-out mode, it’s time to upgrade the potential guest pundit list. When an anchor wildly mistates a fact like the McConnell quote that has been repeatedly debunked, 1) correct it, 2) apologize, and 3) give her a few days off without pay. How hard is that? It’s not hard, unless the entire profession is so devoid of ethical training and habits that it literally doesn’t know how to be honest, objective, fair, competent and responsible…you know, as in trustworthy.

Professions are obligated to police themselves. It shouldn’t be a conservative media watchdog site like Newsbusters that reveals Camerota’s unconscionable repetition of the long-debunked claim that Republicans vowed to obstruct Obama “from Day One”, it should be CNN’s competitors, or CNN. Brian Stelter, CNN’s own media watchdog, didn’t report on any of these episodes, because he has been dedicated to playing defense for his network, denying that news media bias exists. On October 16, just before another Wikileaks dump showed how many mainstream media journalists were regarded by the Clinton campaign as allies, Stelter engaged in a long sneerfest mocking the idea, which he attributed to Trump, that the news media was biased against Trump and trying to elect Clinton, beginning with… Continue reading