Tag Archives: Brian Stelter

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

flag-american-crumbling

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

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The Ethics Alarms “Fake News” Project: Seeking Ethics Distinctions Among Web Hoaxes, False Narratives,”Fake News” And Negligent, Incompetent or Biased Reporting (PART I: The New York Times School Voucher Headline)

I LOVE this story! I wish it WERE true!!!

I LOVE this story! I wish it WERE true!!!

Yesterday’s New York Times included a story headlined  Free Market For Education: Economists Generally Don’t Buy It, and it stated,

The odds are good that privatizing education will be part of the agenda for President-elect Donald J. Trump’s administration. […] You might think that most economists agree with this overall approach, because economists generally like free markets. For example, over 90 percent of the members of the University of Chicago’s panel of leading economists thought that ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft made consumers better off by providing competition for the highly regulated taxi industry.But economists are far less optimistic about what an unfettered market can achieve in education. Only a third of economists on the Chicago panel agreed that students would be better off if they all had access to vouchers to use at any private (or public) school of their choice.

While economists are trained about the value of free markets, they are also trained to spot when markets can’t work alone and government intervention is required.

That summation, however, was misleading to the point of falsehood. As the Scott Alexander points out at his blog Slate Star Codex,  the source for the story indicated something quite different—materially different:

economists_views

Got that? Scott Alexander writes:

Continue reading

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“If That Was Transparency, Then I’m A Kumquat” And Other Reactions To Josh Earnest’s Multiple Unethical Christmas Quotes

This morning, Obama Administration paid liar Josh Earnest spoiled my Christmas mellow by telling CNN’s alleged news media ethics watchdog Brian Stelter that there’s really “no constituency in American politics for transparency in government beyond journalists,” as he deflected Stelter’s accounts of journalists complaining about administration foot-dragging on Freedom of Information Act requests. Then he really curdled the ethicist’s eggnog by saying,

“If this constituency of journalists are gonna be effective advocates for the issue that they care about, they need to remember that they have a responsibility not just to criticize those who are not living up to their expectations. Any activist will tell you that the way that you get people to support you and to support your cause is to give them credit when the credit is due, to applaud them when they do the thing that you want them to be doing.”

Finally, Earnest molded my mistletoe by claiming,  “President Obama has been the most transparent president in American history.”

Stelter, of course, being an incompetent, biased and unethical news media ethics watchdog, did not interjection with the mandatory, “WHAT??? You’ve got to be kidding! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ACK! ACK! ARRRGH! and drop dead in shock.

That statement is fake news if anything is, rivaling the news media lie that that the Obama years were devoid of major scandals. Before we begin shooting fish in a barrel and deal with that brazen-beyond-belief spin, let’s pause to consider the other stunner in Earnest’s Christmas morning performance:

1. What does Earnest mean that journalists are the only constituency for transparency? Does the Obama administration, and by extension Democrats, really believe that the public doesn’t mind being lied to? If so, that explains a lot, including the nomination of Hillary Clinton.

2. Journalists are not supposed to advocates and activists at all. They are supposed to be devoted to communicating facts and the truth.

3. Is Earnest saying that when a President generally defies a pledge of ethical conduct, he should nonetheless be praised when he doesn’t defy that pledge, and that journalists should highlight the Administration’s rare examples of  transparency while ignoring the overwhelmingly more copious breaches? It sure sounded like it.

That brings us back to the mind-melting quote that this has been a transparent administration by any definition of the word other than “not transparent at all.”

This episode from 2011 nicely encapsulates the issue:

“President Obama was scheduled to receive an award from the organizers of the Freedom of Information Day Conference, to be presented at the White House by “five transparency advocates.” The White House postponed that meeting because of events in Libya and Japan, and it was rescheduled…That meeting did take place – behind closed doors. The press was not invited to the private transparency meeting, and no photos from or transcript of the meeting have been made available. The event was not listed on the president’s calendar…Nor is the award mentioned anywhere on the White House website, including on the page devoted to transparency and good government. Were it not for the testimony of the transparency advocates who met secretly with the president, there wouldn’t seem to be any evidence that the meeting actually took place.”

That’s right: Obama wasn’t transparent about a transparency meeting. That same day, Obama went on TV  and tried to explain why he hadn’t been transparent to the U.S. Congress about his military plans in Libya.  Shortly after that, news leaked that the Fed had secretly sent billions in loans to foreign banks during the financial crisis.

Ah, memories! On his second day on the job, January 21, 2009, that…President Obama famously pledged, in one of his first memos to federal agencies

“We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”

He may be right about that last part, or maybe he discovered that it was naive and impractical dream. Under no circumstances, however, can it be said that Obama’s administration was transparent. An exhaustive list is impossibly, long, but here is an incomplete  sample just from the posts in Ethics Alarms: Continue reading

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Collusion…But Then, As The Times Reminded Us, “These Are Not Ordinary Times,” So It’s OK

collusion

Over the weekend as the  2016 campaign’s first Presidential debate loomed, four news organizations published major stories pronouncing Donald Trump a liar, and essentially conferring on the Rationalization #22-ish Hillary “She’s not the Worst Liar” endorsement.

This was a new maneuver in the mainstream news medias full and open opposition of Trump that has left objectivity, neutrality and American journalism ethics in the dust. First came the The New York Times attack—the Times, as the flagship of U.S. journalism, had already given its blessing to biased coverage—with its “A Week of Whoppers“on Saturday. Politico, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times all followed the leader in short order. (Or followed orders in short…never mind, that doesn’t quite work.)

Contacted by a curious but gullible Brian Stelter, CNN’s biased but maybe a little less biased than he might be “media watchdog,” publication editors who were involved swore the timing was, as John Travolta says in “Face-Off,” “a  coinkydink!” Marty Baron, the executive editor of The Washington Post, told Stelter indignantly, “We don’t coordinate coverage with anyone else!”

“The four stories were welcomed by the Clinton campaign,” Stelter wrote.  “Aides cited the statistics in television interviews on Sunday.  However, there is no indication that the Clinton campaign was involved.” (That’s my emphasis, if you couldn’t tell.) Continue reading

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Update: “A Message From Katie Couric”… A Really Damning One

But she's so cute! How can someone so cute be such a lying, untrustworthy weasel?

But she’s so cute! How can someone so cute be such a lying, untrustworthy weasel?

Katie Couric’s approval of intentionally deceptive editing in the anti-gun documentary “Under the Gun” (which Ethics Alarms discussed here) was and should be regarded as a definitive nail in her metaphorical coffin as a serious and trustworthy journalist. The revelation that she facilitated an unequivocal lie in the documentary, and her failure to acknowledge its unethical nature once it was exposed (instead, Couric endorsed the documentary-maker’s evasive non apology and said she was “very proud of the film” ), has no remedy other than to ignore Katie Couric forevermore. She’s a liberal agenda-driven hack who is not above distorting the truth to bolster policies she likes, in this case, banning guns. After this fiasco,there is no question about it.

CNN’s wishy-washy media ethics commentator Brian Stelter noted in a recent post about the incident that “an assortment of media critics and conservative writers” thought the documentary-maker’s fake apology that Couric rubber-stamped “was not sufficient.” Huh! Excuse me for being impertinent, but why is the practice of alleged journalists with national reputations using lies as a tool of advocacy a partisan issue?

Why are only “conservative writers” bothered when a documentary produced by Katie Couric intentionally uses a deceptive edit to make a group of gun owners look like fools who can’t come up with a response to a basic question about background checks? Why don’t liberal, moderate and honest writers protest as well? Are intentionally dishonest techniques all right with the latter group, as long as they have the purpose of destroying public support for the Bill of Rights?

The flagrant shredding of both documentary ethics and journalism ethics by long-time media darling Couric (who has always been as biased as a journalist can get) received some grudging attention from the non-conservative media, but nothing like the wave of indignation that would have followed a similar breach that made gun opponents look foolish in a documentary by, say, Britt Hume. Compare the treatment of Couric’s deception to the way the mainstream media attacked and discredited the hidden videos of Planned Parenthood ghouls talking about aborting fetuses like it had all the significance of clipping toenails.

Couric signaled, clearly and obviously, that she felt the uenthical edit was just fine, thank-you, when she allowed days to pass without any comment other than that she was “very proud of the film.”  That’s how she feels, folks. There’s no ambiguity or confusion. If she was sorry, or realized she screwed up, or didn’t believe that the scourge of gun violence didn’t have to be stopped “by any means necessary,” including deception, she would have issued a genuine mea culpa immediately. She didn’t.

This is called doing a “Dan Rather.”

Then Katie decided that it wasn’t working. Many of the same “conservative writers” who wouldn’t let NBC shrug off the fact that Brian Williams was a compulsive liar were writing that Couric’s career was toast, so she apparently huddled with her PR crisis gurus and released this on Monday, titled “A Message From Katie Couric”. Here’s the whole, wretched thing: Continue reading

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Trump’s New Jersey Muslims 9-11 Celebration Lie Justifies A Nazi Label

trump-salute

The current controversy—except there’s no disagreement on the facts, so it isn’t really a controversy—over Donald Trump’s unretracted statement that he saw “thousands” of New Jersey Muslims celebrating the Twin Towers’ destruction on 9-11 is materially different from the other items on the list of his various outrageous insults, vulgarities and misrepresentations. It’s a Big Lie, the device perfected and employed by Hitler and Goebbels, a weapon of totalitarianism. Other American politicians and leaders have dabbled in the technique, of course. I flagged the false accusation that the Republicans “stole” the 2000 Presidential election as a Big Lie; so is the Democratic cant that Bush “lied” about weapons of mass destruction. The “War on Women” is a Big Lie. Birthers are engaging in Big Lie politics—so is Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla), who insists that Ted Cruz isn’t a “natural born” American. The Truthers are Big Liars. Black Lives Matter was built on the Big Lies that Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown were murdered. The current claim, being treated with disgusting respect by journalists, that white America is engaged in systematic black genocide is a Big Lie.

Most of these, however, are really Little Big Lies. They are dangerous and destructive, but not in Goebbel’s league. Trump, however, is using a Big Lie to impugn the patriotism and trustworthiness of a group of citizens based on their religion and cultural heritage, and attempting to stir up purely group-based hate. To hell with Hanlon: this is Nazi Propaganda 101, and deserves to be identified as such directly to Donald Trump’s face.

There is no debate over whether Trump could have “seen” thousands of Muslims whooping it up on TV (like blacks celebrating O.J.’s acquittal for gutting his wife), because no such video was taken, broadcast, or archived. If there were such celebrations, Trump didn’t see them, unless he somehow obtained George Burns’ magic TV from the old Burns and Allen sitcom, on which George was able to see what his wife, friends and neighbors were doing while he chatted with the TV audience. If Trump did see such a non-existent broadcast, he couldn’t have seen “thousands,” unless there was a ’round the state relay, like they do on New Years Eve at midnight, going around the country to show simultaneous celebrations.

Trump didn’t see it. He couldn’t have. There is no controversy.

Yet he still claims he did, and has a team of paid liars telling media interviewers he did. He could have said he was mistaken; he could have said that he confused televised scenes of Muslims abroad celebrating (though not “thousands”) with accounts of some Muslims celebrating in New Jersey, and apologized. He didn’t though. He stuck to a false story after he had to know it was wrong, and that makes it a lie. The fact that the lie tacitly suggests that American citizens of the Muslim faith lack loyalty to their nation and love of their fellow citizens whom they cheered to see murdered  makes it a Big Lie. Continue reading

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CNN’s Selective Choice Of Targets For Selective Criticism For Selective News Coverage

Or, if you prefer, "CNN's journalism ethics show."

Or, if you prefer, “CNN’s journalism ethics show.”

On the host of CNN”s unreliable media ethics and criticism show, Reliable Sources, slammed Fox News:

STELTER: Boy, has Fox News spent a lot of time over the past two years focused on the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, and I mean a lot of time. […] But when a new Benghazi report came out on Friday, there was hardly a peep, and maybe that’s because the report, which was Republican led, it was by the    , debunks many of the myths that have run rampant on Fox News and in conservative media circles. […] So I have to wonder: will Fox will stop aggressively pushing its theories about Benghazi? Probably not. With its audience largely in the dark about the latest findings, the myths may, and perhaps will, live on.

Wheels within wheels, deceit within deceit, hypocrisy within hypocrisy. The criticism was correct and deserved, as Fox News’ own media critic (and the former unreliable host of Reliable Sources) noted as well. It also was notable for what it left out:

  • Despite being routinely ridiculed as a witch-hunting political mob, the Republicans on the Committee fought for the investigation. That it exonerated the Administration is pure moral luck: apparently CNN has forgotten Hillary’s famous shouted “what difference does it make?” The fact that there was, in the end, nothing sinister to cover up doesn’t excuse the administration for obfuscating, dragging its feet and sending Susan Rice out to lie on talk shows to avoid scrutiny, and it was that conduct that convinced many that something was rotten in Libya.
  • This result does not excuse CNN’s network for its complicity in assisting the White House’s efforts before the 2012 election to pretend there were no facts to clarify. CNN failed to cover this story sufficiently before the truth was known, and had Fox News and the Republicans not kept the inquiry alive, we would not have a definitive report for Fox to emulate the liberal- biased media by burying. Stelter’s snide comments are the height of hypocrisy.

Continue reading

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