The Ethics Alarms Directory Of “Fake News”: Prelude

The first use of the tag “fake news” on this website was on March 4, 2015. That’s more than three months before Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President on June 16, 2015; the oft-published claim that Trump launched the term “fake news” to deride the news media for criticizing him and his Presidency is, ironically enough, fake news.

The 2015 piece was about CNBC publishing as legitimate news a press release by an anti-vaxx group, a category of fake news called “Hearsay news” in today’s directory to come. I posted three more articles tagged “fake news” before Trump was elected. One of them was the Mother of All Fake News episodes, when the Boston Globe hit the news stands and front walks on April 10, 2016 featuring a satirical front page with headlines about a fictional, dystopian Donald Trump Presidency. “This is Donald Trump’s America. What you read on this page is what might happen if the GOP frontrunner can put his ideas into practice, his words into action,” went the introduction. I wrote in part

This is a spectacular  failure of professionalism and a journalistic disgrace. A newspaper is pledged to report the news, not imagine it. It is not ethically entitled to morph into Saturday Night Live or the Onion because it really, really, really feels strongly about an issue….No paper published such a “future news” piece about the world under Nazi rule, or the race war if civil rights laws didn’t change. No respectable publication predicted a similar dystopian future under President Huey Long, or Joe McCarthy, or what a U.S. with open borders would look like, or what a Ron Paul style US with heroin for sale off drug store counters would lead to. That is because this means of political advocacy and commentary is reserved for the features and entertainment sections, not where facts are supposed to be, and where readers must be able to expect a reasonable attempt at truth, not a showboating effort to distort it.

The episode marked, as it turned out, the beginning of an epidemic of metaphorical canaries dying in the poisoned mine of American journalism. Continue reading

Carol Costello To The Rescue: CNN Spins For The Boston Globe

Globe Parody

Many in the on-line pundit community feel that the Boston Globe’s use of a fake future news front page to attack Donald Trump was bad practice and a slippery slope not to be ventured upon by serious news outlets. They are correct.

Trump hate runs high in mainstream media-land, however, and the ethics alarms there sound softly if at all. I just witnessed that most biased and smug of TV anchors, CNN’s Carol Costello, furiously spinning for the Globe, because the foundering ship of untrustworthy journalism feels that the crew must pull together, or something.

Though Costello’s colleague Brian Stelter had sort of criticized the the fake front page  saying that it “resembles an April Fools Day prank by a college newspaper — but is bound to get a lot more attention,” Costello was in full defense mode. She began by mischaracterizing where the objections to the Globe’s stunt were coming from, citing only Trump himself as the critic—and we all know how crazy he is, right? Costello played a clip of Trump registering his objections—mostly reasonable and fair, by the way—as Costello gave her audience her trademark “Can you believe this idiot?” smirk, which she flashes virtually any time a conservative or Republican is saying anything. She then repeated portions of the Globe’s defenders’ talking points, and brought on the Globe’s Sunday Ideas Editor Katie Kingsbury to give its own, as if Trump owned the only two hands not applauding. What was offered was a series of rationalizations: Continue reading

Refugee Debate Update: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, The Stupid, and Then There’s Carol Costello

OccupyDemocrats2

Ugh. It’s hard, not to mention nauseating and repetitious, to simultaneously cover two Ethics Trainwrecks moving at alarming speed and generating unethical conduct and words in all directions. My backlog of other, non-campus, non-terrorism stories grows longer my the minute, but Ethics Alarms has a mission, damn it.

First the Stupid, represented by one of OccupyDemocrats many memes. I am torn, though: is this meme even worse?

OccupyDems

Somebody at OccupyDemocrats.org makes these constantly, and I’d be fascinated to know if whoever it is really thinks these are valid arguments, or are just appealing to, you know, reliably stupid people who aren’t thinking very hard, and who say, “Duhhh, yup! That’ll put those Republicans in their place! I’ll post this to Facebook!” How many Americans really are this deficient in critical thinking?

Maybe I don’t want to think too much about this.

Next, the Good:  Continue reading

Bad News For Hillary: Someone At CNN Told Carol Costello To Stop Helping Her, And Clinton’s Talking Points Are Wearing Thin…OK, THINNER

This was fascinating. I was trying to decide whether to post today about the latest spin tactics by Hillary’s minions and her dwindling but still formidable media allies  in light of Clinton’s awkward press conference where she insisted that she didn’t do anything “wrong” regarding the mishandled State e-mails. Earlier in the day the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, a usually decent journalist whom it is sad to see succumbing to the  Clinton Corruption Virus (you would think there would be a vaccine by now!), had used this same talking point—and it is a campaign talking point. In a column that could be used in a public service announcement, Cillizza seriously wondered why Hillary was in trouble. Gee, he mused, maybe Hillary just isn’t very good at campaigning! What else could possibly explain why she isn’t cruising to the nomination?

In other words, the fact that she has lied constantly, used her foundation to profit from influence-seeking foreign powers, was a flop as a Secretary of State, put U.S. security at risk and destroyed potential evidence so she could avoid getting caught in her complex political/financial machinations—Allegedly! Allegedly!—wouldn’t matter at all to Democrats, voters or Chris if she was just better at fooling the public. Darn!

“This is Chris, and this is the tragedy of Clinton Corruption Syndrome. Won’t you help?”

Then he wrote, “The appearance here — even if Clinton did nothing wrong (and there is no proof she did at this point) — is terrible.”

What? WHAT? Of course she did things that were wrong. Isn’t lying like crazy wrong, Chris? Isn’t paying people to throw the media off the track and confuse the public using deceit and misrepresentations wrong, Chris?  Isn’t the tactic of smearing the messengers wrong, and sending out statements like the infamous “nonsense” letter wrong? Is intentionally breaking your own Department’s policies wrong? Is sending and receiving sensitive information in a manner that makes it vulnerable to hacking by foriegn governments wrong, Chris? Do you even know what wrong means any more, Chris?

That’s when it hit me, and that’s why I decided I had to post, again, on the Hillary Clinton E-mail Ethics Train Wreck, which is really just part of the The Hillary Clinton Presidential Candidacy Ethics Train Wreck. The Clinton campaign’s current strategy is now to make the public understand right and wrong the way the Clintons do. If it isn’t illegal, it isn’t wrong. (This is on the Ethics Alarms Rationalization list, incidentally: #4. Marion Barry’s Misdirection, or “If it isn’t illegal, it’s ethical.” Marion Berry went to jail.)

Talk about waving a red flag in front of an ethicist! Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Iran Deal And Its Media Coverage

treaty1. Throughout the negotiations for the apparently now completed Iran nuclear deal, all I could think about is how it would have made my old negotiation professor, the late Adrian Fisher  (who negotiated the SALT treaty) throw up. He taught his negotiation class at Georgetown Law Center, where he was the Dean, that no advantageous negotiation can occur unless your side is willing to walk away from the table. It has been clear from the beginning that the Obama Administration was desperate for this deal for political purposes, not national security, which the treaty does not assist in any way.

Dean Fisher—and his frequent guests, like Averill Harriman— taught his class that deadlines were essential in the negotiation process, both as a tool to force the other side to make tough decisions, and as a demonstration of resolve.  In this negotiation, the U.S. repeatedly allowed “deadlines” to pass, with no consequences. That tells the Iranians all they need to know about the U.S.’s likely response when they violate the terms of the agreement, as they are certain to do, at least as long as this weak, feckless, posturing and irresolute President is in office.

Of course, to be fair, the Iranians had plenty of evidence on that score already, as did we all.  “Red line,” you know.

2. The administration admits that it does not trust Iran. GOP Senator Lindsey Graham, who opposes the treaty, stated that Iran has never kept any international agreement or promise,, and thus cannot be trusted to keep this one. Nobody is seriously disputing that. Under such conditions, the whole concept of the deal is irresponsible. Who signs a treaty that it seriously doubts the other side will obey? Graham called this is the equivalent of making a deal with “religious Nazis.” The comparison is apt, except that the Obama arrangement with Iran is in some ways even more reckless than the one Neville Chamberlain made with Hitler. At least Chamberlain believed—stupidly, naively—that Hitler wanted peace. The Iran deal is what the Munich treaty would have been if Chamberlain was pretty sure Germany would invade Czechoslovakia and Poland anyway.

Chamberlain’s “peace in our time” was a pathetic hope. Obama’s is more like a lie. Continue reading

CNN Brings Us The Anti-American Cheap Shot Of The Year In Response to The South Carolina Massacre

Roof

Seconds ago, I just heard a guest on CNN—I didn’t notice his name, and I don’t want to know his name—tell Carol Costello that not only was church shooter Dylann Roof (above, and now in custody) sick, but that there was a great “sickness in a country that could produce a Dylann Roof,” who could pray with a congregation and then slaughter the people he just prayed with.

Carol Costello, true to her shameless, unthinking, knee-jerk jerkish soul, just nodded in agreement. Heaven forbid that she might contradict a solemn African-American race-baiting hack who had just impugned an entire nation based on the conduct of a single deranged man among 319 million.

Why stop with judging the nation by this act? Surely it proves the vile attitudes of the white race, the toxic values of males, and the inherent evil of gun owners. It proves that churchgoers are hypocrites, and that 21 year-old males are the violent, potential rapists that college campuses are now being urged to so treat them.

This CNN guest was succeeded by Costello favorite Michaela Angela Davis, daughter of the infamous Berkeley Sixties radical (and criminal) Angela Davis, who proclaimed that Roof was typical, that before this administration such crimes went unnoticed—gee, I wonder how many church massacres were covered up by those racists in the Bush Administration?— and that the attack was definitely racist terrorism, particularly because this Charleston church was important in civil rights history, and the oldest African American church still standing in the South.

Again, Costello uncritically went along with these ideological leaps.

How did Davis know that Roof chose that church for its historical significance, or was even aware of its significance? She didn’t; nobody did. Do we know that he was only interested in shooting blacks, or that when he reportedly stated that he wanted to kill blacks, he wasn’t planning on visiting other churches to announce, “I want to kill Hispanics/Asians/Catholics/Jews/ Whites”? No, we don’t.

Airing such inflammatory, premature, evidence-free assumptions is incompetent and irresponsible journalism. Endorsing an unconscionable anti-U.S. culture, history and values cheap shot like that of Costello’s previous guest is a breach of citizenship as well.

To be fair, though, CNN is getting faster at inflaming public opinion following race-related tragedies.

Practice makes perfect.

 UPDATE: CNN’s John Berman just interviewed an African-American pastor in Charleston who said, “If you can’t be safe being black in a church, where can anyone be black in the country?”

What the hell does that mean? Berman’s awkward response:

“Good point.”

No, John, it is an emotional, incoherent, inflammatory, fear-mongering point.

No, Carol Costello, You Contemptible Fool, Cheating Isn’t Funny

Now here's a cute story about how a team cheated to get to the Super Bowl!

Now here’s a cute story about how a team cheated to get to the Super Bowl!

I have more important things to write about today than again exposing that blight on the already thoroughly blighted field of broadcast journalism, CNN’s Carol Costello, I know. I also know I shouldn’t watch her, or CNN for that matter, in the morning. But my options are limited to that or centerfold sunburst Robin Meade over at HLM, who causes me to question my motives. Fox I am boycotting entirely until Roger Ailes sends Bill O’Reilly to keep Brian Williams company; The Today Show and Good Morning America are no longer news sources, just cretinous fluff, rock songs and cooking segments with occasional left-biased interviews, whatever CBS is doing in the morning has been unwatchable since 1981, and MSNBC is a disgrace in every way, and I mean every way. Lately the embarrassment has been that a disturbing number of its “tax the rich into oblivion and turn the US into Sweden” talking heads haven’t been paying their income taxes. I can respect people who at least display personal integrity regarding the irresponsible policies they advocate, but MSNBC is crawling with hypocrites as well as Angry Left demagogues.

That leaves CNN, which in one respect is unfair: since I can’t stand watching the others and only catch their worst moments when they are flagged by Mediaite or a tipster, CNN gets a disproportional criticism here. It is almost impossible, however, to be unfair to Carol Costello. Continue reading

CNN: “How Is The North Charleston Shooting Different From Ferguson?” KABOOM!

HeadExplode3

My answer:

“In North Charleston the officer executed a fleeing man, while in Ferguson an officer used appropriate force to defend himself, but CNN represented the story as an officer executing a fleeing man anyway.”

I literally just saw this minutes ago, so I can’t provide a link, and because smug, biased, despicable-beyond-words CNN morning anchor Carol Costello caused my head to explode with her commentary, the accuracy of my quotes may be a little off.

My brains hit the ceiling the second Costello said, “Unlike the shooting of Mike Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer, the shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston was captured on video. Witnesses in the Ferguson case disagreed about key facts in the shooting, and about whether Brown’s hands were up or not.”

Disgusting journalism, and close to pure evil. How long did Carol labor over that deceitful phrasing? Though Mike Brown’s shooting has been decisively shown by the credible eye-witness testimony and forensic evidence to have been consistent with the police officer’s account, and though the witnesses claiming that Brown was surrendering have been shown to be following the lead of CNN guest Dorian Johnson, who lied about what happened and set off the nationwide “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” protest theme, Costello and CNN are deliberately linked the two incidents, suggesting in tone and context that had there been a video, Darren Wilson might have been shown to be an executioner too. Continue reading

“House of Cards” Ethics: Why Should We Believe TV Journalists and Pundits Have Any Integrity When They Don’t Value It Themselves?

Safer interviews "President Frank Underwood." Morley, Morely, Morely...

Safer interviews “President Frank Underwood.” Morley, Morely, Morely…

The third season of “House of Cards,” a Netflix series about the corruption in Washington, continues to corrupt real Washington journalists and talking heads. On the third season  episode I just watched, “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” was drawn into this alternate universe (or Hell) and George, along with regular panel members Donna Brazile and Matthew Dowd, rendered trenchant if predictable opinions about fictional President Frank Underwood with exactly as much passion and certitude as they do when they aren’t just playing themselves, but being professional analysts whose job it is to objectively enlighten the TV news audience. With that, they joined CNN’s John King ,Candy Crowley,and Carol Costello, Soledad O’Brien, now with Al Jazeera America, NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Fox’ Sean Hannity, CBS’s Morley Safer of “60 Minutes,”  and Matt Bai as “House of Cards” journalist/actors. I’m sure I missed a few. The mystery is why none of these journalists (and whatever Sean Hannity and Brazile are) don’t hear ethics alarms ringing when invited to sully their already dubious credibility (they are in the news media, after all), by showing themselves reporting and commenting on fiction exactly the way they are seen reporting on reality. Brian Rooney, a media critic who writes “The Rooney Report,” states succinctly what’s the matter with this:

“The trouble with journalists appearing as themselves in entertainment is that the public already has difficulty discerning fact from fiction in the news. Reporters and news organizations survive on truth and trust. Readers and viewers need to believe what they are told so they can make informed decisions. When real reporters allow themselves to be part of fiction, the trust is shattered. They do it with a wink, like they are in on the joke, but it costs them their credibility.”

Well, it would cost them credibility, if they had any. Continue reading

I Can’t Wait To Find Out If Craig Hicks Was Just A Murderer Who Killed Three Innocent Neighbors Over A Parking Space, Or A Bigoted Murderer Who Killed Them Because They Were Muslims.

"EXTREMIST!"

“EXTREMIST!”

I am sitting here, drinking coffee and trying to wake up, and listening to CNN go on ad nauseum about the FBI investigation into whether Craig Hicks’ murder spree is a “hate crime.” No, I personally think he shot his neighbors because at that moment he was overcome with affection.

Sure, it’s important to know the motive for any murder. The “hate crime” scar on our laws, however, is creeping government thought control. After all, the law adds penalties to the punishment for a proven crime according to what the criminal was thinking, and nothing else. That’s thought-crime, by definition. The point is and was —-and this is another gift to the culture from the increasingly fascist-tending American Left, which wants to make it impossible (or painful) not to think as good people (you know, them) think—to use such prosecutions to send the message that it’s not just wrong to be prejudiced, it’s illegal and evil, and those who hold such views must be removed from society like tumors. Thus we are subjected to the interminable blathering that just finished on CNN about what the FBI’s examination of Hicks’ completely legal and Constitutionally protected writings and statements suggested about whether his thoughts should put him in jail for a few more years or decades. The message is unambiguous. Carol’s guest, a human rights expert, explained that Hicks’ act was a hate crime if any part of his motive was hateful.

Boy, Jesus was really ahead of his time: no wonder he warned us to love our enemies. It makes it safer to kill them. Continue reading