Ethics And Those Wacky Cuomo Boys, I: Chris And CNN [Updated!]

Really, how can anybody be surprised?

Transcripts released yesterday revealed that CNN host and beefcake star Chris Cuomo actively worked with his brother’s aides to defend then Gov. Andrew Cuomo from the many sexual harassment accusers whose accounts eventually forced the Governor to resign. Chris Cuomo. aka. “Fredo,” had looked in America’s face—you know, like Bill Clinton when he said he never has sex with “that woman”—in August and assured it that he ‘never made calls to the press” on behalf of his brother. But New York Attorney General Letitia James’ report revealed texts where Chris told aide Melissa DeRosa he would take up the allegations with his “sources,” and offered to help draft statements for his brother’s team. Cuomo used his CNN contacts dig up information about his brothers’ his accusers, presumably to discredit them. Another revelation in James’ documents was that Cuomo was working through a friend to approach actor Alec Baldwin about making a video defending Andrew.

In summary, Chris Cuomo used his contacts, sources and influence as a CNN journalist to actively assist an elected official, indeed to assist an official in avoiding the consequences of illegal acts. This is, duh, wildly unethical, unprofessional, and a breach of trust with both CNN and the public. Apparently it is even so unethical that other unethical journalists of the Left, who are usually hesitant to throw stones at fellow propagandists and fake news purveyors from inside their glass houses, have pointed their fingers at poor Chris like pod people identifying their next target for assimilation.

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Stop Making Me Defend Chris Cuomo! Ethics Dunce: Former ABC Executive Producer Shelley Ross

Shelley-Ross-slams-Chris-Cuomo

Time once again to revisit the obnoxious feature of sexual harassment complaints that I tried to enlighten NPR listeners about when I was rudely cut off by my alleged friend, NPR host Michel Martin, who chose anti-Trump bias over what I was there for: to explain what almost no one understands about sexual harassment, including, apparently, Martin. (Yes, I am still furious about this episode, which resulted in my being black-balled from NPR, which I had assisted on short notice for several years. I will keep referencing it until I receive a full apology from Martin, and maybe a gift, which, of course, will happen when NPR starts being non-partisan, or in other words, never.)

My point in the fateful appearance on NPR years ago was that middle-aged (or older) men of power, celebrity and influence are often at risk from a phenomenon that springs from the weird aspect of sexual harassment as both a law and a phenomenon. It isn’t sexual harassment if it is genuinely welcome and appreciated by who would otherwise be the victim. However, neither the law nor the culture considers the situation in which a victim changes his or her mind over time. Thus a young, rich, single, famous young buck impulsively kisses a young woman in his employ, and she is thrilled. Maybe he really likes her! Maybe this is a life-changing event! She is neither offended nor upset, so it isn’t sexual harassment. Then decades pass, and the impulsive kisser is no longer young. Worse, he’s hated by all of the former employee’s friends, and that impulsive kiss all those years ago is no long welcome—except as a way to embarrass and hurt the current version of the rich and powerful man she once admired and even lusted after. She has decided now that she was harassed (or even sexually assaulted) then.

Is that fair? Is that even sexual harassment? As far as I can determine, I am the only commentator, ethicist or lawyer who has raised that question, and my reward for it was to be accused of being a Trump apologist, though my comment was not restricted to accusations against Donald Trump. The related ethical issue is whether it is fair and just for a women who took no action to report an incident that might have been harassment for decades keeps the incident in reserve just in case it might come in useful–to destroy the reputation of the man involved, shake him down, or otherwise harm him while benefiting herself. It’s like a treasure squirreled away to be cashed in on a rainy day.

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Addendum To “Stop Making Me Defend Chris Cuomo!”…

Cuomos

Apparently I wasn’t clear enough in the previous post, so allow me to address that.

Just as it is hypocritical in the extreme for any journalist, and certainly CNN, to tut-tut at Chris Cuomo for behaving exactly as biased, partisan, unethical and dead ethics-alarmed journalists do, it is absurd and self-defeating for alleged critics of our ethics-free journalism to stomp on Cuomo as if he did anything anyone paying attention should have known he would do without a second thought. (I assumed that the clip from “Casablanca” would make that sufficiently obvious. Guess not.)

The point is not to claim that Cuomo advising his high elected official brother in an official, if private, meeting of his aides is what an ethical journalist can or should do. Of course an ethical journalist shouldn’t do it. The point is that there are no ethical journalists; the journalism “profession”—the quotes are because professionals must be trustworthy, and anyone who trusts today’s fake journalists is a sucker—no longer has any ethical standards. Therefore a member of the “profession” who violates what are already dead letters cannot be said to have breached any “norm;” and we should not allow phony criticism of Cuomo to delude us into thinking otherwise.

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Stop Making Me Defend Chris Cuomo!

CNN’s most unethical, incompetent and dumbest journalist—yes, yes, I keep telling you, even worse than Don Lemon!— is once again in trouble, and once again it’s because of his conflict of interest in matters involving his brother, besieged New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Chris advised Andrew and senior members of his brother’s staff on how to respond to the sexual harassment allegations made earlier this year by various women, in a series of conference calls including the Democratic governor, his top aide, his communications team, lawyers and a number of outside advisers. It doesn’t matter what Chris’s advice was; you can read the Washington Post story if you’re interested, but that’s irrelevant to the ethics issue. First, anyone who would take the advice of a boob like Chris Cuomo on anything needs to have his mittens connected up through his sleeves, and second, the problem is that Chris was involved in the discussions at all, even if all he did was blow spit bubbles.

Journalists are ethically obligated to be objective reporters of the news, not participants in it, assuming journalists today even know or care what their professional ethics rules are. Chris Cuomo clearly doesn’t: he made that clear by repeatedly interviewing his brother on CNN, tossing him softball questions, and basically serving as his brother’s PR flack. The network let him do it, because it meant good ratings and “fun” TV.

Yet the Washington Post offers this knee-slapper:

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Predictable But Depressing: SCOTUS Agreeing To Consider What Is A Viable Unborn Child Triggers Emotional And Irrelevant Obfuscation From Pro-Abortion Propagandists

handmaidens

Gee, that was fast! All the Supreme Court did was agree to look at a part of 1973’s Roe v.Wade that has been rendered anachronistic by subsequent developments in science and medicine, and the pro-abortion lobby freaked out. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization involves the 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The case raises the obviously relevant ethical, moral and legal question of when human life can be and should be subject to law’s protection. Roe, nearly a half century-old now, based its limits regarding when an abortion was a woman’s constitutional right on when an unborn child was “viable,” a word that requires a conclusion about when human life begins as well. It is not only reasonable but necessary for the court to clarify this. Question 1 in the petition for the writ of certiorari is “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” Good question.

So why the freakout? Simple: neither side in the abortion debate has ever been willing to debate the issue fairly, as both ignore the obviously relevant rights and issues of one of the two human beings involved in the abortion equation. As Ethics Alarms has pointed out before and will continue to do until the stars turn cold, this is an ethics conflict, and a difficult one. Two strong ethical principles are opposing each other, both with major societal implications. In ethics conflicts, the ethical process of balancing is required, but neither side is willing to risk balancing regarding abortion. Thus both have conducted their side of the debate by dishonestly denying the existence of the ethical realities opposing the result they want. The anti-abortion advocates refuse to give fair weight to the effect an unwanted pregnancy can have on a woman’s life and future, and women’s legitimate interests in their own autonomy (which still may not be absolute.) Pro-abortion advocates deliberately ignore the fact, and it is a fact, that abortion involves the taking of human life.

This mutual dishonesty is reflected in the euphemisms the sides of the controversy use to obscure the real problem. “Pro Choice” makes it sound like the only issue is a woman’s autonomy ( Life? What life?). “Pro Life” wrongly cuts the interests of the women involved out of the balancing act. This is the reason the abortion debate has made no progress in a hundred years. The two sides are talking about two different things, and have neither the integrity nor the honesty to deal with the balancing problem.

Roe was a badly reasoned and irresponsibly issued ruling, authored by a serial SCOTUS mediocrity, Justice Harry Blackmun. Somehow, the opinion bootstrapped abortion into being a right under the “unenumerated” Constitutional right of privacy by analogizing it to birth control. But the case in which the Court rightly found that the State had no business telling couples that they could not engage in birth control didn’t involve killing anyone. I’d call that a material distinction.

Roe was one of the most breath-taking leaps of law and logic in the history of the Court, and a throbbing example of judicial activism run amuck. Nonetheless, it has been the law of the land long enough to be regarded as stare decisus; for good and practical reasons, over-ruling the entire case would be bad judicial policy. Addressing aspects of the opinion that were based on scientific assumptions no longer valid, however, is common sense, as well as sound legal policy.

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: CNN

“We generally do not get involved in the medical decisions of our employees. However, it is not surprising that in the earliest days of a once-in-a-century global pandemic, when Chris was showing symptoms and was concerned about possible spread, he turned to anyone he could for advice and assistance, as any human being would.”

—-CNN spokesman Matt Dornic, in a jaw-dropping defense of anchor Chris Cuomo after it was revealed that he used  his brother’s influence to “cut in line” to get Wuhan virus testing when it was unavailable to the general public.

Earlier this week, the The Albany-Times Union and The Washington Post reported yet another scandal involving New York’s Francis Ford Coppola-redolant governor, Andrew Cuomo. As if the deadly NY nursing home cover-up and the expanding sexual harassment allegations were not more than enough, we learned that…

“High-level members of the state Department of Health were directed last year by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to conduct prioritized coronavirus testing on the governor’s relatives as well as influential people with ties to the administration. Members of Cuomo’s family including his brother, his mother and at least one of his sisters were also tested by top health department officials — some several times.”

The governor, in short, manipulated state resources to ensure that his brother, CNN’s Chris Cuomo, received Wuhan virus testing when tests were scarce and generally unavailable. “The CNN anchor was swabbed by a top New York Department of Health doctor, who visited his Hamptons home to collect samples from him and his family,” WaPo reported. The test specimens from Andrew and other Cuomo family members were then rushed, in some cases driven by state police troopers to a state public health lab in Albany, where they were processed immediately. Some employees in the state health laboratory worked overtime late into the night to process the results for Cuomo family members whose roles in society, while hardly essential to New York or the public, were favored by the Governor of New York.

In particular, the CNN anchor got specialized medical attention while “media reports were full of accounts from New Yorkers desperate to get tested — including some with symptoms and recent travel history who were turned away because of scarcity.”

Glenn Greenwald neatly sums up the import of this beyond the obvious fact that this is another example of elected officials using their power and influence for personal gain:

For more than a year now, CNN’s promotion of “interviews” conducted by Chris Cuomo of his own brother — in which the CNN host repeatedly heaped lavish praise on Gov. Cuomo and even hyped him as a presidential contender while the Governor was corruptly and possibly criminally covering up COVID deaths — was one of the most glaring breaches of journalistic ethics imaginable…it aggressively deceived CNN’s audience. That they knew it was corrupt was evidenced by the CNN host’s recent announcement that he would not cover his brother’s recent scandals: what conceivable framework makes it journalistically permissible for a news host to shower his own brother with praise, but then not cover his scandals?

But now Chris Cuomo is directly involved in a serious abuse of power scandal by his brother: in fact, he’s the prime beneficiary of that scandal. He sought special medical favors from his brother, depriving other sick people more in need of it than he, by exploiting the fact that his brother is Governor and thus rules the state. That’s a scandal by any measure — one involving not only the Governor but also the CNN host.

What’s even more remarkable is that on May 6 — just weeks after Gov. Cuomo provided special COVID testing and treatment for him — Chris Cuomo “interviewed” his brother and began the interviewing by noting that New York State lacks the resources to provide COVID testing to the public at large. So not only did they conceal that they had both just used state resources to get Chris that scarce testing, but they both acknowledged that there was a resource shortage to serve the general public, even as Gov. Cuomo was lavishing those resources on his own family.

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Comment Of The Day: “Monday Ethics Final, 3/8/2021: A Bad Day In The Revolution”(Item #5)

I’m combining successive comments by a single commenter again. Humble Talent‘s observations regarding the angry “cultural appropriation!” reactions to Chris Cuomo saying he was “black inside” are wide-ranging and open up many difficult and fascinating ethics topics that I’m certain the 27 people still reading Ethics Alarms will find edifying.

HT began by responding to my query, “I wonder if Cuomo’s critic had the same reaction when Toni Morrison pronounced Bill Clinton as our first black President?”

Here are the two parts of Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day on item #5 of the post, “Monday Ethics Final, 3/8/2021: A Bad Day In The Revolution“:

They square this circle by comparing experience, neither is about objective reality.

Objectively, Cuomo is just as black as a fully intact biological man with gender dysphoria is a woman. But this isn’t about objectivity, reasonableness, or the truth…. It’s about oppression. Because really… What else differentiates someone who misrepresents their race, like Rachel Dolezal, or Shaun King, to someone who misrepresents their sex? Sure, both can be murky, is the child of a mixed race couple black or white? Is a person with Klinefelter or Turner’s syndrome a man or a woman? Progressives would usually say that the person With XXY or XYY are whatever they self identify as, and similarly for the mixed race child, whatever box they choose to mark. And if you get a fully intact biological man who believes that he’sa woman… Well, welcome to the club! But if you’re a white woman who puts on a lot of spray tan, dreds up her hair, and works as a black NAACP activist for most of her life… Fuck off bigot? I guess.

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Monday Ethics Final, 3/8/2021: A Bad Day In The Revolution

GnadenhuttenMassacre

March 8 should be a day that “lives in infamy,” but it isn’t, in part because of this nation’s, and all nations’, tendency to forget episodes in their history that they would rather pretend didn’t happen. On this date in 1782, 160 Pennsylvania militiamen slaughtered 96 Christian Indians including 39 children, 29 women and 28 men. The Patriots killed their captives by hammering their skulls with mallets from behind, as the victims knelt praying and singing. The Patriots then piled the bodies in mission buildings, and burned the entire Moravian Mission at Gnadenhutten to the ground in the Ohio territory. . The Pennsylvanians claimed that the attack was revenge for raids on their frontier settlements, but the Native Americans they killed were not involved in any attacks. In fact, they were pacifists who had been assisting the Americans against the British by serving as scouts and performing other services.

There were consequences of the massacre, though not to the criminals responsible. Despite talk of bringing the murderers to justice, no charges were filed. But Native American tribes became less willing to trust the Patriots as the Revolutionary War continued. When General George Washington heard about the massacre, he told his soldiers to avoid being captured alive by Indian forces, as he feared the Americans would be tortured. Many were, and Native Americans had longer memories of the atrocity at Gnadenhutten than the citizens of the new nation. In 1810, Shawnee chief Tecumseh pointedly reminded future General and later President William Henry Harrison, “You recall the time when the Jesus Indians of the Delawares lived near the Americans, and had confidence in their promises of friendship, and thought they were secure, yet the Americans murdered all the men, women, and children, even as they prayed to Jesus?”

Theodore Roosevelt, a historian in addition to his other pursuits, called the atrocity “a stain on frontier character that the lapse of time cannot wash away.”

But it has, hasn’t it?

1. And they said Trump supporters were stupid! A group called Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden feel betrayed:

Pro Biden

These people really believed that the Democratic Party was going to “engage” on the topic of abortion, and that electing Joe Biden President would lead to compromises and moderation on the issue. Let me write that again: These people really believed that the Democratic Party was going to “engage” on the topic of abortion, and that electing Joe Biden President would lead to compromises and moderation on the issue.As you know, I have constant difficulty accepting the principle that being stupid isn’t unethical. Outrageous stupidity makes me angry, and maybe that’s unfair. Episodes like this are difficult for me to put in perspective.

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: CNN’s Don Lemon

“You know what we’re going to have to do?… You’re going to have to get rid of the electoral college….And if Joe Biden wins, Democrats can stack the courts and they can do that amendment and get it passed.”

—Don Lemon, juvenile CNN host, in another one of his increasingly frequent whiny rants, this one about how unfair the  Electoral College is.

Because Lemon was talking to the dumbest broadcast journalist on television,  Chris Cuomo, and because if Lemon’s colleague realized how ignorant this statement was—never a sure thing when Cuomo is involved—he might have decided that it was better to mislead CNN’s viewers than to point out that Lemon doesn’t know the U.S. Constitution from an anchovy, nobody corrected this howler.

Lemon apparently thinks the Supreme Court “passes” amendments, or something. He clearly doesn’t understand how amendments actually get passed, and why this particular amendment will never, never be passed. Since he doesn’t know what he is talking about, it is incompetent, irresponsible and unprofessional for him to talk about it. Journalists are supposed to enlighten, not make the public more misinformed than it already is, a condition that poses a danger to democracy without being made any worse.

It is also incompetent, irresponsible, nonprofessional, reckless and a breach of duty for CNN to allow someone who couldn’t pass junior high civics to pretend to be able to analyze the nation’s political scene. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: CNN’s Don Lemon

That’s a nice, objective, non-partisan chryon, don’t you think?

The rioting has to stop….it’s showing up in the polling. It’s showing up in focus groups. It is the only thing  right now that is sticking.”

CNN’s Don Lemon.

I could spend  the rest of this week filling Ethics Alarms with head-exploding accounts of the mainstream news media’s increasingly unrestrained partisan commentary. From an ethics analyst’s point of view, the current self-unmasking is slightly satisfying; I have been chronicling the unethical deterioration of journalism into near complete  commitment to progressive propaganda for a long time, and marveling at the number of once fair and discerning  people who scoffed that it was the product of my fevered imagination. They can’t do that any more without looking like lunatics (previously they just seemed like corrupted fools) so I’m not hearing that claim, here or elsewhere. They can’t deny that the news media is biased; now they have pivoted to the argument that it is right to be biased. Yes, biased people always think that; that was the argument of the New York Times in 2016 when the paper declared on its front page that ity would henceforth slant its coverage to defeat Donald Trump.The ethics of journalism has always held this to be unprofessional and a betrayal of journalism’s ideals, but ethics schmethics. Continue reading