The Damning Fake Video

During last week’s  impeachment hearings, Democratic Judiciary Counsel Norman Eisen (above, on the left) presented a video clip showing President Trump  saying: “Then I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as President.” Asked to comment on the video, Harvard Law School Professor Noah Feldman—you know, he’s the one who falsely told the committee and America that Nixon “sent burglars” to steal documents from the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in 1972. That guy— replied, “As someone who cares about the Constitution,” the statement “struck a kind of horror in me.”

Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, referenced the same quotation as it was heard in the clip , concluding that President Trump “believes that in his own words, ‘I can do whatever I want.’” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was referencing the same video when she said Thursday that Trump threatened  the Constitution by acting as a “king.”

Later in the week, CNN legal analyst Elie Honig twice cited the same clip.  So did MSNBC’s Chris Mathews during  “Hardball,” and  MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on “Morning Joe.” The Washington Post spread the same report about the video.

In all six cases, a video deceptively edited to misrepresent what the President was referring to was used to inflame and deceive.  Continue reading

And Yet Another Evening Ethics Watch, 10/29/2019, Because Everything Has Been Upside Down At ProEthics Lately…

Good evening again.

We’ll have to stop meeting like this.

1. Can’t make up my mind if I want there to be disastrous botched ball/strike call in Game 6 of the World Series or not. It will take one of those—a bad call that turns the game and eventually the World Series around to get MLB off its metaphorical butt and force it to establish an electronic pitch-calling system. Of course, it is worth noting that one of the most devastating wrong umpire calls in history stole a World Series away from the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985, and it took another 30 years for baseball to adopt an instant replay system that would have reversed it.

Don Denkinger was the first base umpire in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series in Kansas City.  The St. Louis Cardinals led the home team Royals by 3 games to 2, and tooka 1–0 lead in the 8th inning. In the bottom of the ninth, Jorge Orta, the leadoff batter for the Royals, hit a slow roller to Cards first baseman Jack Clark. Clark tossed the ball to his pitcher, Todd Worrell, who was covered first base. Orta was out by half a step, but Denkinger called Orta safe, even though television replays and photographs clearly showed that he was out by half a step. Orta eventually scored, allowing the Royals to go  on to win Game 6 by the score of 2–1.

Denkinger was the home plate umpire in the Series-deciding Game 7, apparently driving the angry Cardinals mad. Denkinger ultimately ejected both Herzog and pitcher Joaquín Andújar in the fifth inning, as the game deteriorated into Royals rout,  11–0 . Denkinger accepted that he had made a terrible call, but as was the ethics in baseball at the time, took the position that such mistakes were an unavoidable part of the game. In  aftermath of the 1985 World Series, Denkinger death threats, from Cardinals fans. Two St. Louis disc jockeys doxxed him, giving out the umpire’s telephone number and home address. He was a well-regarded umpire, who at 83 years of age will still sign photographs of “the Call” when asked.

I guess I don’t want to see another umpire suffer Denkinger’s  fate tonight. It is inevitable that there will be a bad call of a strike or ball that makes an umpire a lifelong pariah, unless baseball locks that barn door as soon as possible. Continue reading

Friday Ethics Catch-Up, 10/18/2009: Hillary Snaps, And More Evidence That Everything Is Spinning Madly Out Of Control

I am totally fried, and wondering if it is responsible to post in this condition. But ethics waits for no man…

1. Last chance to see my presentation at the Smithsonian, “Courtroom Drama:The Art of Cross-Examination.” Details here. There will be a lot of ethics discussed, as you would expect, plus some Clarence Darrow, Atticus Finch, F.Lee Bailey, Perry Mason, Cousin Vinny, and “You can’t handle the truth!,” among other highlights. I’m doing the two-hour program with my younger sister Edith, who, unlike me, has actually done cross examinations.

2. Whoa! Tell me again what an honorable, trustworthy woman Hillary Clinton is. Here’s Hillary, actually calling Jill Stein and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the lone moderate in the Democratic Presidential nomination race—well, the lone moderate who doesn’t habitually grope women—“Russian assets” in a podcast:

And brava to Gabbard, who didn’t mince words on Twitter in her response to the smear: Continue reading

Ten Observations On The Latest Democratic Candidate Debate

If you have no life, you can watch the whole debate here. This is the transcript.]

1. I find the debates, all of them, profoundly depressing, much as I found the Republican debates in 2015.  These are not impressive people. A great nation needs great leaders, and it is increasingly clear that whatever great leaders the U.S. may have are not in politics. Is this group clearly less inspiring than Jeb Bush, Huckabee, Chris Cristie, Rubio, Carson (ugh), Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Cruz, and Trump? No. The Republicans had no Demagogue Extraordinaire at Elizabeth Warren’s level, or a babbling, doddering candidate on the uncomfortable cusp of senility like Joe Biden. The Democrats don’t have a bomb-thrower like Trump, either, unless you count Bernie, but Yang and Steyer cover the “outsiders who have no business running for President” niche covered.

The ethics takeaway? The political parties are incompetent at doing their job, which is training, recruiting and vetting competent leadership for our Republic.

2. Given what the recent James O’Keefe hit on CNN revealed, I question whether such a biased network should be allowed to host officially sanctioned debates.  Debate moderator Anderson Cooper, who only evades being designated as a hack because there are so many worse hacks working with him (Cuomo, Lemon), framed a question to Joe Biden this way:

“The impeachment inquiry is centered on President Trump’s attempts to get political dirt from Ukraine on Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter. Mr. Vice President, President Trump has falsely accused your son of doing something wrong while serving on a company board in Ukraine. I want to point out there’s no evidence of wrongdoing by either one of you.”

Hackery.

  • “Political dirt” is not reporting; it is a partisan characterization and misleading. “Dirt” means facts that the American public has a right to know, and in this case, evidence of high-level corruption and influence peddling by the Obama administration, which is absolutely a legitimate area for the White House to seek foreign assistance in exposing.
  • Of course Hunter Biden did “something wrong.” He did something wrong by accepting benefits from an entity seeking special considerations from the U.S. government when his father was a primary figure and power-broker in the administration in power. His position created a conflict of interest and the appearance of impropriety for Hunter’s father.
  • Joe Biden then told Cooperthat he never “discussed a single thing with my son about anything having to do with Ukraine. No one has indicated I have.” Hunter has indicated that he did. Did Cooper challenge Biden on this seeming contradiction? No. Did any of the other candidates? No.

3.  How can someone not be bothered by Biden’s rambling, mostly incoherent answers? (And yes, I was constantly bothered by Trump’s rambling answers last time around.) Continue reading

Observations On The Viral ‘Trump Slaughtering His Enemies’ Video

The video above was, according to the the New York Times, shown at a conference for his supporters at his Miami resort last week. There is no evidence, none, that the Trump campaign, the President, or the White House had anything to do with it. The group holding the event is called American Priority. The organizer of the event denounced the video and said his organization was looking into how it came to be shown at the event.

Observations:

1. Why is this newsworthy? Does the New York Times cover every violent, ugly or outrageous meme that denigrates the President? It’s newsworthy, I assume, because the Times and the rest of the mainstream media view anything that places President Trump in a bad light, even a simulated President Trump,  and represents his foes as victims as worth publicizing.

2. No, it’s not the equivalent of Kathy Griffin extolling a violent execution of the President of the United States by holding a model of his severed head. If Trump or the Republican Party produced the video, then there would be a basis for comparison.

3. I thought the video was funny, just as I find the absurd violence in “Planet Terror,” “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn,” and the “Return of the Living Dead” movies funny. If it genuinely upsets you, I’m worried about you.

4. The headlines about the video either show how stupid editors think we are, or how stupid they are. “Doctored Video…,” “Fake Video…,” “Fictitious Video”…Seriously? We need to be told that video is fake? Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 10/12/2019: “If An Ethics Blog Expounds And Nobody Reads It…”

 

Like that proverbial tree falling alone in the forest...

Epic lack of interest in Ethics Alarms today…

Oh, well…

1 . Today’s “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!” note for the day. Here’s that objective, professional, fair CNN reporter Jim Acosta (I’m fooling: he’s really a toxic, partisan, grandstanding hack) tweeting about the Presidents rally in Minneapolis:

How can anyone who tweets such offal continue to be employed as a White House correspondent? How can a news network that employs such a biased, dishonest jerkbe taken seriously?

The Q sign reference is especially egregious. “QAnon” is a weird conspiracy theory-driven sect, and the fact that some attendees at a Trump rally seem to support the nonsense—which is not worth explicating—proves nothing at all. But the rest of Acosta’s tweet is embarrassing too: the Trump campaigns have never bashed immigrants, just illegal immigrants, who ought to be bashed; hated of the press is stoked by the conduct of unethical journalists like Jim Acosta, and disruptive protesters are properly ejected from the political rallies of candidates from both parties. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/1/2019: “30 Days Hath September” Appreciation Edition

Welcome October!

 I knew the date without having to check..for once.

Time to express my gratitude to the anonymous composer of the days of the month mnemonic, which I still literally have to sing in my head several times a year.

The earliest English version of the  verse has been traced to approximately 1425. It seems that the initial rhyme began with “Thirty days hath November,” not September, but by the time the little verse was first published in English, in  1562, September had taken over the top spot, and there it has remained. Wikipedia’s entry notes that “it is probably the only sixteenth-century poem most ordinary citizens know by heart.”

1. But by all means, it’s irresponsible to have Rudy Giuliani as a guest on a news program…CNN’s fake media ethics watchdog thought it was appropriate to have Robert De Niro as a guest on his CNN show over the weekend. Why is an uneducated, loud mouth, vulgar actor an appropriate guest? It is because he is guaranteed to delight the Trump Deranged with sophisticated commentary like he treated America with when he appeared at the 2018 Tony Awards, shouting, “I’m just going to say one thing. Fuck Trump! It’s no longer ‘Down with Trump.’ It’s ‘fuck Trump!’”

De Niro never graduated from high school, and has fewer credentials to expound on public policy matters than the average American you could identify by throwing a rock into a crowd blindfolded,. He has repeatedly shattered basic standards of public decorum by going into angry, vulgar, non-substantive rants against the President when invited to stand behind a podium or in front of a microphone. So, naturally, he was a perfect guest for Stelter’s show, and, also naturally, he said, in the course of opining that the President and his supporters were “gangsters” and “crazy” and that “This guy should not be president, period, ““F​uck ‘em. Fuck ‘em!”

A voice from off-set could be heard yelling “Woahhhh!”After all, who could have possibly predicted that the actor would behave on CNN when discussing the President exactly as he has been behaving for years? “This is cable, so it’s not an FCC violation, but it still is a Sunday morning,”  Stelter commented, weasel-like as usual.

Yes, it’s Sunday morning, and you invited a guest who habitually shouts versions of “Fuck Trump!’ in public places while being televised, because you know your audience wants to hear someone say “Fuck Trump.” Continue reading