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

Visual Bias Ethics

Let’s see: Hack, hack, probably a hack, and hack.

One aspect of broadcast journalism ethics that the Old Guard—Murrow, Cronkite, Brinkley, Huntley, Thomas and the rest— observed and respected was a neutral demeanor. They knew (and today’s hacks know as well, but with different results), that tone of delivery, body language and facial expressions can convey a journalist’s personal views and biases as clearly as a direct statement. Their practice, therefore, was to maintain a poker face and a matter-of-fact delivery. When Walter Cronkite brushed away a tear while announcing JFK’s death in 1963, it was considered newsworthy because Walter did not bring his own feelings into the news. The consensus was that hee could be forgiven this one time.

If that professional practice is taught in journalism classes any more, it is ignored. Now broadcast journalists and reporters deliberately use every tool at their disposal to signal to viewers what they think, and thus what the viewers should think as well. The election of Donald Trump represented a full-on, industry wide rejection of objectivity by the broadcast media, as many reporters allowed themselves to appear in mourning, or close to tears.  Unlike the assassination of JFK, however, this  was not an excusable exception, or, as we have learned, an exception at all.

Look at the faces of last night’s CNN panel reporting on what had been built up as a bellweather election in North Carolina that, should a Democrat have won, would be string sign that President Trump and Republicans were in trouble nationwide. Is there any doubt who they were rooting for?

This is not only unethical journalism, it’s incompetent journalism.

But that’s the way it is.

Ethics Quote Of The Month: David Harsanyi, On The CNN “Climate Crisis” Town Hall

“[T]he most benign climate-change plan proposed during CNN’s seven-hour Democratic Party presidential candidate town hall was more authoritarian than anything Donald Trump has ever suggested during his presidency.”

 Federalist Senior Editor David Harsanyi, who continued, “Democrats were not merely proposing massive societal upheaval but mass coercion.”

I did not and could not watch the town hall; someone would have to pay me to do that, and frankly, anyone who would watch such a monstrosity without compensation has some serious intellectual and cognitive issues to deal with. This was a discussion among non-scientists about a complex topic none of them understand or are qualified to opine on, moderated by an equally ignorant and biased journalist, with questions being posed by activists rather than informed and open-minded citizens. It wasn’t journalism, and it wasn’t public education. Questioners were allowed to wear shirts with climate change slogans on them, like this…

One commentator correctly analogized the scene to Fox News holding an abortion town hall with all the questions coming from anti-abortion activists, with many wearing “ABORTION IS MURDER” shirts.

However, now I have had time to peruse the transcripts to the extent that I could without my head exploding, and reviewed the reviews. Not surprisngly, but depressing nonetheless, the mainstream news media whitewashed the event, focusing on the most benign and relatively reasonable-sounding statements, while ignoring the bat-crazy, “Oh-my-god-did-I-really-hear-that?” moments that should haunt the Democratic Party all the way to November 2020. The Times, for example, headlined its “review,” “CNN Climate Town Hall: Here’s What You Need to Know.”  Since the Times strategically decided that you didn’t need to know that old Joe Biden’s left eye filled with blood, readers should understand what THAT means: “Here’s what we want you to know.”

The Times and other mainstream media organs don’t want you to know, for example, what Hirsanyi accurately points out: the party that has been promoting the big lie that President Trump is a dangerous authoritarian and a threat to democracy is led by individuals who advocate gutting the economy, democracy and personal liberties to address an “emergency” hyped in order to justify doing so. For example,

  • Joe Biden was asked by  Anderson Cooper if the Green New Deal, which to the extent that it means anything stands for banning   fossil fuels, 99 percent of cars and planes, retrofitting our buildings and eliminating meat within the next decade, “goes too far,” and was “unrealistic, promising too much.” Joe answered, “No, no it’s not.” It  “deserves an enormous amount of credit,” said Joe. Recall that Saikat Chakrabarti, the former chief of staff of Representative Ocasio-Cortez and widely believed to be the main architect of the GND, told the Washington Post  that ” it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all, because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”

In other words, declare an emergency to take over the economy.

To be fair, does anyone think that Biden has read the Green New Deal? Continue reading

The Andrew McCabe Hiring: At Least CNN Doesn’t Seriously Try To Hide Its Hypocrisy. That’s Something, I Guess. I Guess…

Andrew McCabe. If only he could dance…

I really am not trying to pick on Brian Stelter, CNN’s indefensible blight on broadcast media ethics, but wow. He tweeted,

Then, seemingly a blink of the eye later, his employer announced that it was hiring Andrew McCabe as a commentator. Never mind the fact that Stelter spends his own position of “fame and privilege”—Did he really refer to Sean Spicer’s gig on “Dancing With The Stars” that way? —-lying his head off, shamelessly spinning for his rotting network, and generally making “broadcast news ethics watchdog” as much of an oxymoron as “Hart to Hart” dramaturg. CNN’s hiring McCabe is infinitely more outrageous than either of the hires he was criticizing.  It’s so obvious it hurts. Yet like Sgt. Schultz in “Hogan’s Heroes,” Stelter sees nothing. Continue reading

A Show Of Hands, Now: Who Thinks Brian Stelter Is Telling The Truth This Time?

CNN’s laughable “media critic,” Brian Stelter, who has distinguished himself and embarrassed his field—supposedly media ethics—by devolving into a mere shill for CNN and a dependable scourge of Fox News, may have hit a new low yesterday. I say “may” because  its hard to make qualitative distinctions in the murk at the bottom of the barrel.

Stelter brought on the former chairman of the Psychiatry Department at Duke University, Dr. Alan Frances, apparently because he has a raging, Level 5 case of Trump Derangement. This is sufficient qualification  for a national news media platform now. No enlightenment necessary, no reasoned analysis, just good, old fashioned, bat-shit Trump hate, with plenty of spittle and that wonderful “Is he going run off on all fours biting people?” suspense. On Stelter’s show with the doctor was Bandy Lee, who defied her profession’s rule against diagnosing political figures from afar throughout the 2016 campaign, saying that she was  “obligated to break [the rules] in times of emergency,” thus evoking eleven rationalizations by my count. That’s right, Lee and Francis were the representatives of the psychiatric profession CNN’s “media ethics” authority decided would give a balanced assessment of the practice of psychoanalyzing the President.

Really.

Dr.  Frances pretended to criticize his professionally irresponsible colleagues like Lee for assisting in the resistance’s Plan E, trying to illegitimately apply the 25th Amendment allowing a disabled President to be removed from office.   Oh no, he said: doing this was just plain wrong:

“Well, I think ‘medicalizing’ politics has three very dire consequences. The first is that it stigmatizes the mentally ill. I’ve known thousands of patients, almost all of them are well-behaved, well-mannered good people. Trump is none of these. Lumping that is a terrible insult to the mentally ill and they have enough problems and stigma as it is. Second, calling Trump crazy hides the fact that we’re crazy for having elected him and even crazier for allowing his crazy policies to persist… Now, it’s absolutely impossible, you can bet the house that the Congress, that Pence, that the cabinet will never ever remove Trump on grounds of mental unfitness. That will never happen. Discussing the issue in psychological name-calling terms distracts us from getting out to vote. The important thing is to get Trump out of office.”

Is that your expert opinion, doctor? Simply wanting to defeat the President is all it takes to get on CNN, apparently.

Ah, but it was within those ellipses that the doctor really came through, saying, Continue reading