The Ethics Vacuum That Is CNN’s Brian Stelter

Brain Stelter probably finishes no higher than third in CNN’s “Unprofessional and unethical broadcast journalists who any trustworthy news organization would fire but since CNN isn’t trustworthy it won’t” sweepstakes. Nonetheless, he is shockingly and consistently ethics free, which is particularly grotesque for an alleged media ethics critic. You can read the ugly  Ethics Alarms Stelter dossier here.

He’s also, in addition to being a 24-7 ethics dunce, not very bright.

D.C. attorney Mark Zaid (who also has an Ethics Alarms file!) tweeted this regarding the Washington Post’s settlement of the $250 million defamation suit filed against it by Nick Sandmann:

Being a dolt, Stelter probably thought it would be cute to retweet it, so he did. Continue reading

CNN Settles With Nick Sandmann

Nick Sandmann and CNN agreed today to a settlement in the teen’s defamation lawsuit as a result of the news media’s demonization of him and his fellow students after a videoed confrontation with Nathan Phillips, a Native American activist, outside the Lincoln Memorial. Sandmann and his schoolmates had participated in the  March for Life in Washington, D.C., and the news media reported that the video showed boys wearing MAGA caps harassing Philips. Narrative: Racist young Trump supporters abuse an elderly Native American. Sandmann was singled out because a still photo appeared to show him smirking in a condescending manner at the  man.

Another video and eyewitness accounts demonstrated that Phillips was the obnoxious aggressor, pushing into the school group waiting for its bus and beating hisdrum inches from Sandmann’s face, while the boys were subjected to racist  taunts from members of the Black Hebrew Israelites.

Eventually some journalists and  public figures  had to recant their public characterization of Sandmann as a smug racist, but not before he had become a public villain. Even his school, acting solely on press reports, condemned him.  Some journalists refused to admit that they had been wrong–wearing a MAGA cap was proof enough of bad character— or that Sandmann and his friends had been wronged.

Sandman’s lawyer, L. Lin Wood,filed a $250 million suit against CNN for sending into “millions of homes” the “idea that [Sandmann] was part of a mob…yelling racist slurs.” Still pending are similar suits on Sandmann’s behalf against NBCUniversal and  the Washington Post. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/4/17: Jailed For Profanity, Busted For Homophobia, Condemned For A Settlement

Good morning…

This is weird…The Wisconsin Supreme Court has upheld a mother’s conviction for swearing at her son. Ginger Breitzman had been found guilty of child abuse, including one count was for profanely berating and insulting her 14-year-old son after he burned some popcorn. The boy had been talking to a friend at the time, who heard the tirade over the phone and reported it. The mother was sentenced to six months in jail. Apparently the First Amendment was  never raised as a defense, and an issue is whether it should have been and had to be.

I don’t see how a parent or anyone can be convicted of a crime based on the content of her speech, especially private speech, but it is a gray area in ten context of child abuse. In sexual harassment,  the content of one’s speech can create a hostile work environment, but the civil violation is for the act of creating the hostility, not the speech itself. In many cases, that’s a distinction without a difference, though. A supervisor using the term “cunt” in the workplace is probably harassment, no matter how or to whom he uses it.

Check the link and the mother’s mug shot. I wouldn’t want to have her mad at me…

2. Joy Reid being hateful? I’m shocked—shocked! MSNBC’s serial race-baiting, hate-spewing host Joy Reid found herself huminahumina-ing after someone tracked down her old blog and found multiple examples of gay-bashing on it.  Notably, she mocked GOP Florida Governor Charlie Criss, a married man who has been rumored to be a closeted gay, as “Miss Charlie.” What do you think of her apology?

This note is my apology to all who are disappointed by the content of blogs I wrote a decade ago, for which my choice of words and tone have legitimately been criticized.As a writer, I pride myself on a facility with language — an economy of words or at least some wisdom in the selection. However, that clearly has not always been the case.In 2007 I was a morning talk radio host and blogger, writing about Florida politics (a blog I maintained until 2011.) Among the frequent subjects of my posts was then-governor Charlie Crist, at the time a conservative Republican, whose positions on issues like gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples in Florida shared headlines with widely rumored reports that he was hiding his sexual orientation. Those reports were the subject of lots of scrutiny: by LGBTQ bloggers, writers and journalists, conservative blogs, a controversial documentary film called “Outrage,” and even by the comedic writers at South Park. But it was my own attempt at challenging Crist on my blog that has now raised the issue of not just my choice of words, but what was and is in my heart.

Let me be clear: at no time have I intentionally sought to demean or harm the LGBT community, which includes people whom I deeply love. My goal, in my ham-handed way, was to call out potential hypocrisy. Nonetheless, as someone who is not a member of the LGBT community, I regret the way I addressed the complex issue of the closet and speculation on a person’s sexual orientation with a mocking tone and sarcasm. It was insensitive, tone-deaf and dumb. There is no excusing it – not based on the taste-skewing mores of talk radio or the then-blogosphere, and not based on my intentions.

In addition to friends and coworkers and viewers, I deeply apologize to Congressman Crist, who was the target of my thoughtlessness. My critique of anti-LGBT positions he once held but has since abandoned was legitimate in my view. My means of critiquing were not. In the years since I went from blogger to opinion journalist, I have also learned, through brilliant friends and allies in the LGBT activist community, how to better frame my critiques of those who challenge people’s right to love who they want, marry them, and walk in the world as fully free people.

Re-reading those old blog posts, I am disappointed in myself. I apologize to those who also are disappointed in me. Life can be humbling. It often is. But I hope that you know where my heart is, and that I will always strive to use my words for good. I know better and I will do better.

It’s not terrible. I’ll give her a #6 on the Apology Scale: ” A forced or compelled [apology], when the individual (or organization) apologizing knows that an apology is appropriate but would have avoided making one if he or she could have gotten away with it.” I doubt that it’s sincere, because of lots of clues in the text. She says she deeply apologizes to Christ, then says her criticism was legitimate. She was presuming hypocrisy on the basis of rumors: how is that legitimate? She sucks up to the LGBT community; she says that at “no time have I intentionally sought to demean or harm the LGBT community,” when her rhetoric obviously was intended to demean Crist based on his presumed homosexuality; she sneaks in an “everybody was doing it” excuse. Continue reading