The Trump Administration Is Treating The Mainstream Media As “The Opposition Party”? Good: That Is Exactly How It Has Been Behaving.

post-biasPresident Trump refused to give  MSNBC’s reporter a question  during yesterday’s press session with Benjamin Netanyahu,  so MSNBC’s Peter Alexander complained on the air later that the conservative journalists the President did call on didn’t ask “real questions” like he would have.  Of course, if anyone can find a single instance of Obama-bootlick MSNBC ever asking critical questions of President Obama, please pass it along.  MSNBC’s coverage of Trump’s presidency  began with dead-eyed Rachel Maddow intoning to her Angry Left audience that no, the election returns weren’t a nightmare, they were real. On  Inauguration Day, Maddow compared Trump’s election to “Hitler’s rise.”  Chris Matthews called the new President’s inaugural address  “Hitlerian,” and compared his family to the Romanovs. Nice.

The tone hasn’t softened. Yesterday, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” announced that Kellyanne Conway was banned from the show. Conway is an embarrassing and untrustworthy shill, but similar conduct did not provoke any news organization from banning,say, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose penchant for Jumbos in defense of the Obama administration should have guraranteed employment with Ringling Bros.

CNN reporters were similarly indignant. “In the last three news conferences, Wolf, all of the questions to the American news media have been handled by conservative press, and I think, Wolf, there’s no other way to describe it but the fix is in,” said Jim Accosta. What he means is the  mainstream media’s fix is being foiled, but never mind, Jim, stick to the battle plan. His network  ran a report about a pure rumor that the President had used the services of a prostitutes during a trip to Moscow. Actions have consequences.

Over at ABC,  Matthew Dowd  made the legally incompetent argument that by not calling on the news organizations that have declared war on his Presidency, embraced fake news and Big Lies, Trump is “shutting down” the First Amendment. ABC permitting outright false and misleading claims like that from its pundits is reason enough to stick it in the “junk journalism” pile. ABC, CNN, MSNBC and the rest are as free as birds to continue broadcasting their slanted coverage designed to bolster the Left’s efforts to frighten and anger the public and undermine the elected President. But no Bill of Rights provision requires the government to support the myth that biased journalists are trustworthy.

The media’s coverage of the Flynn resignation  was a disgrace for the mainstream media, a true orgy of bias and Trump paranoia.  MSNBC’s Hardball guests Tim Weiner and Malcolm Nance equated the speculated ties between the Trump administration/campaign and Russia to “the most politically charged counterintelligence investigation since the Soviets stole the secret of the atomic bomb.”Nance opined,

“I think that this scandal is unique in all of American history. This would be the equivalent of the British, you know, running Abraham Lincoln or actually funding Jefferson Davis to take over the United States. This is — there has never been anything like this!” 

Chris Matthews just nodded along. Even though this was an opinion (from guests he recruited to give it), a responsible host has an obligation to say, “I’m sorry, but that is a ridiculous and unfair comparison.” Matthews, back when he infuriated Democrats by occasionally being non-partisan, used to throw guests off his show for such fact-free slander. Continue reading

Two From The “Bias Makes You Stupid” (Or The “Fake News”?) File:

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1. “Newsweek”reporter Kurt Eichenwald reported via Twitter that Iowa supporters of president-elect Donald Trump booed astronaut and former Senator John Glenn when Trump mentioned his recent death. This “news” gave Trump-haters and Trump voter-haters everywhere more to justify their hatred, and the tweet (above) prompted thousands of retweets and likes….

fake-boosNever mind. It didn’t happen. The crowd was booing anti-Trump protesters, not Senator Glenn. Eichenwald sheepishly retracted the “scoop.”

2.Yesterday morning, MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle claimed on the air that  Fox News was holding its Christmas party at President-elect Donald Trump’s recently opened Washington hotel, in the course of a discussion of Trump’s conflicts of interest. What a great example of how the conservative media is in bed with Trump—almost as much as the mainstream media was coordinating with the Clinton campaign!

Unfortunately, Fox News hasn’t held its annual party yet, and has scheduled its actual party at a hotel that isn’t affiliated with Trump. Ruhl had to issue an apology and a retraction.

In response to the recent Ethics Alarms post about the hypocrisy and dubious motives behind the mainstream media’s sudden obsession with the “fake news” crisis, some commenters argued that EA is confounding good faith journalism mistakes with the real “fake news,” a term that should be narrowly used when a source intentionally issues a false story “maliciously.” The spectrum, however, is too seamless to parse this way. Continue reading

Announcing “The Fake News Ethics Train Wreck,” And Related Developments [UPDATED]

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This morning I checked four news sources and caught stories about”fake news” in all of them. Some of this has been fueled by the flesh-meltingly idiotic Comet Ping Pong pizzeria story out of D.C., which culminated in a moron named Edgar Maddison Welch firing an AR-15 inside the joint, saying later that he was horrified at the reports that the establishment was at the center of a child sex ring run by…wait for it…the Clinton campaign. He got some bad information, Welch told authorities.  Ya think???

No, Ed, you got a really bad education in America’s rotten public schools, and before that you were playing hop-scotch when the brains were handed out.

What prompted Ethics Alarms to officially move the fake news uproar into Ethics Train Wreck status, however, was the interview CNN had this morning with two small business owners in the same block as the evil pizza place. “The internet isn’t regulated like it could or should be,” one said, with no comment or clarification from CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. Politicians are among those who have to address this problem, agreed her partner.

In other words, we need internet censorship. Oh, they did say that citizens should be a bit more discerning before grabbing an AR-15 and shooting up a pizza parlor because someone on Instagram said that John Podesta was selling little girls and boys, but obviously the big arm of the State has to step in.

In other developments:

  • The fake Washington Post news story about fake news that I highlighted here may prompt a defamation law suit from one of the organizations that the Post accused, without checking their source, of spreading fake news.

“You did not provide even a single example of ‘fake news’ allegedly distributed or promoted by Naked Capitalism or indeed any of the 200 sites on the PropOrNot blacklist,” James A. Moody, attorney for Naked Capitalism, a finance and economics blog with a stated mission of “shedding light on the dark and seamy corners of finance,” wrote to the Post. “You provided no discussion or assessment of the credentials or backgrounds of these so-called ‘researchers’ (Clint Watts, Andrew Weisburd, and J.M. Berger and the ‘team’ at PropOrNot), and no discussion or analysis of the methodology, protocol or algorithms such ‘researchers’ may or may not have followed.”*

Highlights from that 120-page report:

  • Since 1980, U.S. GDP per capita growth has been far below its long run average, and since 2007 it has been almost negligible.
  • Deterioration in the quality-to-cost ratio for healthcare, housing and education is dragging down economic growth. After spiraling price increases, these sectors accounted for 36 percent of total national spending in 2015, up from 25 percent in 1980.
  •  The U.S. population’s health has stagnated or even declined on several measures since 1980, especially for the working-age population.
  • Housing costs have swallowed up a larger share of income without a corresponding increase in quality.
  • Educational quality is weak and stagnant at all levels. The U.S. education system has failed to instill any measurable gains in the cognitive performance of children and young adults for decades, as U.S. students and adults struggle with poor rates of literacy and numeracy despite high spending growth.

You know…”a strong economy.”

Would you like to speculate on which fake news had a greater likely impact on the popular vote for President—the Pope’s endorsement, Podesta’s pizza parlor sex ring, or that nifty Democratic policies had the national economy working like a Swiss watch? Continue reading

Res Ipsa Loquitur! The News Media’s Anti-Trump Bias Expressed As Naked Censorship

first version

“Nah, the news media isn’t biased! It’s just right wing Faux News lovers who say that! The news media OTHER than Fox is fair and objective!”

I get these protests all the time, and I am considering being more direct and unpleasant in my responses when I do. For this statement is either proof of ignorance, stupidity, or dishonesty. There is no fourth option, and the recent example I will now describe shows why.

Earlier this week, a woman noticed a four-month-old girl in a locked car in a New Jersey Kohl’s parking lot . She screamed, alerting passer-by Steve Eckel, the New York Daily News reported.  Eckel called 911 but didn’t wait: he used a sledgehammer to break a window in the car, rescuing the cooking child.

During an HLN interview on cable TV,  the retired New Jersey police officer wore a T-shirt with the legend, “2016 Trump for President.” Yet when the CNN headline news channel ran the interview an hour later, the message was blurred out.

Would a pro-Hillary Clinton, pro-Obama, Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood, anti-gun or virtually any other non-obscene message or image be so censored? Never. My assumption, if I saw such a blur, would be that the T-shirt was wildly offensive in some undeniable way, making that blur a slur on Eckel’s character.  (A pro-Trump T-shirt doesn’t exactly speak well of him either, but that’s irrelevant.) Continue reading

I LOVE This Story! If You Don’t Love This Story, Something’s Wrong With You…Or You’re A Mainstream Media Journalist

pointing and laughing

Following the Orlando terror attack, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg, convinced that the attack wouldn’t have occurred if only we had sufficient gun regulations, decided to demonstrate how easy it would to obtain an AR-15 in Illinois. [This was already a bad start to his investigative reporting, since Steinberg didn’t investigate the gun used in Orlando: it wasn’t an AR-15. Then again, since anti-gun zealots don’t care about such details (“All guns BAD”) and low-information citizens still trust the news media not to misinform them, this didn’t matter to the reporter. But I digress…)

A background check was triggered by Steinberg’s application for the weapon,  and he was rejected. It seems the reporter had an “admitted history of alcohol abuse,” and there was a charge for domestic battery on his record.

Isn’t that wonderful?

Children: here is the meaning of “to be hoisted by your own petard.” Say thank you to Mr. Steinberg! Continue reading

Ethics Musings On The Project Veritas Cornell Video

1. I am deeply conflicted about how to handle the results of James O’Keefe’s “undercover video” operations when they hit gold like this. His methods are dishonest, Project Veritas does not treat his targets fairly, and publicizing his work just ensures that he will do more of it, and that imitators will follow in his slimy footsteps.

2. On the other hand, it makes no sense to apply an ethics blog exclusionary rule, and pretend that the videos don’t show what they show, when what they show is enlightening.

3. I’m not entirely certain that this video shows what it shows. It may show Cornell’s assistant dean for students, Joseph Scaffido, slipping into automatic sales mode, and neither paying attention to what comes out of his mouth nor applying critical thought. Surely he knows–please, please, tell me he knows!— that a pro-ISIS group on any American campus, especially a high-profile and prestigious one like Cornell’s, would be a public relations nightmare.

4. What should we want to happen to Scaffido? If he’s fired, he has lost his job because of tricks and lies, and because he trusted a stranger. That seems unfair. Yet if Cornell just shrugged this off, it is guaranteed to upset parents and alumni. What kind of people are teaching today’s college students at Cornell? Are they really this stupid? How many people like Scaffido are in positions of authority, or worse, tenured professors? Isn’t this obviously a problem? Continue reading

“Trying To Bring Ethics To Project Veritas? How Dare You? GET OUT!”

James O’Keefe is the famous or infamous (depending on your point of view and whether you believe that the ends justify the means) guerrilla hidden-camera master who sets out to deceive Democrats, liberals and progressives into exposing their evil ways. He is not a journalist. He is an unethical conservative operative who has, though dishonest means, occasionally managed to expose wrongdoing or hypocrisy. He is to an ethics blog what Rice Krispie Squares are to Fine Dining Magazine.

Richard Valdes, a former top staffer with O’Keefe’s oxymoronicly named Project Veritas, reports that O’Keefe assigned an undercover employee to attend a meeting of anti-police violence protesters and to bait them by saying: “Sometimes, I wish I could just kill some of these cops. Don’t you just wish we could have one of the cops right here in the middle of our group?” Presumably he was to secretly record the responses, thus discrediting them.

The undercover agent refused, sending an e-mail to his supervisor Valdes that was copied to O’Keefe. It read,

“I will not say words that will jeopardize my entity, especially when they involve an illegal act of ‘murdering police.’ 

Valdes claims O’Keefe fired him “because he was unhappy with me for being unwilling to strong-arm the guy.” He is considering a lawsuit for wrongful termination.  Valdes is threatening to sue for wrongful termination.

A Veritas spokesman denies the allegations, saying, “Project Veritas would never do anything that we believe would incite violence against police officers. Anyone suggesting otherwise is clearly unfamiliar with our body of work.”

Observations:

1. Anyone “familiar”with the organization’s body of work..

  • …would not be surprised at anything it did, no matter how outrageous.
  • ….would not believe a spokesperson, since Project Veritas is all about lying.

2. If it didn’t happen, why did the undercover employee think this was his assignment?

3. No ethical individual would work for O’Keefe anyway. What are the damages for being wrongfully terminated from a job you are lucky not to be in any more?

4. I believe Valdes.

Whose Ethics Alarms Are Ringing Over “Truthy”?

Colbert

Sad but true; the NSF spent a million dollars of a project named after a Stephen Colbert gag. But that’s not the worst part…

It certainly seems that most of the ringing over Truthy, the disturbing University of Indiana internet speech monitoring project funded by the National Science Foundation, is occurring in the brains of conservatives. Does that mean that one is a biased right-winger to think that the government has no business deciding what is “misuse” or “abuse” of social media—social media meaning “the communication of opinions, statements and ideas over the web”?

I don’t think so. I think it means that a troubling number of progressives, including a large constituency in the Obama administration, are convinced that the only way for their ideology to prevail is to marginalize opinions they don’t like as “hate speech,” restrict the First Amendment by demonizing opponents, and engaging in de facto censorship though harassment. Being opposed to that doesn’t make anyone right wing. It means that they reject the unethical theory that the ends justify the means, which at this point in our history seems to be flourishing primarily on the Left.

Did you miss the news about Truthy when it first provoked a flurry of news reports last fall, almost exclusively from conservative media? That’s because the mainstream media—surprise!—saw nothing at all alarming or even newsworthy about a government-funded project to “study how memes spread on social media,” to identify what it considers “false and misleading ideas,” with a major focus on political activity online,  to “detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution” —in other words—mine—-to track down opinions and assertions on the internet that argue against Obama administration policies, progressive movements and the agendas of liberal-biased researchers.

When the conservative news service Washington Free Beacon blew the whistle on this under the radar and misbegotten project—a project that could only scratch the surface of being ethical if it was absolutely non-partisan and neutral in all respects, which in 21st century U.S. academia is impossible—the reaction at the University tells us everything we need to know. Continue reading

American Journalism’s Integrity Death Spiral, PART III: The Biased Rationalization for Liberal Media Bias Of Biased Liberal Blogger Josh Marshall, Who Doesn’t Understand the Concept Of “Bias” And Thus Both Excuses, Enables And Embodies It

computer-created_spiral

There wasn’t going to be a Part III to this theme until I stumbled upon a stunning post by popular liberal blogger Josh Marshall (no relation, I think, though my Dad claimed that all Marshalls were related) that 1) defended CNN Carol Costello’s despicable glee at a tape of Sarah Palin’s daughter describing what she said was an assault by a man, and 2) added an explanation for news media bias that blames Fox News, a neat, if stupid, piece of logical pretzel-making.

It’s an amazing post, one which should make any objective reader wonder how deep a rational writer could be sunk into ideological cement to author this and not realize how self-rebutting it is. Marshall shoots himself in the groin at the very beginning, using Costello’s unprofessional attack on Bristol Palin as an example of how paranoid the right is:

“So now, liberals, the media, Democrats, apparently anyone who thinks Palin is a buffoon of almost world historic proportions (which gets you to something like 80% of the country) are all abominable hypocrites for ‘laughing’ at what is now fairly preposterously portrayed as a violent assault against a woman. If you listen to the police interviews, which occurred just as the brawl had barely ended, all the witnesses beside Bristol said she attacked the homeowner. Indeed, even Bristol’s younger sister Willow backed up the these other witnesses’ account. She just said Bristol missed with her punches.”

The buffoon here is Marshall, and he’s misrepresenting what Costello did. She didn’t introduce the tape by pointing out what other witnesses said. She may not even have known about the police reports (which I have read, and they are not at all conclusive, which is why no charges were filed.) She just introduced an emotional recording of a young woman recounting how she was attacked, and said it was so enjoyable that her audience was obligated to thank her. It doesn’t matter what the facts were or turned out to be. What was outrageous was Costello displaying enjoyment at another human being’s distress, because it was Sarah Palin’s daughter. Marshall’s defense is also ignorant of context, not that he cares. Last month, Costello had angrily encouraged ESPN to suspend commentator Stephen A. Smith because he had suggested, in light of the Ray Rice-Janay Rice brawl video, that women who attack men in part bring abuse upon themselves. Now Marshall is saying that Costello’s lack of sympathy for Bristol Palin is justified because she allegedly tried to punch her assailant, but missed. Janay Rice didn’t miss, you know. Then again, she isn’t the daughter of a political figure Marshall and Costello detest.

Thus even before he offered his denial of left-media bias, Marshall had outed himself as a practitioner. Then he wrote this:

“Conservatives in the ’70s and ’80s looked at the mainstream media and saw it as liberal and against them. That was largely bogus but not entirely. The mid-late 20th century elite ‘media’ did generally buy into a series of cosmopolitan assumptions about public and private life. That worldview generally aligns more with liberalism than conservatism, but the two are by no means identical. And this did shape coverage in significant ways. But many conservatives genuinely believed that most people in media were and are little different from Democratic political operatives writing propaganda. So when they went to create “their” media, that’s basically what they created, a propaganda network.”

Marshall’s hallmark is making nonsense sound reasonable, and he outdoes himself here. Do you know what “buying into a series of cosmopolitan assumptions about public and private life” is called? Bias, that’s what. Marshall, true to his liberal-biased soul, frames this as just intelligence, education and sophistication, which is what the liberal elite use “cosmopolitan” to mean. It’s not bias! It’s just the truth, as smart people understand it, and dumb, redneck hicks don’t!

As Marshall appears not to grasp—and who knows? Maybe he doesn’t—bias arises from the acceptance of prior assumptions that prevent objective analysis and fair balancing of objectives, facts and opinions. Conservatives looked at the mainstream media and saw news content, news coverage, punditry and opinion journalism being determined by a profession that was over 80% registered Democrats and otherwise liberal, and dominated by people like Costello and Marshall, who were so far left that everything right of them, including moderate political positions, looked deranged and illegitimate. Conservatives (and objective liberals too)  saw bias, because bias is what there was. Marshall seems to think that bias has to be intentional and malicious to qualify as bias: he doesn’t understand the concept, which may explain why he doesn’t see how biased he is. The reason bias is so insidious is that the sufferer is often completely unaware of the bias, especially when, as in most mainstream journalism organizations, everyone suffers from the same biases. Continue reading

American Journalism’s Integrity Death Spiral, PART II: The James O’Keefe Conundrum

The past and present of investigative journalism.

The past and present of investigative journalism.

James O’Keefe calls himself an investigative journalist, but that’s not what he is. A real investigative journalist would look for the truth, whichever political party a particular set of uncovered and inconvenient facts happened to make look bad.O’Keefe is only interested in getting dirt on Democrats and their allies.

A real investigative journalist would also follow, or know he was supposed to follow, or at least make some effort to follow, the tenets of journalism ethics, which frown on using trickery, lies and surreptitious recording to obtain stories. This is all O’Keefe does. His oxymoronically named Project Veritas uses people posing as someone they are not, spouting misrepresentations,  to obtain video evidence of corruption in the bowels of political activism…Democratic political activism, that is. Recently, O’Keefe got various supporters of and volunteers for Allison Grimes—you know, that former Democratic National Convention delegate for Barack Obama running for U.S. Senator under the banner of Democratic Party in Kentucky who refuses to say that she voted for the current Democratic President?—to opine that that the candidate’s vocal support for the coal industry was a sham. As always with O’Keefe’s stings, the dedicated Daily Koses huffed and puffed and explained why the videos were misleading (the usual excuse is that the victims “caught in the act of being themselves,” as Candid Camera creator Allen Funt used to say, were “going along” with O’Keefe’s sham. This was also the excuse of many of the Congressmen filmed taking bribes in the Abscam sting. It is not persuasive.) Continue reading