The Insidious News Media Disinformation Campaign [UPDATED]

In hundreds, maybe thousands of ways, large and small, every day, the mainstream media advances its slanted narratives.

For example, I just saw this in a Times piece about the BBC:

[T]wo billionaire media moguls are hatching plans for 24-hour news channels that would be politically opinionated, bringing the model of Fox News to a market dominated by the BBC’s studied impartiality.

The Fox News model! Not, say, the MSNBC model, or the CNN model, or the CBS, ABC, NBC models of fake “objectivity” slanted Left that made Fox News necessary, or even the New York Times model, but the Fox News model, because that’s where the fake news comes from!

And the BBC is anything but impartial.

This next one is a classic. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce (Again!): The Daily Caller

 

Yeah, I know…”She can play on my violin any time she likes…”

Tucker Carlson’s toy, conservative website “The Daily Caller,” headlined the story I mentioned in today’s warm-up about a teacher who sent naked photos of herself to a teen-aged former student, this way:

“Former Miss Kentucky Arrested For Assaulting 15-Year-Old Teen’s Eyes With Her Naked Body.”

I’ve called Carlson’s site on this kind of idiocy before. It’s the brainless, macho, “yeah, I sure wish a teacher had mistreated me like that when I was a kid” jerkism that seeds the next generation of Harvey Weinsteins and Matt Lauers, as well as perpetuating the still flourishing double standard that sees a male teacher who has sex with female high school student  as a rapist, but a male student who is seduced by his female teacher as lucky dog.

This is one of many reasons I don’t watch Carlson’s popular show on Fox.  I really don’t care what assholes with those kinds of warped values have to say about anything. Teachers cannot use their position to prey on students, and it doesn’t matter how attractive the teacher is or how appreciative her victim is.  The fact that so many conservatives gravitate to Carlson’s frat boy attitudes is one reason to be wary of conservatives.

I haven’t checked…let’s see if the comments on this article express the usual Daily Caller reader perspective… Continue reading

Unethical Website Of The Month: Once Again, Snopes Proves It Cannot, Should Not, And Must Not Be Trusted

I definitively laid out how lazy, biased and deceptive Snopes is, here and elsewhere.  Yet Google and Facebook still rely on the fact-checking site. This is signature significance: it can only mean that these businesses want biased standards to rule the day. The Daily Caller just called out a typical example of Snopes’ unethical work. As with its spinning for Hillary Clinton that I flagged in 2016, this is egregious and irrefutable.

Here is a meme that has been circulating on the web:

It’s a lie, fake news, wrong, however you want to describe it. It’s just not true. The X’s are through some people who weren’t members of Congress. X’s also cover the faces of Jodey Arrington, Ron Estes, Liz Cheney, Michael Burgess, Patrick McHenry, Jason Smith, Bradley Byrne, Markwayne Mullin, Paul Mitchell, Glenn Grothman, Doug Lamborn, and Tim Walberg, all of whom were re-elected. There were other errors as well. Politico reporter Jake Sherman observed that the meme “is actually more incorrect than correct.”

In other words, a typical internet meme.

Nevertheless, Snopes fact-checker Bethania Palma ruled it accurate. To do so, she used Snopes favorite trick, falsely characterizing what the claim was. Palma rated it “true” that “The Congressional seats of almost three dozen Republicans who voted to repeal Obamacare were lost to Democrats in 2018” when the meme clearly said that everyone in the picture who was Xed voted for repeal and was voted out of office. Her claim is pure deceit. “In the meme, red ‘X’ marks were drawn through the faces of 33 lawmakers who purportedly were rejected by voters in the 6 November 2018 midterm elections,” Palma wrote. Wrong. They weren’t all “lawmakers,” and they weren’t all defeated. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/28/17

Good Morning!

Thanks for dropping by.

1. Does anyone else wonder how John McCain would have voted last night if President Trump hadn’t gratuitously insulted his military service and suffering as a prisoner of war? I do. I know how much veterans care about their service and sacrifice on behalf of their country, and how deeply a public insult like Trump’s must have hurt. McCain has been seething all of this time. Maybe last night was a vote based on principle; probably McCain thinks it is. There is no doubt, however, that he hates Trump’s guts intensely, and that kind of bias is almost impossible to banish entirely. He is also probably more than a little angry that his colleagues and his party allowed someone who would treat him that way to be the nominee.

The astounding foolishness of Trump’s initial insult to McCain was framed as an insult to veterans, but the fee for his gratuitous nastiness was always going to come due in a setting like last night. Human nature can’t be taken out of politics; in fact, politics relies on human nature. These people aren’t automatons. It would be ethical to put grudges aside, but nobody should count on it.

The President reportedly called McCain to argue for a “yes” vote. I wonder if the Senator said, Scaramucci style, “Mr. President, this unheroic prisoner of war says, with all due respect, ‘Go fuck yourself.'”

I also wonder if Trump learned anything.

Nah. Continue reading

Unethical Headline Of The Month: The Daily Caller

Dewey Truman

You can hardly publish a more inaccurate. misleading and dumb headline than this one, appearing on the right-wing news and opinion site, over a report by Kevin Daily about the American Bar Association passing a new addition to its Rule 8.4, the ethics rule that defines ethical misconduct, as follows:

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to: . . . (g) knowingly harass or discriminate against persons, on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status, while engaged [in conduct related to] [in] the practice of law.

Now here is the headline:

Lawyer Lobby Will Now Disbar You For Making An Off Color Remark

And here is how unconscionably misleading and absurd it is:

“Lawyer Lobby”: The American Bar Association is a lawyer’s professional association, and sure, it does some lobbying. However, lobbying is a small, small proportion of its activities. [ Full disclosure: I usually do a couple of ethics seminars for the ABA every year.] Calling it  a lobby suggest that the ABA is primarily political, which it is not. The ABA publishes books, holds educational events, provides indispensable legal assistance to all branches of the profession, facilitates networking, issues critical legal ethics opinions, and many other useful and important services for lawyers.  One reason the ABA doesn’t lobby much is because it represents all kinds of lawyers, and being lawyers, they don’t agree on many issues.Prosecutors, judges and criminal defense attorneys have very different perspectives; so do plaintiffs lawyers and corporate attorneys. “Lawyer Lobby” is an inept and misleading description of the ABA.

“Will Now”: No. Not even close. The proper wording would be “NEVER has, can or will.” The ABA isn’t a bar, and can’t disbar anyone. Any lawyer can belong to the ABA, but the ABA doesn’t have any say in who practices law. The Robert DeNiro “Cape Fear” had an embarrassing line where a lawyer played by Gregory Peck, who should have known better, talks about making an ethics complaint to the ABA to get Nick Nolte’s character “disbarred.” Embarrassing. This part of the headline affirmatively makes Daily Caller readers stupid. Continue reading

Yecchh! The Daily Caller And Its Commenters Cheer On Sexual Predator Teachers

I'm really sorry you didn't get any in high school, Tucker (maybe it was the bow tie), but it's no excuse.

I’m really sorry you didn’t get any in high school, Tucker (maybe it was the bow tie), but it’s still no excuse.

I’ve called out the Tucker Carlson’s conservative news and commentary website The Daily Caller for this before. Apparently this is Carlson’s sick and unethical obsession: I guess he can’t stop his sophomoric fantasies and pain arising out of being a high school nerd gazing hopelessly at cheerleaders and the occasional attractive teacher from infecting his judgment and ethical values. Thus he—and his “education editor,” Eric Owens—think rape is ethically acceptable if the rapist is hot enough.

Once again, the site reports on an example of high school teachers exploiting their male students for their own sexual satisfaction with a slimy wink-wink-snort coded piece making it clear that the Daily Caller regards the episode is one big joke. This time the tongue in cheek headline, accompanied by the photographs of the two women involved, conveys Tucker’s attitude:

Male Teen’s Parents Sue Over Son’s 9-HOUR THREESOME SEX TRAUMA With English Teachers

Rapist teachers

Hahahahahahaha! That’s some trauma! Hey guys, you would have all been traumatized by an epic sex session with these two babes, right? Poor kid! Continue reading

Thank You, Matt Yglesias, For Showing Exactly Why Journalists Like You Cannot Be Trusted

yglesias_sophistry_8-10

Matt Yglesias is now called a blogger, but he has been an editor and a writer at places like The Atlantic and Vox. He’s a journalist; an opinion journalist, for the most part, but a journalist. He also seldom meets a progressive idea he doesn’t like, which is fine, I suppose; after all, that just makes him like about 90 percent of all journalists.

He also endorses lying. The tweet above from Matt is a couple years old, but was recently raised again in an interview with the conservative Daily Caller and some of Matt’s Twitter exchanges with other writers.

“Fighting dishonesty with dishonesty is sometimes the right thing for advocates to do, yes,” wrote Yglesias last week. He seemed shocked that anyone would be troubled by this, asking a conservative writer,  “Do you really think deception is immoral in all circumstances?”  He told the Daily Caller that he approves of lying by policy advocates, but of course he would never lie, because his job as a blogger is to inform.

Does that mean that he would flag, expose and criticize a lie from a politician or advocate he favors, used in the service of  a progressive policy Yglesias wants to see succeed? Say, a health insurance program where the primary public policy-making advocate swears will allow everyone to keep their current health care plans, “Period!”? Will Matt vigorously expose hype by climate change advocates like Al Gore, or false budget claims by politicians like Bernie Sanders? If Yglesias thinks that the public wrongly believing that Mike Brown was surrendering when he was shot will lead to important social reforms, will he expose the lie, or bolster it? What are the implications of a journalist’s belief that lying to the public may be ethical for officials and advocates?

Continue reading

When A Reality Show And A Self-Promoting Billionaire Are More Trustworthy Than TIME, American Journalism Is Seriously Ill

astrology

This week’s print TIME and the magazine’s website has a story titled “Astrologer Susan Miller On Why You Should Pay Attention to the Lunar Eclipse.” The TIME writer, Laura Stampler,  promotes the astrologer as if she was Nate Silver,  a reliable, respectable expert in a legitimate field  who has something to teach us. Susan Miller is not a reliable, respectable expert. She is an astrologer, meaning that she is as legitimate as a palm reader, a douser, or the Amazing Kreskin. She is a fraud, in a fraudulent field, however ancient or popular. There is no scholarly controversy about this. There is more evidence of the existence of Bigfoot, Nessie, ghosts and flying saucers than there is that astrology is more than pseudo-scientific claptrap. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The Daily Caller

Lohans

…or Taylor Bigler, the DC’s Entertainment Editor…or both. Some jerk, individual or collective, thought that having an intentionally misleading headline on a story hundreds of thousands would read while skipping the article itself would be a hoot, even if it added PR and image problems to the troubled life of a young woman, Lindsay Lohan, desperately trying to get her career and mental health back on track. The headline…

Lohan Arrested For Drunk Driving

It is accompanied by a photo (above) with the star’s face prominently displayed, and her mother shown in the background. Mom, Dina Lohan, was the one arrested, the story (authored by Bigler) explained. The incident reported had nothing to do with Lindsay Lohan, who by all accounts is clean, sober, employing a full-time sobriety coach and trying to overcome multiple substance abuse problems and the consequences of years of irresponsible conduct that have reduced her name to a punchline. Continue reading