Tag Archives: Dan Balz

Is James Comey An “Untruthful Slimeball?”

That was the measured, dignified description of the fired FBI chief in President Trump’s latest tweet on the matter of Comey’s tell-all book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership. The Ethics Alarms verdict on the allegation doesn’t require reading the book, which I wouldn’t do if Jigsaw had me trapped in a room and gave me the choice of writing a book report on it or chewing off my own foot. (Okay, maybe I’d read it then, but I’d still have to think about it.)

We know Comey is untruthful already—he lied to Congress—and the fact that his book exists proves that he’s a slimeball.

I know I repeat myself a lot, for ethics issues are on a merry-go-round that never stops. However, I think I’ve written more than enough about the unethical practice of government officials who have left an administration cashing in with tell-all books before the administration has ended. The practice  is a crass  betrayal, venal, disloyal, damaging to the nation and its institutions, and I don’t care who the slimeball author is, or which President he slimes. They are all slimeballs, by definition. One of the first was President Reagan’s arrogant Budget Director, Stockman, early in that administration. Prior to Stockman, the predominant attitude and ethics was the one embodied by General George Marshall (no relation, alas), World War One and Two military leader, former Secretary of State, and architect of the Marshall plan, when he was offered a million dollars to write his memoirs in the 1950s, after he had retired from public life.  Marshall turned down the cash, explaining that he couldn’t write a truthful memoir without undermining people still at working for the United States in the government and military.

How quaint! What a sap!

Or so James Comey probably thinks. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Two Ethics Heroes : Media Critics Jeff Greenfield And Howard Kurtz

 

Maybe there are some cracks in the wall. God, I hope so.

Two media critics affiliated with major news organizations have recently come right out and stated what we have been talking about here on Ethics Alarms regarding the failure of journalists to observe core ethical standards in their commitment to bring down a President who horrifies them, and who has not taken his abuse lying down, as Presidential norms previously required.

The sharp contrast with Greenfield and Kurtz’s remarkable candor that marks most of their industry was on display today, as The Washington Post held a series of panel discussions and aired live video around the theme “Americans & The Media: Sorting Fact from Fake News.” One  segment featured Post political reporter Dan Balz, one of the Post reporters I would categorize as a straight-shooter most of the time, talking to PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff and Fox Special Report host Bret Baier. Woodruff’s comments were obtuse and depressing, but typical of most journalists and their defenders.

 BALZ: Judy you said something recently  I want to read to people: “You shouldn’t go into journalism if you want to win a popularity contest. If you’re doing your job, there are always going to be people who criticize your reporting. But we’ve never been at a place like we are today where there’s practically an entire industry around criticizing the media and holding the mainstream media up as suspect [ Balz didn’t read, but she also wrote, “and out to destroy an entire political philosophy in this country.” Well I said “most of the time.”]. I think the term ‘fake news’ has done a lot of damage to the media.” Describe the damage.

WOODRUFF: The damage is in the minds and the eyes of people who are consumers all across the country. And you see it in the polls. You see it in this [Knight Foundation] poll, a lessening of trust in the news media. I believe – it sounds corny, but I believe so passionately that a free press, free media, the role that we play, news media in our democracy, is part of what holds democracy together. And if enough Americans start thinking the press is not to be believed, that we are to be shoved to the side, regulated, or treated, controlled in some way, then I think we’ve got real problems. Even if it doesn’t get to that point, and they just don’t believe what we’re doing, then I think our democracy is weakened, and I think that’s what’s happening.

Got that? It’s the critics who are undermining the news media, not the unethical news media conduct that justifies the criticism! This quote is astounding. Journalists like Woodruff don’t see anything wrong with how they are doing their job, or rather not doing it. What harms democracy, Judy, is journalists behaving so unethically that the the public loses trust in them, not the criticism.

Now here are the two Ethics Heroes that do not parrot Woodruff’s defensive spin: Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

Hillary’s Defense: An Ethics Mess

  • I’m going to go rely heavily on links here. I have written a lot about this story already, and there are many other issues to cover. I’ll summarize the content in the pieces linked to, but the thrust is this: Hillary’s explanation in her 20 minute press conference was deceitful, dishonest, and unbelievable. Of course it was.
  • I would declare Hillary’s e-mail fiasco an Ethics Train Wreck, and still might, except that so many are refusing to buy a ticket. Even Bill is afraid to go near the tracks.
  • There are a few who are disgracing themselves—I don’t count paid Clinton cleaners like Lanny Davis, or Media Matters—but one head-exploding performance I saw today was that of Van Jones, the former White House Czar turned CNN pundit, in a “New Day” discussion this morning paired with CNN’s resident conservative pundit—because heaven forbid we examine Clinton’s conduct based on truth, honesty, and principles rather than as political gamesmanship. The two (Ann Navarro for some reason is the only Republican CNN can usually find in the morning) were asked about the phony “Colin Powell did it!” defense dreamed up in the Clinton bunker. Navarro, like anyone else who has examined that argument, found it to be bunkum, simply because the use of e-mail, its regulation in government and what we know about e-mail security has changed so much since Powell referred to it as “new-fangled.” Here’s what Jones said, after first saying that he couldn’t argue with Navarro on her reasoning, emphasis mine:

“Again, she’s playing to the heartland. If you say, listen, I did what Colin Powell did. I’m trying to do a good job. I want convenience. You know, the average person in the heartland, if you hate the Clintons, no answer is good enough. But if you’re — if you’re an honest person, well, geez, maybe this makes sense. I actually do agree, though, that we are in a different world from the Colin Powell days. I think the Colin Powell excuse sounds really good from a press point of view. I hope she keeps saying it. But I do think that, at the end of the day, we are in a different world.”

That’s Jones; that’s the Democratic spin machine, that’s the “the ends justify the means” crowd, and that’s who the networks are asking for analysis: ‘Yes, it’s just designed to confuse the yokels, and it’s not true, but it works,and I hope she keeps saying it.’

Kaboom.

Exploding head

There goes the old skull, exploding again.

Have I ever heard such an open, shameless admission that politicians not only do deceive the public, but that these horrible people like Jones think it’s fine if they do? Fire him. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Family, Government & Politics, Kaboom!, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, The Internet

Leon Panetta’s Memoirs, and Reconsidering Ethics Alarms’ Absolute Condemnation Of Such Books

Panetta

When Robert Gates, formerly President Obama’s Secretary of Defense,  published his memoirs, I wrote:

Bottom line: these people betray their colleagues for money, and often, as is Robert Gates’s case, out of spite. Former Defense Secretary Gates, like the others, was given an opportunity to serve his country in a high executive branch position. He was privy to policy discussions and the inner workings of the administration. He was trusted. To reveal details of his tenure while the administration he worked for is still in office, done in a way designed to provoke criticism and embarrass his former associates and boss, is the height of disloyalty, and a breach of implicit confidentiality.

The honorable and ethical way to write such a book would be to wait until it could not actively interfere with the work of the Executive Branch. The people may have a right to know, but they do not have a right to know everything immediately. People in high policy-making positions must be able to be themselves, express opinions, and have productive meetings with the confidence that those they work with are not collecting notes for a future Book-of-the-Month sellout. Books like Gates’s undermine that trust, make it more difficult to get candid and controversial opinions and ideas into the decision-making process, and ultimately hurt all of us. The former  Secretary and those who appreciate the additional ammunition for administration-bashing can assemble a lot of rationalizations for the  book, but they all boil down to “Everybody Does It,” the most threadbare and cowardly rationalization of all.The ethical thing would have been for Gates to write the book in a few years, or not to write it at all.

You can’t get much more definite than that, can you?

I could, without much difficulty, distinguish between Gates’ book and the recently released book by former Obama CIA director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, “Worthy Fights,” that is drawing fire from Obama loyalists. Gates’ book often seemed petty and hypocritical, and I do think he was cashing in. He is, in my view, nowhere near Panetta’s caliber as an administrator or a thinker, and I trust Panetta as a public servant who isn’t motivated by money or celebrity, but by love of country. (Yes, he was by far the best of Bill Clinton’s team.) But rather than do that, and open myself up to the legitimate accusation that I am accepting the identical conduct from Panetta that I condemned from Gates because I respect Panetta more, I’ll just admit that my attack on Gates’ book was excessive, and that there are legitimate reasons, sometimes, and patriotic ones, for a high appointee to write such a book. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership