Above is what Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who presumes to tell us that she is qualified to be President of the United States, tweeted to her followers last week. This deliberate and disgraceful lie could be presented on Ethics Alarms as evidence that Warren is an Ethics Dunce. It would easily qualify as an Unethical Quote of the Week (Month…Year…). It is fully qualified as an Unethical Tweet of the Week, in a category that is becoming increasingly contested. None of these, however, quite capture the miserable, cynical, disgusting nature of Warren’s statement. Continue reading
“That’s all I can stands, cuz I can’t stands no more!”
“[Megyn] Kelly happily trafficked in racist tropes for profit…asking repeatedly whether the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown were necessarily related to race..
Nope. I can’t let this pass, and will never let this pass again. The context doesn’t matter: Lindy West’s statement above is a lie, and deliberately perpetuate a falsehood to mislead Times readers, or perhaps to encourage them to mislead others. The New York Times editors should not allow lies the paper’s pages, not in news stories, and not from pundits. West can, if she chooses, state the factually untenable opinion that she believes the deaths of Garner and Brown were based on race. She cannot state that the position that their deaths were not based on race is a “racist trope,” which requires facts and evidence showing that either or both deaths were race-related.
There is no such evidence in either case. None, Not a shred, not an iota. Lindy West is calling Megyn Kelly a racist based on an assumption she holds because it is cant within her circles despite no evidence whatsoever. That is unethical punditry, and no responsible newspaper should allow such falsity in print. Continue reading
In some professions, an apology isn’t enough.
One such profession is accounting. Arthur Andersen couldn’t fix its reputation by apologizing. Its knee-deep involvement and likely complicity in the Enron debacle rendered its claim to trustworthiness permanently and irredeemable damaged. Its conduct made the company useless as a certifier of transparency and truth. For an accountant or auditor, if there is any doubt that he or she might not be telling the truth, the jig is up. One cannot trust a truth-teller who only is accurate and reliable most of the time.
I think the same applies to newspaper ombudspersons, if that’s the proper term now, and this is what Margaret Sullivan’s job as New York Times “public editor is,” euphemisms aside. She is supposed to bolster public trust by serving as an objective critic of Times reporters, columnists and editors, and ensuring that they hew to the high standards of professionalism and journalism ethics readers should be able to expect from the nation’s most respected newspaper.
Like the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart, Sullivan has published a mea culpa for her joining on the “Darren Lewis is a white cop and Mike Brown was an unarmed black kid, so obviously the white cop gunned down the black kid in cold blood because that’s what white cops do and whites want to do” lynch mob last summer as it was being led by Eric Holder, the media, Al Sharpton and others. But unlike Capehart, who is an opinion columnist and can be forgiven a bit for being led by his biases, Sullivan job is to protect her colleagues from their biases and ensure that the Times at least tries to be objective and fair. Continue reading
Today’s Washington Post Fact Checker column finally weighs in on whether of not “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” is a lie. I won’t keep you in suspense: Of course it is.
As I had no ideological reason to pretend that it was otherwise, I identified the phrase as such last November. Since then, it has been wielded by athletes, journalists, members of Congress, protesters, talking heads, professional athletes, and pop stars, while contributing to getting some police officers shot. There was no need for this verdict to take so long. “Better late than never,” you say? How about better responsibly on time, as in when the facts were available to anyone with the integrity to reject a useful catch-phrase that was without basis in fact?
For some reason this is not the regular Post Fact Checker. Maybe Glenn Kessler, a partisan who makes a reasonable effort to overcome his biases, couldn’t get around them this time, or is sick or dead or something. This Fact Checker is Michelle Ye Hee Lee, and she hardly leaves any room for doubt as she lays the blame for the whole scam squarely on the head of the late Mike Brown’s pal, Dorian Johnson, a.k.a. Witness 128. To be fair, “Hands Up” was not a lie for those who used it profligately after Johnson’s false accounts, for they sincerely, if recklessly and negligently, believed it to be true. This was Johnson’s lie, and though it was obviously self-serving, and though he was as unreliable a source as it was possible to be, confirmation bias allowed all of these good people—well, some of them are good—-beginning with Brown’s parents, to accept it as truth. It was easier for them to believe that white police officers gun down unarmed, gentle giants in the street for no reason other than their color than to question the word of Brown’s scuzzy, criminal friend. Continue reading
“Now that black lives matter to everyone, it is imperative that we continue marching for and giving voice to those killed in racially charged incidents at the hands of police and others. But we must never allow ourselves to march under the banner of a false narrative on behalf of someone who would otherwise offend our sense of right and wrong. And when we discover that we have, we must acknowledge it, admit our error and keep on marching. That’s what I’ve done here.”
—— African-American Washington Post blogger and MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart in a Post column acknowledging that the “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” chant, hashtag, protest motto and refrain was based on the lies of Dorian Johnson.
This is unusual: a statement embodying ethical principles that arises entirely out of an unethical, unprofessional and untrustworthy world view.
It is a credit to Capehart that he has the integrity to openly admit he was wrong when the facts finally penetrated his biased, bigoted, unethically-motivated brain. He is certainly more admirable than the politicians and journalists of the left and the civil rights movement who still refuse to admit it, like Capehart’s MSNBC colleague and perpetually Angry Progressive Lawrence O’Donnell. It’s good that he apologized, in the sense that it’s better than if he didn’t, but if he were aligned with ethical advocates and advocates, his apology would be unnoticed among thousands of others. Capehart’s ability to process and admit what was, or should have been obvious months ago is not rescued from disgrace because others are even worse.
For the record, Ethics Alarms concluded that “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” was probably false on November 27, 2014. I don’t usually quote myself at length, but after I read Capehart’s much praised, “Well, gol-ly! Knock me over with a feather! Dorian Johnson was lying, and I used what he said to help the media, Al Sharpton and Eric Holder convince African-Americans that whites are out to kill unarmed black men! Ooopsie! My bad!” column, I gagged, and went back and read this:
How does the culture, the news media, the civil rights industry, and politicians determined to benefit by making African-Americans suspicious, paranoid, racist and, of course, lifetime Democrats, make amends for this? How do they undo the damage to mutual trust and American society?
Obviously they don’t. They don’t even try. In fact, all indications are that they will refuse to acknowledge that the entire, national effort to portray the tragic confrontation between Michael Brown and Officer Wilson as a race-triggered execution was based on a lie that was presumed to be accurate despite much reason to doubt it.
The original claim that Brown was shot and killed after putting his hands in the air came from his friend and partner in crime, Dorian Johnson. Johnson, who already had a record of lying to police, was with Brown prior to the August 9 confrontation, and had joined him in the petty robbery that occurred just before Brown’s arrest. In his TV interviews after the shooting, Johnson said that Wilson shot Brown in the back, causing him to turn around with his hands up, pleading, ‘I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!’ Before the grand jury, Johnson, who admitted that he hid during the incident and later ran home to change clothes so he wouldn’t be identified, even elaborated and provided minute details to his fabrication, stating under oath that the shot in his back caused Brown’s body to “do like a jerking movement, not to where it looked like he got hit in his back, but I knew, it maybe could have grazed him, but he definitely made a jerking movement.” The forensic evidence showed that Brown was not shot in the back.
Other witnesses concocted similar testimony demonizing Wilson after hearing the media’s credulous accounts based on Brown’ friend’s claims. One told the FBI that he saw Wilson shoot Brown in the back and then stand over his prone body to “finish him off.” In front of the grand jury, however, this witness acknowledged that he had not seen that part of the shooting. He explained that the false story he told the FBI was “based on me being where I’m from, and that can be the only assumption that I have.”
Sort of like Democrats have to believe such false narratives because the presence of deadly, virulent racism is core to the party’s appeal to African American voters…
Then, he admitted, he changed his story to fit details of the autopsy once it was reported on TV. “So it was after you learned that the things you said you saw couldn’t have happened that way, then you changed your story about what you seen?’ a prosecutor asked. “Yeah, to coincide with what really happened,” the witness replied.
Members of the community, activists, anti-police zealots and those who had observed how effective the Trayvon Martin hoodie symbolism had been in casting George Zimmerman as a racist killer (rather than as he was subsequently shown to be, an irresponsible, unbiased jerk) immediately seized on the gesture as a powerful protest symbol. Every time it was repeated in a protest or demonstration, it was Johnson’s lie multiplied, until the narrative that Officer Wilson shot an unarmed, unresisting teenaged black male who was pleading to live was imbedded in the American mind. Of course it was murder! Of course any system that does not immediately charge the rogue police officer with murder is corrupt and flawed.
I have had conversations with well-intentioned liberals in denial,who are obviously unable to think of what occurred in Ferguson any other way. Such frustrating conversations. As in the Martin case, they want the white shooter to be guilty of racism and brutality. The fact that no clear evidence will show that, as the grand jury found out, doesn’t dissuade them, even though they would nod vigorously if activists argued that prosecutors displayed racism by indicting any black suspect when eye-witness testimony was unreliable.
Oh, it is true that their confusion is compounded by not understanding what a grand jury does, or hearing references to the quote that a prosecutor can make a grand jury “indict a ham sandwich” (not recognizing that this was a criticism, or perhaps having no more regard for a young policeman’s life than they do a ham sandwich, because, you know, white cop), and that they have been conditioned to believe from their SDS veteran professors from the Sixties that police officers are not public servants but really diabolical agents of an overbearing state—not that they don’t want an overbearing state in most matters, just not where public safety…okay, it’s complicated!). Still, what most nourishes their fervor now—how I love being told that I am taking my cues from Fox News!—is the indelible image of young, frightened, unarmed Mike Brown, with his hands in the air.
How does Darren Wilson get his career, reputation and life back after a lie is promoted as fact by the media, and ruthlessly used by race-hucksters to destroy him while escalating racial distrust? How does the culture recover from this deep, self-inflicted wound?
It is not the criminal justice system that is so in need of repair, but our system of communicating important events to the public, so that bias doesn’t overwhelm truth, and we will be able to forge the right lessons from tragedies like Michael Browns death, not false lessons that leave us more ignorant, hateful, and afraid.
How was I able to write that four months ago, and Capehart is only capable of comprehending it now? It’s simple, really: I’m not an anti-white bigot, and he is. I had no horse in this race: I was just trying to weigh the facts. I don’t have a stake, politically, racially or socially, in proving that Mike Brown was just an innocent kid hunted down and shot in the street like a dog, or proving that Office Wilson was a model police officer. Capehart didn’t pay attention to the evidence because it was a white Prosecuting Attorney who produced it, and a black—sorry, thug—who contradicted it, as a black Attorney General behaved and spoke as if he believed the thug.
Now Capehart is a believer, and why? He is a believer because the Justice Department run by that black Attorney General had to grudgingly admit that there were zero facts to support the lie that it desperately, urgently wanted to be true, so Darren Wilson could be crucified to expiate white America’s sins against the black man….and, not so incidentally, gin up black votes for the Democratic base. Now Capehart trusts the facts, because a black AG, not a white one, endorses them.
Well, to hell with him, frankly. Why are anti-white racists with Capehart’s biases writing for the Washington Post? Must there be a black racist slot on the op-ed page now? I didn’t notice: did Obama’s EEOC pass that regulation? The New York Times has Charles Blow, and so the Post must have at least one too? Is there a black racist pundit arms race?
Who is going to apologize to Darren Wilson? Capehart didn’t do that; after all, Wilson is white. Capehart doesn’t care about whites, but wants to clear the record so future protests against police, Ferguson and white America aren’t weakened by reliance on a lie. Where are the apologies to Robert McCulloch, that presumptively racist Prosecuting Attorney who was able to avoid the lynch mob’s demands that Wilson be tried for murder by running a grand jury that got to see all the evidence for once, the scum. How dare he? Van Jones, who is treated as a respectable, rational pundit on CNN and ABC, told the latter that “If there had been a special prosecutor in Ferguson, we would have had a different result.” And we all know that a different result would be the right thing, meaneth Van. To my knowledge, Van hasn’t apologized either. I’ll lay odds that he won’t. Neither has the former governor of Massachusetts, prominently mentioned as a possible presidential candidate once Democrats finally admit that Hillary is hopeless: Deval Patrick told Meet the Press that he wanted to see Wilson indicted regardless of the facts. Nor Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta, who told Meet the Press that justice meant trying Wilson for murder, based on seeing the case through the eyes of Brown’s parents, the individuals whose confirmation bias most powerfully compelled them to believe the self-serving lies of their baby boy’s pal.
Two police officers are dead, two more have been shot, uncounted whites have been targeted and beaten by angry blacks (the Justice Department hasn’t been interested in the racial implications of those attacks), Ferguson is in ruins, innocent businesses are destroyed, Darren Wilson is in hiding, and racial distrust across the U.S. is worse than it has been in decades, not entirely but substantially because people like Jonathan Capehart wanted to believe Dorian Johnson’s lie, because it fits their ideological, political, social and racial agenda. So they did.
Admitting a wrongdoing—not a mistake, but wrongdoing— is always commendable, but when it comes after such carnage, and so inexcusably late, my applause is going to not only be faint, but suffused with disgust.
Graphic: Washington Post
1. The big controversy as of this morning involved the New York Times front page photo, which managed to be cropped exactly at the point where former President Bush could have been seen. Given the Times’ proclivities, conservative blogs and Fox News presumed the snub was intentional. If it had been intentional, that would have indeed been disrespectful and unethical photojournalism. The Times explanation, however, seems reasonable. It tells us something, though, that nobody at the Times saw this coming. I think it’s incompetence born of bias. “Where’s Bush?” “He was too far down the line, so the photo looks lousy if he’s included.” “Damn. Well, put a note in explaining that.” Bias makes us stupid, and the fact that no Times editor had this conversation is, in fact, stupid.
2. If the NAACP was setting the place cards, and I assume they were, then Bush should have been second row center, and not an MSNBC demagogue and race-hustler who owes the U.S. back taxes. Talk about biased and stupid. The NAACP claims it wants to be a unifying force in the country, but it doesn’t. It promotes divisiveness,and intentionally. It’s good for business.
3. A graceful, fair, respectful and competent President of the United States would have insisted that his immediate predecessor be in a position of prominence, as part of the message that this event was an important part of the history of America and all Americans. It would have been the right thing to do. Bush would have done the same for him. But we do not have a graceful, fair, respectful and competent President. We have an arrogant, petty, self-absorbed and divisive one.
4. …who can, on occasion, rise to give an excellent speech, which he did. Continue reading
“No, I respect the motives and intentions of my critics. Those who have opposed me genuinely disagree with my philosophy and approach to the job, and I would never denigrate them by attributing their opposition to race, bias, or anything but the same passion and belief in their goals for the nation that I have in mine.”
—What Attorney General Eric Holder could have and should have answered in his “exit interview” with Politico’s Mike Allen, in answer to the question, “Now, there clearly have been times …when you have felt disrespected on Capitol Hill. How much of that do you think relates to race?”
Holder didn’t answer this way, however.
Holder is black, and consistent with the message that has been trumpeted from the White House, Democrats, the Congressional Black Caucus, and Presidential advisor and Holder consort Al Sharpton for more than six years, any and all problems, criticism, misfortune or failure affecting African Americans can plausibly, reasonably, credibly, and advantageously be attributed to racial bias or outright racism.
Thus Holder’s actual answer to Allen was…
“Yeah, there have been times when I thought that’s at least a piece of it.”