Good Morning, Ethics Lovers!
1 Fake news or just bad journalism? These year-end lists are sometimes very valuable. The Washington Examiner has published what it calls “our catalogue of the shoddiest political reporting beginning Jan. 20, 2017,” It’s no surprise that most of the items appear to spring from anti-Trump bias, but not all. I’m certain the list is not complete; I’m very certain that Fox News is treated far too leniently. It’s still a useful list.
This example from the list is the kind of misleading spin that Ethics Alarms will continue to label fake news: anti-Trump distortions designed to further a Democratic constituency’s false narrative. This one was generated by a reporter’s confirmation bias that the White House was hostile to LGBT citizens, then not checked, and given a pass by an editor who was also influenced by confirmation bias:
March 29: The Golden Easter Egg
The Claim: In a first for the White House, the eggs used for the annual Easter Egg Roll will be gold instead of the usual rainbow and pastel colors.
The Source: A New York Times reporter.
The Facts: This was not the first time that the White House has used golden eggs for the annual hunt. The Obamas had golden eggs as did previous administrations.
Hell, I knew about the golden eggs. It would have been easy to check, but the journalists leaped to the conclusion that would support anti-Trump fearmongering.
2. Add it to the list! Ann Althouse caught this one:
I’m reading “Trump’s claim that he prevented air-traffic deaths is his most questionable yet” by Philip Bump at the Washington Post (and similar attacks on Trump elsewhere). But what Trump tweeted was:
“Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news – it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!”
Those are 2 separate sentences. They do create the impression that they have something to do with each other, but he’s only claiming that he’s been “very strict on Commercial Aviation.” (Don’t get me started on the capitalization.) He never says because of my strictness there have been zero deaths. If you see a claim, you made an inference.
Bingo. And inferences should not be published in major newspapers as facts. Trump did not claim that he prevented air-traffic deaths, and even if he had, it certainly would not be “his most questionable yet.”
3. He just can’t help himself. I wonder how many extra approval points President Trump would have if he just had a smart, savvy, responsible tweet editor with veto power. Stupid tweets like yesterday’s retort to “Rocket Man”…
“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
…are nothing but destructive. a) This kind of flippant talk involving nuclear war is per se irresponsible. b) It reinforces fears that the President is reckless and untrustworthy. c) It is childish, and reduces international diplomacy to playground taunts. d) It shows a flat learning curve and a frightening lack of discipline and judgement. e) It’s crude, and unpresidential.
But you knew that without me having to explain it, right? So why didn’t he?