“Ethics Dunce” Is Too Nice A Label For CNN’s Brian Stelter

And it insults both unethical journalists and dunces.

Stelter is special. Consider that this mega-hack and shameless partisan shill was the media reporter for the New York Times before taking on the job for CNN, and you know all you need to know about the trustworthiness of both Stelter and the Times.

We already know about the the trustworthiness of CNN.

A little background on Stelter’s latest equivalent of hiring a skywriter to put “I am a the King of the Hacks!” in blue and white over every major city:

One of the many, many things Democrats are terrified of as the 2020 election campaign approaches in earnest is that they have as a presumptive nominee for President a man who was once a gaffe-prone mediocrity but absolutely adequate to serve as a Vice-President for a healthy young POTUS, but who, in his late seventies, has shown unmistakable signs of cognitive decline. This, it should be said, was screamingly obvious the second Biden announced his candidacy: I was alarmed the first time I saw him speak. It was irresponsible and cynical for Democrats to encourage him to run; cruel for his family to let him run, and proof of desperation that primary voters supported him.

It is an open secret that Biden and his party have allowed the pandemic and lock-down to minimize his public exposure this long, but that lucky circumstance is running out quickly. Biden will have to be interviewed by some non-generous journalists eventually. He also will have to debate Donald Trump, but some progressives and Democrats, and their media allies,  are trying to find a way to let Joe avoid the debates, which have been a feature of every Presidential campaign since 1976. That’s 44 years and eleven campaigns. The public expects debates. If Biden refuses to debate while the President repeatedly calls him out, it will be a disaster for him. Even knowing this, Democrats seem to think that Joe engaging in debates will be an even greater disaster given the rate of Biden’s deterioration. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Agony, 7/9/2020: I See Awful People…

Hi!

I am feeling stressed because there are a lot of Ethics Alarms projects  and commitments that are languishing: I’m trying to work out the logistics of a Zoom symposium for commenters; I have to compile the many submissions for the corporate and organizational grovels to the George Floyd mobs so we can vote on the best and worst; I am finishing the Ethics Alarms glossary of fake news categories, and I still owe Michael  West his prize from an Ethics Alarms contest he won a couple of years ago—and that’s still not all of them. The best I can say is: please be patient, because I’m not.

1. Is this a good sign, or something else? I turned on Sirius-XM’s “Comedy Greats” channel while driving to pick up some prescription and heard a segment of a Nick DiPaulo routine that was unbelievably politically incorrect, or, as many would say today, racist, misogynist and anti-trans. The audience was in hysterics; several of the jokes were so extreme—but funny!—that I nearly lost control of the car. I had to check: no, he hasn’t been assassinated yet. Neverthless, I felt like I had fallen into a parallel universe. DiPaulo makes Dave Chappelle seem like Art Buchwald.

2. How about “Lady Asshole”? Several readers sent me links to this story, telling us that the Grammy-winning vocal group  formerly known as Lady Antebellum, having decided to ditch the second half of their name to grandstand and show that they support tearing down statues, are now suing Anita White, a blues singer who has called herself “Lady A” for decades, because she wouldn’t sell  the rights to that name to them for a price the group found reasonable.

I can’t imagine anyone being sympathetic with the group, especially a jury. Nobody made them change their name, and choosing “Lady A” without doing sufficient research was negligent. The group is using wealth and fame as a cudgel, with three rich white jerks trying to bully a local (and black) artist into bending to the their will. I hope someone has started a GoFundMe page to help Anita with her legal fees.

3. Find my 2011 post on Donald Trump running for President, substitute Kanye West’s name for his, and you’ll have the Ethics Alarms position on Mr. Kardashian’s candidacy. I know a lot of celebrities and too many members of the public don’t comprehend this, having the civic literacy of gerbils, but our democracy is not a game. Running for President as an exercise in ego-massage and branding is wildly irresponsible, and threatens to distort voting and results. West is not a serious candidate, but he’ll attract attention and the support of those who vote purely on the basis of group biases.  But the news media will give him more attention than he deserves, which is none, and he could easily take votes away from Democrats.

The good news is that since Kanye has approximately the attention span of a mayfly, it’s a good bet that this impulse will be fleeting, just as Trump’s was in 2011. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On Democratic Candidates Debate #2

1. Eric Swalwell literally pressed the ageist position, using the tired cliche of “pass the torch.” The old Democrats like Sanders, Biden and Warren LOOK so old it is hardly necessary to point it out; Swalwell’s harping on “the new generation” reeks of bigotry. What has Swalwell done, other than to be younger than dirt, to justify anyone trusting him with executive power?  Let’s see: he’s been an assistant DA and a House member. He’s never run anything in his life.

2. Every candidate on-stage raised their hands to indicate they are in favor of U.S. health care covering illegal immigrants. All but one want illegal immigration to be only a civil offense. The “Think of the Children!” lies about “children in cages” and evil ICE were treated as fact all night. Biden endorsed the fatuous position that only illegal immigrants who commit ‘major crimes” should be deported. KABOOM. 

So anyone can illegally come here, especially if they are dragging a kid or three, and force Americans to pay for their health care. Under what ethical system other than free-floating altruism is that a fair or responsible position? The Democratic Party wants open borders, and worse, wants to achieve it while denying that this is its position.

3.  Pete Buttigieg unethically and cravenly threw his own police officer to the wolves under the bus by essentially pronouncing South Bend Sergeant Ryan O’Neill guilty of shooting Eric Logan out of racist animus. Buttigieg said that he tried to eliminate racial bias—aka bigotry—by police but couldn’t, and blathered, “I am determined to bring about a day when a black person driving a vehicle and a white person driving a vehicle, when they see a police officer approaching, feels the exact same thing: a feeling not of fear, but of safety.” The problem is that the investigation of the shooting has not been completed, or even begun.

South Bend Sergeant Ryan O’Neill responded to the Central High School Apartments parking lot around 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 16, investigating a tip that someone with a flashlight was breaking into parked vehicles. O’Neill was alone when he pulled into the parking lot;  six vehicles had been broken into and had items stolen.

The officer said he saw Eric Logan with his legs sticking out of a vehicle, and that Logan stepped out of the car holding a knife and refused to drop it when O’Neill repeatedly  ordered him to do so. The officer claimed Logan lunged at him with the knife, and in response, fearing for his life, O’Neill fired two shots, fatally striking Logan in the abdomen.

Logan’s family says O’Neill’s version  is inconsistent with Logan’s personality—you know, like Michael Brown was a “gentle giant.” Logan did not have a violent criminal history, he had only  previously served time in prison for drug distribution and had a prior conviction for carrying a handgun without a license—a model citizen, in other words.

The white officer is being convicted of racism and murder on the basis of his occupation and color, and the Mayor of South Bend is helping. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On Democratic Candidates Debate #1

1. The President’s tweet—“BORING!”—made me laugh. It was also juvenile. At this point, either this stuff drives you crazy, or it doesn’t. It drives me crazy.

2. It is impossible, literally impossible, to have a coherent debate among ten people. It’s a crummy way to winnow down candidates, and reduces them to sound bites and gestures. Yechhh.

3. People who can’t spot a demagogue like Elizabeth Warren are ripe for exploitation and domination.

4. Amy Klobuchar vanished on-stage. The problem with most moderates is that they can’t figure out how to be aggressively moderate, so they just come across in events like this as gray and uninteresting. People like Klobuchar don’t become President and can’t become President—leaders have to at least seem bold and dynamic.  If this is your style—Amy-like reserve—then it is irresponsible and incompetent to run. You’re just wasting everyone’s time, and adding static to the process.

5. Beto pretty obviously wears a wig. I hadn’t noticed this before. I distrust politicians who try to fool us with hair-pieces—always have. It shows insecurity and a willingness to deceive. On one website, there was a question about whether Beto is be-wigged, and the answer was “What difference does it make? Lots of men wear wigs.” Lots of men cheat on the wives, too. Great answer. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/2/2018: Bigotry In, “Jeopardy” Out

Good Morning.

I always play that clip when I need cheering up. It works, too.

1. How did we get to this sick, unethical and un-American place? The New York Times had an interview with America Ferrera in its book section. “Ugly Betty” was a long time ago, and I have no idea why Ferrera, a completely ordinary talent at best, has a career or is deemed important enough to warrant a profile, except that she is a professional Hispanic-American. The very fact that there are such celebrities and activists whose source of income is group advocacy is troubling, and she flagged an unethical quote that “inspires her” that is more unsettling still. She says,

“Brittney Cooper’s “Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower.” It’s razor sharp and hilarious. There is so much about her analysis that I relate to and grapple with on a daily basis as a Latina feminist, particularly this point she makes: “When I talk about owning eloquent rage as your superpower, it comes with the clear caveat that Everyone is not worth your time or your rage. Black feminism taught me that. My job as a black feminist is to love black women and girls. Period.” I say hear, hear!”

“Hear, hear” WHAT? Cooper is essentially saying that only her tribes—women, race, nation of origin—are worth her time or care. This is an unethical point of view that feeds division, distrust and hate. Caring is a core ethical value that includes sympathy, empathy and beneficence. “I only care about people like me” is a selfish, ugly sentiment, and Ferrera is extolling it.

Until people like Ferrera and Cooper stop proclaiming sentiments that would be properly regarded as racist or sexist with a change of color or gender, the nation’s society will continue to be roiled by division.

2. From the “What were they thinking?” files: Now this sounds like a Saturday Night Live skit: Somebody had the brilliant idea of hiring Alex Trebek, the “Jeopardy!” host (after Art Fleming), to moderate the televised debate between Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and his Republican challenger, Scott Wagner. Trebek is a smart guy and quick on his feet, but the problem is one of appearances rather than competence. Reducing a political debate to the status of a game show is the kind of foolish dumbing down and public misinformation that leads to distortions like a Senate confirmation hearing being called a “job interview.” The theory was that more people would watch the debate with a slick MC involved. Heck, why not go all the way? Use the cast of “Modern Family” or zombies from “The Walking Dead” to ask questions. Better yet, how about Kanye West?

To make things worse, Trebek seemed to think the debate was now about him, which isn’t too much of a leap, since the organizers didn’t hire him to do a Martha Raddatz impression presumably. After joking that the only thing with a lower approval rating than the Pennsylvania legislature was the Catholic Church, he decided to inform the audience about his own views, saying,  “I was born and raised in the Catholic Church and I’m just as ticked off as everybody else is over what has happened with the church.When I was a young teenager I attended a Catholic boarding school run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Two-hundred and fifty students, other boys and I, spent three years sharing the same accommodations 24/7 with 44 priests and not once in those three years was there any sexual misbehavior. Now boys are pretty sharp, we talk, we would have known. So I believe that there are Catholic priests out there who are able to minister to their congregations without preying — that’s P-R-E-Y — on the young people.”

Who cares what you think, Alex? The debate is supposed to inform us about the candidates. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/30/18: Double Standards, Signature Significance, Facebook Tricks, And Pettiness From Beyond The Grave!

Gliddy glup gloopy!!

1. Tennis Ethics: Yes, I’d call this a double standard…When I saw the headline at AOL— “The US Open has been accused of sexism after a female tennis player was slapped with a code violation for changing her top in the middle of a match”—I assumed that this was another bare-breasts equality story. No, it was even stupider than that. At the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows this week,  Alizé Cornet was playing Swedish star Johanna Larsson when Cornet realized she  had put her her top on backwards during a break.

So she quickly fixed the wardrobe malfunction on the court, briefly exposing her black sports bra. The Horror. The umpire slapped Cornet with a code violation, unsportsmanlike conduct. But male players frequently remove their shirts on the sidelines, and usually aren’t wearing any bra at all. Indeed, male player Novak Djokovic  removed his shirt on the same day Cornet received her warning. Women’s Tennis Association rules state that women are not allowed to change clothes while on the court, but there is no similar rule for men.

2. Signature significance for an unethical politician. (But it’s Andrew Cuomo, so we knew that anyway.) During the New York  gubernatorial candidates’ debate  between Governor Andrew Cuomo and actress-turned-politician Cynthia Nixon, there was this exchange,

Cuomo: Excuse me, can you stop interrupting? 

Nixon: Can you stop lying?

Cuomo: Yeah, as soon as you do!

The audience thought this was funny.

New Yorkers.

3. Today’s  alarming “Nah, [enter Social media of mega-tech company here]  doesn’t abuse its power 0r manipulate information for a political agenda! Why would anyone suggest such a thing?” note:

NPR, to its credit, published an investigative reporting piece debunking a popular anti-gun fake stat, one that David Hogg et al. have wielded repeatedly: the U.S. Education Department’s claim that in the 2015-2016 school year, “nearly 240 schools … reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting.”  The NPR investigation findings:

“…NPR reached out to every one of those schools repeatedly over the course of three months and found that more than two-thirds of these reported incidents never happened. Child Trends, a nonpartisan nonprofit research organization, assisted NPR in analyzing data from the government’s Civil Rights Data Collection.

We were able to confirm just 11 reported incidents, either directly with schools or through media reports.

In 161 cases, schools or districts attested that no incident took place or couldn’t confirm one. In at least four cases, we found, something did happen, but it didn’t meet the government’s parameters for a shooting. About a quarter of schools didn’t respond to our inquiries.

“When we’re talking about such an important and rare event, [this] amount of data error could be very meaningful,” says Deborah Temkin, a researcher and program director at Child Trends.

Gee, ya think?

This statistic has been disputed before, but since the challenges came from conservative news media, the NRA or other Second Amendment supporters, the mainstream media kept using it, and I’m sure the Parkland kids will keep using it anyway, since facts seem to have little importance to them. National Public Radio, however, has been resolutely anti-gun for decades, and never saw a liberal cause it didn’t admire.

When a Facebook user shared the NPR article on Facebook, however, it was removed because, as Facebook informed him,  “it looks like spam and [it] doesn’t follow our Community Standards.” See?

Again: You cannot trust these companies or the people who run them. Continue reading

Hillary’s Smoking Gun Arrogance And Entitlement

Coronation-of-Queen-Hillary

Democrats asked for this when they decided to hand Hillary Clinton the Democratic nomination rather than make her earn it. The DNC began by rigging the debates to expose Clinton, a gaffe-artist in the rarefied league of Joe Biden but less amusing, as little as possible. It got itself a bizarre, non-competitive opponent to provide nominal opposition, Bernie Sanders—too old, not a Democrat, abrasive, deluded—who cooperated by refusing to attack Clinton where she was vulnerable. He didn’t want to win, you see. Bernie Sanders just wanted to spout Socialist propaganda in the hopes of rotting the brains of the same impressionable young who still think Barack Obama is a leader who brought hope and change.

Oddly, the Democratic leadership had forgotten how our current unqualified, weak and hapless POTUS got elected: he’s President only because Hillary Clinton can’t beat anyone fair and square. She’s dislikable and untrustworthy, and the “vote for my sex organs” bit only goes so far.  Now her campaign is in trouble, and Sanders is threatening to make some super-delegates ( the way Democrats rig their nominating process, allowing them to ridicule Republicans for looking for ways to block Donald Trump) change their plans. He and his supporters see blood in the water, and are finally sharpening their attacks on Hillary.

What??? Actually attacking one’s opponent? This cannot be borne! Thus the Hillary campaign has told Sanders that he must “change his tone” or the Pre-Anointed Nominee won’t deign to debate with him, so there. “Let’s see if he goes back to the kind of tone he said he was going to set early on. If he does that, then we’ll talk about debates,” Hillary’s spokesperson told CNN. Continue reading

Don’t Say The System Doesn’t Work—It Worked Perfectly With Marco Rubio

As it turned out, this told us everything we need to know...

As it turned out, this told us everything we need to know

Pundits, professors and even China are saying that the U.S. system of identifying qualified Presidential candidates doesn’t work or “is broken” because Donald Trump appears to have slipped through the net. But the occurrence of what Herman Kahn called “an unpredictable convergence of bad management and bad luck” only proves what Ethics Alarms has noted over and over again: no system, even the best, works all the time. I’ll post an article about all the people and circumstances that poked that hole in the Trump net once my nausea subsides, but in the meantime, I want to point out that the system worked perfectly with Marco Rubio. He wasn’t fit to be President, and the system exposed him brilliantly.

Good.

Rubio thought that he could follow the successful plan that put Barack Obama Barack Obama in the White House in 2008, despite similar deficiencies in experience. Like Obama, he was a young, fresh, minority candidate with a natural base, who projected intelligence and was an impressive speaker. The political and campaign processes, however, and his reaction to the stress of them, exposed his many flaws. The Obama plan wouldn’t be enough this time, in no small part because Marco Rubio is no Barack Obama: Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Fox News

How gloriously ironic it will be it if Fox News is the architect of the tipping point that finally causes Donald Trump’s passionate supporters—you know, the ones who don’t mind if he mocks veterans and the disabled, who don’t notice that he is a substance-free blowhard, who he boasts  wouldn’t care if he shot someone dead in cold blood—to realize they have been deluded fools…

Trump, you see, is pulling out of Thursday’s Fox News debate because he is afraid of Megyn Kelly, who properly challenged him on his habitual misogyny in the first one, prompting Trump to aim his ugly sexism at her. Trump has been sending cheap shots and insults Kelly’s way ever since, and has recently been complaining that she has a “conflict of interest” and is biased against him, and thus should not moderate Thursday’s debate. He should know that every American, including journalists, who have the sense God gave an echidna, are exactly as biased in the sense that they don’t want this blathering, posturing narcissist screwing up the political system, the nation and the culture any more than he already has. Who isn’t biased this way? A panel of Ann Coulter, Ted Nugent and David Duke would be great theater, but I don’t think it would serve the interests of the American people.

Trump claims he thrives on conflict, but for some reason Kelly terrifies him, and Fox, to its credit, has not merely refused to cater to his phobia, but mocked it. Fox News Channel President Roger Ailes told The Post today that “Megyn Kelly is an excellent journalist, and the entire network stands behind her. She will absolutely be on the debate stage on Thursday night.” Later, the network deliciously called out Trump for the hypocrite and coward that he is, saying,

“We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president. A nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”

Oh, snap! That’s a bit tough, but this is Trump. He’s supposed to be able to take it. What was his devastating response? Continue reading

One Ethics Observation On The Fox Business-WSJ Republican Candidates’ Debate.

debate GOP

That was  professional,  unbiased, fair debate moderation.

Maria Bartiromo, Gerard Baker and Neil Cavuto made it look easy.

This should be a template for all future debates in either party, and between the eventual nominees.

And bravo to Neil Cavuto for his mild, pointed and well-deserved shot at his predecessors at CNBC in closing For once, a debate was about the candidates and not the moderators.

May it always be thus.