Ethics Quiz Addendum: NBC’s Deceitful Headline

“Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!”

NBC’s current headline on the story discussed in today’s Ethics Quiz:

Texas teacher fired after telling Black students his race is ‘superior’

As so many are beating on Donald Trump right now (and deservedly so), it is only fair to point out that his statement that the news media were “the enemy of the people” was and is spot on, and quite possibly the most important and correct observation he has ever made in public. Naturally, it is also one of the statement he is most criticized for, especially by…the enemies of the people.

That headline by NBC is a prime example. It is pure deceit; indeed, I might use it to illustrate deceit in an upcoming ethics seminar. The first line of the NBC story immediately reveals the lie (deceit is lying): “A middle school teacher in Texas has been fired after a video posted on social media showed him telling students his race is “superior.” Other ways to distort the story for the edification of people who only read headlines, or to “poison the well” for those who do read on:

“Texas teacher fired after telling white students their race is ‘superior'”

“Texas teacher fired after telling black student her race is inferior.”

“Texas teacher fired after telling black students he regards their parents race makes them inferior.”

This is a distorted, manipulated, evil headline designed to misrepresent a complex incident into a knee-jerk confirmation of systemic racism and persistent white supremacy.

Is anyone going to call it out for what it is—unethical, biased, unprofessional, and typical of today’s journalism” other than Ethics Alarms?

We shall see.

(Don’t hold your breath.)

Funniest Ethics Quote Ever: The Marshall Project

The Marshall Project, in its analysis of President Biden’s much ballyhooed mass pardon for people convicted of federal marijuana possession, heralded in the news media as the largest act of clemency in a generation.

Weeell, that wasn’t exactly true, was it? As the Marshall Project analysis explains, while the act may have symbolic force in prompting some states to extend clemency to pot violators, and while at the federal level there aboutt 6,500 people with prior marijuana possession convictions on their records may benefit from the pardon by restoring civic rights like voting, or serving on juries,  but only if the marijuana charge was the only felony on their record.

In short, the grand gesture, a sop to the Democratic Party’s drug-loving base, was pure deceit, misleading the public to believe it was something it was not to a ridiculous degree. The way the mainstream media played it, the President was letting harmless, non-violent offenders out of prison and addressing “over-incarceration.” In realty, the “mass pardon” released nobody. Continue reading

Saturday Night Live Lies And The Biased Mainstream Media Cheers: Propaganda Mission Accomplished

That cold open from last week’s Saturday Night Live was a perfect illustration of the maxim, best articulated by the late, great, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, that “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” Satire must be granted considerable license, but basing nasty mockery on a deliberate misrepresentation is unethical even if it is funny. The SNL skit above isn’t funny, unless one finds deliberate misrepresentation and outrageous laziness funny. I don’t.

The opening narration essentially takes the skit out of the realm of humor into the murky world of propaganda and public disinformation. Alito’s draft only states that “no woman has a right to an abortion” in the context of Roe v. Wade’s legally flawed and factually sloppy argument that the U.S. Constitution guarantees such a right through the unenumerated right of privacy. The SNL phrasing is deceitful, technically accurate but misleading. The draft does not state that no woman should have an abortion, and specifically states that the opinion takes no position on whether abortion should be legal or not.

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A Deceitful, Indeed Despicable Headline From Drew Curtis'”Fark”

I like Drew Curtis’ Fark a lot; it may be my favorite news aggregator. Drew and his staff devise often clever captions to dozens of news items off the beaten path every day. It’s a left-leaning site: it frequently engages in gratuitous Republican-bashing, and has all of the predictable biases you would expect. Nevertheless, it’s different, amusing and usually benign.

Not this time.

Here was the NBC News headline FARK linked to: “A college professor called the police on two students who were late for class…”

Here is the story.

Now here is the Fark headline: “College professor calls police on two black students for being a) violent, b) drunk, c) late.”

In dozens of subtle and not-so-subtle ways, all across the news media, the web and Big Tech, writers, reporters, pundits and others work to maximize racial suspicion, hate and conflict, typically to ensure Democratic constituency animus towards whites and conservatives. This is a particularly revolting example. At best, the FARK headline is unethical, ruthless clickbait misrepresenting a non-racial incident as racist mistreatment of blacks by white authorities, in order to trick readers into clicking through and inflate traffic.

At worst, it is a deliberate deception to further the Left’s systemic racism narrative.

If you read the story, the students were black and the professor was also black. The NBC headline was fair and accurate: what was newsworthy was that a professor treated tardiness as a criminal matter. Race was irrelevant to the incident. FARK’s headline, in contrast invited the reader to think that a white professor was abusing black students because of their race.

Somebody should be fired for this, and FARK owes its readers, and the nation it is trying to divide down racial fault-lines—just like its favorite party and its current President— an apology.

As for me, I won’t be using FARK again for the foreseeable future.

Good “Misinformation” vs. Bad “Misinformation”

AOC tweet deaths

I was hit between the eyes by another example of this hypocrisy this morning, when I read the “Letters to the Editor” section of the Times. A reader named Roger Hirschberg—yes, own it Roger, you shameless propagandist—authored a letter that the Times headlined “Facebook Misinformation.” In the first paragraph, Roger decries Facebook policies that “enable and protect misinformation.” In the very next sentence, he condemns Facebook management for allowing such misinformation “in pursuit of profits,” and cites Facebook’s entries related to “the January 6 insurrection.”

Isn’t that amusing? Roger puffs himself up like a bullfrog in indignation over a communications company pandering to the mob while cashing in, and then gives the Times a chance to do the same, allowing his false characterization of the Capitol riot as an “insurrection,” because that’s the current Big Lie being weaponized by the Left.

Now, I wouldn’t want the Times to censor Roger’s deliberate misinformation—the FBI, if one considers it trustworthy, has definitively debunked that description, as did Merrick Garland in last weeks hearings—because we benefit from revelations with signature significance: if you call the riot an “insurrection,” you’re a lie-spreading jerk or a lazy fool who believes whatever your favorite party tells you. I would expect an ethical publication that respects its readers to acknowledge Roger’s hypocrisy if it chooses to publish his letter, however. If it doesn’t, then the Times is deliberately advancing misinformation….but then it’s the good kind. You know: the kind that can be used to smear Donald Trump and Republicans. Thanks, Roger!

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Our Lying, Propaganda-Spreading, Untrustworthy News Media: The Miami Herald Headline

herald headline

I have to regularly update my resolve to not respond to one of my ethics-rotted progressive friends when they say to my face, “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! That’s just a conservative conspiracy theory,” “You’re not only an idiot, you’re an enemy of democracy.” It gets harder and harder by the day. This has been my ongoing struggle at least since the 2008 Presidential campaign, when the mainstream media kept mocking Sarah Palin’s alleged lack of qualifications to be Vice-President while never mentioning that Joe Biden was a babbling fool or that Barack Obama was objectively less qualified than Palin was.

The Miami Herald headline above isn’t unusual; there are these kinds of lies and public manipulation to assist partisan agendas that appear in the news media every day, all day long, and from more influential sources (boy, I nearly wrote “respected sources,” and no mainstream media source deserves respect) than the Herald. Nonetheless, the headline is unusually brazen.

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: American Federation Of Teachers President Randi Weingarten [UPDATED]


“Critical Race Theory is not taught in elementary schools or middle schools or high schools.”

—-AFT President Randi Weingarten, engaging in the now-routine leftist activist tactic of Rationalization #64, “It isn’t what it is.

This claim is deceit, like “I did not have sex with that woman” (“because I don’t consider blow-jobs ‘sex.'”) A school does not have to teach the technical “Critical Race Theory” as it was originally formulated by Derek Bell and other politically-motivated academics to be teaching the substance and assumptions of the movement, which is that the United States is a racist nation and that white supremacy has been and continues to be a primary force causing systemic inequality and oppression of black Americans.

Weingarten and other progressive indoctrination proponents know this very well, and the deception is deliberate. Slavery, Jim Crow and the struggles of the civil rights movement are history, and legitimate topics for study in the schools. Using those historical events to advance a narrative of racial guilt and continuing oppression of African-Americans is not history, but sinister and divisive child abuse. The cavil that such a curriculum isn’t literally CRT is misdirection, and the fact that one of the major teachers unions would engage in such deceit is signature significance. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/29/21: Beautiful Morning, Ugly Ethics

This date in 1972 witnessed one of the more egregious examples of liberal judges using political ideology and capriciously-applied ethics to avoid following the law. In Furman v. Georgia,the remnants of the Warren Court, now under conservative Chief Justice Warren Burger, who dissented, prevailed in a narrow 5-4 decision that ruled the death penalty to be “cruel and unusual” under the Eighth Amendment. This was about as far away from “originalism” as the Court could get, since the Founders obviously did not regard executions as unusual at all, and cruelty has always been a subjective concept. But the Court left the metaphorical door open for new Congressional legislation that could make death sentences constitutional again if it included standardized guidelines for juries that would ameliorate “arbitrary” applications of capital punishment. Four years later SCOTUS reinstated the death penalty, which was overwhelmingly supported by the public, and in 1977, Gary Gilmore, a career criminal who cruelly and unusually murdered an elderly couple who refused to give him their car, faced a firing squad in Utah, a fate he definitely deserved.

1. I wish I had the time and fortitude to detail just how bad this New York Times Magazine article is, but I don’t, and maybe nobody with a life does. So I’ll just leave it to you to read it: “What if American Democracy Fails the Climate Crisis?” in the New York Times “Climate Issue.” Despicably, the Times handed the article over to openly and egregiously Left-biased journalist Ezra Klein, the founder of Vox and a dedicated practitioner of journalism as progressive propaganda. This means that only one point of view pervades the exercise, differing only in degrees and minor details. Even the title is loaded with assumptions that poison fair discourse, and I hope I will not be spoiling the suspense by pointing out that the “solution” Klein and his of-one-mind panelists (including one of the authors of the risible so-called “Green New Deal”) is a Leftist take-over of the U.S. and preferably capitulation to world government. I was going to list the most outrageous and dishonest quotes, but that would have taken up the whole post. The “I mentally checked out here” moment was in the introduction, in which Klein writes, being “hopeful,” “A rising generation understands the urgency of the moment, even if their elders do not.” That rising generation understands nothing about climate science, much like their “elders,” but have been indoctrinated into thinking they do. That’s “hopeful” for a nascent totalitarian like Klein. The rest of the issue is substantially deceit and propaganda, like the article about how climate change is already ravaging islands like the Bahamas, focusing on Hurricane Dorian as if there is any way to trace its origins to the topic of the issue.

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I can’t let this pass. For four years, every hyperbolic President Trump boast about having “the best economy” was duly mocked and added to the contrived “Trump Lies” lists. What would the news media have done with Biden’s outrageous whopper? No jobs have been “created” by the process of allowing people to go back to work again after Biden’s party, with his endorsement, championed locking down the economy and killing jobs, businesses, recreation and whole industries.

In case you have forgotten, IIPTDXTTNMIAFB is Ethics Alarmseese for “Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden.”

Let me know if any mainstream media source has the integrity to call BS.

I won’t be holding my breath.

The Great Stupid Is Airborne!

Not surprising, at least to me, the carrier (in multiple senses of the word) is United, long recognized by travelers as an incorrigible ethics dunce. The latest from United, however, announced in a head-exploding tweet, is special. The airline announced,

“Our flight deck should reflect the diverse group of people on board our planes every day. That’s why we plan for 50% of the 5,000 pilots we train in the next decade to be women or people of color.”

Wait: who says the flight deck crew should reflect the demographics of the passengers? Why would anyone but a fool say that? Is there really any air traveler who cares about any characteristic of the pilot and co-pilot other than that they be the best qualified people available to fly the plane safely and deal with whatever crisis that might occur?

I know I don’t care what color, gender or ethnic group my planes’ pilots belong to. Why would I? Do you? Does any sane traveler think as they hurtle groundward, screaming, “Well, if we crash, at least it will be because the airline met its diversity quota!”

Conservative website PJ Media headlined the revolting development (Pop cultural literacy quiz! This was once a catch phrase: “What a revolting development this is!” What was the TV show, and for extra credit, who was the actor who said the line in every episode?) this way:

United Airlines Announces They Will No Longer Hire the Best Pilots

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