KABOOM! Even I Did Not Think “Meet The Press” Could Sink This Low [UPDATED]

Above is a damning tweet from the Justice Department reacting to a stunning breach of journalism ethics, basic honesty and fairness by NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd.  It memorializes the descent of the once iconic Sunday news show, and indeed the nation’s entire mainstream media, into total corruption to a degree that was once, even a few years ago, unimaginable.

We had already discussed here the shocking disinformation advanced by Barack Obama, decisively debunked by law professor Jonathan Turley, as the former POTUS claimed that the dismissal of the charges against Michael Flynn over prosecutorial misconduct (that Obama appears to have had a hand in) posed a threat to the rule of law. Several of our more cynical commenters here opined that the news media would cover for Obama as they set out to smear Attorney General Barr and the Trump Administration in defiance of the facts. At the time, I had not learned about today’s debacle on “Meet the Press.”

Its host, ChuckTodd used a deceptively edited portion of Barr’s interview last week with CBS News investigative reporter Catherine Herridge to attack the Attorney General while misrepresenting his statement.

Todd commented on the following exchange between Barr and Herridge:

HERRIDGE: In closing, this was a big decision in the Flynn case, to say the least. When history looks back on this decision, how do you think it will be written? What will it say about your decision making?

BARR: Well, history is written by the winner. So it largely depends on who’s writing the history. But I think a fair history would say that it was a good decision because it upheld the rule of law. It helped, it upheld the standards of the Department of Justice, and it undid what was an injustice.

Except that Todd used the introduction to Barr’s answer to the question and left out his actual response. All the NBC audience learned about what he said was,  “Well, history is written by the winner. So it largely depends on who’s writing the history.”

The redaction alone is outrageously unethical, editing  the nation’s highest ranking law enforcement official and materially altering his response to distort his answer regarding a major Justice Department decision. But Todd  then attacked  Barr based on the false and deceptive version of what the AG said, saying, Continue reading

The Damning Fake Video

During last week’s  impeachment hearings, Democratic Judiciary Counsel Norman Eisen (above, on the left) presented a video clip showing President Trump  saying: “Then I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as President.” Asked to comment on the video, Harvard Law School Professor Noah Feldman—you know, he’s the one who falsely told the committee and America that Nixon “sent burglars” to steal documents from the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in 1972. That guy— replied, “As someone who cares about the Constitution,” the statement “struck a kind of horror in me.”

Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, referenced the same quotation as it was heard in the clip , concluding that President Trump “believes that in his own words, ‘I can do whatever I want.’” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was referencing the same video when she said Thursday that Trump threatened  the Constitution by acting as a “king.”

Later in the week, CNN legal analyst Elie Honig twice cited the same clip.  So did MSNBC’s Chris Mathews during  “Hardball,” and  MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on “Morning Joe.” The Washington Post spread the same report about the video.

In all six cases, a video deceptively edited to misrepresent what the President was referring to was used to inflame and deceive.  Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of A Quote Of The Month: CBS News

CBS should have run this photo with Bill's  cleaned up interview. Doesn't she look nice and healthy?

CBS should have run this photo with Bill’s cleaned up interview. Doesn’t she look nice and healthy?

It must be reassuring, I’d think, to know that the news media will do everything in its power to cover for you, slant news to bolster you, ignore gaffes, and whenever possible, use clever edits to clean-up annoying little hints that you might not be all you’re cracked up to be.

Here is what Bill Clinton said in an interview with Charley Rose this week, when Rose asked if there was any chance her problems over the weekend could be a sign of a serious health issue. Clinton, saying that he didn’t believe that, added,

“Well if it is, it’s a mystery to me and all of her doctors because frequently—well not frequently, rarely—but on more than one occasion, over the last many, many years, the same sort of thing happened to her when she got severely dehydrated.”

Interesting slip by Bill, don’t you think? Suggesting that Hillary frequently suffers fainting spells would add to the speculation about her health and the fact that she has not been her usual, honest, transparent self on that issue. Bill catches himself and says, in effect, “Did I say frequently? When I say frequently, I mean almost never.” Could mean nothing, could mean something, but he said it.

Can’t have Bill causing more trouble for his wife, though, so when CBS broadcasts the interview again that  night, it magically comes out like this: Continue reading

This Just In From PBS: Ethical Journalism Is STILL Dead, And Unethical Journalism Is Being Funded By Your Tax Dollars

To be fair, this photo should only show about 40% of Jill Stein's face...

(To be fair, this photo should only show about 40% of Jill Stein’s face…)

Last week, PBS featured an interview with Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. It began as a live interview on Facebook, but what was broadcast on the PBS’s NewsHour was significantly different from the actual interview. Here. courtesy of Newsbusters, are Stein’s missing comments, in bold:

JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS: You’ve made it clear you think both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would be terrible presidents for the country. So are you saying that literally that Hillary Clinton is every bit as bad for the country as Donald Trump?

GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JILL STEIN: I wouldn’t say there are no differences, but the differences are not enough to save your job, because Hillary Clinton, you know, and now her transition director Ken Salazar, y’know, they’re big proponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is basically NAFTA on steroids. And, uh, most observers believe that it will send our jobs overseas, as well as undermine American sovereignty by bringing in these international tribunals that get to pass judgment on our laws, on our public health protections, on our worker protections.

So we, you know, we can’t count on saving our jobs, saving our lives — 1 in 3 Americans now cannot afford health care under Obamacare — or saving the planet, because Hillary has been a big proponent of fracking, as is Ken Salazar, her transition director.

So we feel that in this election, we’re not just deciding what kind of a world we’re going to have, but whether we’re going to have a world or not going forward, and knowing that the majority of Americans is unhappy with these two party choices, this is the time for us to open up.

Americans have not only a right to vote, but a right to know who we can vote for.

So we’re pushing for opening up the debates, and then let’s see how the chips fall.

WOODRUFF: Dr. Jill Stein, with the Green Party. We thank you.

STEIN: Thank you, Judy.

You can watch the unedited version of Stein’s answer on a PBS livestreamed Facebook clip, beginning after the 6:40 mark. On  the PBS website and on PBS’ YouTube clip, however, all you’ll find is the edited answer. Even if Woodruff says, “You can hear the entire interview at…,” it doesn’t undo the damage. When an interviewer says this, do you assume that the “entire interview” means “the internal sentences and paragraphs we cut out to completely misrepresent what the actual answers were”? I don’t. Why don’t I, by now? Boy, am I an idiot.

Idiot or not, I am still the victim of an ethics foul, and disgustingly so. If the NewsHour has to cut some of the interview for time, fine: cut a question and its answer, don’t distort the answers by cutting out the middle of them, and the parts which just happen to be critical of—SURPRISE!—Hillary Clinton. If PBS does this, it is also ethically obligated to tell viewers that it has cut her answers, and where they can find what she really said. It didn’t do this.

It is absolutely unethical to distort the answer to a question in an interview by redacting it like that, and the fact that the whole interview is available intact on another medium—one could only find Stein’s unedited answers on Facebook if one knew where to look even as one was being deceived on TV—is no defense, and no more of one more than if the unmanipulated interview could be found buried under a rock with a map to it available online.

I apologize for the high dudgeon, but how dare PBS do this? How dare a publicly funded news source so blatantly play Pravda for the party in the White House? Continue reading

Signature Significance: Katie Couric “Regrets” The Deceptive Editing Of Her Anti-Gun Documentary, But Isn’t Going To Fix It.

I'd think she'd want to have that fixed...

I’d think she’d want to have that fixed…

Today Katie Couric made all of her defenders look just as bad as I said they were.

“I can understand the objection of people who did have an issue about it,” Couric said at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast in New York this morning, when asked to address the intentionally deceptive editing in “Under the Gun,‘ the anti-gun documentary she produced. “Having said that, I think we have to focus on the big issue of gun violence. It was my hope that, when I approached this topic, that this would be a conversation starter.”

She then said that the documentary will not be re-edited to fix the lie it contains.

This is signature significance: all by itself, it proves beyond a shadow if a doubt that Katie Couric is a dishonest journalist. No more evidence is needed, for an honest journalist would never make this choice. Not once, not ever.

“The objection of people who did have an issue about it” clearly states that Couric herself had no “issue with it,” meaning that, as I wrote, she only regrets the controversy, not the lie. Continue reading

UPDATE: Even More Reasons To Distrust Katie Couric, Which Means More Reasons To Distrust The Journalists Who Want To Excuse Her

film editing

The Washington Post criticized Katie Couric’s role in approving the deceptive “Under the Gun” documentary edit but also noted that it is “one instance of bad judgment in a long career.” This was an instance of the “Just One Mistake” rationalization…

20. The “Just one mistake!” Fantasy

Related to #16 but still distinct is the excuse that a particular unethical act should be ignored, forgiven or excused as an aberration because “it was just one mistake.” This argument intentionally glosses over the fact that one mistake can be so blatantly unethical and harmful that an ethical person literally never does such a thing, and thus the “one mistake” is a reliable indicator that the actor does not deserve to be trusted. Abuse of power is in this category. Defenders of the unethical also often use this excuse dishonestly and deceptively to designate as one mistake an ongoing episode of continuous unethical conduct. For example, Bill Clinton didn’t make “one mistake” regarding Monica Lewinsky, but hundreds of them, involving lies, deceits, cover-ups and betrayals.

The versatile excuse was applied by one member of the liberal-biased school of journalism to another, and says more about the Post writer ( Callum Borchers) than it does about Couric. He was actually right on the money when he wrote, only to say later it was “unfair,” this:

Couric thinks the media needs to be tougher on Trump. The reality is the current level of toughness hasn’t dented his campaign. What’s the next level of toughness? One could conclude, based on the misleading edit in Couric’s gun documentary, that it involves distorting interviews to produce manufactured flubs, in hopes that one of them will accomplish what no organic mistake has done so far.

Why yes, one could not only conclude that, but witness it in the media’s successful efforts to turn a dumb Trump quote about a judge’s reasons to be biased against him in a law suit into an imaginary smoking gun that proves he’s a racist. Journalists have been eager to allow the public to forget about Couric’s endorsement of misleading and dishonest editing techniques in the service of the anti-gun rights agenda, because her methods are their methods. The woman should be fired. Journalists must be regarded like accountants and auditors: one they have shown that they will lie, even once, they are worthless. Is that a fair standard? I believe it is. Why then are journalists eager to have Couric held to a lower standard? Easy: they don’t want to be held to the appropriate ethics standard either.

The apologists for Couric have been especially revealing; once again, any journalist who defends Couric can be safely placed along with her in the UNTRUSTWORTHY File. Here’s Mediaite’s Rachel Stockman embarrassing and indicting herself, for example, saying that people are being mean to Katie for impugning her integrity… Continue reading

Update: “A Message From Katie Couric”… A Really Damning One

But she's so cute! How can someone so cute be such a lying, untrustworthy weasel?

But she’s so cute! How can someone so cute be such a lying, untrustworthy weasel?

Katie Couric’s approval of intentionally deceptive editing in the anti-gun documentary “Under the Gun” (which Ethics Alarms discussed here) was and should be regarded as a definitive nail in her metaphorical coffin as a serious and trustworthy journalist. The revelation that she facilitated an unequivocal lie in the documentary, and her failure to acknowledge its unethical nature once it was exposed (instead, Couric endorsed the documentary-maker’s evasive non apology and said she was “very proud of the film” ), has no remedy other than to ignore Katie Couric forevermore. She’s a liberal agenda-driven hack who is not above distorting the truth to bolster policies she likes, in this case, banning guns. After this fiasco,there is no question about it.

CNN’s wishy-washy media ethics commentator Brian Stelter noted in a recent post about the incident that “an assortment of media critics and conservative writers” thought the documentary-maker’s fake apology that Couric rubber-stamped “was not sufficient.” Huh! Excuse me for being impertinent, but why is the practice of alleged journalists with national reputations using lies as a tool of advocacy a partisan issue?

Why are only “conservative writers” bothered when a documentary produced by Katie Couric intentionally uses a deceptive edit to make a group of gun owners look like fools who can’t come up with a response to a basic question about background checks? Why don’t liberal, moderate and honest writers protest as well? Are intentionally dishonest techniques all right with the latter group, as long as they have the purpose of destroying public support for the Bill of Rights?

The flagrant shredding of both documentary ethics and journalism ethics by long-time media darling Couric (who has always been as biased as a journalist can get) received some grudging attention from the non-conservative media, but nothing like the wave of indignation that would have followed a similar breach that made gun opponents look foolish in a documentary by, say, Britt Hume. Compare the treatment of Couric’s deception to the way the mainstream media attacked and discredited the hidden videos of Planned Parenthood ghouls talking about aborting fetuses like it had all the significance of clipping toenails.

Couric signaled, clearly and obviously, that she felt the uenthical edit was just fine, thank-you, when she allowed days to pass without any comment other than that she was “very proud of the film.”  That’s how she feels, folks. There’s no ambiguity or confusion. If she was sorry, or realized she screwed up, or didn’t believe that the scourge of gun violence didn’t have to be stopped “by any means necessary,” including deception, she would have issued a genuine mea culpa immediately. She didn’t.

This is called doing a “Dan Rather.”

Then Katie decided that it wasn’t working. Many of the same “conservative writers” who wouldn’t let NBC shrug off the fact that Brian Williams was a compulsive liar were writing that Couric’s career was toast, so she apparently huddled with her PR crisis gurus and released this on Monday, titled “A Message From Katie Couric”. Here’s the whole, wretched thing: Continue reading

Katie Couric And The Anti-Gun Documentary: Not Just Vanishing Journalism Ethics, But Vanishing Consensus That Journalism Has Any Obligation To Be Ethical

Just in time for the Presidential campaign, old friend Katie Couric has been kind enough to remind us just how little we can trust journalists, how arrogant they are regarding their unethical methods, and how the profession that is supposed to protect democracy is now a threat to it.

Having failed in her effort to be a network news anchor and a talk-show host, the former “Today Show” star  is now biding her time at Yahoo News waiting for a comeback opportunity. She served as executive producer and narrator of “Under the Gun,” an anti-gun documentary written, produced, and directed by anti-gun activist Stephanie Soechtig. In one powerful scene (above) , Couric is seen asking members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, gun rights supporters all, “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” The pro-gun members of the group with the motto “Defending Your Right to Defend Yourself”can’t answer the question! The documentary shows blank stares and a damning, awkward, 9 second period of total silence.

Fortunately, one of the gun owners in the sequence, VCDL President Philip Van Cleave, recorded the actual event before it was edited to make gun owners look like mutes. There was no pause. The members offered several answers. They were omitted from the documentary, with a pause inserted instead to bolster an anti-gun agenda.

Couric was aware of the deceptive editing, apparently questioned it, but allowed it to remain in the documentary. This is signature significance: no ethical journalist—if there even is such a thing any more—does this, ever, even once. While various media reporters on the left have expressed their disapproval, they have also muted their criticism to try to minimize the damage to their own profession. Here is NPR’s David Folkenflik, for example:

This manipulation — and that’s what it was — would not pass muster at NPR under its principles for fairness in handling interviews. It should be noted that documentaries operate with a different ethos than straight news. “Under the Gun” has a take, strongly suggesting there is a quiet consensus in favor of background checks among gun owners, aside from gun rights advocacy groups. This is not deception on a grand scale, but this handling of the interviews with the Virginia gun owners group is clearly unfair and unwarranted. People deserve to recognize themselves in how they appear in interviews.

Spin. It’s not “manipulation.” Its lying. It is presenting false information, not “manipulated” information. The film affirmatively represented that the response to a question was dumbfounded silence. That is as much a lie as recording fake answers like “Duh, well dang me, I never thought of that! I guess them background checks ain’t such a bad idea after all!” and dubbing them in. Lying isn’t just “unfair;” lying is dishonest and sinister. Continue reading

The Curse of Michael Steele: The Republican National Committee’s Shameful, Outrageous Supreme Court Lie

Michael Steele, when he was its Chair, brought Republican National Committee operations to a new ethical low that might have been favored by Michael Corleone. He never did anything this despicable, however, perhaps because he was replaced just as he was getting warmed up. Or maybe, just maybe, it was because even Steele knew that some political tactics were just too despicable to engage in.

In a web ad circulated this week designed to attack the health care reform law, the Republican National Committee excerpts the opening seconds of the March 27 presentation to the Supreme Court by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, defending the law’s constitutionality. In the ad, he is heard struggling for words and twice stopping to drink water. “Obamacare,” the ad concludes, in words shown against a photograph of the high court. “It’s a tough sell.”

The transcript and recordings, however, give a different impression. Verrilli took a sip of water just once, paused for a much briefer period and completed his thought — rather than stuttering and trailing off as heard in the ad. In short, the tape was edited by the RNC to misrepresent what occurred inside the halls of the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is a lie, and a particularly heinous one, even by political ad standards, which are a cut below Shamwow and the Fishin’ Magician. Even by Michael Steele standards—he who twice approved fundraising appeals disguised to look like U.S. Census documents. Continue reading