Unethical Tweet Of The Week, “Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!” Files: ABC News

When ABC posted this today, the name and identity of the driver of the car was known. He is African American. The New York Times and others had the complete story.

ABC deliberately used “luxury car” to suggest a wealthy white racist. If you really think that choice of words, without the name of the driver who bears that good, old Anglo-Saxon name of Dawit Kelete, wasn’t deliberately chosen to mislead readers, you are  among the perfect victims of mainstream media manipulation.

Fox News pundit and wit Greg Guttfield tweeted, fairly and appropriately,

Your social media followers, friends and relatives who still say that mainstream media bias is a conservative conspiracy theory are insulting you and undermining your rights as a citizen. You should not, must not, passively accept this. If you do, you are  enabling the deceptions and the effort to manipulate public opinion for partisan gain.

Of course, there is always the explanation that your social media follower, friend or relative is a gullible dolt with the analytical ability of a hunk of cheddar.

In which case, I urge  you to ponder your questionable taste in associates.

Amazing! Someone Actually Fact-Checked Barack Obama! Not So Amazingly, He Was Again Using His Position To Mislead And Divide

Also not so amazingly, the fact-checker was Prof. Jonathan Turley, a rare academic and legal professional who has the integrity to go where the facts take him, not his colleagues’ partisan agendas. Unfortunately, his refusal to join the “resistance” has resulted in his being vilified, as well as exiled to Fox News if he wants to be heard.

Barack Obama was heard on a private call to say that the “rule of law is at risk” after the Justice Department moved to dismiss the case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn. As with so many other narratives the Left has pushed in the past three years, this one is exactly the opposite of reality. Recently declassified documents show that the Obama FBI and Justice Department engaged in illegal  investigative and prosecutorial misconduct, targeting Flynn and framing him as part of their efforts to bring down President Trump. They also suggest that President Obama was aware of the operation. Such abuses for political gain pose the real threat to the rule of law.

Obama is reported to have said that “There is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free.”

Here’s Turley, who, nice guy that he is, can still barely disguise his contempt: Continue reading

Ethics Verdict: Everyone Stinks. A Case Study

This is why we can’t have nice things…

…or even be certain what nice things are.

Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was Jake Tapper’s guest  on CNN’s “State of the Union,” since he wasn’t going to talk about Tara Reade. Jake asked Pelosi, “Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign told me earlier this month that he supported President Trump’s partial travel restrictions on January 31st blocking foreign nationals from China from coming to the United States. Do you agree that it was the right move by President Trump at the time?”

She answered, “Tens of thousands of people were still allowed in from China. It wasn’t as it is described as this great moment, there were Americans coming back or green card holders coming back. If you’re going to shut the door because you have an evaluation of an epidemic, then shut the door.”

It’s a despicable, despicable response.

First, let’s go back to the question. Tapper, had he been the fair and objective journalist I once said  he was (I apologize; I was wrong. He’s a hack.) should have noted that Biden’s approval now is a flip-flop. The day after President Trump issued his Chinese travel ban, Biden called him xenophobic. This was important context for Tapper’s question, but Jake doesn’t think his audience cares about context, or something.

Well, let’s go back even further, shall we?

On March 26, President Trump said on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, “I had Biden calling me xenophobic. He called me a racist, because of the fact that he felt it was a racist thing to stop people from China coming in.”

PolitiFact, the very partisan and untrustworthy factcheck site that I see has now been taken over by the Poynter Institute but maintains its previous biases, decided to spin for Biden in fact-checking Trump’s statement. Biden called Trump ‘xenophobic” the day after the travel ban was announced. What a coincidence! PolitiFact sees no reason to conclude Trump’s major announcement the previous day had anything to do with Biden’s tweet. Completely unrelated. After all, Biden’s camp pointed out that he’s always called the President xenophobic, which is true.

Now, is that self-evident spin or not? Obviously Biden was having a lucid moment and hedged his bets. He called Trump xenophobic after the China announcement because the Democrats have called every travel ban xenophobic, including bans on people breaking the law to enter our country. The timing of Biden’s tweet wasn’t accidental. But it allowed him to say, wink-wink,nudge-nudge, ‘Oh no! I never called the travel ban xenophobic! I called the President xenophobic, because he is.’

And a supposedly “non-partisan” factcheck operation  accepts that, and tells its gullible readers that they should accept it as well. Continue reading

Going Right Into The Signature Significance Files: The President’s Claims His Blather About Light And Disinfectant to Cure The Virus Was “Sarcasm”

Ugh.

President Donald Trump told reporters and the country yesterday that he was only testing the media when he suggested that using disinfectant and light to fight off the coronavirus was worth exploring. “I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,” he said.

Does anyone believe that? Anyone? It’s not quite a Jumbo—“What? I didn’t say that!”—but it’s almost as outrageous. Now, the “Trump is a liar!” tropes are re-energized (that’s no big lie, but it’s exaggerated and hyped), and the President has nobody to blame but himself. My sister, who actually participates in a Hate Trump neighborhood group, sent me a musical parody, “The  Liar Sleeps Tonight” (it’s not bad) yesterday.

I know what he was thinking: the news media did distort and misrepresent what he said, so “It was a test, and you flunked!” might have seemed like a good gambit. The flaw in that strategy is that the president’s  demeanor when he’s riffing is unmistakable by now.  The sarcasm excuse was desperate, and more importantly, needless.  Trump easily could have said that he was thinking out loud about some possibilities, and that most listeners understood that. What he said instead was stupid (and insulting), and, for what feels like the millionth time, handed a club to his critics.

For the record, the rationalization the President chose in this case is #64, Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is.”

Continue reading

“Pay What You Can” Ethics

A question in an advice column asked if it was unethical to pay nothing for a product or service that was priced at “pay what you can.” It reminded me of an ongoing disagreement I had with the board of my theater company regarding holding a “pay-what you can” performance in each production’s run. Many of the other Greater Washington theaters were employing the tactic, and one of the main arguments  for our theater doing the same was “Everybody does it.” You know what I think of THAT logic.

There was an altruistic, community spirited argument, of course: provide an opportunity for people who couldn’t afford typical theater prices. That sounds good, but in practice the theory was more ideology than reality. When we tried the gimmick, almost all of the attendees were people who regarded it as a chance to pay less than they usually did, as in “almost nothing.” People who don’t go to theater mostly aren’t interested in theater. Our prices were under 30 bucks a ticket, far less than many of our competitors, and children were admitted free, another concession to the needs of theater-loving families with limited budgets. Again, almost nobody took advantage of that benefit.

My objections to “pay-what-you-can”: Continue reading

And Now Chris Cuomo Scores A Jumbo!

When we left CNN’s quarantined (when he feels like it) anchor, he was telling SiriusXm listeners how sick he was of his job, among other complaints.

Now he’s doing his Jimmy Durante impression (“Elephant? What elephant?”) and denying , Bart Simpson-style…

… that he did what he did when there is absolutely no question that he did it. The Clinton version of Bart and Jimmy’s tactics is “Deny, deny, deny.”

From the Hollywood Reporter:

“It’s not true,” Cuomo said today. “I never said it. I never meant it…I have never been in a better position, professionally, than I am in right now. They’ve been so good. They’ve been so supportive of me in ways I could never have imagined. … I’ve never had a group of people professionally care about me the way they have shown. I’ll never be able to repay them, but I’ll try hard to do so. I’ve never been more grateful. I’ve never been on a better team….I love where I am, I love the position that I’ve been given, and I love who I’m doing it with. Those are all matters of fact for me. No place has ever been better to me. No place has ever given me the opportunities that [CNN president] Jeff Zucker has.”

Well, which is it, Chris, not true, something you didn’t say, or something you didn’t mean?

Cuomo is ridiculous. How CNN expects any sentient being to trust a reporter, pundit or whatever he is who would deny he said what he said on the air the day before, and quite flamboyantly too, is unfathomable.

Ethics Dunce, But He Doesn’t Care: Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC)

I know this is unfair, but in almost every non-posed photo I found of Burr, he looks like he’s hiding something.

The Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Burr,  sold off  between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his stock holdings on February 13 in 33 separate transactions. At the time, Burr had received the government’s most highly classified Wuhan virus briefings. About a week after Burr unloaded stocks that figured to be affected, the stock market began its dive and has lost about 30% of its value since

Today  NPR revealed  a secret recording from February 27 in which the Senator gave a GOP group at an exclusive social club a gloomy preview of the economic impact of the approaching pandemic. According to the NPR report, Burr told attendees of a business executives group luncheon held at the Capitol Hill Club:

“There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history … It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”

Continue reading

An Unethical Quotes Of The Week Cornucopia!

So many people are saying so many irresponsible, dishonest and stupid things in the throes of the Wuhan Virus freakout that I can’t possibly run all of them, or even a representative percentage, but I can’t let these pass.

1. President Trump, yesterday…

“This is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

Sometimes I think the President is actively trying to make people’s heads explode. As the New Yor Times quickly documented (on the front page), this is historical revisionism, gaslighting, or insanity.

  • On Jan. 22, asked by a CNBC reporter whether there were “worries about a pandemic,” President Trump replied: “No, not at all. We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”
  • On Feb. 26, at a White House news conference, he said,  “We’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had very good luck.”
  • On Feb. 27: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”
  • On March 7, when asked if he was concerned that the virus was spreading closer to Washington: “No, I’m not concerned at all. No, I’m not. No, we’ve done a great job.”

As I have written here before, I refuse to make a big deal out of Trump being Trump, and those who do are simply being self indulgent. Some irresponsible statements are worse than others, and yesterday’s was especially outrageous. It’s in the category of lies that are almost not lies because no one could possibly believe them, like if the President said he was a Stegosaurus. However, if the public knows that whatever he says might be a temporary fantasy, his leadership ability is seriously handicapped. The problem with this kind of statement isn’t that it’s so obviously untrue, but that saying it is so spectacularly self-destructive and stupid.

2. MSNBC Analyst Glenn Kirschner, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, in a tweet: Continue reading

Senator Schumer’s Virtuoso Rationalization Orgy, Annotated

First prize in the rationalization derby!

Active Ethics Alarms reader/commenter Steve Witherspoon tracked down the transcript on Senator Schumer’s remarks in response to Mitch McConnell’s accurate attack on the senate Minority Leader’s unconscionable comments at the Supreme Court, thuggishly threatening Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh over decisions they haven’t made yet.

I’ll interlineate the text—I’m sorry it’s all in caps, but that’s how C-SPAN’s transcripts are—pointing the astounding number of rationalizations Schumer nicked while trying to justify the unjustifiable.

THANK YOU, MADAM PRESIDENT. NOW, MADAM PRESIDENT, I JUST LISTENED TO THE REPUBLICAN LEADER, AND THERE WAS A GLARING OMISSION IN HIS SPEECH. HE DID NOT MENTION WHAT THE RALLY YESTERDAY, MY SPEECH, OR THE CASE BEFORE THE COURT WAS ABOUT.

The issue at hand is the Minority Leader of the Senate threatening, by name, two Supreme Court justices. The context of such threats is absolutely irrelevant, because such threats, as McConnell correctly made clear, are indefensible. Schumer is signalling that his defense will be based on Rationalization 2 A. Sicilian Ethics, or They had it coming. “This argues that wrongdoing toward a party isn’t really wrong when the aggrieved party has aggrieved the avenger. The victim of the unethical conduct no longer deserves ethical treatment because of the victim’s own misconduct. But the misconduct of a victim never justifies unethical conduct directed against that victim.”

A WOMAN’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO CHOOSE. TO THE WOMEN OF AMERICA, WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT HERE, WHAT I AM FIGHTING FOR HERE IS YOUR RIGHT TO CHOOSE.

At least three rationalizations are implied here:

  • 25. The Coercion Myth: “I have no choice!” “The unethical option involved less sacrifice, less controversy, less criticism, less effort…in short, less courage, than doing the right thing. … But you still had a choice, and you are still accountable for the choice you made.”
  • 25A. Frederick’s Compulsion or “It’s My Duty!” “We all have competing duties; that’s what makes ethics difficult…Ethics requires that when performing a duty will unquestionably result in injustice and harm to others, some consideration and balancing must be applied, followed by making one or more difficult choices.  Duty itself is not enough to dictate those choices, and ethics may, and often does, dictate that a duty must be superseded by other priorities.”
  • 28. The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times.” An argument for those who embrace “the ends justify the means”—but only temporarily, mind you!—the Revolutionary’s excuse has as long and frightening a pedigree as any of the rationalizations here….This rationalization suggests that standards of right and wrong can and should be suspended under “special” circumstances, always defined, naturally, by those who defy laws, rules, and societal values. ..Unethical conduct has become ordinary, the new normal. This is, it is fair to say, the current state of American politics.

Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Senator Chuck Schumer [CORRECTED]

“I want to tell you [Justice] Kavanaugh, I want to tell you [Justice] Gorsuch: You have unleashed a whirlwind, and you will pay the price.You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions!”

—–Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer, sounding like Sonny Corleone, in front of the Supreme Court.

How many ways was this demagoguery wrong, as in spectacularly unethical? Let’s see:

  • Schumer  threatened Supreme Court justices, by name. What does “pay the price” mean, if not, “Just you wait, you’re gonna regret this!”

There is no possible justification for such ominous rhetoric

  • It is an attempt at intimidation as well as  encouragement to others to follow through on Schumer’s threat. This prompted Chief Justice Roberts into a making an unprecedented protest, as he wrote, “Statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. All members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.”

Perfect.

Even addled Larry Tribe, the former Harvard Law School icon turned mad anti-Trump tweeter and conspiracy-monger, called Schumer’s outburst intolerable, tweeting,

These remarks by @SenSchumer were inexcusable. Chief Justice Roberts was right to call him on his comments. I hope the Senator, whom I’ve long admired and consider a friend, apologizes and takes back his implicit threat. It’s beneath him and his office.

Prof. Jonathan Turley joined the chorus and wrote, Continue reading