Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/10/2020: Freaking Out!

Good morning!

Oh! I nearly forgot!

ARGHH!

1. This day in war ethics: The Allies completed the fire-bombing of Tokyo in 1945. Over 100,000, mostly civilians, were killed. The attack is less well remembered than the two nuclear bombs and the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, but more people died on March 9 -10 in Tokyo than in any other single air attack of World War II.

2. Coronavirus freakouts.  Stipulated: the news media and desperate Democrats want the public to panic over the virus, and to blame the President, obviously.

  • Two media doctors, “Dr. Oz” and Drew Pinsky, have been performing a public service of sorts by trying to inject some perspective into the escalating hysteria, and by pointing their fingers at a primary suspect for it, the news media. Pinsky, in an interview with LA’s CBS afiifilate: “A bad flu season is 80,000 dead, we have about 18,000 dead from influenza this year and 100 from corona. Which should you be worried about, influenza or corona. 100 vs. 18,000, it’s not a trick question. Everything going on with everyone using Clorox wipes and get your flu shot, which should be the other message… that’s good. I have no problems with the behaviors. What I have a problem with is the panic and that businesses are getting destroyed and people’s lives are getting upended. Not by the virus, but by the panic.”

Dr. Oz (Real name: Mehmet Oz), who was routinely featured on network news during the Ebola scare, was attacked yesterday as a “quack” by the left-leaning Daily Beast, which has a stake in promoting the panic. In fact, Oz is something of a quack, but he’s a popular one, and using his influence to stop people from being crazy is an ethical use of it.

  • “You know…morons!”  A United Airlines flight from Eagle County, Colorado, to Newark International Airport had to be diverted to Denver over the weekend  after a group of passengers freaked out when another passenger started  coughing and sneezing. He was suffering from allergies.  In Denver, the three hysterical morons were taken off the plane, while the innocent passenger continued on the flight.

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Coughing Fit Ethics

From The Daily Caller:

“Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton struggled at an Ohio event Monday with a nearly two minute-long coughing fit.”

From The Washington Post website:

“Clinton jokes about Trump allergy during rally”

As of the time I’m writing this, the New York Times mentions nothing about Clinton’s coughing fit, either on its website, or in its hard copy edition. Not does the Post, which I just had delivered to me despite having cancelled our subscription weeks ago, mention the coughing. None of the major networks covered her coughing fit yesterday.

What’s going on here?

Good question, and not just from the usual ethics analysis perspective, which often starts with this query. What is going on with Hillary?

1. I have no idea. I do know that when I have two-minute coughing fits, it means that I’m sick. It doesn’t mean I’m dying, but if the cough becomes chronic, I see a doctor. Hillary Clinton has been having coughing episodes during speeches and televised appearances for quite some time, though none this severe. However, a Presidential candidate having a coughing fit while speaking is the news item, not the joke she makes to recover. (By the way, that was quick thinking by Hillary, and I admire the quip…unless she had it pre-planned in case she had a coughing fit.).  She is in her late sixties. There are some doubts about her health. A presidential campaign is grueling for anyone; I’m amazed it hasn’t incapacitated a candidate yet. The fact that the conservative, Hillary-hating news media is all over this story is expected, but that doesn’t mean their attention isn’t valid and responsible journalism. The news media has an ethical obligation to investigate and let the public know whether or not a candidate for President is fit, temporarily under the weather, or suffering from some more serious malady that might affect his or her ability to do the job.

2. The initial reaction of most of the mainstream media was to shrug off this story, bury it, or ignore it, while the conservative news media was almost gleefully running with it, especially Drudge, who has been chronicling Hillary’s chronic cough for a long time. MSNBC even cut from its live feed away mid-fit, which is inexcusable, but exactly the kind of reflex Clinton-protecting we are seeing more and more frequently. This is another smoking gun example of the unprofessional and dangerous partisan bias in the media, as well as the reason why  rational Americans should be grateful that there are right-slanting news sources to prevent journalists and liberal politicians collaborating in cover-ups.

3. The comics and celebrities, as well as liberal pundits, are going to look very bad if their mockery of those asking legitimate questions about Clinton ends up being rebutted by facts. They already look bad. Some have equated concerns about Clinton’s health with the Obama birth certificate controversy, coining the term “healthers,” to set up legitimate inquiries for condemnation as bias or derangement. New York Times columnist Frank Bruni submitted a satirical column about suspicions that Hillary has “an 11th toe,” writing…

“I don’t have the medical records. She refuses to release them. But just try to come up with some other explanation for why she’s so infrequently photographed in sandals or flip-flops; why she seldom appears barefoot in public; why, during debates, she keeps her legs, especially the lower halves, tucked carefully behind the lectern…She’s covering something up, and it’s that freakish, disqualifying digit.”

On CBS “Late Night, ” host Stephen Colbert said he was shocked to learn that he has started menopause, using the same method of medical research Clinton critics are basing questions about her health upon: searching the web.

The Clinton health issue on the liberal side is entering Jumbo territory: “Coughing fits? What coughing fits?”

4. The mainstream media’s double standard could not be more glaring. Journalists obsessed over John McCain’s age and his melanoma removal during the 2008 campaign, as they celebrated Obama’s youth and energy. The incidents and circumstantial evidence relating to Hillary Clinton’s health  and suggesting that there may be a problem have reached the point where the question demands a full and aggressive media inquiry. Her serious fall and concussion are well documented. She appears unsteady in many photographs. She uses steps to get into her car. She appears to be avoiding live interviews and press conferences. She used her concussion as an explanation for why she couldn’t remember State protocols for her e-mails. She has coughing fits. It could all add up to nothing, and it could be something. The array raises legitimate doubts, and since we are talking about the Clintons, there is no reason to believe the Hillary’s camp’s reassurances. We know she lies, and that her staff lies for her. The public has a right to know what, if anything, is going on with her health.

5. The conservative website WND has mostly excellent coverage of the coughing fit (and apparently a second Clinton suffered talking to reporters on her plane). It also has statements from several physicians who argue that it is completely legitimate for doctors to raise questions about Clinton’s health. Said one of them, Dr. Jane Orient, M.D., executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons:

“I’m not making a diagnosis. I can look at the video. You can look .For a or a medical professional to simply ignore the evidence would be completely reckless…Meeting someone with these symptoms personally would require a “How are you?” These are not ridiculous questions.”

[UPDATE: I forgot to note, as I intended, that one of the ways the WND story is NOT excellent is that it perpetuates the current false accusation that CNN’s Dr. Drew Pinsky had his show cancelled because he questioned Hillary’s health in a radio interview. The game is classic post hoc ergo propter hoc nonsense: his show’s cancellation was announced after his statement, hence it must have been cancelled because of his statement. Dr. Drew has debunked this himself, though he confirmed that the blowback from CNN after his statement was severe.]

6. Of course they aren’t. But just as some journalists have suggested that the perceived special danger posed by Donald Trump justifies the psychiatric profession diagnosing his supposed mental instability from afar, that same perceived danger seems to be causing journalists to rationalize ignoring troubling health symptoms from his opposition. The reasoning clinician Hal Brown used in his post on the Daily Kos to argue for professionals issuing  opinions regarding Trump’s narcissism applies with even more force to Hillary’s physical symptoms.

7. I don’t know why the anti-Trump news media isn’t eagerly covering Clinton’s health problems. Tim Kaine, bland and wishy-washy as he is, wasn’t a terrible governor of Virginia (where I live). He’s much more trustworthy and honest than Hillary–heck, virtually anyone in public life is. He’d be an easy choice over Trump; I’d even feel better about voting for Hillary knowing that it was likely that she wouldn’t finish her term. Hillary can lose to Trump, who, whatever else one might think about him, always shows energy and appears to be younger than he is, like Ronald Reagan. Watch what happens in the polls when Clinton has a two-minute coughing fit during a debate, and defaults to the same line about being allergic to Trump.

8. Earlier, I wrote about how the bias on both sides of the news media ideological divide made it impossible for someone seeking the truth to know who to believe regarding Hillary Clinton’s health. Well, now there is something we can believe: our eyes.

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Sources: WMD, The Gateway Pundit, BizPac Review, NBC News, ABC 

“Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew” and Reality Show Ethics

Duncan Roy is a director, producer and writer whom I had never heard of, and I didn’t watch his exploits as a patient/reality show performer on VH1’s “Celebrity Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew .” The reason for the latter was a mixture of ethics and taste: feeding the fame addiction of celebrities while supposedly treating their other addictions seemed wrong to me, and inducing sex-addicted female porn stars, beauty queens and models to go into therapy with similarly attractive and sexually obsessive men is ridiculous, like setting “The Biggest Loser” at a 24 hour, all-you-can-eat smorgasbord. Continue reading