Ethics Dunce: Matt Drudge

SAG

Matt Drudge, on his Drudge Report,  posted the above photo of Susan Sarandon with the caption, “SAG.”

Nice.

The link was to this story, a really stupid one, about criticism the 69-year old actress is receiving for dressing this way to deliver an award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The Drudge Report, I must note, is the favorite, go-to source for political news for conservative pundits.

The gag is per se nasty, ageist, misogynist, and creepy. Sarandon is roundly hated by conservatives for being an outspoken feminist and supporter of liberal causes. The “joke” is an ad hominem attack and a despicable cheap shot. Somewhere, someplace there might be someone who has standing to make fun of Susan Sarandon’s looks, but I don’t know of any. By the way, here is Matt Drudge:

Drudge

One can debate the tastefulness of her attire, but Sarandon, as always, looks smashing.

How Media And Academic Bias Make Us Stupid: The “Personal Freedom Study”

freedom

“STUDY: American personal freedom now ranks below 20 other nations…” reads a link in this morning’s Drudge Report.

That is NOT what the study shows….not even close.

The link goes to an Examiner story headlined “Under Obama, U.S. personal freedom ranking slips below France.” That’s a little better, but it’s also misleading. Both headlines are attempts to spin a study that tells nobody anything about how much freedom there is in the U.S., under President Obama or otherwise. The study, meanwhile, is easily spun because it was badly conceived, is itself of dubious value, and was also probably the result of a researchers grinding their own axes.

It is early, and I am pretty sure that the cable news sharks and the internet pundits will be latching on to this garbage study in droves, with the result being mass confusion in the public. That’s right: the world of scholarship and research, and the world of journalism, will conspire to make the public less informed than it already is, setting it up for the handiwork of future Jonathan Grubers and the parties that employ them.

You see, the study doesn’t even purport to measure “freedom” in any objective way across different nations. Continue reading

Now THIS Is Incivility!

"Thank you, counselors. We will proceed to fucking closing statements."

“Thank you, counselors. We will proceed to fucking closing statements.”

I just saw a  local Boston TV ad for Ace Tickets. The slogan at the end was “Sit your Ace down!” So clever! Just throw gratuitous vulgarity into a commercial during a baseball game, doubtlessly viewed by many children, because it’s inherently amusing. The message is that vulgarity is cool, clever and acceptable. Other messages in the media, both in advertising and in pop culture, convey the same permissive standards regarding obscenity. Over on the Drudge Report, a much-admired news aggregator for  political junkies, especially on the right, no mention of Anthony Weiner’s annoying candidacy for Mayor of New York is made without a cheap “weiner” joke. Today, Drudge noted that Weiner was “inching up” in the polls. Get it? HAR!  Just under that “gag,” the news that men favored Weiner in polling was headlined “Male Enhancement.” Soooo witty!  The U.S. is being transformed into one huge junior high school. After growing up in such a vulgar, undignified, sleazy environment, the next generation won’t be prone to inadvertently use words like “fuck” and “shit” in public forums such as live award shows and TV interviews, like our current politicians, newscasters and celebrities. They’ll just use them intentionally, all the time. Won’t that be cool? I’m sure David Letterman thinks so. Cool Dave had A.J. Clemente, he of uttering “fucking shit” on the airways in his debut as a news anchor, as a guest on his show. Dave suggested to A.J. that his ex-bosses were jerks to fire him. Good point Dave! A.J. was just ahead of his time. In a decade or so, “fucking shit” may be the sign-off of the next generation’s Walter Cronkite.

Maybe less than  a decade. Note this account, in a court opinion, of a lawyer’s conduct before a magistrate: Continue reading

Drudge, Obama’s “$200 Million a Day Trip” and How The U.S. Public Gets Stupid

One of the many themes running through the many teeth-gnashing, garment-rending attempts by angry progressive columnist and bloggers to explain why the Democrats got their heads handed to them on Tuesday is that the voters are just stupid, that’s all. (In doing so, they duplicate the exact same arrogance that helped put all those heads on the block in the first place, but I digress.) The public is not stupid, of course, but it is often wretchedly misinformed by a news media that has lost most of its scruples and a lot of its professionalism. Once a rumor, misconception, distortion or myth gets enough publicity, it can lodge itself in people’s brains like shrapnel. Examples: Obama’s “Muslim faith” and his “foreign birth.” Other examples: the “50% divorce rate” and women only  getting paid “75% of what men are paid for the same jobs.”

We should all thank Matt Drudge for giving us a wonderful lesson on how this happens, both for our future reference and protection. He recently linked to a story in an Indian newspaper that reported, based on anonymous sources, that President Obama’s trip to Mumbai was going to be accompanied by about 10% of the U.S. fleet and cost $200,000,000 a day. Continue reading

Summer Rerun: “Ending the Bi-Partisan Effort to Destroy Trust in America”

[TV is full of reruns these days, and sometimes I am grateful for them, for it gives me a chance to see episodes of favorite shows I had missed for some reason or another. Back in early March, I posted the following essay about the origins of America’s current crisis of trust in our government, and how it might be cured by our elected leaders. Since then, the crisis has deepened, and as I was doing some routine site maintenance, I reread the post. It is still very timely (unfortunately), and since far fewer people were visiting Ethics Alarms in March, I decided to re-post it today, with just a few minor edits. I promise not to make this a habit. Still, trust is the reason why ethics is so important in America: if there is a single post of the more than 700 I have written here since October 2009  that I would like people to read, this is it.] Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Mark Levin

Despite his on-air persona as a real-life version of the old SNL John Belushi bit on “Weekend Update” in which his rant on some issue always ended with him convulsing and hurling himself to the floor, Mark Levin is an attorney of some note, a scholar, and theoretically a couple of evolutionary steps above the typical right-wing radio screamer. Yet tonight he began yelling about how hypocritical it was for the Obamas to be preaching healthy life-styles “when his own doctor told him to stop drinking so much!” Now, that is simply untrue, as Ethics Alarms and others have thoroughly documented. Obama’s medical report did not recommend that he “moderate his drinking” as the Drudge Report erroneously reported, but rather recommended “moderation in alcohol intake,” which is boilerplate language for “a drink now and then is OK.” Even though the Drudge smear, accidental of not, made the rounds of the virulent Right media, there had been plenty of time to get the facts right, especially for someone like Levin, who is always mercilessly slamming Democrats for sloppy research and dishonest facts. Continue reading

Essay: Ending the Bi-Partisan Effort to Destroy Trust in America

Both the Pentagon shooter and the Texas I.R.S. attacker were motivated by a virulent distrust of the U.S. government, the distrust mutating into desperation and violence with the assistance of personal problems and emotional instability. We would be foolish, however, to dismiss the two as mere “wingnuts,” the current term of choice to describe political extremists who have gone around the bend. They are a vivid warning of America’s future, for the media, partisan commentators, the two political parties and our elected officials are doing their worst to convert all of us into wingnuts, and the results could be even more disastrous than the fanciful horrors the Left and the Right tell us that the other has planned for us. Continue reading

Drudge Gets Careless, and the Right Bites

The conservative blogosphere and Rightish talk radio hosts were all in a lather this morning: according to Matt Drudge’s “Drudge Report,” President Obama’s physicians “recommended” “moderation of alcohol intake”! What could that mean, they asked breathlessly, then with a snicker or two, except that “Mr. Perfect” has been hitting the sauce, raiding the liquor cabinet, and having one-too-many snorts of the ol’ hooch? After all, the doctors were telling the President to “moderate” his drinking habits, like you tell a hot-head to moderate his temper. Scoop! The President drinks too much! Continue reading