Tag Archives: editors

The Trustworthy New York Times, Whose Editors Don’t Read Their Own Paper

I was stunned when the New York Times, after a Bernie Sanders supporter engineered a sniper attack on a group of Republican Congressmen (Steve Scalise is still hospitalized) published an editorial including the “everybody does it” argument that Republican rheteric had activated madmen too, reminding readers that there had been a  “clear” and “direct” causal connection between Palin’s PAC’s “targeting” of Gabrielle Giffords’ district and Jared Loughner’s murder of six people in Tucson. How could they be dredging up this old smear again, after it had been so thoroughly debunked? It seemed like a desperate, vicious deflection.

The  theory had caused an extended and heated debate at the time of the Tucson attack, with left-biased media pundits, including the Times’ Paul Krugman and others, attempting to silence conservatives by arguing that their harsh “eliminationist rhetoric” had put Gifford in the crosshairs, literally. The Left’s prime scapegoats for the shootings were the most vocal conservative  critics  of President Obama and the Democrats at the time, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin.The smear was transparent and dishonest; eventually even President Obama rejected it in the best speech of his tenure as President. It was also quickly disproven by the facts. Loughner, if anything, was a progressive lunatic. His written rants suggested no influence by the Right at all, and certainly no indication that Palin’s use of a crosshairs graphic to indicate Democrats “targeted” for defeat at the ballot box had even been seen by the killer, much less set him on his murderous path.

The revived lie was taken down online within a day, though not before the Times’s rival for the title of  “Parper Most Willing To Devastate Its Reputation To Destroy Donald Trump” issued a merciless ‘factcheck.”  The falsehod was also put into print. Several lawyers suggested that Palin had grounds for a defamation lawsuit, even though, as a public figure, prevailing in a lawsuit would require her to prove “actual malice.” Palin did sue.  Sure enough, The Times is denying malice by arguing that it made an “honest mistake.” But how could it be an honest mistake, when the Times itself had published reporting that finally proved Loughner was no devotee of Palin or Limbaugh.

For the Times editors to claim they made an honest mistake, they must insist that they were unaware of what had been prominently published in their own newspaper, under their own oversight. Sure, that’s certainly the kind of professionalism, competence and care one expects from the flagship of American journalism. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

The New York Times “Explains” The Terms Of Immigration Reporting, Exposes Its Bias, And Then Ignores What It Concluded

My eight hours transit cross country yesterday to give a one-hour talk on bias wasn’t a total waste.. I did get to catch up on my New York Times back-up. However, the near head explosion my reading triggered was a threat to aircraft and passengers.

On March 10, page two, the Times published an ombudsman-like explanation of what terms it believes the paper should use when discussing illegal immigration. It begins,

“Illegal immigrant.” “Unauthorized immigrant.” “Undocumented immigrant.” “Illegal alien.” “Migrant.” “Noncitizen.” All of these terms, and some others, have been used in The New York Times to describe a person who has entered, lived in or worked in the United States without proper authorization — and each has been met with criticism.

The fact that terms meet with criticism doesn’t prove there is anything wrong with all the terms. Some of these terms, when used to describe illegal immigrants—and that is the correct term—are simply misleading, or so incomplete as to be useless. “Noncitizen”? A non-citizen is not necessarily illegal, nor is a non-citizen necessarily an immigrant. Ding. “Unauthorized” and “undocumented” immigrant are both euphemisms to duck the problem and the issue: the immigrant is illegal, and its not good to be illegal. The fact that the immigrant is illegal is the immigrant’s fault, not some passive bureaucratic snafu that robbed him of authorization or the documents he needs.

There is no controversy or problem here, but the Times  spends over a thousand words pretending that there is.

“In a debate as contentious as the one surrounding immigration policy in the United States, where even the most basic terminology is fraught with political implications, how do journalists decide, in a given instance, what term to apply?” Steven Hiltner whines. Uh, Steve? It’s in the Times ethics code. Just tell the truth, clearly and objectively. That means use “illegal immigrant,” period. The issue is people coming into our nation, immigrants, who do so in violation of our laws—illegally. What’s the problem?

The Times style guide, Hiltner explains, says that the term “illegal immigrant” may be considered “loaded or offensive” by “some readers.” The guide suggests “not taking sides” and using “alternatives” that describe the specific circumstances of the person in question. HOLD IT. “Illegal immigrant” isn’t loaded, or political, or partisan. It is clear English and undeniable fact. That one side of the political spectrum, for the most cynical of reasons, wants to disguise the nature of the act in question does not make telling the truth that this side of the spectrum wants to unethically obscure “loaded” or “taking sides.”  There is the pro-illegal immigration “side,” the dishonest, anti-law side, and the truth, which is the side the Times is obligated to embrace. Why should the Times care if “some people” want news sources to obscure the truth to aid and abet their agenda? Because a political party has embraced obfuscation and denial as a strategy, the Times is obligated not to allow fact to get in the way? Nonsense.

That the Times even feels like it has to engage in this navel gazing shows that it is hostage to the Left. The individuals in question are illegal immigrants, and that is what a responsible, neutral, objective and ethical newspaper should call them, so there is no confusion….even though Democrats, progressives and activists want there to be confusion. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Dunces In Arms: Gloria Steinem And The New York Times Demonstrate How “The Star Syndrome” Works

Gloria 2017 (right), with her ghostwriter, Gloria 2007 ( left)

Last week, Gloria Steinem authored an op-ed in The New York Times headlined, “Women Have Chick-Flicks. What About Men?”.

It was standard issue male-bashing; biased and badly researched junk, but more interestingly, at least half of it was ten years old, substantially lifted from a piece Steinem wrote for the Women’s Media Center website in 2007. This kind of lazy self-plagiarism is a major ethical breach that respectable publications do not suffer gladly, at least when the miscreant isn’t a feminist icon that their editors worship, or at least feel has earned immunity from those annoying ethical principles lesser mortals have to deal with.

As an aside, it really is a silly op-ed, not worthy of publication the first time, much less plagiarizing now. Some excerpts:

I was on a flight from New York to Seattle when a long delay on the tarmac prompted the airline to offer us a free movie. As the flight attendant read the choices aloud, a young man across the aisle said, “I don’t watch chick flicks!” I knew what he meant, and so did the woman sitting next to me. A “chick flick” is one that has more dialogue than car chases, more relationships than special effects, and whose suspense comes more from how people live than from how they get killed.

Translation: “Men are morons, women are sophisticates.” No generalizations or stereotypes there…

Think about it: If “Anna Karenina” had been by Leah Tolstoy, or “The Scarlet Letter” by Nancy Hawthorne or “A Doll’s House” by Henrietta Ibsen — if “The Invisible Man” had been “The Invisible Woman” — would they have been hailed as classics? Suppose Shakespeare had really been the Dark Lady who some people still think he/she was. I bet most of her plays and all of her sonnets would have been dismissed as ye olde Elizabethan chick lit and buried until they were resurrected by stubborn feminist scholars of today.

Two words: Prove it. Since  very few  great female authors were writing similarly brilliant literature in those periods, Steinem’s bet is rigged. Where are those buried woman-authored masterpieces that stand up as the equals of “King Lear” and  “War and Peace”? I’ll make another bet: I bet if those works had been written by women, we’d know it, and they would be just as admired and immortal as the works authored by men. Has Gloria heard of Wuthering Heights? Jane Eyre? Frankenstein? Pride and Prejudice? Has she heard of Jane Austen?

But I digress.

The original article published referred to that airplane flight as taken by Steinem  “recently.” That word was taken out after Gloria’s cheat was discovered, and this “Editor’s Note” was added: Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Popular Culture

The Disgraceful Exploitation Of Ken Bone, With This Ethics Note: Ken Is 100% Correct That Trayvon Martin’s Shooting Was Justified, While Journalists And Pundits Who Criticize Him For Saying So Are Big Lie Purveyors

ken-bone

I’m glad I could clear that up.

Poor Ken Bone, the man in the red sweater who was chosen as a designated undecided voter to ask a question at the last debate, embodies Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes of fame” comment because, apparently, the news media has to come up with trivia to write about so it doesn’t have to inform the public about substance they actually need to know about. The perfectly unremarkable man chosen to ask a question at this fake “town meeting” should have been allowed to do his job and then go back to his normal life, but no. Silliness demanded that he be lionized and bestowed with celebrity status. Even the usually rational Jake Tapper got into the act, telling his viewers…

All day long, my staff and I, we’ve been pondering this important question, “What makes Ken Bone so awesome?” …Why do we all find him so charming? Is it the red sweater? That was actually his backup outfit after he says he split his pants to his olive-cover colored suit. Maybe it’s the mustache? Perhaps it’s the disposable camera he used to snap pics after the debate. Ken Bone’s name started trending online during the debate. Now, Mr. Bone is making the TV interview rounds. He told CNN earlier today about his new following on Twitter…. He’s even more awesome than ever, just watching that clip. [His Twitter following]  is more than 30,000 now, and the Ken Bone memes are everywhere. There’s Ken Bone with the 90s rap group, Bone Thugs-n- Harmony. How about the Ken Bone Halloween costume?

How about stopping the condescension and tongue in cheek mockery, Jake? Yeccch. It is nothing less than cruel to throw someone into the maw of celebrity like this, a throbbing neon target to social media bullies and the Twitter Furies who have nothing more productive to do in their mean, measly, pointless lives than mock, ridicule and attack a citizen who tried to participate responsibly in an irresponsible election. Now he is under national scrutiny for his clothing, his weight and his moustache. What is wrong with these people? Is the Golden Rule extinct?

Don’t blame Ken because he accepted invitations to appear on TV after his big moment. He’s never been a celebrity before. If he had done some research, he would have discovered that most ordinary Americans thrust into the celebrity machine come to regret it, but for him this is different, this is exciting, this is fun! He gets flown to places he’s never been, and put up at nice hotels, and treated like royalty. Some ad agencies will try to recruit him for a disposable commercial or two: who turns down money? Who turns away from their 15 minutes, if it comes? Would you? We can’t blame him, because he is a good person, and good people often make the dangerous mistake of assuming that the people they deal with, like the news media are also good people. Unfortunately, they cannot be trusted.

Thus what has happened to Ken Bone was completely predictable. Having been built up by irresponsible journalists like Tapper into something he never asked to be—National Puppy of the Month would be a good name for it—it was inevitable that other irresponsible journalists would see cheap columns and clicks from tearing Bone down. Even though Bone had told the media that he was leaning toward voting for Clinton, vicious  progressives—the mistreatment of Ken Bone comes entirely from the left—dissected his comments when he  participated in an “Ask Me Anything” forum on  Reddit, using them to denigrate him. They also went back to check other statements he had made on the site. What they found was virtually nothing; I find myself imagining what these cruel, unethical people would do with everything I’ve written online. Never mind: it was enough. In response to “Truth or Dare” style questioning, Ken…

  • Admitted that he watched porn and peeked at Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photos when they were hacked.
  • Admitted to forging insurance documents so that he could keep a pizza delivery job. This, despicably, was headline on some sites as “insurance fraud.” It is not insurance fraud. It is lying. Insurance fraud occurs when someone collect insurance payments based on false representations, not when someone falsely claims to be insured.

“Worst of all,” we were told, and thus most publicized of all, Bone opined months ago that Trayvon Martin’s shooting was “justified.”

The Horror.

It is part of the current politically correct narrative to keep Black Lives Matter from being properly recognized as the racist propaganda organization that it is for the progressive community to preserve and protect the Big Lie that George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin because he was black. The lie persists on liberal websites; it was enabled at the Democratic National Convention when Martin’s mother was allowed on stage in a mass pander to the victims of police shootings; it is advanced every time Martin’s name is included in the litany of young black men supposedly killed by a “systemic racism.” Whatever other cases may show, Trayvon Martin’s death only stands for racism and murder because unscrupulous, dishonest, and on occasion ignorant activists, politicians and journalists want it to.

There has never been any evidence that George Zimmerman profiled Martin, who was a stranger walking through a gated community at night. MSNBC even altered a 911 tape to make it sound like this was the case, and a Big Lie was born. There has never been any evidence that prior to the tragic encounter, Zimmerman had  expressed racist views. The evidence that is available shows that Martin confronted Zimmerman, not the other way around. Finally, investigators established that Zimmerman was being beaten by Martin and reasonably felt in mortal danger when he shot the teen. Those are the facts, and based on those facts, a jury properly acquitted Zimmerman of murder applying the doctrine of self-defense, which made the death of Martin a legally justified killing under Florida law and all criminal law going back centuries. Bone’s comment on Reddit…

bone-tweet

…is entirely accurate, fair, and reasonable. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Social Media, U.S. Society

Unethical Website Of The Month: Daily Forest

My dog didn't make the list.

My dog didn’t make the list.

Daily Forest published one more of the ever-popular link-bait dog lists and slide shows. My sister sent it to me for the dog photos, which are lovely. the post was so incompetent, misleading and full of errors and anti-breed propaganda that I spent most of the slid show grimacing. Nobody connected with the post—the editor, the author, the site itself—knows anything about dogs. Thus it is a disservice to readers, the public and dogs to allow this misinformation and innuendo to be published. My rule: absent a take-down,  a remedial post and an abject apology, this kind of unethical post flags an unethical, untrustworthy website.

The post was titled, “21 of the World’s Most Dangerous Dog Breeds.”

That’s misleading immediately. There are no “dangerous dog breeds.” There are individual dogs that are maladjusted, abused or trained to be aggressive. Individuals of large breeds are obviously more dangerous when they are maladjusted, abused or aggressive than say, tea-cup poodles, but that doesn’t make the breeds themselves “dangerous.” It is this sloppy and inaccurate characterization that has led to the deplorable “dangerous breed laws” in various states, cities and Great Britain, and the scare-mongering anti-dog zealots who persecute dogs and their owners.

The list itself is ridiculous. #2, naturally (behind boxers, about as loving and perfect a family dog as there is) is “pit bulls.” “Pit bulls,” as used here and elsewhere on the web, isn’t a breed, but a conglomeration of several very different breeds that people who are ignorant of breeds mix up. None of the breeds are dangerous, but here’s where the list signals its abject incompetence. The picture the site uses for pit bulls isn’t even one of the breeds lumped in with “pit bulls,” but this…

Corso Cano

 

…a Corso Cano,  the Italian mastiff. I recognized the breed immediately, being something of a mastiff-lover. This is the breed owned by Ray Donovan’s wife on the Showtime series “Ray Donovan.” It’s not a pit bull breed, because all of those breeds have terrier forebears. Anyone who thinks this is a “pit bull”  doesn’t know a dachshund from a soccer ball, and has as much business writing or editing a post about dogs as Felix the Cat. Morons. The list even includes Corso Canos later on,and has a picture that is obviously of the same breed used under pit bull in the same post. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Research and Scholarship, The Internet, Unethical Websites

Ethics Alarm: In Memphis, Facts Are Now Racist

Infamy. I hope.

Infamy. I hope.

This truly upsetting story is in part about headlines, and I had a hard time deciding on one for the post. It makes my head explode—I am trying out a new Swiffer now—but it really shouldn’t have exploded, considering recent developments. I could name Commercial Appeal’s editor Louis Graham (left) an Ethics Dunce, which he certainly is (in addition to being a fool, a coward, and a disgrace to journalism), but that doesn’t do him justice. I thought about making his editorial apologizing for stating facts in a headline as an Unethical Quote of the Month, but this was worse than a bad quote. This was surrender.

The Memphis, Tennessee newspaper the Commercial Appeal, a Gannett publication, headlined its front page story about the attack on police in Dallas “Gunman targeted whites.” Here it is:

memphiscom headline

Indeed, African-American gunman Micah Xavier Johnson specifically said that his objective was to  kill white police officers. Nonetheless, protestors attacking the paper for publishing a “racist’ headline gathered outside the paper’s office in downtown Memphis last week. Black Lives Matter signs were in evidence.

Commercial Appeal editor Louis Graham met with protesters, and apologized with a front page editorial titled “We got it wrong.” He wrote in part… Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Journalism & Media, Kaboom!, Race, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society, Workplace

Journalism Ethics: The Washington Post Enables Disinformation Regarding Hillary’s Email Machinations

Lies2

In an article for the Washington Post column “The Plum line,” Paul Waldman wrote, after noting that reports on the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified materials suggest that the F.B.I. has found no intent on her  part to violate classification rules,

“That point about her intending to break classification rules is important, because in order to have broken the law, it isn’t enough for Clinton to have had classified information in a place where it was possible for it to be hacked. She would have had to intentionally given classified information to someone without authorization to have it, like David Petraeus did when he showed classified documents to his mistress (and then lied to the FBI about it, by the way). Despite the enormous manpower and time the Justice Department has devoted to this case, there has never been even a suggestion, let alone any evidence, that Clinton did any such thing.”

This continued a process, begun and fed by Clinton herself, to mislead the public about the investigation, the law, and Clinton’s conduct. It is the insidious “narrative” tactic again, and it apparently almost impossible to fight. For example, an old friend, a smart and informed former journalist, recently posted on Facebook to the effect that he wondered if the F.B.I. would investigate Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, since they also used personal e-mail for official business while Secretary of State. He wrote this in good faith, because this has been a central defense from Clinton for more than a year. It is harder to kill than the Hydra, despite the fact that it is pure deceit, for two reasons.

The first is that what was considered responsible and acceptable use of technology nine years ago is not responsible and acceptable use of technology now. What was considered responsible and acceptable use of technology nine weeks ago is often not responsible and acceptable use of technology now. The acceleration of technology development was well underway when Clinton was appointed, and new security measures and best practices at all the major agencies reflected that. If she intentionally ignored this, she was irresponsible and reckless; if she negligently failed to follow them, she was incompetent. No matter how Rice and Powell handled their e-mail, it was a different time, and the comparison is invalid and misleading. No one who understands technology and the speed with which it evolves, with accepted practices becoming dangerous and incompetent virtually over-nigh, could hear Clinton’s “They did it too!” excuse without rolling their eyes. But of course, this spin isn’t intended for those who understand the issues involved. They are designed for people like my friend, who are relatively uninformed regarding technology, and can be converted into an effective disinformation agent without his consent or knowledge. Continue reading

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