Ethics Observations On This Hilarious Trolling Competition

  • The President  wins, obviously. It does not demonstrate good judgment to challenge a master at his own game, on his home turf.

The ethics values at issue: hubris, competence.

  • It’s good to see that Mike Bloomberg is determined to elevate the level of campaign discourse, isn’t it?

Of course, Trump’s trademarked person insults about adversaries’ appearance are unpresidential and infantile, but they are his unapologetic style. Did Bloomberg not watch the 2016 GOP debates, when Marco Rubio lowered himself to Trump’s level with return personal insults only to see his support erode as a result? Did Bloomberg’s advisors?

Running against a President on the basis that he is a boor and an asshole and behaving like a boor and an asshole to do it is both hypocritical and stupid. Moreover, Rubio’s blunder is a matter of record. Bloomberg isn’t doing his homework.

Ethics values: Honesty, integrity, competence, diligence. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Contract Cheating: One More Reason College Is A Massive Scam On Our Society”

Michael R’s Comment of the Day on the post “Contract Cheating: One More Reason College Is A Massive Scam On Our Society,” to my mind, represents an overly optimistic view of the state of higher education policy as well as the mindset of the typical college student in 2019. It is, however, a view—I could say a romantic view–that has majority support in this country, despite growing evidence that indoctrination now co-exists with education as the de facto mission of most liberal education colleges. I answered Michael’s comment thusly…

I was the chairman of a non-profit educational advocacy organization, and attended many conferences and symposiums. The emphasis always was on college as a way to get better jobs. Always. At one session, a Clinton rep from the Dept of Education went on and on about how a college degree was essential to being employed and getting a good job, and why this justified affirmative action, grade inflation, and making sure we eliminated all impediments to graduation.

I stood up and asked why I had heard nothing about the value of education for its own sake…that it made better citizens and better, more productive, happier human beings. My comments were ridiculed. Literally, no one in the room would concede that education itself was the mission of going to college. And college does not educate. Indoctrinates, baby-sits, credentials, but there isn’t a strong current that leads to education. Students are incentivized to seek easy courses that guarantee the highest grades, and, in turn, better job prospects. Most college graduates, for example, cannot write coherently.

I absolutely stand by my statement, and until and unless we realize that this is the true framing of higher education in rhetoric and policy up and down the bureaucracy, the scam will continue.

Well, as I have a tendency to do, that was a bit over-stated. I also should have pointed out that one certainly can get educated in college, but one can also get educated outside of it, and a lot more cheaply. I’d also point to the recent push to pay college athletes, because, apparently, the quid of an education isn’t deemed as sufficient justification for the quo of their sports heroics.

Here is Michael R’s Comment of the Day on the post “Contract Cheating: One More Reason College Is A Massive Scam On Our Society”

“The idea is to get jobs, not to be educated.”

I’m sorry, this is just elitist academic garbage. Why is it that if you want a college education to become employable, it means you don’t want to be ‘educated’? I would say it is because the elites in this country don’t need any type of knowledge for THEIR jobs, so they equate being educated to possession of trivia and anything they have defined as elite culture. I went to college because I wanted to have a better life than I could have without a college education. That is true for a majority of college students nationwide. I wanted knowledge because I had neither money nor connections. I was going to have to make my way in the world based on my own merit.

This post is deceptive because it does not point out the dichotomy of college experiences. There are some students who go to college to become employable. Other people go to college to get plausible paper credentials and network. The latter have always been more likely to buy their papers and pay others to take their tests for them. Take someone like Chelsea Clinton. She didn’t have to learn one thing at Stanford. She had million dollar jobs lined up just because of who she was. However, she needed some kind of plausible degree to allow those companies to plausibly say she was qualified. In reality, they could have hired her at 18 and she could have done just as good a job for them, since her pedigree and connections were all they wanted. However, it would have been blatantly obvious what was going on and apologists couldn’t say “No, she really is qualified because of her B.A. in…”. Just look at the apologists go with Hunter Biden right now. Continue reading

Top Ten Reasons Why Giving Chelsea Clinton A “Lifetime Impact Award” Is Unethical [UPDATED]

Next month, Variety magazine will host its annual “Women in Power” luncheon, and will give “Lifetime Impact  Awards” to several women in the fields of entertainment and public service.Among the honorees will be Chelsea Clinton. Here are the Top Ten Reasons the ridiculous award starts ethics alarms sounding:

1.  The award is incompetent and misleading. Chelsea has done nothing on her own to justify any award. She has been hired for a series of jobs based solely on the prominence of her famous parents, and is on the board of her family foundation, which has funded various humanitarian programs. These are passive achievements that any child of the Clintons would accumulate.

2. The award to Clinton immediately renders worthless Variety’s past and future “Lifetime Impact Awards”  to deserving and worthy recipients. It destroys any claim the award has to integrity and sincerity.

3.  The award is a lie. Chelsea Clinton is in her thirties, and hasn’t accumulated a lifetime, much less a lifetime of laudable achievements. It is grossly premature, contradicting its own title.

4. The award is cruel. It compels focus on the pathetic, privileged, exploited and exploitative existence of Chelsea Clinton thus far by proclaiming it to be something it obviously is not. Continue reading

I Can’t Decide Which Is Worse, That “Hamilton” Is So Greedy, Or That They Won’t Admit It




Producers of the smash hit Broadway musical “Hamilton,” soon to sweep the Tonys in historic fashion, have raised the top premium seat price to a record-obliterating $849.

The previous high for Broadway show’s ticket prices was $477 for the best seats to “The Book of Mormon.” The producers are taking advantage of the fact that the show has reached mania status, something like the Dutch tulip craze. Waiting lists for tickets are months long. The show is a cultural phenomenon, but it is still a show.

This musical, reinventing the genre with a hip-hop score and an intelligent, challenging book, could be that rarity, a popular musical that matters, and one that draw young…even straight!…young people back to a genre that has been rapidly declining and increasingly irrelevant to modern popular culture. So given that opportunity,and already making money hand over fist, what does the production do?

Raise tickets to an obscene level. Ensure that the tickets to other shows will rise too. Make live theater, which is already too expensive for any family to attend not named Pritzger or the equivalent, even more elite and even more inaccessible to normal, working Americans. Continue reading

But What If David Gregory Shot the Pitbull?

Illeagl? Well, it depends. Just WHY are you breaking the law? Is it for GOOD or ILL?

Illegal? Well, it depends. Just WHY are you breaking the law? Is it for GOOD or ILL?

Another hybrid ethics tale has surfaced! Cross pitbulls (or whatever a reporter thinks passes for one) with the gun law debate and the District of Columbia’s refusal to bring charges against David Gregory for breaking its gun laws on national television,  and…bada bing! This (From the Washington Post) :

“The bloody paw prints travel the length of a city block, from a Northwest Washington street corner where police said an 11-year-old was mauled by three pit bulls to the welcome mat at the dogs’ owner’s home. Two days after the attack, in which police said all three dogs were fatally shot, the prints were a reminder of what happened at Eighth and Sheridan streets on Sunday afternoon. Police said a neighbor and an officer shot the pit bulls as they sank their teeth into the boy’s legs, arms, stomach and chest…An uncle of the victim’s said the boy was riding a new Huffy dirt bike with orange rims he had gotten for Christmas. The uncle said his nephew emerged from an alley onto Sheridan Street, where he collided with the pit bulls. D.C. police said the unleashed and unattended dogs attacked the boy before a neighbor who saw it went into his home, got his handgun and fired once, hitting one of the dogs. A D.C. police officer on bicycle patrol heard the shots, and authorities said he shot and killed the other two pit bulls…Of the shooters, the 34-year-old uncle said, “They did the right thing.”

“D.C. police said they are reviewing the incident and have left open the possibility that the neighbor could be charged with violating the District’s gun laws. A police spokesman would not say whether the gun was legally registered. Even if it was, using it on a D.C. street is illegal…”

Some Post readers were appalled that such a heroic action could result in prosecution. Wrote one, indignantly:

“That prosecutors would even consider bringing gun charges against the Northwest D.C. resident who saved an 11-year-old’s life by shooting one of three pit bulls that were brutally mauling the child speaks volumes about the mindless absurdity of the city’s gun laws, to say nothing of the zealous anti-gun sentiment that more broadly permeates officials’ thinking here…If the good Samaritan who acted quickly in this case to save a child possessed his gun unlawfully, police and prosecutors should by all means confiscate it. But contemplating further charges against him is as unconscionable as it is ridiculous.”

No, what’s ridiculous is to have gun laws that are enforced according to the policy that if a citizen does a good thing with his illegal gun, then it’s fine; only bad acts with guns will result in prosecutions. Continue reading

Dangerous Messages: Excusing Aaron Swartz, and the Unethical Non-Prosecution of David Gregory


To  no one’s surprise, District of Columbia attorney general Irving Nathan announced that he will not be prosecuting NBC’s “Meet the Press” host David Gregory for a clear, intentional and unequivocal violation of a D.C. law on national television. In so doing, Nathan sent the District, the nation and the public a package of unethical and damaging messages, perhaps the least significant of which is that the District of Columbia’s chief lawyer is just as ethically flawed as the rest of its government.

In his letter to Gregory’s attorney, which you can read in its entirety here, Nathan said:

  • “The device in the host’s possession on that broadcast was a magazine capable of holding up to 30 rounds of ammunition. The host also possessed and displayed another ammunition magazine capable of holding five to ten rounds of ammunition…It is unlawful under D.C. Code Section 7-2506.01(b) for any person while in the District of Columbia to “possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm” or loaded. Under the Subsection, the term “large capacity ammunition feeding device” means a “magazine, belt, drum, feed strip or similar device that has the capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept more than ten rounds of ammunition.” Under D.C. Code Section 7-2507.06, any person convicted of a violation of this Subsection may be imprisoned for not more than one year, fined not more than $1,000.”
  • “The larger of the two ammunition feeding devices in question here meets the definition under the statute. OAG has responsibility for prosecuting such offenses and takes that responsibility very seriously.”
  • ” OAG has determined to exercise its prosecutorial discretion to decline to bring criminal charges against Mr. Gregory, who has no criminal record, or any other NBC employee based on the events associated with the December 23, 2012 broadcast. OAG has made this determination, despite the clarity of the violation of this important law, because under all of the circumstances here a prosecution would not promote public safety in the District of Columbia nor serve the best interests of the people of the District to whom this office owes its trust.”
  • “Influencing our judgment in this case, among other things, is our recognition that the intent of the temporary possession and short display of the magazine was to promote the First Amendment purpose of informing an ongoing public debate about firearms policy in the United States,especially while this subject was foremost in the minds of the public following the previously mentioned events in Connecticut and the President’s speech to the nation about them.”
  • “There were, however, other legal means available to demonstrate the point and to pursue this line of questioning with the guest that were suggested to NBC and that could have and should have been pursued.”
  • “No specific intent is required for this violation, and ignorance of the law or even confusion about it is no defense. We therefore did not rely in making our judgment on the feeble and unsatisfactory efforts that NBC made to determine whether or not it was lawful to possess, display and broadcast this large capacity magazine as a means of fostering the public policy debate. Although there appears to have been some misinformation provided initially, NBC was clearly and timely advised by an MPD employee that its plans to exhibit on the broadcast a high capacity-magazine would violate D.C. law, and there was no contrary advice from any federal official. While you argue that some NBC employees subjectively felt uncertain as to whether its planned actions were lawful or not, we do not believe such uncertainty was justified and we note that NBC has now acknowledged that its interpretation of the information it received was incorrect.” Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: Howard Kurtz

“Gun owners often say they want the government to leave them alone; why then are some clamoring for Gregory to be prosecuted?”

—-CNN Media ethics watchdog Howard Kurtz, in a column defending “Meet the Press” host David Gregory’s on-air violation of a D.C. gun law



This is quite a spectacle, a real time unraveling and self-discrediting of a media ethicist because of biases he either cannot resist or doesn’t detect. Kurtz’s core ethical fallacy in ridiculing calls for Gregory to be held to account for a knowing, intentional, blatant and broadcast breach of a criminal law is so obvious it is stunning that he cannot see it. Kurtz is arguing that the law shouldn’t be enforced against law-breaking journalists “practicing journalism,” because they are special and deserve to be privileged, and because journalism is so important that it trumps the law. This is offensive to fairness, equality and justice, but because Kurtz is himself a journalist, he cannot see how intrinsically unethical his position is. He cannot see the most basic conflict of interest of all, self-interest, in himself. Continue reading

The Media’s Gun Control Ethics Train Wreck Gets Its Engineer: David Gregory

Gregory and clip

The blatant abandonment of journalistic ethics in U.S. mainstream media, well underway during its coverage of the 2012 election, finally exploded into a full-fledged ethics train wreck with television journalists’ astounding and shameless advocacy of tighter gun control laws following the Newtown elementary school massacre. Can anyone recall a previous public policy controversy in which so many telejournalists decided that it was appropriate, rather than to report on a story, to engage in full-throated advocacy for a particular position? I can’t. Rather than communicate relevant facts to their audiences and allow responsible and informed advocates for various positions to have a forum, one supposed professional journalist after another has become an openly anti-firearms scold, as if the need for new gun restrictions was a fact, rather than a contentious, and often partisan point of view.

It isn’t just the hacks, like Piers Morgan.  CNN anchor Don Lemon sounded like a candidate for office, and a rhetorically irresponsible one, when he exclaimed in one outburst, “We need to get guns and bullets and automatic weapons off the streets. They should only be available to police officers and to hunt al-Qaeda and the Taliban and not hunt elementary school children.” The reliably presumptuous Soledad O’Brien decided to reprimand Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott when he refused to commit to seeking tougher gun laws in his state, telling him she hoped the gun conversation would become “meaningful” (that is to say, anti-gun ownership) before she was forced to “cover another tragedy.” In another interview, when a conservative academic argued for making guns more easily available among law-abiding citizens, O’Brien again turned advocate, telling him, “I just have to say, your position completely boggles me, honestly.”

Yes, well the fact that Soledad is “boggled” isn’t news: she’s easily boggled, and her opinion on gun control is no more worthy of broadcast than that of any random citizen on the street. Whether you agree with these amateur anti-gun zealots isn’t the point. Using their high-visibility positions as television reporters to expound on what they think are reasonable legislative initiatives isn’t their job, isn’t their role, is a direct violation of their duty of fair and objective reporting, and undermines effective public discourse. It’s unethical journalism.

Jumping into the engineer’s seat as this media ethics train wreck developed was “Meet the Press” host David Gregory. Part of the open agenda of the left-biased media is to demonize the National Rifle Association, which, again, is not their job, and is an unethical objective. Give the public the facts, let them hear the arguments, and allow them to come to an informed decision, not a media-dictated consensu constructed by people who are neither especially bright nor sufficiently informed, and who have no special expertise regarding guns and gun violence. Gregory, in full-anti-gun mode, brandished a gun magazine as a prop last Sunday to make a dramatic debating point against the vice-president of the National Rifle Association. In Washington, D.C., where “Meet the Press” is recorded, the magazine he held is illegal, and anyone apprehended while possessing one faces prosecution and jail time. NBC had been informed by D.C. police that Gregory could not use the magazine on the air, and Gregory went ahead and used it anyway.

He broke the law. Continue reading

Lincoln Chafee’s Unethical Attack on Curt Schilling

Former G.O.P. Senator Lincoln Chafee, now running for Governor of Rhode Island as an Independent, did a despicable thing yesterday, and almost certainly has no idea why it was so wrong.

During a radio interview, Chafee criticized a deal state economic development officials approved with 38 Studios, a game development company owned by former Red Sox pitcher and World Series hero Curt Schilling. Chafee, who is not alone in his criticism of the loan, argued that too much taxpayer money is being entrusted to a company that has no proven track record. That’s a legitimate point. But to hammer home his point, Chafee decided to attack the character, career accomplishments, reputation and integrity of Schilling, a man he has never met…based on nothing at all. Continue reading

It’s Official: “Gore and the Masseuse” Is An Ethics Train Wreck

Ethics train wrecks, and readers of Ethics Alarms and the Ethics Scoreboard know, are controversies of escalating publicity and complexity in which so many participants engage in bad decisions and unethical conduct that it is difficult to extract any lessons or conclusions from the chaos and rubble.

“The Tale of Al Gore and the Masseuse” began last week as an inexplicably late revelation of a 2006 accusation of alleged sexual assault by Gore on a woman in his Portland hotel room. Initially, it was only unfair and unsubstantiated fodder for Gore’s enemies in the media to ridicule him and assail his character with innuendo. With the revelation, however, that the Portland police decided to re-open an investigation of the matter and the department’s admission of why that the masseuse’s complaint did not warrant a charge when it was finally made in January 2009, the incident can be officially upgraded (downgraded?) to the Ethics Train Wreck status. Continue reading