Stupid Or Malicious? The “Anonymous Source” For The Washington Post’s Fake “Bombshell,” Georgia Deputy Secretary Of State, Jordan Fuchs [Corrected]

jordan_fuchs

This is a Hanlon’s Razor classic. In this post, I covered the mass smear of President Trump engineered by mainstream media sources led by the Washington Post. They all claimed that while still in office, “Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction.” Direct quotes were cited in which the President supposdly told the investigator to “find the fraud,” and several of the major news organizations falsely implied that their reporters had heard those words on the tape. They had not, and the President never said them. The recording, which was supposedly destroyed, turned up, and proved that the sole “anonymous source” who characterized the conversation mislead reporters, who then misled the public.

In the Ethics Alarms essay, I stated that the Post now had an obligation to reveal its “anonymous” source, because it had no justification for protecting the identity of someone who provided false information. Yesterday, the Post did reveal her identity: Jordan Fuchs, the Georgia deputy secretary of state, who had spoken with the investigator regarding the President’s call.

So this was not just hearsay, it was double hearsay. That was the basis of a Post story that made it seem as if the President was asking an investigator to manufacture evidence of election fraud. That was the basis on which the nation was l led to believe that a Republican President was trying to undo the Georgia presidential election.

[Note of Correction: I had incorrectly suggested that the Post account was published before the Georgia Senate run-offs. That was incorrect. I apologize for the error.]

Continue reading

Monday Ethics Pot The End Of The Rainbow, 12/30/19: The Post Turns On Maddow, Second Amendment Rights In Action, And A Fast Food Fiasco

There‘s a huge rainbow outside!

Either its the sunshine coming through the just lifted rain, or the LBGTG army has taken over!

1.  But..but..the narrative! On Sunday, a man entered a church in White Settlement, Texas, and started firing on worshippers, until he was shot dead by a member of the church security team. Two worshipers died.  Thettacker was only able to get off two shots before being shot by a security guard ,reportedly an ex-FBI agent, who was an excellent marksman.

Several other armed congregants at the West Freeway Church of Christ grabbed their own firearms and prepared to shoot if necessary.

A 2017 law passed by the Republicans in the Texas legislature allowed church goers to carry licensed guns, on the theory that gun-free zones wouldn’t deter killers and criminals, which yu would think would be self-evident. Democrats and allies of Michael Bloomberg condemned the law.

Where’s that “if it only saves one life” rationalization that President Obama was so fond of? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/1/17: Richard Simmons, Stilettos, A Sarcastic Cop, And The Post Sides With Palin

GOOD MORNING SEPTEMBER!

1.Good riddance to August, which had the worst fall-off in traffic here relative to the previous year of any month in Ethics Alarms history. I only have theories, the main one being that last August’s surge was an anomaly fueled by the Presidential campaign and the fact that Ethics Alarms was analyzing the ethics deficits of Hillary, Trump, the news media and both parties in roughly equal measure, since they were misbehaving in roughly equal measure.  Since “the resistance” and their allies in the news media, academia and elsewhere decided to reject democratic institutions like elections and the office of the Presidency in their revulsion, and mount a dangerous perpetual assault on the President with the objective of  undermining his leadership and having him removed extra-Constitutionally, the left-leaning end of the blog-reading pubic has become rigid and unyielding, and unable to tolerate even considering any position but their own. I’m seeing it on Facebook, every day. Their position is indefensible on the facts, so they find any critical analysis of their conduct and attitudes unpleasant. Then again, it could be because Google is burying my posts for being insufficiently politically correct, or because I suck.

2. Here’s a perfect example of the kind of ethics issue that only deserves Warm-Up status: Melania’s shoes as she boarded Air Force One on the way to  Houston.

(She was in sneakers when she landed, and was mocked for that, too.)

The New York Times and other Trump-Hate news sources actually thought this fashion choice by the ex-model was worthy of criticism. In Melania Trump, Off to Texas, Finds Herself on Thin Heels , Vanessa Friedman spend hundreds of words dissecting how the stilettos were “a symbol for what many see as the disconnect between the Trump administration and reality.” Apparently the First Lady broke the “No high heels when leaving a disaster” rule in the First Family Ethics Manual. Letter writer Dennis Donalson correctly chided the Times, writing in part,

The fact that she wore high heels when boarding a plane, regardless of her destination, is not newsworthy. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and shoes are just shoes, not “the go-to stand-in for more nuanced, complicated emotions and issues.” Give Melania, and us all, a break.

Dennis notwithstanding, I’ve decided stories like this are wonderful: they are smoking gun evidence for anyone who isn’t similarly deranged that the news media is so consumed with anti-Trump mania that it is literally unable to determine what is or isn’t fair, proportionate and reasonable coverage. If the Times thinks Melania’s shoes are such a big deal, no wonder it goes nuts over what the President says to the Boy Scouts…and no wonder it is no longer reasonable to accord such a paper any credibility or respect at all. Continue reading

NPR Gets Careless With Its Bias (And The Post Tries To Provide Cover)

Shannon Watts. Well, not really...

Shannon Watts. Well, not really…

Ethics Alarms returns to the evergreen topic of the journalism ethics defying left-agenda bias of the Mainstream media with the most defiant and annoying perpetrator of all, National Public Radio. Its solemn, cultivated con on this occasion involved, naturally, the news media’s war on guns, which, for those you don’t understand the concept of “fair and objective reporting,” is supposed to be “the news media explicating the left’s war on guns.”

A week ago, NPR’s Chris Arnold reported on the emergence  of a “powerful new gun control group,” Everytown for Gun Safety. The organization came out of  the union of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns  and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group launched by Shannon Watts during the post-Newtown gun control push.

Describing Watts, the NPR feature said:

“Much of the groundswell behind this crusade comes from just regular people pulled into it for their own reasons. For a woman named Shannon Watts, she was drawn in by another mass shooting — the murder of 20 schoolchildren 6- and 7-year-olds in Newtown, Connecticut. Watts wasn’t there: She lived 800 miles away in Zionsville, Indiana. She was folding her kids’ laundry, actually, when the news broke. And she wanted to do something. ‘I was obviously devastated but I was also angry and I went online and I thought, ‘Surely there is a Mothers Against Drunk Driving for gun safety.’ And I couldn’t find anything. Watts had never done anything political before but she made a Facebook page and she called it One Million Moms for Gun Control [now Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America].”

Now, this is how the news media can slant an issue and later say, “Who, us?” This paragraph is designed to send the visceral, lizard-brain-level message “Anti-gun activism GOOD.” The public, especially the college educated, generally well-off listeners of NPR, is rightly suspicious of lobbyists and activists of all stripes, and sophisticated, well-funded efforts to influence public policy. They are most likely to trust the instincts of, well, themselves, or people like themselves, or better yet, “innocents” driven by conviction and unselfish, unsophisticated democratic motives, like, say “Guns BAD’ and “Do something!” Thus the paragraph above describes a hero that Every Listener can identify with, for many of them see themselves as ” just regular people” who “never done anything political before.”

They also melt like lemon drops over activism by moms, because many are moms, and everyone loves mom.  This is also why savvy activists like to name their groups after mothers.

You have to love the details NPR chose to include and what they suggest. “Zionsville, Indiana”…might as well be called Everytown. Watts was folding her kids’ laundry when she heard of Newtown. Can’t you just picture Donna Reed or Marion Cunningham hearing the news on NPR, probably with tears in her eyes, getting a that look of determination in her eyes (“I know that look, honey!”) and deciding to, dammit, do something, having never done “anything political” before?

But in the case of Shannon Watts, that was an intentionally misleading image, crafted by her and abetted by NPR to promote sympathy for the anti-gun movement.

Let’s look at NPR’s  correction after Newsbusters, the conservative news watchdog, newsbusted the story in a post titled “Dishonest NPR Tells of ‘Regular’ Mom Who Put the Con in Gun Control”: Continue reading

Katie Couric And The Anti-Gun Documentary: Not Just Vanishing Journalism Ethics, But Vanishing Consensus That Journalism Has Any Obligation To Be Ethical

Just in time for the Presidential campaign, old friend Katie Couric has been kind enough to remind us just how little we can trust journalists, how arrogant they are regarding their unethical methods, and how the profession that is supposed to protect democracy is now a threat to it.

Having failed in her effort to be a network news anchor and a talk-show host, the former “Today Show” star  is now biding her time at Yahoo News waiting for a comeback opportunity. She served as executive producer and narrator of “Under the Gun,” an anti-gun documentary written, produced, and directed by anti-gun activist Stephanie Soechtig. In one powerful scene (above) , Couric is seen asking members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, gun rights supporters all, “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” The pro-gun members of the group with the motto “Defending Your Right to Defend Yourself”can’t answer the question! The documentary shows blank stares and a damning, awkward, 9 second period of total silence.

Fortunately, one of the gun owners in the sequence, VCDL President Philip Van Cleave, recorded the actual event before it was edited to make gun owners look like mutes. There was no pause. The members offered several answers. They were omitted from the documentary, with a pause inserted instead to bolster an anti-gun agenda.

Couric was aware of the deceptive editing, apparently questioned it, but allowed it to remain in the documentary. This is signature significance: no ethical journalist—if there even is such a thing any more—does this, ever, even once. While various media reporters on the left have expressed their disapproval, they have also muted their criticism to try to minimize the damage to their own profession. Here is NPR’s David Folkenflik, for example:

This manipulation — and that’s what it was — would not pass muster at NPR under its principles for fairness in handling interviews. It should be noted that documentaries operate with a different ethos than straight news. “Under the Gun” has a take, strongly suggesting there is a quiet consensus in favor of background checks among gun owners, aside from gun rights advocacy groups. This is not deception on a grand scale, but this handling of the interviews with the Virginia gun owners group is clearly unfair and unwarranted. People deserve to recognize themselves in how they appear in interviews.

Spin. It’s not “manipulation.” Its lying. It is presenting false information, not “manipulated” information. The film affirmatively represented that the response to a question was dumbfounded silence. That is as much a lie as recording fake answers like “Duh, well dang me, I never thought of that! I guess them background checks ain’t such a bad idea after all!” and dubbing them in. Lying isn’t just “unfair;” lying is dishonest and sinister. Continue reading

The News Media Signals That It Intends to Have Biased Coverage, And Journalism Ethics Be Damned

"Wait---why would anyone think Obama's 2012 campaign spokesperson wouldn't be capable of fair objective analysis of the 2016 campaign?"

“Wait—why would anyone think Obama’s 2012 campaign spokesperson wouldn’t be capable of fair objective analysis of the 2016 campaign?”

As Erik Wemple, the new media blogger of the Washington Post, reveals, NBC intended to sign on an irredeemably  conflicted and biased “political analyst” for the upcoming campaign and election until her ongoing conflict of interest was made too obvious to hide. When  Politico’s  Mike Allen pointed pointed out that this announcement from the network…

Stephanie Cutter has joined NBC News and MSNBC as a Political Analyst. She will contribute exclusively on a range of topics across all platforms including Meet the Press, TODAY, Nightly and MSNBC.”

…was made the same DAY  a New York Times story,  “Obama Mobilizes Campaign Veterans to Push for Court Nominee,” by Michael D. Shear and Eric Lipton reported…

“[Stephanie] Cutter … will oversee the efforts by the new group, to be called the Constitutional Responsibility Project. Anita Dunn, the former White House communications director, is handling the news media, along with Amy Brundage, a veteran Obama aide. Also involved are Julianna Smoot, the chief fund-raiser for Mr. Obama’s campaigns; Paul Tewes, Mr. Obama’s top field operative in 2008; and Katie Beirne Fallon, the president’s last legislative director.”

…even the shamelessly partisan NBC had to backtrack. Were they really willing to promote and pay a previous Obama campaign spokesperson as an objective and independent analyst while she was being paid to promote a politically charged Obama agenda item? Apparently not—not yet, anyway. This is, of course, a textbook, unresolvable conflict of interest, though NBC avoided that clarifying phrase. The official announcement from the network cancelling the deal with Cutter before the ink was dry on her contract stated:

“We look forward to Stephanie’s insights on our air during this election year, but she will appear as a guest and not as an analyst due to her leadership role in the battle over the President’s Supreme Court nomination.”

This is a porous band-aid on a gushing ethics wound on the journalism establishment, but good enough, I’m sure, for either the average inattentive TV viewer or the partisan Democrat who thinks, for example, that it’s fine to have Democratic operative Donna Brazile posing regularly as an objective commentator on ABC and CNN. Wemple even seems to praise NBC for making the call, even though it is outrageous that any network would dare to hire a demonstrably dishonest Democratic Party hack like Cutter and pronounce her capable of competent analysis, much less objectivity. Continue reading

Hugh Hewitt’s “Gotcha!” On Trump

trump-hewitt

If the Republicans, conservatives and liberal media can’t torpedo Donald Trump’s ridiculous and destructive presidential quest fairly and based on substance, their problems go a lot deeper than Donald Trump.

Wait a minute—they do!

The attempt to make a big deal out of Trump’s performance on the conservative radio talk show hosted by Earl Warren look-alike Hugh Hewitt is another example of the kind of unfair tactics that will just drive more supporters his way. First Hewitt asked Trump about Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who Washington Post blogger Erik Wemple calls the famous leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force. Really? Famous? I’ll say right now: never heard of the dude. I will also say that if my ethics business required dealing with Iraq, I’d be briefed on him thoroughly before I had to make any substantive decisions. Trump’s “yeeees…”  indicated that ether he knew a quiz was coming, or had no idea who he was; then he said,  “Go ahead, give me a little, go ahead, tell me.” Then…

Hewitt: “He runs the Quds Forces.” (Listen to this on the Post link. I’m from Boston.  Anyone in my high school would have pronounced “Quds” and “Kurds” indistinguishably)

Trump: “Yes, OK, right.”

Hewitt: “Do you expect his behavior–”

Trump: “I think the Kurds, by the way, have been horribly mistreated by us.”

Hewitt: “No, not the Kurds — the Quds Forces, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Forces — the bad guys.”

Trump: “Yes, right.”

Hewitt: “Do you expect his behavior to change as a result –”

Trump: “Oh, I thought you said Kurds, Kurds.”

This, apparently, shows that Trump is unqualified to be President.  (He is, but not because of this.) Count on Democrats using the fact that Hillary can run off these names as proof of her superiority, though she was, you know, Secretary of State. Later, when Hewitt tried more quiz questions about the Middle East, Trump objected: Continue reading

Remember The Title, “When An Apology Isn’t Enough: Carol Costello’s Ugly Partisan Bias”? An Apology Still Isn’t Enough.

"Dear Carol..."

“Dear Carol…”

As Joe Concha reports on Mediaite, the media drumbeats are growing louder in the news media jungle, calling for Carol Costello to deliver an on-air apology when she returns to the CNN morning broadcast Monday. Various media critics, including the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple (whose judgement is inherently suspect after pronouncing the smug and biased CNN anchorwoman “outstanding”), Fox’s inconsistent Howard Kurtz, and even CNN’s own Brian Stelter, have declared unacceptable Costello’s vicious, personal, plainly partisan glee while introducing a tape of Bristol Palin giving her account of what she claimed as was a physical attack on her by a larger man.  (Then there’s me.) Concha concludes,

“Throw in the growing-in-popularity hashtag (#firecarolcostello) on Twitter, a CNN Should Fire Carol Costello Facebook page, and a boatload of hypocrisy after she called for an ESPN analyst (Stephen A. Smith) to be suspended for insensitive comments he made about women’s abuse during the Ray Rice controversy, and you have an embattled anchor whose only option at this point is to ask for forgiveness on CNN (a mandatory two-week vacation afterward might not be a bad idea, either).”

As I explained at the time, Costello was wrong, and stupidly wrong, about Smith, as indeed she is wrong with remarkable frequency, and annoying even when she isn’t. Hypocrisy is only a small sliver of her problem, and no apology will cure what her gratuitous attack on Palin’s daughter reveals beyond question. She can express contrition to Bristol, but again, it doesn’t matter: her words, and the fact that she was unable to restrain herself sufficiently to avoid saying them on the air prove that she is unacceptably biased for a journalist. So great is her partisan hate that she takes glee in bodily harm being inflicted on the children of a popular conservative figure. So alien to Costello are the values of professionalism, fairness and respect for her viewers that she actually said, on the air, that her favorite part of the tape was the part where Palin said she had been called a cunt.  Continue reading

Cuomo Interviewing Cuomo? Of Course It’s A Conflict!

The interesting question isn’t whether CNN’s Chris Cuomo blithely interviewing the Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo—who happens to be his brother–is a conflict of interest and an example of unethical journalism. Of course it is. The interesting question is what it tells us about the state of U.S. journalism that such an interview could even occur.

Here are two prominent provisions of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, requiring that ethical journalists…

  • “Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.”
  • “Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.”

Is there any question that a CNN anchor man interviewing his brother regarding anything whatsoever violates both of these? Real or perceived? Compromise integrity or damage credibility? Seriously?

Cuomo the Anchorman was interviewing Cuomo the Governor regarding the recent train accident. Conflict? Sure: the journalist is supposed to have only one duty, and that is to his audience. But Cuomo the Anchorman obviously has another, potentially confounding duty of loyalty to his interview subject, and this he must not have. It calls into question his willingness to probe and, if the facts warrant it, to ask uncomfortable questions of his subject. If Chris Cuomo’s duty to his audience unexpectedly requires him to breach his loyalty to his own brother, which will he choose? We don’t know. Perhaps Cuomo himself doesn’t know. He was obligated not to place himself in a situation where the question even needed to be asked.

The various defenses being offered are, I have to say, misguided and disturbing. The usually sensible Joe Concha of Mediaite writes that the controversy is “much ado about nothing.” His reasons are … Continue reading

The Ethics Duncehood Of WaPo Blogger Eric Wemple, And Martin Bashir’s Forced Apology For, Uh, Saying That Someone Should Defecate In Sarah Palin’s Mouth

When is an apparent #1 class apology not good enough? Well, in the case of the matter at hand, there are two reasons.

The apology in question came from Martin Bashir, who, as I mentioned in a previous post, used his MSNBC show to suggest that Sarah Palin’s overblown analogy between the financial burden on future generations created by U.S. debt and actual slavery warranted her having to submit to someone expelling excrement into her mouth, and urinating on her as well. He really did say this. On the air. Carefully and deliberately.

See? Yet suddenly, after the weekend, Bashir was contrite, and delivered as elegant and sincere-sounding apology as one could imagine:

“I wanted to take this opportunity to say sorry to Mrs. Palin and to also offer an unreserved apology to her friends and family, her supporters, our viewers, and anyone who may have heard what I said. My words were wholly unacceptable. They were neither accurate, nor fair. They were unworthy of anyone who would claim to have an interest in politics, and they have brought shame upon my friends and colleagues at this network, none of whom were responsible for the things that I said. I deeply regret what I said, and that I have learned a sober lesson in these last few days. That the politics of vitriol and destruction is a miserable place to be, and a miserable person to become. And I promise that I will take the opportunity to learn from this experience.” Continue reading