Monday Ethics Nightcap, 6/29/2020: Fake Blackface, Fake News, Mississippi Stalling [#3 UPDATED ]

Good night!

1. Well, there’s blackface, then there’s dark make-up, then there’s stuff that idiots might think is blackface, as well as what someone may get offended over because they think it’s kind of like blackface—oh, what the hell, let’s ban it all. In a 1988 episode of “The Golden Girls,”  Dorothy’ son, Michael, who is white like his mother (played by the imposing, also white, Bea Arthur) is planning on marrying Lorraine, a much older black woman. Dorothy objects to the love birds’ age difference while Lorraine’s mother disapproves of Michael’s race, saying, “No daughter of mine is marrying some skinny white boy.” Then flighty  Rose (Betty White) and sex-obsessed Blanche (Rue McClanahan) interrupt the potential in-laws show-down by walking into the room wearing their mud facial masks.

Rose stammers: “This is mud on our faces; we’re not really black!”

“The Golden Girls” was a consistently liberal-tilting show, and the episode was obviously making fun of racial sensitivities. Never mind. Hulu has pulled it.
Continue reading

From The Washington Post: A Fake News Classic!

And, of course, a “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!” masterpiece.

For shame.

Here is the headline:

Trump keeps claiming the most dangerous cities in America are run by  Democrats. They aren’t.

To be fair, the writer of the piece, apparently insane Post reporter Philip Bump, focuses on the President’s statement that the top twenty most dangerous cities are run by Democrats. Gotcha! Bump triumphantly produces this stunning graph to prove that, once again, Trump has lied, the bastard:

Ah HA! See??? Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Freakout, 6/20/2020: Fake News, Resignations, Topplings And Cancellations…But Also Hope

I know just how you feel, Homer.

1. Mainstream media journalism, 2020. I thank Tim Levier for this classic, from NBC News:

Fake news. First, the Court did NOT rule that Trump cannot end DACA. The opinion by Chief Justice Roberts said explicitly that he can. Second, “Dreamers”  were not legal immigrants so they cannot magically become legal immigrants. At best, they will be illegal immigrants who have been given a pass for their violation.  The tweet is deceptive, misleading, and incompetent.

2. Cancellations, Resignations and Topplings Update! The current list of entertainment celebrities and politicians who have been documented as wearing blackface for one reason or another is long, and if one falls to the mob, the rest might start feeling awfully nervous.

The list includes Justin Trudeau, Ralph Northam, Howard Stern, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Joy Behar, Sarah Silverman, Ted Danson, Gigi Hadid, Julianne Hough and Billy Crystal.  Right now rumors are swirling around the irredeemable Jimmy Kimmel, who has suddenly announced a hiatus, with many speculating that he is holding on to his job by a thread…and if he goes, the innocuous Fallon may be next. Though Stern, Kimmel and Behar are blights on the culture whose professional demise I would cheer, long past blackface dabbling should not be used to punish any of these people now….except perhaps the Virginia Governor.  Northam is a special case, because his party is wildly hypocritical to allow him to escape accountability when it is cheering on the mobs. However, again, a law school costume has no relevance to the Governor today.

As for Trudeau–I don’t care.

3. Cancellations, Resignations and Topplings Update, Literary Division. At the Poetry Foundation earlier this month,  leadership was forced to resign because its official grovel to Black Lives Matter and the George Floyd mob was deemed not abject enough. The Foundation had issued a brief, four-sentence statement on June 3, expressing “solidarity with the Black community” and declaring faith in “the strength and power of poetry to uplift in times of despair.” This prompted a critical uproar from the progressive poets, with another letter from members calling the statement “worse than the bare minimum” and an insult to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other African-American victims of police violence. The foundation’s president and board chairman then quit, because, I suppose, poets are lovers, not fighters.

“As poets, we recognize a piece of writing that meets the urgency of its time with the appropriate fire when we see it — and this is not it,” the letter said. “Given the stakes, which equate to no less than genocide against Black people, the watery vagaries of this statement are, ultimately, a violence.”

Genocide! Talk about poetic license. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: CNN’s Brian Stelter

“You understand that, like, some day you’re going to regret this, right? Some day you’re going to regret this, when your kids and your grandkids look back at this time, and you use slurs and smear us as fake news to hurt news outlets. I think in 10 or 20 years if we sit down and talk about this, you’ll recognize how damaging it was to use terms like fake news, to attack journalists who are trying to do their jobs.”

—-Brian Stelter, CNN’s alleged media expert, excoriating Trump campiagn legal advisor Jenna Ellis.  on his Sunday show “Reliable Sources.”

And with that, Stelter completed an unholy CNN trinity  with Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo who have had on-air emotional outbursts and tantrums because, to put it simply, none of them are very smart or professional. The antics of all three would embarrass any legitimate, trustworthy news organization, which CNN obviously is no longer, and the fact that it continues to employ Stelter, a virulent partisan who covers for CNN’s constant journalism sins, is a smoking gun, one of many. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/9/2020: “If” And Silver Linings

Good Morning!

My father’s favorite poem, which I read at his funeral service at Arlington National Cemetery in 2010—-was it really that long ago?—is especially relevant and valuable now. Some of the woke-addled have “canceled” Rudyard Kipling because of his offenses against presentism (and because he ended “If” with female-excluding nouns). This is like cutting off your nose to spite your face, or perhaps lobotomizing yourself to spite your character. However you choose to describe it, not being able to channel “If” when all about you are losing their heads—like now—is a severe and unnecessary handicap.

1. “Forget it, Jake. It’s The Times.” Nobody at the Times protested, as far as we know, when the paper, over the weekend, ran a story titled, “Vote for Trump? These Republican Leaders Aren’t on the Bandwagon” that claimed, “Former President George W. Bush won’t support the re-election of Mr. Trump.”  The article attributed this revelation about George W. Bush’s intentions (and Jeb’s) to unnamed sources “familiar with their thinking.” This is the variety of fake news Ethics Alarms categorizes as Psychic News, based on mind-reading and nothing else. Speaking on behalf of Bush 43, a spokesman  told the Texas Tribune, “This is completely made up. He is retired from presidential politics and has not indicated how he will vote.” Ford reiterated this statement to the Times, indicating that the former president would stay out of the election and speak only on policy issues. Has The Times retracted or corrected its claim? Of course not.

I would personally be shocked if George or Jeb voted for Trump, given how much the Bush family hates him for his personal insults against them, but that doesn’t mean a newspaper can declare as fact that they won’t. Their other big scoops were that Colin Powell wouldn’t vote for Trump, against based on those who have read his mind, though we know he voted for Clinton in 2016 (he said so) and that Mitt Romney, who voted to convict Trump in the impeachment trial just to stick a metaphorical thumb in the President’s eye, would also abstain. Oh…I almost forgot Cindy McCain, who wouldn’t even invite the President to her husband’s funeral. The Times says she’s not supporting him either. Stop the presses!

The silver lining here is that the evidence that the mainstream news media is biased and untrustworthy is becoming so obvious that those who deny it increasingly brand themselves as fools or liars. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/7/2020: Let’s Play “Name The Breached Ethics Values”!

Awash with shame for forgetting D-Day yesterday…

I don’t know about you, but for me the days merge into each other of late. I didn’t realize that I had snubbed D-Day until almost midnight. My Dad used to remind me that my existence may have been due to his unexpected inability to participate in the invasion: he had been assigned as an observer, which sounded scary to me, but “luckily” the idiot who blew himself and my dad’s foot up with a live hand grenade took him off the beaches.

1. I wonder...are the same PR hacks who wrote all of the “we’re all in this together? messages about the Wuhan lockdown the ones responsible for the smarmy “black lives matter” messages various companies are putting out?

Yesterday I was watching a movie on Vice, and the CEO kept interrupting the film to blather on about social justice. He is going to host a special, and among the guests—Trayvon Martin’s mother! That tells me all I need to know about the program. Outside of the false narrative constructed around it, the Zimmerman-Martin affair holds no enlightenment about systemic racism, police, or anything else useful, other than being a fine example of how the news media and politicians exploit race whenever they can.

The ethical values breached are honesty, responsibility, and citizenship.

2. Ann Althouse posted this sign from her neighborhood (Madison, Wisconsin).

Yeah, that attitude will really assist the battle against “systemic racism.” Nothing builds racial trust like one race telling the other that there are some opinions it can’t express because of their race.

These are the people that the NFL, Uber, BestBuy and so many other businesses and institutions are supporting.

The ethical value being ignored are trust and integrity. Continue reading

The Ethics Alarms Directory Of “Fake News”: Prelude

The first use of the tag “fake news” on this website was on March 4, 2015. That’s more than three months before Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President on June 16, 2015; the oft-published claim that Trump launched the term “fake news” to deride the news media for criticizing him and his Presidency is, ironically enough, fake news.

The 2015 piece was about CNBC publishing as legitimate news a press release by an anti-vaxx group, a category of fake news called “Hearsay news” in today’s directory to come. I posted three more articles tagged “fake news” before Trump was elected. One of them was the Mother of All Fake News episodes, when the Boston Globe hit the news stands and front walks on April 10, 2016 featuring a satirical front page with headlines about a fictional, dystopian Donald Trump Presidency. “This is Donald Trump’s America. What you read on this page is what might happen if the GOP frontrunner can put his ideas into practice, his words into action,” went the introduction. I wrote in part

This is a spectacular  failure of professionalism and a journalistic disgrace. A newspaper is pledged to report the news, not imagine it. It is not ethically entitled to morph into Saturday Night Live or the Onion because it really, really, really feels strongly about an issue….No paper published such a “future news” piece about the world under Nazi rule, or the race war if civil rights laws didn’t change. No respectable publication predicted a similar dystopian future under President Huey Long, or Joe McCarthy, or what a U.S. with open borders would look like, or what a Ron Paul style US with heroin for sale off drug store counters would lead to. That is because this means of political advocacy and commentary is reserved for the features and entertainment sections, not where facts are supposed to be, and where readers must be able to expect a reasonable attempt at truth, not a showboating effort to distort it.

The episode marked, as it turned out, the beginning of an epidemic of metaphorical canaries dying in the poisoned mine of American journalism. Continue reading

No A Study Did Not Prove That Trump’s “Touted” Drug Didn’t Work. Not Exactly Fake News, But Close Enough.

Salon: Trump-touted hydroxychloroquine may increase risk of death from COVID-19; “largest study yet finds no benefits but higher deaths,”

CNN: Study finds no benefit, higher death rate in patients taking hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19.

Fox News: COVID-19 treatment hydroxychloroquine showed no benefit, more deaths in VA virus study

The Washington Post wrote, “On Tuesday, a new government study was published suggesting the drug didn’t offer any benefit in fighting covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, and worse, that its use was correlated with more deaths.”

To be fair to the Post, at least it said that the study should be be viewed “with caution,” and provided a link to the study, not that most of its readers would actually read it. If they had, they would have realized that the study was wildly over-hyped in the media, and didn’t really “suggest” anything of the sort. Once again, this was another example of the news media playing to the confirmation bias of those who want to see the President be wrong. Are they cheering for the pandemic to do as much damage as possible? I refuse to believe that, but some of them sure manage to sound like they do.

I wasn’t going to discuss this tonight, but a smart, usually fair Facebook friend wrote a false description of the study calculated to appeal to the Trump Deranged. I don’t think he would have done that if he had read it, but he hates Trump too, and he doesn’t think the news media is biased—they agree with him, after all, so they must be fair– so he’ll trust the headlines, or the spin, every time. Continue reading

Here’s A “Little List” Worth Perusing: Fake News Clues

The pop-culture-trivia-snark-list website Cracked (and how sad is it that the site based on the inferior magazine knock-off of Mad Magazine is still going and Mad has bitten the metaphorical dust?) has a post listing twenty ways not to be fooled by fake news. It starts out,

Thanks to the Twitters and the Facebooks of the world, these days we pretty much just get our “news” from the clickbait headlines we see while scrolling through poorly-made but still hilarious memes. Which sucks, because it’s pretty much ruining society. So here’s how to avoid becoming an uninformed angry internet denizen in the future.

Among the article’s observations:

  • Don’t trust The Daily Mail. I knew it was basically a rag, but I didn’t know the Daily Mail has overtaken the New York Times as the most visited news website.

I’ve never used the Daily Mail for a story without checking other sources, but he’s right; it’s lazy. I won’t use it from now on.

  • The use of the term “after ” in a headline implies causation that is often not there.

This is a New York Times specialty, particularly on Trump-bashing stories by reporter Maggie Halberman.

  • The post warns of headlines that are composed to nab clicks but that do not accurately reflect the content of the story beneath..

Another New York Times specialty.

  • This one was unintentionally funny, especially in the midst of the rest:

What reputable news sources? As the list amply demonstrates, there aren’t any! Continue reading

Ethics Lunch, 4/14/2020: The Bad, The Ugly, And The Yummy

Abundunza!

1. Remember when Joe Biden said that the President needed to stop saying whatever popped into his head? This is the kind of thing he was talking about.

He suggested last week during the White House briefing that insurance companies should pay out business interruption claims related to the pandemic, even if coverage for such an event  is not explicitly included in their policy. Trump said regarding insurance for an interruption of business,

“If I had it, I’d expect to be paid. All of the sudden they need it … and I don’t see the word pandemic mentioned. Now in some cases, it is. It’s an exclusion. But in a lot of cases, I don’t see it. I don’t see reference and they don’t want to pay up. I would like to see the insurance companies pay if they need to pay, if it’s fair….You have people that have never asked for business interruption insurance (payouts) and they’ve been paying a lot of money for a lot of years for the privilege of having it. And then when they finally need it, the insurance company says ‘we’re not going to give it.’ We can’t let that happen.”

Ugh. Insurance doesn’t work like that and can’t work like that, though I’m sure, as a businessman, Trump would take a shot at trying to make such a case. It is irresponsible, however, to misinform the public that such a claim would be reasonable. Insurance companies should have to meet their contractual obligations; Trump’s theory would cause premiums to explode. Continue reading