Why American Presidents Need A Fair News Media To Be Competent, And More Evidence That They Won’t Get One Anytime Soon, If Ever…

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It’s my own fault. I’ve written so many essays here since 2009 about the disgraceful descent of the news media into partisan propaganda that I can’t find the relevant post I was looking for on my own blog. That would be the one during the Obama administration in which I pointed out that being assured that no reporters and virtually no pundits would have the guts or integrity to criticize Obama’s performance as President had made him lazy, arrogant, and reckless. If you know anything you do will be extolled whether it deserves praise of not, and any mistakes and blunders will be covered up or spun, why be careful, especially if you’re an arrogant narcissistic like Barack? The same principle operated on President Trump, but in reverse (I honestly don’t recall if I noted this, but I noticed it). If a President is certain that whatever he does will be attacked by the news media, there is no reason for him to consider the press in his policy considerations. Summary: bad journalism makes bad Presidents.

Several commentators are finally waking up to this phenomenon now, as they try to find some other than Joe Biden to blame for Joe Biden’s incompetence. I have now read several pieces opining that the President was certain that the press would have his back no matter what happened in Afghanistan.

That was really foolish on Biden’s part (but then…Biden) for two reasons. First, he is not nearly as popular as Obama, and nobody was going to call a reporter “racist” for criticizing him. Second, and more importantly, journalists destroyed their influence and credibility during their four year campaign of fake news and glorified rumors to bring down Donald Trump. Most of the public doesn’t trust the mainstream media—good!—because it is untrustworthy. The days when it could cover a President’s botches effectively have passed.

One would think that this would spur the news media to be more careful about the lies they present to the public as truth, and one would be tragically wrong. Two recent examples from last week demonstrate that no “Oh-oh, we better start practicing honest journalism!” alarms are ringing yet.

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Ethics Villains: The Boston Globe Editorial Board

Globe Logo

The Boston Globe has just published an editorial splashed on its website in the flamboyant style its previous owner, the New York Times, reserved for “important” declarations and propaganda like the “1619 Project.” “The Case For Prosecuting Donald Trump” is the latest installment of the Globe’s ongoing attack on former President Trump, which, of course, began from the moment he was elected. This screed is the current chapter, the sixth, in a project called, clumsily enough, “Future-Proofing the Presidency.” It is, even for the bottom of the barrel level of partisan and biased journalism that is now routine, nauseating. Even the timing of it is unethical—partisan, cynical, and embarrassingly obvious. Donald Trump isn’t President, and the Globe’s claim of fictional urgency regarding an exited POTUS is unprecedented.

Is this worse than the Globe’s stunt in 2016, when it published a fake front page showing what a future Trump Presidency would yield? Oh, I don’t know. I do know that a newspaper that would publish that would be capable of issuing an editorial this bad…and so it has!

The past week has exposed the irresponsible policy calculations of the Biden administration, notably with inflation arising as anyone could have predicted it would with a government that tosses away trillions like money is confetti. The President’s corrupt son has again come under examination, reminding us how the news media, including the Globe, deliberately embargoed information regarding his slimy activities that legitimately raised questions about “The Big Guy.” The illegal immigrant rush to the border, a surge that Democrats and Joe Biden invited, is a disaster. Kamala Harris, assigned the job of managing it, was anointed as a President in Waiting, and has demonstrated (again) how frighteningly unqualified she ,

The party the Globe works for has revealed itself as harboring anti-Semites within its leadership. The previous Democratic President has begun attacking white America and evoking the racist views of his “spiritual advisor” Rev. Wright, though candidate Barack Obama condemned such divisive views in order to get elected in 2008. Yet another false narrative the news media used to undermine President Trump’s re-election prospects was exposed as a lie this week, and the Democratic Party’s plans to enact a radical agenda without anything resembling a popular mandate by eliminating the Senate filibuster have crashed. Another IRS scandal under a Democratic President is emerging—and with all of this happening, and more, the Boston Globe’s priority is examining the Presidency of Donald Trump?

The editorial is deliberate misdirection, and desperately so. Its translation, as a whole, comes to this: “Never mind what’s going on now: wasn’t that last President horrible? Don’t you think we should get him?”

I haven’t read the previous editorials in the series, but as a lawyer, the headline was clickbait. What is the case for prosecuting Trump? The Globe’s editorial board doesn’t make it; they don’t even make a good faith effort. Unbelievably, the Globe’s indictment consists of three “crimes”:

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“Trump Lost, Didn’t He?” One More Piece Of Damaging Anti-Trump Fake News Is Proven False

When President Trump claims the election was stolen, this is the kind of thing he should focus on.

The U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of the Inspector General released its findings after investigating law enforcement’s actions on June 1 of 2020, when police removed protesters from Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., ahead of President Donald Trump walk to St. John’s Church, after “peaceful protesters” had set it aflame. The authorities made the decision to clear out the park in order to install fencing amid ongoing rioting in the area following the death of George Floyd, the investigation determined, and not for to give Trump a photo op, as the news media furiously reported. Inspector General Mark Lee Greenblatt’s thorough and detailed report concludes,

“We found that the USPP had the authority and discretion to clear Lafayette Park and the surrounding areas on June 1. The evidence we obtained did not support a finding that the USPP cleared the park to allow the President to survey the damage and walk to St. John’s Church.”

Oh! That’s funny…at the time, ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos reported that “The administration asked police to clear peaceful protesters from the park across the White House so that the President could stage a photo op.” “Reported” means it’s factual, right? ABC checked it out, it didn’t just follow what protesters said and the DNC told them to say, right? Just like NPR‘s headline “Peaceful Protesters Tear-Gassed To Clear Way For Trump Church Photo-Op” had to be based on solid facts and objective reporting, or it would have said “allegedly” or “some say,” correct? The New York Times–you know, the best of the best?—would never have printed “Protesters Dispersed With Tear Gas So Trump Could Pose at Church” if it wasn’t true, isn’t that how the “paper of record” is supposed to work? In a widely circulated video, a man interviewed on the scene said, “To me, the way our military and police have behaved toward the protesters at the instruction of President Trump has almost been Nazi-like.” Perfect!

Then, handed a false narrative, another Big Lie to run with, Democrats didn’t disappoint. Here’s Joe Biden or his ventriloquist:

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The Reverend Robert Wright Lee Car On The Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck

Fake Lee

I missed this, a case where refusing to subscribe to my local paper, The Washington Post, bit me. (I decided that if I have to get a flagrantly left-wing biased newspaper that has chosen to be a propaganda organ for the Democratic Party, I might as well get the best flagrantly left-wing biased newspaper that has chosen to be a propaganda organ for the Democratic Party and not #2.

Glenn Kessler, the Post’s “Factchecker” who tries to be objective but is so marinated in his organization’s biases that he fails as often as not, tried to save face for his employers by revealing that a man who has repeatedly represented himself as a descendant of General Robert E. Lee (On his website, Rob Lee describes himself as “a descendant of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.”) in order to justify toppling statues of the Confederate icon is, in fact, nothing of the kind. He is as much a relative of General Lee as Elizabeth Warren is a Cherokee. Nonetheless, the Post published an opinion piece on June 7, 2020, by Rev. Robert E. Lee VI titled, “Robert E. Lee is my ancestor. Take down his statue, and let his cause be lost.” The Post editor identified the author as the fourth great-nephew of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The headline, the description, and the justification for publishing the op-ed were, in order, a lie, journalism negligence, and misinformation. That was a year ago. Now Kessler decides to check the facts? Nice job, Speedy.

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More Evidence Of How The Presidency May Have Been Stolen. More Is Surely On The Way…

President Trump was wrong to keep claiming that voter fraud was responsible for his 2020 election loss; indeed he was wrong to be the one to question the fairness of election at all. However, the constant mantra in the mainstream news media that his complaints that the election was “stolen,” “rigged” or “fixed” are “false” meets the classic standard for “protesting too much.”

The 2020 election was rigged, as I explained here. The rigging by the mainstream media began from the second Donald Trump was elected, causing Democrats, progressives and especially journalists to abandon tradition, sound democratic principles, fairness, responsibility and ethics to do everything in their power to undermine the elected President of the United States, because they didn’t vote for him, didn’t like him, and refused to accept Hillary Clinton’s well-earned defeat. Out of this, what I have (correctly) termed the worst ethics breach in our society since at least the Second World War, we got the succession of Big Lies and the series of plots to remove Trump from office, including two unjustified and unethical impeachments.

I doubt that any President in our history could have overcome the deliberately biased news coverage and the barrage of fake negative news Donald Trump was attacked with for four straight years. It’s impossible to say, since no elected President, not even Richard Nixon, was subjected to anything similar. It is also impossible to say, it must be emphasized, that the despicable and unethical journalism used to undermine Trump actually caused his loss. This is, however approximately the same argument the defense in the Derek Chauvin trial is making. The media’s knee was on the President’s neck, but there were other things that might have killed his Presidency. It does not make the news media’s conduct any less wrong.

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Post-Zoom Hangover Ethics, 3-31-21….

People, even lawyers, just do not interact much in remote seminars. It makes a three-hour session far more tiring, even though I’m sitting down, rather than stalking through the space. Thus I am blotto now, after a legal ethics session earlier today.

1. And THIS is the best paper in the U.S…Two headlines on the New York Times front page this morning my high school paper faculty advisor would have rejected…and he would have been right:

  • “Gaetz Said To Face Inquiry Over Sex With Underage Girl” The fact someone says it is not news. Is he “facing an inquiry” or isn’t he? “Three people briefed on the matter” isn’t a source: we’ve seen how accurate the Times anonymous sources are, especially when the subject is a Republican, a conservative, and a Trump supporter. Why the front page for a rumor? Slow news day? Hey, I’ve got an idea: How about an article about how Joe Biden called Georgia “sick” based on a complete misrepresentation?
  • “Taliban Believes The War’s Over And They Won.” This is psychic news again, my favorite fake news form. How does the Times know what the Taliban “thinks”? Who cares what it “thinks”?

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

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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.]

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A “Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias” Spectacular! The Washington Post Says,”You Know That Story About Trump Pressuring The Georgia Secretary Of State to “Find The Votes” To Flip The State? Never Mind. It Was All A Lie.” [Corrected]

Trump phone call

Gee, thanks. I guess this means your paper is trustworthy, right?

You know, I’m getting a little angry about this. Not at the news media: I figured out long ago that it was making up negative stories about President Trump, so when it ran “scoops” with anonymous sources like this one, I assumed that it was as likely fake news as not. You may note that I didn’t even bother to comment on this story when it was reported, although that was partially because it was almost immediately swallowed by the January 6 riot and the second impeachment debacle. No, I’m getting just a little bit disgusted with friends and relatives who continue to claim, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that the mainstream news media did not repeatedly and intentionally hype, exaggerate, manufacture and otherwise publicize misleading and false stories for the explicit purpose of turning public opinion against President Trump to assist the Democrats in gaining power. The latest example, which was revealed today, is just another in a long, long trail. But it’s a major one.

In January, the Washington Post reported that then-President Donald Trump, still trying to undo the presumed results of an election he believed was stolen from him, “urged Georgia’s lead elections investigator to ‘find the fraud’ in a lengthy December phone call, saying the official would be a ‘national hero.’” There was a single anonymous source who supposedly “confirmed” the details of the private conversation on an audio recording, and this was enough for the Post.

Watch “All the President’s Men” again. This wasn’t considered enough verification when the Post went after Richard Nixon.

Other news sources quickly reported the same outrageous conduct, claiming they had independently verified the story. Several said that “Trump is heard on an audiotape pressuring the Georgia secretary of state to ‘find’ votes to overturn Biden’s win. ” But the reporters didn’t hear that audiotape. They were relying on someone who said they had heard it. This is why hearsay is not admitted into evidence in trials.

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Midnight Ethics Terrors, 2/17/21: Trump Attacks! Fake Law! Fake News! Fake Science!

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Okay, I started this at midnight, then got the night terrors, and waited until (almost) daylight to finish…

1. Who didn’t see this coming? Yesterday, Donald Trump unloaded with both metaphorical barrels on Mich McConnell as no President, former or otherwise, has ever attacked his party’s Senate leader before. McConnell asked for it, got it, and deserved it. His post impeachment trial acquittal was a foolish attempt to turn the President’s vindication into a defeat, and a pretty transparent example of the “now that the guy who was never one of us is out of power, we can strike at him with impunity” syndrome. Is McConnell really that deluded and incompetent? He must be. He apparently doesn’t understand the cognitive dissonance scale. Amazing. See, Mitch, nobody really likes you. You have the charisma of a scrub brush. As controversial as Trump is, he’s so much higher than you on the scale…

Cognitive Dissonance

… that attacking him just drags you lower still. Don’t you get that? Now Trump has double the effect. Some prime excerpts:

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Update: The SECOND Trump Impeachment Ethics Train Wreck

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When we last looked in on the destructive, divisive, unconstitutional and unethical fiasco known here as the Trump Impeachment Ethics Train Wreck II, Senator Rand Paul had delivered an excoriating speech about the unconstitutional nature of it all, every Democratic Senator had voted to continue with a trial that is, as Paul stated, unconstitutional on its face, Democrats openly discussed passing a Bill of Attainder (which is what any action barring a single private citizen, Donald Trump, from running for office would be), the Chief Justice refused to sully his name by any involvement with such an embarrassment, and President Biden, while vowing out of one side of his mouth to be a unifying presence, lifted nary a finger to stop his party from engaging in a trial that was based on hate, vengeance, and the craven need to satisfy the worst of its supporters. Meanwhile, the mainstream news media refuses to inform the American public why the whole thing is bad partisan political theater and little else.

Now we have the following fun developments:

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