Tag Archives: fake news

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/20/17

1. It isn’t just the President’s boorish role modelling and the misbehavior and incivility of his opposition that makes me fear for the ethics alarms of our rising generation. The long-term results of people being able to isolate themselves from social contact—and the social skills and sensitivities that direct, face to face contact nurture—by constant attention to electronic devices is a matter for concern. Yesterday, I became aware of another danger.

I heard, on the new Sirius-XM Beatles channel, a recording of Paul McCartney singing my favorite song from “Guys and Dolls,” a sweet ballad sung in the musical by an elderly father to his grown daughter during her romantic crisis.

McCartney has a foot in two cultures and always has. As much as a rock and pop innovator as he was, Paul was also steeped in the traditional love songs of his parent’s generation, including Broadway. Today both of McCartney’s feet are planted where nobody under the age of 30 is likely to tread, and that is natural. Yet it seems that popular music is increasingly devoid of tenderness, empathy and compassion. Hip-Hop, particularly, seems immune from being able to express a sentiment like that in Frank Loesser’s nearly  70-year-old song that Paul McCartney obviously understands. I wonder, and worry. how many of today’s young Americans understand it, or will grow up with the capacity to do so.

Here’s Bing crooning the same song…

You know I love ya, Bing, but the Moptop wins this round.

2. There was some discussion on a thread here yesterday about the ethics of interests outside the state putting so much money into Georgia’s 6th congressional district’s special election. The House was designed to give communities a say in the national government, so to the extent that a local election is warped by interests outside the community—the Democrat, Jon Ossoff, is a carpetbagger who doesn’t live in the district—it’s a violation of the spirit of the Constitution and the ideal of American democracy. Some have even made an analogy to foreign governments interfering in U.S. elections. On the other hand, all this outside “interference” consists of are words, ads, and marketing. The district’s residents still are the ones who vote. If they are so easily swayed by slick ads and robocalls, that’s their responsibility. (There may even be a backlash.) Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/18/2017

1. After I criticized Prof. Glenn Reynolds for  his “tit for tat” reaction to the conservatives who disrupted the Central Park production of “Julius Caesar,” I noticed that he had posted a more moderate, ethical and responsible reaction to the same event, writing,

“I’d rather live in a world where this sort of thing wasn’t done at all. But it’s not clear that we’re better off living in a world where it’s done all the time, but only by lefties.”

Muuuch better, professor. Thank-you.

2.

This photo of a “teacher of the Year” being ostentatiously gay in a White House photo with the President was originally posted at the Huffington Post with the headline, “Gay Teacher Photobombs Trump With Fan.” Fake news, but never mind: the photo went viral with the teacher, Nikos Giannopoulos, being hailed for making a disrespectful gesture of defiance, since the LGBT community is committed to the narrative that the President is anti-gay. (He isn’t, but facts and the narratives of “the resistance” are not correlated.)

This account was unfair to both Giannopoulos and the President. I was ready to make him an Ethics Dunce—when you are a guest, you don’t set out to embarrass your host, President or not—until I checked the story. In an NPR interview, the teacher was asked about the President’s reaction to the fan, and replied,

In other words, both the teacher and Trump behaved impeccably, and the President displayed no hostility to a gay pride salute at all. Under no circumstances, however, can anything this President does or says be presented in a positive light. He’ll never be impeached that way. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/17/2017

1. If you haven’t yet read them, Steve-O-in NJ’s Comment of the Day on Chris’s brilliant Comment of the Day regarding ideological and partisan hate—plus Chris Bentley’s Comment of the Day on the same post, are all especially worth reading, not that all Comments of the Day by Ethics Alarms readers are not. I apologize for an unusually long intro to Steve’s post, but I had been holding on to a lot of related material from the day past on the topic, and it was either use them there or be redundant later. This meant putting Steve-O’s COTD after the jump, which is why I’m giving an extra plug to it now.

2. There were two significant criminal trial verdicts yesterday: the guilty verdict in the trial of  Michelle Carter, a Massachusetts woman charged with murder for using text messages to persuade her teenaged boyfriend to kill himself, and the acquittal of the Minnesota police officers who shot and killed black motorist Philandro Castile during a traffic stop. I’ll cover the Carter case later.

There were the obligatory riots after the verdict acquitting Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who fatally shot Castile in his car after he told the officer that he was carrying a legally registered firearm and then reached for his wallet to show the officer his license. This is just the latest cattle-car in the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck, the familiar pattern of a badly-trained cop, a dubious police stop, poor judgment by a victim, and a needless death. I would compare it to the Tamir Rice shooting in Cleveland, where the officers involved weren’t even indicted.

Why in the world would a motorist tell a cop in that situation—Castile had been officially stopped for a broken tail light, but in reality because he was black, and the officers thought he resembled a suspect in a crime who was also black—that he had a gun? This could be interpreted as a threat, and obviously Yanez saw it as one. The verdict looks wrong at a gut level, but it is easy to see how the jurors were thinking: they placed themselves in the officer’s position. They would have been in fear of their lives, so they couldn’t find a way to pronounce Yanez a murderer for doing what they could see themselves doing under similar circumstances. This was a legitimate case for reasonable doubt under the law. Police officers, however, are supposed to be less likely to panic than a typical juror. Castile is dead because of incompetent police work, but the criminal laws don’t allow different standards to be applied  for different occupations, not should they. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/16/17

1. It looks like Bill Cosby is going to be acquitted, and probably rightly so, though probably for the wrong reason: bias. The jury is deadlocked, and I’d bet my head that one or more hold-outs just can’t accept the fact that that nice Cliff Huxtable would do those horrible things unless the victim consented somehow. Cheat on his wife. maybe. But not that.

Celebrity defendants whose public images are benign begin criminal trials with automatic unreasonable doubt built-in; this is part of the reason O.J. and Robert Blake (“Baretta”) avoided murder convictions. Celebrities with less sterling reputations are not so fortunate: had Bill Cosby been the one who shot a woman he barely knew at his home under strange circumstances, he would have probably been acquitted. Unfortunately for Phil Spector, the pop record producer had a well-established reputation for being nuts. The reasons Cosby can be acquitted for just reasons is that the victim is on record calling and chatting with him dozens of times after she was drugged and sexually assaulted, and because only one of the 50 or so Cosby victims was allowed to testify to show a pattern of behavior. The standard of  proven  guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is intentionally difficult to meet. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Cosby is guilty, and his eventual acquittal won’t change my certainty. Nonetheless, those attacking the verdict and the jurors will be wrong, just as they were with O.J. and Casey Anthony.

2. One more thing regarding Cosby: yesterday I heard a CNN anchor who was about to interview another Cosby victim describe the woman as someone who has accused Bill Cosby of “inappropriate conduct.” The host caught herself, sort of, by adding, after a pause, “to say the least.” The woman claimed she had been raped. Even the anchor couldn’t bring herself to attach to dear, funny, sweet Cos such a heinous crime, so she engaged in craven equivocation. “Inappropriate conduct”?  Belching at the dinner table is inappropriate conduct. Drugging trusting young women and raping them is entirely different.

This is CNN.

 I regard a broadcast news journalist stating that Bill Cosby has been accused of “inappropriate conduct” misleading, incompetent, and fake news. Continue reading

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Question: Are There Any Fair And Rational Democrats Who Protest The Fake “Bombshells” And “Breaking News” Purporting To Show Trump “Colluded With Russia”?

A day or so ago, I was watching when a CNN crawl said: “Breaking News….Trump Team Had Contact With Russia.” Then I listened to the actual story. That headline was fake news. (Yes, partisan spinners: when the news media uses a misleading headline to  suggest something is true that isn’t, that is fake news.) The Trump team didn’t do anything. Individuals who were involved with Trump’s campaign had contact with Russians (not Russia) that may have had nothing at all to do with Trump or the election. The headline was intentionally constructed to suggest that the Trump campaign was engaged in something sinister.

This was just an especially glaring example. Earlier this week, John Brennan testified that

“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals,” Brennan said  “And it raised questions in my mind again whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals…”

That statement was similarly spun as a “bombshell,” because to those who have already decided that President Trump must have committed treason to win the election (because why would anyone vote against Hillary Clinton, and besides, Trump is a fascist, evil, scary monster thing elected by deplorable sexistracistxenohobicauthoritarianmorons), so Trump is obviously guilty. In truth, what X is concerned about regarding associates of Y is no evidence of anything regarding Y at all.

The biased media’s’ Brennan spin isn’t an outlier; it exemplifies the entire “Russiagate” narrative.  Another New York Times “bombshell”  reported, based on “three current and former American officials familiar with the intelligence,” that

American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers, according to three current and former American officials familiar with the intelligence.The conversations focused on Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman at the time, and Michael T. Flynn, a retired general who was advising Mr. Trump, the officials said. Both men had indirect ties to Russian officials, who appeared confident that each could be used to help shape Mr. Trump’s opinions on Russia.

Rachel Stoltzfoos  at The Daily Caller cleanly exposed this bombshell as a dud in her post, “Go Straight To The Fifth Paragraph Of The Latest NYT ‘Bombshell’ On Russia Collusion,” where she wrote, Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day (2): “Five Reasons Why This Was President Trump’s Dumbest Tweet Yet”

It would be unfair to characterize fattymoon’s comment, which was, like the previous COTD, supposed to be posted almost a week ago, as an example of the phenomenon just discussed. Fatty, a smart, disillusioned Occupy veteran, is bipartisan opponent of the status quo, and a revolutionary with integrity: he does not embrace the double standards that render the “resistance” ridiculous, taking such self-disqualifying positions as  Maxine Waters’ classic that while President Hillary Clinton could have fired FBI chief Comey without wrongdoing, it was an obstruction of justice for President Trump to do so. I chose his comment for reposting because it is a virtual archive of the faulty reasoning and rationalizations that sustain the anti-Trump barrage. I will elaborate on that after you read fattymoon’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Five Reasons Why This Was President Trump’s Dumbest Tweet Yet”:

Some of your quotes followed by my thoughts…

“None of it justifies the fake news” – Which entity pours on the most fake news, the media or the White House? Open to argument, yes?

“concocted Russian conspiracy theories” – You’re jumping the gun, sir. The jury is out.

“I stand behind the office.” – I refuse to accept the man behind the office. If left unchecked, Trump will bring down the office after inalterably defacing it.

“I made it clear that Trump had neither the Character, nor the skills or knowledge, to hold it, just as I made it clear that Hillary Clinton was also an unfit candidate because of her thorough corruption.” – Are you saying that Trump is not thoroughly corrupt? Just a little corrupt?

“This is Andrew Johnson all over again.” – Rightfully so, imo. (“Johnson is regarded by many historians as one of the worst presidents in American history.” – Wikipedia)

“I have minimal influence, but I will do my best to protect the Office and institution of the Presidency from those who would destroy it, no matter who occupies that office.” – And I will do my best to protect the Office and institution of the Presidency from those who would destroy it, i.e. Donald Trump. Continue reading

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Political Opposition Incompetence: Will “The Resistance” Ever Figure Out That It’s Embarrassing Itself?

Today, May 1, another segment of the so-called “resistance” to the legal, democratically established Presidency of Donald J. Trump will be holding rallies to proclaim the “right” of foreign citizens to break US law by entering the country illegally, and to stay here unmolested as long as they don’t commit another serious crime, and maybe even if they have.  Despite its enthusiastic support from the Democratic Party and the mainstream media, this concept is so self-evidently bats that most American and even most Hispanic-Americans reject it, but never mind: we will hear and see passionate speakers all day long advocating the non-enforcement of essential laws and the adoption of some kind of bizarre system allowing illegal residents to be treated like legal residents as long as they limit their law-breaking to, say, just endangering the public by driving drunk.

I wonder if Mothers Against Drunk Driving agrees that illegal immigrants should not be treated too harshly for DUI convictions. Actually, I wonder if the anti-Trump, pro-illegal immigrant forces have enough self awareness to realize that their argument is worthy of the Bizarro World.

Incompetent, foolish sounding and acting political opposition to the party in power is in nobody’s interest, especially the U.S. democratic system. However, addressing this requires enough self-awareness to realize when your advocacy has crossed the line into absurdity. Currently a critical mass of Democrats and progressives lack self-awareness, and that’s an understatement. Continue reading

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