Evening Ethics Update, 11/7/2019: Dr. King Is Un-honored, Virginian Republicans Are Non-Functional, Fox News Is Pro-Darkness, And Joy Behar Is Still An Idiot [CORRECTED]

Good evening…

1 . The progressive deterioration of the ridiculous Joy Behar. It’s clear the stress of engaging in issue debates for which she lacks the temperament, the education or the necessary data is stressing out Joy. On today’s edition of The View, some studio audience members who hadn’t received the memo that they were expected to only endorse the “views” of  the correct side of the political spectrum applauded guests Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle as they supported the President. Behar snapped at them, “This is not a MAGA rally!”  In such places there may be technically free speech, just not free non-conforming speech without abuse.

2. This makes no sense at all, nor is it ethical. Eric Ciaramella is the so-called whistle-blower who gave Rep. Adam Schiff the wisp of an excuse he needed to manufacture Plan S for removing the President, the supposed “quid pro quo” deal to make the Ukraine look for “dirt” on Joe Biden and his son. Lots of sources have published this—heck, I have—and no one has credibly denied it. In schoolyard terms, the cat is out of the bag. Nor is it in any way illegal for a news organization to publish what is increasingly public information. Okay, say he’s the “alleged” whistleblower.

Nonetheless, a Fox News executive sent out an email ordering Fox personnel, including hosts like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, not to mention the name on the air because the network “had not confirmed it.”

Fox News, as you know, is always so careful about the accuracy of what its talking heads say.

Fox News media ethics watchdog Howard Kurtz defended not releasing the name of the whistleblower, saying it would send a “chilling message” to whistleblowers in the future. What “chilling message?” That if you decide to fulfill your partisan goals and help your pals by trying to bring down a President with rumors and hearsay, you should have the guts to do it publicly and accept the consequences? It’s not the news media’s job to make things easy for whistleblowers, and it is especially not their job to pretend that information already being publicized is a mystery.

The background and professional connections of this “whistleblower”—he’s really a leaker—are relevant to his credibility and the legitimacy of the current impeachment push. The public has a right to know, and democracy dies in darkness. Continue reading

Observations On Neil Cavuto’s Oddly-Timed Scolding Of President Trump

Fox News host Neil Cavuto decided to vent his frustration with President Trump yesterday, delivering a direct rebuke, addressing him in the second person. You can read the whole statement below after the commentary, or before, if you prefer.

I like Neil Cavuto. He’s a nice guy, he’s sincere, and he tries to be fair. He even had me on his show once. The format he chose, the Keith Olbermann direct address [Keith: “And why is it, SIR…”], I detest, and feel is pompous and inappropriate. Its a fake confrontation: Cavuto wouldn’t talk to the President like that if he were really in front of him, so it suggests boldness on his part that is illusory rather than real. It’s also arrogant grandstanding. Who is Cavuto to reprimand the President? He can give his opinion like anyone else, but talking to him through the camera like he was a naughty child is presumptuous.

In general, Cavuto’s point is undeniable: Trump’s constant puffery, exaggerations, contradictions, spontaneous utterances  and recklessness with the facts undermine his credibility, infuriate both allies and foes, and give ammunition to those who want to destroy him. In short, his habit is stupid. However, this was a known feature of the man’s style and character a decade ago. No, he can’t or won’t change, and that’s a weakness.  But who didn’t know this? Does Cavuto really think his tirade adds anything to the public’s knowledge? Does he think the President is going to reform because Neil Cavuto takes him to task?

In the specifics of his argument, however, Cavuto’s logic is so shaky that I wondered if he really thought his rant through, or, in the alternative, is not as smart as I thought he was. His initial sally is a non sequitur: the fact that President Trump frequently mangles the truth doesn’t make the news media  any less dishonest, incompetent and untrustworthy. Since a vast amount of the fake news polluting the public’s understanding of the issues involves fake news designed to undermine Trump, he has every right, and I believe a duty, to call it what it is.

Is Cavuto’s showboating just a member of the journalists’ club standing up for his colleagues against their adversary? It sure sounded like it.  He seemed to be mouthing the same excuse I hear from Facebook enablers of the biased media: “Yeah, well, OK, Rachel Maddow was hyping the Russian story and using dubious evidence, but Trump lies even more!” President Trump’s job is to run the country. Not being truthful can get in the way of that, but being accurate is not his job, nor is it one of his duties. Journalists, in contrast, are ethically obligated to inform the public truthfully no matter what whoppers a President may tell. The President doesn’t make the news media lie, so to say he provides the “ammunition” for fake news is nonsense. Cavuto is excusing lousy, dishonest, and divisive journalism. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Fox News

Fox News’ reaction to the segment above was to ban…The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles from future broadcasts. Not the fact-free, name calling climate change shill who called Knowles “skinny boy” and who took the ridiculous, but familiar, position that children who place themselves in the middle of serious policy controversies cannot be held to the same standards as any other advocate, and judged on the basis of their credibility and credentials. Knowles’ terms may have been harsher than necessary, but they were nonetheless true and accurate. She is definitely being exploited. She is even less credible than a normal 16-year-old because of her multiple behavioral maladies. And she is Swedish.

Chris Hahn,  a Democratic Party activist whom Fox News uses as a contributor because he makes progressives look like thugs, was obnoxious, abrasive, insulting and factually wrong. It may not have been nice (or necessary) to refer to Greta Thunberg as “mentally ill,” and it’s certainly politically incorrect, but it is not horrific calumny as Hahn would have us think. The National Alliance on Mental Illness includes autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among its topics, which is prima facie evidence that “mentally ill” is not a false description of Thunberg’s state. It is described as “a developmental condition that affect a person’s ability to socialize and communicate with others. People with ASD can also present with restricted and/or repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities. The term “spectrum” refers to the degree in which the symptoms, behaviors and severity vary within and between individuals. Some people are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely disabled.”

“Illness” is not a unfair description of such a problem. Would Hahn have flipped out if Knwoles said, “mentally disabled”? Is there any doubt? Continue reading

Robert Mueller’s Disastrous Testimony And Its Significance, Part Two

Part I is here.

Random Observations on the Mueller testimony and aftermath:

  • Observing the desperate spin offered by frustrated “resistance” members, desperate Democrats and social media Trump-Haters has been almost as revealing as Mueller’s performance. The most positive  takeaway they could muster is that Mueller clearly said that his investigation didn’t exonerate the President. That’s meaningless. It is not a prosecutor’s job to exonerate anybody, ever. An investigation’s goal is to determine whether there is probable cause to determine that a crime or crimes have been committed, not to prove anyone’s innocence. The hearts of the impeachment mob leaped for joy briefly during the morning hearing of the Judiciary Committee when Mueller answered “yes” to Rep. Ted Lieu’s (D–Calif.) question whether he had declined to indict Trump because of an existing Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion stating that a sitting president couldn’t be charged with a crime. Ah-HA!  Mueller had found evidence of illegal activity committed by the President and was only prevented from indicting him by Justice Department policy! Start those impeachment hearings!

Never mind. In the afternoon hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, reversed himself,   saying that that OLC opinion prevented him from making any determination, period, of Trump’s culpability in obstructing justice. “As we say in the report, and as I said in the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime,” Mueller told the Committee after specifically referencing the Lieu exchange.

“I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu, who said, and I quote, ‘you didn’t charge the president because of the OLC opinion.’ That is not the correct way to say it,” Mueller said.

This did not prevent journalists, pundits and my Facebook friends from ignoring the second statement so they could falsely promote the first. “They got him to confirm that he didn’t make a charge because of the Justice Department memo,” said “Meet the Press’s” Chuck Todd in an NBC panel. No, they didn’t. That’s a direct lie, as well as fake news.

  • The contention that Mueller was only a convenient figurehead for what was designed as a partisan hit job was made more credible by Mueller’s confusion. Mueller’s chief deputy, the infamously over-zealous,  partisan and controversial prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, headed a group of mostly left-leaning investigators. Complaints about the apparent rigged nature of the investigation were met by reminders of Mueller’s party affiliation and reputation for fairness and rectitude. That defense was left in the dust.

Now the anti-Trump tenor of the report no longer suggests the objective conclusions of a political neutral, but the partisan bias of prosecutors with an agenda.

  • Mueller’s weakness also suggests an answer to the persistent question of why the investigation appeared to be so incompetently managed, as with, for example, the involvement of Peter Strzok.

It didn’t appear that Mueller was capable of competent oversight, or even paying attention.

  • The most damaging and disturbing Mueller answer by far was when he was asked about Fusion GPS, which hired Christopher Steele to compile the infamous Russian-sourced ‘dossier’ against Trump.  Mueller said that he was ‘not familiar‘ with it. KABOOM! How is this even possible, unless Weissman and the other anti-Trump Jauberts on his team kept the old man locked in a closet somewhere? The involvement of the Steele dossier undercut the legitimacy of his investigation, and the investigation’s leader  was that uninformed about its origins? Was this wilful ignorance? Blatant incompetence?

Finally, how could the investigators and Mueller justify following bread crumbs that led to indictments of various Trump administration and campaign figures for crimes unrelated to the subject of the investigation, but be oblivious to the strong indications of wrongdoing—the FBI’s FISA fraud, the conflicts of interest, the surveillance of Carter Page—related to the investigation itself?

  • In another ridiculous addition to the Ethics Alarms, “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!” files—at this point, I  cannot maintain any respect for the intelligence and/or integrity of anyone who denies the obvious partisan bias of CNN, MSNBC, and the major networks—I watched CNN for over 30 minutes this morning to see how they would cover the hearings. Over at Fox News, of course, Mueller’s disturbing demeanor was being dissected in detail. The “Fox and Friends” blonde of the day said, sympathetically, that she would be “praying for him and his family,” since something is definitely seriously wrong.

At CNN, however, there was just a crawl representing Mueller’s testimony as straightforward, sticking to the report, and, of course, emphasizing the “no exoneration” statement and his answer to Lieu, retracted though it was. CNN showed no video of Mueller from either hearing, and its panels all focused exclusively on “where the Democrats go from here.”

Incredible. (Can something be simultaneously incredible and unsurprising?)The big news from the hearings, what those who didn’t have the time or stamina to watch them needed to know, was unquestionably Mueller’s frightening lack of preparation, clarity, or knowledge of the report he had signed and the investigation he had supposedly overseen, and how this undermined the report’s legitimacy, especially as an anti-Trump document.  Not only did he fail to give Democrats more ammunition for their coup as they clearly hoped it would, he undermined the credibility of the entire report.

Spin is one thing; intentionally hiding what occurred to make spin easier is something very different, and a major breach of journalism honesty and integrity.

  • Mueller’s repeated concern during his testimony regarding Russian interference in our elections, past and future, is being largely ignored by CNN and the rest because it directly points the finger of accountability to Barack Obama. The Mueller report  states that Russia began interfering in American democracy in 2014, with the operation becoming full-blown during the 2016 presidential election. The Obama administration knew this was going on, and took no discernible action.  In 2016, Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice told her staff to “stand down” and “knock it off” as they drew up plans to “strike back” against the Russians, according to  Michael Isikoff and David Corn in their book “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.”

Yet I continue to read attacks on Trump because he didn’t take adequate steps to foil the Russians,

  • Where is the accountability? House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler had said over the weekend that Mueller’s report showed “very substantial evidence” that President Donald Trump is “guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors” — an impeachable offense. “We have to … let Mueller present those facts to the American people, and then see where we go from there, because the administration must be held accountable,” Nadler,  said on “Fox News Sunday.” Yet Mueller’s testimony, orchestrated by Nadler,  confirmed none of this. Nadler was intentionally misleading the American public.

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Sources (for Parts 1 and 2): NBC News, Grabien, The American Spectator, Reason, Issues and Insights, The Hill,

MSNBC Legal Analyst Tweets Fake News, Social Media Makes It Viral, Prof. Turley Makes Excuses. Yecchh. [UPDATED]

First, MSNBC legal analyst Joyce Alene Vance sends out the completely false tweet above. Of course Fox News covered the hearing. Why would she do that? Is it because she works for all all-anti-Trump-spin all the time network? Or is it because she’s a hard core partisan, having been an Obama U.S. Attorney? Maybe its because she’s not a journalist, and has no idea what kind of standards journalists are supposed to use before reporting “news.” Then again, virtually nobody at MSNBC appears to know what ethical journalism is.

Whatever the reason, she tweeted it, and immediately confirmation bias set in, with such sophisticated political analysts as horror novelist and well-established Trump-hater Stephen King helping to spread the word–three “words,” really: Fox won’t report news unfavorable to Trump, Trump is afraid of the Mueller Report (never mind that anyone’s been able to read it for months) and that Mueller’s testimony was going to be a likely calamity for the President—to his more than 5 million followers.  [NOTE: It wasn’t. It was a calamity for “the resistance” and Robert Mueller’s reputation]

Here’s King:

Continue reading

If Bob Beckel Is Right, Shame On Fox…But Then He Should Have Been Fired Anyway.

Bob Beckel, the Democratic political consultant and campaign manager for Walter Mondale’s horrible run against Ronald Reagan, was one of the original hosts of the Fox News panel show “The Five.” His role was that of the token knee-jerk liberal among knee-jerk conservatives, a job that itself indicates the level of integrity of an annelid worm.  He was fired by the network in May 2017 after allegedly making “an insensitive remark to an African-American employee.”

Now Beckel has gone public with a claim that the reason for his firing was a sham. He told a radio host on a live broadcast, saying in part,

“I’ve decided to use your radio show to be the first time I will say this to anybody, and that is in my view that I was completely set up by someone, and my guess is they may be outside the White House, and I was set up on an absurd, racist comment…People who know me were shocked that that would happen. Well, they were shocked because it didn’t happen.”

Beckel also said that while Michael Cohen was still employed by the President, he had called to warn Becker against saying negative things about Trump, adding,

“Trump and I had known each other for a long time. I don’t like him, he doesn’t like me, that’s fine. But the fact that I was set up like that, no appeal, no chance to make my case … this was not about a racist comment. This was because I was the loudest voice on that network against Donald Trump.

Then Beckel implied that he was taking legal action, and confirmed that by speaking about his firing he had he  violated the terms of his severance agreement with Fox News.

Observations:

  • If the accusation against him was as baseless as Beckel now implies, I don’t understand why he would have failed to challenge the employment action.
  • Unless, that is, Fox New made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, like a lot of money for his acquiescence and silence. Even that makes no sense. Why not pay him to say he’s stepping down for health reasons (have you ever SEEN Bob Beckel?) Why would Beckel ever allow the claim of racist workplace conduct to be the official reason for his leaving?
  • Presidential staff and henchmen complaining about critical journalists (though Beckel is hardly that) is so common through history that it’s hardly worth mentioning. Of course, when Trump is connected to any practice, it is automatically far worse than when any other President did it, so maybe Beckel is counting on that. Cohen, as we all know, is as slimy as they get: would I believe that Cohen try to intimidate Beckel, either on his own or at Trump’s behest? Sure: I’d also believe that he egged Beckel’s house, or mooned him, but if that happened, wouldn’t Beckel be expected to use the episode to embarrass Trump and look courageous by talking about it on TV?
  • Among the many things wrong with this story is Beckel admitting that he’s violated a severance agreement, meaning that he accepted money, presumably quite a bit of money, not to bad-mouth a former employer and then having accepted the deal, did so anyway. “I have broken that agreement, and that’s too bad,” he said in his radio interview, the equivalent of “It is what it is.” What it is iis dishonest, unethical conduct.
  • Beckel was not “the loudest voice on that network against Donald Trump.” His demeanor was unprofessional, his bias was open, and his reasoning was pedestrian: Beckel was like an obnoxious anti-Trump drunk at the corner bar. Juan Williams, who’s no great shakes either, was and is reliably anti-Trump, a far more respectable one. So is Shep Smith, Fox’s #1 newscaster. Beckel, typically for him, is assuming more virtue and importance than he has ever warranted.
  • If Fox dismissed Beckel for his non-conforming views after complaints by the White House, that is cowardly and a breach of journalism integrity. If it manufactured a false excuse for doing so, that’s worse.
  • However, Fox News having Beckel on the air at all was incompetent journalism, though all the news networks employ disgraceful talking heads. Beckel destroyed his credibility, if he ever had any,  when he put his name on commentary on a 2012 Presidential debate that he wrote before the debate took place. When The Five took up the videos by Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber in which he admitted that the public had been systematically deceived—the fools!–to get the ACA passed (this was one of those scandals that the Obama administration didn’t have, Joe!), Beckel argued that the lies didn’t matter, because the law was such a good one. (I would have fired him for this alone.)

What’s going on here? Your guess is as good as mine, which is that an over-the-hill denizen of the swamp isn’t getting many offers to opine, so he decided to frame himself as a victim of mean old Fox and Donald Trump.

Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Month: MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace”

I want to apologize to the legitimate Comments of the Day that are still waiting on the runway, but this one ticked me off. If you want to know why we don’t get more progressive perspective around here, it’s because I end up dinging submissions like this using the Ethics Alarms Stupidity Rule. However, a first time commenter named Mike Fitzgerald offered this, and I decided it was worth highlighting because it has all the features of the average missive from the Left. Mike says he’s not a liberal, so I will take him at his word. His assertion, however,  that President Trump is a “would-be dictator” is signature significance for a non-liberal who doesn’t have the historical knowledge, perspective or awareness not to swallow  “resistance” Big Lies whole.

In truth, the “dictator”smear has been used against many Presidents by political opponents, always when they use their legitimate powers to seek ends the opponents object to. Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, TR, and FDR are prominent among the so-accused. Such Presidents, whatever their virtues and deficits otherwise, are known as strong Presidents. The opposition always hates strong Presidents, and tries to use fear-mongering to undermine them.

But you have to know some Presidential history to realize this.

Here’s Mike’s comment, in response toUnethical Quote Of The Month: MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace,” to be followed immediately by my restrained reply to it.

In honesty the point(s) raised about Wallace are valid but Trump supporters pretend the Fox is a balanced unbiased news agency, None of you mentioned Hannity or Shapiro or the three geniuses on the morning couch. Very selective memories to support a would be dictator.

PS. I am not a liberal

My reply: Continue reading