Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/6/2019: State of the Union Ethics, And More

Hello, Austin!

At least, that’s what I’ll be saying later today, as I arrive in the Texas capital to give my country music ethics seminar, sung by the remarkable Mike Messer, to a group of over a thousand corporate lawyers. It’s certainly better than lying around coughing, which is what I’ve been doing lately.

1. Update: Facebook still won’t accept Ethics Alarms links. This is seriously depressing me. I can’t get Facebook to respond or explain, and so far WordPress hasn’t been any help either. In the past, posts here have attracted tens of thousands of Facebook shares; most got at least a couple. Now there are none. This affects traffic, it affects everything. On one level, I’m tempted just to leave Facebook entirely. It’s not a very pleasant place these days, and the company is despicable. That doesn’t solve the problem though. After all the work and time I have spent trying to develop the blog, watching its readership and circulation go backwards is infuriating. I also don’t know how paranoid I should be about all of this.

2. State of the Union notes. The speech is always political theater, and largely irrelevant unless it is botched or something weird happens, like “You lie!” or Obama attacking the Supreme Court. I find it amazing that so many pundits couldn’t keep their cognitive dissonance in check, and give some semblance of an honest, if grudging, analysis of what one would have to call an excellent performance—and that’s all the SOTU speech is, a performance— by Donald Trump standards, and a wise performance from a Presidential perspective. At a time of near maximum divisiveness, the speech was upbeat, optimistic, and patriotic. You have to really, really hate the man to condemn that speech….and that’s how most of journalists and pundits feel. I especially liked Salon’s “Donald Trump 2019: Same lying racist he was last year.”  CNN’s Van Jones was also self-indicting, saying,  “I saw this as a psychotically incoherent speech with cookies and dog poop. He tries to put together in the same speech these warm, kind things about humanitarianism and caring about children, and at the same time he is demonizing people who are immigrants in a way that was appalling.”  On the other side of the wacko divide, Ann Coulter called the speech “sappy” and was upset because Trump didn’t talk more about the wall. Is there anyone other than Coulter than wants him to talk more about the wall? We need a special confirmation bias clinic for these people. Also: Continue reading

This Is CNN: If It Denigrates The President, It’s News

Back from a working trip to Erie County, PA., where the lawyers are sharp, attentive, and know their legal ethics, newly awake and feeling like a zucchini after the five and a half hour drive back home followed by an annoying Boston Red Sox loss to the Yankees, I made the mistake of looking in on Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota, as the review’d the morning news on CNN. Apparently the news included the latest segment from “The Simpsons,” showing Donald Trump talking like an idiot while lounging in bed as the trained dog that serves as his hair periodically found a more comfy position. Then an aide delivers to him a thick new bill from Congress lowering taxes for Republicans. “You have to read it immediately,” he is told. “Can’t Fox News read it and I’ll watch what they say?” the President asks. “No, sir, you really have to read it,” replies the aide, as a tear trickled out of the President’s eye, and the dog’s tail wiped it from his cheek. Then the scene flipped to the Supreme Court, as Ivanka took Justice Ginsberg’s seat, and an announcer explained that the new SCOTUS Justice’s fashion robe, with gavel earrings, can be purchased “for only 100 rubles.”  The displaced Ginsberg was shown attacking the Secret Service agent dragging her out of her chair,garotting him with her pearlsas she shouted, “I thought you said I’d be replaced by Garland!”

We returned to the CNN team, cackling uncontrollably, as Cuomo observed, “When you’ve lost Homer Simpson…!”

I should note that the material was genuinely hilarious, and terrific satire. (I haven’t watched “The Simpsons” regularly for a long time, mainly because 20 years of anything gets tiresome after a while; I felt the same way about George Carlin. Maybe it’s time to go back.) Dan Camtallanata needs to work on his Trump voice, though; it sounds like Mayor Quimby, who sounds like JFK.

However, no Simpson sequences similarly mocking President Obama of Hillary Clinton were ever deemed newsworthy by CNN (Really now; how is this news? Is it news that “The Simpsons” is funny? That it is making fun of politicians? Are Trump hair jokes news? Does CNN regularly feature highlights from sitcoms on other networks?)and properly so, since a 28-year-old animated comedy isn’t news. Think about it: CNN intentionally plugged the programming of a bitter rival broadcast company. Why would it do that? There’s only one reason: this allows the network and its employees to ridicule and undermine the President of the United States while pretending that they’re not. It is as obvious as it is juvenile, biased and unprofessional.

This is CNN.

A Proposal For The 2016 Campaign Coverage: Broadcast News Reporters Should Just State Up Front That They Plan On Warping Facts, Punditry And Interviews In Favor Of One Party Or The Other

Kelly and Trump

After all, they are doing it so consistently and blatantly already. Why not be transparent about it?

Case Study 1: CNN Host Brooke Baldwin

On  Baldwins’ “CNN Newsroom” this week, Trump supporter Gina Loudon was talking about the New York Times report on Donald Trump’s dubious conduct with women. The Trump flack brought up Bill Clinton’s  $850,000 settlement payment to Paula Jones for allegedly sexually harassing her. Baldwin cut Loudon off, saying, “Okay, let’s not go there.”

Wait—why not go there? The issue raised by the Times involves Presidential and leadership standards. The Times’ position during Clinton’s administration was that this was “personal conduct” and irrelevant to the Presidency. Is it or isn’t it?

The reason Baldwin doesn’t want to “go there” is that she, like so many of her CNN colleagues,  is a virtual pro-Hillary Clinton operative masquerading as a reporter, and tilts the content of her show accordingly. Later, Baldwin proved it: After Loudon concluded by noting that Clinton should have spoken out in defense of women her husband had abused if she was the champion of victims of sexual abuse that she claims to be,  Baldwin said,

“I think the Clinton camp — and, listen, I would say this either way, just to be fair to both of them — but I think the Clinton camp would point to, you know, her resume of lifting women up through the years.”

Yes, they would say that, Brooke, and that would be a dodge and an evasion, which, if they said it on a competent and non-partisan news broadcast, the host would be obligated to reply, “That isn’t responsive. Is Mrs. Clinton an advocate for women, or will she support their abusers if it’s politically beneficial to her?

Instead, you’re giving the evasive Clinton spin yourself! Why is that?

Because CNN, with the sole courageous exception of  Jake Tapper, is all in for Hillary, and will distort journalism standards and ethics as necessary to elect her.

Case Study 2: Fox News Host Megyn Kelly
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Now THIS Is A War On Women!

I wanna marry harry

Reality shows have now made parody impossible, because absolutely nothing is too exploitive, voyeuristic, disgusting, degrading or wrong to form the basis of a series, as long as people will watch it, and there is profit to be made. Nevertheless, in my continuing effort to at least chronicle the decline of decency and civilization without being able to stop it, Ethics Alarms will continue to throw ethics flags at the worst of the worst.

This brings us to the topic of  “I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’,” the latest offal in this genre from Fox. You may recall “Joe Millionaire,” though if you do, I have less respect for you, an earlier Fox reality dump in which a non-rich actor tricked gold-digging women into competing to win his love as he posed as a young tycoon. After the winner had fallen for “Joe” hard, he revealed that he was just a lovable working stiff—well, worse, really…an actor—and the audience got to see how the woman reacted. So many healthy relationships arise out of fraud and lies, after all. Well, that wasn’t despicable enough fr Fox, so now we have this: Continue reading

Annoyances For The Obsessing Traveling Ethicist

Hepburn

I just got home from another day trip, and am too weary to essay a significant post. Allow me, instead, to give readers a taste of what goes through one’s mind when you have begun to focus exclusively on ethics in preparation for a key, out-of-state presentation:

  • The incompetence of supposed professional broadcasters. Shortly before leaving for the airport on Sunday, I watched the local Fox affiliate report on the new Vogue cover, featuring Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. One of the two anchorwomen noted that there was a parody of the cover titled “Vague” featuring Kermit and Miss Piggy in the same poses. She pronounced it as “Vagg.” Her partner did not correct her. I think newsreaders should be able to read, don’t you?
  • Dishonesty in headlines. With the Kardashians still gnawing at my brain, I noticed an issue of “Star” in an airport magazine rack. The headline read, “Kardashians Cancelled!” Filled with momentary hope for civilization, I looked up the corresponding story in the rag. It stated that cable’s “Keeping Up With The Kardashians had been renewed, but that the family was worried that it might be cancelled next year. Yes, the headline was “X” and the story was “Not X.” I don’t care that the Star is just a glossy paper tabloid—how can anyone justifying this? Deceitful headlines are bad, but at least they are literally true, if misleading. Tabloid ethics are as low as ethics can be, but this flat-out false cover headline seems to have breached them… a neat trick.
  • More  incompetence of supposed professional broadcasters. CNN’s John Berman showed a clip of Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton with Jimmy Kimmel and said…”Next…what Jimmy Kimmel did with three generations of Clintons.

Continue reading

Sen. Chris Murphy: Would-be Censor, Position-Abuser, and Mega-Ethics Dunce …But That’s All Right, Because He Wants To Save All Those Children From Being Slaughtered By Semi-Automatic Weapons

All in all, I'd prefer Daffy...and he hates guns too.

All in all, I’d prefer Daffy…and he hates guns too.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: as a long-time supporter of more effective gun controls, the sickeningly dishonest and unethical campaign for them in the wake of Newtown has placed me in a camp I never thought I’d be. Such tactics should never be allowed to succeed, because they debase democracy.

Yesterday, I noted that CNN has abandoned reporting for issue advocacy, a bright-line breach of journalistic ethics. Now Connecticut’s Senator Chris Murphy (D) has attempted to use his position and influence to abridge free speech, unfairly restrict the advocacy of an issue opponent  and encourage media censorship of a political viewpoint.

Eugene Volokh published Murphy’s letter to Fox, the text of which tells me he has no more business sitting in the Senate than Kim Jong-un or Daffy Duck. The letter, addressed to Rupert Murdoch, reads… Continue reading

The Broadcast Media’s Golden Rule: “Do Unto Others What You Will Use Cronyism To Stop Others From Doing Unto You”

Two Denver TV stations are feuding, and why? Because one of them refused to allow the other to suppress news footage that was embarrassing to a news anchor.

On February 8, KUSA-Channel 9 news anchor Kyle Dyer was interviewing the owner of Max, an 85-pound Argentine Mastiff, and the firefighter who had rescued the dog from an icy pond. I saw the video. Dyer had me wincing throughout the interview, showing herself to be the most dangerous kind of dog lover, someone who is fond of animals but naive and ignorant about their behavior.  She kept rubbing the dog’s ears and face during the interview, and the mastiff was obviously stoic but stressed by the strange environment, the cameras, and this women talking and running her hands all over him.  Mastiffs are gentle dogs, but very shy;  it was clear to me that Dyer was not according sufficient respect and caution to a powerful creature. As the interview ended, she suddenly moved in to kiss the dog on the muzzle, and the dog reacted defensively, biting her on the face and taking off part of her lip. She was seriously injured, and she had to have 75 stitches. Continue reading