Tag Archives: future news

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/21/2018, Part 2: Wait, It’s Afternoon Already!

Good afternoon!

Here are ethics items that have nothing to do with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School anti-Second Amendment  demogogues.

2. Unethical Lawsuit of the Year. Incredibly, the Democratic National Committee yesterday announced that it is suing the Trump campaign, the Russian government, and Wikileaks, accusing them of conspiring to disrupt the 2016 Presidential election.  Suits require facts. There are no facts to support this lawsuit, only speculation, rumors and propaganda. The legal analysts whose opinions I respect haven’t even acknowledged the suit yet, perhaps because they suspect, or know, that it is a cynical publicity ploy and merely laying the foundation for a Democratic Party fundraising blitz. (Using the civil courts for such purposes is unethical, of course.) The betting here (and elsewhere) is that the lawsuit will be dismissed in short order. It is grandstanding, and to my eye, pretty desperate grandstanding.  Such a lawsuit would open the Democrats, their allies and the Clinton campaign to all manner of intrusive and embarrassing discovery. My first reaction to the news was that this almost as stupid as Oscar Wilde’s criminal libel suit over being called “a Sodomite.”

Wikileaks had an amusing response:

“The Democrats are suing WikiLeaks and @JulianAssange for revealing how the DNC rigged the Democratic primaries. Help us counter-sue. We’ve never lost a publishing case and discovery is going to be amazing fun.”

3.  More future news! Ann Althouse flagged for us a future news (psychic news?) classic,  Morning Joe” Scarborough’s op-ed in the Washington Post, “It’s becoming clear that Trump won’t run in 2020”.

Althouse writes,

I’m reading the headline and laughing. It’s on the most-read list at The Washington Post. It’s what people want to read, and isn’t that what fake news is all about, giving the people what they want (and getting them to want what you want them to want)? “Allies are quietly admitting”… “Republicans are sensing”… and Joe Scarborough is picking up the message. It seems to me Trump has faced vicious opposition all along, and he keeps winning in spite of/because of it.

This isn’t really fake news, though. Psychic news or future news is a different unethical beast, and in this case, it’s just an abuse of punditry.  It becomes fake news when the headline “Trump won’t run for re-election, insiders say” starts turning up. What is especially ironic about this trend is that there has never been a President whose stated intentions have been so changeable and unreliable, and yet the very same journalists who complain about this are willing to run breathless stories about what some leaker claims he said was his intent. President trump can’t be counted upon to do this week what he said he would do last week, and the Post thinks it is worth publishing what Morning Joe’s sources say President Trump  plans on doing three years from now. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, April 13, 2018: Past, Present, And Future

Happy Morning, everybody!

1. On the Future News front…The Michael Cohen raid has prompted a new outbreak of this particularly odious journalism and punditry trend: writing hysterically about what might happen. I spend so much time telling my wife that it is absurd and self-destructive to spend energy and emotion on dire “what if?” speculation, when sanity only reigns when we deal with what happens, when it happens, and not freak out because it might happen. Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer isn’t just for alcoholics, you know:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;courage to change the things I can;and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time;enjoy ing one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace…”

The news media, however, pummels us with dire future news to undermine serenity, create fear, encourage anxiety, distrust, panic and hysteria. All the better to undermine President Trump, after all.

MSNBC’s Joy Reid, for example, admittedly one of the worst of the worst, speculated about what might happen should the president refuse to allow himself to be arrested by federal marshals. Note that there is no evidence that there is anything to arrest him for, but never mind. This is Future News. “What if he refuses to open the White House door? What if he fires any Secret Service agent who would allow the federal marshals in? What if Donald Trump simply decides, ‘I don’t have to follow the law? I refuse to be held under the law. No marshal can get into this White House and any Secret Service agent who defies me is fired,'” she asked.

Today I am reading that Michael Cohen might have incriminating tapes of Donald Trump saying incriminating things. Yes, and he might have 12 toes and three nipples, too. Cohen apparently surreptitiously taped some of his conversations. Now, it is true that Cohen is a uniquely sleazy lawyer, but surreptitiously taping a client is a serious legal ethics breach that would pretty much end his career, not to mention his bar license, it it were proven. Never mind though: what if he taped Trump having sex with a marmot? What if he taped the President speaking Russian?

What might happen isn’t news. There are exceptions, but extensive concentration of speculation and projections, as with the Russian investigation coverage, is misleading and unethical journalism.

2. Incompetent prosecution to the rescue! For some reason, Bill Cosby’s prosecutors, allowed to choose from the more than 70 alleged victims of the serial sexual predator a representative five to show his  modus operandi that victimized Andrea Constand, chose Janice Dickinson, an aging ex-model, huckster, reality show star and publicity hound with the approximate trustworthiness and credibility of Stormy Daniels. Continue reading

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