Further Observations On The Gretchen Carlson Sexual Harassment Retaliation Lawsuit

Fox News

1. I see that six more Fox News employees have come forward in the wake of fired Fox Blonde Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit alleging sexually harrassing conduct from Fox News head Roger Ailes. New York Magazine’s Gabe Sherman published six accounts from women who say they were also harassed by Ailes, and two of them identified themselves by name.

This doesn’t prove Carlson’s case, but it is typical of harassers that they do not engage in such conduct just once, and typically not with only one employee. That ethics alarm doesn’t ring, and thus this is normal conduct for them that their power and control over employees’ lives allow them to engage in without consequences, until something breaks the dam. Familiar examples are Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Joe Biden, Herman Cain, and Senator Bob Packwood. The fact that no other women came out with public accusations that Clarence Thomas had harassed them was strong evidence that Anita Hill’s last-second accusations were a panned political hit.

2. The fact that so many conservative pundits and websites are defending Ailes is revealing regarding both their integrity and attitudes regarding women… and not in a good way. This is one reason the Democratic Party’s “war on women” smear is effective.  The whole sexist vibe of Fox News under Ailes is another reason: I keep expecting Fox to have its female anchors dressed in bikinis and sarongs.

It isn’t just Ailes; it’s Fox. Here are some Fox Sports anchors:


Don’t get me wrong now: I’m certain all of them got their jobs because of their sterling commentary and analysis, just like Gretchen did.

3. Deluded Ethics Dunce: Greta Van Susteren. Greta, who owes her career to Ailes, pronounced Carlson’s allegations unbelievable, saying, “I deal with Roger Ailes often. I’ve often been alone with Roger Ailes in his office over the course of 15 years and I’ve never seen anything like what I’m reading about in the papers and the magazine.” Ah. So the fact that Ailes didn’t hit on Greta once is evidence that he wouldn’t hit on Carlson. Keen analysis, there, Greta!

It’s  funny: Madeleine Albright and Carly Fiorina said the same thing. Continue reading

Why Fox News’ Robin Williams Gaffe Matters

Oh, Fox, Fox, Fox….

As the tragic news of Robin William’s suicide spread across the media, Fox News made an utter ass of itself by using a fake “Mrs. Doubtfire” video featuring someone dressed like the Williams character to back Greta Van Susteren’s phone interview of Larry King about the comic’s career. The footage was labeled as coming from 20th Century Fox, and then the network moved on to clips from “Mork and Mindy.”

It was a just a mistake, but I think it was a mistake of significance:

1. The “Mrs. Doubtfire” spoof  video was found by some lazy and inept lower level Fox staff member, but obviously passed review by a director, an editor, and  others. Nobody who had any idea who Robin Williams was or the slightest familiarity with his work could have been involved in this. It tells us that Fox News is sloppy and unprofessional, and should cause legitimate concerns about their news gathering process, fact-checking, and trustworthiness. (I know, I know…) Continue reading

Cuomo Interviewing Cuomo? Of Course It’s A Conflict!

The interesting question isn’t whether CNN’s Chris Cuomo blithely interviewing the Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo—who happens to be his brother–is a conflict of interest and an example of unethical journalism. Of course it is. The interesting question is what it tells us about the state of U.S. journalism that such an interview could even occur.

Here are two prominent provisions of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, requiring that ethical journalists…

  • “Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.”
  • “Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.”

Is there any question that a CNN anchor man interviewing his brother regarding anything whatsoever violates both of these? Real or perceived? Compromise integrity or damage credibility? Seriously?

Cuomo the Anchorman was interviewing Cuomo the Governor regarding the recent train accident. Conflict? Sure: the journalist is supposed to have only one duty, and that is to his audience. But Cuomo the Anchorman obviously has another, potentially confounding duty of loyalty to his interview subject, and this he must not have. It calls into question his willingness to probe and, if the facts warrant it, to ask uncomfortable questions of his subject. If Chris Cuomo’s duty to his audience unexpectedly requires him to breach his loyalty to his own brother, which will he choose? We don’t know. Perhaps Cuomo himself doesn’t know. He was obligated not to place himself in a situation where the question even needed to be asked.

The various defenses being offered are, I have to say, misguided and disturbing. The usually sensible Joe Concha of Mediaite writes that the controversy is “much ado about nothing.” His reasons are … Continue reading

Dangerous Messages: Excusing Aaron Swartz, and the Unethical Non-Prosecution of David Gregory


To  no one’s surprise, District of Columbia attorney general Irving Nathan announced that he will not be prosecuting NBC’s “Meet the Press” host David Gregory for a clear, intentional and unequivocal violation of a D.C. law on national television. In so doing, Nathan sent the District, the nation and the public a package of unethical and damaging messages, perhaps the least significant of which is that the District of Columbia’s chief lawyer is just as ethically flawed as the rest of its government.

In his letter to Gregory’s attorney, which you can read in its entirety here, Nathan said:

  • “The device in the host’s possession on that broadcast was a magazine capable of holding up to 30 rounds of ammunition. The host also possessed and displayed another ammunition magazine capable of holding five to ten rounds of ammunition…It is unlawful under D.C. Code Section 7-2506.01(b) for any person while in the District of Columbia to “possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm” or loaded. Under the Subsection, the term “large capacity ammunition feeding device” means a “magazine, belt, drum, feed strip or similar device that has the capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept more than ten rounds of ammunition.” Under D.C. Code Section 7-2507.06, any person convicted of a violation of this Subsection may be imprisoned for not more than one year, fined not more than $1,000.”
  • “The larger of the two ammunition feeding devices in question here meets the definition under the statute. OAG has responsibility for prosecuting such offenses and takes that responsibility very seriously.”
  • ” OAG has determined to exercise its prosecutorial discretion to decline to bring criminal charges against Mr. Gregory, who has no criminal record, or any other NBC employee based on the events associated with the December 23, 2012 broadcast. OAG has made this determination, despite the clarity of the violation of this important law, because under all of the circumstances here a prosecution would not promote public safety in the District of Columbia nor serve the best interests of the people of the District to whom this office owes its trust.”
  • “Influencing our judgment in this case, among other things, is our recognition that the intent of the temporary possession and short display of the magazine was to promote the First Amendment purpose of informing an ongoing public debate about firearms policy in the United States,especially while this subject was foremost in the minds of the public following the previously mentioned events in Connecticut and the President’s speech to the nation about them.”
  • “There were, however, other legal means available to demonstrate the point and to pursue this line of questioning with the guest that were suggested to NBC and that could have and should have been pursued.”
  • “No specific intent is required for this violation, and ignorance of the law or even confusion about it is no defense. We therefore did not rely in making our judgment on the feeble and unsatisfactory efforts that NBC made to determine whether or not it was lawful to possess, display and broadcast this large capacity magazine as a means of fostering the public policy debate. Although there appears to have been some misinformation provided initially, NBC was clearly and timely advised by an MPD employee that its plans to exhibit on the broadcast a high capacity-magazine would violate D.C. law, and there was no contrary advice from any federal official. While you argue that some NBC employees subjectively felt uncertain as to whether its planned actions were lawful or not, we do not believe such uncertainty was justified and we note that NBC has now acknowledged that its interpretation of the information it received was incorrect.” Continue reading

The Media’s Gun Control Ethics Train Wreck Gets Its Engineer: David Gregory

Gregory and clip

The blatant abandonment of journalistic ethics in U.S. mainstream media, well underway during its coverage of the 2012 election, finally exploded into a full-fledged ethics train wreck with television journalists’ astounding and shameless advocacy of tighter gun control laws following the Newtown elementary school massacre. Can anyone recall a previous public policy controversy in which so many telejournalists decided that it was appropriate, rather than to report on a story, to engage in full-throated advocacy for a particular position? I can’t. Rather than communicate relevant facts to their audiences and allow responsible and informed advocates for various positions to have a forum, one supposed professional journalist after another has become an openly anti-firearms scold, as if the need for new gun restrictions was a fact, rather than a contentious, and often partisan point of view.

It isn’t just the hacks, like Piers Morgan.  CNN anchor Don Lemon sounded like a candidate for office, and a rhetorically irresponsible one, when he exclaimed in one outburst, “We need to get guns and bullets and automatic weapons off the streets. They should only be available to police officers and to hunt al-Qaeda and the Taliban and not hunt elementary school children.” The reliably presumptuous Soledad O’Brien decided to reprimand Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott when he refused to commit to seeking tougher gun laws in his state, telling him she hoped the gun conversation would become “meaningful” (that is to say, anti-gun ownership) before she was forced to “cover another tragedy.” In another interview, when a conservative academic argued for making guns more easily available among law-abiding citizens, O’Brien again turned advocate, telling him, “I just have to say, your position completely boggles me, honestly.”

Yes, well the fact that Soledad is “boggled” isn’t news: she’s easily boggled, and her opinion on gun control is no more worthy of broadcast than that of any random citizen on the street. Whether you agree with these amateur anti-gun zealots isn’t the point. Using their high-visibility positions as television reporters to expound on what they think are reasonable legislative initiatives isn’t their job, isn’t their role, is a direct violation of their duty of fair and objective reporting, and undermines effective public discourse. It’s unethical journalism.

Jumping into the engineer’s seat as this media ethics train wreck developed was “Meet the Press” host David Gregory. Part of the open agenda of the left-biased media is to demonize the National Rifle Association, which, again, is not their job, and is an unethical objective. Give the public the facts, let them hear the arguments, and allow them to come to an informed decision, not a media-dictated consensu constructed by people who are neither especially bright nor sufficiently informed, and who have no special expertise regarding guns and gun violence. Gregory, in full-anti-gun mode, brandished a gun magazine as a prop last Sunday to make a dramatic debating point against the vice-president of the National Rifle Association. In Washington, D.C., where “Meet the Press” is recorded, the magazine he held is illegal, and anyone apprehended while possessing one faces prosecution and jail time. NBC had been informed by D.C. police that Gregory could not use the magazine on the air, and Gregory went ahead and used it anyway.

He broke the law. Continue reading

The Process Can Be Ugly, And Sure Was This Time, But This Is How Cultural Ethics Standards Change

Greta was the tipping point.

The Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke Ethics Train Wreck is over at last, but unlike with many such debacles, something positive occurred. I believe that an emphatic cultural standard was established that calling a woman—any woman, famous or not, liberal or conservative—a derogatory term designed purely to denigrate her by denigrating her gender will not be considered acceptable in political, quasi-political or arguably-political commentary henceforward. If such rhetoric occurs in a comic or entertainment context, no politician or elected official can appear to endorse the individual who utters the offensive words.

I’m not arguing right now whether this is a good or a bad development, but merely that it happened, and that it is a real change. For this to happen, a conservative radio talk show host had to use the terms “slut’ and “prostitute” to make the botched satirical point that a feminist law student activist who argued that free contraceptives were a woman’s right was the equivalent of women who wanted to be “paid for sex.” If pundits and bloggers had merely declared this statement uncivil and cruel, nothing more would have happened, and the incident would have been quickly forgotten. But sensing political points to be scored in an election year, and with the added incentive of being handed what was seen as powerful ammunition to attempt a frontal attack against a detested partisan critic, Democrats,  progressives, feminists, activists, Obama strategists and left-biased journalists decided to cast the Limbaugh’s poor judgment in extreme terms. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Greta Van Susteren

Newt: ” Honey, I’m divorcing you to marry the woman I’ve been cheating on you with for the last 6 years.” Marianne: “Fine. Just wait til you run for President. I’ll be ready.”

Newt Gingrich’s second (of three) wife, Marianne Gingrich, has said in the past that she had it within her power to  end her ex-husband’s career with a single interview. This is not as remarkable as it sounds; just consider how many political spouses past and present have or had that power regarding their own power partners. Let’s see: Eleanor Roosevelt…Jackie Kennedy…Coretta Scott King…Lady Bird Johnson….Pat Nixon…Hillery Clinton, of course…Bill Clinton…Laura Bush…Tipper Gore. That’s just for starters. I have no doubt that Marianne Gingrich might be able to tell tales that would make any of these women feel fortunate by comparison, but on the other hand, what could she say that would be a surprise? Anyone who doesn’t know by now that Newt is about as miserable an excuse for a human being as one can be and avoid being shot or imprisoned hasn’t been paying attention.

This is the problem, however. People don’t pay attention, and have the memories of Eric Holder under Congressional questioning about Fast and Furious. After Gingrich’s deft response to Juan Williams’ accusatory race-baiting question at the last South Carolina debate sparked a standing ovation, you would have thought that he was the new star on the scene to hear callers on conservative talk-radio rave.* Yes, yes, Gingrich is smart and articulate. So were Richard Nixon, Tom DeLay, Huey Long and Joe McCarthy. So were Professor Moriarty and Goldfinger. We know Newt is smart; we also should know other things about him by now, like the fact that he’s an untrustworthy narcissist and a cur.

Apparently Marianne Gingrich has decided to do America a favor and to remind amnesiac Republicans once and for all who they were cheering this week. She has taped a two-hour spill-the-dirt interview with ABC News. The Gingrich camp is in a panic, and supposedly there is an ethics debate at ABC about whether the interview should air before the critical South Carolina primary, possibly Newt’s last chance to stop the Mitt Romney juggernaut, or after. Fox host and legal analyst Greta Van Susteren comes down on the side of holding the interview in the can until Monday. On her blog, she writes: Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week: Greta Van Susteren

Welcome to the Wisconsin Supreme Court!

“Are any of the newspaper asking for them to step down? People have very serious disputes and their whole lives depend on decisions on the Supreme Court, and this isn’t fair to the people. Are newspaper editors saying they got to go?”

—-Fox News Host Greta Van Susteren, asking Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel reporter Jason Stein why the Wisconsin news media has not demanded  the removal of Justice David Prosser and  Justice Ann Walsh Bradley or both, since by all accounts they turned ideological differences into a physical altercation in chambers. The reporter ducked the question, and blamed it all on Gov. Scott Walker, thus taking “missing the entire point” to art form status.

Van Susteren is not only right, but obviously right. Continue reading