More On “Media Bias Report 3.1”

It is amazing how many desperate liberals  circulate or defend  the absurd, misleading and incompetent chart purporting to measure the bias of various news sources as if the thing had any integrity at all. First of all, they could not (I hope) have read the creator’s nonsensical criteria for her assessments. Second, it should be obvious that no single individual could possibly examine and compare over 40 news sources with anything approaching thoroughness and accuracy. How would this be possible, even as a full-time endeavor, which it most certainly was not in this case? A research group like Pew might be able to pull such a study off with a large budget, lots of time, and a substantial staff, and even then I’m very dubious.

The chart is a classic example of making fake research—garbage in, garbage out— look impressive through packaging. This is, of course, unethical.

For the record, here are some of the factors someone who was seriously interested in measuring bias objectively (and not primarily determined to show that mainstream media bias is a right-wing myth): Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication has boarded the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck.

Is the body of Charlie Rose’s work as a journalist less impressive, valuable, expert, enlightening and professional because we have learned that he is an abusive, sexist, gross, harassing pig? Of course not.

That being the case, why is The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication revoking the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism it bestowed on him in 2015? Let’s have the school’s explanation, shall we?

In the words of Dean Christopher Callahan:

We give the award each year based on the knowledge we have of a recipient at that time. When new information about a recipient surfaces, the question we ask is not whether the award would be given again with a new set of facts, but whether the transgressions are so egregious that they demand nothing less than a reversal of history.

I believe Mr. Rose’s actions of sexual misconduct reported by The Washington Post and other media outlets, which are largely unrefuted, rise to that level. The damage caused by Mr. Rose’s actions extends far beyond the news organizations for which he worked. The actions victimized young women much like those who make up the overwhelming majority of Cronkite students – young women who deserve to enter workplaces that reward them for their hard work, intelligence and creativity and where they do not have to fear for their safety or dignity. In rescinding this award, we hope to send an unequivocal message that what Mr. Rose did is unacceptable, and that such behavior – far too common in not just media companies but many organizations – must stop.

So now you know why. The school, and its dean, and everyone else involved in this decision, is craven, hell-bent on virtue-signalling, bereft of integrity, hypocritical, and intellectually dishonest. The school has never withdrawn an award or honor: are we really supposed to believe that there is an established procedure for considering whether or not one should be revoked in an instance of “new information” that has nothing whatsoever to do with the reason the honor was bestowed? Rose’s shame hardly did any lasting harm to the news organizations he worked for beyond the inconvenience of replacing him. He discriminated against women? Being the biggest cheese in William Paley’s all-male news room, Walter Cronkite’s treatment of women during the “Mad Men” error probably wouldn’t pass muster today, though I can’t picture Uncle Walter parading naked in front of female colleagues. (Fortunately I can’t picture Charlie doing that either). If Walter’s Juanita Broaddrick, reading about the slap-down of Rose, comes out with a credible accusation against the icon, will the Arizona State-based institution change its name to the Dan Rather sch…no, it can’t do that. Continue reading

Ethical Quote Of The Month: PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler


“One would have to lean way over backwards to give her the benefit of the doubt that she was simply shedding light on the administration’s view of portions of Netanyahu’s arguments. But to personalize it by saying, “Take that, Bibi” is, in my book, inexcusable for an experienced journalist who is the co-anchor of a nightly news program watched by millions of people over the course of any week.”

—PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler, giving no quarter and making no rationalizations to slam PBS news host Gwen Ifill for her” “Take that, Bibi” taunt via Twitter.


Note that he also is saying that Ifill’s defense is a lie. As indeed it was. Later, as you can read, he makes it clear that he believes that Ifill is too experienced to make the mistake she claims she made. She made a different mistake: letting her bias rule her judgment and professionalism.

What do you know, a real, honest ombudsman who doesn’t view his job as spinning for his bosses!

I wonder why the New York Times can’t find one.

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: PBS’S Gwen Ifill

gwen ifill tweetThis was, of course, in reaction to yesterday’s developments that indicate sufficient Democratic support for President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal.

Ifill defends her tweet: of course she does. She has been a brazen cheerleader for the President since he was campaigning in 2008, and made it very clear that she sees nothing wrong with that, even when she was the moderator for the 2008 Vice-Presidential debate while her book about the inspiring achievement of Obama’s ascent to the Presidency—he hadn’t been elected yet, remember—was awaiting publication. PBS proved its bias (as if further proof were necessary) by shrugging off a blindingly clear conflict of interest and appearance of impropriety on her part then, and it will doubtlessly do so now. Ifill is defiantly pro-Obama. The tweet, however, is worse than that.

An American journalist taunting  the leader of an important American ally is unprofessional and, in this case especially despicable. Isreal’s legitimate concern about the Iran agreement is that under the best of circumstances, the scenario that the advocates for the deal admit, Iran will gain the resources to vastly enhance its support of terror in the Middle East, much of which will be focused on harming citizens of the nation that Iran has openly vowed to destroy. Take that, Bibi! Jews are going to die! Nyaa nyaa! Under the worst case scenario, the treaty makes it easier for Iran to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. How dare a nation’s leader express concern about his nation’s security and survival? Yeah, let’s make fun of him as the U.S. all but ensures a nuclear Iran 15 years from now.

Curt Schilling has been suspended by ESPN for making a legitimate historical observation that didn’t affect or relate to his job as a baseball analyst at all. Ifill’s tweet insults a world leader, displays gross partisanship, undermines PBS’s official pose as an objective news source and shows not merely terrible judgment, but the arrogance and shamelessness  that those who view themselves as immune from consequences eventually embrace.

Comment of the Day: “The Right Thing In Spite Of Themselves: CNN And NBC Abandon Their Hillary Projects”

Frequent commenter and left-leaning warrior Ampersand delivers a typically provocative and well-stated comment touching on many matters. Here is his

I'm sure it's justcoincidence that no similarly misleading and undignified photo of President Obama found its way into the newsmedia during the 2012 campaign. Just luck of the draw. Could have just as easily happened to Democrat or Republican...

I’m sure it’s just coincidence that no similarly misleading and undignified photo of President Obama found its way into the newsmedia during the 2012 campaign. Just luck of the draw. Could have just as easily happened to Democrat or Republican…

Comment of the Day, on the post “The Right Thing In Spite Of Themselves: CNN And NBC Abandon Their Hillary Projects,” and yes, I’ll have some comment of my own afterwards:

“Especially in primary debates, I’d like to see more partisanship. Why shouldn’t candidates in the GOP primaries face questions from solidly right-wing partisans? Why shouldn’t the Democrats have to face questions from solidly left-wing partisans? There are a couple of reasons I’d like to see this.

“One, primary voters are typically more partisan than average voters. Their views should be represented. Rush is more likely to ask questions that genuinely reflect the concerns of tea party voters than some empty suit from CNN is. Ditto for Melissa Harris Perry (say) and progressives.

“Two, I’m sick of right-wingers whining about media bias every time their candidates prove to be idiots. It is NOT biased or ‘gotcha’ to ask what magazines a candidate reads; and if a candidate can’t think fast enough on her feet to answer that question, it’s NOT the media’s fault. I’d really like to see your people being asked questions only by people with impeccable right-wing credentials, so that when some of your candidates inevitably give bad answers, you’ll be forced to actually accept some actual responsibility, rather than whining and blaming everything on the “biased’ media. Continue reading

The Replacement Ref and the Conflicted Debate Moderator: How We Become Ethically Stupid

Note to NFL: Don’t hire Gwen Ifill as a replacement referee.

Poor Brian Stropolo was only behaving like a respected national journalist on the political scene; why didn’t it work?

Stropolo, on the crew of NFL replacement refs (that’s scab refs, if you belong to the NFL refs union, which is currecly locked out) was assigned to yesterday’s New Orleans Saints-Carolina game. He was suddenly pulled from the assignment by the league on  Sunday morning, when it came to the NFL’s attention that he had represented himself on his Facebook page as an enthusiastic Saints fan, even appearing on his page in a Saints uniform.

Imagine if Stropolo had made a controversial game-changing call that handed the game to his beloved Saints!  But then, it was up to Stropolo and the league  to imagine it long before any inappropriate game assignment was made. For Stropolo not to notify the league of his web-wide admission of pro-Saints bias when he was assigned to referee a Saints game shows a complete absence of ethics training, instincts and sensitivity. How could this not occur to him? How could the NFL not have a vetting process for refs that would discover team allegiances? Where is the Code of Conduct to remind clueless referees about the “appearance of impropriety,”and the importance of preserving the NFL’s integrity by avoiding any suspicion that referees are tilting games in the direction of teams they root for in their off days? Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: Yahoo Washington Bureau Chief David Chalian

“[Mitt Romney and the GOP] are happy to have a party with black people drowning.”

Yahoo! Washington Bureau Chief David Chalian, caught on an open mike during the Republican National Convention and broadcast live. Chalian was promptly fired.

I didn’t believe it, to be honest. When I stumbled upon Rush Limbaugh ranting about how the broadcast media was trying to make the case that the Republicans should cancel their convention because of Hurricane Isaac heading to Louisiana, that it was callous and insensitive for them not to, I thought Rush was having one of his increasingly frequent paranoid moments. Yet incredibly, he was not. I personally heard the theme echoed on ABC, on CNN, on NBC and, of course on MSNBC, the latter repeatedly. How “awkward” it was going to be for the GOP to be “having a party” while people were again suffering in New Orleans. How hard it was going to be to explain, how “bad it would look.” Then came Chalian’s gaffe, which was, it is clear, not a sudden Pazuzu moment, but a symptomatic one, as he felt comfortable enough in a thoroughly hateful anti-Republican media culture to make his absurd and insulting comment. Continue reading

Palin, Ifill, Contempt and Respect: A Cautionary Tale

One reason why it is both right and prudent to treat others respectfully is that we seldom can know the true measure of an individual’s abilities and character. All human beings are complex, and all deserve an almost limitless benefit of the doubt before it is wise to dismiss them as unworthy of decent, respectful treatment. When we assume that someone whom we really don’t know very well is stupid, or evil, or not worth paying attention to, we not only treat them badly, we also put ourselves in peril, both of violating the Golden Rule, and also of looking foolish. Mockery, the child of contempt, is especially dangerous. When we mock others, we assume a superiority that may prove to be illusory.

Have I fallen victim to this ethical error? You betcha.

Which brings us to Sarah Palin. Continue reading