Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Headline Of The Week, ‘Nah, The News Media Isn’t Promoting Fear And Panic” Division'”

It’s not often that I post a comment that is mostly links and quotes as a Comment of the Day, but Dr. Emilio Lizardo (That’s his real name, by the way..KIDDING!) performed a real service by gathering this information in one place as a follow-up to the “Unethical Headline” post of last night.

II fear I buried the lede in that one, so some more follow-up is coming. Just two points, and I’ll turn it over to the doctor. Comparing the Wuhan virus outbreak deaths to greater numbers involving routine, yearly, largely unavoidable deaths in the US is a dishonest way to minimize the significance of the current threat. This device is used by the “save the economy, let ’em die” advocates, who are multiplying among conservative commentators. It was also the despicable strategy used by apologists for the terrorists after 9-11, like Michael  Moore, though comparing the number of  weekly auto fatalities with bomb attacks that murder 3,000 Americans is self-evidently moronic.

On the other side, comparing the current epidemic deaths to wars is an equally dishonest strategy of those trying to make the  current situation as terrifying as possible to promote fear and facilitate political gain.

These are two sides of the same unethical coin. (And now you know what the graphic above means)

Now here’s Dr. Lizardo’s Comment of the Day—his first, I think– on the post, “Unethical Headline Of The Week, ‘Nah, The News Media Isn’t Promoting Fear And Panic” Division’.”

I’ll be back for one comment at the end.

Unethical? Nah! And, of course, it’s not personal; it’s business. Not.
And this narrative has been taking place for a week or so:

NYT “News Analysis” – 1 April

“Under the best-case scenario presented on Tuesday, Mr. Trump will see more Americans die from the coronavirus in the weeks and months to come than Presidents Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon saw die in the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined.

The lowest estimate would claim nearly as many Americans as World War I under President Woodrow Wilson and 14 times as many Americans as Iraq and Afghanistan together under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/01/us/politics/coronavirus-trump.html Continue reading

Unethical Headline Of The Week, “Nah, The News Media Isn’t Promoting Fear And Panic” Division

What possible excuse can there be for this? There is none.

Let’s start with the “six wars combined” stat. That doesn’t count the  top six wars in  US history in combat deaths, each of which  also happen to have  had more than 10,000 deaths. The “battlefield” modifier is also a cheat: the headline actually calls deaths from the disease “battlefield deaths”! They aren’t battlefield deaths.  Meanwhile, the two earliest major wars in our history both had more than 10,000 military deaths, which is the usual way we tote up such things. The next three combined, The Iraq War (#9), the Philippine-American War (#10), and the Spanish American War (#11) add up to more than 10,000, so to  get to six you have to  carefully work around the list and drop in some wars nobody remembers.

But who thinks like that? We have have over 40,000 suicides every year. Almost 40,000 die ever year from car accidents. About 35,000 die every year from falls. 10,000 is less than the typical year’s deaths from fire, choking and drowning, and so what?

The headline is yet another cognitive dissonance trick: war is something we regard as especially horrible, so the idea is to get the public to associate the epidemic with wars, which involve violent death. Yeah, let’s really scare them .But the Wuhan virus has nothing to do with wars. The comparison doesn’t belong in the story, much less the headline. Comparing it with other pandemics and epidemics would be misleading enough.

The news media’s coverage of the Wuhan Virus epidemic  has been uniformly despicable: sensational, politicized, unreliable. At a time when a competent, objective press and broadcast media is essential—it always is, but in a national emergency especially so—journalism has dived to a new low.  None of the news media is beyond reproach: Fox News has frequently taken the opposite approach to the rest, hyping skepticism about the seriousness of the outbreak and various doomsday models, and spreading rumors and speculation as fact. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/28/2020: Well, In At Least One Respect, WW II Must Have Felt Like This…

“This” being that almost every single news item and media article related in some way to a single topic, the war then, the pandemic today. That’s one reason President Roosevelt asked major League Baseball to keep playing on, despite the fact that most of the game’s stars had enlisted or were about to,  leaving the teams to field old players, players who came out of retirement, minor leaguers, and such curiosities as Pete Gray, the one-armed outfielder. 

Wait: the baseball season was supposed to start two days ago, and is postponed at least until May. In that regard, at least, this is worse than World War II…

1. Speaking of baseball: Red Sox ethics! Major League Baseball approved a pool of 30 million dollars (That’s $1 million per club) to compensate ballpark employees during the enforced suspension of games. That left out the employees of subcontractors like Aramark, the company that supplies Fenway Park with food services, among other things. The Sox announced that it would add a half-million dollars to the $1 million for Aramark, a move that is expected to shame the other 29 clubs into similar moves.

2. You wonder why America’s children are growing up to be Marxists? Well, this doesn’t help: The following articles appeared this week in Teen Vogue:

3. From the front page of the Boston Herald:

I’m not going to track down the article; it would just ruin the wonderful picture in my head. Continue reading

Well What Do You Know! The New York Times Decided To Play It Straight This Time And Passed An Integrity Test….Well, For A While, Anyway. [UPDATED]

Maybe they decided they had arrived at a moment when unified resolve was essential and the national interest was at stake, and the paper had no choice but to stop spinning for the Democrats.

Tonight’s just breaking story is headlined, Coronavirus Live Updates: As State Pleas Mount, Trump Outlines Some Federal Action; Senate Democrats Block Stimulus Package.

It says in part,

Senate Democrats on Sunday blocked action on an emerging deal to prop up an economy devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, paralyzing the progress of a nearly $2 trillion government rescue package they said failed to adequately protect workers or impose strict enough restrictions on bailed-out businesses.

The party-line vote was a stunning setback after three days of fast-paced negotiations between senators and administration officials to reach a bipartisan compromise on legislation that is expected to be the largest economic stimulus package in American history — now expected to cost $1.8 trillion or more. In a 47-to-47 vote, the Senate fell short of the 60 votes that would have been needed to advance the measure, even as talks continued between behind the scenes between Democrats and the White House to salvage a compromise.

The failure to move forward shook financial markets and threatened an ambitious timeline set by the Trump administration and leading Republicans to move the rescue package through the Senate on Monday and enact it within days.

In voting to block action, Democrats risked a political backlash if they are seen as obstructing progress on a measure that is widely regarded as crucial to aid desperate Americans and prop up a flagging economy.

Continue reading

New Week Ethics Jolt, 2/24/2020: Uncivil Gravestones, Conflicted Zamboni Drivers, And Unintelligent Intelligence Experts

Hello, mates!

That hilarious novelty song, a big hit in the same year Kennedy was shot, is now too politically incorrect to play in the U.S. Is it also song non grata Down Under?

1. Unethical Headline of the Day. From the Washington Freebeacon, a conservative news site: Dem Megadonor, Gun-Control Activist Harvey Weinstein Convicted on Rape Charges. This unethical device is used a lot now, though seldom this flagrantly. It’s Cognitive Dissonance Scale gamesmanship, attempting to smear positions that the headline-writer opposes by linking them to conduct that they have no relationship to.  There is no logical reason why gun control or the Democrats should be implicated in a headline to Weinstein’s rape conviction. I’m not even sure the connection belongs in the news story at all.

2. Gee, I wonder why the President doesn’t trust his intelligence specialists. The Russian collusion conspiracy theory flared up again among the Trump Deranged after Shelby Pierson, the official in the intelligence community charged with election security, apparently botched her briefing to Congress.

Three national security officials told CNN that the briefer falsely (wrongly, mistakenly) said that Russia was planning to help Trump win re-election:

The US intelligence community has assessed that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election and has separately assessed that Russia views Trump as a leader they can work with. But the US does not have evidence that Russia’s interference this cycle is aimed at reelecting Trump, the officials said. “The intelligence doesn’t say that,” one senior national security official told CNN. “A more reasonable interpretation of the intelligence is not that they have a preference, it’s a step short of that. It’s more that they understand the President is someone they can work with, he’s a dealmaker.”

Since this comes from CNN, otherwise known as Bash The President Central, it cannot be dismissed as administration spin. My Facebook Friends reacted to the original story with utter glee, gloating that they knew Russia viewed Trump as a Russian asset.

If Trump fired her, and I wouldn’t blame him, he’ll be accused of a “purge.” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/28/2020: Transcripts! Audacious Defense Lawyers! Canadian Defamation! “Bombshells”! [UPDATED]

Good morning…

1. Here’s a typical unbiased New York Times front page headline regarding the impeachment trial (from last week):

“One One Side, Piles of Evidence, On the Other, Heaps of Scorn”

Here’s some more scorn: there is no evidence at all of impeachable offenses on  that pile, and scorn for the President is being treated as evidence.

2. This is astounding. (From johnburger, and thanks) Check out this.

Continue reading

From The Increasingly Stuffed “Nah, There’s Mo Mainstream Media Bias!” Files: Politico Changes A Headline

What’s going on here? Apparently either a Politico editor or a representative of the Democratic Party/”resistance”/mainstream media alliance to bring down the President (aka The Axis of Unethical Conduct, or AUC) realized that the headline on the left conveyed an unequivocally positive message regarding Trump. That was a violation of the three-year plan, so the change was ordered. It was especially egregious since impeachment is the objective now, based on the narrative that President Trump is a threat to all that is good and right. Can’t have a positive headline now. Come on!

The USMCA is the new United ­States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

[The near unanimous vote in the Senate didn’t include Bernie Sanders (he’s Statler, Joe Biden is Waldorf…or is it the other way around?) because, Bernie says, there was “not a single damn mention” of climate change.]

Can anyone point to an example in the Obama administration where a positive headline regarding a victory for the President was replaced in order to suggest that it was less impressive? Does anyone think there ever was such a case?

Hell, I might even post this one on Facebook to see all the rationalizations and excuses my deranged friends come up with. It should be a hoot. Once again I miss the self-exiled “resistance” commenters here, a bright bunch whose machinations and comical pretzelling in their denials that the news media was biased and no more trustworthy than a rabid honey badger were always worth admiration and mirth.

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Pointer: Erin Perrine

Please use this link to post on Facebook, because Mark Z won’t let Ethics Alarms links appear there. Not fake enough, I guess…https://twitter.com/CaptCompliance/status/1218336309955256322