For A Respected Newspaper And Its Journalists, Denial Is Unethical

..and so is deceiving readers by 'burying the lede'...

…and so is deceiving readers by ‘burying the lede’…

Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!

In a spectacular example of doing everything possible to hide bad news (in its view and those of most readers…and me too), the Washington Post this weekend made it difficult to learn the results of its own poll, which showed the horrible result–in the Post’s eyes—that Donald Trump now leads Hillary Clinton 46% to 44%…not a lot, but considering that the margin was 11% just a little while ago, big news. Apocalyptic news.

The Post headline? I have the print edition before me now: “Voters accentuate the negative in poll,” with the section of the story (by Dan Balz and Scott Clement) visible on the front page describing how more voters dislike Clinton and Trump that like them. How is that news? Didn’t everybody know that months ago? It also teases that the candidates are in a “virtual dead heat,” but it takes (Mediaite’s Joe Concha actually counted: Thanks, Joe!) five paragraphs and 219 words to timidly admit what the public has a right to know: Trump is now leading Hillary in the Post’s poll (with ABC).

This is more than burying the lede; this is denial, and competent, responsible, objective journalists cannot ethically engage in denial. Bad or good, the news belongs up-front and headlined, because most people don’t read entire articles. Why did the Post do this? It’s emotional and juvenile, and that’s all it is. This is anti-Trump, pro-Hillary bias crippling news judgment and competent reporting. Balz and Clement can’t help themselves from spinning the poll story to make it sound like it’s really good news for Hillary, writing: Continue reading

The Incredible Howard Dean

What does Howard Dean know about Hillary, if he doesn't know it, why is he on TV to talk about it, and if he does know it, why is he lying about it?

What does Howard Dean know about Hillary, if he doesn’t know it, why is he on TV to talk about it, and if he does know it, why is he lying about it?

I admit it: I watched MSNBC earlier this week. I tuned in “Morning Joe,” because the horrible Howard Dean was going to be a guest, and Dean will always say something that puts him in the running for at least an Ethics Dunce post. As far as I can see, he has no scruples or shame at all; he’s like Donald Trump with an MD. Still, I didn’t expect what transpired.

Co-Host Mika Brzezinski raised Hillary Clinton’s speaking fees, and suggested that that high prices she charges colleges undercuts her credibility when she discussed making higher education affordable.  “These kids… will be strapped with $90,000 in debt or $120,000 in debt and she’s making $225,000 in one hour,” she said.

“She’s not getting $225,000 for speeches in front of colleges,” Dean stated.

Mika’s partner, “Morning Joe” Scarborough objected, insisting that she did indeed.

“No, she’s not!” Dean insisted. “Which colleges?” A few minutes later, the Morning Joe executive producer read to Dean two examples, saying, “UNLV in October of 2014, she got $225,000. Then a month later, UCLA, she got $300,000.”

“I stand corrected,” said Dean. That is hardly sufficient, however. Some questions need to be answered. Continue reading

Observations On The George W. Bush Speaking Fee Controversy

Paying George to speak is a little like paying Hillary to tell the truth...

Paying George to speak is a little like paying Hillary to tell the truth…

Former President George W. Bush was paid a speakers fee of $100,000 to address a charity fundraiser for U.S. military veterans severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. The  Texas-based Helping a Hero charity also confirmed  that W. was also provided with a private jet to travel to Houston at a cost of $20,000.

Observations:

  • Neither the former President, nor anyone, is obligated to donate his time and effort any time a charity whistles, regardless of its worthy mission. He is also within his rights to charge whatever he chooses: nobody has to pay it.Would it be an ethical act to donate that fee back to the charity, or waive it entirely? Sure. Is it unethical not to do so? Of course not.
  • Why is this story suddenly all over the news and internet? Why, to protect Hillary Clinton, of course. This is another res ipsa loquitur example of the news media acting like Democratic Party operatives. They are trying an “everybody does it” excuse for Hillary’s greed; in turn, the former President’s defnders counter with #22, “It’s not the worst thing.”
  • “For him to be paid to raise money for veterans that were wounded in combat under his orders, I don’t think that’s right,” former Marine Eddie Wright, who lost both hands in a rocket attack in Iraq in 2004, complained to ABC News “You sent me to war. I was doing what you told me to do, gladly for you and our country and I have no regrets. But it’s kind of a slap in the face.” I’m sympathetic, but the argument is absurd. Wright was soldier, and had his duty; Bush was Commander-in-Chief, and had his. Wright wasn’t doing Bush a favor, and Bush owes him no more and no less than any other American. Wright’s argument would obligate Bush to appear, on demand, free of charge to every military and veterans group, or be accused, variously, of playing favorites, not properly respecting non-wounded veterans, and dozens of other equally unavoidable complaints.
  • Is $100,000 an unreasonable speaker’s fee for a former President? Well, if his presence on the dais raises a lot more than that, and the charity seems to think it does, then from a strictly economic standpoint, it is not unreasonable, nor unethical for him to charge it, nor unethical for a charity to pay it.

Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Anyone Who Thinks Hillary’s “I Gave It All To Charity” Excuse Excuses Anything

Money-box-giftI apologize in advance for this, because I assume all of you are as sick of commentary on Hillary, her book promotion tour, and her endless stream of statements that validate everything her critics have been saying for over a decade. However, her latest ethically tone-deaf statement is a special category of dishonesty that I vowed long ago to flag every time it was tried by a public figure, and given a pass by the news media. So here we are.

Hillary responded to the growing controversy over her absurd speaking fees, which she charges to universities as well as corporations, by saying this to ABC’s Ann Compton:

“All of the fees have been donated to the Clinton Foundation for it to continue its life-changing and life-saving work. So it goes from a foundation at a university to another foundation.”

Giving money to another individual’s charity of choice is indistinguishable from giving money directly to that individual. If a lobbyist gives corporate money to a politician’s charity, for example, that’s a crime in most states, and should be. The charity dodge is a popular one with corrupt individuals, because the average member of the public, being among those whom Abraham Lincoln noted that you can fool all the time, and also possessing the ethics analysis skills of the typical whippet, just nod and say, “Oh. Okay!” Continue reading

Those Huge University Speaking Fees: Hillary Clinton A Venal Hypocrite? Say It’s Not So!

To be fair, she really needs the money...

To be fair, she really needs the money…

Hillary Clinton has sounded the alarms (lest Sen. Elizabeth Warren sound it louder) over student dept and the high cost of college education. Then she has blithely accepted nearly two million dollars to give one hour canned speeches at eight universities, including four public institutions.

This is causing some anger on campuses, as it should. How can a school raise tuition, claim that it is strapped for funds, and then pay a wealthy woman over $200,000 to give a speech? It can’t—not responsibly or ethically. Nor is it responsible or ethical for the speaker, while stating publicly that she deeply cares about higher education, to ask for and accept such funds.

The issue came to light after University of Las Vegas students began protesting a scheduled speech by Clinton at her going rate of $225,000, asking her to return the fee. What has followed is a lot of rationalizing and lame defenses of the indefensible.

Fact: no school should be paying the equivalent of a student’s multi-year tuition for a one hour speech, even if Abraham Lincoln has agreed to come from beyond the grave to give it.

Fact: no decent, caring public figure should charge or accept such a fee. Continue reading