Tag Archives: honesty

A Plague Of Misleading Headlines

Fake headline

The mad quest for clicks appears to be leading websites that should know better to sink to misleading or outright dishonest headlines on the web. For someone like me, who has to scan these looking for possible ethics issues, it is an increasingly annoying phenomenon. Readers need to speak up. The practice is unethical, and moreover, suggests that the source itself isn’t trustworthy.

Here are three current examples;

1. The Daily Beast: “Idiocracy’ Director Mike Judge: Fox Killed Our Anti-Trump Camacho Ads”

Boy, isn’t it just like that conservative, Trump-promoting Faux News to help The Donald by using its power, influence, lawyers, something to stop the makers of “Idiocracy,” that comic classic, from being used to save the country from American Hitler?

That’s sure how the Daily Beast wanted its largely Democratic readership to react to its headline over the story about a fizzled effort to use the the film’s character  of ex-porn star future U.S. President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Drew Herbert Camacho, played by Terry Crews, in a series of comic spots ridiculing Trump’s candidacy. The story, however, never quotes Judge as saying Fox—that would be the movie side of Twentieth Century Fox, not Fox News, which had no say in the matter: the company produced the film and owns the right to it and all of its characters—killed the project.  All Judge says is that the idea of doing a series of such ads didn’t come to fruition, for a whole list of reasons which might have included Fox’s distaste for the project.. Of  Fox, he says this..

“I think also Fox… yeah, they… even though they’ve probably forgotten they still own it…”

The writer then suggests that company owner Rupert Murdoch might not like the idea, and thus prompted, Judge replies,

“Yeah. That’s the other thing. I think there was a roadblock there, too…I just heard that [the proposed ads] were put on the shelf, so it looks like they’re not going to happen.”

Based on this, the author, typical Daily Beast hack Marlow Stern, writes, “It looks like Fox refused—and the ads are now dead.” Stern never says that Fox refused; it is the “reporter” who says it. Meanwhile, when the Daily Beast writes about “Fox,” it is referring to Fox News 99.9% of the time, and knows that’s what its readers will think when they read “Fox.”

The headline is intentionally misleading, and a lie.

(Incidentally, the movie is a great concept that under-delivers on its premise and potential, and should be a lot funnier than it is) Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, language, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, The Internet

Ethics Heroes: The Nixon Foundation And The Richard Nixon Presidential Library

Pop Quiz: Who is missing from this picture from the dedication of the Nixon Library in 1990, and why?

Pop Quiz: Who is missing from this picture from the dedication of the Nixon Library in 1990, and why?

I can’t stand the Kennedy Library in Boston, with all its triumphal, sentimental hagiography of both Jack and Bobby. A presidential library will naturally try to put the best spin on the accomplishments, failures, and character deficits of its subject, but it has an obligation to history too. I once was determined to visit all of the libraries, but after the first few I decided that these structures were more like the pyramids than fair and enlightening representations of the men they honored.

The worst in this respect, as you might guess, was the infamous Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California, which opened 26 years ago.The Watergate exhibit, approved by Nixon himself, painted Nixon as an innocent and heroic victim brought down by the media  and his sinister foes. This was certainly Nixon’s view, but it has no relationship to reality. So convinced was Congress that the Richard Nixon Presidential Library would display the same lack of ethics as its namesake that it passed a law in 1974 requiring his presidential records to be stored with the National Archives and out of the library’s control, where they might be altered or “lost.”

Nixon’s library entered the official presidential library system under the auspices of the National Archives in 2007, and to finally make it more than the presidential library equivalent of  Fantasyland, the Nixon Foundation ordered the old Watergate exhibit to be overhauled. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, History, Leadership

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Patrick Smith, Father Of Sylville Smith

“What are we gonna do now? Everyone playing their part in this city, blaming the white guy or whatever, and we know what they’re doing. Like, already I feel like they should have never OK’d guns in Wisconsin. They already know what our black youth was doing anyway. These young kids gotta realize this is all a game with them. Like they’re playing Monopoly. You young kids falling into their world, what they want you to do. Everything you do is programmed. I had to blame myself for a lot of things too because your hero is your dad and I played a very big part in my family’s role model for them. Being on the street, doing things of the street life: Entertaining, drug dealing and pimping and they’re looking at their dad like ‘he’s doing all these things.’ I got out of jail two months ago, but I’ve been going back and forth in jail and they see those things so I’d like to apologize to my kids because this is the role model they look up to. When they see the wrong role model, this is what you get. They got us killing each other and when they even OK’d them pistols and they OK’d a reason to kill us too. Now somebody got killed reaching for his wallet, but now they can say he got a gun on him and they reached for it. And that’s justifiable. When we allowed them to say guns is good and it’s legal, we can bear arms. This is not the wild, wild west y’all. But when you go down to 25th and center, you see guys with guns hanging out this long, that’s ridiculous, and they’re allowing them to do this and the police know half of them don’t have a license to carry a gun. I don’t know when we’re gonna start moving. I’ve gotta start with my kids and we gotta change our ways, to be better role models. And we gotta change ourselves. We’ve gotta talk to them, put some sense into them. They targeting us, but we know about it so there’s no reason to keep saying it’s their fault. You play a part in it. If you know there’s a reason, don’t give in to the hand, don’t be going around with big guns, don’t be going around shooting each other and letting them shoot y’all cause that’s just what they’re doing and they’re out to destroy us and we’re falling for it.”

—–Patrick Smith, father of the late Sylville Smith, the 23-year-old man shot after an arrest by a black police officer, igniting horrific riots in Milwaukee. The body camera video allegedly confirmed that Smith’s son had a gun in his hand when he was killed.

Smith’s last sentence makes no sense, but accurately reflects the false and divisive narrative African Americans have been indoctrinated to believe. Other than that and the Constitution-ignorant suggestion that guns should have been banned in Milwaukee, this is as balanced, sincere, passionate and perceptive a statement regarding police shootings in the black community as any I have read or heard.

Mr. Smith understands the principles of responsibility and accountability, and possesses the courage to accept the hard truths they compel. He deserves our attention, compassion and respect.

I hope his community is listening.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Quotes, Family, Race, U.S. Society

The Daily Beast’s Nico Himes Tricks Gay Olympian Athletes Into Revealing Themselves And Their Sexual Orientation To Him…And His Editor Sees Nothing Wrong With That [UPDATED]

_Sex-in-VillageThis is another one of those stories that makes me wonder it it’s time to switch fields. My current one feels especially futile this week.

The sleazy feature story from the Daily Beast’s Nico Hines was about how Olympic athletes were hooking up for hot, sweaty, muscle sex in Rio. Hines writes…

“Perhaps the question most people have is: How do the rest of us get an invite? Can an Average Joe join the bacchanalia?”

That’s right: that’s what most people think about when they watch the Olympics. Good lord. The creep continues:

After 60 minutes in the Olympic Village on Tuesday evening, I’m surprised to say that the answer is “yes.”Armed with a range of dating and hookup apps—Bumble, Grindr, Jack’d, and Tinder—your distinctly non-Olympian correspondent had scored three dates in the first hour. Athlete profiles on the various apps during my short exploration included a track star, a volleyball player, a record-holder in the pool, a sailor, a diver, and a handball player.

There is one teeny ethics problem. Well, several. The obvious one is that he wasn’t looking for real dates, just trying to see if he could attract some. That’s deception. It is an obvious Golden Rule breach, as well as misconduct in any other ethical system. It is like advertising a job opening to write a story about how many desperate unemployed people apply for job openings. How dead do your ethics alarms have to be not to instantly understand this? Well, as dead as Nico’s and the Daily Beast’s, I suppose.

Here’s the smoking gun quote:

For the record, I didn’t lie to anyone or pretend to be someone I wasn’t—unless you count being on Grindr in the first place—since I’m straight, with a wife and child. I used my own picture (just of my face…) and confessed to being a journalist as soon as anyone asked who I was.

Isn’t that great? Nico didn’t lie, except to suggest that he was looking for sex when he wasn’t, or pretend to be someone he wasn’t, other than pretending to be gay by the very fact of posting on Grindr, a gay social media site that exists so gay men can find other gay men seeking hook-ups.

Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Romance and Relationships, Social Media, U.S. Society

Ethically, Caster Semenya Points Us Directly To Gender-Free Sports Competition, And There Is No Ethical Way To Avoid It

Caster

Ethics Alarms first mentioned female runner Caster Semenya in this essay , when the international sports community was debating the South African track champion’s fitness for competition. Caster, depending on who you believe, is either a woman, intersex, a woman with freakishly high levels of testosterone in her body, or a man who identifies as a woman. What is undeniable is that she is faster than most women, and maybe all of them, and her unique physical make-up, whatever you want to call it, gives her an advantage. Since the last Olympics, Caster has been forced to take drugs that inhibited her body’s production of testosterone.Then, in July 2015 , the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the 2011 IAAF regulations that restricted testosterone levels in female athletes. They also suspended hyperandrogenism regulations for two years. Now Semenya will be able to compete as she is naturally, and because she will, she is widely expected to smoke the competition.

Is it fair to let her run? Is it fair not to let her run? After this year of controversy and confusion over gender, with boys and men “identifying as women” and transgender discrimination laws roiling the culture wars, this is a perfect time for an intersex champion. Then, presumably, all hell will break loose. A sports scientist tells The Guardian,

“I’m actually dreading the Olympics. People only want to hear a good story so when Semenya wins gold the South African media will go crazy. If she breaks the world record, which I think she will, it’ll be even crazier. You can lie and say: ‘Happy days. Let’s celebrate our golden girl’ – which the politicians and media want. Or you can be honest and principled and say: ‘Actually, there are many things we need to address.’ That’s very unpopular”

Society and sports have reached the point  the ethical solution is obvious and unavoidable, and, unfortunately, brutal. If society is accepting the fact that a binary gender distribution is a myth, and there may be seven, ten, or dozens of gender variations along a spectrum, then integrity and consistency—and fairness—demands that gender distinctions in sport be eliminated as arbitrary. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Gender and Sex, Race, Rights, Sports, U.S. Society, Workplace

More Fourth Of July Ethics: PBS Deceives Its Audience, And Calls It A “Patriotic Thing To Do”

a-capitol-fourth-concert-fireworks03

I hate writing posts like this. I hate the fact that the culture’s appreciation of the importance of integrity, honesty and transparency has declined so much during the Obama Administration that I have to write posts like this.

PBS’s annual coverage of the nation’s Capital’s Independence Day celebration from U.S. Capitol was handicapped by the overcast and drizzly weather in the area.  At the point in the show where the National Symphony Orchestra plays the 1812 Overture’s finale while a spectacular fireworks display explodes over the Capitol dome, someone in authority decided that the obscured fireworks  partially blocked by clouds weren’t good enough, so  a video compilation of previous years fireworks were interspersed with them without any disclosure.

To be clear, what happened was this: PBS intentionally deceived its audience, and presented old footage while representing what was on the screen as live.

Social media noticed immediately. “PBS Aired Old Fireworks Footage This Year. Did It Make A Difference?” asked various media commentators, in various forms. Gee, that’s a head-scratcher!  Huh. Tough one! Does it make a difference when a government-funded station deliberately sets out to deceive its viewers? Do lies matter? Is it okay for a broadcast of a live event to be secretly altered with film from a different time and event? Does it make a difference if the news media lies to the public?

Of course it makes a difference. It’s wrong. It’s a lie. It makes public trust impossible. What’s the difference between faking a moon landing and faking a fireworks display? Ethically, they are exactly the same, what we in the ethics field refer to as lies. Continue reading

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Revisiting The “Ten Ethics Questions For Unshakable Hillary Voters”

Hillary Rally

Less than a year ago, I responded to a series of what I regarded then (and now) as irresponsible expressions of support, bias and denial by Hillary Clinton supporters with ten questions designed to rescue them from corruption. At the time, the possibility that an even worse candidate would (or could) be nominated by the Republican Party never crossed my mind.

Although it was largely buried over the last week in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, Clinton’s e-mail fiasco was further exposed as the deep evidence of  long-term Clinton corruption that it is.  One of the most damaging e-mails handled on her private server, for example, was not turned over to the State Department (Hillary has sworn repeatedly a that ALL State Department business-related e-mails were turned over, raising the rebuttable presumption that she had other State communications among the 30,000 or so that her personal lawyers had destroyed.) We also learned that State Department staffers struggled in December 2010 over a serious technical problem that affected emails from the improper server, causing State staffers  to temporarily disable security features on the government’s own systems, thus making them more vulnerable to attack.

In a deposition under oath, Clinton’s IT specialist Bryan Pagliano, a central figure in the set-up and management of Clinton’s personal server, invoked the Fifth more than 125 times.  Meanwhile, the shadowy Clinton Foundation machinations came to the fore once again. An Associated Press review of the official calendar Hillary Clinton kept as Secretary of State identified at least 75 meetings with longtime political donors, Clinton Foundation contributors, corporate and other outside interests that were not recorded.  The calendar omissions naturally reinforce suspicions that she sought to hide possibly improper or even illegal uses of her influence and position to raise funds for the foundation. While the news media tried to spin Donald Trump’s statement in his attack on Hillary last week that “Clinton’s State Department approved the transfer of 20% of America’s uranium holdings to Russia while nine investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation,” his statement was accurate. For a change.

What was striking about the ten questions, looking at them again, is how little I would alter them today. The major change is that the arguments of those who claimed that evidence of Hillary’s unethical conduct was partisan or inconclusive look even more desperate and dishonest than they did last August. For the same reasons, the passage of time makes Clinton’s shameless and insulting lies seem even more shameless and insulting. The Democratic Party also looks worse and more corrupt: it rigged the nomination for this woman of demonstrably untrustworthy and venal character, as well as of dubious skills. Nothing can surpass the complete abdication of its duty to the United States by the Republican Party and its voters, but this was a betrayal by the Democrats.

Here is the list. I’ll have a few observations along the way, in bold.

“Ten Ethics Questions For Unshakable Hillary Voters” Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society