Whatever The Huffington Post Thinks It’s Doing, It Isn’t Ethical

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I no longer check the Huffington Post for stories, and this latest example of its unprofessional and unethical culture is a perfect example why.

Having earlier beclowned itself by unilaterally deciding that Donald Trump did not warrant serious coverage as presidential candidate despite the fact —nauseating though it is—that he is a serious candidate and is having a massive and undeniable effect on the race, the news and opinion website now has decreed that every future story about The Donald will henceforth have appended to it the following legend:

“Note to our readers: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.”

My post about the ethics vacuum displayed by the previous anti-Trump policy (which Huffpo eventually had to retract) applies with equal force to this one:

“The Huffington Post has just given us one of the worst examples of the modern news media’s abandonment of professionalism and ethics for partisan favoritism, but a refreshingly open one. Usually the biased news media doesn’t announce its unethical manipulation of what we get to hear and see.”

I must conclude that even that tongue in cheek faint praise was excessively gentle. The only way Arianna Huffington could think this well-poisoning label is anything but outrageous is if she couldn’t pick a journalism ethics code out of a line-up of baseball cards and movie posters. Since the Huffington Post, by doing this, has intentionally or not proclaimed to the world that it rejects the minimal levels of restraint, fairness, objectivity and professionalism  that necessarily accompany the description “responsible and trustworthy news media,” what is it? Indeed, what the hell is it? Continue reading

Legally Competent, Ethically Bankrupt: The Zealous, Despicable Monique Pressley, Esq.

cosby-women-new-york-magazine-w724

Bill Cosby’s lawyer Monique Pressley decided to become a hybrid attorney-publicity agent yesterday, and in doing so provided an impromptu seminar on why people hate lawyers, and often should. She was carefully spinning and dissembling on behalf of her client without breaching the ethics rules against lying, parsing words and phrases with skill and deftness, all in the service of a serial sexual abuser and perhaps the greatest hypocrite pop culture has ever produced.

Brava!

Also, Yeeccch!

The impetus for her media spin tour, for that is all it was, is the New York magazine issue that features the stories of 35 of Cosby’s accusers. First Pressley told CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield that the women were comparable to a lynch mob: Continue reading

The Huffington Post Thinks It Is The Arbiter Of Who Has A Right To Run For President

No Trump

Establishing a new high level mark for media arrogance and news reporting incompetence, the Huffington Post has anointed itself the arbitrator of which Presidential candidates are qualified to be taken seriously, and thus have their campaigns covered. Editorial editor Danny Shea and HuffPo Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim thus posted this statement yesterday:

“After watching and listening to Donald Trump since he announced his candidacy for president, we have decided we won’t report on Trump’s campaign as part of The Huffington Post’s political coverage. Instead, we will cover his campaign as part of our Entertainment section. Our reason is simple: Trump’s campaign is a sideshow. We won’t take the bait. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you’ll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.”

This means that the rest of us should henceforth file the Huffington Post in our browser bookmarks with The News Nerd and other fake news sites. Continue reading

This Settles It, In Case There Were Any Lingering Doubts: Where Sex Is Concerned, Men Are Idiots

And they read The Huffington Post!

And they read The Huffington Post!

Shelley Dufresne, 32, and Rachel Respess, 24, both teachers at Destrehan High School in St. Charles Parish in New Orleans, have been arrested after credible evidence surfaced that they had engaged a 16-year-old male student in a three-way sex romp.

You can read about this nauseating incident here. Needless to say (but as I will soon demonstrate, I do need to say), this is the ultimate breach of trust by a teacher, and not merely rape, but gang rape. Age, authority, role, everything is wrong here. If these women are not treated exactly like  two male teachers who did the same, and my guess is they won’t be (the Debra LaFave factor is in their favor: they aren’t hideous), it will be a disgrace to the community and justice.

But you all knew that, because Neanderthals don’t read ethics blogs. Not these commenters, though, on the Huffington Post, which tends to attract liberal-minded readers. As the comments below prove, however, the toxic Y chromosome overcomes ideology. Read ’em and weep…

Mike Martin: The victim was treated at a local hospital… for injuries to his wrist after a plethora of high fives from classmates.

Mouad El Bouanani: Im laughing so hard mate

Dennis Woodard: Lol. Aint that the truth! Like seriously! He wasnt going to brag to friends!

Rick Fitzgerald: When are the ladies going to learn that young men could never keep their mouth shut after snagging a teacher. Much less two at the same time.

Patrick BeMent : Well,, the young man learned an important lesson here. When you are lucky enough to fall into that situation, keep your mouth shut.

Dean Yasuda: If you keep your mouth shut, you’re probably not doing it right.

Walid Osama:“My son is taking it difficult” Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight..

Kris Schaumburg : In all honesty they were doing him a favor. He is now catapulted to Demi-God status.

Tony A Aragon: Yeah, He’s sad that its over.

Qamron Joseph Crooks : Let’s be honest, in some of these cases the “victim” was plenty pleased with the situation – In others, they were actually victimized. Goes for both sexes.

Clyde Daisley: AGAIN!!.. Where were these teachers when I was in high school!!.. Yep been cheated!

James L. Walker : Bet all three got off easy! Maybe two or three times!

Wayne E Naylor : You can’t rape the willing Mr. Akerberg. noun This young man was in heaven, not forced. He was NOT RAPED.

Yes, later on an occasional male tried to make an intelligent comment, balanced by the equally occasional females who agree with the fools above. This is an accurate representation of the thread, however.

I’m going to go castrate myself now.

_______________________

Pointer and Spark: Fred

Graphic: Roger Ballen

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts, and seek written permission when appropriate. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work or property was used in any way without proper attribution, credit or permission, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at jamproethics@verizon.net.

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Hillary Clinton On Government Control Of Non-Conforming Viewpoints

mind-control-tests

“I believe that we need a more thoughtful conversation, we cannot let a minority of people — and that’s what it is, it is a minority of people — hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people.”

—-Hillary Clinton, forcefully inserting her leg in her mouth up to the knee during a CNN town hall as she talked about gun control, and, apparently, the new Democratic-progressive goal of government censorship of words, thoughts and beliefs.

Yup, Hillary really said that we cannot allow a minority to hold viewpoints the majority objects to. Oh, I know: she just said “terrorizes.” But if you can stop people from holding terrorizing viewpoints, there will  no longer be any prohibitions on barring other viewpoints that “the majority” believes are unwise.  This is the progressive paradise, I guess: all dissenting thoughts, opinions and viewpoints banished. I can almost feel the electroshock treatments now.

This is just a gaffe, right? I doubt it. I don’t think someone committed to free speech, open discourse, liberty and pluralism makes such a gaffe. The Left has been working over-time to suppress opposing opinion, dissent and non-conforming views for much of this President’s administration. Why should we believe this is a mistake?

Hillary will, and should, have this quote shaken in front of her face from now on. It is disgraceful, and terrifying (but I’m probably not part of Hillary’s “majority,” so what terrifies me doesn’t matter) for a former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State to assert such an un-American sentiment.

And immediately, the news media has begun trying to clean up the mess. The Huffington Post, realizing most people read headlines, not full posts, titled its report this way:

“Hillary Clinton On Gun Control: We Can’t Let ‘A Minority Of People’ Terrorize The Majority”

That is, you will notice, a lie. That is not what she said, and it is not up to journalists to decide for us what she “meant.” She said, very specifically, “holding viewpoints” is what we cannot permit, although the Constitution and a long line of Supreme Court cases says quite specifically that viewpoints are exactly what the government must permit. Later she said,

“I don’t think any parent, any person, should have to fear about their child going to school or going to college because someone, for whatever reasons — psychological, emotional, political, ideological, whatever it means — could possibly enter that school property with an automatic weapon and murder innocent children, students, teachers.”

This is less totalitarian, arguably, but dumber. “Could possibly” enter that school? I guess we have to lock them up, then, right, Mrs. Clinton? Can’t take any chances.

_____________________________

Pointer: Democratic Underground

 

 

Proposed PSA: “This Is Matthew, And He Is The Face Of The Tragedy Called Confirmation Bias. Please Help!”

PSA

It is so easy—and tempting—to dismantle Matthew Lynch’s  jaw-dropping essay on the Huffington Post titled “12 Reasons Why Obama Is One of the Best Presidents Ever” that it is unethical, like shooting fish in a barrel. Nearly everything about the post is snicker-worthy, beginning with its timing: this is the equivalent of writing a paean to JFK the morning after the Bay of Pigs.

I have no similar reticence about slamming the Huffington Post for running such an embarrassing screed. If it was intended as satire (and I still think this is a possibility), the piece is incompetent, because when satire is so close to reality that readers can’t tell it’s satire, then it becomes a hoax. There is a possibility, I suppose, that the editors published this because Lynch’s glossy-eyed, alternate reality ravings were entertainingly absurd (they are not: they are tragic), but this would be cruelty, the equivalent of Sean Hannity’s practice of allowing an ignorant, usually poor and uneducated liberal caller to make a fool of herself, slyly impugning the intelligence of the entire American Left. Yet the Huffington Post is largely Obama-friendly: his obeisant  media may finally be moving away from the President, but not that quickly. I think “12 Reasons…” was run because the editors believed the article had substantive merit, in which case, they should all be sent to the Home for Bewildered Editors. (It also may have been planted as link bait.)

If the post was run on its substance, then the editors failed their responsibilities in another respect: they didn’t check Lynch’s facts. His opinions and justifications for them may be Oz-worthy and his alone, but when he writes a flat-out misrepresentation like this… Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Josh Barro

“‘If you like your health plan, you can keep it’ was never a reasonable promise; health reform that addressed America’s combination of high cost, middling outcomes and spotty coverage was necessarily going to have to change a lot of people’s health plans. So yes, that statement is proving false — and it’s a good thing.”

—–Josh Barro in Business Insider, joining the ranks of the untrustworthy while discussing the unfolding realities of the Affordable Care Act.

Or as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius would say: "Whatever."

Or as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius would say: “Whatever.”

James Taranto has catalogued several more disgraceful efforts to deny the undeniable—that President Obama’s assertion that nothing in the Affordable Care Act would cause any American to lose a plan that he liked was a calculated and intentional lie—thus adding those individuals to the growing list of people Americans should never pay heed to again on any topic, because they have proven themselves to lack integrity and are thus untrustworthy.

Among them: New York Times pundit David Firestone, James Carville (I’m shocked!), Time’s Kate Pickert, and my friend Jason Linkins over at the Huffington Post, a funny, smart man who ought to be ashamed of himself.  The comments that most alarmed me, however, were those of another addition to the list, commentator Josh Barro. “The statement is proving false” is a particularly loathsome version of “mistakes were made,” which attempts to remove the human being responsible from identification and accountability. Obama’s statement isn’t changing or doing anything. Barro’s dishonest phrasing denies the fact of human agency. Obama made a promise regarding matters that he had complete control over in every way, and that promise was false when it was made. By him. The President could have guaranteed that his promise would be kept by refusing to sign a bill that didn’t make certain, through its provisions, that it would be kept. In fact, he has known all along (or has no excuse for not knowing)that millions of Americans wouldn’t be able to keep the plans they wanted to. The promise isn’t “proving false;” it was always false.

As for Barro’s airy declaration that the fact that it is “proving false” is a good thing, this is essentially an endorsement of lying as tool of public manipulation. Lying to the public is never a good thing, and a President lying to the public is a terrible thing. That so many of President Obama’s allies and supporters, like Barro, endorse lying and shamelessly so if it achieves ends that they happen to believe are beneficial should set off not merely ethics alarms, but democracy and republic alarms. Self-government cannot flourish or even survive when this kind of conduct by elected leaders becomes commonplace and accepted.

Although I have seen scant evidence of it so far, I hope that the progressives, Democrats, journalists and others who are now discarding all semblance of honesty and objective reasoning to rationalize away the President’s words in this episode recognize that their obligations to their illusions and ideologies must be secondary to their duties to the culture, fellow citizens, American values and the nation. Many of these desperate deniers are my friends, some are my family. I call on them to stop amplifying a lie and excusing betrayal. You’re disillusioned—I accept that. I’ve been in your position. It is devastating when those you have admired, believed, and tied your own credibility to show themselves to be unworthy of that trust, and abuse it. But denial makes the consequences of that conduct worse, and indeed ratifies it and guarantees that it will continue. This is cowardly and irresponsible. You are better than that; the country is better than that. This is not a culture that has embraced the concept of “the King can do no wrong,” indeed, the Constitution and the Declaration are predicated on the truth than leaders are fallible.

The President lied to everyone, and that is not “a good thing.” It is something that should never be trivialized nor allowed to pass without serious, meaningful consequences, and there can be no consequences when good and intelligent people abdicate their duty of self-government, which includes the duty of oversight, to protect the wrongdoers. All the polls say that we want our government to be trustworthy. Well, it can’t be trustworthy if we excuse its lies. For the government to be trustworthy, we have to be trustworthy too. We have to be able to trust each other not to aid the lies we are told, and to confront the liars.

It’s not too late.

______________

Pointer and Source:Forbes, Business InsiderWall Street Journal

Your Incompetent, Biased, Lazy, Untrustworthy News Media At Work: A Case Study

Remarkably, Norman Rockwell accurately predicted how news would be reported in 2013!

Remarkably, Norman Rockwell accurately predicted how news would be reported in 2013!

Last week, the Huffington Post breathlessly reported that McDonald’s could double its workers wages, thus giving them a “living wage,” by raising the price of a Big Mac by a mere 68 cents. This obviously had appeal to the HuffPo’s liberal sensibilities, more proof of how a big corporation was needlessly lining its pockets while exploiting the lowest rungs of the workforce. The “proof” was in a study that had been represented as a being run by a “University of Kansas researcher.” The study results looked so good that the fine progressives at the site just knew it had to be right—after all, it perfectly confirmed their own beliefs. This, I’m sure you have guessed by now, is confirmation bias in its purest form.

The Huffington post writer and editors didn’t check the source, and didn’t check the study. And as some non-biased, at least in the same direction, reviewers quickly found out when they did, neither held up. The “researcher” was an undergraduate (Arnobio Morelix, whose wonderful name alone would have made me want to check him out) , and the “study” might have been a term paper. The paper’s assumptions, conclusions and math didn’t hold up, as is fairly common for undergraduate papers. The Huffington Post had to retract its story, five days later.

Alas, too late! Continue reading

Unethical Trio: An Ambush, An Incompetent Diagnosis, and Partisan Journalist Hackery

Doctors and Kurtz

There were three notable unethical performances last week from professionals who should know better:

I. Dr. Benjamin Carson, neurosurgeon. Carson was invited to give the keynote speech at the National Prayer Breakfast (don’t get me started about why there even is a National Prayer Breakfast, and why the President should feel obligated to attend it) last week and turned what is traditionally understood to be a non-partisan, non-political speech into a direct attack, without explicitly designating it as such, on President Obama’s policies. Yes, it was a well-written, well-reasoned and well-delivered speech, but it was an ambush. Many conservatives were pleased to have President Obama  subjected to an articulate complaint that “spoke truth to power,” yet the objectives and specific content of the speech doesn’t matter: that wasn’t what Carson was invited to do, and it wasn’t what he should have done. Dr. Carson has subsequently justified his actions in self-congratulatory terms as an act of courage, but in reality it was an instance of a citizen seizing an opportunity to grab national attention and a prominent soapbox that weren’t his to grab. His actions made the President of the United States a captive audience to his amateur analysis of national affairs. It was disrespectful, and because it was given under false pretenses, dishonest. Continue reading

Unethical Web Headline of the Month: The Huffington Post

This photo has almost nothing to do with the subject of this story.

It wasn’t only HuffPo, to be fair. Every single news website that covered the story used the same misleading, sensational idea in its headline, but The Huffington Post’s version was the worst:

Anthony Stewart, 15-Year-Old From Syracuse, N.Y., Jailed For 7-Cent Robbery

Awww..poor Anthony! And what a mean judge! What did the mischievous tyke do, steal the change from the little bowl by the cash register at the Subway sandwich shop? Knock over a lemonade stand? No, actually, he did this: (From the CBS New website):

“Anthony Stewart was found guilty of first-degree robbery earlier this month for beating and kicking a 73-year-old man and robbing him of seven cents. Prosecutors say the victim was on his way to a store last December when the two teenagers ran up from behind, knocked him into a snow bank, then kicked and punched him. The two teens had handguns, which Stewart later admitted were BB guns, prosecutors said.”

Even though both the victim and Stewart’s partner in crime identified him, Anthony Stewart, unlike his accomplice, refused to plead guilty and insisted on a jury trial. He lost his gamble, and the judge, as judges are wont to do, penalized him for not admitting his guilt. The victim’s other attacker had been sentenced as a youthful offender, meaning the he will have his record sealed and won’t be labeled a felon, though he still will spend up to four years in a state juvenile facility. Stewart, however, didn’t get the youthful offender break, and will come out of prison two to six  years from now with a felony conviction on his permanent record.

“If you admitted like a man, then I would have sentenced you exactly as I did Mr. Ninham,” the judge told Stewart. “But you still denied committing a crime, despite a mountain of evidence.”

Let’s get this straight: the seven cents had nothing to do with the sentence, other than the fact that it changed the crime from a criminal assault to a robbery. I don’t know why these two dummies bothered to steal seven lousy cents, when they found that this was all the old man was carrying. Still, it established that they would have stolen whatever he had, whether it was 7 cents or  $7,000 dollars. Two teenagers, armed with weapons, beat a man and robbed him. It was a brutal attack, and the fact that they only got 7 cents out of it is moral luck and cosmic irony, but it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, make the criminals any more sympathetic.

So why did the Huffington Post (and CBS, and the New York Daily News, and Yahoo, and Newser, and Fox…) use a headline that made it sound like the American Justice system was doing its Kafka imitation, and a photo of the young African-American teen calculated to tug on our heartstrings and make Al Sharpton go bananas?

Because they lie, that’s why. Because they don’t care that lots of people just read their dishonest headlines and never finish the story, and then tell their family and friends about the insane judge who is ruining a boy’s life because he took 7 cents. Because all they care about is web traffic, and the journalistic ideals of factual and objective reporting are so dead, they wouldn’t even make it as zombies.

Even with the facts of the attack revealed (in the HuffPo article, seven paragraphs from the lead), an astounding number of commenters on the various sites took their cues from the headlines, and expressed horror and outrage. It was a white judge—racism must have been behind the sentence! The boy just made a mistake, and what harm did he do—after all, he only took 7 cents! Why should Anthony be penalized for making the system prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?

Fools all…but fools nourished by unscrupulous media like the Huffington Post. Anthony deserves every second of his sentence, and the felony record too. He participated in a violent and armed attack on an elderly man, and if he wanted mercy from the judge, he should have admitted his guilt. That’s the system.

Anthony’s asinine lawyer, who either gave him awful advice or failed miserably by not talking him out of pleading not guilty, fatuously told the judge,  “For 7 cents, now you’re making someone a felon for the rest of his life.”

No, he made himself a felon for the rest of his life, and it wasn’t “for seven cents.”

But don’t worry!  Anthony will be OK. I’m sure the Huffington Post will have a job for him.