Tag Archives: ignorance

Fake News Ethics: A Quick Audit

fake-news

There is…

(1) fake news,

(2) misleading or incompetent reporting,

(3) news that some people call fake because they don’t like its likely effects or implications, and

(4) news that people want others to think is fake so they can peddle their own fake news.

Did genuine, unequivocal fake news affect the 2016 election—that is, the first kind, the kind peddled by hoax sites like The News Nerd, and the Macedonian junk like the story about the Pope endorsing Trump?  There’s no evidence that would suggest or support that. Many voters are naive, gullible, ignorant fools, but still: how many actually changed their votes based on complete fiction? It’s impossible to tell, but stating that this was the case is itself a form of fake news.

Democrats and partisan pundits had been using the “fake news” device to mute the voices of journalists who didn’t follow in lockstep to the mainstream media pro-Democratic march. The IRS scandal, which is real and damning, has been largely ignored by the mainstream news media and called a “nothingburger” in Obama Administration talking points.The assertion that it is a myth that the IRS is using its power to suppress conservative dissent is …..fake news.

Because Fox is the only major news outlet (I do not count the slimy Breitbart websites) that was consistently critical of the Obama administration when it deserved it (and sometimes when it did not), Democrats not-quite-successfully-enough set out to marginalize Fox, calling it “faux news” and pushing the Obama narrative that it wasn’t even a legitimate news source. Obama, in an interview with Rolling Stone (speaking of sources of fake news!), blamed Clinton’s loss in part on “Fox News in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country.”

Isn’t that amazing? What gall. It isn’t the fact that the debt (that Obama promised to reduce) is now just short of 20 TRILLION dollars, with Obama adding a record $7.917 trillion to it, it’s that the one news source that actively exposed that fact was available to middle class voters that led to Hillary’s loss.  It wasn’t that the Affordable Care Act didn’t let Americans keep their health care plans as Obama repeatedly swore it would, it was that Fox News kept reminding its viewers of that (as the rest of the news media soft-peddled it) , while also publicizing that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, one’s health care insurance was less affordable unless the government was paying for it. It wasn’t that Hillary Clinton had lied about her e-mail tricks for over a year, the problem was that Fox was responsibly reporting that she was lying, unlike CNN, NBC, and the rest.

You know. Fake news.

As part of an organized effort up and down Democratic groups, ranks, allies and media operatives to de-legitimatize Donald Trump’s victory, the definition of “fake news” has been conveniently expanded. The Washington Post published a jaw-droppingly sloppy, partisan piece last week alleging that

The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.”

Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Facebook, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, Rights, Social Media, The Internet

“Fake News” Ethics: Top Ten Culprits (And Facebook Isn’t One Of Them)

pope-trump

“Fake News” is now a big topic in the news media, as it tries to lead public attention away from legitimate scrutiny of its own bias and incompetence, Facebook, in particular, is the target of this outcry, because the false narrative (should Facebook also be helped responsible for policing false narratives?) that fake news drove Donald Trump’s shocking victory is more palatable than the accurate narrative that Trump was opposed by the only candidate so corrupt, dishonest and inept that he had a chance of winning.

Here’s an interesting study of how Facebook’s algorithms circulates news stories that are made up. The focus on this kind of fake news, however, creates a fake picture of the problem that over-emphasizes hoax stories, many of which, apparently, come from teens in Macedonia exploiting American online gullibility for profit. The problem is that Americans are so ignorant that when some of them read a story that says  the Pope endorsed Donald Trump, they believe it. (Popes don’t endorse presidential candidates, and if anyone conscious thinks about it for five minutes, they should be able to figure out why.) The problem is that 40% of Americans are so lazy that they get their news from social media (and another chunk gets its news from comedy shows.)

The Blame Facebook theory is that because Facebook is foolishly relied upon by inept and gullible citizens to get their information about the world, Facebook has to take on the impossible task of vetting news items.

Facebook, however, is neither trustworthy nor competent to do this. Facebook is biased. Facebook is overrun with social justice warriors whose idea of what Facebook should censor is anything that offends them. For example:

Mark Zuckerberg had to fend off employees during the U.S. presidential campaign who wanted to censor billionaire Donald Trump’s posts due to alleged hate speech. Controversial statements by Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign in December forced Mr. Zuckerberg to quash a mini-mutiny of staffers who threatened to quit if they could not delete the candidate’s posts. Sources close to the matter told The Wall Street Journal that some of the comments in question involved a plan to ban Muslim immigrants while the U.S. determines how to best combat the Islamic State group.

Biased selections regarding which news to print while censoring the statements of a Presidential candidate are at least as misleading as fake news.

Presumably Facebook won’t try vet the misleading, dishonest news stories, commentary, links and memes I see flooding Facebook every day, courtesy of my nice, friendly, smart, educated, completely left-biased and right-biased friends who throw absolute garbage out as truth and immediately receive dozens of “Likes” for doing so. These are a lot more visible and just as brain-muddling as any Macedonian fiction. Here’s one example from yesterday, and to the good friend who posted it, I love you dearly but you are gullible and irresponsible:

BREAKING: Trump Announces Plan To ELIMINATE Overtime Pay For 20,000,000 Americans

This is completely false, as one would learn, sort of, by reading the story. Republicans are going to review regulations established in the last 60 days and kill the ones they think are ill-advised, as the law allows Congress to do. One that might be in jeopardy is a recent  rule that requires companies to pay time-and-a-half overtime to employees who make under roughly $47,000. The article also eventually says that it is House Republicans who say they are targeting the rule. So, to summarize:

  • Trump announced no such plan.
  • Nothing is being eliminated, since nobody has received any extra pay to be eliminated.
  • The alleged regulation cancellation wouldn’t take away overtime pay, as the headline states, but the requirement of paying overtime plus 50%.
  • Killing the rule wouldn’t take away such overtime or ban it; employers would still be free to pay time and a half at their discretion.

In short, the headline is fake news, designed to attack Trump. This kind of fake news isn’t included in the linked study, and for good reason. If we fairly call misleading headlines fake news, Facebook would be charged with vetting the mainstream media constantly. What about real quotes, from supposedly reliable people, that falsely spread rumors or specious accusations? Jim Comey did not violate the Hatch Act, as Harry Reid claimed. Trump is not a Nazi, as Howard Dean just claimed. Those quotes are just as misleading than nonsense about the Pope endorsing Donald Trump, but they are real quotes, from well-respected people who are being irresponsible. Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Social Media, U.S. Society

Donald Trump: A Pre-Election Ethics Alarms Character and Trustworthiness Review: 2005-2016 [UPDATED]

trump-mocks-disabled-reporter-cnn-usa-today

Donald Trump has no character or trustworthiness. Next question?

Oh, all right, in the interests of equity and fairness, I’ll submit The Donald to the same process as I did with Hillary Clinton, though in his case the verdict is res ipsa loquitur. Trump’s lack of ethics and his unfitness to fill the shoes of Washington, Lincoln, Teddy, FDR, or Millard Fillmore is, or should be, self-evident. Those for whom it isn’t self-evident are either ignorant, devoid of values themselves, or intentionally seeking to harm the United States.

I’ve been writing about the awfulness that is Donald Trump since 2005. He was noted for his dishonesty on my Ethics Scoreboard when I called foul on his marketing “various ‘get rich’ products, including tapes, seminars, and “Trump U,” an on-line delivery system for more of the same.” I wrote in part

There are thousands upon thousands of Americans who started with meager resources and made themselves rich through talent, hard work, creativity, inventiveness, and some luck. …Not Trump. The success of his pitch to the desperate wannabes and clueless is based on their erroneous assumption, nurtured by Trump but not explicitly supported by him, that he can teach them to do what they think he did…make himself rich through hard work and a business savvy. But what Trump is best qualified to teach is how to make yourself richer when you inherit an established business and have millions of dollars plunked into your waiting hands after your Dad has sent you to Wharton.

The fact that Trump doesn’t lie outright about his background but simply allows his marks to jump to the wrong conclusions puts his “get rich like me” marketing efforts in the category of deceit…but deceit is still dishonesty. Trump undoubtedly has useful wisdom to impart about building a successful career; it’s not as easy to stay rich as some people think. Ask most state lottery winners. Still, the most vivid lesson of Donald Trump’s successful campaign to sell himself as a self-made billionaire is the lesson that 19th Century con-man Joe Bessimer pronounced more than a century ago: There’s a sucker born every minute.

So we knew, or should have known, that this was a con artist at least back eleven years. In 2006, I posted on Trump’s misogyny and incivility, writing about the first outbreak of his feud with the equally vile Rosie O’Donnell, and their public name-calling…

Rosie set off the exchange by suggesting on ABC’s “The View” that Trump’s recent assumption of the role of moral exemplar by chastising and threatening to fire the reigning Miss USA for being a party-girl was more than a little ridiculous, given his own well-documented penchant for fast women and extra-marital affairs. Sometimes Rosie’s full of beans, and sometimes she gets it right; this time she was right, but spoiled it by concluding her commentary with some unflattering name-calling. Trump, no girly-man he, immediately said he would sue O’Donnell, and then launched into an extended riff on how unattractive and fat she was, including the charming phrase, “pig-face.” Classy as always, Donald…. Yes, anyone who admires either of these two annoying characters already has a problem, but there is no escaping the fact that both are celebrities, and as celebrities they contribute to establishing cultural norms of civility and conduct. This is especially true of Trump, who despite his low-life proclivities is a successful business executive. Resorting to personal attacks on an adversary’s weight or appearance is disrespectful, unfair, cruel and indefensible. Doing so on national media is like firing a shotgun into a crowd. There are a lot of fat or unattractive women out there, Mr. Trump, who are smart, generous, productive, loving, intelligent people… Golden Rule, anyone? How are we to convince our children not to ridicule the personal traits of others, when those they see as rich, famous and successful do the same openly, shamelessly, and even gleefully?

You can imagine my continued amazement that ten years after writing this rather obvious assessment, without Trump having undergone a complete transformation, and indeed with his conduct and public statements becoming worse rather than better, we are on the eve of a day that may live in infamy as the moment democracy  completely failed the United States of America, inflicting on it, and the world,  as unstable and unqualified a leader of a great power as history has ever witnessed. Continue reading

33 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Scoreboard classics, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: Mediaite

feldman

Mediaite is a frequent source here. The news and opinion website actively strives for balance by maintaining a stable of ideologically diverse reporters. It also received a big boost in credibility recently by finally dumping the embarrassing Tommie Christopher, whose left-wing bias was so extreme that it bordered on parody.

However, the site grossly abandoned ethics and accountability this time.

Yesterday I cited a Mediaite story about how Twitter dolts thought they saw a KKK sign in the stands during the World Series, a mistake caused by a bad hybrid of race-obsessed derangement and utter ignorance of the National pastime. What I did not know, because Mediaite was engaged in a cover-up, was that reporter Josh Feldman had filed the original post in which HE accused Cleveland fans of promoting the Klan. As you can see above, the original Mediaite story was not about Twitter morons mistaking the cards representing three strikeouts for Cleveland starter Corey Kluber, but a “scoop” by an ignorant and irresponsible reporter who made that mistake.

After Feldman was quickly schooled  on Twitter, Mediaite cleaned up the embarrassing story, removed Feldman’s byline, and turned it into a “Boy are some people stupid!” post. Feldman restricted his apology to Twitter, writing, “Apologies for the fuckup. Need to do more reading up on sportsing things.”

No, need to show some responsibility on reportsing things, Josh. Mediaite’s handling of this botch was unethical, and seriously implicates their trustworthiness. In the revamped post, a note was added saying,

UPDATE- This post has been updated to reflect the fact that it was NOT a KKK sign, it was signifying the number of strikeouts,”

Yes, and it was also updated to remove the name of the guilty reporter. Josh Feldman should been named as the one responsible, he should have apologized to Mediaite readers , not Twitter followers, for false reporting, and Mediaite had an obligation to apologize as well for its poor oversight. Instead, the site chose to cover for its reporter.Ethics Verdict: No transparency, no accountability, and an effort to deceive readers rather than admit to incompetent and careless reporting.

How can anyone trust a website that would do that?

___________________________

Pointer and Facts: Daily Caller

9 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Journalism & Media, Sports, The Internet

World Series Ethics: No, You Morons, That Wasn’t A “KKK Sign”!

kkk-world-series

The divided, confused, betrayed American public owes a debt of gratitude to the National Pastime this morning, and not for the first time. The stirring World Series win by the Chicago Cubs in Cleveland, and the joyous celebration afterwards, is exactly what this besieged and angry republic needed.

Well, that and a competent and respectable Presidential candidate to vote for, but you can’t have everything.

On social media, however, one was reminded why we have such miserable options to lead the country: ignoramuses. For during the game, multiple social justice warriors, doubtless confused because no players protested the National Anthem during the game, took to Twitter to exclaim that there was a Klu Klux Klan sign at the World Series!

Morons.

Some thoughts: Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Race, Social Media, Sports

Along With All The Other Critical Issues Ignored In This Presidential Campaign, What Completely Neglected Crime Robs American Consumers Of An Estimated $25 billion A Year?

fish2

Why it’s fish fraud, of course!

Ethics Alarms covered the problem way back in 2011, in a post called “Getting Scrod in Boston: The Ravages of Seafood Fraud. I just checked: almost nobody has read it, and those who have almost certainly have 1) forgotten about it and 2) been ripped off buying seafood since.

Now the guys at “Stuff You Should Know” have done an excellent  podcast about the issue. It really is infuriating that with all the regulations we pay for, and all the attention the government focuses on fads, politically correct crusades (how many Americans are affected by limitations on which public rest rooms can be openly used by transgender citizens?) , and out-and-out trivia, something like this goes not only unaddressed by officials, but ignored as well. The news media, meanwhile, would rather use its limited daily space to tell us how Stephen Colbert just skewered Donald Trump last night than to warn us about our pockets being picked.

Well, not me: I almost never buy seafood unless it’s raw oysters, whole shrimp or crab,  and if I’m in New England, Ipswich clams and lobster, all hard to fake. Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under Animals, Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising

More Clown Ethics: The County That Banned Bozo

bozo

An alternate title was “The County Run By People So Ignorant Of The Constitution That They Think You Can Tell People How To Dress And Who Will Be Easy Pickings When The Democrats Decide To Ban What They Decide Is “Hate Speech,” but I thought it was a little too long.

The mass Ethics Dunce in question is Mississippi’s Kemper County, which in response to the evil clown hysteria embarrassing the nation almost as much as the evil Presidential candidates hysteria, enacted a clown ban this week, forbidding people from dressing as clowns until after Halloween. Anyone caught in public wearing a clown costume, mask or makeup will face a $150 fine.

This is, of course, ironic, since any elected officials voting for such a ban are, by definition, clowns themselves.

County supervisors president Johnny Whitsett justified this overly broad law and per se violation of the Constitution as a matter of public safety because, he said, people “could react badly if they get scared by a clown in their yard.” Wait: how does my wearing clown shoes and a red nose in my yard scare someone in their yard?

Boy, I can’t wait until I am retired, rich, and at leisure to go down to future Kember Counties and get arrested for being dressed like Bozo.

In these tiny, trivial, stupid examples of elected officials proving themselves ignorant of our rights and protections are the seeds of the destruction of American liberty.

Meanwhile, non-government entities, which are legally free to reject the principle of free expression but not ethically free to get away with it, at least on this little corner of the Internet, have revealed their own censorious clown DNA. Target, for example, has removed clown masks from its stores and website. “Given the current environment, we have made the decision to remove a variety of clown masks from our assortment, both in stores and online,” the Big Box chain announced through a spokesman.

This is consistent with the current reasoning of the increasingly totalitarian left on guns and other commodities, that if a small minority of citizens abuse a product or right, the rest of us have to do without. Again, I look forward to my future career as the Ethics George Soros, funding nation-wide Scary Hair Dryer User  hoaxes to see if Target will ban hair dryers too.

9 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Rights, U.S. Society