When Your Friends Insist That There Is No Mainstream Media Partisan Bias, Ask Them To Explain This…

The won’t and can’t, but they’ll deny that there’s bias anyway. Like Joe Biden, they choose “truth” over facts.

In an infamous 2017 editorial, New York Times Editorial Page Editor James Bennet wrote, “In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.”

Not only was this false, the theory had been thoroughly dsiproven years before. Palin’s map had nothing to do with violence. “20 House Democrats from districts we carried in 2008 voted for the health care bill,” the caption said. “IT’S TIME TO TAKE A STAND.”

It was a call to defeat Affordable Care Act supporters, not to shoot them. The theory, pushed by the Times’ Paul Krugman among other left-wing pundits after the Tucson shooting,  that Palin’s unremarkable advocacy inspired the attack, was unmoored to facts or logic. Loughner’s motives were vague, and he was insane, politically liberal,  and unlikely to have been following Palin’s website. Linking Palin to the tragedy (others blamed Rush Limbaugh) was just the kind of dishonest cognitive dissonance game we are seeing now, with Democrats and the news media blaming President Trump for recent shootings.

On the theory that the Times crossed the line from opinion to malice when it intentionally publicized a false,  six-year old smear, Palin sued the Times for libel. This week a federal appeals court revived the lawsuit, which had been thrown out by a lower court on First Amendment grounds. Continue reading

From Ethics Alarms’ “What Were They Thinking?” Files: Fly The Stupid Skies!

For some reason, the old United slogan “Fly the Friendly Skies…” was all I could think of when I encountered these two jaw-dropping news items in rapid succession last night.

On Southwest Airlines…

…Passengers boarding a Nashville-to-Philadelphia flight were startled to discover a flight attendant stuffed into one of the overhead luggage bins. Luckily this was a strange joke rather than the beginning of real-life murder mystery, but some of the passengers weren’t amused.  “I can’t get over how weird I find this,” one of them tweeted, adding “@SouthwestAir please get it together.”

Oh, it’s weird alright. It’s also unprofessional and unsettling. Flying is simply not a joking matter. In-flight staff are responsible for our lives, and we have no choice but to trust them. Any hint that they don’t take their duties seriously, are prone to goofing off, or have poor judgment undermines that trust.

Southwest’s response was to spin for its employee,telling Fox News,

“Southwest Employees are known for demonstrating their sense of humor and unique personalities. In this instance, one of our Flight Attendants attempted to have a brief moment of fun with Customers during boarding. Of course, this is not our normal procedure, and Southwest Crews always maintain Safety as their top priority.”

Reading between the lines, I’d guess that the attendant will not be facing smiles from the brass over her “attempt,” and will be facing some not so funny consequences for acting like a middle-schooler on the job.

Good.

But as the great Al Jolson used to say, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” “What were they thinking?” advances to “Are they capable of thought?” in this amazing tale from

Air Canada.

Continue reading

Robert Mueller’s Disastrous Testimony And Its Significance, Part Two

Part I is here.

Random Observations on the Mueller testimony and aftermath:

  • Observing the desperate spin offered by frustrated “resistance” members, desperate Democrats and social media Trump-Haters has been almost as revealing as Mueller’s performance. The most positive  takeaway they could muster is that Mueller clearly said that his investigation didn’t exonerate the President. That’s meaningless. It is not a prosecutor’s job to exonerate anybody, ever. An investigation’s goal is to determine whether there is probable cause to determine that a crime or crimes have been committed, not to prove anyone’s innocence. The hearts of the impeachment mob leaped for joy briefly during the morning hearing of the Judiciary Committee when Mueller answered “yes” to Rep. Ted Lieu’s (D–Calif.) question whether he had declined to indict Trump because of an existing Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion stating that a sitting president couldn’t be charged with a crime. Ah-HA!  Mueller had found evidence of illegal activity committed by the President and was only prevented from indicting him by Justice Department policy! Start those impeachment hearings!

Never mind. In the afternoon hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, reversed himself,   saying that that OLC opinion prevented him from making any determination, period, of Trump’s culpability in obstructing justice. “As we say in the report, and as I said in the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime,” Mueller told the Committee after specifically referencing the Lieu exchange.

“I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu, who said, and I quote, ‘you didn’t charge the president because of the OLC opinion.’ That is not the correct way to say it,” Mueller said.

This did not prevent journalists, pundits and my Facebook friends from ignoring the second statement so they could falsely promote the first. “They got him to confirm that he didn’t make a charge because of the Justice Department memo,” said “Meet the Press’s” Chuck Todd in an NBC panel. No, they didn’t. That’s a direct lie, as well as fake news.

  • The contention that Mueller was only a convenient figurehead for what was designed as a partisan hit job was made more credible by Mueller’s confusion. Mueller’s chief deputy, the infamously over-zealous,  partisan and controversial prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, headed a group of mostly left-leaning investigators. Complaints about the apparent rigged nature of the investigation were met by reminders of Mueller’s party affiliation and reputation for fairness and rectitude. That defense was left in the dust.

Now the anti-Trump tenor of the report no longer suggests the objective conclusions of a political neutral, but the partisan bias of prosecutors with an agenda.

  • Mueller’s weakness also suggests an answer to the persistent question of why the investigation appeared to be so incompetently managed, as with, for example, the involvement of Peter Strzok.

It didn’t appear that Mueller was capable of competent oversight, or even paying attention.

  • The most damaging and disturbing Mueller answer by far was when he was asked about Fusion GPS, which hired Christopher Steele to compile the infamous Russian-sourced ‘dossier’ against Trump.  Mueller said that he was ‘not familiar‘ with it. KABOOM! How is this even possible, unless Weissman and the other anti-Trump Jauberts on his team kept the old man locked in a closet somewhere? The involvement of the Steele dossier undercut the legitimacy of his investigation, and the investigation’s leader  was that uninformed about its origins? Was this wilful ignorance? Blatant incompetence?

Finally, how could the investigators and Mueller justify following bread crumbs that led to indictments of various Trump administration and campaign figures for crimes unrelated to the subject of the investigation, but be oblivious to the strong indications of wrongdoing—the FBI’s FISA fraud, the conflicts of interest, the surveillance of Carter Page—related to the investigation itself?

  • In another ridiculous addition to the Ethics Alarms, “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!” files—at this point, I  cannot maintain any respect for the intelligence and/or integrity of anyone who denies the obvious partisan bias of CNN, MSNBC, and the major networks—I watched CNN for over 30 minutes this morning to see how they would cover the hearings. Over at Fox News, of course, Mueller’s disturbing demeanor was being dissected in detail. The “Fox and Friends” blonde of the day said, sympathetically, that she would be “praying for him and his family,” since something is definitely seriously wrong.

At CNN, however, there was just a crawl representing Mueller’s testimony as straightforward, sticking to the report, and, of course, emphasizing the “no exoneration” statement and his answer to Lieu, retracted though it was. CNN showed no video of Mueller from either hearing, and its panels all focused exclusively on “where the Democrats go from here.”

Incredible. (Can something be simultaneously incredible and unsurprising?)The big news from the hearings, what those who didn’t have the time or stamina to watch them needed to know, was unquestionably Mueller’s frightening lack of preparation, clarity, or knowledge of the report he had signed and the investigation he had supposedly overseen, and how this undermined the report’s legitimacy, especially as an anti-Trump document.  Not only did he fail to give Democrats more ammunition for their coup as they clearly hoped it would, he undermined the credibility of the entire report.

Spin is one thing; intentionally hiding what occurred to make spin easier is something very different, and a major breach of journalism honesty and integrity.

  • Mueller’s repeated concern during his testimony regarding Russian interference in our elections, past and future, is being largely ignored by CNN and the rest because it directly points the finger of accountability to Barack Obama. The Mueller report  states that Russia began interfering in American democracy in 2014, with the operation becoming full-blown during the 2016 presidential election. The Obama administration knew this was going on, and took no discernible action.  In 2016, Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice told her staff to “stand down” and “knock it off” as they drew up plans to “strike back” against the Russians, according to  Michael Isikoff and David Corn in their book “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.”

Yet I continue to read attacks on Trump because he didn’t take adequate steps to foil the Russians,

  • Where is the accountability? House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler had said over the weekend that Mueller’s report showed “very substantial evidence” that President Donald Trump is “guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors” — an impeachable offense. “We have to … let Mueller present those facts to the American people, and then see where we go from there, because the administration must be held accountable,” Nadler,  said on “Fox News Sunday.” Yet Mueller’s testimony, orchestrated by Nadler,  confirmed none of this. Nadler was intentionally misleading the American public.

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Sources (for Parts 1 and 2): NBC News, Grabien, The American Spectator, Reason, Issues and Insights, The Hill,

Robert Mueller’s Disastrous Testimony And Its Significance, Part One

A transcript of the testimony is here.

The amazing thing is that the Democrats held the hearings at all. Mueller, as a matter of legal ethics and client confidentiality, was severely limited regarding what he  could say beyond what was already in his investigation’s report. Desperate to gain some public relations traction in their endless, nation-rending determination to end a legal and duly elected Presidency without the inconvenience of an election, one can only surmise that Mueller’s ethically problematical press conference led them astray, and not only astray, but into a disaster of their own making.

The first hint that something was amiss was Mueller’s request that an aide sit by him and assist in his testimony. That was not only unusual but ominous, and the Republicans on the committee quickly rejected it. Once Mueller started answering questions, it was painfully clear why this request had been made. He looked disoriented and confused. The 75-year-old Justice Department veteran had to ask committee members to repeat their questions repeatedly, as if he was having difficulty focusing. He often did not know whether the representatives were asking him questions or if they were reading from his own report. In  the first 90 minutes of the hearing, Mueller asked for clarification of questions more than 10 times. Under questioning from Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), Mueller asked: “And where are you reading from on that?” “I’m reading from my own question” was the answer.  “Then can you repeat it?” Mueller asked. The audience laughed. By the end, the audience had stopped laughing. As Obama strategist David Axelrod tweeted, the performance was “painful” to watch.  Mueller asked Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee to restate her question three times.  Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) asked the 14 word question, “Attorney #2 in the Inspector General’s report and Strzok both worked on your team, didn’t they?” and Mueller appeared to be confused by it.“Pardon me?” Mueller replied. After Gaetz restated his question, Mueller replied: “And the question was?” Asked by Head Trump-hunter Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) to explain what his investigation  found “in plain terms,” Mueller answered: “Well, the finding indicates that the president, uh, was not, uh, the president was not exculping, uh, exculpated, uh, for the acts that he allegedly committed.”

Ah! Well thank you, sir, that explains everything! Nadler looked as if he wanted to start banging his head on the table.

Continue reading

Lunch Time Ethics Appetizer, 7/16/2019: Funny But Wrong, Important But Incompetent, Too Hungry But Still Employed, And Right But Irrelevant

Yum!

It’s ethical dilemma time for a Red Sox fan. I have an opportunity to get two excellent seats for Sunday’s game in Baltimore. It will be about 99 degrees, and the seats are without any protection from old Sol. Loyalty and dedication demand that I go and support the Sox, whom I have not watched in person for two years. Survival and common sense—non-ethical considerations—argue that this would be nuts.

As Jack Benny said when a robber stuck a gun in his ribs and said, “Your money or your life!,” 

1. Funny! Revealing! But still wrong. Campus Reform utilizes a James O’Keefe- inspired wag named  Cabot Phillips whose signature stunt is to get college students to reveal their ignorance and unthinking social justice warrior ways. He typically does this by lying to them, as when he gives them quotes from Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton and tells them that the speaker was Donald Trump. Outrage and hilarity ensues.

This time, he traveled to the University of Miami and presented students with a fake petition demanding that the college remove its famed mascot and team name, “Hurricanes,” because the name might be  offensive and hurtful to students who’ve been “negatively impacted by hurricanes throughout their lives.” Sure enough, many of the students he spoke with agreed withe the premise. Phillips then posted the video of the students making fools of themselves.

Human beings are wired to trust other human beings, and these stunts take advantage of that. Trust is essential to a healthy and cohesive society, and any exploitation of trust, be it for political purposes, financial gain or amusement, damages society.

It’s not worth it. In this case, the same point could be made by asking, “Would you a support an effort to ban the “Hurricanes” nickname as being potentially hurtful to the victims of tropical storms?”

2. “Spinquark” A helpful reader sent me a link to this website, which purports to expose “big tech companies that don’t respect your privacy..that aren’t transparent and consistent in their algorithms and policies or who use their platforms as a type of privatized online government, a government without recourse or representation.” Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms “Presidential Flat Learning Curve” Files…

Sitting on the sidelines watching the party that has been calling him a traitor, a liar, an imbecile and a Nazi for over three years explode into self-destructive but nicely revealing internecine, generational, ideological warfare, with key leaders calling each other racists and other uncomplimentary things, President Donald J. Trump decided that the most responsible course was for him to tweet this:

This is gross incompetence and stupidity.

I did like the Red State headline regarding this inexplicably self-destructive behavior:

“As Democrats Fight a Civil War, Trump Strips Naked and Runs Onto the Battlefield.”

 

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/8/2019: “Well, No More Oreos For Me!” Edition

An ethical new week dawns!

1. Snopes again. Incredibly, there are still people—like Facebook!—who insist that Snopes is a trustworthy, objective factchecking source. Ethics Alarms had its fill of the site’s partisan spinning many moons ago, but just for giggles, here is another example of the site’s shameless bias.

Last week Snopes pretended to do a “fact check” on whether the Betsy Ross American flag—the thirteen star version that Nike recently rules was too racist to be on a sneaker— was used under President Barack Obama at his inauguration. The strange thing is that no fact check was necessary, since the photographic record is undeniable. As is often the case, however, Snopes’ purpose wasn’t to clarify facts, but to bolster a progressive narrative. Bethania Palma, the most unsubtle of the site’s propagandists, argues that while Obama’s version of the flag wasn’t racist, any use of the flag in 2019 would be racist, because the existence of Donald Trump makes it so.

During the Trump era, what were once relics of the United States’ fraught history with violent racism have been taken up as causes for some far-right extremists. As white supremacists began rallying around Confederate monuments slated for removal, some tried to attach the Betsy Ross flag to their cause as a symbol…The Anti-Defamation League, a non-profit organization that tracks hate groups, doesn’t include the flag in its database of confirmed hate symbols. But many have viewed the flag as symbolizing a time in U.S. history when slavery was legal. “Historically, these symbols have been used by white supremacists, both to hearken back to a time when black people were enslaved, while also painting themselves as the inheritors of the ‘true’ American tradition,” Keegan Hankes, a researcher for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told Rolling Stone.

In other words, now that Trump is President, any symbol or artifact that was used by the United States before the abolishment of slavery is to be regarded as carrying  racist symbolism. That’s a fact! Snopes says so.

2. I won’t link to this because it doesn’t deserve traffic, but the Times just inflicted on its readers a sloppy and incompetent “Guide” to the 80’s cultural references in the third season of the Netflix show “Stranger Things. The popular horror series by “The Duffer Brothers” has always been filled with visual and verbal homages, as well as plot turns, attributable by the culturally aware to  famous 80’s works by better artists–Stephen King, Spielberg, John Carpenter, and more. Sometimes the references are amusing, often they are gratuitous and annoying. The Times piece, including a bold face “Spoilers!” warning, purported to catalogue all such references in the new season.

It doesn’t. It doesn’t come close. It doesn’t come close because the writer is obviously unfamiliar with the works the show references, and didn’t bother to do his research despite representing that he had. What he mainly misses are the lines in the dialogue that are lifted directly out of 80’s movies. For example, at one point, a major character in “Stranger Things 3” says, “I can do anything; I’m the chief of police.”  That’s a direct quote from “Jaws,” as anyone who has seen the film 76 times knows.

If a major newspaper is going to say it has a “Complete Guide” to 80’s pop culture references in a show, then it is obligated to make the effort to ensure that it is, in fact, complete. Continue reading