Tag Archives: incompetent journalists

From Acculturated, A Perfect Rationalization #22

The post by Mike Judge on the pop culture site Acculturated is such a perfect example of The Worst of All Rationalizations, #22 The Comparative Virtue Excuse, that I might add a permanent link to it in the Rationalizations List.

In case you have been out of the Ethics Alarms loop, here is #22:

22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”

If “Everybody does it” is the Golden Rationalization, this is the bottom of the barrel. Yet amazingly, this excuse is popular in high places: witness the “Abu Ghraib was bad, but our soldiers would never cut off Nick Berg’s head” argument that was common during the height of the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal. It is true that for most ethical misconduct, there are indeed “worse things.” Lying to your boss in order to goof off at the golf course isn’t as bad as stealing a ham, and stealing a ham is nothing compared selling military secrets to North Korea. So what? We judge human conduct against ideals of good behavior that we aspire to, not by the bad behavior of others. One’s objective is to be the best human being that we can be, not to just avoid being the worst rotter anyone has ever met.

Behavior has to be assessed on its own terms, not according to some imaginary comparative scale. The fact that someone’s act is more or less ethical than yours has no effect on the ethical nature of your conduct. “There are worse things” is not an argument; it’s the desperate cry of someone who has run out of rationalizations.

Judge spends his post, titled “Why Are Some Journalists Acting Like Snowflakes?,’ mocking journalists who complain when the President punches down at them, which is unethical conduct on his part, or when the public is openly hostile to reporters, which is wrong, but it is the escalating bias and trustworthiness of the news media that arouses the public’s ire. In contrast, he reminds us that George Orwell (above) was shot in the neck when he was on assignment as a reporter, that young reporter Ernest Hemingway was hit with a mortar in World War I, and that Woodward and Bernstein thought their lives were at risk. Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Rights

“You Know I Can’t Hear You With All Those Ethics Alarms Ringing”: Hillary Clinton’s CNN Interview

Hillary_Clinton_2016

The frightening thing—it should frighten Democrats more than anyone, but if they have let Hillary get this far, they may be beyond frightening—is that Hillary Clinton had a long time to prep for this interview—her first substantive one since announcing her candidacy, about five or six scandals ago—had a hand-picked, friendly interviewer, was not pressed to clarify any of her non-answers, obfuscations or incomprehensible blather, and she still came off looking defensive, evasive, and basically like Tommy Flanagan in drag.

Ethics Alarms were ringing so loudly that the interview was almost inaudible. My observations in bold….

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Secretary Clinton, thank you so much for talking to us today.  You’re here in Iowa for a couple of events.  You’re the front-runner in this state but we’re also seeing Bernie Sanders attract a lot of attention.  He has had big crowds here, 10,000 people in Wisconsin last week, 7,500 people in Maine last night. Why is it, do you think, that someone who is a self-described Democratic socialist is really attracting this organic interest that your campaign seems to be struggling a little bit with?

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE:  Well, first of all, I always thought this would be a competitive race.  So I am happy to have a chance to get out and run my campaign as I see fit and let other candidates do exactly the same.

Non-responsive. Also a lie: Clinton has always assumed she could get the nomination by just showing up.

I feel very good about where we are in Iowa.  We are signing up thousands of volunteers, people committed to caucus for us.  We have a committed supporter in every one of the 1,600 precincts.  And one of the things that I learned last time is it’s organize, organize, organize.  And you’ve got to get people committed.  And then they will follow through and then you bring more people.

Non-responsive.

So I feel very good about where my campaign is.  It’ll be three months and a few days that we’ve been at this.  I think I’ve learned a lot from listening to people in Iowa.  And it’s actually affected what I say and what I talk about on the campaign trail.

Non-responsive.

So I couldn’t be happier about my campaign.

Non-responsive. Pretending to open yourself to a candid question and answer session and then refusing to answer the very first question while pretending you did: Dishonest. Disrespectful.

KEILAR:  Senator Sanders  has talked about how, if he’s president, he would raise taxes.  In fact, he said to CNN’s Jake Tapper, he would raise them substantially higher than they are today, on big corporations, on wealthy Americans. Would you?

CLINTON:  I will be laying out my own economic policies.  Again, everybody has to run his or her own campaign.  And I’m going to be telling the American people what propose and how I think it will work and then we’ll let voters make up their minds.

“I refuse to answer on the grounds that I might incriminate myself actually let voters know what I stand for. After all, I’m a vagina. That’s what really matters.”

KEILAR:  Is raising taxes on the table?

CLINTON:  I’m going to put out my policies and I’ll other people speak to their policies because I think we have to both grow the economy faster and fairer so we have to do what will actually work in the short term, the medium term and the long term.  I will be making a speech about my economic proposals on Monday.  And then I look forward to the debate about them.

If Clinton made a speech Monday (July 7) about specific economic proposals, she did it in her closet, because all anyone actually heard was this.

KEILAR:  I’m wondering if you can address a vulnerability that we’ve seen you dealing with recently.  We see in our recent poll that nearly six in 10 Americans say they don’t believe that you’re honest and trustworthy. Do you understand why they feel that way?

CLINTON:  Well, I think when you are subjected to the kind of constant barrage of attacks that are largely fomented by and coming from the Right and –

The vast right wing conspiracy again! Ironic, because one very good reason people shouldn’t, and  many sane people actually do not, trust Hillary is when she made teh same accusation on the Today Show to Matt Lauer, claiming that the Monica Lewinsky scandal had been “largely fomented by and coming from the Right,” when in fact she knew otherwise and was lying for her husband.

KEILAR:  But do you bear any responsibility for that?

CLINTON:  – well, I – you know, I can only tell you that I was elected twice in New York against the same kind of onslaught.

“I got away with it before, didn’t I?” Continue reading

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CNN Brings Us The Anti-American Cheap Shot Of The Year In Response to The South Carolina Massacre

Roof

Seconds ago, I just heard a guest on CNN—I didn’t notice his name, and I don’t want to know his name—tell Carol Costello that not only was church shooter Dylann Roof (above, and now in custody) sick, but that there was a great “sickness in a country that could produce a Dylann Roof,” who could pray with a congregation and then slaughter the people he just prayed with.

Carol Costello, true to her shameless, unthinking, knee-jerk jerkish soul, just nodded in agreement. Heaven forbid that she might contradict a solemn African-American race-baiting hack who had just impugned an entire nation based on the conduct of a single deranged man among 319 million.

Why stop with judging the nation by this act? Surely it proves the vile attitudes of the white race, the toxic values of males, and the inherent evil of gun owners. It proves that churchgoers are hypocrites, and that 21 year-old males are the violent, potential rapists that college campuses are now being urged to so treat them.

This CNN guest was succeeded by Costello favorite Michaela Angela Davis, daughter of the infamous Berkeley Sixties radical (and criminal) Angela Davis, who proclaimed that Roof was typical, that before this administration such crimes went unnoticed—gee, I wonder how many church massacres were covered up by those racists in the Bush Administration?— and that the attack was definitely racist terrorism, particularly because this Charleston church was important in civil rights history, and the oldest African American church still standing in the South.

Again, Costello uncritically went along with these ideological leaps.

How did Davis know that Roof chose that church for its historical significance, or was even aware of its significance? She didn’t; nobody did. Do we know that he was only interested in shooting blacks, or that when he reportedly stated that he wanted to kill blacks, he wasn’t planning on visiting other churches to announce, “I want to kill Hispanics/Asians/Catholics/Jews/ Whites”? No, we don’t.

Airing such inflammatory, premature, evidence-free assumptions is incompetent and irresponsible journalism. Endorsing an unconscionable anti-U.S. culture, history and values cheap shot like that of Costello’s previous guest is a breach of citizenship as well.

To be fair, though, CNN is getting faster at inflaming public opinion following race-related tragedies.

Practice makes perfect.

 UPDATE: CNN’s John Berman just interviewed an African-American pastor in Charleston who said, “If you can’t be safe being black in a church, where can anyone be black in the country?”

What the hell does that mean? Berman’s awkward response:

“Good point.”

No, John, it is an emotional, incoherent, inflammatory, fear-mongering point.

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Note To The News Media: Stop Encouraging Consequentialism!

Marco Rubio gallantly stood up to Fox’s Chris Wallace as the news anchor repeatedly asked him whether “knowing what we know now,” it was a mistake to invade Iraq in 2001. The previous version of the question that inexplicably tripped up Jeb Bush was self-answering: knowing how badly it would work out, no sane leader would make that decision, but since nobody can see into the future, it is like asking if we should have recruited Superman to help out U.S. troops if, you know, he was real. Wallace’s question, if possible, is worse. It validates the ethics rotting principle of consequentialism, in which we judge an action by its unpredictable results.

An decision is only a mistake if it was badly reasoned based on the information the decision-maker had at the time the decision was made. It does not become a mistake based on subsequent, unknowable events. Similarly, an action doesn’t become ethical just because it worked out well, or unethical because it didn’t. This misconception is rampant among the public, and leads to bad policy, bad decision-making, bad leadership, bad lots of things. It is bad.

Hectored by Wallace, Sen. Rubio, who does understand that “mistake” doesn’t mean what Wallace was implying it does, kept saying, “No, it was not a mistake, because it was the right decision based on what we knew at the time.” Now, you can argue that the decision was the wrong one based on that information, but that’s not what Wallace was asking…and asking, and asking. He obviously thinks “mistake” is defined as a decision that doesn’t work out the way the decision-maker hoped. Wrong.

Chris Wallace was making his audience dumber and less ethically astute. We judge actions and decisions based on the quality of the choice when it is made, which includes a rational, well-reasoned analysis of its likely results. By Wallace’s logic, driving home from the Christmas party smashed is only a mistake if you crash, kill someone, or get arrested.  The sober party goer who gets killed by a drunk driver as he drives home, in Wallace’s reasoning, made a mistake going to the party at all. The lesson, apparently, is that its a mistake to go to parties.

This is how incompetent and arrogant journalists made us dumber, and our leaders so risk averse that they are incompetent.

By the way, on CNN this morning, the gang is making fun of Rubio, like he’s the idiot. Of course. After all, he’s a Republican.

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Ethics Hero: Sen. Ted Cruz

[UPDATE: Sen Cruz’s Ethics Hero designation has been REVOKED by Ethics Alarms. Details here.]

One of the Republican party’s most demonized  conservative politicians, Tea Party idol and Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, just challenged his progressive critics to concede that he has the character of a President, at least.

Cruz stood by politely as familiar TV pundit Mark Halperin cross-examined him on Bloomberg TV as if the Cuban-American was suspected of being born in Kenya. The demeaning interview (to both Cruz and Halperin, who disgraced himself) consisted of  Halperin pressing the Republican firebrand to prove his Hispanic bona fides with  cringe-worthy questions about his favorite Cuban food and what his tastes in Hispanic music were. (A Hispanic journalist quipped that Halperin had Cruz confused with Ricky Ricardo.) It all came to a nauseating climax when Halperin said: “I want to give you the opportunity to directly welcome your colleague Sen. Sanders to the race, and I’d like you to do it, if you would, en español.

The fiasco of an interview took a while to register (apparently nobody watches Bloomberg), but when it did, Halperin was excoriated left, right, and center, called a racist, called a fool, called biased against Cruz and determined to trap him into a “Gotcha!” Mostly he was called an inept and unprofessional interviewer, and Halperin, who is playing talking head somewhere that actually has viewers almost every  day, had to issue an attempted career-salvaging apology.

Ted Cruz surprised everyone by coming to Halperin’s rescue. He wrote: Continue reading

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Attack Of The Ethics Dunces: No, There Is Nothing Wrong With North Carolina’s State Ethics Commission Ruling On Sex With Lobbyists

gumbies2

Ah, how close I came to writing, “No, you morons…”!

The headline nearly was “Unethical Website of the Month: Addicting Info.” This pathetic site surely deserved it. It’s headline was:

North Carolina Legalizes Call Girls For Politicians

After a few smart-enough-to-know-better-but-apparently-having-an-off-day Facebook friends posted links to this crap with expressions of horror, I checked it out, assuming it was a hoax. Well, it wasn’t a hoax, exactly, just a dishonest, misleading, sensational bit of link bait. That’s not what the story is about.

Equally dumb but not quite as dishonest was the Daily Beast, which headlined its incompetent story...

North Carolina Lobbyists Can Officially Screw Politicians Legally.

What’s wrong with this one? It also has nothing to do with the facts of the story, and if you think about it, is as reasonable a headline as Annie Says The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow. There is no place anywhere in the United States of America where it is illegal for adults in any occupation to have consensual sexual relations with any other adult regardless of his or her occupation. So, to put it in the crude, also link-baiting terms of the Daily Beast—stay classy, you left wing hacks!-–all of these are also accurate: Continue reading

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