Tag Archives: innuendo

Unethical Quote Of The Week: NYT Columnist David Brooks [UPDATED}

“Biographies describe a man intent on making his fortune and not afraid of skating near the edge to do so. At one point, according to Politico, federal investigators found that Frederick used various accounting measures to collect an extra $15 million in rent (in today’s dollars) from a government housing program, on top of paying himself a large “architect’s fee.” He was hauled before investigating committees on at least two occasions, apparently was arrested at a K.K.K. rally in Queens (though it’s not clear he was a member), got involved in a slush fund scandal with Robert Wagner and faced discrimination allegations.”

—New York Times columnist David Brooks arguing that Donald Trump, Jr.’s conduct in holding the controversial meeting  with some Russians and Russian-Americans to acquire useful negative information about Hillary Clinton for his father’s campaign came about because his family is just no damn good, as shown by the conduct of Fred Trump, the President’s storied father.

Unlike some commentators, I have no ethical problem with Brooks’ basic thesis. Culture molds ethics, children are influenced by the conduct and values modeled by their parents, and I have pointed out too many times to  count that Donald Trump doesn’t know ethics from a merry-go-round, and appears to have no  conventionally functioning ethics alarms at all. It makes perfect sense that Donald Jr. would grow up similarly handicapped.

However, Brooks’ evidence that Trump family patriarch Fred Trump was corrupt and without scruples is all innuendo and supposition, and thus dishonest, incompetent, and unfair. Let’s examine the components of Brooks’ attack:

  • “federal investigators found that Frederick used various accounting measures to collect an extra $15 million in rent (in today’s dollars) from a government housing program, “

Were the accounting measures illegal? Apparently not. Was the  “architect’s fee”? I guess not: Fred wasn’t indicted or prosecuted. Being investigated by the feds does not prove or indicate wrongdoing. Maybe Fred was cheating; I wouldn’t be surprised. But Brooks has no facts to support that assumption, just a pejorative characterizations.

  • “He was hauled before investigating committees on at least two occasions…”

I love the “hauled.” Being asked to testify isn’t evidence of wrongdoing either. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Quotes, Finance, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

My Hypocrisy Detector Just Blew Up!

sarcasm

In a favorite episode of “The Simpsons,” the Springfield equivilent of Mensa is having a contentious debate. Prof. Frink, the local mad scientis, complains that the tone has set the readings of his newly-invented “sarcasm detector” dangerously high. “Comic Book Guy,” another brainy member of the club, snarks, “A sarcasm detector? That’s a real useful invention!” Whereupon the sarcasm detector blows up.

Well, my hypocrisy detector just blew up. The readings started going off the charts when I came across this item:

NEW YORK (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday night that excessive partisanship flowing through the nation’s political system is causing the U.S. to march “backwards instead of forward”…Clinton cited the need to “get back to evidence-based decision-making.”

Oh, you mean like telling America that the allegations that your husband had lied under oath about his sexual affairs in a sexual harassment lawsuit and was using the power of his office to obstruct justice and cover it up was the creation of “a vast right wing conspiracy,” Hillary?  When you knew that the allegations were true? That kind of “evidence-based decision-making”?

I swear, if this awful, dishonest, cynical and untrustworthy woman runs for President, everything here will be exploding—my sarcasm detector, lie detector, hypocrisy detector, head…you name it.

This was just a warm-up, though. Then I read a Washington Post puff piece on Anita Hill, who is peddling a new documentary that casts her as a hero, which is ridiculous on its face. Anita Hill is the walking, talking embodiment of feminist hypocrisy, especially when paired with Hillary’s target, Paula Jones. I remember back when I worked for a large trial attorney lobby and Monicagate was in full force. The female president of the association was going on about her support of Clinton and how this was all, well, Hillary provided the talking point, and I had the cheek to remind her that during Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings she wore a button that said “I believe Anita Hill.”

Continue reading

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The News Media’s Self-Degradation Continues: The Unethical Sliming of Chris Christie

Yellow Journalism

You have to feel for Christie, who as a Republican moderate can literally find no news media organization that isn’t determined to destroy him, facts or fairness be damned. As a Republican, he is assured of being treated like the Devil incarnate by MSNBC no matter what he does or says.  As a proven leader of talent and charisma who poses a threat to the media’s relentless anointment of Hillary Clinton (a WOMAN!!!)—who has displayed neither— as the next President,Christie has a giant target on his back that the mainstream media cannot resist. As non-hateful Republican who is capable of bi-partisan conduct, will shake the President’s hand and has social positions to the left of Pat Robertson and Rick Santorum, Christie is also persona non grata at Fox News.

Thus it was that a completely self-serving, borderline unethical letter seeking financial benefits for his client sent by the lawyer of the former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge was turned into a “bombshell” yesterday and this morning, with headlines and breathless talking head claims that are completely, utterly, irresponsible, dishonest, misleading, unfair and wrong. Here’s a sample:

  • “Christie Linked to Knowledge of Shut Lanes” (NY Times) Untrue. He has not been linked. A lawyer hinted that some evidence suggesting he might be linked exists, or is said to exist, somewhere. That is not being “linked.”
  • “Chris Christie should resign if bombshell proves true” (Star-Ledger) And if it’s proven that I am a cucumber, I should jump in a salad.
  • “Chris Christie just got thrown under the bus in that traffic jam scandal that has jeopardized his presidential ambitions.” CBS’s Scott Pelley. By the press, perhaps.
  • “Explosive new allegations about Chris Christie. Tonight, the man at the center of the bridge shutdown scandal says the governor isn’t telling the whole truth. He says there’s evidence to prove it.” NBC’s Brian Williams. “Lawyer of accused official facing charges says it’s someone else’s fault!” This is headline news?
  • “This is a hugely significant development in the investigation! It’s a direct challenge to the credibility of Governor Christie.” NBC reporter Michael Isakoff Wrong. It’s significant if it’s true. There is no more reason to believe it is true than to believe it isn’t.

No, Michael, what this is is a journalistic disgrace and an example of intentionally misleading, partisan and biased reporting.  The context of the statement being pumped up into a crisis for Governor Christie was omitted in every one of the hysterical “We got him now! media reports until deep into the published or broadcast account, if it was mentioned at all….in other words, well after the point where the average member of the public stops reading or listening. This is unconscionable. It’s disgusting. It is gutter reporting, and rotten journalism. What if each report, as it should have, framed the story this way:

“In today’s new, the lawyer for David Wildstein, the ex-Port Authority official facing indictment in the bridge-closing scandal that has rocked the administration of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, is using the threat of his client revealing undisclosed evidence indicating knowledge and involvement by the Governor as leverage to have Wildstein’s criminal defense, including the lawyer’s own fee, paid for by the state.”

Because that’s what the story really is.

Take the time to read the entire letter in question, not just the sections I have bolded. Naturally, most of the news reports referenced the letter without actually allowing us to read the letter. The New York Times made it damned difficult to read the letter online, but at least it was there. Here is the whole thing. I’m sorry, but the issue can’t be understood without reading all of it. The letter is from Wildstein’s lawyer, Alen Zegas, to Darrell Butchbinder, who is the General Counsel for the Port Authority: Continue reading

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Kaboom!*: Will All Those Who Deny The Existance Of An Anti-Conservative Bias In The Mainstream Media Explain….

"Hey, he killed the President---he was a Teabagger, right?"

“Hey, he killed the President—he had to be a Teabagger, right?”

…how it is that both the Washington Post and the New York Times, in the days before  the anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, ran essays that link right-wing, radical, anti-liberal sentiment in 1963 Dallas with today’s conservative political positions? The Post, doing explicitly what the Times does slyly, even makes the connection direct. Its essay is called “Tea party has roots in the Dallas of 1963”—as in the implicit innuendos, ‘people like those in today’s tea party killed JFK’ and thus ‘the people who think like that probably want to kill this President too.’

We’re seeing a lot of liberal despair, nastiness and desperation these days, aren’t we? The instinct seems to be to lash out. Of course, one would think that competent, responsible  and fair editors of the two most prestigious U.S. dailies would read this tripe, hand it back to the authors and say, “Hey, go home, have a drink, and take a nap. It’s not so bad, really. Obamacare may be all right. We’ve got Obama’s back. Now, I’m going to do you a favor and forget you wrote this.”

But no. Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Kaboom!

Election Publicity Hound Ethics Quiz: Whose “October Surprise” Was Dirtier?

That’s Gloria on the left, Donald on the right.

What could be more challenging than trying to choose between Gloria Allred and Donald Trump in the field of inappropriate and shameless headline grabbing?

Both Trump and Allred this week decided to distract voters from the solemn and difficult job of deciding which Presidential candidate’s misrepresentations to forgive by trumpeting an upcoming “October Surprise” that would propel their respective champions to victory. In addition, both are shameless using the election to get their names in the papers for pure personal publicity purposes, to attack Obama or Romney using innuendo, and to attempt to skew a close election by using old matters far past their pull date. The tactic worked for both publicity hounds, because an October surprise in 2000, held for months and leaked by a Gore operative, probably cost George W. Bush the popular vote: his covered up DWI arrest of more than a decade earlier.

Your test: whose attempted late hit was more unethical? We will stipulate that both are revolting. The candidates: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Herman Cain, the News Media’s New Sarah Palin

Calling Herman Cain an Oreo and an Uncle Tom is bad, but comparing him to Sanjaya? Is there no limit to media cruelty?

At least when the media and pundits decided to suspend basic principles of fairness and decency to attack Sarah Palin for the unforgivable crime of being an outspoken conservative woman (even before she had a chance to show she deserved to be attacked for other reasons), she had been nominated for Vice President. Business executive Herman Cain, a similarly reviled aberration from the expected norm as a black Republican, is now getting equally unconscionable journalistic treatment just for getting decent poll numbers.

I will move past the race-based attacks from columnists and the MSNBC hit squad that have explicitly referred to him as an Oreo, an Uncle Tom, a black man who “knows his place,”  “the GOP’s token,” and “the Sanjaya of the Republican field,” as well as the many demeaning references to him as a “joke candidate,” and go right to this weekend, when the Palin standard was on bright display.

Here is part of the interview of Cain on “Face the Nation,” after host Bob Scheiffer showed Cain’s bizarre web ad, which ends with his campaign manager taking a puff on a cigarette:

Continue reading

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Unethical Quote of the Week: WSJ Blogger James Taranto

This werewolf attack on Nazi soldiers doesn't weaken the case that Sen. Kerry didn't deserve his medals.

Alternate title:  “Smearing John Kerry”, Part II. The quote:

“The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth disputed whether John Kerry deserved some of his five medals. A large part of Kerry’s defense was an appeal to the authority of veterans who supported him–one of whom has now been revealed to have received a medal he doesn’t deserve. This doesn’t prove the Kerry detractors were right, but it certainly doesn’t weaken their case.”

—James Taranto, the usually astute and witty author of the conservative Wall Street Journal blog, “Best of the Web.” He is referring to the child porn conviction and retraction of the Silver Star of  Wade Sanders, who rose to Sen. Kerry’s defense during his 2004 race against President Bush, when The Swiftboat Veterans for Truth claimed that Kerry had lied about his war record.

A pure slime-job, this…well beneath Taranto’s standards, though he does dip low now and then, and as reprehensible an example of attack by unfair innuendo as you are likely to find, from McCarthy to Olbermann to Beck.

“It certainly doesn’t weaken their case.” No, because it has absolutely nothing to do with their case (which was weak and unfair to begin with), and since Taranto is undoubtedly smart enough to know that, this sentence, and the post containing it, was only written to suggest otherwise. Let’s see…what else “doesn’t weaken” the case of those who claim that the honors bestowed on Kerry for wartime valor by the United States of America were undeserved? Hmmm. We have… Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, The Internet, Unethical Blog Post, War and the Military