I Can’t Let THIS Pass…

[For some reason Gilbert and Sullivan quotes are running through my feeble mind this morning. The title is from “Yeomen of the Guard,” which I have directed. It’s not the best of the operettas (though it’s a great show), but it may have the finest score, and I figured out just a couple of weeks ago how to handle its famous shock ending. I hope I get a chance to stage it some day.]

 Michel Martin is the NPR host who in December of 2017 stabbed me in the back by permitting Professor Paul Butler’s on-the-air ambush in the middle of my (100% correct) explanation of how sexual harassment works, and then banned me from her show  because I didn’t sufficiently bolster her anti-Trump agenda. It was my fault…

I foolishly thought providing last minute, authoritative and free ethics commentary for her show for five years meant I could trust her to treat me fairly and with a modicum of respect.

Here was a recent exchange with with Harmeet Dhillon, committeewoman for California’s Republican National Committee, as Martin asked about her reaction to the Mueller report: Continue reading

Aaaand THEY’RE OFF! The Week’s Ethics Race Begins, 4/1/2019: No, Ethics Is Nothing To Fool About…

Good morning!

(and I’m not fooling…)

1. Why is this result considered good news? McLaughlin & Associates, a research firm, conducted a poll online March 18-25 asking the question, “Would you favor or oppose an executive order ensuring that free speech would be protected on all college campuses?” With 1,000 likely 2020 voters thus polled, the results showed 73% in favor of protecting free speech on campus, 18 % opposing, and the typical 9% of slugs who said they were “unsure.” McLaughlin and Associates found “no statistically significant difference by education level, with college graduates favoring the executive order 72 percent to 21 percent and non-college graduates favoring 74 percent to 16 percent.” Similarly, men and women both favored  the executive order at a rate of 73%, and there was no significant difference by party affiliation either.

The fact that less than 75% of American citizens whole-heartedly support freedom of speech in higher education is no less than horrifying, and shows how badly the ahte speech and thought-control termites have gotten into our foundation.

2. Speaking of those inherently untrustworthy polls a Washington Post-Schar School poll found that nearly two-thirds of registered Democrats reject special counsel Robert Mueller’s finding of no collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 election. It’s a “Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind’s made up!” classic, and also demonstrates how believing the mainstream news media agitprop because their biases fit neatly with yours—except you’re not paid to be objective and indep…oh, never mind. Why do I bother?—eats your brain. What in the world to these alleged (poll assertions are always alleged at best) skeptics base their beliefs on, other than the fact that, like Rachel Maddow, they so,so,so want our President to be an impeachable traitor? Mueller spent three years shaking down people and crushing them with his  prosecutorial boot to get evidence of Trump collusion that would stand up in court, and failed. And those Democrats know better? Continue reading

Gayle King, R.Kelly, Journalism Competence And The King’s Pass

For some reason—OK, I think I know the reasons—CBS morning host Gayle King is getting plaudits for mishandling the insane R.Kelly interview last week. The photo below  says it all: Kelly, his reputation and career falling apart in chunks because the years of rumors and accounts of his alleged sexual misconduct with underage girls finally caught up to the hip-hop superstar (thanks to an explosive documentary—hmmm, where have we heard that before?— is standing, shouting, ranting and generally going bonkers as King sits immobile and silent, with her eyes cast down.

There were two exhibitions of the King’s Pass on display in the interview and its aftermath. Kelly, being allowed to behave outrageously on the air was one, for most guests in any setting would be ordered to sit down, act civilly, or leave the studio after such an infantile and threatening display. King was the other, praised for showing that her frequent feminist rhetoric was convenient claptrap, and that she did not have the guts or principle to assert her power over an abusive male when professional ethics demanded it.

I’m not sure which is more unforgivable. CNN said that King’s passivity was a masterclass in journalism. The Washington Post praised her “composure.” She told the New York Times that she was silently thinking, “Don’t walk off the set. Don’t walk off the set.” A competent journalist should have given him a warning, and then had him thrown off the set. A female professional who had the integrity to demonstrate how women should handle male abuse would have demanded that he sit down, apologize, or leave. They train salespeople and operators to push back against abusive customers, but a national TV host doesn’t have the fortitude to act when a guest behaves like a berserk barbarian? Continue reading

Sam Nunberg And The Sharks

Sam Nunberg is a twice fired Trump aide who has been caught up in the Special Prosecutor’s fishing expedition. Yesterday, he decided to make a desperate grab for fame, infamy, attention…who knows? Taking advantage of the now thoroughly AWOL ethics of what we once called “journalism, he arranged a phone interview with MSNBC’s Trump-hating Katy Tur in the afternoon. Then the sharks moved in.  That interview was picked up by both ABC’s World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News. Then Nunberg went on a veritable swim-with-the-sharks orgy, with six interviews media interviews within four hours. He  appeared on set with MSNBC’s Ari Melber, then sat down with Erin Burnett on CNN. She had him on camera for more than a half-hour, during which he announced his intent to defy Mueller’s subpoena. Then he did a phone interview with NY1 in which he called Sarah Huckabee Sanders a “fat slob.”

Here was the most significant exchange among all of these:

Burnett: You’re sitting very close to me. We talked earlier about what people in the White House were saying to you, talking about whether you were drinking or on drugs. Talking to you, I have smelled alcohol on your breath.

Nunberg: I have not had a drink.

Burnett: You haven’t had a drink. Because it is the talk out there. I know it’s awkward. Let me give you the question: No, you haven’t had a drink?

Nunberg: My answer is no.

Burnett: Anything else?

Nunberg: No. Besides my meds. Anti-depressants. Is that okay?

I cannot begin to count the number of times I have asked a friend or loved one if he or she has been drinking because I smelled liquor on them.  The answer is always “no” or some variation of it. And they are always, always, lying. Any adult of normal experience knows this is true, including Burnett. But she’a a shark, not a journalist, not a professional, and certainly not an ethical human being. She smelled blood in the water, and its alcohol percentage didn’t bother her a bit. Continue reading

Abortion Ethics Train Wreck Update: Trump’s Comments Prove He Hasn’t Thought About Abortion (Irresponsible), Criticism Of Hillary’s Comments Prove Abortion Advocates Don’t Want ANYBODY Thinking About Abortion (Dishonest), and Pundit Criticism Of Maureen Dowd’s Question To Trump About Abortion Makes No Sense (Incompetent)

stages

Good job, everybody!

It is a cliché to say that Americans never talk frankly about race. Yet our aversion to honest talk about race pales compared to the lazy, intellectually dishonest and cowardly way we discuss one of the major ethics conflicts of our age, abortion.

1. For some reason, it took seven months of the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination for anyone to ask Donald Trump about his views on abortion, which is a core issue to conservatives, progressives and feminists, as wellas a major factor in the controversy over the composition of the Supreme Court. Never mind that Trump’s answers were incoherent and contradictory, and that he took  five different positions on abortion in three days last week: what was outrageous about Trump’s answer(s) was that he was obviously winging it. He had never given the issue any quality thought at all (if he is capable of quality thought, which I doubt), and faking it, indeed as he has faked his entire campaign. Do Trump supporters need further smoking gun evidence that he is not only unprepared for the Presidency, but too lazy, irresponsible and intellectually limited to be trusted with the job?

Okay, we know they do, because they are impervious to logic or reason.  Still, this was a stunning display of Trump’s hollowness and incompetence as a candidate.

2. Then Hillary Clinton wandered into the same mine field, a map of which she should be know by heart. “The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights,” Mrs. Clinton said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Now that doesn’t mean that we don’t do everything we possibly can in the vast majority of instances to, you know, help a mother who is carrying a child and wants to make sure that child will be healthy, to have appropriate medical support.”

To begin with, the statement is false: the Supreme Court has ruled that embryos do have rights at some point, much disputed, before they are born. She was correct, however, that a living, growing organism that left alone and allowed to mature will be born, and will upon birth be a person in the eyes of the law and in the definitions of common sense, is by definition a person prior to that except for the absence of its birth, and thus is, by common construction, an unborn person, or, if you prefer, unborn human being, unborn baby, or unborn child. A bill is an unpassed law. A manuscript is an unpublished book. A law school grad is an unlicensed lawyer….which is to say, not a lawyer until something happens that has not happened yet. Hillary did not misspeak, except that speaking the truth is misspeaking to the pro-abortion lobby.

The problem is that Hillary’s terminology conjures up images of tiny hands and tiny heads, perhaps with tiny mouths sucking tiny thumbs. Hence she was immediately taken to the woodshed and told to be more careful about what she admits to. Continue reading

On “Media Watchdogs,” NPR, Ted Cruz, And Unethical Editing

NPR-cruz

Newsbusters is a “media watchdog” site that doesn’t pretend to be non-partisan: it goes after the liberal mainstream media for bias. I am tempted to conclude that agenda-driven watchdogs are more credible than so-called objective watch-dogs, like CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” which are almost as biased but pretend not to be.

Newsbusters does good work sometimes, then comes up with something like Matthew Balan’s sneering attack on the news media’s praise of “Spotlight” ( CBS Celebrates ‘Very Powerful,’ ‘Fantastic’ Liberal Reporter Movie) which didn’t contain a word about why the media shouldn’t be praising it. (I don’t think Balan saw the movie.) It’s an embarrassing piece, Newsbusters at its biased worst. The writer keeps telling us that actor Mark Ruffalo. who plays one of the reporters in the film,  is “left wing,” as if that is relevant to the role he played in the film (it isn’t). Apparently Balan thinks that a remarkably accurate movie about good investigative reporting and a scandal involving harm to hundreds of thousands of children shouldn’t be made because it doesn’t make organized religion look good, and does make a liberal newspaper look good.

He’s nuts. Are religious conservatives that deranged, that a straightforward, true account of the news media doing its job (for a change) and the historic and world-shaking scandal it uncovered confirms their suspicions of a progressive Hollywood conspiracy? The movie isn’t political in any way! It was praised by CBS and other critics because it’s a terrific movie that has only one agenda, which is to tell an important story compellingly. Sorry that it gives the Catholic Church the treatment it deserves, Newsbusters.

On the left is Media Matters, David Brock’s site that makes Newsbusters look like the epitome of non-partisan analysis. It’s not even a watchdog, and barely pretends to be any more: it is a propaganda arm of the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign. Is there a good, objective, non-partisan media watchdog site that isn’t trying to prop up parties and candidates? The closest is probably Poynter.org, (Wait, why isn’t this in the Ethics Alarms links? Better fix THAT…), out of the Poynter Institute, which has the broader agenda of teaching and promoting good and ethical journalism. The site doesn’t—can’t—cover all the misconduct in the media. It does a good job when it does, though: here’s a current post on the media’s race-baiting Justice Scalia, which I covered yesterday. It concludes…

“The New York Times duly noted that one Scalia remark “drew muted gasps in the courtroom.” (The New York Times) But “far from being racist, that proposition is an acknowledgment of racial inequality — and it’s central to the argument for racial preferences. Those preferences wouldn’t be necessary if applicants from all racial and ethnic groups possessed exactly the same paper credentials.”(The Los Angeles Times) Unfortunately, the digital age brings a few too many reporters sitting at desks and doing facile, Twitter-friendly rewrites of stuff they know little about.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Back to Newsbusters: When it is good, it can be very good, as it was yesterday exposing an outrageous distortion of a Ted Cruz interview on NPR. I knew that interviewers edit interview answers for broadcast. I did not know that any major news organization would think it was ethical to distort the emphasis, thrust and meaning of a Presidential candidate’s words this blatantly. (But then Cruz is a conservative.) NPR duly posted the unedited interview transcript online, which is not good enough: how many listeners are going to check what they heard driving to work to discover what was really said? How many suspect that what they heard was sliced and diced like gazpacho? Not many, and NPR knows it.

In checking what Cruz really said and what the broadcast of his interview with NPR Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep made him out to say, Newsbusters reporter Tim Graham found text that showed the Cruz’s answers were shortened by mid-paragraph cuts, blunting his points and also censoring his most critical comments about the Obama Administration and its current policies. Here is the section of the interview containing the most edits. Graham has bolded the cuts; what is not bolded is what the NPR audience heard. I’ll break in here and there, in italics.

Continue reading

Interview Ethics: CNN’s Alisyn Camerota Shows Why News Anchors Need Training In Basic Ethics, Not To Mention Journalism Ethics

Alisyn

This morning, as I rush to get my act to together to fly, sick, to Rhode Island where the bar will allow me to teach ethics to its members in the first two of three planned seminars, I made the mistake of checking in on CNN’s New Day to see what trouble Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota could get themselves into. Sure enough, there was Allison interviewing Oklahoma Senator Jim Lankford regarding Republican efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood over the revelations of the surreptitiously taken “sting” videos showing various Planned Parenthood personnel seeming to haggling over the prices for tiny little human organs successfully harvested from embryos whose tiny wittle heads have been crushed juuuust right. These individuals discuss unborn human beings with the sensitivity a normal person bestows on a Jimmy Dean sausage, but Planned Parenthood acknowledges that they need to practice a more pleasant tone in case somebody who cares about these inhuman organ bags is listening.

Is that an unfair characterization?

Let me know why you think so.

But I digress…

Camerota’s questioning demonstrated in multiple ways just how ethically ignorant the highest levels of our broadcast journalism are: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce (and Ethics Hero REVOKED): Sen. Ted Cruz

revoked

Uh-uh, Senator. You can’t have it both ways, not on Ethics Alarms. You can’t be gracious and forgiving and then turn around a couple days later and say what your red meat supporters want to hear. I call that an “Al Gore,” who gave a magnanimous and statesman-like speech conceding after the Supreme Court stopped the 2000 Florida recount, and then slammed the legitimacy of his defeat ever after.

Ethics Alarms gave the Republican rabblerouser an Ethics Hero designation for coming to pundit Mark Halperin’s defense when he was being pilloried all over the media for a demeaning interview of Cruz based on the assumption that he needed to prove that he was really Hispanic. After Halperin was battered into apologizing, Cruz said, in part,

“Mark Halperin is a serious and fair-minded journalist. Today he kindly issued an apology for some silly questions he asked me in an interview. The apology was unnecessary — no offense was taken, nor, I believe, intended — but is certainly appreciated.”

That was classy, and also apparently, a ploy and insincere.In comments about the episode to the conservative IJReview at an  American Conservative Union event, Senator Cruz essentially recycled the same Halperin critic complaints that his earlier comments were supposed to deflect, saying,

“Imagine if [Halperin] had asked Obama these same questions? He would have been run out of the industry.”

But no offense was taken, right, Ted?

Not cool, not kind, and definitely not consistent. The fact that he is absolutely correct about the double standard is beside the point. Cruz couldn’t help himself. He knew the right way to act (that is, his ethics alarms work and he can follow the Golden Rule), but he didn’t have the self-restraint or integrity to resist taking a shot at Halperin anyway. Now we know what he really thinks, and now we know that what he said initially was just a smart politician taking a high road that he didn’t want to be on.

Got it.

Fool me once, Ted…

Ethics Hero REVOKED

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

Loathsome Jerk Bites Dumb Gold-digger

Fly, meet Spider...

Fly, meet Spider…

I was going to make this an Ethics Quiz, but in part because I find Howard Stern so repugnant that I am incapable of not assigning blame to him, and mostly I am certain that the fact someone consents to do something self-destructive and stupid does not excuse the party who intentionally tempts her with an invitation, I am making this call myself.

Radio’s premiere shock jock, knowing full well that spurned Mel Gibson mistress Oksana Grigorieva would forfeit the remaining $375,000 of her settlement with the actor if she talked publicly about their relationship, invited her on his show. Then, using gentle questioning and seductive tones, Stern got the woman to say just enough violate the settlement terms, which were subsequently declared void by a judge. From TMZ: Continue reading