The Emmys Play Favorites And Undermine Their Mission

Quick, now...and no cheating: Who is this recently deceased TV legend?

Quick, now…and no cheating: Who is this recently deceased TV legend?

Three separate organizations present the Emmy Awards: the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), and the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Each is dedicated to the television industry, and the award the organizations collaborate to  hand out for excellence are intended to serve multiple objectives. Prime among them is to honor and promote the professionals who bring—in theory, at least, quality entertainment into the homes of Americans. The show itself that broadcasts the awards only exists because of their larger mission, which is to say that the Emmy show exists to support the Emmys, not the other way around. The program’s producers, not for the first time, managed to forget their priorities this year, and are getting well-deserved scorn for it both in and outside the entertainment community.

The offense occurred during Sunday’s live telecast, when the show reached its annual “In Memoriam” segment. The Oscars have botched this crucial part of its own show in recent years by failing to recognize the deaths of important Hollywood figures who deserved their final bow and a last ovation. Emmy found a new and different way to insult its own. The Oscars’ omissions were negligent; the Emmys insult was, incredibly, intentional. It’s just that either nobody realized it was insulting, or, more likely, they knew but had other objectives. Continue reading

GLAAD Joins The Hilaria Baldwin Ethics Lionel Wreck


Ethics train wrecks can develop at any time, though sometimes the participants and the incidents involved limit the results to small-scale ethics damage. Let’s call these “Ethics Lionel Wrecks,” in honor of the model train sitting in a cardboard box in my basement. This week’s tale of Hilaria Baldwin’s mistimed tweets defines the genre.

The progression:

1. George Stark Starts the Train

This one began when the pregnant wife of actor/ pitchman/liberal blowhard/ bully Alec Baldwin was called out by the Daily Mail for tweeting trivial, giddy messages during the funeral of recently departed actor James Gandolfini. That would have been certifiably disrespectful conduct in the rare sub-category of Funeral Ethics; indeed Ethics Alarms certified it. The problem is that Mail reporter George Stark was wrong.

Salon explained that the error was caused by “a technical glitch on Twitter that reflected GMT instead of ET…an analysis of the source code of Hilaria Baldwin’s tweets reveals that she tweeted between 11 am and 2 pm, as opposed to 8 am to 11 am. The Daily Mail has stated that “the tweets did appear accurately timed on mobile devices such as smartphones and iPads,” but “the only way MailOnline was able to establish the REAL time the tweets were sent was by viewing the twitter web page source code, something almost no normal member of the public would ever do.”

I have no idea what the hell that means, but I was one of the people who relied on Stark’s report, which seemed convincing, with screen shots of the tweets themselves and their timestamps. Was he unethically sloppy, as Baldwin and others have claimed, or was this just an excusable mistake? Twitter is new enough that there may be some justification for not checking the source code before using the time stamp to conclude something from a tweet: I can’t determine whether there is a journalistic protocol for this at the Daily Mail or elsewhere. Before a reporter attacks the conduct of a pregnant woman at a friend’s funeral, he would presumably be obligated to be certain of his facts, since readers, like me, will assume that he was. If this really was, as Salon says, a freak Twitter glitch, then Stark was unlucky rather than unethical.

2. Ethics Alarms rides the rails Continue reading

Hilaria Baldwin’s Funeral Etiquette

[Update: June 28The tweets that inspired this commentary were shown to be wrongly time-stamped, and the reporter’s newspaper have apologized for the error, but not before there were some other developments, discussed here.  Ethics Alarms apologizes to Hilaria too. The criticism of her is withdrawn; the commentary below about tweeting at funerals, and Hilaria’s husband stands.]

In case you wondered what kind of a woman would marry actor Alec Baldwin during his late career, “mega-jerk and proud of it phase, wonder no more.

Baldwin’s wife Hilaria demonstrated that she is at least as self-centered, rude and lacking respect for basic human courtesies by tweeting her head off during James Gandolfini’s funeral in New York.

It’s simple, really. You don’t have to attend anybody’s funeral (though, as Yogi Berra famously warned, if you don’t go to theirs, they won’t come to yours), but if you do, you are obligated to put aside the petty details of your life for a few hours while you solemnly and respectfully join family members and friends in remembering and honoring the concluded life of the deceased. You don’t spent the time passing notes with knock-knock jokes on them to other mourners, you don’t hum inappropriate ditties, and you sure as hell don’t spend the funeral tweeting inane stuff like like this... Continue reading

CNN, Making Us Trivial and Ignorant

You got shortchanged, Edward G.!

You got shortchanged, Edward G.!

I suppose I should give “New Day,” CNN’s revamped morning news show hosted by Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan a honeymoon before I start complaining about it, considering how I negligently blamed them for the conduct of their colleagues before their show as even on the air. Nonetheless, if CNN has decided to trade Soledad O’Brien’s biased coverage of real news for this pair’s avoiding it, I’d (I cannot believe I am writing this ) rather have Soledad back.

You may have noticed that there is a lot going on in this country and around the world. The conflict in Syria is at a critical point, and the U.S. may be preparing to play a greater role. Iran has a new president, Iraq is descending into violence, and the Middle East could still blow up at any moment.There are so many scandals to investigate emanating from D.C (and, uh, Cincinnati…) that the news media isn’t even bothering to keep us abreast on half of them. The stock market took a dive yesterday; illegal immigration is being fought over on Capitol Hill, where there was a big Tea Party rally against the I.R.S. yesterday.

Trust in the government is at low tide, which is more important than the usual polling nonsense, and President Obama’s poll numbers are beginning to look like Bush’s, but according to CNN’s Gloria Borger (WHY do I keep watching CNN?), it’s for a surprising reason. I watched with my jaw falling open as I heard Borger tell her CNN panel a couple of days ago that apparently citizens who had been thus far willing to “give the President the benefit of the doubt” were now—imagine this now!—beginning to associate him with the government they don’t like. That’s right—five years into his Presidency, and Obama is finally beginning to be held accountable for the government he heads and is supposed to be leading. Normally—sanely, reasonably—this calling to account would typically happen during an election, but hey, better late than never. (I believe I could hear Mitt Romney banging his head against the wall now, if the sound of my own head wasn’t so loud.)

Borger elaborated on her theory in her CNN column:

“Now, I know this president doesn’t like some parts of his job. He doesn’t much like schmoozing members of Congress, despite his recent share-a-meal plan with assorted Capitol Hill types. He doesn’t like the LBJ-style strong-arming, either. He doesn’t much like the messy lawmaking process in which personal relationships can often mean the difference between getting what you want and getting nothing at all. And he doesn’t ever like to be pushed. Ever. No-drama Obama, remember? But he does like speeches. He likes writing them, redrafting them, pondering them. He likes giving them, too — because he’s good at it.”

Gloria left out plenty of other things the President doesn’t like doing—managing, oversight, appointing non-cronies, firing incompetents, being straight with the public, making decisions, his job-–but she cut though it all to identify what he needs to do to address all the chaos around him: give a speech. And Borger is a big President Obama booster. She wasn’t trying to be cynical or funny.


All of this is prelude to my objection to what the new kids on the CNN block decided was the top news of the day, worthy of more than ten minutes of exclusive coverage, remote oversees updates, two special live reports, a studio interview, and even a phone interview with Larry King himself. And what was this riveting news story that Americans just had to know about while they were having their coffee and chewing their Pop Tarts into pistols?

James Gandolfini died. Continue reading