Morning Ethics Round-Up, 8/23/2018: A Quote Fest!

Good Morning!

1. Now THIS is narcissism! It’s long, but go ahead and read it.  This  was Madonna’s “tribute” to the late Aretha Franklin at the VMAs this week:

Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life. I left Detroit when I was 18. $35 in my pocket. My dream was to make it as a professional dancer.
After years of struggling and being broke, I decided to go to auditions for musical theater. I heard the pay was better. I had no training or dreams of ever becoming a singer, but I went for it. I got cut, and rejected from every audition. Not tall enough. Not blends-in enough, not 12-octave range enough, not pretty enough, not enough, enough. And then, one day, a French disco sensation was looking for back-up singers and dancers for his world tour. I thought, “Why not?” The worst that can happen is I could go back to getting robbed, held at gunpoint and being mistaken for a prostitute in my third floor walk-up that was also a crack house. So I showed up for the audition, and two very large French record producers sat in the empty theater, daring me to be amazing. The dance audition went well. Then they asked if I had sheet music and a song prepared. I panicked. I had overlooked this important part of the audition process. I had to think fast. My next meal was on the line. Fortunately, one of my favorite albums was “Lady Soul” by Aretha Franklin. I blurted out, “You Make Me Feel.” Silence. “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman.” Two French guys nodded at me. I said, “You know, by Aretha Franklin.” Again, “Mmmhmm.” They looked over at the pianist. He shook his head. “I don’t need sheet music,” I said, “I know every word. I know the song by heart, I will sing it a cappella.” I could see that they did not take me seriously. And why should they? Some skinny a– white girl is going to come up here and belt out a song by one of the greatest soul singers that ever lived? A cappella? I said, “Bitch, I’m Madonna.”

No, I didn’t. I didn’t say that. Cause I wasn’t Madonna yet. I don’t know who I was. I don’t know what I said. I don’t know what came over me. I walked to the edge of the pitch black stage and I started singing. When I was finished and drenched in nerve sweat. Y’all know what this is, right, nerve sweat? They said, “We will call you one day, and maybe soon.” So weeks went by and no phone call. Finally, the phone rang, and it was one of the producers, saying, (French accent) “We don’t think you are right for this job.” I’m like, “Why are you calling me?” He replied, “We think you have great potentials. You are rough for the edges but there is good rawness. We want to bring you to Paris and make you a star.” We will put you in a studio . . . it sounded good, and I wanted to live in Paris and also I wanted to eat some food. So, that was the beginning of my journey as a singer. I left for Paris.

But I came back a few months later, because I had not earned the luxury life I was living. It felt wrong. They were good people. But I wanted to write my own songs and be a musician, not a puppet. I needed to go back home and learn to play guitar, and that is exactly what I did. And the rest is history.

So, you are probably all wondering why I am telling you this story. There is a connection. Because none of this would have happened, could have happened, without our lady of soul. She led me to where I am today. And I know she influenced so many people in this house tonight, in this room tonight. And I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us. R-e-s-p-e-c-t. Long live the queen.

Another anecdote I would like to share: In 1984, this is where the first VMAs were, in this very building. I performed at this show. I sang “Like a Virgin” at the top of a cake. On the way down, I lost a shoe, and then I was rolling on the floor. I tried to make it look like it was part of the choreography, looking for the missing stiletto. And my dress flew up and my butt was exposed, and oh my God, quelle horreur. After the show, my manager said my career was over. LOL.

The fact that Madonna is getting flack for this is almost as funny as the fact that she would think a long monologue about herself qualified as an appropriate tribute to Franklin. This is a manageable mental illness, but it is pathological, and Madonna is an extreme narcissist in a business that produces them in bushels. But didn’t everyone know that? Why, knowing that this woman only sees the world in terms of how it can advance her interests, would anyone entrust  her with giving a tribute to anyone else? That’s rank incompetence.

Narcissists are incapable of ethical reasoning, since ethics requires caring about someone other than yourself.  Madonna’s “tribute” is a valuable window into how such people think. Madonna really thought the nicents thing she could say about Aretha Franklin is that she made a cameo appearance in Madonna’s epic life.

2. Next, a ventriloquist act! Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/28/17

Good Morning!

Ready for an ethical week?

1. In a comment thread about Joe Arpaio’s pardon, the absurd assertion was made that Chelsea Manning was “tortured” at Leavenworth. In knocking down this anti-U.S. propaganda, courtesy of the U.N. and others, I noted that even the U.N. accuser based that assessment on the weird conclusion that Manning was “never convicted of a crime.”

Translation: military courts martial don’t count. Thanks for that opinion, U.N. guy! Why don’t you start your own country?

The other part of the phony torture accusation is the assertion that being held in solitary confinement is torture. Under international law, it is considered “cruel and unusual punishment,” not torture, but… surprise! The U.S. is not governed by international law, much as the globalists wish it were!

Solitary confinement has (rarely) been found by U.S. courts to violate the 8th Amendment when it is of indeterminate duration and without good cause, but that has nothing to do with Manning, who was considered in danger as a traitor in a military prison, and was in solitary for her own protection. The Supreme Court determines what is cruel and unusual punishment in this country, not the U.N., and not international law.

2. I also (I admit it: I knew I would) triggered a freak-out here, and some unfair insults that I will gracefully ignore, by stating that I would have supported execution for Manning, who was and is a traitor. (President Obama commuted her sentence, making the anti-war Left happy but oddly triggering a fraction of the condemnation in the news media that has followed President Trump’s pardoning an 85-year old man facing a minimal jail term. ) The U.S. has been historically reluctant to execute traitors, and in the era where a cyber-leaks can give more aid and comfort to the enemy than Julius and Ethel Rosenberg could have managed in a hundred years, a re-evaluation of that kind, merciful but dangerous policy is over-due for reconsideration. Manning avoided conviction on the worst of the charges against her (then, him) because prosecutors didn’t prove intent sufficiently. Manning claimed that she was just trying to start a “conversation’ about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and was willing to put classified information into the hands of terrorists in order to do it. If she knew she would be facing the death penalty with some certainty, it is likely that Manning would have thought twice, at least. It’s called deterrence, and in an age where self-righteous low-level types like Manning and Edward Snowden can get U.S. intelligence personnel exposed and killed with a few keystrokes, serious deterrence is called for.

3. Remember when I asked readers to alert Ethics Alarms when the first talking head suggested that out first major hurricane in 12 years was the result of climate change? It took longer than I expected, but the first reported fool was CNN anchor John Berman. He  was interviewing  Bill Read, the former director of the National Hurricane Center, and asked,

“Is there a why to this? Why there is so much water associated with this storm? One thing we heard from scientists over the last 10 years is that climate change does impact the intensity of many of the storms that we see.”

To his credit, Read assured Berman that the heavy rains had nothing to do with climate change, and everything to do with the typical behavior of this kind of storm. The episode shows 1) how little many journalists (I won’t say all, but it is very close to all) understand the science of climate change, but promote it anyway because it aligns with their partisan politics, and 2) how they will try to generate fake news, which is what “Hurricane Harvey Deadly Rainfall Possibly Caused By Climate Change, Expert Tells CNN” would have been. If Berman was interested in promoting public understanding of the climate change controversy, he would have asked, “Climate change models and Al Gore’s documentaries predicted more and more violent storms as a result of global warming, yet this is the first major hurricane we have seen in more than a decade. How do you account for this?”

4. In the teeth of this renewed attack on U.S. history and culture during the Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck, I asked how long it would be before “Gone With The Wind” was banished from the airwaves. The Orpheum Theatre Group in Memphis, Tennessee just withdrew its annual screening of the classic 1939 film  out of concern that some may find it ‘offensive’.

If no one has the courage to stand up for art, expression and history as “the offended” try to strangle cultural diversity out of existence, then Orwellian thought control will be the inevitable result. I don’t blame the “offended” for trying to suppress speech, thought and history as much as I blame the cowards who capitulate to it. Next in the line to oblivion: war movies, movies with guns, “Gettysburg” and John Wayne. Continue reading

U.S. Journalism’s Continued Unraveling, And CNN’s Unprofessional, Unethical, Destructive Disrespect For The President Of The United States

And the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck’s carnage continues…

The degree to which the Post 2016 Election Ethics Train Wreck has engulfed the news media has shocked even me, and readers know that Ethics Alarms had  swamp-level regard for U.S. journalists long before the 2016 campaign. It has obliterated any legitimate trust a citizen could have in the mainstream media’s news judgment, objectivity and competence, and with the exception of tiny pockets of professionalism here and there (Jake Tapper comes to mind), has declared itself a partisan foe of the electoral system, and the Presidency. The double standards applied regarding Democrats and Republicans as well as the smug shamelessness with which the media has applied them cannot be condemned too harshly. Naturally, the equally corrupted members of the so-called “resistance” see none of the harm and betrayal in this, since it suits their own ends.

Ethics Alarms  can’t catalogue all of the worst examples of this; there isn’t time. Last month, for example, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who once had a conscience and a mind even as you or I, authored one of the ugliest and most disgusting pieces I have read in any reputable publication. In the disgrace titled “There’s a Whiff of Treason In The Air” Kristof issued a conspiracy theory that would be at home in the archives of Alex Jones,  Mike Cernovich, or Donald Trump in his birther days, except that so many hopeful Democrats endorse it. The column is one long, vicious smear, claiming that President Trump engaged in treason, while citing absolutely no evidence whatsoever that supports such an inflammatory accusation. I considered flagging all of the slimy, dishonest, hypocritical rhetorical techniques Kristof brings to his efforts to undermine his nation’s President, but I decided to do so would insult my readers’ intelligence: it is so obvious, particularly when one considers the Russian “ties” the Clinton campaign had to Russia. Why do the business dealings of Trump campaign personnel with Russian figures spell TREASON to the Times columnist, and the more ominous ties between Russia and the Clintons get a pass? Simple: he wants Donald Trump to be proven a traitor; his readers want it; and he, the Times and the Democratic Party that has sold its integrity and soul intends to push the accusations as long as they can cripple and delegitimize the government they oppose. Continue reading

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.

Ethics Dunce: CNN Morning Anchor John Berman

When to you break out the dick jokes, John?

When to you break out the dick jokes, John?

There is apparently no way to stop the trend of supposed professionals polluting our discourse, and the airwaves by inflicting gratuitous vulgarity on us, apparently in the mistaken belief that doing so is clever and cute. It isn’t. It’s unprofessional, juvenile and embarrassing.

CNN anchor John Berman is the latest to join the smut brigade. Announcing a promotion for CNN’s evening entertainment show, “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” starring Mike Rowe, in which Rowe will be doing something—I really don’t care—involving boulders—Berman smirkingly began, “Mike Rowe shows us big stones!” Nice. And stupid. Kate Bolduan, sitting next to him, seemed visibly annoyed, and when he repeated the “joke” after the break, said, curtly, “Please stop.” Continue reading

Annoyances For The Obsessing Traveling Ethicist

Hepburn

I just got home from another day trip, and am too weary to essay a significant post. Allow me, instead, to give readers a taste of what goes through one’s mind when you have begun to focus exclusively on ethics in preparation for a key, out-of-state presentation:

  • The incompetence of supposed professional broadcasters. Shortly before leaving for the airport on Sunday, I watched the local Fox affiliate report on the new Vogue cover, featuring Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. One of the two anchorwomen noted that there was a parody of the cover titled “Vague” featuring Kermit and Miss Piggy in the same poses. She pronounced it as “Vagg.” Her partner did not correct her. I think newsreaders should be able to read, don’t you?
  • Dishonesty in headlines. With the Kardashians still gnawing at my brain, I noticed an issue of “Star” in an airport magazine rack. The headline read, “Kardashians Cancelled!” Filled with momentary hope for civilization, I looked up the corresponding story in the rag. It stated that cable’s “Keeping Up With The Kardashians had been renewed, but that the family was worried that it might be cancelled next year. Yes, the headline was “X” and the story was “Not X.” I don’t care that the Star is just a glossy paper tabloid—how can anyone justifying this? Deceitful headlines are bad, but at least they are literally true, if misleading. Tabloid ethics are as low as ethics can be, but this flat-out false cover headline seems to have breached them… a neat trick.
  • More  incompetence of supposed professional broadcasters. CNN’s John Berman showed a clip of Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton with Jimmy Kimmel and said…”Next…what Jimmy Kimmel did with three generations of Clintons.

Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Joe Concha at Mediaite

Berman and Romans: mystery solved. Well, not really a mystery, maybe "Marshall incompetence addressed" is more accurate,..

Berman and Romans: mystery solved. Well, not really ” mystery solved;” maybe “Marshall incompetence addressed” is more accurate,..

Lots of kind readers pitch in here to help Ethics Alarms do its lonely job better and more efficiently. Some of you e-mail me with typos, which are getting fewer thanks to a new a new proofreading regimen, others send me links to stories that raise ethics issues, and others still offer off-site critiques and comments that are helpful and thought-provoking. I do not expect that kind of generous assistance from major media blogs that get more traffic in the time it takes me to post an article than Ethics Alarms gets in a week. Thus it was a nice surprise to wake up this morning to Joe Concha’s post at Mediaite, properly chiding me for getting the CNN anchors wrong on the recent Simon Cowell egging story, and best of all, giving me the right names, which I had failed to find, as in “didn’t do my due diligence and look hard enough.”  [For the record, it was not Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan who I heard cheering on the woman who threw eggs at Simon Cowell during “Britain’s Got Talent,” but John Berman and Christine Romans, who now inherit the Ethics Dunces honor that should have been theirs from the beginning.]

The fact that Concha enlightened me while taking full advantage of the egg angle (“Blogger’s Got Talent? In Egg-Filled Irony, Ethics Alarms Gets CNN Hosts Wrong” is the headline) and chiding me for my fact-checking inadequacies is beside the point—-I deserved it. What matters is that I’m grateful that 1) he’s reading about ethics, which should be discusses on Mediate every day, given the state of the news media, 2) that he found the right anchors and 3) told me, so I could finally get that post right….which I will do as soon as I post this.

Again, my apologies to Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan for unjustly labeling them Ethics Dunces. I wish them good luck on their new show, and may I never have the occasion to mark them as Ethics Dunces again, in contrast to Soledad O’Brien, whom they replace.

______________________________________

Facts: Mediaite

Ethic Dunces: CNN Morning Anchors John Berman and Christine Romans

Attacked and attacker. Guess which one the CNN sympathizes with?

Attacked and attacker. Guess which one the CNN sympathizes with?

[Update and Correction: When I wrote this post, the designated Dunces were identified as Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan, the new kids on the CNN block. I thought I verified that on CNN’s site, but a helpful reader told  me that Cuomo and Bolduan haven’t debuted yet. Which CNN anchors it was who egged on the egger were in doubt, so on June 11, I changed the post, discussing the issue but only referring to “CNN anchors.”  I also apologized to Chris and Kate, and put out a call for the right names. And promptly forgot about it: with everything else going on, this was neither a major ethics issue nor a two-day story. Then, today, June 13, Joe Concha of Mediate posted a full-fledged smackdown of me, Ethics Alarms and my research skills, and helpfully provided the correct identification in the process

I’m grateful to Joe, who also preserves my original correction, which this replaces. Once again, I apologize to CNN, Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan, and also to my readers for mucking up this one so thoroughly. ]

“It’s about time,” snickered  CNN early morning male anchor John Berman, as his partner Christine Romans smiled and nodded. They were approving of a man being assaulted live on TV while doing his job, a job he performs better and more profitably than anyone else in the world.

The man is Simon Cowell, late of “American Idol,” and an angry musician from the studio orchestra seized the opportunity to run onstage during the finale of  “Britain’s Got Talent” and hurl five eggs at Cowell from the stage. The woman, Natalie Holt, had been a contestant in the past, and the assault was part revenge for her own group’s harsh treatment on the show last year, part vainglorious stunt to punish Cowell, she claimed, for his “influence,” and part stupidity. After the show, Holt apologized to the two finalists whose performance she marred, but not to her victim, saying: “I want to apologize to Richard and Adam for overshadowing their performance. I’ve never done anything like this before and in hindsight I have realized it was a silly thing to do.”

But to listen to the CNN pair, what Holt did wasn’t silly, but hilarious, and justified. Continue reading