Slow Friday Ethics Pick-Me-Up, 7/19/2019: The Chant, The View, The Times, The Recidivist, The Fire, The Comic

Let’s see…what’s percolating today?

1. Do they even teach the First Amendment any more? I wonder how many of the Trump supporters who chanted “Send her back!” regarding Rep. Omar were doing so tongue in cheek, and realized that the U.S. can’t “send back” naturalized citizens? I admit that I’m rather afraid of the answer.

Yes, there’s a big difference between the President’s “why don’t they go back” line in his stupid tweets and “send her back,” but there’s no way he can escape some accountability for the ugly chant. He now says he disagrees with it, and except for those who will always assume the worst motives in this President, there is no reason to doubt that; after all, if he believed she should be “sent back,” he would have tweeted as much himself.

Of course, when network-anointed “experts” on social policy and politics like the ladies of “The View” broadcast ignorance of the First Amendment to their loyal and gullible audience, it doesn’t help. Co-host Joy Behar—is she the dumbest one on the panel? I think so— asked yesterday why President Trump had yet to face any legal consequences for “hate speech” directed at Democratic Rep. Omar, blathering, “Why can’t he be brought up on charges of hate speech?Why can’t he be sued by the ACLU for hate speech? I don’t get it. How does he get away with this?”

“Hate speech is tricky,”  was the best that cowardly former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin could muster to clarify matters, making things worse. There is no such thing as “hate speech” in the law, which means it is more than “tricky,” it is a delusion, unless one means “hateful speech,” which can be a subjective definition, but is nonetheless protected by the Constitution.

If ABC were a responsible network, a comment like Behar’s should trigger an instant on-air intervention in which a team of law professors, judges and maybe a literate 6th grader or two burst onto the set and explain to this fool what freedom of speech means. Continue reading

The Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards, Part II: The Worst of Ethics 2015

Donald and Hillary

Ethics Corrupters of the Year

(Awarded to the unethical public figure whose prominence, popularity and success most corrupts the public’s ethical values)

A Tie: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  Nobody else is close.

I’m sorry that these two are so dominating the awards. They also dominated the posts last year. If they dominate the awards next year, God Save The United States of America…

Double Standard Of The Year

The deference accorded to anti-white protesters on dozens of college campuses, not just by spineless administrators but much of the news media. Similar protests, conduct and rhetoric by white students would be immediately condemned for what it would be: blatant racism.

 Lie of the Year

Hands Up! Don’t shoot! The lie was uttered in 2014, but acquired new status after the Justice Department unexpectedly and definitively determined that the evidence did not support the inflammatory myth that Mike Brown was shot dead in Ferguson while trying to surrender to Officer Wilson. Never mind: the lie is part of the manifesto of Black Lives Matter and similar groups; it is still alluded to by activists and shameless politicians; it still divides the nation and focuses hate on police departments; and it has contributed to getting police officers killed while making communities more vulnerable to crime. It may be the Lie of the Decade.

Uncivil U.S. Official of the Year

Justice Antonin Scalia, who crossed all lines of judicial restraint, collegiality and civility when he excoriated his colleague, Justice Kennedy, who was the fifth vote in the majority of SCOTUS’s ruling  that same-sex marriage was a Constitutional right no state could deny, with this comment in a footnote:

“If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”

——U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia,

 

The Jesse Jackson Award 

(For the Year’s Worst Amateur Diplomat)

Barack Obama.  I know, this is snarkier than I like to be in these awards, but the signature diplomatic measure of the past year, the astounding, one-sided, dangerous and Munich-like deal with Iran, could only be the product of an ideological tyro placing wishes and hopes over diplomatic responsibility, and not for the first time. For most Presidents, trading dangerous terrorists for a deserter would be nadir. History has seen many tragedies seeded by world leaders with no diplomatic skills: the disastrous Treaty of Versailles,  Potsdam, and the treaty that this one most resembles, negotiated by the hapless Neville Chamberlain. We can only hope that the worst case scenario doesn’t materialize, but if it does not, it will be moral luck.

Most Unethical Sports League

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady speaks at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts, May 7, 2015. REUTERS/Charles Krupa/Pool ORG XMIT: BKS06

The NFL, for the third year in a row. “Concussion,” Tom Brady, Deflategate, more evidence that NFL players are slowly killing themselves with brain damage, Johnny Manziel.  What a great sport pro football is.

Sports Cheat of the Year

Tom Brady, New England Patriots ball-deflating quarterback.  Brady eventually avoided punishment because the NFL botched both its investigation and its imposition of penalties, but his smirking, cynical comments about the incident made it clear that he thinks cheating is no big deal, and most of his fans agree.

Not surprisingly, Brady supports Donald Trump.

Unethical Lawyers of the Year

Law Firm Division:  Lawyers Stephen Diaco, Robert Adams and Adam Filthaut of the Florida firm Adams & Diaco were found to have “maliciously” set up the drunken-driving arrest of their opposing counsel in a  high-profile defamation trial. The plot involved a comely paralegal and a cooperative DUI cop. Last I checked, it looked like all three lawyers would be disbarred for life.

Scary Lawyer Division: California lawyer Douglas Crawford  held a can of pepper spray a yard from the face of the opposing lawyer saying, “I will pepper-spray you if you get out of hand.” Then the lawyer pointed a stun gun at Traver’s head and said, “If that doesn’t quell you, this is a flashlight that turns into a stun gun.” To show he wasn’t kidding, Crawford discharged the stun gun the startled lawyer’s face.

Hard-working Lawyer Division: Massachusetts lawyer,  Karen Andrade, was  charged with prostitution after a police investigated a report by a suspicious neighbor and  found online reviews of both the lawyer’s legal services and her escort services

Celebrity Lawyer Division: Michael Cohen,  one of Donald Trump’s lawyers, told the Daily Beast that it was legally impossible for a man to rape his wife. He was only a couple of decades and many court cases behind on his research. That piece of legal scholarship came after he had threatened the website’s staff in language usually associated with loan sharks and pimps.

Unethical Prosecutor of the Year

Mosby

Baltimore’s City Attorney Marilyn Mosby
Continue reading

Jon Stewart Betrayal Update: Concha Gets It Right

Jon-Stewart-and-BarackLast night Jon Stewart finally commented on the reports of his meetings at the White House, and by his smug demeanor and evasiveness, confirmed the assessments of Ethics Alarms and many others.  Joe Concha of Mediaite nailed it:

“Well, I mean, I don’t know if they were secret,” the 52-year-old said last night while pointing out his name (which one?) was clearly on the visitor logs. It all sounds so much like Stephanopoulos explaining that his donations to the Clinton Foundation that were also there for all the public to see… buried on his tax forms. All I know is this: If I met with the president and hosted a program which primarily focuses on politics, pretty sure I’d let my audience know at the very least that what had happened. Unless, of course, I have to carry out my PR orders in a way no White House Press Secretary or Sunday talk show appearance ever could…Why attend a meeting with the most powerful person on the planet if you can’t report back what was said? In the end, these people are there not for an interview, but for instructions. And that’s exactly why Stewart took the Acela down to DC: To come back to New York and serve as the Baghdad Bob of arguably the most influential news program—forget that it’s billed as fake—on the dial right now…No matter…Stewart will get the Letterman treatment next week when he leaves The Daily Show, and rightly so. He didn’t earn $25-$30M a year for hosting a show four days a week for nothing. His timing, delivery and intelligence is something you don’t teach or learn.

In the end, Jon Stewart will be looked back on as one of the great performers of our generation. He’s also one of the more dishonest, and about as phony as they come.”

Exactly.

Jon Stewart’s Betrayal

emergency-clown-nose

Politico has confirmed that on two occasions, Comedy Central’s Now I’m a comic-Now I’m a pundit-Now I’m a journalist Jon Stewart secretly went to the White House to meet with President Obama:

Jon Stewart slipped unnoticed into the White House in the midst of the October 2011 budget fight, summoned to an Oval Office coffee with President Barack Obama that he jokingly told his escort felt like being called into the principal’s office.In February 2014, Obama again requested Stewart make the trip from Manhattan to the White House, this time for a mid-morning visit hours before the president would go before television cameras to warn Russia that “there will be costs” if it made any further military intervention in Ukraine.

To engage privately with the president in his inner sanctum at two sensitive moments — previously unreported meetings that are listed in the White House visitor logs and confirmed to POLITICO by three former Obama aides — speaks volumes about Stewart and his reach, which goes well beyond the million or so viewers who tune into The Daily Show on most weeknights.

It mean rather more than that. The visits mean that what Stewart and Comedy Central represented to the public as independent commentary on public affairs by a wise, critical and trusted truth-teller was in fact state propaganda, dictated by the President of the United States to a messenger of influence. Continue reading

Media Cheap Shots For Hillary

NPR's Diane Rehm: she has a list, and Bernie's on it.

NPR’s Diane Rehm: she has a list, and Bernie’s on it.

In retrospect, we should have known that the mainstream news media would be actively campaigning for the Democrats  in 2008 when the New York Times, often referred to as the “flagship” of the MSM, ran a bizarre, inexcusable hit piece on John McCain as a front page story, alleging, via anonymous sources, not that McCain was involved in a Bill Clinton-style inappropriate relationship with a comely female lobbyist eight years earlier, but that unnamed staffers at the time were “concerned” that they were too friendly to each other. What followed was the most openly biased coverage in U.S. presidential campaign history, with candidate Obama repeatedly featured in messianic poses on magazine covers, virtually no media vetting of his background and a full-out, often sexist assault on the GOP Vice-Presidential candidate for being unqualified (though she had far more relevant experience than the Democratic presidential candidate),and for being a dummy, while the hilariously addled Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate was treated like a beloved eccentric uncle.

From an ethics standpoint, it didn’t matter that McCain was an awful candidate, that the chance to elect a black President was irresistible and that once the economy collapsed, the Democrats could have nominated a deaf pangolin and still won with ease. What mattered was that the media proved itself biased, unprofessional and untrustworthy as never before. I was nauseated by the debacle, but always optimistic, thought there was a chance that U.S. journalists would eventually wake up from their Obama fever, admit that they betrayed their professional duty and reform. Sadly, the problem has only worsened.

We are now seeing, even earlier than before, that the news media is prepared to throw cheap shot blocks on anyone, Democrat or Republican, who threatens the Presidential path of Hillary Clinton. Everyone—yes even Clinton supporters, as soul-dead and corrupt as they must by definition be—should be alarmed by this. It means that the United States has no objective news media, but one that is in league with, rather than exposing and challenging, entrenched power. Democracy won’t work thus encumbered. This should be a bipartisan issue.

The New York Times has equalled its John McCain fiasco with a pair of embarrassing attacks on Marco Rubio, first exposing the disqualifying scandal of his wife’s poor driving record (Hillary hasn’t driven in decades—chauffeurs, you know) and then the damning fact that he isn’t rich as Croesus and thus has no business purchasing, for example, a new home. This, like the McCain gossip, was deemed front page worthy. Even Jon Stewart, who comes to the defense of Republicans as often as he makes a joke about Obama, was appalled, devoting a five minute rant to mocking the Times.

Stewart noted the Times’ reporting of the Rubios’ purchase in 2005 of a larger home for $550,000 in 2005 that included, according to the paper, “an in-ground pool, a handsome brick driveway, meticulously manicured shrubs and oversize windows.” Calling the story “inconsequential gossip,” and asking, “How is this front-page news?,” he said,

“What’s The New York Times going to do? Exercise editorial control? No. … It’s like their motto says: ‘Don’t hate the paper, hate the game.’”

“The game” is called “Rig Democracy for Democrats.” The Times editorial staff indignantly demands the reversal of Citizens United because its editors deplore the law (and the Firts Amendment)  allowing “big corporations” to influence elections by funding obvious political advocacy, while The Times, owned and operated by a large corporation, uses its resources to engage in daily political advocacy under the guise of objective journalism.The media is just getting started, it seems. Yesterday,  NPR public affairs talk show host Diane Rehm began an interview with Hillary challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders with an accusation:

“Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel.” 

Sanders interrupted, “Well, no I do not have dual citizenship with Israel. I’m an American. I don’t know where that question came from. I am an American citizen, and I have visited Israel on a couple of occasions. No, I’m an American citizen, period.”

“I understand from a list we have gotten that you were on that list, forgive me if that is [untrue.]” Rehm said. She later apologized. Sure she did! Mission accomplished! As Jewish Journal noted,  Rehm’s “list” was  probably the one that has circulated on the Internet for several years concerning U.S. government officials and members of Congress who allegedly hold dual citizenship with Israel, making them, the theory goes, agents of a successful Israeli effort to manipulate U.S. policy. Why wouldn’t veteran journalist Rehm, as fair and ethical journalism demands, check her facts before asserting a falsehood?

Ann Althouse’s explanation seems astute:

“It was only last weekend that Bernie Sanders shocked the Clinton campaign in the Wisconsin straw poll by getting 41% to Hillary’s 49%. He’s not an amusing sideline anymore. What can be done to keep Democrats from drifting his way? An outright lie about him doesn’t work, does it? Well, yes it does! It made everyone take notice that Bernie Sanders is Jewish. He’s not an Israeli citizen. That’s cleared up, but the impression remains: He’s Jewish. That stirs up any free-floating anti-Jewishness that may be useful to his opponent. It stirs up suspicion that Sanders feels affiliated with Israel in a way that is inconsistent with the American presidency. I’m sure many people hadn’t even noticed that Sanders is Jewish, and now we all know that, and we know additional facts. From the first link above, which goes to Politico: “Sanders, who is Jewish, has visited Israel several times and spent several months working on a communal farm called a Kibbutz in the 1960s.” That’s all powerfully useful to Hillary. Am I supposed to believe this was a mere oopsie by a nice old lady?”

Stumping for Obama was unethical, but the mainstream media’s journalists, being human and none too bright, could be cut a little slack (though not by me) for their enthusiasm for a fresh, eloquent young black man who spoke persuasively of bringing us together, restoring peace and making America respected again abroad. Doing the same for a corrupt, cynical, dishonest candidate like Clinton, however, is the journalism equivalent of treason.

______________________________

Sources: Politico 1,2, NYT, Althouse

Continue reading

The Little Blue Jon Stewart Caboose On The Brian Williams Ethics Train Wreck

Blue Caboose

I’ve stopped updating the passenger list on the rapidly slowing Brian Williams Ethics Train Wreck. Essentially it’s all biased and unethical journalists outing themselves and not being honest or sufficiently self-aware to realize it.

Bulletin: Brian Williams being exposed as an untrustworthy journalist isn’t a “tragedy” for anyone but Brian Williams and NBC’s bottom line, and he was no more a “giant” of broadcast journalism than Joe McCarthy was a “giant” of the U.S. Senate. He was a fraud, and his exposure and fall was a good thing, as exposures of frauds always are. His demise (he isn’t coming back, and NBC should stop the speculation and just say so) does serve as a useful trap for similarly unethical and biased journalists, like TIME’s Joe Klein, who made no sense at all while bemoaning the treatment of Williams in an interview on Fox News, first using a straw man argument:

“I think that we’re living in an era where the ferocity of the prosecution is much greater than the severity of most of these crimes.”

No one’s alleging any “crimes,” Joe. Journalists who are paid huge contracts to deliver the news in a professional and trustworthy fashion can’t be allowed to stay on the air. Absent the “ferocity,” Williams would still have his job today, because news organizations value their profit over integrity and ethics. Plenty of people don’t care if journalists are ethical or not, and can’t tell the difference. If critics don’t make their legitimate complaints strongly enough, the majority’s apathy prevails.

Then Joe went for the rationalizations, this time, #19 and #20:

“And all of us make mistakes. All of us do make mistakes.”

Someone explainsignature significanceto Joe Klein, because Williams’ helicopter fable was a perfect example of it, as I surmised from the first report of the episode. Yes, good journalists make mistakes, but ethical and trustworthy journalists don’t make mistakes like that, even once—telling a false story about being in one helicopter under fire when the reporter was really in another. Sure enough, we have since learned that Williams made up lots of stories that upon examination could not have been true (Joe apparently wants to ignore all that), like seeing bodies floating in the French Quarter after Katrina, like claiming that he was imbedded with elite SEAL team that took down bn Laden. They weren’t doubted at the time because we didn’t know Brian Williams was a serial liar then. “Mistakes” are not the issue. Moreover, Williams’ “false memory” defense, complete with “experts” sent out to the media to explain this phenomenon, was also a lie, and a carefully devised one. His other false reports, slowly becoming known like the endless trail of Bill Cosby victims, prove it.

Next for Joe: euphemisms. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: Daily Beast Editor Justin Miller

“Fuck you…”

—-Daily Beast editor Justin Miller, in a tweet to U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) Miller was irate that Paul blamed media bias on the uproar over his irresponsible and foolish comments regarding mandatory vaccination. The tweet continued: “Today I am getting my booster vaccine. Wonder how the liberal media will misreport this.”

After Paul’s office pronounced the tweet “unacceptable,” Miller deleted the tweet, and apologized, telling Politico, “I replied from my personal account to what I felt was spin after Senator Paul said factually incorrect things about vaccines. It would’ve been better to respond with facts than an obscenity, and I deleted the tweet so it wouldn’t reflect on the Beast. I’m sorry for the insult.”

Observations:

1. Did Miller personally apologize to Paul? There is no indication that he did. This, therefore, is not an apology to the person directly aggrieved. We are seeing more and more of this: “I am sorry, Politico, that I behaved wrongly toward X.” That’s lazy, deceptive and cowardly.

2. A respectable, professional news organization would fire Miller, apology or not. In fact, any organization would fire a high placed executive who delivered a public “fuck you” to an elected official, and should. It is outrageously unprofessional conduct. It reflects badly on the organization. It shows miserable judgment, and makes trust all but impossible. I cannot think of a single job I ever held, in academia, in associations or in the non-profit sector where a tweet like that to a member, donor or customer, never mind a member of Congress (or, heaven forbid, a judge), wouldn’t have gotten me fired so fast the words “I’m sorry” would have been completed after I was locked out of the building, and rightly so. Continue reading