The Third Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2011 (Part 2)

The 2011 Ethics Alarms Awards for the worst in ethics continues (you can catch up with Part I here) with the large and depressing…

 Shameless Bad Character Division

Jerk (defined as an individual who habitually places his personal benefit and ego gratification above the welfare of everyone and everything else) of the Year: Donald Trump

The Dennis Rodman Award, (Awarded to a professional athlete for a career and lifetime of  behaving like a jerk): Jose Canseco. Jose’s done it all, from being baseball’s Typhoid Mary of steroids, to getting arrested for various assaults, to writing a series of tell-all books designed to rat out the very players he corrupted, not as a service to his sport, but as revenge for it rejecting him. In 2011, he hit a new low, accepting money to appear in a celebrity boxing match (the 21st Century version of becoming a circus geek to pay the bills) and sending his less-talented, equally dim-witted, identical twin brother Ozzie to perform instead, hoping to fool the fools who hired him. This, of course, was fraud. It takes quite a jerk to take this award from Manny Ramirez, who became eligible in 2011, but Jose was up to the task.

Asshole (defined as an individual who intentionally and maliciously causes pain and harm to others because he can) of the Year: Rev. Terry Jones, the publicity-seeking leader of a tiny rural church, who caused riots and deaths abroad and ramped up political tensions between America and Muslim nations by threatening to burn, and finally burning, the Koran as a demonstration of contempt for Muslims and the Islamic faith. Continue reading

Corey Feldman’s Frightening, Important, Unethical Revelations

Corey Feldman in his prime

Corey Feldman could be the poster boy for troubled ex-child stars. The quirky, funny kid who had major roles in “Stand By Me,” “The Goonies,” and “The Lost Boys” was exploited by his parents, damaged by the industry, and left with an addiction to attention and fame. Feldman, like many other child stars, was never able to transition into adult parts, and now he is 40, still with the hunger for attention and validation that characterizes the breed. He has tried reality shows and low-budget films, and now he is trying to get himself back in the news by making sensational accusations.

In an interview on ABC’s Nightline, Feldman dropped a genuine bombshell, saying…

“I can tell you that the No. 1 problem in Hollywood was and is and always will be pedophilia. That’s the biggest problem for children in this industry. … It’s the big secret.” Continue reading

What Today’s Broadcast News Regards As “Credentials”

"Yes, yes...journalism degree, experience at a local affiliate, blah, blah...but no rapes? Arrests? Scandals? Sexual abuse? Miss, you have NO credentials that make you valuable as a network reporter! Wait--what's your bra size?"

Good for media ethics pundit Howard Kurtz for blowing the whistle, however gently, on ABC News’s hiring of Elizabeth Smart as a contributing on-air expert on missing children cases. “Does that strike anyone as odd?” he writes.

Well, it depends what you mean by “odd,” Howard.

If you mean, does it surprise me that a broadcast media outlet, one of the journalistic mutations that hired Eliot Spitzer, fresh off his prostitution disgrace, to headline a current events show on CNN, that puts a giggly fold-out-come-to-life  like Robin Meade in charge of Headline News’ morning, and that, like Fox News, chooses its female newsreaders and guest pundits according to their degree of resemblance to Mamie Van Doren or Raquel Welch, would hire a young, attractive blond woman with no credentials other than her role as the victim of kidnapping, sexual abuse and rape, as a correspondent, why no, I don’t find it odd at all.

If you mean, do I find it odd that a supposedly professional news network would so blatantly abandon professional standards  just to cash in on the Casey Anthony uproar, however, then…wait, no, I don’t find that odd either. Revolting, but not odd. Continue reading

Ethics Uber-Dunce: Jose Canseco

Jose Canseco...or is it his twin?

Mere Ethics Dunce is an inadequate title for former baseball slugger Jose Canseco, somehow. He has dabbled in extortion and assault, but his real contribution to making the world worse was serving as a one-man steroid epidemic, using the performance-enhancing, testicle shrinking drugs himself to win an American League  Most Valuable Player award, then making sure that as many players as possible on the various teams he played with used them too. Continue reading

Thomas Boswell’s Outrageous Ethical Breach

In the first installment of Ken Burns’ latest addendum to his epic documentary “Baseball”, there is a considerable discussion of baseball’s steroid problem, and its effect on the game, its image, and integrity.  Washington Post sportswriter Thomas Boswell is one of those interviewed, and caused quite a few PBS watchers, including me, to drop their jaws when he volunteered this:

“There was another player now in the Hall of Fame who literally stood with me and mixed something and I said ‘What’s that?’ and he said ‘it’s a Jose Canseco milkshake.’ [ Note: Star outfielder Jose Canseco was widely believed to be a steroid user from early in his career, and he finally admitted it after retiring.] And that year that Hall of Famer hit more home runs than ever hit any other year. So it wasn’t just Canseco, and so one of the reasons that I thought that it was an important subject was that it was spreading. It was already spreading by 1988.”

Boswell, who knew exactly what the player meant by “Jose Canseco milkshake,” never reported the apparent use of steroids—illegal in 1988, as it is now— to the team, Major League Baseball, or the public. Continue reading

Armstrong, Bonds, Steroids, and Bias

Barry Bonds was forcibly retired from baseball despite general agreement that he could still hit a ball better than most active players. No team would hire him, because he had become the symbol of baseball’s steroid and performance-enhancing drugs scandal that casts a permanent shadow over the game’s image, statistics, integrity, and current stars. Bonds never has admitted to using P.E.D.’s, but the evidence that his remarkable late-career success was illicitly aided by banned substances is overwhelming, and indeed was overwhelming while he was playing. [I have written about the fairness of judging Bonds a cheater and the tortured rationalizations employed by his defenders here, here, and here.] At the same time, another individual who dominates his sport, cyclist Lance Armstrong, has managed to convince most of the media and his adoring public that accusations that he used steroids are false, even though the circumstantial evidence against him rivals what has condemned Bonds. This has always had the stench of a double standard; now, in the wake of new allegations by a former team mate, the only excuses for not giving Armstrong the Bonds treatment are unethical ones. Continue reading