Tag Archives: journalism incompetence

“Is It Possible To Address A Race-Related Problem Without Being Attacked As Racist?” And Other Reflections On The Holiday Mall Brawls

mall-violence

On the City Journal website, Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute writes in part,

Judging by video evidence, the participants in the violent mall brawls over the Christmas weekend were overwhelmingly black teens, though white teens were also involved. The media have assiduously ignored this fact, of course, as they have for previous violent flash mob episodes. That disproportion has significance for the next administration’s school-discipline policies, however. If Donald Trump wants to make schools safe again, he must rescind the Obama administration’s diktats regarding classroom discipline, which are based on a fantasy version of reality that is having serious real-world consequences.

The Obama Justice and Education Departments have strong-armed schools across the country to all but eliminate the suspension and expulsion of insubordinate students. The reason? Because black students are disciplined at higher rates than whites. According to Washington bureaucrats, such disproportionate suspensions can mean only one thing: teachers and administrators are racist. The Obama administration rejects the proposition that black students are more likely to assault teachers or fight with other students in class. The so-called “school to prison” pipeline is a function of bias, not of behavior, they say.

This week’s mall violence, which injured several police and security officers, is just the latest piece of evidence for how counterfactual that credo is.  A routine complaint in police-community meetings in minority areas is that large groups of teens are fighting on corners…The idea that such street behavior does not have a classroom counterpart is ludicrous. Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic males of the same age. The lack of socialization that produces such a vast disparity in murder rates, as well as less lethal street violence, inevitably will show up in classroom behavior….School officials in urban areas across the country set up security corridors manned by police officers at school dismissal times to avoid gang shootings. And yet, the Obama administration would have us believe that in the classroom, black students are no more likely to disrupt order than white students.

The entire essay is here.

Observations: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Quotes, Race, U.S. Society

14 Ethics Musings On The Death Of Francisco Serna

keith-scott

Scott and Serna.

From The Washington Post:

Slightly after midnight on Monday, police in Bakersfield, Calif., received a call concerning a man thought to be brandishing a weapon in a residential neighborhood.

Shortly after police arrived, 73-year-old Francisco Serna — who family members said was suffering from the early stages of dementia — walked out of his home and into his driveway. When Serna, who was unarmed, did not comply with officers’ orders to remove his hands from his jacket pocket, one officer fired seven shots at him, killing him.

During a canvass of the premises that lasted at least until the following afternoon, police did not find a firearm on or near Serna. Instead, they found a crucifix.

Questions and Observations:

1. The shooting occurred two days ago, on December 12. There have been no organized protests, or community groups, family lawyers or anyone else suggesting that the shooting was murder, or an example of police animus toward the community. Why not?

2. The circumstances of the shooting were notably similar to the police involved shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, except that in the case of Scott, the officer believed the victim had a gun, and he did have a gun. Nonetheless, that shooting triggered two days of rioting. Why?

3. In the Scott shooting, both officer and victim were black. In the recent shooting in Bakersfield, officer and victim were white. Why did one shooting become a racial incident and the other not, when the conduct of the police officers were essentially identical, and the provocation for the shootings  were similar as well?

4. One difference in the two episodes is that in Charlotte, a false narrative was launched by a family member to make the shooting appear to be a case of excessive force with a police cover-up. Is it just felicitous that this did not occur in Bakersfield, or was the Charlotte episode different in some way that caused events to resemble the aftermath in the Ferguson and Freddie Gray police-involved deaths?

5. If Francisco Serna had been black and all other facts the same, is there any reason to believe that the aftermath, including recriminations, accusations and attacks on police, the justice system and the nation’s culture, would have been any different than they have been every time an unarmed black man, or a black man who was reported as being unarmed, has been shot by police? If there is not, what does that tell us? Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunces: PayPal, And Those Applauding Its Unethical Grandstanding

PayPal-logo-1

The online payments company PayPal announced that it is cancelling plans to open an office in Charlotte, North Carolina because the state’s so-called “bathroom law” “violates PayPal values.” Dan Schulman, PayPal’s president and chief executive, wrote in a statement this week:

“The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture. As a result, PayPal will not move forward with our planned expansion into Charlotte.”

My many knee-jerk progressive Facebook friends immediately slapped their seal-flippers together and barked their approval in unison. “I (heart) PayPal!” more than one wrote. “PayPal is my hero!” wrote others.

Never mind that a corporation has no business using financial muscle to exercise extra-legal vetoes over legislation in states where it is not a citizen and where the actual citizens, in their legal exercise of their rights, have elected representatives who duly passed it. This cheering on excessive and abusive influence on governance by big corporations is especially hypocritical coming from supporters of Bernie and Hillary, who regularly claim that allowing companies the right to engage in political speech magically robs voters of their ability to reason and causes all to vote, zombie-like, according to corporate America’s will.

This is why Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are leading…wait, that doesn’t make sense, does it? Actually none of the popular and media attacks on Citizens United are grounded in reality, law, or comprehension of the Constitution, and virtually none of the indignant opponents of the decision have read it or listened to the revealing oral argument. But I digress. The point is that the progressives endorse the practice of corporations using their power to warp the system in directions progressives like, but believe that this—this meaning bullying, threats and coercion— is the only form of influence that should be allowed—certainly not speech and advocacy.

That is just half of what makes the cheering for PayPal foolish and cynical. For PayPal is playing these people like a harpsichord, and indulging in outrageous, hypocritical grandstanding. Moving an office into North Carolina where the bathroom privileges of trans citizens are being restricted “violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture,” but somehow… Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

MSNBC Reporter Tony Dokoupil Explains Why His Profession Is Incompetent And Untrustworthy

softball_dirt_thumb

On his MSNBC show “Last Word,” host Lawrence O’Donnell expressed surprise that Wisconsin radio personality Charlie Sykes, who conducted a tough interview with Donald Trump this  week, was so much more aggressive that the softball  mainstream media interviewers.

His guest, MSNBC reporter Tony Dokoupil, who is assigned the 2016 campaign beat,  explained that Sykes had done a “one and done” style interview with Trump, which, he said,  journalists who want to have access to Trump over the long haul cannot afford to do.

“People who are on the beat, people who work for our network, they have to keep that relationship going for a long, long time,” Dokoupil said. “Charlie did not have that burden.”

O’Donnell was shocked—shocked!—at this statement. “Well, I don’t think the fact that you have to cover Donald Trump means that you have to then play softball with him so that you can guarantee he will speak to you another time,” he said. “Once the mission of the interview is to get the next interview with the same person, we know how soft that interview is going to be.”

This is hilarious coming from O’Donnell, a blazing partisan who has barely given a tough interview to a Democrat or progressive politician in his life. But I digress.

Dokoupil had committed the cardinal sin of speaking the truth, and it explains a lot. Steve Kroft had essentially made the same confession a couple of years ago when he said that President Obama was willing to do interviews for “60 Minutes” because he knew they would be “fair.” (That was also hilarious, because “fair” is a standard “60 Minutes” has never applied to politicians and leaders it wanted to exhibit in a harsh light. Sorry, digressing again.) The soft-ball approach certainly explains why so many reporters refuse to challenge Trump, and Trump’s boycott and attacks on Fox’s Megyn Kelly for daring to challenge him made explicit the conditions that Dokoupil felt were implied. When ratings are driven by which talking head show gets the falshiest guests, of course most interviewers avoid the “one and done” approach. Is it cowardly? Yes. Does it serve the public interests? No. Does it make lying, misrepresentation and an absence of integrity easy, painless and effective for Trump, Clinton, Obama, Cruz, Sanders, etc., etc.? Sure it does. It also undermines democracy, and is a disgraceful breach of journalism’s obligation to view the public, not its leaders and powerbrokers, as its only constituency.

Would an ethical, trustworthy professional allow this? No, but journalism hasn’t been ethical, trustworthy or professional for a very long time, if ever. For example, the Guardian reported German historian Harriet Scharnberg’s claims  this week that the AP made a mutually beneficial pact with the Hitler regime in order to ensure access to Germany throughout the Holocaust and World War II. The deal had the Associated Press promising to abide by  the Schriftleitergesetz, or editor’s law, agreeing not to publish anything that could be “calculated to weaken the strength of the Reich abroad or at home.” .

I’m sure Lawrence O’Donnell is shocked at this, too.

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Filed under Around the World, Government & Politics, History, Professions, War and the Military

An Ethics Alarms Audit: Who Or What Is At Fault For The Rise Of Donald Trump?

I have intentionally avoided most of the many articles that have used the unsettling rise of Donald Trump as a Presidential contender to attack their favorite targets—talk radio, Republicans, Obama, the Tea Party, the “elites,” the news media, reality TV…it’s a long list. One of the few I did read was this one, by Peggy Noonan. Its main thesis:

“The unprotected came to think they owed the establishment—another word for the protected—nothing, no particular loyalty, no old allegiance. Mr. Trump came from that…What marks this political moment, in Europe and the U.S., is the rise of the unprotected. It is the rise of people who don’t have all that much against those who’ve been given many blessings and seem to believe they have them not because they’re fortunate but because they’re better….This is a terrible feature of our age—that we are governed by protected people who don’t seem to care that much about their unprotected fellow citizens. And a country really can’t continue this way.”

Yup. That’s how populist uprisings always start, and Noonan properly diagnosed this one. Still, it was neither pre-ordained nor necessary that the individual such a movement would unite around had to be such a dangerous, unstable and unworthy one, or that the citizens supporting him would display such complete absence of logic and responsibility.

Reading the debates between Trump supporters and detractors on various websites, I am reminded of the classic “Simpsons” episode where Springfield split into two warring factions, the Mensa group, and the anti-Mensa group. The latter was characterized by angry stupidity, and if a member made a logical and coherent argument against the astute and educated opposition, he would be instantly ejected with the cry, “You’re one of them!”

Herman Kahn, the futurist, used to say that even the best plans, organizations, and systems could be unsettled by “the 2% contingency of bad management or bad luck.” The United States has been very fortunate in its approximately 250 years’ experiment. Bismarck famously said that “There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America,” and at times it has seemed that way. When the nation’s management failed, the U.S. has been astoundingly lucky. When it has been unlucky, brilliant leaders have been on hand to manage the problem. The Trump phenomenon illustrates the fact of existence that luck eventually runs out: so far, bad luck and bad management have joined forces to produce the threat of a Donald Trump presidency.

There are many people, groups and institutions responsible for Trump getting this far, and it is dishonest, incompetent and unfair to blame one without identifying the rest. Each was arguably essential to the chaotic mix, and thus nothing and no one deserves to be cited as “the” cause.

Here, in rough but not definitive particular order, are the main miscreants. I’ve limited myself to eleven, but the list could easily be longer.
Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Literature, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Case Study In Unethical Journalism And The Unethical Editors Who Spawn It: Jezebel and Editor Natasha V C

Natasha. Jezebel must be so proud.

Natasha. Jezebel must be so proud.

It is obvious that the mainstream media is determined to shoot down Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by any means possible, because Democrats a) hate him to pieces and b) fear him. The primaries aren’t even underway, and they are already outing their own bias with over-heated criticism of his refusing to be drawn into gotcha questions about evolution and President Obama’s religion (to which he gave essentially the same answer as Hillary Clinton did in 2008: he has no way of knowing for sure), dropping subversive reminders that he never got a college degree, and already are breaching Journalism Ethics 101 principles by running bogus accusations without checking the facts. This will continue—it worked with Sarah Palin and Romney, after all—until the American public figures out what’s going on. I’ll try to help the best I can.

New York Times star columnist Gail Collins, who detests Walker with a passion that apparently obliterates all professional ethics, wrote two weeks ago that Walker was responsible for Wisconsin’s 2010 cuts to education, resulting in teacher layoffs. Walker didn’t take office until 2011. The Times retracted—six days later!—but you know how it works, and so does the Times: a fraction of the readers who read the mistake—this was a reckless, biased, embarrassing mistake—see the correction. The Times is better than Fox News…barely. Collins and her editor should have been disciplined.

Then  the progressive feminist website Jezebel printed this:

“Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget—which would cut $300 million dollars out of the state’s beloved public university system—has a non-fiscal bombshell tucked in between its insane pages.Under Walker’s budget, universities would no longer have to report the number of sexual assaults that take place on a campus to the Department of Justice. Under Walker’s plan, university employees who witness a sexual assault would no longer have to report it.There are no policy recommendations in Walker’s budget how or what would replace these reporting mechanisms. The Governor simply instructs that they should be deleted.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the bewildering force that is Scott Walker, know this: he is a small-time guy who is having a big-time moment by playing the conservative werewolf, a role Chris Christie and Jeb Bush are so far unwilling to play in their presidential bids.”

[Translation: “Small time” means “no college degree.” Ad hominem, naturally.]

The Daily Beast, which bleeds blue and has its own stable of wildly left-slanting commentators, uncritically picked up the story, as did many others. They kept it around, too, well after this was revealed: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, The Internet

The Washington Post Tries To Hide A Muslim Attack From Its Readers: What’s Going On Here? Or Rather, What The HELL Is Going On Here?

Now, see, THIS Post has informative headlines...

Now, see, THIS Post has informative headlines…

I have no hidden agenda; I really would like to know.

Sharp-eyed media critic Ian Tuttle noticed how the Washington Post headlined a news story from Detroit in which a Muslim man, Terrence Lavaron Thomas, asked two strangers at a Southfield, Mich., bus stop whether or not they were Muslim and when they answered in the negative, stabbed them with a  knife. This was the headline:

wapo-headline1

What? That suggests the opposite of what happened!  We are told “conservatives” on social media objected. Really? Only conservatives are bothered by incompetent, misleading or intentionally false news reports? Anyway, the Post’s editors said, apparently, “Oh, all right, if you’re going to be all picky about it,” and changed the headline to this…

WaPo Muslim headline 2 - revised

Except that “Are you Muslim? No? THEN DIE, INFIDEL!!!” is not what I or any fair and rational person would call a “discussion.”  Once again those pesky “conservatives”—you know, the ones who don’t appreciate the press lying to them–complained, so again the Post changed the headline:

WaPo Muslim headline3

So now that irrelevant Muslim angle is missing entirely, because this has no possible relationship to  Muslim extremists around the world burning people alive, cutting off the heads of Christians, kidnapping and killing children or any of that nasty stuff. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Religion and Philosophy