Ethics Quote Of The Day: Blogger Ed Morrissey

Double standard“So let’s get this straight. When a lunatic shoots up a Family Research Council office, it has nothing to do with its political opposition. When an abortionist [ Kermit Gosnell ] runs loose because public officials are too intimidated to enforce the laws that do exist, it has nothing to do with political support for abortion. But when a lunatic shoots up an abortion clinic, it’s the fault of millions of Americans who oppose abortion, and who argue peacefully for limits on the practice and better oversight of those who operate in the industry?

“Even when “police have not yet identified a clear motive for the shooting”?

“The shootings in a clinic and the deaths of two people are horrific acts that everyone with a lick of sense and humanity abhors. But what the Washington Post and pro-abortion advocates are conducting in its wake is an attack on free speech and the political process, not to mention the unconscionable smearing of millions of Americans. It’s disgusting, manipulative, exploitative, and un-American.”

—–Conservative blogger Ed Morrisey, in his post, WaPo: Let’s hold free speech guilty for the acts of a lunatic, shall we?

Yes, it’s disgusting, manipulative, exploitative, and un-American—see yesterday’s Ethics Alarms post regarding how the manipulative part works—but it is also one of the clearest and most undeniable examples of mainstream media bias and of how journalists actively adopt and advance even the most blatantly dishonest Democratic Party talking points. (To be fair, they are almost all Democrats, and most of them aren’t very bright, so they often believe this stuff).

For “the Washington Post” in Morrissey’s quote, read The New York Times, CNN, “Meet the Press” and almost every major news media source. All I want from progressives and Democrats is an admission that this slanted distortion of journalism is wrong—bad for the democracy, bad for the civic literacy of citizens, bad for society. That’s all! What I get, even from otherwise fair and rational readers of Ethics Alarms, is rationalizations and denial, aping the protests of the journalists themselves. Morrissey is a very restrained and circumspect writer, but he’s obviously angry. So am I. The point is, so should be every American regardless of political bent who cares about the truth.

Other conservative writers have been in grand form on the politicization of Robert Dear’s murder spree. Here’s the always razor-sharp James Taranto, of the Wall Street Journal: Continue reading

Children Make Us Stupid, Or “Why Are U.S. News Networks Assisting Brutal Palestinian Propaganda?”

child victim

“Children make us stupid” is but a corollary to the law often stated here, “Bias makes you stupid.” Our natural bias in favor of caring for, protecting and seeking happiness for children is genetically wired into our being. Thus, in action movie after action movie, when the villain puts a gun to a child’s head, the hero invariably drops his weapon, apparently giving the world over to dictatorship, pestilence or death to save one rosy-cheeked kid. (Well, except for Dirty Harry, who picks off the creep holding the gun to the kid’s head with one well-aimed shot.) The trade-off is really, really stupid, and not ethical either: sacrificing the welfare of the many for a single child is simply illogical and wrong. But to those sentimentalists who don’t strain themselves by thinking, and to cynical politicians who know better but also know that convincing morons is all it takes to win “a majority” ( “…if even one child’s life can be saved…“—President Obama, 2013 State of the Union Message), the human bias that gives irrational priority to children is pure gold.

Obama’s use of the false ethic was  his call for gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, in which an anomalous attack on a grade school was used to make it seem like children were being hunted down like rabbits. We are currently watching another classic demonstration of the “children trump everything” fallacy, and it is both a logical and an ethical fallacy:  the emotional and irresponsible rhetoric over the fate of the unaccompanied South American children being sent to the United States as a predictable response to Democratic promises of a better life, a college education, and eventual citizenship. The fact is that child illegal immigrants are just as illegal and just as undesirable as any other variety: they are just cuter, sadder, less culpable and easier to use to demonize principled opposition.

It is not surprising that the Palestinians, who pioneered using children as suicide bombers, figured out that sacrificing their own kids might be a dandy way to turn public opinion against Israel in its long, mad, apparently endless quest to eliminate the Jewish state. Israel turned over control of Gaza to the Palestinians there, and the Palestinians elected Hamas, which seeks, as written policy, the elimination of Israel. Instead of  using its resources to create a state and a stable infrastructure for society, Hamas spent millions importing and producing rockets, launchers, mortars, small arms, and even drones to do battle with Israel. It built a network of tunnels, and stockpiled the weapons in hospitals, religious sites, and crowded residential areas, using these locales to fire a barrage of rockets into Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On A Journalism Scandal

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Shame.

Executive Summary: Washington Post reporters Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin wrote a story for the website’s Wonkblog headlined, “The biggest lease holder in Canada’s oil sands isn’t Exxon Mobil or Chevron. It’s the Koch brothers.” The story was essentially false. It was based on easily disproved data from a progressive activist organization. Eilperin has close ties to both the environmental advocates opposing the Keystone pipeline, and desperately trying to turn public opinion against it. She also has tied to the White House. John Hinderaker, on Powerline, his respected conservative politics blog, exposed the Post story as a blatant misinformation with a likely political motive. The reporters responded with a jaw-dropping rationalization, and are currently being excoriated by the Post’s readers online.

The Facts: The Post article by Mufson and Eilperin begins: Continue reading

It’s Time To Play The Exciting New Broadcast Media Ethics Game, “Biased, Lazy, or Incompetent!”

Time to play

Ready to play, contestants?

All right! For your first test, consider President Obama’s recent statement in response to signs that Russia is preparing to invade Crimea in the Ukraine as an opportunistic territory grab made possible by the collapse of the Ukrainian government. He said in part…

” …we are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of the Ukraine. Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interests of Ukraine, Russia, or Europe… The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”

For background in answering this question, President Obama has often made sweeping threats regarding foreign oppression and military adventurism, but has established a pattern of doing little or nothing when the actions he warned other governments against taking occurred anyway. His “red line” warning about Syria was the most egregious example, but there have been others. Reporting on the most recent “warning” by the President, CBS stated that his credibility in such situations was “somewhat shaken” by the Syria debacle. [LAUGH SIGN FLASHES] I know, that’s a good one, isn’t it? “Somewhat” shaken! Elsewhere, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer pronounced Obama’s statement as flagrantly weak: Continue reading

Ethical Quote of the Week: CNN’s Jake Tapper

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“I choose to make it my job to not automatically believe what the U.S. government says…My job is to be skeptical. Skeptical of people like Edward Snowden, and skeptical of the U.S. government. My job is to not take for granted when somebody says ‘Oh, this is all just a made-up, phony scandal’ or ‘What this person did put the U.S. government at risk.’ It’s the exact opposite of my job to take what the government says at face value and say ‘This is the truth because the government says it, and the government never lies.”

—-CNN anchor Jake Tapper, in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Friday.

Jake Tapper, as he demonstrated frequently during his tenure at ABC News and has frequently in his news show host role at CNN, actually tries to be an objective, conscientious, unbiased reporter. As such, he is a shining beacon in the murky ethical wasteland known as American journalism

_________________

Source: The Blaze

Cuomo Interviewing Cuomo? Of Course It’s A Conflict!

The interesting question isn’t whether CNN’s Chris Cuomo blithely interviewing the Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo—who happens to be his brother–is a conflict of interest and an example of unethical journalism. Of course it is. The interesting question is what it tells us about the state of U.S. journalism that such an interview could even occur.

Here are two prominent provisions of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, requiring that ethical journalists…

  • “Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.”
  • “Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.”

Is there any question that a CNN anchor man interviewing his brother regarding anything whatsoever violates both of these? Real or perceived? Compromise integrity or damage credibility? Seriously?

Cuomo the Anchorman was interviewing Cuomo the Governor regarding the recent train accident. Conflict? Sure: the journalist is supposed to have only one duty, and that is to his audience. But Cuomo the Anchorman obviously has another, potentially confounding duty of loyalty to his interview subject, and this he must not have. It calls into question his willingness to probe and, if the facts warrant it, to ask uncomfortable questions of his subject. If Chris Cuomo’s duty to his audience unexpectedly requires him to breach his loyalty to his own brother, which will he choose? We don’t know. Perhaps Cuomo himself doesn’t know. He was obligated not to place himself in a situation where the question even needed to be asked.

The various defenses being offered are, I have to say, misguided and disturbing. The usually sensible Joe Concha of Mediaite writes that the controversy is “much ado about nothing.” His reasons are … Continue reading

Remember, This Is The Best Newspaper in America

All the News That’s Fit..oh, the hell with it.

From an editor’s note to the New York Times article, “Last Call for College Bars,” which originally ran on September 26:

“An article on Thursday described the effect of social media use on the bar scene in several college towns, including the area around Cornell. After the article was published, questions were raised by the blog IvyGate about the identities of six Cornell students quoted in the article or shown in an accompanying photo. None of the names provided by those students to a reporter and photographer for The Times — Michelle Guida, Vanessa Gilen, Tracy O’Hara, John Montana, David Lieberman and Ben Johnson — match listings in the Cornell student directory, and The Times has not subsequently been able to contact anyone by those names. The Times should have worked to verify the students’ identities independently before quoting or picturing them for the article.”

Think about this the next time you read a Times story from an anonymous source. Continue reading

Face-to-Face With a Subject

In February, my monthly legal ethics course for the D.C. Bar had a surprising attendee: former Senator Arlen Specter. I didn’t realize he was among the attendees until the break, when he walked up to me, looking like the photo of him I had placed in a PowerPoint presentation the very night before. He had a big smile, and barely gave me a chance to blurt out, “Hello, Senator,” before he grabbed my hand in a steel grip, pumped it, looked directly into my eyes, said, “Good job!” and slapped me enthusiastically on the back. Continue reading

Unethical Headline of the Year: Fox News

The headline:

“Obama Praises Indian Chief Who Killed U.S. General”

This is how Fox noted the upcoming publication of President Obama’s children’s book,  Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters (Knopf, $17.99), which pays tribute to 13 diverse Americans whose best traits he sees in his daughters, Malia and Sasha. Among the Americans honored is the legendary Sioux chief Sitting Bull, who, among other achievements, defeated the troops of General George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876. Sitting Bull earned his status as a great leader and hero of Native Americans, as he tried desperately tried to resist the incursion of the U.S. population into Indian territory. Continue reading