Tag Archives: journalistic integrity

The News Media Signals That It Intends to Have Biased Coverage, And Journalism Ethics Be Damned

"Wait---why would anyone think Obama's 2012 campaign spokesperson wouldn't be capable of fair objective analysis of the 2016 campaign?"

“Wait—why would anyone think Obama’s 2012 campaign spokesperson wouldn’t be capable of fair objective analysis of the 2016 campaign?”

As Erik Wemple, the new media blogger of the Washington Post, reveals, NBC intended to sign on an irredeemably  conflicted and biased “political analyst” for the upcoming campaign and election until her ongoing conflict of interest was made too obvious to hide. When  Politico’s  Mike Allen pointed pointed out that this announcement from the network…

Stephanie Cutter has joined NBC News and MSNBC as a Political Analyst. She will contribute exclusively on a range of topics across all platforms including Meet the Press, TODAY, Nightly and MSNBC.”

…was made the same DAY  a New York Times story,  “Obama Mobilizes Campaign Veterans to Push for Court Nominee,” by Michael D. Shear and Eric Lipton reported…

“[Stephanie] Cutter … will oversee the efforts by the new group, to be called the Constitutional Responsibility Project. Anita Dunn, the former White House communications director, is handling the news media, along with Amy Brundage, a veteran Obama aide. Also involved are Julianna Smoot, the chief fund-raiser for Mr. Obama’s campaigns; Paul Tewes, Mr. Obama’s top field operative in 2008; and Katie Beirne Fallon, the president’s last legislative director.”

…even the shamelessly partisan NBC had to backtrack. Were they really willing to promote and pay a previous Obama campaign spokesperson as an objective and independent analyst while she was being paid to promote a politically charged Obama agenda item? Apparently not—not yet, anyway. This is, of course, a textbook, unresolvable conflict of interest, though NBC avoided that clarifying phrase. The official announcement from the network cancelling the deal with Cutter before the ink was dry on her contract stated:

“We look forward to Stephanie’s insights on our air during this election year, but she will appear as a guest and not as an analyst due to her leadership role in the battle over the President’s Supreme Court nomination.”

This is a porous band-aid on a gushing ethics wound on the journalism establishment, but good enough, I’m sure, for either the average inattentive TV viewer or the partisan Democrat who thinks, for example, that it’s fine to have Democratic operative Donna Brazile posing regularly as an objective commentator on ABC and CNN. Wemple even seems to praise NBC for making the call, even though it is outrageous that any network would dare to hire a demonstrably dishonest Democratic Party hack like Cutter and pronounce her capable of competent analysis, much less objectivity. Continue reading

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Unethical Donald Trump Quote Of The Day: Whatever It Was That He Told The New York Times “Off The Record” That The Times Unethically And Unprofessionally Allowed Its Staff To Talk About, Putting Trump In An Impossible Bind That He Should Have Been Able To Rely On A Respected News Source Not To Put Him In…

new-york-times-nytimes-building-cc

Let me be clear: The New York Times has shown itself to be partisan, untrustworthy, and no longer fit to be regarded as the flagship of American journalism. The fact that they did this at the expense of Donald Trump, an existential danger to U.S. culture and governance, in no way mitigates the betrayal of journalistic ethics the Times’ conduct represents.

From Buzzfeed:

The New York Times is sitting on an audio recording that some of its staff believes could deal a serious blow to Donald Trump, who, in an off-the-record meeting with the newspaper, called into question whether he would stand by his own immigration views.

Trump visited the paper’s Manhattan headquarters on Tuesday, Jan. 5, as part of a round of editorial board meetings that — as is traditional — the Democratic candidates for president and some of the Republicans attended. The meetings, conducted partly on the record and partly off the record in a 13th-floor conference room, give candidates a chance to make their pitch for the paper’s endorsement.

After a dispute over Trump’s suggestion of tariffs on Chinese goods, the Times released a portion of the recording. But that was from the on-the-record part of the session.

On Saturday, columnist Gail Collins, one of the attendees at the meeting (which also included editor-in-chief Dean Baquet), floated a bit of speculation in her column:

The most optimistic analysis of Trump as a presidential candidate is that he just doesn’t believe in positions, except the ones you adopt for strategic purposes when you’re making a deal. So you obviously can’t explain how you’re going to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, because it’s going to be the first bid in some future monster negotiation session.

Sources familiar with the recording and transcript — which have reached near-mythical status at the Times — tell me that the second sentence is a bit more than speculation. It reflects, instead, something Trump said about the flexibility of his hardline anti-immigration stance.

So what exactly did Trump say about immigration, about deportations, about the wall? Did he abandon a core promise of his campaign in a private conversation with liberal power brokers in New York?

Sure, I’d like to know. I’d love to know if the single issue that has made Trump the most unqualified and unfit Presidential nomination front-runner in U.S. history has been manipulated by him to gull his easily gullible, “poorly educated” supporters. Maybe the knowledge that he has no intention of deporting millions and building a wall would make them see him as the cynical con man he obviously is. That doesn’t matter, though. We shouldn’t know what Trump said off the record, and we shouldn’t  know that any off-the-record comments were made. That the New York Times’ staff is so undisciplined and unethical that it would gossip about such a session shows the paper’s commitment to principles of journalism ethics to be inadequate for a small town weekly rag. Continue reading

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Jumbo Alert, As An Integrity And Corruption Check For Pundits, Journalists, And All Your Hillary Clinton-Defending Friends Looms

Jumbo film

The real test of when someone will lie to your face is when they will insist that their former, perhaps bias-supported but still sincerely-held position is still valid after all justifications for it have vanished. This is Jumbo territory, the point where Jimmy Durante, giant elephant in tow, shrugged to the accusing sheriff in front of him and said, “Elephant? What elephant?” That, however, was a joke. This is tragic.

Many of us knew we would reach this point long ago, of course. As many, including me, have documented since the New York Times first broke the story of how Hillary Clinton had defied policy, best practices, competent national security management, technology common sense and perhaps the law by receiving and sending her official State Department e-mail on a home-brewed server. First she said there was nothing improper about doing this, then she said she had received no classified information, then she said she had received no material marked classified. She trotted out rationalizations: “everybody did it,” “other Secretaries of State did it,” “don’t sweat the small stuff,” ultimately adding a rationalization to the list, “It wasn’t the best choice.”

Those of us who have followed the pattern of Clinton scandals over the years knew that her camp was running out of smoke when it defaulted to the old “vast right wing conspiracy” diversion that worked so well—for a while—during the Monica Mess. The facts have been pretty clear for a while now, to anyone with the honesty and fairness to acknowledge them. Hillary Clinton, for her own convenience (as she has said) and to keep her communications out of the view of Congress, the public, political adversaries and law enforcement as she mixed personal business, politics and influence peddling with her official duties, willfully endangered US security and even the lives of intelligence personnel by handling official communications in an insecure manner.

The FBI has been investigating all of this—not her, her campaign keeps reminding us, just the e-mails!—and the State Department, which has been acting as a partisan ally when it’s duty is to the American people, finally was forced by a judge to review and turn over the e-mails involved, other than the ones Clinton had destroyed by her lawyer (nothing suspicious or irregular about that). With each new batch revealed, more e-mails that contained classified information have been found. Former Defense Secretary and CIA director William Gates said this week that Russia, China and Iran, among other foreign nations, probably hacked Clinton’s e-mails, “given the fact that the Pentagon acknowledges that they get attacked about 100,000 times a day.” Meanwhile, State has identified over 1,200 emails that it deems classified were sent over Hillary’s private server, making her first denials ridiculous, and her ultimate denials an admission of gross negligence and stupidity, even if they were true. The Secretary of State didn’t discern that any of 1200 e-mails contained information requiring care and confidentiality? This is the “I’m not corrupt, I’m stupid” defense, which is one no Presidential candidate ought to be allowed to get away with, especially one being extolled by the current President for her alleged competence and experience.

Now the walls, and the facts, are closing in. Yesterday, the Obama administration confirmed for the first time that Hillary Clinton’s home server contained closely guarded government secrets, and announced that 22 emails that containing material requiring one of the highest levels of classification were so sensitive that they could not be released.  Is that clear? These are communications that were on an insecure server, vulnerable to hacking, that Clinton saw, and either didn’t recognize as such—she’s not that stupid—or didn’t care enough to start being responsible. With such e-mails, it doesn’t matter if they are marked: they are self-marking: big, loud, throbbing documents that any Secretary of State, even Secretary Gump, must know are classified because of their content.

The State Department revelation came three days before  the Iowa presidential caucuses, and, incredibly, the Clinton campaign complained about the timing! Yes, it is certainly outrageous to let voters know about the duplicity and incompetence of a candidate for President before they vote for her. This is how Clinton thinks. If that doesn’t bother you, get help.

Federal law makes it a felony for any government employee to mishandle classified information, and here comes the integrity check. With this new information, Clinton has no defense. By definition, allowing top secret information to be received and perhaps forwarded on an insecure, private server is mishandling, and illegal.  Clinton’s campaign, of course, is lying and spinning: the current tactic is to dismiss this as an inter-agency dispute over what is classified. (The Clinton-enabling Vox made bolstering this deflection the centerpiece of its “explainer”) However, when the current State Department is so sure of 22 e-mails’ top secret character that it feels it must withhold them from the public and the media, it is obvious that this was no close call, especially since State has been covering and spinning for Hillary to a disgraceful degree already.

So the facts speak: Yes, she lied. Yes, she endangered U.S. security. Yes, she willfully exposed classified documents to hacking by our enemies. Yes, she did this for her own personal and political benefit.

Yes, she broke the law, and this law ain’t jaywalking. Continue reading

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Note To The News Media: You Can’t Claim Hillary Apologized Until She Acknowledges The Lying

"Clinton Lies? Sure, you're cleared! Go on in..."

“Clinton Lies? Sure, you’re cleared! Go on in…”

Almost a month ago, in a post titled “Ten Ethics Questions For Unshakable Hillary Voters,” I wrote,

Hillary could have said, when this first arose, “I am sorry. I was foolish and irresponsible, and I never should have used a private system for official business. It was a serious breach, and I will cooperate completely by turning over all of my e-mails to the State Department.” That she didn’t can only mean 1) that she has something really bad to hide, 2) she isn’t sorry, 3) is stupid, 4) just reflexively lies whenever she is in trouble, and arguably all of them. Do you think someone like that should be President under any circumstances?

Grasping that this was a problem,  the Democratic Party agents posing as objective reporters—that is, most of them—set out over the last month to nudge, hint, push, cajole and beg Mrs. Clinton to apologize for her e-mail fiasco whenever she allowed herself to be interviewed, which wasn’t often. Her responses still ranged from disdain (“With a cloth?”) to outright refusal (“I did nothing wrong”) to carefully calibrated deceit (“It wasn’t the best choice”) while her campaign and surrogates blamed the entire controversy on the GOP and officially termed it “nonsense.” Undaunted, and apparently convinced that even now, an apology from Clinton would magically make the problem go away, or perhaps more accurately, they would allow the apology to  make the problem go away,  the media kept pushing,either not comprehending or choosing to ignore the fact that the apology I hypothesized  would have only been effective if it had been Hillary’s immediate response when her use of a private server was revealed, and not a mere Plan F after all the denials, lies and spin had failed.

Plan E was an insulting non-apology, as Hillary told Andrea Mitchell that she was sorry…that the matter had “been confusing to people,” and that “there are answers” without actually providing any. (Mitchell didn’t feel that it was seemly to ask for these answers as a real journalist might, because, as she explained later, she was afraid it might upset Hillary’s campaign, and heaven forbid that she would do that.) Frustrated, the Hillary-enabling news media asked her to apologize again—We’re your friends, Hillary, don’t you see that? Just say the magic words “I’m sorry” somewhere in the vicinity to “private server” and we’ll do the rest, we swear, just as we have buried the implications of your greedy influence peddling through your foundation!–and finally, to ABC’s David Muir, she sort of  allllllmost did so, in one of the ugliest, most insincere apologies I’ve ever seen, heard or read.

As I had guessed, the news media decided Plan F was the best they were going to get, and began implementing their plan to treat this awful half apology as if it settled the issue. Here’s Chris Cilizza, the supposedly non-partisan Post political reporter, writing about Hillary’s falling poll numbers:

It’s uniquely possible that we are looking at the nadir of Clinton’s numbers. Her straight-up apology this week for having used a private e-mail server when she was secretary of state suggests that she may finally be listening to advisers (and donors) who see the issue causing major erosion in her numbers.

“Straight up apology?” That’s what Cilizza calls “straight up”? A scripted, grudging statement that essentially apologizes for the fact that deflection plans A-E didn’t work ( “I do think I could have and should have done a better job answering questions earlier”) while insisting that what she did was “allowed” and, ludicrously for a secret server, “above board,” followed by a robotic “I made a mistake” (what was the mistake?) and a rote “I’m sorry”? Continue reading

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Colbert And Matthews: You know, Guys,The American Public Deserves Better Than This.

Stephen Colbert

What we  deserve is fairness, truth, respect, and not to have the people with the biggest megaphones working overtime to mislead, corrupt and indoctrinate us.

First, Stephen Colbert.

The media drooling over Colbert taking over for David Letterman has been embarrassing and itself a symptom of anti-conservative bias. Colbert is versatile, smart and funny, but we have many such performers. He is only lovedlovedloved—as opposed to appreciated and admired– because he mocked Republicans and conservatives. and no one else, on his Comedy Central show. (So did Letterman on CBS in his dotage, but Colbert is sunnier and smarter than Dave.) Colbert can be another knee-jerk liberal mouthpiece if he chooses, but its a boring choice and ultimately diminishing: there is ample ammunition for satire and mockery in the conduct of all politicians. Representing otherwise on a big stage every night in an election year will ultimately become an exercise in cultural indoctrination and lazy punditry, like Bill Maher playing to the approving screams of his atheist, drug-loving, progressive audience. Maybe Colbert will get good ratings this way, but it’s not what he suggested would be his course in the run up to yesterday’s premiere on CBS.

I won a bet that I hoped he would lose: I bet that Colbert would mock Trump, and leave Hillary alone. And so he did. Maybe he will make up for this in later shows, but I doubt it very much after his demeanor last night. Trump is an easy mark: Conan has been mocking him for years. But it is Hillary who has provided the best material for a genuine, Equal Opportunity satirist, especially her Manchurian Candidate, robotic “apology” statement from earlier in the day. Talk about creepy…and, if the possibility didn’t exist that this pod person might end up in the White House, comedy gold:

Especially since she didn’t genuinely apologize for anything. Continue reading

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Tales of The Corrupted: David Ignatius’s Hillary E-mail Scandal Whitewash, PART TWO….And, As Usual, The Sequel Is A Horrible Disappointment

David Ignatius: Liar, undisclosed Clinton operative, disgrace. Your move, Washington Post.

David Ignatius: Liar, undisclosed Clinton operative, disgrace. Your move, Washington Post.

This, it turns out, is even worse than I thought. Ignatius, whom I once respected, is more corrupted than I thought. The mainstream news media’s shameless and unethical enabling of Hillary Clinton’s lies and misconduct is worse than I thought, and I already thought it was bad.

In this post, I highlighted an op-ed column by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, which used classic rationalizations to argue that Clinton’s conduct wasn’t a “scandal’ because 1) it wasn’t a crime; 2) if it was a crime, it was unlikely to be prosecuted; 3) everybody does it, and 4) the public is used to such misconduct, so it can’t be a scandal.

One of Ignatius’s sources, extensively quoted, was, in his words, “Jeffrey Smith, a former CIA general counsel who’s now a partner at Arnold & Porter, where he often represents defendants suspected of misusing classified information.”

What I didn’t know, and Ignatius’s readers didn’t know, but Clinton knows, and Smith knows and Ignatius definitely knew but intentionally didn’t disclose to his readers, was that Jeffrey Smith… Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: CBS’ Major Garrett

major_garrettDuring President Obama‘s Iran deal press conference,  CBS’ Major Garrett broke ranks with his softball lobbing colleagues  by asking, “Why you are content with all the fanfare around this deal to leave the conscience of this nation, the strength of this nation unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans?”

President Obama flared, reprimanding the reporter by snarling, “That’s nonsense, and you should know better.”

Garret was immediately criticized for being disrespectful. CNN’s Dana Bash criticized her colleague,  opining that “There’s a fine line between asking a tough question and maybe crossing that line a little bit and being disrespectful, and I think that happened here.” Bill Maher ran to fetch the typical weapon of last (first?) resort employed by Obama apologists since January, 2009: the race card. “Major Garrett is a huge asshole,” he tweeted.  “If U wanna “strike a nerve” with POTUS, why not just scream the N word? That should get his attention.” Garrett has been unapologetic.

No doubt: it was a hostile question. A decade or more ago, I might have thought it crossed a line. But the issue Garrett raised was an important and obvious one in the context of the President once again cockily taking a victory lap over a dubious achievement, and for this citizen, at least, it gave me hope that the mainstream media’s days of serving as a virtual Pravda to a leader’s every move might be slowly coming to an end. The media’s deference to this President has been disgraceful and has undermined our democracy, public discourse, trust in the press  and the right to know what our government is doing. CBS’s Steve Kroft actually admiited—proudly!—that his “60 Minutes” was a favored venue for Obama because he knew that he would be treated with kid gloves. Continue reading

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