Tag Archives: Lawrence O’Donnell

From The “Stop Making Me Defend Lawrence O’Donnell!” Files: The Golden Rule

A video has gone viral, mostly thanks to conservative websites and blogs, of MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell having an extended meltdown during the taping of his show, full of vulgar, expletive-laden explosions at his staff. Mediaite, the media gossip and news site, first released the video, and stitched together the multiple tantrums to make O’Donnell look especially ridiculous.

The tape resembles some classic moments from “SCTV on the Air,” the satirical syndicated ensemble comedy show ( with John Candy, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O’Hara, Ric Moranis, Joe Flaherty and Dave Thomas) that chronicled the mishaps of a struggling, fictional local TV station. It is indeed funny watching a news anchor lose it, and once he blows his gasket, O’Donnell is spectacular

You will not see Ethics Alarms criticizing O’Donnell, however. Nor will I link to the video.  (The clip of Steve Martin In “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” erupting at an airport rental car employee is as close as I will get.)  I know that I would be humiliated if one of my own bad moments during my work day, or after it, were surreptitiously videotaped and then leaked to the individuals I would least want to see it. I have had episodes, in the sparsely populated ProEthics offices, when stress, frustration, a series of horrible events and my own ineptitude have caused my emotions to boil over, and the resulting displays have not been something I would want shown to my grandchildren. If there is anyone who hasn’t had such episodes, I am awash in admiration.

I came close to having one today, in fact, after a string of annoyances was capped by the receipt of a summons from a deranged former commenter here, who is suing me for defamation because he says I was mean to him (I was; he deserved it) and wants me to pay him $100,000.  The suit is groundless and pure harassment, but I have better things to do with my time than deal with such things, and that did it for me.

My tirades are much more creative and active than O’Donnell’s. Also louder. Ask my wife.

There are few talking heads that I admire less than Lawrence O’Donnell. He is nasty, perpetually angry, and so left-biased that his head probably doesn’t turn to the right. I have been in the dark place where he was, however, and will be again. The only difference is that I do not have working with me the kind of unethical, vicious, back-stabbing  subordinates who would leak a video just to hurt me and my career. Continue reading

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

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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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Sandy Hook Massacre Ethics Train Wreck Special: Distortions From The Media, Excuses From The Biased, And A Call For Accountability

The Daily Beast, through the words of columnist David Frum. calls the latest disgraceful example of the news media bending the truth to manipulate public opinion regarding gun control, “The Newtown Heckling Controversy,.” This places that website on this train wreck as a Big Lie player. The classic formula for a Big Lie smear, for those of you who have read your Goebbels followers, is to make a blatantly false assertion, make the target of the unfair accusation deny it, and then treat it as a legitimate “controversy.” There is no controversy here, only liars and those who want to benefit from the lie, because there was no “heckling.” The real news story here is that the United States has not only developed an arrogant and ethics-free media establishment that no longer can tell true from false, it is getting more brazen by the day. There must be accountability.

The incident—or, as journalists who have decided that their jobs are not to report the news but to drive public policy in their favored direction would call it, the opportunity—occurred during the testimony before the Connecticut legislature by a parent of one of the Sandy Hook victims. [Note: I believe strongly that such testimony is itself unethical. Sorry. Legislation should be based on research, analysis, balancing, and objective analysis of what is in the best interests of the the public. There is literally nothing these parents contribute to this process, other than confusion, emotion, and dramatic video footage. They are not experts on guns, violence, the culture, the Constitution or the law. Their position is the epitome of bias. Their opinions are accorded undeserved weight by the media and mush-headed lawmakesr because they have suffered a personal , as if suffering confers sudden wisdom and balanced perspective. I know the practice is virtually routine, but it does no good, a lot of harm, and should be opposed by anyone interested in competent government.] Tearful and distraught, the grief-stricken father, Neil Heslin, said,

” I don’t know how many people have young children or children. But just try putting yourself in the place that I’m in or these other parents that are here. Having a child that you lost. It’s not a good feeling; not a good feeling to look at your child laying in a casket or looking at your child with a bullet wound to the forehead. I ask if there’s anybody in this room that can give me one reason or challenge this question: Why anybody in this room needs to have an, one of these assault-style weapons or military weapons or high-capacity clips.”

He waited, and glanced around the room. Then he said, “Not one person can answer that question!” Whereupon one clear voice with a several  others behind it call out,“The Second Amendment shall not be infringed!”

A moderator then says, “Please no comments while Mr. Heslin is speaking. Or we’ll clear the room. Mr. Heslin, please continue.”

This is what happened..this is what obviously happened. Heslin asked the occupants of the room a question posed as a challenge. Pro-gun advocates did not answer, assuming that despite the ambiguous form of the query—Heslin is not a skilled public speaker—it was a rhetorical question. Apparently Heslin didn’t think it was rhetorical, however, because he waited, as if for a response, and then made a statement that concluded unfairly, inaccurately and misleadingly that nobody in the room “can answer the question.” Predictably, a few then did answer his question, only to get slapped down by the moderator.

The headline writer at the Connecticut Post described this scene—falsely—as “Father of Newtown victim heckled at hearing.” That is a lie. Anyone who watches the video and equivocates in calling it a lie is allowing their judgment to be completely liquified by confirmation bias, or trying to facilitate a deception. Continue reading

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Boooo!

When we can’t even figure out what ethical conduct is, it’s hopeless.

Mitt Romney’s appearance before the NAACP this week gives us a classic and depressing example of how the collision of confirmation bias, an unprofessional news media, impenetrable partisanship and political cynicism not only obscure the truth, but make it literally—and I mean literally literally, not as Joe Biden uses the term, which is to mean figuratively—impossible.

Consider:

  • The media, in almost every case, highlighted the fact that Mitt Romney was booed by the NAACP audience when he swore to abolish “Obamacare.” Did you know that at one point in his speech, when Romney mentioned defending traditional—as in same sex—marriage, the audience applauded, and some stood? If you do, you only found out by digging into so-called “conservative media sources.” Why isn’t this more of a story than the booing? Why wasn’t at least part of the story? Isn’t that useful information? Why does the media want to show nothing but enmity between African-Americans and the Republican nominee? Why wouldn’t the fact that the audience was listening to the substance of his remarks and responding positively in some cases be significant?
  • The NAACP has criticized prominent Republicans for not accepting it invitations to speak, maintaining the fiction that this wholly owned  subsidiary of the Democratic Party is “bi-partisan,” as its charter falsely claims. Then when one of them accepts such an invitation, these gracious hosts boos him. Booing is bad manners at a baseball game; in this circumstance, it is infinitely worse. If Romney had advocated a return to Jim Crow or used a racial epithet, then maybe booing would be justified. He did not. He merely stated a policy position, repealing the Affordable Care Act, that audience members did not like. They boo him, and this indignity becomes the story, thanks to the media’s tunnel vision. Why would any Republican accept such an invitation? The NAACP has proved itself to be an unethical and abusive host. Continue reading

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Lawrence O’Donnell and the Missing Religious Bigotry Ethics Alarm at MSNBC

Really?

Religious bigotry? Hey, whatever works!

Is this really how it is going to be? Are the media protectors of President Obama really going to stoop to anti-Mormon bigotry to attack Mitt Romney?  First New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow writes disparagingly about the Mormon “magic underpants” with nary a peep of  protest or discipline from his bosses at the New York Times, and now MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell spews out this last night as Romney’s three primary wins were being tallied:

“Mormonism was created by a guy in upstate New York in 1830 when he got caught having sex with the maid and explained to his wife that God told him to do it. Forty-eight wives later, Joseph Smith’s lifestyle was completely sanctified in the religion he invented to go with it. Which Mitt Romney says he believes.” Continue reading

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Why Lawrence O’Donnell’s Interview With Herman Cain Wasn’t Unethical Journalism

Lawrence O’Donnell’s unconscionable roast of GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain —-no fair journalist would call it an “interview”—made me realize that broadcast journalism ethics have fractured to the point where it is unfair to apply the same ethics standards to different networks and programs. My initial reaction to seeing O’Donnell’s over-the-top performance was that it represented a new low in broadcast journalism interview ethics. Now I think that is unrealistic and unfair. O’Donnell’s conduct was what MSNBC’s audiences want to see, and what critics should expect to see. Herman Cain, the target in this case, consented to the abuse. Where’s the unethical journalism? There was no journalism. Continue reading

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Abuse of Power and Press Intimidation At The White House

"Hey, Herald! Get with the program!"

In response to a complaint by the Boston Herald about the limited access its staff would have to President Obama during his visit to Boston,  Matt Lehrich, an Obama aide, attributed the treatment to the White House’s objections to a front page opinion article by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in which he attacked the administration’s job-creation record. “I think that raises a fair question about whether the paper is unbiased in its coverage of the president’s visits,”  Lehrich told the Herald in an email.

And maybe it does. Then again, there is a mountain of evidence that hundreds of media outlets, including four of the five major TV news organizations, the New York Times, The Washington Post, and many others, are also biased in their coverage of everything this president does–favorably. Apparently the White House, which has already disgraced itself by repeatedly attacking the one critical network by name for the state offense of not falling into line, can’t abide the fact that some print journalists are as prone to be critical of him as Chris Matthews is likely to get tingles up his leg every time Obama opens his mouth. Their response? Make it harder for the unfavorably biased journalists to cover the news. Continue reading

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