Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/25/2020: Lies, Liars, Fake Headlines And False Narratives.

Good morning!

What’s it like outside?

1. The Sisyphus Report. Ethics Alarms is currently at its all time high water mark for followers, a number it has reached three times previously, only to fall back, sometime precipitously.

When you are trapped in your home, you tend to obsess about such things.

2. You know why, but still…the mainstream media isn’t fact-checking or pointing out the blatant, insulting lie from Nancy Pelosi yesterday regarding the House Democrats’ alternative “stimulus” bill that “Everything we’re suggesting just relates to COVID-19. It’s not changing policy except as it applies here.” That bill included [Pointer: The Blaze]:

  • A bailout for the U.S. Postal Service
  • Student loan debt forgiveness
  • Required same-day voter registration
  • Airline emissions standards regulations
  • Study on climate change migration
  • Collective bargaining provisions
  • Increased federal minimum wage for companies that accept government loans
  • Publication of race and pay statistics for corporate boards

I’m not even mentioning things like the millions designated for the Kennedy Center, because that was technically related to addressing harm caused by the pandemic.

As I and many others noted, the Democrats’ grandstanding effort to stuff the rescue bill with progressive agenda items related to climate change, the Green New Deal and other social justice wish list items was political posturing for the base, which was forgivable as long as they didn’t try to hold the nation hostage, which they didn’t, at least for very long. But Pelosi’s denial that her party did what it did in plain sight (for anyone who bothered to read the bill about it) is the stuff of Jumbos, and the news media was obligated to let the public know.

They haven’t, and presumably won’t. Instead, journalists will continue to factcheck and scream about every lazy, non-substantive misstatement of facts by the President, and back the Democratic cant that President Trump always lies.

A party whose leadership issues pure disinformation like Pelosi’s should be estopped from using the “Trump lies”refrain.  Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: CNN’s Jake Tapper

Observing the slow but steady deterioration of Jake Tapper, whom I once cited as an example of an ethical, objective and trustworthy journalist—it seems so long ago—has been excruciating to watch. He signaled yesterday that his transformation into just another AUC hack (That’s the Axis of Unethical Conduct: Democrats, the “resistance,” and the progressive mainstream media) is complete.

Tapper was  interviewing Rep. Ocasio-Cortez on his “State of the Union.” She blathered, as she is prone to do,

“We’re hearing every step from this administration- first, we were hearing it was a hoax, then we were hearing that everything is fine, then we were hearing that the fundamentals of the economy was OK – until the crash comes.”

Jake, from CNN, not State Farm (that’s him on the left above; yes, he used to be white) just let all of that go.

Well, as has been shown again and again to be of no avail as far as the Big Lie-masters are concerned, the President did NOT say the virus was a hoax. (he also never said that “everything is fine,” but never mind). I most recently explained this two days ago, here, and I’m sick of repeating it, frankly.

When he was properly criticized for allowing a false “resistance” narrative to go out over CNN’s imprimatur (whatever that’s worth these days) without uttering a peep of protest, Tapper issued this damning excuse via Twitter: Continue reading

Once Again, “The Good Illegal Immigrant.” Once Again, I Am Not Sympathetic

Nor should I be.

Nor should you.

Once again, the New York Times has published another of its entries into what I call “The Good Illegal Immigrant” files. The “good illegal immigrant” is a contradiction in terms, as much as “the good embezzler” or “the good bigamist.” This ongoing propaganda by the Times as the journalistic vanguard of the open borders mission of the American Left is in its fourth year. These features are stuffed with emotionally manipulative tales and quotes about the travails of residents of the United States who broke the law by coming here, and who continue to stay here, reaping the benefits that are supposed to be reserved to citizens while being nauseatingly self-righteous about it. The Times surpasses itself this time, with “Telling the Truth Wasn’t An Option” by Julissa Arce, illegally in this country from the age of eleven, whose dilemma was finally resolved when she married an American citizen.

It’s convenient that the title itself embodies a rationalization, indeed a couple whoppers from the Ethics Alarms list: #25, The Coercion Myth: “I have no choice!” and #31. The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now.” Telling the truth is always an option if one has the courage and integrity to be accountable. The headline applies to anyone who is engaged in an ongoing crime, or guilty of a past one, except that in this case, the individual feels uniquely entitled to not only avoid the just consequences of  her own actions, but to seek sympathy for her discomfort in doing so. Continue reading

Evening Ethics Catch-Up, 2/26/2020: Goodbye Baby Peggy And Baby “Whoops!”

Sorry, this is later that I intended…

I’ve been working on accounting ethics, which always slows down my metabolism to Galapagos tortoise levels…

1.Worst lie of the year (so far)…In Winter Park, Florida, Jorge Torres was found dead , zipped into a suitcase. Suspect Sarah Boone insisted that it was all a tragic mistake. They  were playing hide and seek, she said, and he just hid too well. A cellphone video, however, caught his cries for help from inside the suitcase, as she said, “That’s what I feel like when you cheat on me!” Boone, however, told police that the wacky couple thought it would be funny if he got inside the suitcase. They were drinking at the time and who hasn’t zipped up a loved one in a suitcase when spirits run high? Unfortunately, Sarah passed out on her bed, and when she woke up hours later, poor Jorge was dead.

That’s her story, and she’s sticking with it.

2. Remember “Baby Peggy”? Probably not, but she was probably the last living link to the silent movie era, and she died this week at 101. She was also one of the earliest examples of the child abuse that became routine in Hollywood. Baby Peggy, real name Peggy-Jean Montgomery, had made about 150 movies by the time she was five-years-old, and was a multi-millionaire at four. As has been the norm with child stars from Peggy through Jackie Coogan to Gary Coleman, Peggy’s parents stole her money and spent it all. They also let her risk life and limb in pursuit of her “art” that she was too young to understand. During her silent-film career, “Baby Peggy”  was thrown from a speeding pickup truck, narrowly escaped a horse trampling and survived near-drownings and incineration. Continue reading

Are Elizabeth Warren Supporters Really OK With Her Constant Lying? Why Is That?

In a moment that should define her cynical, dishonest, demagoguery-driven campaign for President, Senator Elizabeth Warren really and truly said yesterday, while campaigning in Iowa, “How could the American people want someone who lies to them?” This belongs in some kind of self-indicting Hall of Fame along with Hillary Clinton’s statement that all female accusers had a right to be believed. Even if one ignores Warren’s career-long misrepresentation of herself as being of Native American ancestry, her list of lies is material, long, and growing.

She falsely claimed that her children only attended private school. She falsely claimed she was fired from a teaching job because she was pregnant. The New Jersey bar had to correct her after she claimed to be the first woman to take the New Jersey Bar while breastfeeding.  In another effort to pander to women, Warren has said that she faced a #MeToo moment when she was a young law professor who was “chased around a desk” by her predator, harassing superior….who, it turned out, had polio, and couldn’t chase anyone. He was also a friend and mentor whom Warren eulogized at his funeral, but apparently was fair game for her to slander for her own purposes once he was dead and couldn’t defend himself.

But on second thought, why would you ignore her amazing “I’m an Indian too!” charade (Pop culture quiz: What Broadway musical is that line from?)? Here’s a neat summary from the Federalist: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “The Many Species Of Fake News”

Few things make me happier than when a commenter relieves me of the duty of writing about a topic.

In 2017, after the New York Times published a spectacularly dishonest list of President Trump “lies” since his inauguration,  I wrote a post demonstrating just how outrageously the Times was warping the meaning of “lie,” and also applying a biased standard to Trump’s statements. I wrote,

In presenting this unethical project, the Times took unethical advantage of its readers’ confirmation bias. When the “Lie” list was printed, the Times made certain that it would require super-human dedication and extraordinary eyesight to read it, through the devices of listing every item and the Times commentary in horizontal sequence and in half the usual size type-face. (See above) This ensured that almost no readers would make the Herculean effort to read the whole thing , especially since the well-trained Times readers already “knows” that Donald Trump is a liar. In addition, the explosion of tiny words created the visceral response of “Wow! Look at all those lies!” which is exactly the effect the Times editors wanted.

But that isn’t reporting, and it isn’t journalism. The “list” was a page-size, visual, ad hominem attack. The Times wasn’t seeking close scrutiny of its list, nor was it interested in making any rebuttal easy or likely.

We have learned that the Times list was largely assembled from various fact-checker columns. That is a red flag, and explains many of the most embarrassing inclusions on the list. None of the fact-checkers are trustworthy. All of them are biased, Snopes and PolitiFact worst of all, and they consistently register opinions that the writer disagrees with as “false.” Many, many of the items on the Times list are in this category.

The entire exercise was an extension of #16 on the Fake News list, “Dishonest Factchecks. Here was a typical “lie” according to the Times, and its “proof”:

Jan. 21 “A reporter for Time magazine — and I have been on their cover 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time magazine.”

Says the Times, “Trump was on the cover 11 times and Nixon appeared 55 times.”

Trump was making the general point that he had been on TIME’s cover a lot. He guessed that the number was 14 or 15; it was 11. That is what is known as a  non-material misrepresentation: it’s meaningless and harmless, and certainly not an intentional deception. (“Heh, heh…I’ll make those poor, gullible fools think I was on TIME”s cover 14 times when it was ONLY ELEVEN!! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!) Then he said he “thinks” that’s a record. When someone says “I think” it means the speaker is acknowledging that he may be wrong. But Trump is not accorded the usual leeway given to everyone else, including other elected officials.

When a list includes something this clearly contrived, that list has no credibility. I found going through the Times list annoying, then shocking, and finally infuriating. So when the Washington Post pulled the same stunt, I kept putting off giving it the same treatment that I did the Times’ exercise in lies about lying.

Thus I was thrilled to receive this Comment of the Day from stalwart Steve Witherspoon, on the post, The Many Species Of Fake News: Continue reading

President Trump Has This Unfortunate Habit In Common With The Clintons: He Lies For No Reason

Bill Clinton’s proclivity for lying in public just because he felt like it drove me dangerously close to stark raving mad. He lied about trivia and substantive matters; he lied when it was easy to check his facts. Hillary’s similar penchant arguably was more infuriating, because she was so bad at it. She would be President today if she had just  admitted that she screwed up by using a “home-brewed” server. All she had to say was that she didn’t understand the technology and made serious mistakes, even to the extent of sending messages that contained classified material and violating her own department’s policy. She could have done this in 2015, and never heard a peep about the matter again. Not that I was sorry to see her torpedo her own candidacy, but still: how ridiculous and unnecessary.

The Democratic/resistance/mainstream media narrative about Trump’s lies is exaggerated and hypocritical, especially giving the stream of whoppers that routinely issue from Pelosi, Schumer, Warren, Schiff and others. Unlike other “resistance” themes, however, it isn’t entirely unwarranted. Trump, as I have noted for a long time, just says stuff; half the time I’m pretty sure he believes complete fantasy when he says these things. That’s not a mitigation. A U.S. President can’t responsibly do that, but Trump does, has, and presumably always will. This is Julie Principle territory: Fish gotta swim, Birds gotta fly, When he’s off script, Trump’s gonna lie.

Shortly after he was elected, I wrote,

Donald Trump, more than any national figure in my lifetime,  requires a careful, measured application of The Julie Principle to serve everyone’s best interest. Screaming “TRUMP IS TRUMP! ARRGHHHHH!” for four years will do no good at all. Find a way to co-exist with him so his negative proclivities do as little damage as possible and his positive ones have a chance to thrive, and save the explosions of indignation for substantive matters where opposition is essential.

All of that said—and did I call it, or what?—it is astounding to me that after three years in office we still have to endure infuriating episodes like the constantly shifting explanations for why General Soleimani was droned.

From the interview with Defense Secretary Mike Esper on “Face the Nation” yesterday:
Continue reading