“This Is Chris. Like So Many Journalists, He Suffers From Crippling Trump Derangement Syndrome, And Researchers Are Desperately Searching For The Cure. Won’t You Help?”

President  Trump addressed the nation once again  this morning on the latest developments with the Wuhan virus pandemic. At the White House briefing,   the President brought the public up to date on additional measures the federal government is taking to minimize the illness’s spread. He also said that he had taken a COVID-19 test himself after being near to at least one individual who tested positive for the illness. Ann Althouse, who tries mightily to be fair to Trump, opined that the conference was “quite good…in content and tone.” I saw the video, and agree: it was certainly the best of his briefings on the virus so far.

But you see, Los Angeles Time White House reporter  Chris Megerian couldn’t report that the President was clear, and that matters seemed as well in hand as possible. Like—what’s your guess, 90%? 95%?  99%?— of journalists in the mainstream media, Megarian entered the room presuming that the President would fall short, and was determined to find something in his words or demeanor that his readers would view in a negative light, with his professional assistance, of course. So what did he find?

This… Continue reading

Breaking Ethics Thoughts: The White House Bars The NYT And Others From Its Press Briefing

accessdeniedWASHINGTON (CBS SF/AP) — The Trump administration ramped up its war against the press Friday, blocking several major outlets from a scheduled White House press briefing.The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN and Politico were among the news organizations excluded from the meeting, reportedly an untelevised gathering with the press instead of the usual on-camera briefing with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

I am not aware of the specific reasons for the action, but:

1.  I read the New York Times daily. It is routinely making every effort to present the actions of the Trump Administration in a negative light, often engaging in outright deceit to do it. It is behaving, as it has for years, as a Democratic Party organ.

2. CNN simply teems with anti-Trump hostility, in the tone of panel discussions, in the framing of the news, in the sneers and body language of its talking heads. This is not ethical journalism.

3. Politico is left-biased, but I haven’t followed it closely. The LA Times has conditions for use that I can’t meet. I’m not sure how biased they have been.

4. There is nothing per se unethical about a Presidential administration deciding that a news source it considers untrustworthy, unreliable and allied with groups that want to literally bring it down should be treated accordingly. Competent, unbiased, fair and ethical journalism is not an excessive requirement.

5. The response to Trump’s very clear warning to the news media last week was, “You can’t stop us, and we will be as hateful as we please.” This is his response to that. Hubris has its consequences. After MSNBC’s “Morning Joe’s” co-host Mika Brzezinski ‘s comment this week, some attitude adjustment seems to be mandatory. She said of the President,

“He is trying to undermine the media and trying to make up his own facts. And it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think. And that, that is our job.”

No, Mika, actually leaders always  lead, which always means trying to persuade the public.  That is their job. You job is to keep the public informed without telling them what to think, since as this statement proves, you don’t think all that well. At all.

6.  I am surprised that the Washington Post wasn’t shut out as well, especially after a slime job like this story.

7. Would I recommend this action by Trump? No. But it is a defensible response to a real threat to his ability to govern, and an informed democracy. It may not be a responsible or prudent response.

8. The best response would be for journalists to start doing their real job, and report the news fairly and competently without aligning themselves with political agendas.

____________________________

Pointer: Zoltar Speaks!

Collusion…But Then, As The Times Reminded Us, “These Are Not Ordinary Times,” So It’s OK

collusion

Over the weekend as the  2016 campaign’s first Presidential debate loomed, four news organizations published major stories pronouncing Donald Trump a liar, and essentially conferring on the Rationalization #22-ish Hillary “She’s not the Worst Liar” endorsement.

This was a new maneuver in the mainstream news medias full and open opposition of Trump that has left objectivity, neutrality and American journalism ethics in the dust. First came the The New York Times attack—the Times, as the flagship of U.S. journalism, had already given its blessing to biased coverage—with its “A Week of Whoppers“on Saturday. Politico, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times all followed the leader in short order. (Or followed orders in short…never mind, that doesn’t quite work.)

Contacted by a curious but gullible Brian Stelter, CNN’s biased but maybe a little less biased than he might be “media watchdog,” publication editors who were involved swore the timing was, as John Travolta says in “Face-Off,” “a  coinkydink!” Marty Baron, the executive editor of The Washington Post, told Stelter indignantly, “We don’t coordinate coverage with anyone else!”

“The four stories were welcomed by the Clinton campaign,” Stelter wrote.  “Aides cited the statistics in television interviews on Sunday.  However, there is no indication that the Clinton campaign was involved.” (That’s my emphasis, if you couldn’t tell.) Continue reading

California’s High Speed Rail Fiasco

The question posed by the unfolding California high-speed rail cataclysm is why the reaction to it should be a partisan or ideological issue at all. Are human beings capable of managing bias and learning hard truths from new information, or aren’t they?

High speed rail was promoted in California  as a green and virtuous way to propel commuters  from San Francisco to Los Angeles along at 220 miles an hour, completing the trip in a about  two and a half hours. It was going to involve minimal tax-payer cash,  with  billions arriving from private investors. It would be profitable, not requires state subsidies and be much less expensive than flying. Thus enthused and enlightened,  53.7 percent of approved the plan and a $9.95 billion bond.

It was a scam, a hustle, and a pack of lies.  Virginia Postrel writes at Bloomberg…

“California’s high-speed rail project increasingly looks like an expensive social science experiment to test just how long interest groups can keep money flowing to a doomed endeavor before elected officials finally decide to cancel it. What combination of sweet-sounding scenarios, streamlined mockups, ever-changing and mind-numbing technical detail, and audacious spin will keep the dream alive?”

Well said. I would add, “And will anyone learn from this fiasco?” Specifically, will anyone learn that ideologically-driven officials will always press policies in defiance of reality, if the public lets them, or more precisely, trusts them.

The Los Angeles Times published a stunning report on how corrupt this enterprise has been from the start. Here’s sample:
Continue reading

The Ethics Train Wreck That Never Stops: Ferguson’s Interim Chief Decides To Re-Write History

Al Eickhoff has been interim police chief in Ferguson since March, when he took over the  department upon after former Chief Tom Jackson’s  resignation. The LA Times recently interviewed him regarding how the Ferguson police handled the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, as well as related issues. In answer to one of the questions, he dropped this:

“We got a lot of negative notoriety and it all stemmed from Michael Brown’s body having to [lie] on the parking lot for 4.5 hours. The reason he was there for so long was because of hostile fire against our officers. We could not get to Michael Brown’s body.”

Wait, what? While there were reports that gunshots were heard during the period after Brown was killed by Officer Wilson, and there have been many explanations regarding why Brown’s body was allowed to lie in the street so long, hostile fire has never been alleged by anyone. Here was the New York Times’s detailed account of those controversial four hours on the subject: Continue reading

I Regret Being Obligated To Say It, But I Told You So…

You might want to get to know these guys, Mr. President: you are probably going to spend a lot of time with them in the history books.

You might want to get to know these guys, Mr. President: you are probably going to spend a lot of time with them in the history books.

(I have wrestled to the floor past urges to write a post like this, but this time, I think I have to.)

In May, I concluded a post about the “scandal trifecta” with this:

“Four years of hyperpartisan, arrogant, irresponsible, rudder-less and badly managed government have had the predictable result, and I will be stunned if we have yet seen the worst of it.”

I was not stunned, unfortunately. And we may see worse yet. We probably will.

May 2013 was far from the first time I noted the apparent vacuum of leadership in the Oval Office. Two years earlier, when the Administration was breaching security to take credit for Bin Laden’s death, I wrote, “To hell with “Hope and Change”…I’ll settle for responsibility and competence.” Of course, we have gotten neither, nor did I expect a different result even then. I didn’t expect a different result in January of 2009, to be frank. Oh, I hoped, as I think almost everyone but Rush Limbaugh and Mitch McConnell did, that Obama would prove adept at the job he had the audacity to seek.  Some Presidents with leadership credentials almost as thin as Obama’s have turned themselves into competent executives, though I suspect that those successes had the self-awareness and humility to know that they had some learning to do, as Obama does not. They also did not have a chorus of sycophants in the media and the public telling them how magical they were. It was quickly obvious, however, that President Obama’s concept of leadership was (and is) to give speeches, raise campaign funds, appoint loyalists, and sit back while they do the best job they can until they royally screw up, then express surprise and disappointment and let the same people have another crack at it.

And lie, of course. Can’t forget that. Continue reading

The Los Angeles Times, War, and the Reckless, Arrogant News Media

The Los Angeles Times feels that you need to see this photo, and sensationalism has nothing to do with it. No, really.

Our national news media, which is as biased as ever, more untrustworthy than ever, and less professional than ever, is also more self-righteous than ever, which, I suppose, figures. The most recent display of self-righteousness, along with gratuitous recklessness and arrogance, is the Los Angeles Times’ decision to publish photos of American soldiers posing happily next to the bloody mess that had been the bodies of Afghan suicide bombers. The Pentagon asked the Times not to run the photos, for obvious reasons. The mission in Afghanistan is hanging by a thread as it is, our relationship with the government and the populace serially wounded by a series of unnecessary events that placed the U.S. in a terrible light: in January, a video of Marines urinating on dead Taliban soldiers; in February, the botched disposal of copies of the Quaran, and shortly thereafter, the rampage of a deranged U.S. soldier, who went door to door killing Afghan civilians. Such episodes, and the publicity they receive, jeopardize American interests and cost lives, as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta explained while condemning the Times’ irresponsible decision. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Red Medicine Owner Noah Ellis

Red Medicine is a Beverley Hills restaurant; Noah Ellis is the owner. S. Irene Virbila is the Los Angeles Times restaurant critic, who, like most U.S. food critics, works at staying anonymous, which she had successfully done for sixteen years. Not being recognized served the needs of diners, who want to know what the food and service is likely to be at an eating establishment when the customer isn’t preparing to write a critique that can make the difference between a restaurant’s long-term success or failure.

Last week, Noah Ellis intentionally destroyed Virbila’s ability to perform this service, or at least made it more difficult. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: The Los Angeles Times

“If you can’t handle such a minor inconvenience, perhaps you should stay on the ground.”

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board, in an editorial called “Shut up and Be Scanned,dismissing the objections of travelers who find the gonad and breast-fondling patdowns now being used by TSA screeners embarrassing and obtrusive. Continue reading

The Trouble With Teachers Unions

The Los Angeles teachers union is demonstrating the difficult and complex ethical dilemmas endemic to all teachers unions. Because the unions represent teachers rather than their students, the unions can, and often are, placed in the position of supporting their membership to the detriment of the children the members have a duty to serve. And because the teachers who need the most protection from adverse employment actions are usually the worst and least dedicated teachers, a moderation of the unions’ priorities to recognize a duty to the students is less likely to occur.

The L.A. union’s president just announced that he was organizing a “massive boycott” of The Los Angeles Times because the newspaper has begun publishing a series of articles that explore student test scores to assess the effectiveness of Los Angeles public school teachers. Continue reading