“Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias”: Roll Over, Ed Murrow!

CBS News, once symbolized by iconic journalists like Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite and Fred Friendly, is now more appropriately defined by disgraced partisan hack Dan Rather. The past week has demonstrated how far the ethics rot has progressed, or, perhaps, how illusory CBS’s reputation for integrity really was.

In truth, CBS has had a bad month, marked by the Sharon Osbourne debacle on “The Talk.” In that mess, the network allowed the reality show figure turned pundit to be tarred as a racist for not agreeing that Piers Morgan was one when he dared to doubt the sincerity of Princess Meghan, a pretty obvious self-promoting celebrity sociopath. But she’s “of color,” so criticizing her is per se racism according to Woke Law.

Ethics Alarms also flagged the current level of CBS’s trustworthiness in news reporting yesterday, noting,

“…CBS News recently ran a report titled “Asian Americans Battling Bias: Continuing Crisis” in which it stated,  “Nearly 4000 crimes against Asian-Americans have been reported since the start of the pandemic, an increase of about 150 percent in major U.S. cities.” Then it showed  videos of former President Trump calling coronavirus the “Kung Flu.”….In order to inflate the numbers, ratchet up hysteria and attack Trump, [CBS] used numbers from Stop AAPI Hate, led by Arizona State University Professor Aggie Yellow Horse and San Francisco State University Professor Russell Jeung, an “incident” tracker launched in March 2020….The “tracker” counted anonymously reported  incidents, which of course could not be checked or verified. The latest report showed nearly 4,000 of them, most consisting of “verbal harassment” and “shunning.” Those are not “hate crimes.”

But CBS was just getting started. On last night’s “60 Minutes” deceptively edited an exchange that reporter Sharyn Alfonsi had with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) two weeks ago about how Florida was handling its vaccination program. Here is how the exchange was presented:

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Saturday Ethics End Notes, 4/3/2021: “Let it be written, let it be done!”

You can’t blame me for featuring this ethics landmark today: On April 3, 1948, President Truman signed the Economic Assistance Act, commonly known as the Marshall Plan, which authorizing the a program to help the nations of a war-torn Europe to rebuild. The effort was designed to stabilize Europe economically and politically so that the Soviet Union would not be able to spread communism further. U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall gave the plan its name with a speech at Harvard University on June 5 of the previous year. He proposed that the European states meet to agree on a program for economic recovery, and that the U.S. would would help fund it. The same month Britain and France invited European nations to send representatives to Paris to follow-through with Marshall’s formula. The USSR, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland declined the invitation. The resulting Committee of European Economic Cooperation eventually presented its plan to Congress, which authorized the “Marshall Plan” on April 2, 1948. The next day, it was signed into law.

  1. It’s that time again! The Cecil B. DeMille classic “The Ten Commandments” airs at 7 p.m. tonight on ABC. I recommend renting it for a few bucks on Amazon Prime: commercials now add a full hour to the movie, which is already one of the longest U.S. films ever made. I watch the 1956 jaw-dropper at least once every year. No movie ever blew my mind like that one did when I saw it as a child, and, I noted with amazement last week when I watched it again, certain scenes still blow my mind now, like the Exodus, easily the greatest crowd scene that ever had been or ever will be. My top ethics notes:
  • The screenplay’s direct condemnation of slavery in Moses’ early speech is remarkable for the period, and gutsy for the most expensive movie ever made (to that point) that needed big audiences from the old Confederate states during the middle of a growing civil rights movement.
  • Like Ted Williams’ home run in his last at bat, DeMille bet everything on his biggest challenge at the end of his career when he had already made Hollywood history and was a living legend….and he succeeded. I admit, I’m a sucker for that. The movie killed him, essentially: CB suffered a heart attack while directing the huge scene where Moses leads the Jews out of Egypt, and never recovered. I’m sure he’d say it was still worth it.
  • As a director, I have learned that the greatest and most frightening challenge is trying to top yourself. I admire the artists who attempt it, and especially those who succeed. DeMille had already made a silent movie version of the story that stood as the top-grossing film of all time until his own talkies broke its record.
  • I cannot think of a better example of the ethical principle that if you are going to do something that matters, do it right and don’t cut corners. Like David O. Selznick’s “Gone With The Wind,” TTC is filled with astounding grace notes and details that are the mark of a perfectionist. On this week’s viewing, I noticed for the first time that when we see Egyptian princess Nefertiri primping in a mirror, her image is dark and indistinct. That’s because glass mirrors were unknown in ancient Egypt: the mirror is polished metal.
  • The 1957 Oscars , which largely snubbed De Mille’s masterpiece, show how bias makes you stupid, and how little the movie community understands its own medium. “The Ten Commandments” was the movie of the year and everyone knew it: it was the top grossing film and had scenes that were immediately recognizable as likely to become legendary (like the parting of the Red Sea.) But most of the Oscars, including Best Picture, went to “Around the World in 80 Days,” the over-stuffed “spectacular”—unwatchable now— made by industry darling Mike Todd. DeMille didn’t even rate a Best Director nomination. He was considered a conservative pariah and a dinosaur, and the “new Hollywood” wouldn’t bring itself to recognize an old pro doing his best work.

2. And now, speaking for the arrogant, biased, not as smart as they think they are people who lie to you daily, Lester Holt! At the 45th Edward R. Murrow Symposium at Washington State University, Holt received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, presumably because they had to find a black journalist to give the thing to. Among his comments, which generally proved the stunning lack of self-awareness of himself and his industry, he said, .

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April Fools Ethics Warm-Up, 4/1/2021: I Am Not Fooled Nor Fooling

april-fools-day-banner

I have come to detest April Fool’s Day, and cultural developments have shown me that, as William Saroyan liked to say, “I’m right and everyone else is wrong.” Early in the history of Ethics Alarms, more than ten years ago, I dared to criticize—indeed, called unethical—a blogging criminal defense lawyer who falsely announced that he had taken on a new prestigious job (as I recall: it’s not worth checking what his exact lie was), and it was then reported as fact by the New York Times’ crack reporters. The announcement was an April Fool’s joke, you see, so my assertion that lawyers shouldn’t deliberately misrepresent facts, even on blogs, even in jest, even unrelated to cases and even on April First was set upon by the lawyer’s angry defense lawyer allies, who pummeled me here from all sides. I had, in fact, over-stated my complaint (Can you imagine ME doing THAT?), and I duly apologized to the lawyer. But his pals remained insulting and vicious, and I wasn’t wrong in the principle I was asserting. Professionals shouldn’t lie, ever. Even on April Fool’s Day.

1. Hart concedes. The rest of the story: Iowa Democrat Rita Hart announced late yesterday that she is withdrawing her demand that her loss in Iowa’s 2nd congressional district be overturned, so the House Committee on Administration will no longer be seeking a justification to do so. I wrote about the Democratic Party’s attempt to de-certify an election result after it proclaimed Republican efforts to decertify the Presidential election as “an insurrection” here. Apparently internal polls were showing that there are still some levels of perceived hypocrisy that the Democratic faithful won’t cheer on. That’s encouraging…

2. The concept at play here is “deceit.” I guess after having three straight Republican Presidents who couldn’t speak clearly, it shouldn’t be a shock that the GOP has allowed Democrats to get away with flagrantly dishonest language games. Still, the transformation of the term “voting restrictions” into something sinister is quite an accomplishment for the Blue team, as well as cynical and dishonest. Unless a nation is going to allow anyone alive on the planet to cast votes in its elections, “voting restrictions” are natural, logical and necessary. It’s the “restrictions” part that the pro-voting manipulation side has weaponized. “Restrictions” are baaaad. But the right, informative and descriptive word is voting qualifications. You have to be alive and living in the district where you vote: this is why voter rolls have to be purged of dead people and those who have moved away. You have to be a citizen, and who you say you are, which is why voting IDs are necessary. You have to register before elections, because otherwise vote harvesters will just pay large groups of poor, confused, bored or drunk passive citizens to the polls to vote as they have been instructed. You should have to vote in person, because all mail-in ballots, including early voting and absentee voting, create verification problems, and increase the chances of fraud.

I have neither the time nor functioning brain cells to delve into this issue competently here and now, but I would not find the imposition of other voting qualifications odious or unethical, including requirements of the minimal civic literacy we would expect of, say, a 12-year-old.

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Unethical Tweet Of The Week: Matt Zoller Seitz, With An Assist From Ann Althouse, Sliming Principled Whistleblowers

Stoller tweet

Let me preface this commentary with some disjointed points:

  • When tweets are involved, I should probably call this category “Unethical Tweet Of The Hour.” Minute, even.
  • Matt Zoller Seitz is a hard-left critic and screenwriter who sometimes opines for the proudly Left-Lunatic “Daily Kos.”
  • Ann Althouse’s reaction to this—she gets the EA Pointer for finding the tweet—puts me in mind of Captain Von Trapp’s rebuke to his friend, the venal and principle-free theatrical producer Max, in “The Sound of Music” film when Max tries to rationalize the Anschluss by noting that it was “peaceful”: “You know, Max. . . . . .sometimes I don’t believe I know you.”
  • She also professed ignorance at the tweet’s reference to “the Bruenigs.” See the note immediately above: it took me ten seconds to check the reference, longer than it must have taken Ann to write that she didn’t understand it. Matt Bruenig is a Socialist pundit, and Elizabeth Bruenig is a former columnist at the Washington Post of similar ideological sympathies, now with the New York Times. The Bruenigs have a podcast called “The Bruenigs.”
  • The “tweets” Althouse refers to relates to a re-tweeter of the Seitz tweet who added this shot from a film I couldn’t identify:

Preppy assholes

Sietz is scummily implying that criticizing the now obvious turn by the American Left to totalitarian-style speech suppression and the mainstream news media’s complicity in the process is the equivalent of Fifties-style, white prep school  conservatism mocked in films like “Auntie Mame,” Animal House,” and “Trading Places.” In fact, Greenwald, Sullivan, Yglesias and, though unsmeared here, Matt Taibbi are all left-leaning journalists or pundits of long standing who have had the integrity to break with their biased and unethical employers to blow necessary whistles on their former colleagues, as mainstream journalism has abandoned any pretense of doing its job while following its own ethics rules.

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If A Saturday Ethics Warm-Up Posts And Nobody Reads It….3/27/2021

Tree falls

Ah, Saturday! When about 12 people seem to be interested in ethics….when traffic falls off to a trickle here after noon…when it’s even more discouraging posting now than before the post 2020 election crash…when I get to read websites with hordes of visitors post about issues I posted on here days ago….when writing the blog seems even more futile and pointless that it usually does.

1 Here’s some good news…at least one Hollywood star knows her limitations. Aging sex-symbol and “Avengers” star Scarlett Johansson is apparently secure enough, brave enough or dumb enough to tell her colleagues, as they need to be told, “Shut up and act.” She said in interview with “The Gentlewoman,” a British magazine,

“I don’t think actors have obligations to have a public role in society Some people want to, but the idea that you’re obligated to because you’re in the public eye is unfair. You didn’t choose to be a politician, you’re an actor. Your job is to reflect our experience to ourselves; your job is to be a mirror for an audience, to be able to have an empathetic experience through art. That is what your job is. Whatever my political views are, all that stuff, I feel most successful when people can sit in a theater or at home and disappear into a story or a performance and see pieces of themselves, or are able to connect with themselves through this experience of watching this performance or story or interaction between actors or whatever it is. And they’re affected by it and they’re thinking about it, and they feel something. You know? They have an emotional reaction to it – good, bad, uncomfortable, validating, whatever.That’s my job. The other stuff is not my job.”

Thank-you. What she neglected to say was that shooting off their generally under-informed mouths about political matters actively undermines their jobs, thanks to the power of cognitive dissonance. For example, I literally cannot stand watching any film with Alec Baldwin or Robert De Niro in it at at this point. Their characterizations, no matter how well performed, are drowned out by their obnoxious public declarations.

2. As the Star-Tribune attempts to intimidate the Chauvin trial jurors.…the home town paper for the trial published this detailed set of profiles of the jurors, leaving all the cues necessary to doxx them. This just creates one more obstacle to a fair trial. The judge was asleep at the switch in handing out gag orders: with at least one potential juror dismissed because she was afraid of community reaction to a “not guilty” verdict, it was reversible error to allows this much information about the jury to get to the news media, which we know is both rooting for a guilty verdict and doing all it can think of to facilitate one.

The most recent Associated Press report on the case, like most mainstream media stories relating to Floyd, never mentions Floyd’s drugged-out condition, nor his Wuhan virus infection. He was killed by the knee of a racist white cop, and the only question in the trial is whether that racist cop will get the conviction he deserves. This is how most Americans understand the case.

Does the news media want riots?

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Wow, Bias Really DOES Make You Stupid!

The New York Times, like many shameless purveyors of left-leaning propaganda, has responded to the copious metaphorical blood drawn by the conservative (and funny) satire site The Babylon Bee by accusing it of being a “misinformation site.”

Morons.

Snopes, the dishonest “factchecking” site, has fallen into this pit of despond more than once, but then their idiocy is a matter of record (that places like Facebook choose to ignore for some reason). The Times’ political coverage has been sliding from slanted to dishonest to disgraceful, but I assumed—because I am a sap—that the paper was still above this.

No, it isn’t.

In a recent Times article, article, the Bee was referred to as an example of a “far-right misinformation site” that “sometimes trafficked in misinformation under the guise of satire.” This is approximately as valid as accusing the late Mad Magazine of being a misinformation vehicle. Fortunately, the people who run the Bee are not weenies. They responded,

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Ethics Quote Of The Week: Prof. Jonathan Turley

“Not only could Chauvin be acquitted or left with a hung jury, but the impact could be the collapse of all four cases. That will be up to the jury. But if there is violence after the verdict, it will be far worse if the public is not aware up front of the serious challenges in proving this case.’

—Prof. Jonathan Turley in a column for The Hill, explaining that a conviction for Derek Chauvin in the George Floyd murder trial in Minneapolis is far from certain despite the news media refusing to inform the public of that fact.

As is too often the case, Turley professorially states a critical fact without appropriate indignation regarding its implications. Not only has the news media, in Turley’s words, “failed to shoulder their own burden to discuss the countervailing evidence in the case, ” it has done so because “there is a palpable fear that even mentioning countervailing defense arguments will trigger claims of racism or insensitivity to police abuse.” What are these, children? Journalists are supposed to be professionals. Yet Turley says—correctly, unfortunately—they they are deliberately misleading the public, and making a violent reaction to the eventual verdict in Chauvin’s trial more likely by feeding a false narrative rather than conveying essential facts.

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Mid-Day Ethics Alarms, 3/22/2021: A Wonderful Father And A Judge Sees The Light, Though Others Not So Much…

Alarms2

1. Spitballing ethics? When everyone is throwing out ideas—you know, “Just say whatever crazy thing pops into your head, don’t worry whether it’s a good idea or a bad idea, just let ’em rip!” is it fair later to hold someone to account because a discarded idea was offensive or politically incorrect? I tend to think not.

Hiroshi Sasaki, the creative director for Tokyo Olympics, was participating in a brainstorming session about the opening ceremony with members of a committee a year ago, and at one point suggested that a popular overweight female Japanese comedian and plus-size fashion designer, Naomi Watanabe, be costumed in pig ears, perhaps a snout and curly tail, and parachute out of the heavens as an Olympic messenger: “Olympig.”

No? OK, bad idea. Let’s move on. The inspiration received immediate negative reviews in the private meeting, but when the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori, 83, resigned this year after saying that women talk too much in meetings, the year-old conversation about “Olympig” was recalled in an article on the website of “Shukan Bunshun,” a weekly magazine. Yes, one of Sasaki’s trusted colleagues had talked. (That’s an easy call: Unethical.)

So you know what comes next, right? Groveling. “Now many people know what I wrote. I cannot apologize enough to Ms. Watanabe,” he said, adding that he was a big fan of hers. “I have been trying not to hurt others by making fun of diversity, gender and physical appearances. But it was a great misunderstanding. I realized my low consciousness and insensitivity.” He resigned.

Now you know that at least for now, when someone says to just suggest whatever pops into your head, no filters, no fear, don’t.

On the positive side, it’s comforting to know that The Great Stupid isn’t just an American phenomenon.

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3/17/21 Ethics Wind-Down, 3/18/21 Wind-Up…Featuring “The Song Of The Year”

Wind-Up

There’s nothing quite like a flaming tooth-ache to spark an early-morning post…

1. Corporate incompetence, Indian-style: The Cleveland Indians knee-jerked themselves out of their history, traditions and name by somehow concluding that the Black Lives Matter rioting obligated them to abandon “Indians” just because the NFL Washington Redskins had capitulated to political correctness thuggery. Like all of baseball and most of professional sports, the team decided that signaling progressive virtue was more important than their fans. And like the Redskins, the team prepared to to go through the 2021 season without a new name…just nothing, as in “Cleveland Baseball Club,” or something similarly generic. Because of the unseemly, unnecessary and unplanned rush, the Cleveland Whatsis-es also made it difficult to come up with a new name. Changing a team name is a large and expensive mess, because the name and logo are on everything from the team’s merchandise to websites, sponsorship deals, and the ballpark. Trademarks are needed to protect them. “Advice for anyone doing any product: Before you make it public, file,” Andrew Skale, a San Diego-based trademark attorney told the New York Times.

“The U.S. trademark office offers this kind of unique ability to file when you haven’t started using it, so take advantage of that,” Skale said. “Because I’ve seen when people that have issued news releases about new products and haven’t filed yet, and then they have problems later because some idiots decided to squat on them.” Or maybe not such idiots. Because of the Ex-Indians moral panic, many of the names the team could have chosen based on its history and culture will be now be expensive.Trademarks were filed by squatters after Cleveland’s first announcement for “Cleveland Baseball Team” (from someone in Georgia), “Cleveland Baseball Club” (from a company in Ohio), “Cleveland Guardians” (from someone in New York), Cleveland Rockers (from someone in California), Cleveland Natives and Cleveland Warriors (though even the Ex-Indian aren’t so stupid as to wade back into Native American controversies again), and most of all, the Cleveland Spiders, which has been an early favorite. That was the name of the team. That was the name of the team for ten years, 1889-1899, when baseball players looked like this…

Spiders

The No-names are fighting some of these filings, because the Trademark Office tends to disfavor squatters. It all could have been avoided, though, if the team hadn’t wushed to be woke, thus joining The Great Stupid.

I wonder if “Spider McBaseballfaces” has been taken…

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Stupid Or Malicious? The “Anonymous Source” For The Washington Post’s Fake “Bombshell,” Georgia Deputy Secretary Of State, Jordan Fuchs [Corrected]

jordan_fuchs

This is a Hanlon’s Razor classic. In this post, I covered the mass smear of President Trump engineered by mainstream media sources led by the Washington Post. They all claimed that while still in office, “Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction.” Direct quotes were cited in which the President supposdly told the investigator to “find the fraud,” and several of the major news organizations falsely implied that their reporters had heard those words on the tape. They had not, and the President never said them. The recording, which was supposedly destroyed, turned up, and proved that the sole “anonymous source” who characterized the conversation mislead reporters, who then misled the public.

In the Ethics Alarms essay, I stated that the Post now had an obligation to reveal its “anonymous” source, because it had no justification for protecting the identity of someone who provided false information. Yesterday, the Post did reveal her identity: Jordan Fuchs, the Georgia deputy secretary of state, who had spoken with the investigator regarding the President’s call.

So this was not just hearsay, it was double hearsay. That was the basis of a Post story that made it seem as if the President was asking an investigator to manufacture evidence of election fraud. That was the basis on which the nation was l led to believe that a Republican President was trying to undo the Georgia presidential election.

[Note of Correction: I had incorrectly suggested that the Post account was published before the Georgia Senate run-offs. That was incorrect. I apologize for the error.]

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