(I hate roller-coasters.)
The last week has demonstrated clearly, I think we can all agree, that 1) there is an urgent need for Twitter to be de-politicized, stripped of partisan censorship, and become a trustworthy platform for the unfettered distribution of news, information and opinion to the public, and 2) Elon Musk is too much of a loose cannon to be the manager of Twitter’s reform.
Yesterday almost qualified as a meltdown, or a tantrum, or something. Maybe a joke. Who knows with him? He teased his withdrawal from the daily management of the reeling social media giant. He hinted that the company was teetering on bankruptcy. He put his continued tenure as CEO up for a vote, pledging to abide by the results.
Chaos. Musk is quite a bit like Donald Trump, which shouldn’t be surprising: the successful entrepreneur/ CEO/ autocrat/narcissist is a well-understood personality type, and management by chaos is a management style that can be very effective for the short term in a private company (but not the U.S. government). I worked for a chaos manager for seven years, and he was brilliant at it, but I decided then and there that I could never operate that way. It is hard on subordinates, employees and stake-holders; only the chaotic manager enjoys the pressure. It is a non-Golden Rule management style that relies entirely on utilitarianism as its ethical justification. Yes, the methods causes breakdowns, anxiety and constant crisis, but if it “works,” it’s worth the pain. That’s what Musk has been doing.
For some reason I’ve been getting accounts of a lot of overseas ethics controversies of late, like the German hospital patient who shut off her roommate’s oxygen machine because it was “too noisy.” The source of this ethics quiz is the UK, where a frustrated mother argues on a parenting site that it was selfish for a childless colleague to compete with her for a day off on Christmas, because she was a mother.
“Ok I feel terrible about this,” the indignant mom wrote in a thread on UK-based parenting site Mumsnet, as she explained that their manager told the two women to work out their conflict themselves, and let him know their solution. Continue reading
That obnoxious, bullying, uncivil and unprofessional memo from Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, is signature significance. Competent and effective managers don’t write and send memos like that, not even once. As a subordinate, I would resign after receiving such an email. As a supervisor, I would place a staffer who sent that memo on probation after requiring her to apologize to the recipient.
Chicago is one of the most difficult American cities to govern. Lightfoot is currently facing legal problems as a consequence of her discriminatory announcement that she would only do interviews with “journalists of color.” The email, just another of many pieces of evidence showing Lightfoot’s arrogance and incompetence.
This is what happens when voters elect officials based not on their management experience and revealed leadership skills, but on their gender and skin shade.
[Instapundit’s Ed Driscoll had a funny line about the email: “CHICAGO’S MAYOR MORPHED INTO JACK TORRANCE SO SLOWLY, I HARDLY EVEN NOTICED…”
Ellen DeGeneres’s brand and reputation have always been built on the illusion that she was nice. She was called the “Be Kind” Lady. Then, last July, BuzzFeed reported that several of her popular daytime talk show’s former and current staff members said they had been subjected to “racism, fear and intimidation” on the set. Other staff members said producers had sexually harassed them. Warner Bros. investigated the complaints and concluded that there were major problems. Three of the show’s producers were fired. When DeGeneres returned from the show’s summer hiatus to open its 18th season, she began with a vague and deeply unsatisfying apology. “I learned that things happen here that never should have happened,” she said in part. “I take that very seriously. And I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected.”
Well wait a minute: whose name is on the title card? Who believes that Ellen DeGeneres had no idea what was going on in the management of the Ellen DeGeneres show? How is that even possible? And if it is possible, it’s still unforgivable. She is accountable.
There were also increasingly frequent accounts suggesting that Ellen herself wasn’t so nice. (I am reminded of my late night conversation with the late Broadway choreographer Thommie Walsh, who said, “You have to remember, Jack, that virtually all star performers are horrible people.”) Among the disturbing allegations was the claim that staff on DeGeneres’ show were instructed not to talk to her. She supposedly tried to get a waitress fired who chipped one of Ellen’s nail. There were leaks that she expressed contempt for her audience behind the scenes.
Sometimes the public surprises me: after all, it voted for Joe Biden to be President, and Joe has a completely phony nice-guy image that has been exposed again and again as a cynical facade. Yet in Ellen’s case, her hypocrisy was rejected. “Ellen,” the ratings companies report, has lost more than a million viewers since September, averaging 1.5 million viewers over the last six months, down from 2.6 million in the same period last year.
What the hell?
In 2016 around this time I took Ethics Alarms to the woodshed for using unflattering photos of Hillary Clinton, like these.
It’s a dirty trick, essentially. Photos capture a split second of life and falsify it by freezing it forever. The news media has been using this tactic against Donald Trump with wild abandon, having essentially given up any pretense of fairness and objectivity. However, the Rasmussen graphic above wasn’t a photograph, and it was employed by the supposedly conservative-leaning polling service. Yet it could have been designed by the Democratic National Committee at its most nasty, portraying the President as a snarling, vicious threat, and Joe Biden as a calm and professional statesman.
Rasmussen was quick with a retraction that raised more questions that it answered:
- Why did Rasmussen have the snarling Trump graphic at all?
- What kind of “production error” would cause that?
- If the company is so careless with its tweets, what else is it careless about?
- Was a “rogue employee” the culprit? Again, this does not speak well for the company’s management, trustworthiness or culture.
- Any organization that sends out tweets without a vetting and review process is incompetent. Yes, that includes the White House. Especially the White House.
- Is Rasmussen really blaming the social media criticism of its botch? Or Trump supporters who have seen enough flagrant anti-Trump bias for a lifetime, and who expressed their anger at this example? The company needs to apologize, not blame the victims of its own system breakdown ineptitude.
It is being reported that the Los Angeles Dodgers are about to sign an extension with new right-fielder Mookie Betts, acquired over the winter in a stunning trade with the Boston Red Sox, for an estimated 12-13 year contract at about 35 million dollars a year.
When I was giving my lecture to the Smithsonian about baseball this week, I mentioned writer Bill James’ argument that baseball is not “just a business” as detractors like to say. He has pointed out that because baseball’s market does not treat it as a business, but as a pastime, entertainment, a cultural touchpoint and a community institution, baseball teams are not run as rational businesses. Indeed, they are frequently run irresponsibly and incompetently, based on emotion and sentiment.
‘Twas not always thus. In the early days of professional baseball right up the end of the Calvin Griffith era in Minnesota, many teams were run as the sole sources of income by their owners, though by the time Griffith died, he was the last of that species. Beginning with Tom Yawkey’s purchase of the then perennial doormat Red Sox, however, the baseball owner as community philanthropist was born. Yawkey was a rich lumber tycoon, and he spent money lavishly on Boston teams to win games and make fans happy. He certainly increased the value of his sports franchise asset, but from a business standpoint his management was often irrational.
The Dodgers contract with Betts is in this tradition. Betts is a free agent after this year; that’s why the Red Sox traded him, because he was going to put himself up for sale to the largest bidder. The Dodgers sensed that the virus-truncated season changed the equation for them and the player: Mookie, one of the most talented, productive and likable players in the game, would not have a chance in 60 games to enhance his value, and each year passed for a player is depreciation. Betts will be 28 this season, and most players peak at that age. Continue reading
Here is part of the statement released by Boston Red Sox owner John Henry yesterday after the team fired its head of Baseball Operations, essentially the team’s General Manager, Dave Dombrowksi:
“Four years ago, we were faced with a critical decision about the direction of the franchise. We were extraordinarily fortunate to be able to bring Dave in to lead baseball operations. With a World Series championship and three consecutive American League East titles, he has cemented what was already a Hall of Fame career.”
Wait…HUH? He was hired four years ago, the team won three consecutive American League East titles (for the first time in the franchise’s history), a World Series Championship (following an epic 2018 season that saw Boston win 108 games) and he’s fired? What did he do, sexually harass players? Flash the owner’s daughter? Continue reading
“You want your tacos? HERE’S what you can do with your #@!$%&@ tacos…!”
On February 24, a Taco Bell in Philadelphia was having trouble living up to the definition of “fast food.” The store was filled with angry people loudly wondering where their orders were. Some had been waiting as long as 45 minutes. So the resourceful Taco Bell employees finally did what you might expect—if you were a psychopath. Several of them jumped over the counter and began beating up customers.
This is unethical.
A 32-second cell phone clip shows customer Bryan Reese and his friend getting attacked by multiple employees outside of a Taco Bell in the Center City District of Philly. One employee is seen repeatedly punching Reese in the ribs while another holds him down.
Taco Bell released the following statement: Continue reading
I bet you can guess what Trump was saying here…
You know, it’s late, I’m finally finished decorating the tree, nobody’s visiting the blog anyway, and when they do and try to share an article without an scintilla of “hate speech” in it, Facebook blocks it. But ethics never rest, and I’m going to post this anyway.
The President announced that ol’ Mad Dog won’t be staying on for an” orderly transition” at DOD after all: today the President announced that Mattis’s deputy would take over on January 1, and Mattis can get head start on collecting shells in Boca, or something. One more time, the news media and social media are acting like this is some kind of scandal, because they 1) hate the President and 2) couldn’t manage a lemonade stand themselves.
I’m sure Mattis would have been welcome to stay on a couple more months as originally announced—if hadn’t publicized a resignation letter that implicitly attacked the President. You can’t do that and expect to stay in any job, much less one as powerful and important as Secretary of Defense.Oddly, Trump’s perpetual critics don’t understand this, either because bias has made them stupid, or they were ignorant to begin with. Continue reading