Comment Of The Day: “Will The BBC’s Princess Diana Scandal Be A Tipping Point For Public Acceptance That The News Media Can’t Be Trusted?”

Princess Di

As he (and other veteran commenters) often do here, Steve-O-in NJ doesn’t merely comment on the post but elaborate and expand it, for which I am grateful. Literally by chance, my wife was watching a Netflix documentary on the Windsors, a British production that discussed the Bashir interview of the late Princess but spun it as an example of her vindictive and manipulative use of the press to strike back at the Royal Family. The producers did not, when it was written, know that Bashir had deliberately deceived Diana and her brother to provoke her.

One bit of rebuttal to Steve-O is, I think, required. Diana may have been “not too smart, not too stable” as Steve says, but like Donald Trump, who is also described that way by those who underestimate him, she had her own special genius and unique gifts. The most stunning quote in the documentary is Charles’ statement, in a letter to a friend before the wedding, that Diana was going to have a difficult time “always living in his shadow.” I am a stage director who has made a lifetime study of what gives an individual “presence” and star power, but it didn’t take an expert to discern that however young, naive and ignorant she may have seemed, Diana had blinding charisma. People with that particular gift cast shadows, they don’t get covered by them.

Here is Steve-O-in NJ’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Will The BBC’s Princess Diana Scandal Be A Tipping Point For Public Acceptance That The News Media Can’t Be Trusted?”:

So Bashir committed fraud and forgery, there’s no other way to describe it, and the BBC buried it. Generally speaking the elements of fraud are:

1. Misrepresentation of a material fact
2. Knowledge on the part of the accused that they were misrepresenting the fact
3. The misrepresentation was made purposefully, with the intent of fooling the victim
4. The victim believed the misrepresentation and relied upon it
5.The victim suffered damages as a result of the misrepresentation

Elements of forgery are:

1. False making – The person must have taken paper and ink and created a false document from scratch. Forgery is limited to documents. “Writing” includes anything handwritten, typewritten, computer-generated, printed, or engraved.
2 Material alteration – The person must have taken a genuine document and changed it in some significant way. It is intended to cover situations involving false signatures or improperly filling in blanks on a form.
3. Ability to defraud – The document or writing has to look genuine enough to qualify as having the apparent ability to fool most people.
4. Legal efficacy – The document or writing has to have some legal significance affecting another person’s right to something. A writing of social significance cannot be the subject of forgery.
5. Intent to defraud – The specific state of mind for forgery does not require intent to steal, only intent to fool people. The person must have intended that other people regard something false as genuine. A forgery is complete upon having created such a document with this requisite intent.

Sounds like both to me. Bashir should be in jail, but I’m sure the statute of limitations has long run. I’m disgusted reading this. He had written lies mocked up to fool Earl Spencer and Diana into believing that the Royal family was out to get her, to push her into spilling embarrassing facts and nasty attacks on her former in-laws. This would be criminal even if was just an ordinary woman having the ordinary problem of being dissatisfied with her marriage and not getting along with her former in-laws. It should get no pass because the people involved were public figures.

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Will The BBC’s Princess Diana Scandal Be A Tipping Point For Public Acceptance That The News Media Can’t Be Trusted? [Corrected]


I hope so. It’s a long shot, but you never know when something is the proverbial final straw. The BBC is often held up as a model of ethical journalism—that’s nonsense, but a lot of Americans believe it. Now we have proof of just how scummy and corrupt the BBC is, and the company can’t deny it.

An investigation into the BBC’s conduct that produced the 1995 interview of Princess Diana by Martin Bashir revealed that the interview was based on despicable and unethical practices. This shouldn’t surprise anyone who remembers Bashir, who became an MSNBC host and was sacked after saying on the air that Sarah Palin should be forced to eat shit. He handled the sensational interview in which Diana talked about her bulimia, the miseries of royal life, and her husband’s ongoing infidelity with Camilla Parker Bowles. Her shocking attacks on the Royals completed her rift with Buckingham Palace and, as Prince William said yesterday, damaged Diana’s relationship with Prince Charles beyond repair.

Even for a journalist, what Bashir did was beyong unethical tending into evil. Bashir told Diana’s brother, the Earl of Spencer, that he had acquired canceled checks proving the Royal Family was paying individuals, including Charles’ aides, to spy on Diana. He “acquired” them because he had the BBC’s graphics department to mock up fake checks to show to Spencer. This “evidence” convinced the Earl that Diana’s fears were justified, so he told her immediately about the supposed surveillance plot. This, in turn, so infuriated Diana that she agreed to a “tell-all” interview.

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Observations On The Civility Meltdown On Fox News

Swear_wordsMonday  was “Talk like Jon Stewart Day” on Fox, as two Fox News contributors were quickly suspended after they used vulgarity while discussing President Barack Obama‘s Sunday night address on terrorism. Ralph Peters, a Fox Business analyst called the President a “total pussy,” and Fox News’ Outnumbered panelist Stacey Dash, who said Obama doesn’t “give a shit” about terrorism.


I. Yes, the incursion on traditional news reporting by alleged comedy and satire shows like Bill Maher’s HBO conservative-bashing orgy and the various clown nose off and on with lightning speed political commentary shows on Comedy Central was bound to lead to this. It is kind of unfair: Maher can call Michele Bachmann a cunt without consequence, and Jon Stewart can throw “fuck” around like confetti, but their favorite target, Fox News, is limited in its rhetoric as the wits are not. Well, that’s Fox’s burden, and its obligation. It can’t sink to the level of Maher and Comedy Central. This is a clear line. Comics are not obligated to have respect for anyone (even if they do suck up to Democrats more often than not.) Journalists and their guests are required to adhere to professional levels of civility, even when delivering harsh criticism. Continue reading

Remember The Title, “When An Apology Isn’t Enough: Carol Costello’s Ugly Partisan Bias”? An Apology Still Isn’t Enough.

"Dear Carol..."

“Dear Carol…”

As Joe Concha reports on Mediaite, the media drumbeats are growing louder in the news media jungle, calling for Carol Costello to deliver an on-air apology when she returns to the CNN morning broadcast Monday. Various media critics, including the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple (whose judgement is inherently suspect after pronouncing the smug and biased CNN anchorwoman “outstanding”), Fox’s inconsistent Howard Kurtz, and even CNN’s own Brian Stelter, have declared unacceptable Costello’s vicious, personal, plainly partisan glee while introducing a tape of Bristol Palin giving her account of what she claimed as was a physical attack on her by a larger man.  (Then there’s me.) Concha concludes,

“Throw in the growing-in-popularity hashtag (#firecarolcostello) on Twitter, a CNN Should Fire Carol Costello Facebook page, and a boatload of hypocrisy after she called for an ESPN analyst (Stephen A. Smith) to be suspended for insensitive comments he made about women’s abuse during the Ray Rice controversy, and you have an embattled anchor whose only option at this point is to ask for forgiveness on CNN (a mandatory two-week vacation afterward might not be a bad idea, either).”

As I explained at the time, Costello was wrong, and stupidly wrong, about Smith, as indeed she is wrong with remarkable frequency, and annoying even when she isn’t. Hypocrisy is only a small sliver of her problem, and no apology will cure what her gratuitous attack on Palin’s daughter reveals beyond question. She can express contrition to Bristol, but again, it doesn’t matter: her words, and the fact that she was unable to restrain herself sufficiently to avoid saying them on the air prove that she is unacceptably biased for a journalist. So great is her partisan hate that she takes glee in bodily harm being inflicted on the children of a popular conservative figure. So alien to Costello are the values of professionalism, fairness and respect for her viewers that she actually said, on the air, that her favorite part of the tape was the part where Palin said she had been called a cunt.  Continue reading

When An Apology Isn’t Enough: Carol Costello’s Ugly Partisan Bias


For over a month now, the left-leaning media on cable and the web have been snickering over unsubstantiated reports of “a drunken brawl” involving the Palin family. Especially since no charges were filed and no accounts were verified, the amount of attention the story received was itself proof of the media’s irrational anti-Palin, and by extension, anti-conservative Republican animus. If there was any doubt, CNN’s Carol Costello obliterated it in a performance that any respectable news network would regard as mandating dismissal.

Yesterday, introducing a recording in which Bristol Palin described the events at the infamous party, Costello smirked, “This is quite possibly the best minute and a half of audio we’ve ever come across. Well, come across in a long time anyway…Enjoy!”

Palin’s oldest daughter was heard describing what happened to her after she confronted the party’s host, whom she accused of pushing her little sister:

“So we were in a limo. I walk back up. “Did you push my sister?” And some guy gets up, pushes me down on the grass, drags me across the grass. “You slut, you f—ing c—, you f—ing this.” I get back up, he pushes me down on the grass again And he pulls me by my f—ing feet. And he’s the one that’s leaving and I have my 5-year-old, they took my $300 sunglasses, they took my f—ing shoes, and I’m f—ing just left here?”

Costello made it clear that the image of Palin being pushed down and insulted delighted her beyond all measure, and said “the long bleep was my favorite part.”  That’s the part where Bristol described herself being called a “fucking cunt.”  Nice. Costello ended the segment saying, Continue reading

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: New York Magazine Columnist Frank Rich

Stay classy, Frank.

Stay classy, Frank.

Full disclosure: I went to college with Frank Rich. He gave me a rave review for a performance once. When he turned into the vicious, biased, hateful jerk he reveals himself to be in his not merely progressive but irrationally  hostile to conservatism op-ed columns and, prior to that, his vitriolic and hyper-critical theater reviews for the Times, I don’t know. Maybe if I had befriended him back then, he would not be the bitter misanthrope his is today. Maybe just an outstretched hand, a kind word, or a sharp, “Why don’t you stop being such a dick?” would have turned the tide of his life around. Alas, we shall never know.

Here is what Rich tweeted yesterday, upon learning of the guilty verdict handed down against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife:

Rich Tweet

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The Fifth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2013 (Part One)

This is the first installment of the Worst.  It says something, and not something happy, that this segment of the year-end awards are more than twice as voluminous, and far more competitive, than the “Best” of 2013 ethics. Well, nobody said it would be easy….

Ethics Train Wreck of the Year


Obamacare, a.k.a Affordable Care Act. This is quite an achievement, as there were at least two other three Ethics Train Wrecks rolling along in 2013 that would have been easy victors in a less horrible year. One of them, The Trayvon Martin- George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck, was last year’s winner, and still wreaked ethics carnage across the culture, thanks to Zimmerman’s trial (which never should hev been brought), the biased media coverage, the incompetent prosecution, the inept judge, and then afterward, the ignorant and/or racially motivated attacks on the jury for doing its job well and fairly against overwhelming odds. Yet as bad as this hangover from 2012 was, the Sandy Hook Ethics Train Wreck was arguably even worse. The news media decided to go Soviet and abandon all pretense of objectivity, essentially becoming an Obama Administration propaganda tool for gun control. Elected officials lied their heads off; so did the aroused NRA. Gun owners talked and behaved like they were about to be Gulaged. Legislators shamelessly used the grief of victims to stampede public opinion; children became props; fake statistics were everywhere; brain-damaged Gabby Gifford was programmed to read child-like messages as if they were the conclusions of research papers. The President’s total lack of political leadership skill again came front and center, then, when he had failed to do what he promised to do, the opposition was vilified by celebrities like Jim Carrey, who called them murderers and worse.

But the Affordable Care Act lapped both of these. It revealed itself to be a five-year long train wreck that just took a break after an earlier stretch where the bill was passed without due diligence by its supporters and using a cynical by-passing of due process. A Presidential lie intentionally devised to deceive the public was repeated for the five-year span, and then exposed when the law began to take affect….but not before the law inspired Republicans to force a reckless and irresponsible shut-down, a mini-train wreck within the train wreck.  The website debacle was initially spun by the news media (not working worth a damn isn’t a “glich”), then the evidence of near criminal ineptitude became impossible not to report. The indisputable evidence that the President of the United States had sold a program under false pretenses came to light, prompting dozens of politicians, bloggers, pundits and reporters to destroy their credibility forever (I hope) by desperately trying to either rationalize the lie ( “the ends justify the means”), call it something other than what it was (The New York Times’ disgraceful “incorrect promise” was one low point), or simply deny that it was a lie at all (Democratic Chair Debby Wasserman Schultz, setting a new low for personal dishonesty, itself an achievement in her case). Then, when the public pressure and political fall-out became unbearable. the President just began amending the provisions of his own law on the fly, except that it was the nation’s law, and it’s unconstitutional to do that—this, after the mantra from Democrats and the news media during the shut-down debate was that the ACA was “settled law.”  HHS Secretary Sibelius misled Congress, the White House denied that her stated goals were goals once it was obvious they wouldn’t be met; and nobody was held responsible for yet another Obama Administration debacle. And there’s a lot more, with the train wreck still moving at top speed.

Fraud of the Year

Iowa State University biomedical sciences assistant professor Dong-Pyou Han, who resigned after admitting he tainted blood samples to get desired outcomes in research animals, allowing him to claim a break-through in the effort to develop an AIDS vaccine. The National Institutes of Health had awarded Han’s research team $19 million in multi-year grants.

Incompetent Elected Officials of the Year

  • Elected Body (National): House Republicans, who staged a wholly useless, expensive and damaging government shut-down on “principle,” without ever articulating what that principle was sufficiently for anyone responsible to agree with them. Runner-Up: The California House Legislature, which passed a law allowing illegal aliens to practice law.
  • National Elected Official:  President Obama.  From being incapable of working with Congress, to refusing to fire incompetents, to not knowing what was going on in his own administration, to drawing red lines he wasn’t willing to defend (and then advocating killing people just to show he was willing to defend them), to undermining the trust and faith in both his office and himself by uttering unequivocal lies, President Obama had one of the worst years of self-inflicted miscalculations, errors, failures and reversals of any U.S. President in history. I’m sorry to have to say it, but it’s true.
  • Local Elected Official: Storey County (Nevada) Assemblyman Jim Wheeler (R). Wheeler told a group that if his constituents demanded it, he would vote (with a heavy heart)  to reinstate slavery, as he felt doing so would be his duty as a representative. Runner-up: Maryland House of Delegates Member Don Dwyer (R), who after a drunk driving and drunk boat piloting episode, the latter injuring several people, blamed his conduct in part of feeling betrayed over his colleagues approval of gay marriage in Maryland.

Sexual Harasser Of The Year Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Day (“Duck Dynasty” vs Political Correctness Division): Reason’s Brian Doherty

“There may have been a good reason why classical tolerance of expression was summed up in the epigram: ‘I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it!’ That has a different feel than: ‘I disagree with what you say, I think you are evil for having said it, I think no one should associate with you and you ought to lose your livelihood, and anyone who doesn’t agree with me about all that is skating on pretty thin ice as well, but hey, I don’t think you should be arrested for it.”

—– Reason Magazine’s Brian Doherty, writing about A&E choosing to punish its reality show star, Phil Robertson, for expressing his religious beliefs about homosexuality in response to a magazine interviewer’s question.


Nicely done, Mr. Doherty. Continue reading

Martin Bashir Resigns From MSNBC

You can read details here.

Well, It's about time.

Well, It’s about time.

It has been about two weeks since MSNBC talking head Martin Bashir said, on the air, not spontaneously but reading from a script, that Sarah Palin deserved to have someone shit in her mouth. I have previously commented on the incident and its aftermath here, here, here and here, which is more than Bashir is worth.


  • Bashir should have been fired. That would have asserted that MCNBC had standards of civility and professionalism. This suggests it has none, at least when a conservative is the one being abused on the air.
  • He should have been fired immediately. Late is sometimes better than never, but it is also significant when a network, faced with an employee who engages in objectively outrageous conduct that doesn’t merely cross the line, but pole vaults across it, appears to be pondering, as in, “Hmmmm. How bad is it, really, when a host suggests that someone hold down a former vice-presidential candidate and defecate in her mouth? Tough one! What’s your take, Lou?”
  • Bashir’s producer and editor should have been disciplined, if not fired as well.  Continue reading

The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove, Cultural Pollutor…But Only One Among Legions

Interestingly, THIS grove understands ethics better than Lloyd.

Interestingly, THIS grove understands ethics better than Lloyd.

There are three primary reasons the United States of America is getting steadily disoriented, more gullible, less discerning, cruder and unethical. The first is that our leaders now only care about maintaining power, where once  leaders tended to their duty of being what John Adams called America’s aristocracy. Such leaders, not too long ago, modeled the best values and behavior for the public because they carried the most crucial responsibilities, and thus had to be trustworthy. They understood this obligation was theirs because they had the most visibility, and recognized that this demanded positive, admirable, virtuous public behavior. Now our leaders use sophisticated modern marketing techniques to package themselves and ideas like a phony weight-loss remedy, gradually dropping the facades once they are too entrenched to remove. The dispiriting journey make us cynical, less civically involved, and confused. Continue reading