A Proposal For The 2016 Campaign Coverage: Broadcast News Reporters Should Just State Up Front That They Plan On Warping Facts, Punditry And Interviews In Favor Of One Party Or The Other

Kelly and Trump

After all, they are doing it so consistently and blatantly already. Why not be transparent about it?

Case Study 1: CNN Host Brooke Baldwin

On  Baldwins’ “CNN Newsroom” this week, Trump supporter Gina Loudon was talking about the New York Times report on Donald Trump’s dubious conduct with women. The Trump flack brought up Bill Clinton’s  $850,000 settlement payment to Paula Jones for allegedly sexually harassing her. Baldwin cut Loudon off, saying, “Okay, let’s not go there.”

Wait—why not go there? The issue raised by the Times involves Presidential and leadership standards. The Times’ position during Clinton’s administration was that this was “personal conduct” and irrelevant to the Presidency. Is it or isn’t it?

The reason Baldwin doesn’t want to “go there” is that she, like so many of her CNN colleagues,  is a virtual pro-Hillary Clinton operative masquerading as a reporter, and tilts the content of her show accordingly. Later, Baldwin proved it: After Loudon concluded by noting that Clinton should have spoken out in defense of women her husband had abused if she was the champion of victims of sexual abuse that she claims to be,  Baldwin said,

“I think the Clinton camp — and, listen, I would say this either way, just to be fair to both of them — but I think the Clinton camp would point to, you know, her resume of lifting women up through the years.”

Yes, they would say that, Brooke, and that would be a dodge and an evasion, which, if they said it on a competent and non-partisan news broadcast, the host would be obligated to reply, “That isn’t responsive. Is Mrs. Clinton an advocate for women, or will she support their abusers if it’s politically beneficial to her?

Instead, you’re giving the evasive Clinton spin yourself! Why is that?

Because CNN, with the sole courageous exception of  Jake Tapper, is all in for Hillary, and will distort journalism standards and ethics as necessary to elect her.

Case Study 2: Fox News Host Megyn Kelly
Continue reading

Considering The Fox Trump-less GOP Candidates Debate

Fox moderators

1. The run-up to the debate yesterday was embarrassing to the news media, especially CNN—even Fox did not obsess as much about the man who wouldn’t be on stage in Iowa as that shameless network. Not that Fox isn’t shameless: it’s greatest shame, Bill O’Reilly, once again showed himself to be both unethical and insufferable when he had Trump on his show and begged, pleaded, and cajoled the real estate mogul to reverse his decision. “Be the bigger man,” Bill said at one point. What the hell does that mean? Bigger than who? His employers—I don’t watch Fox live any more because they are still his employers—who properly refused to let him bully Megyn Kelly out of a moderator’s chair? Megyn Kelly? No, that can’t be it. Trump is a intellectual, moral and ethical midget with delusions of grandeur: O’Reilly was just feeding his ego. Then we learned, from Trump, that O’Reilly had enticed him on the air by promising not to talk about the debate boycott. O’Reilly admitted that was true, and then blathered facetiously about milkshakes, as if lying to a guest’s face was a big joke. O’Reilly is one of the deplorable people—most of his supporters, famous and not, are also in this category—who are so devoid of principles themselves that they make Donald Trump look admirable by comparison.

2. I wish I could say that Megyn Kelly was impeccable last night, but she wasn’t. She had a big chip on her shoulder, and mentioned Trump in the very first question, with a pre-composed, gaggy phrasing about “the  elephant not in the room”—lame witticisms were the theme of the night. That made the first question about her, and journalists are ethically obligated not to inject themselves into the story. No moderator should have mentioned Trump, but Kelly particularly. For the rest of the night she was aggressively adversarial, acting as if she was an undercover moderator from CNBC.

3. If there were any lingering doubts about what an arrogant jerk Ted Cruz is, his performance last night ought to have obliterated them. He reminds me of nothing so much as than the cocky high school nerd who thinks that because he’s elected class President, people really like him, but in truth he is socially hopeless. As a stage director and occasional humor writer, I cannot imagine a more pathetic attempt at a joke than his “I’m a maniac. Everyone on this stage is stupid, fat, and ugly. And Ben Carson, you’re a terrible surgeon. Now that we’ve gotten the Donald Trump part out of the way (rim shot!) . . .” bit. His timing was terrible, and because the thing went on long after everyone knew what the punchline would be, nobody but a shill or an idiot would laugh at it. Cruz got even worse, talking past his limit, whining about the moderators siccing everyone else on him (though they were), trying to change the rules, and sounding like Bill Clinton as he tried to explain away what were his obvious flip-flops on immigration.

I noticed that as the camera panned the debaters dispersing after the debate, nobody spoke to Cruz or even looked at him, while the others were smiling and being collegial to one another. No wonder. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Fox News

How gloriously ironic it will be it if Fox News is the architect of the tipping point that finally causes Donald Trump’s passionate supporters—you know, the ones who don’t mind if he mocks veterans and the disabled, who don’t notice that he is a substance-free blowhard, who he boasts  wouldn’t care if he shot someone dead in cold blood—to realize they have been deluded fools…

Trump, you see, is pulling out of Thursday’s Fox News debate because he is afraid of Megyn Kelly, who properly challenged him on his habitual misogyny in the first one, prompting Trump to aim his ugly sexism at her. Trump has been sending cheap shots and insults Kelly’s way ever since, and has recently been complaining that she has a “conflict of interest” and is biased against him, and thus should not moderate Thursday’s debate. He should know that every American, including journalists, who have the sense God gave an echidna, are exactly as biased in the sense that they don’t want this blathering, posturing narcissist screwing up the political system, the nation and the culture any more than he already has. Who isn’t biased this way? A panel of Ann Coulter, Ted Nugent and David Duke would be great theater, but I don’t think it would serve the interests of the American people.

Trump claims he thrives on conflict, but for some reason Kelly terrifies him, and Fox, to its credit, has not merely refused to cater to his phobia, but mocked it. Fox News Channel President Roger Ailes told The Post today that “Megyn Kelly is an excellent journalist, and the entire network stands behind her. She will absolutely be on the debate stage on Thursday night.” Later, the network deliciously called out Trump for the hypocrite and coward that he is, saying,

“We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president. A nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”

Oh, snap! That’s a bit tough, but this is Trump. He’s supposed to be able to take it. What was his devastating response? Continue reading

In Which We Visit The Daily Caller To See How Civil Discourse Is Proceeding On The Conservative Website…

zombie bar fight

Well…not too well, actually.

Here is a representative segment of the comments on a recent post, describing Fox News’s Megyn Kelly admonishing Debbie Wasserman Schultz for demeaning Gov. Nicki Haley as being chosen by the GOP to respond to the State Of the Union message purely because she’s a woman.  Kelly suggested this was major glass-house stone-throwing, perhaps because the anointed candidate Debbie wants to run for President has little positive to offer but her lady parts, and, though Megyn was too polite to say so, the same goes for Debbie, who heads  DNC despite being a an inarticulate, dishonest dolt. Debbie, of course, retorted with gibberish, deflections and lies, her sole implements of communication. Little of this seemed to concern Daily Caller readers.

For as usual on The Daily Caller, The Daily Beast, Mediaite, Politico and so many others, here’s what the comment thread turned into after only five sort-of relevant-comments…

The Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Best of Ethics 2015, Part I

Sweet Briar montage

Welcome to the Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards, our blog’s retrospective of the best and worst in ethics over the past year, 2015.

It was a rotten year in ethics again, it’s fair to say, and Ethics Alarms, which by its nature and mission must concentrate on episodes that have lessons to convey and cautionary tales to consider probably made it seem even more rotten that it was. Even with that admission, I didn’t come close to covering the field. My scouts, who I will honor anon, sent me many more wonderfully disturbing news stories than I could post on, and there were many more beyond them. I did not write about the drug company CEO, for example, who suddenly raised the price of an anti-AIDS drug to obscene levels, in part, it seems, to keep an investment fraud scheme afloat. (He’ll get his prize anyway.)

What was really best about 2o15 on Ethics Alarms was the commentary. I always envisioned the site as a cyber-symposium where interested, articulate and analytical readers could discuss current events and issues in an ethics context. Every year since the blog was launched has brought us closer to that goal. Commenters come and go, unfortunately (I take it personally when they go, which is silly), but the quality of commentary continues to be outstanding. It is also gratifying to check posts from 2010 and see such stalwarts who check in still, like Tim Levier, Neil Dorr, Julian Hung, Michael R, and King Kool.  There are a few blogs that have as consistently substantive, passionate and informative commenters as Ethics Alarms, but not many. Very frequently the comments materially enhance and expand on the original post. That was my hope and objective. Thank you.

The Best of Ethics 2015 is going to be a bit more self-congratulatory this year, beginning with the very first category. Among other virtues, this approach has the advantage of closing the gap in volume between the Best and the Worst, which last year was depressing. I’m also going to post the awards in more installments, to help me get them out faster. With that said….

Here are the 2015 Ethics Alarms Awards

For the Best in Ethics:

Most Encouraging Sign That Enough People Pay Attention For Ethics Alarms To Occasionally Have Some Impact…

The Sweet Briar College Rescue. In March, I read the shocking story of how Sweet Briar College, a remarkable and storied all-women’s college in Virginia, had been closed by a craven and duplicitous board that never informed alums or students that such action was imminent. I responded with a tough post titled “The Sweet Briar Betrayal,” and some passionate alumnae determined to fight for the school’s survival used it to inform others about the issues involved and to build support. Through the ensuing months before the school’s ultimate reversal of the closing and the triumph of its supporters, I was honored to exchange many e-mails with Sweet Briar grads, and gratified by their insistence that Ethics Alarms played a significant role in turning the tide. You can follow the saga in my posts, here.

Ethics Heroes Of The Year

Dog Train

Eugene and Corky Bostick, Dog Train Proprietors. OK, maybe this is just my favorite Ethics Hero story of the year, about two retired seniors who decided to adopt old  dogs abandoned on their property to die, and came up with the wacky idea of giving them regular rides on a ‘dog train” of their own design.

Ethical Mayor Of The Year

Thomas F. Williams. When the Ferguson-driven attacks on police as racist killers was at its peak (though it’s not far from that peak now) the mayor of Norwood, Ohio, Thomas F. Williams, did exactly the opposite of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in response to activist attacks on the integrity of his police department. He released a letter supporting his police department without qualification. At the time, I criticized him for his simultaneously attacking activists as “race-baiters.” In the perspective of the year past, I hereby withdraw that criticism.

Most Ethical Celebrity

Actor Tom Selleck. In a terrible year for this category, Selleck wins for bravely pushing his TV show “Blue Bloods” into politically incorrect territory, examining issues like racial profiling and police shootings with surprising even-handedness. The show also has maintained its openly Catholic, pro-religion perspective. Yes, this is a redundant award, as “Blue Bloods” is also a winner, but the alternative in this horrific year when an unethical celebrity is threatening to be a major party’s nominee for the presidency is not to give the award at all.

Most Ethical Talk Show Host

Stephen Colbert, who, while maintaining most of his progressive bias from his previous Comedy Central show as the successor to David Letterman, set a high standard of fairness and civility, notably when he admonished his knee-jerk liberal audience for booing  Senator Ted Cruz

Sportsman of the Year

CC Sabathia

New York Yankee pitcher C.C. Sabathia, who courageously checked himself into rehab for alcohol abuse just as baseball’s play-offs were beginning, saying in part,

“Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you. I want my kids — and others who may have become fans of mine over the years — to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.”

Runner-up: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who dismissed the ethically-addled arguments of Pete Rose fans to reject his appeal to be have his lifetime ban for gambling lifted.  For those who wonder why football never seems to figure in this category: You’ve got to be kidding.

Ethics Movie of the Year

SpotlightTIFF2015

“Spotlight”

Runner-up: “Concussion”

Most Ethical Corporation

Tesla Motors, the anti-GM, which recalled all of its models with a particular seatbelt because one belt had failed and they couldn’t determine why. Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: Not Only Anybody Who Actually Thinks Donald Trump Would Be Anything But An Existential Disaster As President, But Anyone Who Isn’t Disgusted By His Existence

Megyn Kelly's "wherever," according to Donald trump.

Megyn Kelly’s “wherever,” according to Donald trump.

I’m not exaggerating. At this point, saying that one supports Donald Trump as President—or that one even “likes” such a destructive and despicable jackass—is signature significance. Such a person rejects responsible citizenship, basic decency, and civilized values. Such a person is warped and a misanthrope, or so stupid that their ability to function at all is a medical miracle.

The ethics tipping point even for the most jaded and alienated American who tolerated this juvenile delinquent in billionaire’s clothing (my tipping point was years ago, I am proud to say) should have been the combined impact of Trump’s outrageous comment to CNN, as he attacked Fox journalist Megyn Kelly for her questioning him on his uncivil public rhetoric, and his lie about it afterwards.

As I already noted in this post, Trump told CNN’s Don Lemon, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”

The man is a thug and a boor with money, the political equivalent of a four-year-old with an AK-47. His vaunted “candor” (as in “lack of couth, taste, civility, prudence, decency and restraint),  caused him to say, in essence, “this woman must have been on the rag” on national television. Is this worse than calling a tortured prisoner of war like John McCain less than a hero because he was captured? Sure it is: the earlier comment was stupid and disrespectful, but if that’s what Trump thinks, great: Out with it. The attack on Kelly is misogyny and gutter-level rudeness that must not be tolerated at the dinner table, in the workplace, or in polite company, much less in national politics. It transforms the whole nation into a cheap saloon, and tears down a wall that once gone, will eventually permit tossing feces like apes and aimed projectile vomiting before the entire civilization collapses in the stench of its own corruption.

This isn’t just a “war on women,” it’s war on dignity, decency and civilized discourse. You like that? You support that?

You’re a moron. Continue reading

Debate Ethics: Megyn Kelly’s Challenging Donald Trump For His Uncivil Rhetoric Was Not Only Fair, It Was Necessary

Trump and Kelly

It sometimes takes episodes like the hard right’s reaction to the Republican candidates’ debate Thursday night to remind me how ethically-challenged some—a lot, too many— of these people are. Why does this keep surprising me?

I honestly didn’t see it coming: one conservative pundit after another has criticized Megyn Kelly for challenging Donald Trump regarding his repeated episodes of using vulgar, crude, and uncivil language to denigrate women. In case you don’t recall, here was the exchange:

Kelly: One of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter However, that is not without its downsides, in particular, when it comes to women. You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.

Trump: Only Rosie O’Donnell.

Kelly: For the record, it was well beyond Rosie. You once told a contestant on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?

Instapundit understudy Elizabeth Price Foley called the question “silliness.” Examining the ethical values of a potential President, and civility is a cornerstone of them, is not “silly.”

Lindsay Graham, who apparently has decided that he should say anything, even stupid things, to keep his name in the news, defended Trump, telling the media that

“At the end of the day, ask the man a question that explains his position and his solutions rather than a ten-minute question that describes him as the biggest bastard on the planet.”

No, Trump’s own conduct and rhetoric describe him as one of the biggest bastards on the planet. He was given a chance to explain why reasonable people shouldn’t think they disqualify him to be President. After all, they do. Continue reading

Why Yes, Krystal, There IS A “Candidate For Congress Who Is Photographed Sucking The Phallic Red Nose Worn By Her Reindeer Attired Husband At A Christmas Party Principle,” And It Isn’t A Double Standard At All, As You Will Learn As Soon As There IsA Male Congressional Candidate Photographed Doing the Same Thing. Now Shut Up, Please.

Krystal-Ball

I’m sorry, I can resist this.

In 2010, Krystal Ball was a 28-year old, almost credential and experience free Democratic Party nominee for United States Congress in Virginia’s 1st congressional district in the 2010 election. She lost to Republican incumbent Rob Wittman. During the campaign, old photographs surfaced of Ball and her then-husband at a college Christmas party, showing her dressed as “bad Santa,” leading her husband, dressed as a reindeer, around S and M style by a leash, and sucking on his long, fake, phallic red nose.  Like this:

Krystal Ball 5Krystal Ball 1

(By the way, I had mentioned this episode very briefly in 2010, and promptly forgot about. Ball is the one, as we say in the law, who “opened the door” again.)

Although she lost by a 2-1 margin, Ball made the rounds of various TV talk shows exploiting the salacious aspects of the photos (for this is what the programs were interested in) and playing the victim, arguing that the photos were used against her because she was a woman. The exposure, combined with the fact that she is physically attractive—this sexist standard doesn’t bother her, oddly— launched her current career as a pretty talking head, if not an especially enlightening one. (Naturally, she roams on MSNBC.)

Krystal was on Fox News yesterday whining yet again about her 2010 defeat and blaming it on the photos and a “double standard.” “I think that we should look at the example of Scott Brown,” she told a sympathetic Megyn Kelly. “He had pictures from the same age as those pictures of me, only he was completely naked, in the centerfold of a national magazine, and it was not even a bump in his campaign; in fact he has even said that it helped him a little bit in his campaign. And I’m not holding anything against Senator Scott Brown… that’s as it should be, in my view, because those kinds of things to me are not relevant to the campaign trail. And I do think there’s a double standard.”

Baloney. Continue reading

Jonathan Gruber’s Obamacare Fraud Confession [UPDATE]: “Nothing To See Here…Move Along”

[Yes, I know I’ve had this video up twice already, but since the mainstream media is pretending that it either doesn’t exist or is the equivalent of one showing a cat getting its head stuck in a jelly jar—come to think of it, they would probably show that—I’m going to keep posting it, and asking you to send it far and wide, until every American with two objective brain cells to rum together can see it and consider what their elected leadership thinks of them.]

Give credit to the Washington Post: four days after a video surfaced in which Affordable Care Act architect Jonathan Gruber told an academic audience that the Affordable Care Act was intentionally written to hide the fact that it was a tax and that the process intentionally avoided transparency to deceive “stupid voters,” it is the only member in good standing of the Mainstream Media Obama Administration Promotion and Defense Club to mention Gruber’s revelations. Not in its print edition, mind you (well, not exactly: more on this in a bit), but online. That’s still an achievement, because as of my writing this, news sources referencing Gruber’s cheery admission that the Administration willfully lied to the American public include: Hot Air, Fox News, The Weekly Standard, The Huffington Post, Mediaite, Politico, The Boston Herald (Boston’s conservative alternative to the Globe), The Washington Times, Bangor News, Forbes, The Free Beacon, The Federalist, The Blaze, National Review, Bloomberg, and the Daily Caller. (Oh: MSNBC, the official Obama shilling network,  put Gruber on to defend himself on friendly turf. His defense? His words were “inappropriate.”)

See a trend? No NPR, CBS, NBC, CNN, ABC, New York Times….it’s a conservative story, you see. Pay no attention, you know how those “baggers” are. They make stuff up, or twist things, or edit tapes to make it look like Democrats and Obama are doing bad things. It’s mostly racism. Bigotry. You don’t want to go there. Stick with us! We’ll tell you the Truth.

The problem with this approach—-which has certainly served Obama well, as the media has largely minimized the damage from multiple scandals and flagrant instances of disastrous incompetence that the same news media would be proclaiming its horror in skywriting if the Administration was headed by a Reagan, Bush or Romney—-is that this one can’t be hidden, won’t go away, and has unavoidable significance. Obamacare is going back to the Supreme Court, you see, and the issue will turn on what the words and the intent of the law is. Will it make a difference that one of the key figures in writing the law—which never went through a House or Senate committee, nor was subjected to floor debate in its final form—admitted, indeed boasted in public that the text of the law was an exercise in obfuscation and deception?  It just might. That makes the video not just news, but big news, news the public has a right to know, news that is fit to print.

Thus this is a journalism scandal as well as a scandal of trust. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart

“Actually, I think that’s the official slogan of oppression.”

—-Comedy Central’s Daily Show host Jon Stewart, mocking Megyn Kelly’s statement that “just because it makes you feel uncomfortable, doesn’t mean it has to change.”

Motto Kelly, because she appears on Fox News, is presumed to be an idiot by Stewart, who manages to reserve a disproportionate supply of his barbs for that network as opposed to the even more barbable MSNBC. Her statement, however, was completely correct and responsible, unlike Stewart’s “motto” quip.. In fact, “‘Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable, doesn’t mean it has to change’ is the official slogan of oppression” could be the official slogan of smug, censorious and hypocritical political correctness peddling wise-asses.

This is why nobody should take Jon Stewart seriously, and also why he needs to take pains to discourage anyone from taking him seriously. As an off the cuff comic’s retort to Kelly’s silly defense of racial purity for Santa Claus portrayers, the motto comment is fine—snappy, pointed, properly dismissive. Unfortunately, as Stewart well knows, lots of young, otherwise unread and politically ignorant viewers (and web columnists) view him as a substantive political commentator, and from that perspective, his statement is irresponsible and reckless. Gays make Phil Robertson uncomfortable—should they have to change? Are they oppressing him? Student criticism of President Obama makes some college professors uncomfortable—should the students be muzzled? Stewart’s statement, if it is taken as more than a momentary quip to tweak Kelly, is an endorsement of tyranny of the conveniently offended, which is another form of oppression. There is too much of that going on already, as the current Duck Dynasty flap is demonstrating. Continue reading

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