An Ethics Alarms Reader Challenge: Is Time’s Up A Scam, Or Is It Doing What It Is Supposed To Be Doing?

times-up

This is really a journalism ethics matter. On November 28, The New York Post announced that Time’s Up, the #MeToo inspired Hollywood organization, had misused and wasted its funds. Yesterday there was a follow-up piece, headlined, “The Sad tale of Time’s Up and Hollywood’s failed activism.”

Taken together, the two articles are contradictory, confusing and raise as many questions about the reporters’ competence as they do about Time’s Up. If there is anyone who can decipher this mess, please do. I have a headache.

Following the fall of Harvey Weinstein and the vigor of the resulting #MeToo movement, the Time’s Up organization was formally launched on January 1, 2018. At that year’s Golden Globes a few days later, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Emma Watson, Michelle Williams and others arrived on the red carpet with women’s rights activists in tow. Oprah Winfrey gave an impassioned speech on the broadcast, saying, “I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! . . . The time when nobody ever has to say ‘me too’ again!” Her speech sparked talk of her running for President.

#MeToo has become a rueful joke with the blind endorsement of Joe Biden, sexual harasser and accused workplace sexual assault purveyor, by most of its most prominent advocates. Time’s Up, however, includes a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and has formal and legal obligations, not just ethical ones. The Time’s Up organization consists of the Time’s Up Foundation and Time’s Up Now Inc., a 501(c)6. There is also a Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.

I defy anyone to make sense out of the two Post articles. To begin with, why does it only discuss the figures for 2018? 2020 is almost over; surely 2019 figures are available. Were they better? Aren’t the most recent years the most important ones? The articles say that in its first year of operation, Time’s Up spent just $312,000 of the more than $3 million it raised on sexual misconduct victims’ legal bills. It then points out that Charity watchdog groups such as Charity Navigator recommend that non-profits spend 75% of their revenues on their mission and no more than 25% on administration. “Time’s Up spent 38% on salaries alone,” it says. But Charity Navigator only “watches” charities, and those guidelines only apply to 501(c)3 organizations like the Times Up Foundation.

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On Hypocrisy: An Argument From UnHerd That I Didn’t Need To Hear

I frequently check into a British website called “UnHerd” to get a different perspective on things, and it is often an enjoyable and stimulating experience. From its “About” page:

UnHerd aims to do two things: to push back against the herd mentality with new and bold thinking, and to provide a platform for otherwise unheard ideas, people and places. We think this approach is more needed than ever. Societies across the West are divided and stuck, and the established media is struggling to make sense of what’s happening. The governing ideologies of the past generation are too often either unquestioningly defended or rejected wholesale.

It’s easy and safe to be in one or other of these two camps – defensive liberal or angry reactionary – but UnHerd is trying to do something different, and harder. We want to be bold enough to identify those things that have been lost, as well as gained, by the liberal world order of the past thirty years; but we strive to be always thoughtful rather than divisive. We are not aligned with any political party, and the writers and ideas we are interested in come from both left and right traditions. But we instinctively believe that the way forward will be found through a shift of emphasis: towards community not just individualism, towards responsibilities as well as Rights, and towards meaning and virtue over shallow materialism.

They are going to have to do better, however, than the kind of shallow commentary represented by the recent essay on hypocrisy, which stepped on two ethics landmines before it even started, with this heading:

Hypocrisy is not the worst thing on earth: No one cares if progressives don’t practise what they preach — so long as what they’re preaching is good.

Those familiar with the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list will immediately flag the flagrant use of #22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”

I think it’s fair to say that I hate that rationalization, and that I immediately, and perhaps unalterably distrust anyone who resorts to it. The second ethics breach is the incompetent use of “good.” What does that mean, in this context? Right? Practical? Effective? Not bad?

This raised a tangential ethical problem for me: I increasingly am tempted to stop reading when an author appears t be dishonest, lazy, sneaky or dumb in the first few sentences. Usually I don’t, and occasionally I am glad I didn’t, but most of the time I find that my initial instincts were correct.

In this case, the author, conservative pundit Ben Sixsmith, does an acceptable job explaining the misuse of hypocrisy accusations, a topic often explored here. For example, he writes, Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 8/23/2020, As If Anyone Needs To be Warmed Up Today…

Hot enough for ya?

1. False narrative, bad analogy. The popular media narrative is that President Trump is in a similar position to George H.W. Bush in 1988, when polls at this point showed him trailing Democratic Presidential nominee Michael Dukakis by a large margin. Conservative media had cited the comparison earlier this summer to make the simple point that being behind in the polls in July is relatively meaningless. Lately the mainstream media has been flogging the analogy in order to continue its doomsday prediction for the Trump campaign.

“Bush ’88 rally could be map for Trump ’20” is somehow deemed worthy of a front page spot in the Sunday Times. To begin with, that’s fake news of the “future news” variety. (“…or, it might not be.”) More importantly, it’s straw man: the article exists to to show that President Trump may not be able to prevail, because, you see, having begun with the false assertion that his situation is similar to Bush’s, the Times explains that the situations aren’t that similar at all. The bad analogy is created to rebut it.

In fact, the differences between the Bush challenge in 1988 and Trump’s in 2020 mostly favor the President. Bush was never a popular figure; he was distrusted by conservatives, and only was nominated because an epicly popular President, Ronald Reagan, anointed him as his approved successor. (Barack Obama, in contrast, avoided “anointing” Biden.) A strong Democratic opponent would have beaten Bush; Dukakis was weak. He was ahead in the polls when nobody outside of Massachusetts knew what  he was like. Trump has a large base of passionate supporters, something Bush never had. He is an incumbant (Bush was not), and if they run, incumbents almost always win. Bush was an awful debater; Trump has proven effective in debates. And while Dukakis was completely supported by the liberal wing of the party, Biden has critics on the hard left, among feminists (the non-hypocrite faction), and African Americans. The Democratic party of the 1980s had not spent four years trying to overturn an election. Moreover, polls are less reliable now than they were before news media bias began warping them, and Trump’s support, as the last election showed,  is especially hard to measure. Continue reading

The Hypocrisy And Dishonesty Of The Democratic National Convention Apparently Made Rose McGowan’s Head Explode

McGowan is a former Hollywood “scream queen” (one of my personal favorites, with her entertaining turn in “Scream” and her unforgettable “babe with a an automatic rifle for an artificial leg” performance in “Grindhouse” ) turned fearless #MeToo activist. She one of Harvey Weinstein’s victims, and has earned a reputation for calling out hypocrites within that movement in merciless terms, notably  her former “Charmed” cast mate and current fellow Twitter auteur, Alyssa Milano.

It was to be expected that the odious dishonesty of  the virtual Democratic National Convention just completed would provoke her, and, sure enough, it did.

In her now familiar take-no-prisoners style, McGowran tweeted:

Observations: Continue reading

Addendum: “Now THIS Is “Condign Justice”: The Democrats’ Hypocrisy And Bill Clinton’s Massage”

The Clinton spin machine is already trying to minimize the significance of the photo of Bill Clinton being massaged by one of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex slaves, which surfaced just as Clinton was about to speak at the  virtual Democratic National Convention. That spin machine is damn good—after all, it was taught by the best. The narrative, however, is the equivalent of throwing dust in the eyes of observers while they are being blasted by a fog machine.

Here is the current “it depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is” deceit from Clinton’s lackeys, which was kindly provided by a commenter:

  • The woman who was giving him the massage in the photo was 22 years old at the time, not underage.
  • She really was a trained massage therapist.
  • The photo was taken in a public place — an airport — during a trip to Africa for a humanitarian mission, not to Jeffrey Epstein’s pedophile island.
  • Clinton was in the company of several celebrities “who have never been accused of wrongdoing” who believed they were taking part in a genuine charitable event.
  • According to the masseuse, Clinton was charming and sweet and did nothing inappropriate during the trip.

I wrote the following in response, which Zanshin, another veteran commenter, proprly suggests should be buried in the comments, which, sadly, a lot of readers ignore. I’ve edited it slightly: Continue reading

Now THIS Is “Condign Justice”: The Democrats’ Hypocrisy And Bill Clinton’s Massage

Well, as the saying goes, it couldn’t happen to a nicer party.

Yesterday, as the Democrats shook their hypocrisy before America by having Bill Clinton play Star of the Convention, confident that they have so effectively corrupted and misinformed the public (with the help of the complicit news media, natch), that it won’t see anything amiss even at their first gathering since the emergence of #MeToo.  Then, shortly before Bill prepared to bloviate, a series of photographs were published by the Daily Mail showing the ex-President being massaged by one of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex slaves.

Perfect. Continue reading

Mid-Day Ethics Meanderings, 7/22/2020: Relax, The Duke Is Safe.

1 .Another shoe drops: The Boston Red Sox announced that they would “support” any players who chose to kneel during the National Anthem when The Strangest Baseball Season since World War II, when teams fielded 16-year-old infielders and one-armed outfielders, commences tomorrow. The announcement was no surprise, and this team in particular had little choice.

Boston’s AL team is forever viewed with suspicion on race issues because it was the last major league team to break the color line, and because it passed on opportunities to sign some of the early black stars. Last season a visiting player claimed to hear a racist slur hurled his way from the Fenway Park bleachers, and the Red Sox management has been ostentatiously “woke,” cancelling Tom Yawkey  from the Fenway environs  though the team owes its existence to the long-time owner’s beneficence. He was rumored to be a racist, however, and that was enough to justify erasing his name (except from his initials in Morse Code on the scoreboard).

2.  Bad service only matters for drug stores, apparently. State regulators in Oklahoma cited and fined CVS for conditions found at four of its pharmacies, including inadequate staffing and errors made in filling prescriptions. Staffing just about everywhere is unfriendly to consumers—indeed, most stores were understaffed even before the lockdown, now half-lockdown while the teachers extort the country.

Our local CVS, where I have many ethics adventures, now has minimal staff, including in the pharmacy,  because there are so few customers lately. Hilariously, the store’s auto-scan checkout option is one of the features that requires staff: the damn things don’t work half the time, or a staffer has to lead some confused senior through the process.

3. Unfortunately, it’s more difficult than ever to believe sexual harassment allegations. #MeToo so egregiously overplayed its hand and has been so schizophrenic in its standards that I have to look at any high-profile allegations as potentially motivated by politics. In an action that must have been well underway before the Washington Redskins  suddenly caved and agreed to change the team’s name (yet another poll, a new one, has indicated that the vast majority of football fans and Native Americans have no problem with “Redskins”), 15 female ex-employees told The Washington Post that they were sexually harassed while working for the organization. Shortly thereafter, a Fox News staffer and periodic on-air guest filed suit in federal court alleging they had been harassed or raped  by Ed Henry, the Fox News reporter who was fired for “willful sexual misconduct in the workplace,”  The suit also alleges harassment by  Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, the latter perpetually on “the resistance’s” hit list and the target of boycotts, and Carlson recently becoming a force as a pundit. Therefore he must be destroyed.

Do I find it hard to believe that the Redskins, or any NFL team, has a culture hostile to female employees? No. Do I think that Fox News has effectively banished its pervasive workplace sexism and misogyny since the forced exits of the late Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly?  Absolutely not. Do I think weaponizing sexual harassment allegations has become a predictable and unethical tactic on the Left, (See: Mathews, Chris) thus making the timing of both of these sets of complants suspicious?

Is Bismark a herring?*

4. More things  now as predictable as they are indefensible. The University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts will remove its John Wayne exhibit as part of the school’s efforts to address “systemic racism” in society with obnoxious, shallow and foolish gestures.

The Duke graduated from USC, of course (he was raised in Iowa), and the justification for his dishonoring was an admittedly dumb interview he gave Playboy in 1971, where he was obviously (to me, anyway, at the time) trolling a liberal and hostile magazine by saying exactly the kinds of things  the Wayne haters expected him to say. (I always assumed he was drunk during that interview.) This move by USC was expected—California, universities: you know, morons. As Spiked noted, Wayne’s importance to the culture and the history of film by virtue of his on-screen portrayals should not be diminished by any interview the actor did.

As an actor and a director,Wayne was careful to portray characters who respected blacks and other minorities as human beings. In “The Cowboys,” for example, he is routinely reprimanded and shown up by his black cook, played by the great Rosco Lee Browne. In many movies, like “McClintock!,” “Hondo” and “Fort Apache,” he demonstrated sympathy and respect for Native Americans; Wayne also prominently featured Chinese-American actor H.W. Gim in his films whenever feasible from 1942 on, notably as his landlord Chin Lee in “True Grit.”

If his character was a racist, Wayne didn’t hesitate to represent racism negatively, as when he opposed his black ranch hand (Woody Strode) learning to read in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” because Wayne’s character is hostage to archaic traditions, or when he seems determined to murder his white niece (Natalie Wood) because she has lived with Native Americans and presumably had sex with a chief.

All of John Wayne’s wives were also Mexican, meaning that his four children are “Persons of Color.”

Never mind. Wayne’s legacy and hold on the culture is unbreakable. Just last week I stumbled about four of his films on cable. They’ll get Mt. Rushmore before they shoot down the Duke. [Pointer: Pennagain]

__________________________

*Cultural literacy bonus points for identifying the source.

Democrats Now Stand With Bill Maher On Tara Reade And Joe Biden, Which Tells Us All We Need To Know About #MeToo And Democrats

Former actress Rose McGowan, an alleged Harvey Weinstein rape victim, among the most dedicated #MeToo advocates, and a pariah in Hollywood for her penchant for calling out harassers (like Ben Affleck) and grandstanding hypocrites (like Alyssa Milano), directly accused Bill Maher of sexual harassment yesterday in a tweet:

This won’t trouble Maher or presumably his fans and viewers, because Maher has made it crystal clear for his entire, ugly career as a clown nose on/ clown nose off pundit that he doesn’t see anything wrong with sexual harassment. He believes women exist on earth for his convenience and pleasure. He is a pure misogynist, who has repeatedly called women who don’t conform to his ideological cast “cunts” and “twats” (as his audience guffaws). When Bill Clinton was battling through Monica Madness, Maher opined that Clinton should have said, ‘Yeah, I had sex with an intern, and I deserve to, because I’m President!” (Maher wasn’t kidding, just as Clinton  wasn’t kidding when he essentially confirmed Maher’s assumption by writing in his autobiography that he exploited Lewinsky “because he could.”) It goes without saying that Maher also thinks that #MeToo is a crock.

And I guess, based on so many of its vocal  supporters’ words and conduct recently, he must be right.

Do I believe that Maher said what McGowan claims? The former “Scream” star is perpetually furious, but she has also been consistently honest. Maher used (and probably still uses) his panels as a dating bar (Rose was really hot in the 90s), and his quote sounds like something he might say to an attractive  female guest; heck, he’s said worse on the air. Bill hasn’t responded yet; I bet that if he does, he’ll say something like, “Sure, I said it. Why shouldn’t I? It’s true!” And his peanut gallery will cheer.

This brings us to Maher’s pronouncement on his show last week regarding the Tara Reade accusation, which she elaborated on in a graphic interview with former NBC News and Fox News journalist Megyn Kelly last week. Continue reading

Most Unethical Biden Defender Yet: New Hampshire Democratic State Representative Richard Komi

(Cross-filed under “Ethics Dunce,” “Unethical Quote of the Month,” “Incompetent Elected Official,” “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring,” and “Wow, What An Idiot!”)

I would have thought that both parties would have required briefings for all their elected officials on what constitutes workplace assault and sexual harassment. Apparently not, because this guy apparently seems to think that when your boss, a powerful Senator, demands that you submit to his sexual advances, it ‘s OK as long as you give in. It’s not. Never mind that Komi’s tweet attempts to excuse Biden —and his denials—by blaming the victim.

Oh, the dead ethics alarm started pinging softly once enough colleagues and constituents contacted him to say, “Are you out of your mind??? Take that thing down!” It may have been too late anyway. His own party, as corrupted and hypocritical as it has revealed itself to be during this fiasco, couldn’t that this pass. New Hampshire House Speaker Stephen Shurtleff, also a Democrat,  said in a statement, “I am appalled by Representative Komi’s comments. They were dismissive and hurtful to survivors of sexual assault across the Granite State and across the country. The comments are not fitting for the New Hampshire House of Representatives and immediately upon learning of them, I called him and asked Representative Komi to resign his seat.”

A spokesman for the New Hampshire democratic Party itself also called for his resignation, saying,

Representative Komi’s comment is wrong, inappropriate, and offensive to all Democrats, and does not reflect the values of our party. I applaud Speaker Shurtleff’s swift action, calling for Rep. Komi to resign immediately

And I was just going to write that I wondered which ploy Komi would try to wiggle out of this. My money was going to be on “This doesn’t reflect who I am,” with a touch of the Pazuzu Excuse and the recently resurgent Yoo’s Rationalization, or “It isn’t what it is.”

As I was typing that, the news arrived that the idiot resigned, along with a crummy hybrid between a Level 9 non-apology apology [ “Deceitful apologies, in which the wording of the apology is crafted to appear apologetic when it is not…”] and  a #10 apology [ “An insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.’]…

“I also want to offer my sincere apologies to anybody whose feelings may have been hurt by the tweets. I am and will continue to be a supporter of victims of sexual and domestic assault. The tweets were very poorly worded and do not reflect who I am and what I stand for. I ask for the forgiveness of all who have been a victim of sexual or any other kind of assault.”

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The Amazing, Depressing But Not Especially Surprising Tara Reade Hypocrisy Rolls

Amber Athey of the American Spectator did a service for  open-minded Americans who care about integrity and who were under the impression that the Democratic Party had any.  She assembled a list of 35 enthusiastic Democratic endorsers of Joe Biden as the party’s 2020 nominee, and tracked down their passionate exclamations regarding Christine Blasey-Ford’s less-corroborated allegations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh.

Her list is quite long, but essential reading: a more stomach-churning demonstration of grandstanding (then) and hypocrisy (now) would be difficult to find.  In some cases, it is amusing: these hacks could be so self-righteous about the holy credibility of a woman accusing a Republican, and decry the blackened souls of anyone who didn’t immediately accept her as  an unquestionable truth-teller, yet they won’t even acknowledge Biden’s equally female and more than equally credible accuser. Not only that, they are apparently certain that such blatant double-standards won’t trouble the progressive herd.

Well, maybe they are right. We shall see. we shall see just how corrupt that herd has become.

The list reinforces Reade’s words in an interview on Fox News over the weekend. She said in part,

“I’d like my history with Biden to be examined in a dignified way that’s not slanted by political bias or sensationalized. I’d like a deeper conversation about the fact that sexual harassment and sexual assault do not have a political party, agenda. “It’s an equal opportunity offender….I mean, it doesn’t matter what your party affiliation is, and it shouldn’t as far as the media coverage regarding claims.”…

“Blasey Ford, because it was a conservative candidate they were going to put in the Supreme Court, was treated with much more deference by most of the media outlets… I’ve basically had no substantive support from women’s groups that are considered liberal or Democratic. I’ve had no support from any Democratic candidate, although I’ve reached out. And I’ve received either slanted reporting that ended up being talking points for Biden’s campaign or silence from the mainstream media… what I would like to say to them at this point and some of the silence from some the candidates Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren that at this point, if you continue to silence me, if you continue to engage in protecting a powerful man without giving my case a closer look, you are complicit in rape”

Normally I’d append my observations after such a list, but this one is just too long. There is also material here for dozens of Ethics Dunce, Incompetent Elected Official, and Unethical Quote posts—an embarrassment of embarrassments, you might say. Here are a relatively restrained number of rueful observations:

  • In addition to the obvious hypocrisy, and repulsive grandstanding these quotes represent, they also raise the question of whether some or perhaps any of these people really care about sexual harassment and sexual assault at all, or if it is just mass posturing and virtue signaling for short term political gain.

I do not see how any genuine feminist or anti-sexual harassment and assault activist, inspired by Blasey-Ford’s testimony, could make the sweeping statements about victims, women, justice, and the importance of the position Kavanaugh was seeking that you read below, and then, when their party’s  presumptive nominee for President is accused of an even more shocking assault,  ignore the  alleged victim and proceed with a pro forma endorsement. How can they do that? How can they not be embarrassed? How can their supporters, or anyone, ever trust or respect them again?

  • I  raise the same question regarding the #MeToo leaders, feminists, female Democrats, and men who, like me, support efforts to take sexual harassment out of the workplace.  The feminist movement lost me–I was once a NOW member—when it reversed its position on sexual harassment by male bosses to protect Bill Clinton when he was lying about Monica. (Bill was pro-abortion, you see.) This is worse. The emotional outcries of feminist activists in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein revelations were absolute and unequivocal. Where are the  #MeToo leaders to take up the cause of Tara Reade? Where is Tarana Burke, Ashley Judd, Reese Witherspoon, Mira Sorvino, Gwyneth Paltrow, Meryl Streep,  Patricia Arquette, Angelina Jolie, Alyssa Milano (Well, we know where she is—pretending that her continued support for Biden in light of her #MeToo fanaticism doesn’t make her, and the movement, look ridiculous), or Fatima Goss Graves  of the National Women’s Law Center? Where, for that matter, is Hillary Clinton? If they believed what they said they did, if they weren’t lying and posturing before, they would be supporting Reade.

Heck, I argued in sexual harassment trainings eight months ago that women and Democrats supporting Joe Biden with his photographic record of harassment…you know…

were undercutting public support for and understanding of  sexual harassment laws. It’s more than hypocritical. It’s stupid.

  • Which of the hypocrites below deserves special contempt? It’s hard to top Elizabeth Warren, the party’s Demogogue Queen, who has announced that she would be proud to be Handsy Joe’s VP. Yet she said, “Many survivors of sexual assault choose not to speak out, for a thousand different reasons. But when they do, they deserve to be heard. The events described by Julie Swetnick, Ms Ramirez & Dr Ford are absolutely heart-wrenching.’

Boy she’s awful!

The fake complaints of Swetnick and Ramirez, now thoroughly discredited, broke her heart, but she snubs Reade as if she were a descendant of General Custer. Then there’s Virginia Senator Mark Warner, who proclaimed, “This is a serious allegation, and we have a responsibility to listen….For too long, our political system has shut out the voices of women & silenced the stories behind the #MeToo movement.” How can he look at himself in the mirror after endorsing Biden?

Well, don’t get me started,. As I said, there are dozens this bad.(But be sure you check out Rep. Barbara Lee.)

  • The words you will keep reading are “bravery,” ” all women,” “credible,” “victims,” “right to be heard,” “speaking truth to power”…all of which apply at least as much to Tara Reade as the did to Blasey-Ford. What’s the difference?

You know what the difference is.

  • It’s a silver lining, I suppose, that the fiasco chronicled below is useful as a great unmasking, although the most exposed are generally those whose lack of integrity should have been obvious anyway. Here, for example, is the hideous Senator Hirono:

“…we are standing together because we #BelieveWomen…this is why the #MeToo movement is so important, because often in these situations, there is an environment where people see nothing, hear nothing, and say nothing. That is what we have to change.”

Well, I could write about this forever, and I’m tempted.  But it’s time to view the hypocrisy parade…beginning with Barack Obama (Michelle? Has anyone heard from Michelle? Hello?) , and the Speaker, who endorsed Joe Biden yesterday.

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