Marcia Clark, Exploiting the Anthony Verdict for Her Own Sake

Marcia Clark. OK, this really isn't Marcia, but the real picture of her doesn't look like her either.

Marcia Clark’s article on the Casey Anthony verdict is so tainted with obvious conflicts of interest that it should have been rejected by The Daily Beast…or rather would be rejected by any website more selective and less shameless than the Daily Beast. This would be any fair site that does not deal in over-the-top opinion as a matter of course.

Marcia, like her colleague Chris Darden, is a rather tragic figure these days. The former lead prosecutor in the O.J. case is struggling to make it as a pundit, freshly botoxed and rendered almost unrecognizable so as to be fetching in those close-ups. After she sold the inevitable cash-in book about the Trial of the Century, she has wandered in the C-List celebrity wilderness, and will soon join Newt Gingrich and William Shatner as a celebrity novelist. She will be remembered, quite correctly, as the prosecutor who botched the O.J. murder trial, even if we give Darden an assist for the gloves debacle. (Why cable news shows insist on recycling failures as experts is an enduring mystery, the mystery being “how can the producers look themselves in the mirror after choosing recognizable flops over less well-known but more accomplished authorities?”)

But Clark apparently saw an opportunity in the Casey Anthony verdict to rehabilitate her tarnished reputation, and grabbed it. The result is “Worse Than O.J.!”, a new low in self-serving analysis. Continue reading

Unethical Blog Post of the Week: “But What About Caylee?”

Sad but true: the trial's purpose was not to find justice for Caylee.

If I responded to even one out of a hundred ethically muddled, logically addled posts by the hoard of bloggers in cyberspace, I’d have time for nothing else. Now and then, however, I am directed to a post that typifies the kind of free-floating, fact-starved gut sentiment that rots public discourse in America and that helps keeps the public confused and panicked.

In this case, I was directed to the post by the blogger herself, who managed to annoy me by accusing my post on the Casey Anthony jury of being callous to the victim in the case, two-year old Callie. I re-read my post; there wasn’t anything callous toward the child in any way. Puzzled, I went to the blogger’s page, a blog by someone who calls herself wittybizgal, and called Wittybizgal. Sure enough, there it was: an anguished lament about the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial entitled, “But What About Callie?”

The post is frightening, because I am certain that this kind of non-reasoning is epidemic in the United States, nourished by touchy-feely bloggers, pundits and columnists and made possible by the ingrained habit of having opinions without knowledge. Since their opinions are not supported by facts or reasoning, they can’t be debated. If you aren’t persuaded, you’re just mean, that’s all. That’s no way to decide what is right and wrong, but it certainly a popular way. Here is wittybizgal’s argument, one fallacious step at a time: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Mercedes Colwin

It's a mystery: why would Fox News choose her as a legal analyst?

Attorney Mercedes Colwin, an attorney and Fox News commentator, just committed pundit malpractice while discussing the Casey Anthony verdict on Sean Hannity’s radio show. Her professional biography says that she has practiced criminal defense law. If so, she has done so laboring under some serious legal ethics misconceptions.

Said Colwin, in response to Hannity’s query about her past representation of guilty defendants:

“If my client says he did it, then I can’t defend him. I can’t then go into court and say he’s innocent; I’m an officer of the court, Sean!”

What??? Wrong, wrong, outrageously wrong, inexcusably wrong! And also: ARRRRRGHHHHH! Continue reading

Hitler’s Ethics, and Ethics Malpractice From A Health Activist

I am sure “Ellen S.” is a sincere, caring, lovely person, but the Ethics Police need to put an electric monitor on her tongue that sets off a warning every time she tries to utter the word “ethics.” There are many divergent ethical systems and many legitimate ways of analyzing an ethical problem, but Ellen’s sincere, caring blog illustrate why so many people’s eye glaze over when ethics comes into a conversation, and worse, it shows why so many otherwise educated people let their conduct be governed by rationalizations. The latest post on Ellen S.’s blog for the WEGO Health website illustrates my point; I didn’t have the courage to read more, and you will see why.

The post is entitled “Was Hitler More Ethical Than You?” Continue reading

Drudge, Obama’s “$200 Million a Day Trip” and How The U.S. Public Gets Stupid

One of the many themes running through the many teeth-gnashing, garment-rending attempts by angry progressive columnist and bloggers to explain why the Democrats got their heads handed to them on Tuesday is that the voters are just stupid, that’s all. (In doing so, they duplicate the exact same arrogance that helped put all those heads on the block in the first place, but I digress.) The public is not stupid, of course, but it is often wretchedly misinformed by a news media that has lost most of its scruples and a lot of its professionalism. Once a rumor, misconception, distortion or myth gets enough publicity, it can lodge itself in people’s brains like shrapnel. Examples: Obama’s “Muslim faith” and his “foreign birth.” Other examples: the “50% divorce rate” and women only  getting paid “75% of what men are paid for the same jobs.”

We should all thank Matt Drudge for giving us a wonderful lesson on how this happens, both for our future reference and protection. He recently linked to a story in an Indian newspaper that reported, based on anonymous sources, that President Obama’s trip to Mumbai was going to be accompanied by about 10% of the U.S. fleet and cost $200,000,000 a day. Continue reading

Web Ethics, Due Diligence, and the Happy Maxi-Pad

There is no denying it any more. It is per se unethical to pass along information discovered on the web to anyone, much less to put it on a blog or in an e-mail, until you have performed due diligence and determined with reasonable certainty that it is accurate and true.

All the more reason, then, to praise the Snopes “urban legends” website, which does a superb job tracking down and clarifying web hoaxes, rumors and other misinformation. A lot of the latter isn’t even intentional, but the consequences of not checking the facts can still be significant and harmful,

I thought about this after encountering an amusing bit of web lore that many of you may have already seen, on aan old blog post that introduced the piece like this: Continue reading