From The Washington Post: A Fake News Classic!

And, of course, a “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!” masterpiece.

For shame.

Here is the headline:

Trump keeps claiming the most dangerous cities in America are run by  Democrats. They aren’t.

To be fair, the writer of the piece, apparently insane Post reporter Philip Bump, focuses on the President’s statement that the top twenty most dangerous cities are run by Democrats. Gotcha! Bump triumphantly produces this stunning graph to prove that, once again, Trump has lied, the bastard:

Ah HA! See??? Continue reading

Here’s A “Little List” Worth Perusing: Fake News Clues

The pop-culture-trivia-snark-list website Cracked (and how sad is it that the site based on the inferior magazine knock-off of Mad Magazine is still going and Mad has bitten the metaphorical dust?) has a post listing twenty ways not to be fooled by fake news. It starts out,

Thanks to the Twitters and the Facebooks of the world, these days we pretty much just get our “news” from the clickbait headlines we see while scrolling through poorly-made but still hilarious memes. Which sucks, because it’s pretty much ruining society. So here’s how to avoid becoming an uninformed angry internet denizen in the future.

Among the article’s observations:

  • Don’t trust The Daily Mail. I knew it was basically a rag, but I didn’t know the Daily Mail has overtaken the New York Times as the most visited news website.

I’ve never used the Daily Mail for a story without checking other sources, but he’s right; it’s lazy. I won’t use it from now on.

  • The use of the term “after ” in a headline implies causation that is often not there.

This is a New York Times specialty, particularly on Trump-bashing stories by reporter Maggie Halberman.

  • The post warns of headlines that are composed to nab clicks but that do not accurately reflect the content of the story beneath..

Another New York Times specialty.

  • This one was unintentionally funny, especially in the midst of the rest:

What reputable news sources? As the list amply demonstrates, there aren’t any! Continue reading

Brian Dennehy Has Died, And Attention Should Be Paid (Corrected)

This would normally be in the Warm-Up, but I left it out, and I want to make sure it is seen. I have written about this pet peeve of mine before, but I see that it was on the old Ethics Scoreboard in 2005, before Ethics Alarms. (ARGGH! I have GOT to get that site back on-line!)

Here is a typical headline I am seeing on the web:

Veteran Actor And ‘Tommy Boy’ Star Brian Dennehy Dead At 81

“Tommy Boy.”

For the love of God…

Brian Dennehy, who  died this week, was one of our finest, most versatile and most enjoyable character actors. His performance as Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s “Death of  Salesman” on Broadway is considered by critics as one of the very best interpretations of that classic role in what has been called the Great American Tragedy. The performance won him a Tony, as did his turn as Hickey in the other contender for the Great American Tragedy, O’Neill’s “The Ice Man Cometh.” (That one would get my vote.)

Dennehy’s brawny, square-headed Irish bartender looks limited him to supporting roles in films (In “Silverado,” He’s one of my two all-time favorite Western bad guys,  evil and so, so engaging!) and while he had many TV roles, Dennehy never found a long-running hit that would make him a household name ( and a gazillion dollars) like so many lesser actors. But Dennehy considered himself a stage actor, and there he excelled.

“Tommy Boy” is a sophomoric gross-out comedy that starred the late Chris Farley. Dennehy was terrific as Farley’s father, but the movie was the kind of throw-away that actors like him do to buy new pools. Citing that as Dennehy’s claim to fame is more than misleading, it’s an insult. Continue reading

Thank God This Miserable Week Is Over Ethics Review, 3/27/2020: Of Pangolins, Pandemics And Pronouns

Good afternoon.

Stop blaming my favorite animal, the pangolin, or the so-called “scaly anteater,” for the pandemic!

That’s a tree pangolin above in a defensive posture. Ever since the nexus for the outbreak of COVID-19 was traced back to a wet market in Hubei province, scientists have been looking for the virus’s heritage.  It’s possible that the virus emerged in a colony of horseshoe bats in Yunnan, a province that borders the south-east Asian country of Myanmar. But some fingers are also pointing at the pangolin, which was once believed to have bats in its ancestry. The animal, like others that American wouldn’t recognize, is the most trafficked beast in the world due to the supposed health benefits of its scales, with most of that traffic ending in China. A search for the “missing link” in the chain of the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 has uncovered two close cousins of the variety of coronavirus that started the pandemic in Wuhan in pangolins smuggled into China. Not THE virus, however.  Here’s a photo of a pangolin unfurled:

1. It is outrageous that a U.S. newspaper would include this sentence…From an article about the joys of Randolph Scott Westerns by Times film critic Ben Kinegsberg: “The depiction of Native Americans as horse-eating, husband-killing savages doesn’t sit well in modern eyes, and the name of Henry Silva’s character in “The Tall T” is so offensive it cannot be printed.”

Well, it has to printed somewhere, or the information itself has been permanently erased! If a newspaper is going to start  purging words, names, history  and facts, where does it stop? I’ve been trying to imagine what name could justify the Times refusing to reveal it, other than “Voldemort.” What could it be? Let’s check the Internet Movie Database (the film is “The Tall T“)… Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/25/2020: Lies, Liars, Fake Headlines And False Narratives.

Good morning!

What’s it like outside?

1. The Sisyphus Report. Ethics Alarms is currently at its all time high water mark for followers, a number it has reached three times previously, only to fall back, sometime precipitously.

When you are trapped in your home, you tend to obsess about such things.

2. You know why, but still…the mainstream media isn’t fact-checking or pointing out the blatant, insulting lie from Nancy Pelosi yesterday regarding the House Democrats’ alternative “stimulus” bill that “Everything we’re suggesting just relates to COVID-19. It’s not changing policy except as it applies here.” That bill included [Pointer: The Blaze]:

  • A bailout for the U.S. Postal Service
  • Student loan debt forgiveness
  • Required same-day voter registration
  • Airline emissions standards regulations
  • Study on climate change migration
  • Collective bargaining provisions
  • Increased federal minimum wage for companies that accept government loans
  • Publication of race and pay statistics for corporate boards

I’m not even mentioning things like the millions designated for the Kennedy Center, because that was technically related to addressing harm caused by the pandemic.

As I and many others noted, the Democrats’ grandstanding effort to stuff the rescue bill with progressive agenda items related to climate change, the Green New Deal and other social justice wish list items was political posturing for the base, which was forgivable as long as they didn’t try to hold the nation hostage, which they didn’t, at least for very long. But Pelosi’s denial that her party did what it did in plain sight (for anyone who bothered to read the bill about it) is the stuff of Jumbos, and the news media was obligated to let the public know.

They haven’t, and presumably won’t. Instead, journalists will continue to factcheck and scream about every lazy, non-substantive misstatement of facts by the President, and back the Democratic cant that President Trump always lies.

A party whose leadership issues pure disinformation like Pelosi’s should be estopped from using the “Trump lies”refrain.  Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/22/2020: Fighting The Good Fight Against The Virus That Ate Ethics

Gmph!

(That’s what “Good morning!” sounds like when you’re wearing a mask. At least when you’re wearing my mask: we couldn’t find any of the regular kind, so the best I can do is my “Zombie Werewolf” mask (the above picture is the closest I could find). My wife swears she’ll divorce me if i wear it outside…)

1. Undermine the leader, at all costs. Despite growing evidence that non-deranged Americans are, as they usually do, rallying behind their elected leader in a national crisis (because it is only sensible and patriotic to do so), the mainstream media, all-in as it has been since November 2016 in its effort to damage faith and trust in the President and assist the Democratic party in regaining power, continues to follow the game plan.

For example, in today’s Sunday Times, we have the headline “In This Crisis, U.S. Sheds Its Role As Global Leader,” complaining that even as it promises billions of dollars in aid to Americans as they are trapped at home and locked out of their jobs, businesses, and income, the U.S. should be financing the response to the Wuhan virus around the world. (The next critical piece will be about how the President allowed the debt to explode.) On the front page, we have the mocking headline (over an article by perpetual anti-Trump reporter Maggie Haberman, “Trump Is Faced With Crisis Too Big for Big Talk.” The news in  page 11 story is apparently Republican hypocrisy: “GOP, Once United Against Social Programs, Mobilizes to Push for Cash Relief,” as if urgent, once in a century emergency measures constitute a change in philosophy rather than responsible and responsive leadership. On the op-ed pages we get this despicable headline: “America, Not Trump, Will Save America,” continuing the theme of Democratic rejection and denial of the fact that the President is America, and they work together, or they don’t work. This is, of course, necessary preparation for the mews media’s future narrative that if (when) the United States emerges from the current crisis strong and vital, it will be in spite of the President’s efforts, not because of them. These people are willing to weaken our community when it i most important that we be united, because they believe that destroying the Trump Presidency is the prime directive.

These are terrible, unethical people, not because of what they believe, but because of what they are doing, and have been doing. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/10/2020: Freaking Out!

Good morning!

Oh! I nearly forgot!

ARGHH!

1. This day in war ethics: The Allies completed the fire-bombing of Tokyo in 1945. Over 100,000, mostly civilians, were killed. The attack is less well remembered than the two nuclear bombs and the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, but more people died on March 9 -10 in Tokyo than in any other single air attack of World War II.

2. Coronavirus freakouts.  Stipulated: the news media and desperate Democrats want the public to panic over the virus, and to blame the President, obviously.

  • Two media doctors, “Dr. Oz” and Drew Pinsky, have been performing a public service of sorts by trying to inject some perspective into the escalating hysteria, and by pointing their fingers at a primary suspect for it, the news media. Pinsky, in an interview with LA’s CBS afiifilate: “A bad flu season is 80,000 dead, we have about 18,000 dead from influenza this year and 100 from corona. Which should you be worried about, influenza or corona. 100 vs. 18,000, it’s not a trick question. Everything going on with everyone using Clorox wipes and get your flu shot, which should be the other message… that’s good. I have no problems with the behaviors. What I have a problem with is the panic and that businesses are getting destroyed and people’s lives are getting upended. Not by the virus, but by the panic.”

Dr. Oz (Real name: Mehmet Oz), who was routinely featured on network news during the Ebola scare, was attacked yesterday as a “quack” by the left-leaning Daily Beast, which has a stake in promoting the panic. In fact, Oz is something of a quack, but he’s a popular one, and using his influence to stop people from being crazy is an ethical use of it.

  • “You know…morons!”  A United Airlines flight from Eagle County, Colorado, to Newark International Airport had to be diverted to Denver over the weekend  after a group of passengers freaked out when another passenger started  coughing and sneezing. He was suffering from allergies.  In Denver, the three hysterical morons were taken off the plane, while the innocent passenger continued on the flight.

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/13/2020: Oh Oh! The Oscars Are Racist And Sexist Again!

 

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning!”

1. Thoughts on the announced Oscar nominations. Well, very few African Americans made it, and no female director despite all the blatant lobbying for “Little Women” director Greta Gerwig.  Thus I have to conclude that the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences DOES have a measure of integrity after all,  because it will catch all sorts of hell for this. Even after adding many voters “of color” and kicking out some ancient, unwoke voters members, it’s still a mostly white field, maybe because the most deserving candidates happened to be the wrong color this year. It doesn’t matter: the Academy will be beseiged again for implicit racism. Watch. And it will seek “reforms.” The problem is that race-based categories looks like apartheid. The only other alternative is to have secret quotas, which is what I thought were already in effect.

It doesn’t help that both Al Pacino and Joe Pesci were nominated as Best Supporting Actors for, in Pacino’s case, standard issue Al, and in Pesci’s case, an embarrassingly  flat performance. If the Academy is going to give out legacy nominations, why not some token nominations for minorities? I bet there were 50 “of color” performances this year objectively superior to these two from the dead-fish “The Irishman.”

2. It amazes me that so many Americans defend Meghan Markle’s “Megxit.” I know, I already wrote about this, but her conduct appears to be a continuation of the Obama phenomenon, where a prominent individual exploits her race to declare all criticism as based on racial bias. “Black Britons” as the New York Times calls them, are lining up to support Markel because they allege she was “savaged” by the British tabloids because of her race. Similarly, the Times finds dark implications in the fact that the Royal Family didn’t rally to her side when she came under fire: they must be racists too. All the evidence I’ve seen suggests that they didn’t support Markel because she’s an annoying jerk: Occam’s Razor applies.

If she really married into the Royal Family and didn’t know that the tabloids would be dissecting her every word and move, she was negligent and foolish. Did she consider chatting with Sarah Ferguson, or did Markle think the Duchess of York was attacked because of media bias against redheads?

For once I agree with ex-CNN talking head Piers Morgan, who wrote, “I’ve seen some disgraceful royal antics in my time, but for pure arrogance, entitlement, greed and willful disrespect, nothing has ever quite matched the behavior of the ‘Duke and Duchess of Sussex.’

She has provoked a crisis in the monarchy to further her own goals of unearned mega-celebrity. I have a Facebook friend who argues that since royalty is unethical, Meghan should be praised for setting out to bring it down in England. (Yes, he’s a Communist.) The real Markle is already becoming more apparent. She has said that she will only move back to the U.S. after President Trump is out of office, already pandering to the Angry Woke. Disney announced that it had a voice-over deal with her, with her compensation to be donated to a charity….but she made that deal as a Royal, not a rebel. Disney has the right, but not the guts, to void the arrangement. Continue reading

A Fake News Story About Fake News!

The New York Times end-of-year whine about how mean President Trump has been to the news media was headlined (in the print edition), “Trump Attacked News Media Even More in 2019.” That’s an assertion of fact. What does it mean? Well, the first sentence of the story reads, “On Twitter, President Trump deployed the phrase “fake news” 273 times this year — 50 percent more often than he did in 2018.” Is calling a story published by the news media “fake news” an “attack”? What if the story is objectively false or misleading as most—not all, but most—of those in question were?

For example, last week MSNBC aired an Iranian state media claim that the second round of rocket attacks on U.S. military installments in Iraq killed 30 U.S. soldiers, and that “we have just stepped over the precipice.” That’s irresponsible and lousy journalism. MSNBC hadn’t checked the claim, it just rushed it on the air. I don’t want to hear the Clintonian rationalizations that this wasn’t technically fake news, because the report was that the Iranians were saying that the 30 soldiers had been killed. It was a false report; it was misleading; it would upset the families of servicemen in the area (one journalist criticized it as “journo-terrorism”), and there was no excuse for it. If this kind of unprofessional hackery is criticized, by me, for example, is that an attack?

Such a characterization is more fake news. The news media is constantly pushing the dishonest and self serving position that to criticize journalists for their proven ethical breaches and betrayal of their duty to keep the public informed is to attack them, ergo this is an attack on journalism itself, hence it is an attack on Freedom of the Press, therefore it is an attack on democracy itself. Calling the news media on its now near complete transformation into a left-wing propaganda machine is, they surmise, is tarred by this false characterization built on successive unwarranted leaps of logic.

Journalists appear to really believe their own fake news in this case. I hear and read it over and over again: the decline in the public’s trust in news reporting, as reflected in many surveys and polls, is President Trump’s doing, as part of his grand plan to become a dictator. (See Big Lie #3). Their narcissistic delusion that they and their profession are beyond reproach is self-evidently in direct opposition to reality: the reason for the decline of American journalism’s credibility is its own, reckless , escalating dishonest, incompetence, bias and untrustworthiness.

The article is a good example of this itself. The second sentence in the piece says that the President “demanded ‘retribution’ over a ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch.” Yes, that was self-evidently stupid, but what does a late night comedy show have to do with the news media? Nothing.

The article then moves on to another Big Lie it has repeatedly advocated,  #6: “Trump’s Defiance Of Norms Is A Threat To Democracy.”

The “norm” in this case is, I guess, a President remaining passive and prostrate while most of the journalistic establishment openly allies itself with your adversaries—even foreign adversaries, like Iran— and dedicates its reporting to destroying your ability to govern. The Times writes, “Mr. Trump’s vilification of the news media is a hallmark of his tenure and a jagged break from the norms of his predecessors: Once a global champion of the free press, the presidency has become an inspiration to autocrats and dictators who ape Mr. Trump’s cry of ‘fake news.’”

Calling this a “jagged break from the norms of his predecessors” is another variety of fake news: fake history, in which the news media deliberately or incompetently makes the largely historically ignorant public more ignorant by falsely describing the past. My “favorite” example of this kind of fake news was when Presidential historian Doug Brinkley was put on the air by CNN on election night to salve the despair of Hillary supporters by explaining that America seldom elects the same party to the Presidency three terms in a row. What he said was completely wrong on the facts, not wrong as an opinion, just false. Nobody challenged him; there was no correction. Continue reading

From The “Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!” Files: The Washington Post Plays Partisan Politics With A Headline, And Can’t Even Do It Competently

Once again I will begin by saying that those who deny the partisan bias in the mainstream media against President Trump (among other topics) deserve contempt, either for their lack of perception of the obvious, or for their atrocious citizenship. The last metaphorical rotten journalism gun choking the public with smoke was September’s effort by the New York Times and two of its reporters to continue the smearing of Justice Kavanaugh, a story quickly buried by the Ukraine phone call impeachment plot. (I know, I know, I never got my promised post up on Kavanaugh II. But I will, if it takes until December…) The latest, this time by the Washington Post, is pure res ipsa loquitur. Let me break it down:

I. From the New York Post:

A “high value” target believed to be ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has died in a US raid in Syria Saturday, according to multiple news reports. Baghdadi was targeted in a strike by US Special Operations forces, three US officials told ABC News. One of those officials told ABC that it is believed the ISIS leader detonated a suicide vest as the ground raid was carried out in the northwestern city of Idlib. Defense Department officials told the White House Saturday it had “great confidence” that Baghdadi was killed in the raid, Newsweek reported, citing Army sources.

This is an undeniable achievement by U.S. forces of the type that the previous President claimed great credit for, and received from the news media without hesitation.

II. Reporting on the terrorist leader’s death, some headline writer at the Washington Post naively played it straight, as if the Post was a real, trustworthy news source. Referring to Al-Baghdadi as “Islamic State’s terrorist-in-Chief” in the obituary heading. Oooh, can’t have that! It will make casual readers assume that the Trump Administration did something praiseworthy!  So the foolishly objective headline writer was dispatched to the Kids Post section, and new headline was appended:

That means President Trump just killed a religious scholar! Oh, he may have been austere, but that’s no reason to kill him! Trump’s a monster!

This was so misleading and blatantly absurd that it didn’t remain for more than a couple of hours. Ultimately the Post settled on…

That’s better, but it omits the little detail that the man was a terrorist, like, for example, Osama Bin Laden. The first headline was the right one; unfortunately, it might have benefited President Trump.

III.  The Post was caught red-handed. Tweeted muck-raking journalist Glenn Greenwald, no friend he either to the mainstream media or President Trump…

Democrats, Washington Post, mainstream media…Greenwald properly lumps them all together. Charles Glasser wrote, Continue reading