Tag Archives: misrepresentation

Never Mind “Fake News,” How Do We Protect Ourselves From “Fake Newsweek” And An Industry That Won’t Police Itself?

madam-president

From The Washington Examiner:

A Newsweek editor admitted Wednesday that he and other staffers didn’t actually read their recalled commemorative “Madam President” election issue before it was published.

Newsweek political editor Matthew Cooper said Wednesday on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that the magazine’s issue, which incorrectly anticipated a Hillary Clinton win, was not produced by Newsweek but by a third party.

“Well, no one on our staff wrote that,” Cooper said. “Again, we subcontract out to a company.”

Cooper later stated that  “we did not review it before it went out.”

Carlson, who was aghast, asked at one point what would have happened if the sub-contractor, a hack outfit called Topix Media Lab, had printed “Mein Kampf” in the special edition under Newsweek’s banner.  “That would have been even worse,” answered Cooper. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

Ethics Dunce: Iowa Student Kaleb Vanfosson

dragged-off

Iowa State student Kaleb Vanfosson accepted the job of introducing Bernie Sanders at a pro-Hillary rally last week. Instead of doing what he agreed to do, he used his moment at the microphone to rant about how awful Clinton was, saying in part before he was escorted off the stage (above) by a guy that looked like the principal in “Back To The Future”…

“The only thing she cares about is pleasing her delegates, the billionaires. The only people that really trust Hillary are Goldman Sachs, Citigroup can trust Hillary, the military-industrial complex can trust Hillary.”

There has been a lot of this kind of unethical conduct lately, notably from performers hired to sing the National Anthem who then do a Colin Kaepernick impression instead. What are they teaching in Iowa? It is never ethical to make a commitment to perform one task and not perform it as agreed. It is even worse to do the opposite of what was agreed, and to embarrass and undermine the objective of the enterprise.

Just because something is styled as a protest doesn’t make it fair, responsible or right. Vanfosson was grandstanding, and he was cheating. Sanders takes questions, and in a Q and A session was the time and place to make his points. He used misrepresentation to do it from center stage.

The interesting ethics question is whether the student’s conduct gets a pass because his victim, Bernie Sanders, embraces such guerilla protest tactics, or did when he was that age. The answer is no. The ethical approach would have been to ask Bernie himself if he would accept an anti-Clinton rant as his introduction. Vanfosson didn’t, perhaps because he knew what the answer would be.

 

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics

From The Ethics Alarms Mail Bag: A Reader Asks, “Is The Verizon Wireless “Can You Hear Me Now?” Guy Unethical For Going Over To Sprint?

Question: Is the former Verizon Wireless spokes-character  whose tag line was “Can you hear me now?” unethical to star in commercials for Verizon competitor Sprint?

Answer: No, because that character, “the Test Man,” wasn’t real.

The real actor who played him, Paul Marcarelli, was playing a character and reading a script. He was acting the role of someone who told the audience how good the Verizon Wireless network was. He didn’t have to believe what he said was true. His loyalty extended no farther than his contractual obligations. The actor wasn’t ethically obligated to use Verizon Wireless, like it, understand it or believe in it, any more than Dos Equis’s “most interesting man in the world” has to really be interesting. Once the first ad series was dropped, he was a free agent.

Verizon could have included some kind of non-compete provision in the contract, forbidding Marcarelli from doing ads for a competitor, at least for a while.  It definitely could have prevented him from playing the same character as he played in the Verizon commercials, because that character is owned by Verizon. However,  Marcarelli uses his real name, Paul, in those Sprint ads, so he can argue that he’s not playing the Verizon character, but himself, and he owns the rights to “Paul Marcarelli.”

However, I do think the Sprint ads are unethical, and so obviously dishonest that they reflect poorly on Sprint. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Marketing and Advertising, Professions

Unethical Headline Of The Week: Gateway Pundit: No, Conservatives, A Clinton Advisor Did Not “Admit She Hates Everyday Americans”

Nice graphic, Gateway Pundit! Stupid post, though...

Nice graphic, Gateway Pundit! Embarrassing post, though…

Just because progressive blogs are playing this game doesn’t make it OK for you to do it to0.

Here’s the headline, on a breathless post  conservative blogger Jim Hoft:

WIKILEAKS BOMBSHELL: Hillary Advisors Admit She “HATES EVERYDAY AMERICANS”

Now here is the “bombshell”:

hillary-hate-americans-575x371

Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, The Internet

The New York Times Proves Why Journalists Can’t Be Trusted To “Fact-Check” Since They Don’t Know What A Lie Is

jaccuse2

Ugh.

I finally grabbed a barf bag and read the New York Times attack piece from the weekend titled “A Week of Whoppers.” Silly me: Donald Trump lies so often that I simply took it on faith that the Times would have no trouble finding real and substantive lies to expose from The Donald. Instead, what I found were a few genuine lies of no great significance lumpod with statements that were obviously not meant literally, off-the-cuff remarks that any objective listener would assume were just generalizations, self-evident hyperbole, or opinion. None rose to the level of outright attempts to deceive on the magnitude of “I never sent or received classified material,” or “wiped? Like with a cloth?”

Needless to say, but I’ll still say it, none came within a Washington mile of lies like “I did not have sex with that woman,”  which is one Hillary Clinton attempted to facilitate. It is depressing that any reporter, editor or reader would find the analysis that all 31 of these alleged “lies by Trump were “lies” fair, rational or convincing. Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman prove themselves to be partisan hacks with this weak piece of anti-Trump hype. The statements flagged here are so clearly the result of a concerted anti-Trump bias that editors must have assumed that few would actually read them, and just take the headline and sheer size of the feature as proof that the Times had legitimately proven massive dishonesty.

And it had: its own.

Here are all 31 alleged Trump “lies,” with the Ethics Alarms verdicts on each. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

How Can You Tell If Hillary Clinton Is Lying? Her Lips Are Moving…

Hillary Clinton

Non-partisan, irony-obsessed, law professor  blogger Ann Althouse noted this quote today, from Hillary’s almost completely ignored speech on “American exceptionalism”:

“If there’s one core belief that has guided and inspired me every step of the way, it is this: The United States is an exceptional nation.”

“Why does everything sound like a lie?” Althouse asks. Then, in the comments to her post site, she finds the answer from a commenter called Rob: because it is a lie. He wrote:

Hillary chose her words carefully: “if there’s one core belief that has guided and inspired me every step of the way . . . .” In fact, there is not one core belief that has guided her–unless you count ambition as a core belief.

Ann’s response: “Rob, are you a lawyer? Good catch!”

Yes, it turns out, Rob is a lawyer; he went to law school with Hillary, in fact. And it is a good catch, too, one that Hillary and Bill and all of the politicians who use deceit as a primary language count on most listeners NOT catching. Hillary never said that she believes or is guided by the belief that “the United States is an exceptional nation.” She only said that if she were guided by a core belief, that would be it, but said it in a way that most people will hear to mean that she does believe in American exceptionalism. It’s like me saying that if there was one mass murdering dictator that I admired, it would be Mao. But there are no mass murdering dictators that I admire in the least, and I don’t admire Mao.

I don’t especially care if a candidate believes in American exceptionalism or not. I do care that a candidate uses words and crafts sentences to deceive trusting listeners.

Somebody might inadvertently utter a sentence like Clinton’s without trying to deceive and mislead. Hillary, however, like her husband, long ago lost any right to the benefit of the doubt in this realm.

_____________________

Pointer: Ann Althouse

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Leadership

Comment of the Day: “The Amazing Mouthwash Deception: Helping Alcoholics Relapse For Profit”

There is an Ethics Alarms post “going viral” right now, at least as viral as any post on an ethics blog is likely to go. For two weeks now, my post at the end of July about how the “urban legends” site Snopes had descended into  dishonest, spinning, fact-distorting partisan/ left “factchecking” hackery has lapped all others here, and been shared to record levels on Facebook (nearing 11,000 shares) and Reddit.

This is nice, of course. It has brought a few (though not many) new commenters to the blog, and presumably more readers who stayed to peruse other topics. It has made August 2016, usually a fairly dead month, the most heavily trafficked month in Ethics Alarms annals. The post alerted some people to why Snopes is untrustworthy, though not, apparently, the Washington Post, which cited it as authority just a few days ago. It also prompted, on Reddit and Facebook, several thousand smug “this is not news, I’ve known this for years” comments. Where were your blog post, jerks?

The post’s wide circulation through the web also made me aware that a conspiracy theory holding that Democrats and the Hillary Corrupted maintain a team of attack commenters who go to blogs and attempt to muddy the waters when the truth about Clinton threatens to break through the denial dam might be accurate. I have received four or five almost identical comments on that post attempting to deny my dissection of Snopes’ pathetic attempt to prove that Hillary didn’t defend a child rapist, didn’t discredit his young victim in the process, didn’t know he was guilty when she did it, and didn’t laugh about the case in a recorded interview. None of the four commenters  read all of my post, which echoed a previous one in pointing out, as I always do, that a lawyer defending a criminal is not unethical, that the attacks on Hillary for doing so were ignorant and unfair, and that Hillary Clinton has nothing to apologize for in this case. Never mind: all four of these commenters ( and some others which never made it onto the blog) shifted into similar boilerplate language claiming I was attacking her too,  and preceded to repeat Snopes’ dishonest “factchecking” as if the documentation of its falsity I presented in the post didn’t exist.

Nonetheless, the Snopes revelation was not the Ethics Alarms post I would have chosen to “go viral.” There have been many essay in the last six year that I was, and am, especially proud of and believe were original, perceptive and important, and that have been barely read by anyone, never linked to or shared, and that have had all the impact of a shell thrown into the surf. How I wish my warning to the Republican Party , for example, urging it not to permit Donald Trump to participate in the primaries, had received similar attention. Not a single editorial board or pundit saw the peril looming, or at least  they didn’t write or talk about it if they did, because having The Donald spouting his inanities would be good copy and “fun.”

One such post dates back to the first full year of Ethics Alarms: The Amazing Mouthwash Deception: Helping Alcoholics Relapse For Profit, from August 2010. In six years, it has amassed about the same number of views that the Snopes piece amassed in half a month. Yet the topic, how mouthwash manufacturers profit significantly by hiding the widespread use of their product by alcoholics who use mouthwash to conceal their destructive disease from family members and co-workers, is barely mentioned  on the web—a few places, and almost all of them since the post. Still, Congress hasn’t held hearings, regulatory agencies haven’t noticed, and the products still carry warnings that fool non-alcoholics into believing that the stuff is poison, so nobody drinks it. Lives could be saved, marriages rescued, and endangered businesses might survive, if what I wrote was generally known

I’ve done the original research and put the problem out there. At least I’ve tried, and I will continue to write about the problem, which I have learned about first hand.

My efforts  haven’t been completely futile. I have received some gratifying comments and off-site e-mails from family members who read the article, discovered that a loved one was secret drinker, and got them help. I have also received a few responses that confirmed my work, though none quite like this one from new reader Dave, an alcoholic himself.

Here is his remarkable and  cryptic  Comment of the Day on the post, The Amazing Mouthwash Deception: Helping Alcoholics Relapse For Profit. Is it intentional irony? Is it sarcasm? Is it support, in the form of criticism? You decide:

Halfway through your article I decided it would be a good idea to go to shoppers and grab myself a bottle. I’d been so triggered today, only being a week sober prior. It’s great, you know, the mouthwash deception as you call it. I spend roughly $3.50 on a bottle of Life brand yellow mouthwash and it gets me radically twisted, with zero hangover. So not only does it make it easier for me to be a functioning alcoholic based on its inexpensiveness and zero hangover qualities, it is also amazingly convenient in that within 10 minutes I have three different 24 hour grocery stores I can go to in order to get a bottle.

Alcoholism is a shitty disease, believe me, I have lost much at the expense of it.

Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet