Unethical Quote Of The Week: Tina Brown

“The Monica Lewinsky confessional in Vanity Fair brings back a torrent of unfond memories of the appalling cast of tabloid gargoyles who drove the scandal. Remember them? Treacherous thatched-roof-haired drag-queen Linda Tripp, with those dress-for-success shoulder pads? Cackling, fact-lacking hack Lucianne Goldberg, mealy-mouthed Pharisee Kenneth Starr—the whole buzzing swarm of legal, congressional and gossip industry flesh flies, feasting on the entrails. And, of course, hitting “send” on each new revelation that no one else would publish, the solitary, perfectly named Matt Drudge, operating in pallid obsession out of his sock-like apartment in Miami… They were the face of the future. The things that shocked us then—the illicitly taped conversations, the wholesale violations of elementary privacy, the globally broadcast sexual embarrassments, all the low-life disseminated malice—is now the communications industry as it operates every minute of every day.”

—-Daily Beast publisher Tina Brown, in an essay titled “How Monica Lewinsky Changed the Media”

Tina Brown, revealing the ugliness beneath...

Tina Brown, revealing the ugliness beneath…

This is an unethical statement for the ages. It launches an dishonestly titled piece with an unethical premise and unethical motives, virtually every phrase in it is despicable, and it reveals the dearth of admirable values not only within Brown, but within the millions of people who think like her, many of whom she and her cohorts corrupted.

In Abby Mann’s important drama, “Judgment at Nuremberg” (it had three forms of presentation: TV drama, film, and finally, stage), based on the third and final stage of the post World War II war crimes trials devoted to trying the Nazi judges, a vulnerable female witness and victim of Nazi justice is harshly cross-examined about an infamous case at the heart of the trials. Her humiliation is interrupted when one of the defendant judges (in the film, Bert Lancaster), stands to halt the inquisition, asking, “Are you going to do this again?”

The answer clearly coming from the Bill and Hillary Clinton Ethics Amnesia Team is clearly “Yes! It worked before, why not now?”

Monica was responsible for the whole impeachment train wreck, you see, and all that followed. That was Hillary’s position (once the original cover lie that it was all the fabrication of a vast right-wing conspiracy became unsustainable, with that stained dress and all), and as outrageous and audaciously despicable as it is, that it is still what the corrupt, corrupted and corrupting supporters of these two Machiavellian blights on our culture and politics are determined to make Americans believe, no matter how much bending of history, facts, logic, fairness, decency and responsibility it requires. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On “The Kissing Congressman” Scandal


Passionate Kiss

Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La), a married freshman Republican congressman who campaigned by proclaiming his Christian, pro-family values, was seen  on leaked surveillance video from his district office embracing and kissing the Congressman’s 33-year-old  scheduler, also married, Melissa Anne Hixon Peacock.  McAllister apologized, saying

“There’s no doubt I’ve fallen short and I’m asking for forgiveness. I’m asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve. Trust is something I know has to be earned whether you’re a husband, a father, or a congressman. I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I’ve disappointed. From day one, I’ve always tried to be an honest man. I ran for Congress to make a difference and not to just be another politician. I don’t want to make a political statement on this, I would just simply like to say that I’m very sorry for what I’ve done.”

Meanwhile, Mrs. Peacock has been dismissed from her job, and reportedly her marriage is shattered.

Some ethics observations: Continue reading

Rationalizing Corruption

But remember: the trains ran on time!

But remember: the trains ran on time!

It is a debate that erupts here periodically: Do you vote for the honest and trustworthy politician whose policies you despise, or the lying rogue who stands for all the “right” things? Washington Post editor Hilary Krieger raises the issue with gusto in the Sunday Washington Post, with an essay titled (in the print edition) “Is a little political corruption all that bad?”

Yes, Hilary, it is.

Next question?

But perhaps that’s not sufficient to kill this particular snake, so let’s delve a bit deeper into this truly fatuous, ethically obtuse article. Continue reading

When The Truth Hurts, But A Lie Will Hurt More


In the early stages of the  Monica Lewinsky scandal, President Bill Clinton infamously asked his then advisor-polster Dick Morris to research whether a lie or the truth would best serve Clinton’s purposes.  (Morris’s recommendation based on his polling data: “Lie your head off.“) The attitude that truth is just a conduct option with no more or less to recommend in it than various versions of spin, deceit, obfuscation, misrepresentation, fabrication and denial is endemic to politics, which is not to say that it is necessary or healthy. Lies can be justifiable tools of the trade in the utilitarian world of politics and government, but if there isn’t an accepted recognition that they are inherently harmful, lazy, undermine trust and tend to become addicting (See: Dick Morris and Bill Clinton), then the cure becomes worse than the disease.

The Presidency of Barack Obama should be remembered as a stark lesson in the danger of avoiding unpleasant truths. What focused my attention on this was an interview that featured journalist Geraldo Rivera opining that describing President Obama’s performance in the wake of the Ukrainian incursion “weak” was “unhelpful,” “borderline patriotic” and “accomplishes absolutely nothing but scoring cheap political points in the near future.” At the same time, this morning’s Washington Post is filled with commentators struggling with the Democratic Party’s Obamacare problem, following the disheartening defeat of Alex Sink in a special Congressional election in Florida. Some of those commentators argue that beleaguered Democrats should aggressively make the case that the Affordable Care Act is a roaring success. Or as Dick Morris would put it, “Lie your head off.” Continue reading

Thank You, Washington Post “Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler For Being The Best Ethics Alarms Ethics Dunce EVER!

I must say, this is the sort of thing that makes the heart of an ethicist, or at least this ethicist’s, swell with joy as the strains of “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life At Last I Found You!” take control of his brain, and the song bursts, full-blown and soaring, from his lips…You’ll have to excuse me…

Glenn Kessler’s “Fact Checker” column in today’s Sunday Post is a cornucopia of wonderful topics, including…

  • The dishonest conduct of media “fact-checkers” in using their columns not to dispute facts but to take issue with opinions, usually on partisan grounds, with which they disagree.
  • The misuse of “lies” and “lying” to describe either mistakes or opinions, neither of which are lies.
  • People who lie themselves while accusing others of lies.
  • Fact-checkers who misstate facts while accusing others of misstating facts.
  • The common misunderstanding that “consent” makes a boss’s sexual relationship with his or her subordinate ethically acceptable.
  • Rand Paul!
  • Bill Clinton!
  • Rand Paul attacking Bill Clinton!
  • ANYONE defending Bill Clinton’s conduct involving Monica Lewinsky.
  • The news media’s already evident intent to defend against all attacks, direct or oblique, on the liberal establishment’s choice for President in 2016, Hillary “The First Enabler” Clinton.

It just doesn’t get much better than this.

Let us begin with the root of Kessler’s  column and his inspiration, this statement by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky): Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: Sen. Claire McCaskill

“I think most women understand that they should not be held accountable for the behaviors of their husbands. And you know, frankly, it was a long time ago, and our country did very well under the leadership of Bill Clinton.” 

—-Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo),  on MSNBC, doing a lousy job rebutting Sen. Rand Paul’s recent statements accusing Democrats of hypocrisy by pursuing their lucrative and politically successful “war on women” attacks on Republicans while continuing to embrace the Clintons, ignoring Bill Clinton’s treatment of his wife, Monica Lewinsky, and women.

Sen McCaskill pulls me back in, damn her.

Sen McCaskill pulls me back in, damn her.

Curse anyone who reminds me of anything related to Godfather III, but there was Claire, turning me into Michael: “Just when I think I’m out, they puuull me back in!” I know I write about Bill Clinton too much; I have promised multiple times to enshrine him in the Ethics Alarms Ethics Hall of Eternal Contempt, but haven’t had time to build the damn thing. His sly, shameless, smirking, dishonesty and manipulations drive me crazy, almost as crazy as the way so many otherwise rational ethical people, especially women (oh, that Bill’s a charmer, like so many sociopaths), keep giving him pass after pass to keep on doing it.

When Sen. Rand Paul, whom I generally do not admire but who has his moments, recently turned a “Meet the Press” question about the “war on women” around and attacked the Democratic hypocrisy for making such a claim while defending and cheering on the likes of Bill Clinton, I enjoyed the jiu-jitsu, as Paul was right….but I didn’t mention it! I resisted! I was even about to write a post today criticizing Senator Paul, who has  apparently embarked on a long-term anti-Clinton jihad (fine with me!), for saying that Clinton’s settlement with Paula Jones in 1999, in which he paid $850,000 to settle her claims of sexual harassment, was an admission of guilt, which is an unfair, legally ignorant statement embarrassing for a Senator. I even wrote the headline: Ethics Dunce: Sen Rand Paul. Then Sen. McCaskill has to respond with her display of virtuoso unethical nonsense, and—I’m Michael Corleone.

Her quote really is one for the ages…dishonest, insulting, loaded with rationalizations: Continue reading

Two and a Half More Rationalizations: “The Hillary Inoculation,” “The Unethical Tree in the Forest,” and a Sub-Category of “The King’s Pass”


“There are more rationalizations in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

It certainly seems so, Hamlet.

And stop calling me “Horatio”!

While writing about the McDonnells, I found myself citing some obvious and common rationalizations that I discovered (to me shame and embarrassment)  had never been added to the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List, which two days ago stood at an even 40. I wrote them up and added then, placing “The Unethical Tree in the Forest” at #10, since it is so common, and designating the other, “I deserve this,” as a sub-category under “The King’s Pass,”at #11 (a). Then, in today’s comments to yesterday’s post about the perfect Naked Teacher (if only all those who clicked on that post were just slightly interested in ethics!), came a ridiculous argument that I immediately recognized as particularly infuriating rationalization I had heard before, too often, in the days when Democrats were churning out rationalizations like the chocolates on Lucy’s conveyor belt. I have dubbed it “The Hillary Inoculation.” These put the current count of rationalizations at forty-two, and a half. Here are the new additions.

Learn to recognize them, but don’t use them.

10. The Unethical Tree in the Forest, or “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.” Continue reading

The Right Thing In Spite Of Themselves: CNN And NBC Abandon Their Hillary Projects

Hillary Clinton, in her dreams...and Bill's...

Hillary Clinton, in her dreams…and Bill’s…

If CNN and NBC had any sense of responsibility, fairness and respect for the American political system, neither would have planned Hillary Clinton projects—CNN, a documentary, NBC, a “docudrama” mini-series—for the coming year, in which the controversial Ms. Clinton is expected to begin running for President of the United States. Neither deserves any credit for cancelling them now, after pundits and especially the Republican Party screamed foul, and foul it was.

There is no way either product could avoid making difficult content choices that would be inevitably influenced by such non-ethical considerations as entertainment value, ratings, political pressure, and artist bias. The documentary and the mini-series would necessarily distort fact and history, because so much of any contemporary figure’s life and career has yet to be objectively examined, and no more so than Hillary Clinton, as polarizing and mysterious figure as U.S. politics has ever produced, rivaling Richard Nixon and Aaron Burr. Continue reading

Let’s Be Clear: President Clinton’s Conduct Was WORSE Than Anthony Weiner’s

This won’t make some people happy, but it is true.

Who's more unethical? It's no contest.

Who’s more unethical? It’s no contest.

I always feel like Michael Corleone at times like these: just when I think I am finally through with having to point out the miserable ethics record of Bill Clinton, he (or his shameless supporters) puuuull me back …

The New York Post is reporting that…

“Bill and Hillary Clinton are angry with efforts by mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner and his campaign to compare his Internet sexcapades — and his wife Huma Abedin’s incredible forgiveness — to the Clintons’ notorious White House saga…’The Clintons are upset with the comparisons that the Weiners seem to be encouraging — that Huma is ‘standing by her man’ the way Hillary did with Bill, which is not what she in fact did,’ said a top state Democrat…’The Clintons are pissed off that Weiner’s campaign is saying that Huma is just like Hillary,’’ said the source. “How dare they compare Huma with Hillary? Hillary was the first lady. Hillary was a senator. She was secretary of state.'”

My reaction to this?


Karma’s a bitch. Continue reading

Monica Lewinsky Turns 40: The Ethics Train Wreck That Never Stopped

Monica in March

Monica in March

The fiasco of Anthony Weiner’s political “comeback,’ including his wife’s sad Hillary imitation, has naturally conjured up the vile memories of the Lewinsky scandal, and, in turn, Monica herself. Time magazine has a post noting her 40th birthday, and as she does not do interviews, provides a timeline regarding her progress, if you can call it that, since Bill weaseled out of the political coffin of his own making.

Monica’s life reads like a cautionary fable about the perils of allowing oneself to be exploited by a powerful man. She is an expatriot, living in England because her name is a joke in the U.S. She has no husband, children or serious romantic relationship. Unable to find a stable career where her reputation and notoriety isn’t a handicap, she has sunk to repeatedly trying to cash in on her unfortunate celebrity, with a personal handbag line, a documentary, as a host of reality TV show about romantic affairs, and as a Jenny Craig spokesperson, who was dumped because local chains refused to run her ads. Now, desperate for cash, she is said to be shopping a tell-all book about the seamier details of her White House affair.

In short, her life is crap, and Bill Clinton is the reason why. While he is lionized as an elder statesman as if he didn’t disgrace the presidency and permanently lower American expectations of the office, a young, smart, attractive woman who had every reason to expect a bright future at the age of 22, is lost because a powerful man, for selfish reasons, recklessly placed her at risk of being scorched by the fiery heat of  politics and history. Scorched she was, and she has never recovered. Continue reading