Tag Archives: MSNBC

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/20/18: Life, Death, Fairness, Dissonance And Sanity

1 Let’s see more of such Ethics Heroes, please… In Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania,  John Orsini, has gone to court to stop his ex-wife from allowing their son, 17-year-old Antonio, from playing high school football in his senior year. Antonio has already suffered at least three concussions. Antonio’s mother and John’s ex-wife, Janice, says that her son understands the risks, and that doctors have OK’d his continued play.

But he doesn’t understand the risks—apparently neither do those doctors—and he is considered a minor under the law because teenagers are prone to poor reasoning and impulsive decisions…especially when they have incipient brain damage.

CNN is eager to hear his position on gun control though. But I digress..

Says the CBS news story: “John contends that after these concussions and sub-concussive hits, medical research shows that Antonio would be in grave danger if he continues to play football.” He contends? There is no contention: that is fact.

“I’m trying to save his future. I’m trying to save his life,” he said of his son.

Janice and her attorney issued a statement, saying in part,

“The mother and her 17-year-old son have reasonably relied upon the input and opinions of his treating physicians and medical providers, and have considered the state mandated safety and concussion protocols followed by the school district, in deciding whether it was appropriate for him to continue to participate in football.”

John believes the court will side with him.  “If you have a significant indication that the child is being placed in harm’s way, and it’s brought to court to protect the child, it’s the court obligation to do so,” he says. I wouldn’t be so sure. This is football country, and football fanatics are in denial. They’ll get thousands of children’s brains injured before they are through.

“I’m hopeful that my son will just go on, get a good education and lead a healthy life. That’s all I want,” said John, whose other two sons no longer speak to him over this conflict.

Good luck.

Let’s hope Anthony is given then chance to grow smarter than his mother.

2. Let’s see, which Trump Derangement news media story should I post today? Every day, every single day, I have literally dozens of biased, vicious, stupid, unprofessional and blatantly partisan mainstream media news reports and pundit excesses to flag as unethical. Here, for example, is a New York Times columnists advocating for Rex Tillerson to betray all professional ethics, confidentiality, trust and responsibility by revealing everything he heard or saw as Secretary of State that could undermine Trump’s administration. It’s called, “Burn it down, Rex.”

Let me repeat: for journalists to set out to intentionally poison public opinion against the elected President of the United States by manipulation and hostile reporting is unethical and dangerous. This conduct has been the single largest ethics breach in the culture for more than a year, and one of the worst in U.S. history. In strenuously condemning journalism’s abdication of its duty to support democratic institutions and to remain objective and responsible, I am not defending Donald Trump. I am attempting to defend the Presidency itself.

Today I pick…this: Continue reading


Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Research and Scholarship, U.S. Society, War and the Military

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/20/18: Cheaters And Useful Idiots

Good Morning!

1. A Whistle-blowing dilemma.The Ethicist in the New York Times Magazine is no fun anymore, now that a competent, real ethicist is answering queries rather than the previous motley assortment of Hollywood screenwriters and others of dubious qualifications. Even when I disagree with

  • “Given how little cheating is caught, reporting them would have meant that they paid a penalty that lots of others ought to — but won’t — pay.” Ugh! A Barry Bonds excuse! So because all guilty parties aren’t apprehended, everyone should get away with wrongdoing?
  • “Because many people in your generation don’t take cheating very seriously, your friends would most likely have ended up focusing on the unfairness of being singled out, not on their wrongdoing.” That’s their problem. The attitude the Ethicist identifies is 39. The Pioneer’s Lament, or “Why should I be the first?” He’s correct that this will be the likely attitude of the busted cheaters, but since when did how wrongdoers rationalize their wrongdoing become mitigation?
  • “The intervention you were considering was likely, therefore, to be very costly to you.” Yes, doing the right thing often is.
  • “The burden of dealing with cheating in your school shouldn’t fall on you.” Boy, I really hate this one. It’s #18. Hamm’s Excuse: “It wasn’t my fault.”

This popular rationalization confuses blame with responsibility. Carried to it worst extreme, Hamm’s Excuse would eliminate all charity and much heroism, since it stands for the proposition that human beings are only responsible for alleviating problems that they were personally responsible for. In fact, the opposite is the case: human beings are responsible for each other, and the ethical obligation to help someone, even at personal cost, arises with the opportunity to do so, not with blame for causing the original problem. When those who have caused injustice or calamity either cannot, will not or do not step up to address the wrongs their actions have caused (as is too often the case), the responsibility passes to whichever of us has the opportunity and the means to make things right, or at least better.

This rationalization is named after American gymnast Paul Hamm, who adamantly refused to voluntarily surrender the Olympic gold metal he admittedly had been awarded because of an official scoring error. His justification for this consisted of repeating that it was the erring officials, not him, who were responsible for the fact that the real winner of the competition was relegated to a bronze medal when he really deserved the gold. The ethical rule to counter Hamm’s Excuse is a simple one: if there is a wrong and you are in a position to fix it, fix it.

Appiah doesn’t feel the full force of my fury because the case involves middle-school, and the questioner is a child. This is what makes it a toss-up. If this were college or grad school, I think reporting cheaters is mandatory. Appiah also says that he doesn’t care for honor codes because they are usually not followed.

Maybe I was wrong about him… Continue reading


Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/4/18: Getting Pounded On The Head To Make Us Confused About The Nunes Memo Edition

Minnesota yesterday. Unfortunately, the game is indoors…

Good morning!

1 So Depressing. I guess we have to conclude that liberals, progressives, Democrats and “the resistance” will never have any objection to rampant news manipulation and partisan bias in the news media until and unless the think it has turned against their interests.

I wonder why they don’t think a properly functioning participatory democracy supported by an informed electorate is in their interests. Oh well…

Working furiously to bolster Democratic Party efforts to throw dust, mud and static around Rep. Devin Nunes’ memo so the public gives up and moves on to other things, the Associated Press wrote that the conservative Washington Free Beacon, not the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign, had paid for the Christopher Steele Trump dossier. Then MSNBC’s Katy Tur  passed the misinformation along, and (of course) so did CNN, on the air. This fake story was definitively disproved months ago. The AP’s eventual correction was also needlessly confusing:

“In a story Feb. 2 about a Republican memo on the Russia investigation, The Associated Press erroneously reported that a former British spy’s work on an opposition research project was initially funded by the conservative Washington Free Beacon. Though the former spy, Christopher Steele, was hired by a firm that was initially funded by the Washington Free Beacon, he did not begin work on the project until after Democratic groups had begun funding it.”

I cannot  find any record of a correction from CNN.  (Presumably anyone who believes Katy Tur about anything is beyond help.)

2. Keep repeating: “Acting guilty doesn’t prove guilt. Acting guilty doesn’t prove guilt…” Byron York, a hard-working and generally straight-shooting political reporter at the Washington Examiner (which I always get mixed up with the Free Beacon) correctly explains why the most frequently heard and read attacks on Nunes’ memo are part of a disinformation campaign. The main one:

Did the FBI tell the court about the Hillary Clinton campaign’s involvement in the Steele dossier? The memo says the FBI used the dossier to get a warrant on [Carter] Page, but, “Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the [Democratic National Committee], Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts.”

That passage appears to be indisputably true. No one is claiming the FBI informed the court that the Clinton campaign and the DNC were behind the Steele dossier. But Democrats have still pushed back by arguing that the FBI did tell the court that the Steele information came out of a political context, that it kinda, sorta gave the court the idea that a source was politically motivated.

Exactly how the FBI did that is not clear. So far, news reports are all over the lot. The Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI “did disclose Mr. Steele was being paid by a law firm working for a major political party.” The New York Times reported that the FISA application “was more forthcoming with the surveillance court than the Republicans say. The FBI told the court that the information it received from Mr. Steele was politically motivated, though the agency did not say it was financed by Democrats.” And the Washington Post reported that the court “was aware that some of the information underpinning the warrant request was paid for by a political entity, although the application did not specifically name the Democratic National Committee or the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.”

None of that disproves or contradicts what the memo said. Sources familiar with the application suggest that it noted there might have been a political motivation behind some of the information. But Republicans ask why it would be acceptable for the FBI to actively withhold from the court the fact that the Clinton campaign and the DNC specifically were behind the Steele dossier. It’s not clear what the Democratic answer to that will be in coming days.

It is emblematic of how intellectually dishonest the attempts to dismiss the import of this matter are that telling the judge that ” the information it received from Mr. Steele was politically motivated” is being claimed to be the equivalent of telling the judge “this dossier was prepared for and paid for the Clinton campaign and the DNC.” That is a major, material distinction, when the same party controls the administration the Justice Department attorneys are working for.

3. Wow, that’s hilarious, Bill! Here was a section of Bill Maher’s side-splitting rant about the Nunes memo on HBO’s “Real Time” yesterday. Interesting question: do comedians have any obligation to try to accurately portray what they are making fun of? This is res ipsa loquitur; I’m not wasting my morning ticking off the myriad factual misrepresentations, the ends justify the means rationalizations, the mind-blowing hypocrisy, and the warped reasoning here, but if you are looking for something to do this afternoon and have run out of crossword puzzles, I’d love to get a full list. At least the rant is so darn funny, it’s justifiable.

“Forget Groundhog Day. The only large, rat-like creature I’m concerned about is Devin Nunes. Of course, it’s not fair to single him out. All the Republicans these days are treasonous rats. Trump declassified this Nunes memo, which is supposed to make us think that our own top law enforcement people are crooked so Trump can get away with his Russia crimes. Problem is, Republicans talk about this memo as if it’s some smoking-gun piece of evidence they uncovered. No! They wrote it! They uncovered it in their printer! It’s not an intelligence document, it’s a Facebook post that you briefly skim before clicking ‘unfriend.’ They did not like what the FBI was finding out about Trump, so like the true patriots they are—of Russia—they attack the FBI and the Justice Department because they’re ‘biased.” Yes, because they’re in law enforcement and the Trump crime family commits crimes, so that’s what they’re supposed to do! It’s like saying the exterminator is biased against the termites. This Republican delusion that Robert Mueller, a Republican who’s there because of Trump, is conspiring with Rod Rosenstein, the acting attorney general, a Republican who’s there because of Trump, and of course Mueller’s old buddy, Jim Comey, another Republican appointed by Trump, and Trump’s attitude is, ‘Jeez, what a bunch of idiots. Who put them in charge?’”

(President Trump appointed Comey?)


Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Ethics Observations On MSNBC Host Joy Reid’s State of the Union Tweet

I would like to ignore MSNBC’s racist, vicious African-American host Joy Reid. She deserves to be ignored. Sometimes, however, I can’t help myself, as with the her tweet above from last night. If someone respectable wrote that, my head might explode. The tweet’s not so far from Reid’s usual warped point of view that it prompts that reaction, thankfully. Still, I am forced to observe and ask…

1 Who is she tweeting to? What kind of Americans regard religion, family, law enforcement, the military, and love of country outdated and obsolete values?

2. This increasingly appears to be to be the attitude of the majority of the Left. If it isn’t, then Democrats certainly gave the impression it is, based on their studied contempt when such institutions and values were evoked in the President’s speech. If they were communicating what they don’t really believe, then they were lying. If they really oppose those values that they scowled about, then Republicans should remind voters of who is running against them this year: people who think like Joy Reid.

3. Since when is “nationalism” a sinister word and concept, especially when it is defined as Reid defines it: religion, family, rule of law, national defense, and love of America? Reid labeling those Fifties values is just false history: Every President up to Obama made those same values essential to the vision of America they projected.

Wrote Ann Althouse in part on her blog, regarding the New York Times Reidish critique,

Was Trump’s SOTU theme “nationalism”? Was it devoid of values?…Individualism is a value, and the whole speech was expressive of the value of individualism….
Freedom is a value. Trump spoke of it in connection with our kinship with freedom-loving people in foreign countries: We “stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom”… Freedom is a universal value that we share with good people all over the world and that “gave birth to a special place called America.”…Self-government is a value. The “yearning… to live in freedom” led to “a revolutionary idea: that [Americans] could rule themselves.” By instituting a system of self-government, Americans “light up the world.”

All old-fashioned, irrelevant, defunct, discredited values from those racist Fifties, right, Joy? Continue reading


Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Family, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, Social Media, The Popeye, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, Unethical Tweet

Two Ethics Heroes : Media Critics Jeff Greenfield And Howard Kurtz


Maybe there are some cracks in the wall. God, I hope so.

Two media critics affiliated with major news organizations have recently come right out and stated what we have been talking about here on Ethics Alarms regarding the failure of journalists to observe core ethical standards in their commitment to bring down a President who horrifies them, and who has not taken his abuse lying down, as Presidential norms previously required.

The sharp contrast with Greenfield and Kurtz’s remarkable candor that marks most of their industry was on display today, as The Washington Post held a series of panel discussions and aired live video around the theme “Americans & The Media: Sorting Fact from Fake News.” One  segment featured Post political reporter Dan Balz, one of the Post reporters I would categorize as a straight-shooter most of the time, talking to PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff and Fox Special Report host Bret Baier. Woodruff’s comments were obtuse and depressing, but typical of most journalists and their defenders.

 BALZ: Judy you said something recently  I want to read to people: “You shouldn’t go into journalism if you want to win a popularity contest. If you’re doing your job, there are always going to be people who criticize your reporting. But we’ve never been at a place like we are today where there’s practically an entire industry around criticizing the media and holding the mainstream media up as suspect [ Balz didn’t read, but she also wrote, “and out to destroy an entire political philosophy in this country.” Well I said “most of the time.”]. I think the term ‘fake news’ has done a lot of damage to the media.” Describe the damage.

WOODRUFF: The damage is in the minds and the eyes of people who are consumers all across the country. And you see it in the polls. You see it in this [Knight Foundation] poll, a lessening of trust in the news media. I believe – it sounds corny, but I believe so passionately that a free press, free media, the role that we play, news media in our democracy, is part of what holds democracy together. And if enough Americans start thinking the press is not to be believed, that we are to be shoved to the side, regulated, or treated, controlled in some way, then I think we’ve got real problems. Even if it doesn’t get to that point, and they just don’t believe what we’re doing, then I think our democracy is weakened, and I think that’s what’s happening.

Got that? It’s the critics who are undermining the news media, not the unethical news media conduct that justifies the criticism! This quote is astounding. Journalists like Woodruff don’t see anything wrong with how they are doing their job, or rather not doing it. What harms democracy, Judy, is journalists behaving so unethically that the the public loses trust in them, not the criticism.

Now here are the two Ethics Heroes that do not parrot Woodruff’s defensive spin: Continue reading


Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/23/2018: Signature Significance And The Spin Zone [UPDATED]

Good..er, Afternoon!

1  Signature Significance 1. You are a major political party. You have been repeatedly embarrassed in recent months and frequently outmaneuvered by a President who your base considers a compulsive liar fascist moron. In a moment of mass madness, you decide to pander to your most extreme Left base by forcing a government shut-down over the handling of non-citizens, the so-called “Dreamers.” As most semi-conscious observers predicted, your party, not the other one, was bound to be blamed for the shutdown, which was epically stupid like all the shutdowns, which the other party had crashed and burned trying multiple times. When even your unethically allied mainstream media supporters, like the New York Times, failed to support your crazy scheme, you abandoned it in record time, looking foolish, and angering that base you tried to suck up to.

Who do you send out to try to spin the fiasco on CNN?

If your answer is  “Why, that esteemed former Chair of the Democratic National Committee, who even in her prime was noted for the most brazen lying possible, who lost her job as a result of a scandal in which she was found to be, if it hadn’t already been obvious, rigging the nomination for Hillary Clinton, and who her successor as DNC chair just accused in a book of allowing. illegally,  the whole party mechanism to become an arm of the Hillary campaign before Bernie Sanders’ campaign had gotten out of the gate,! Debbie Wassermann Schultz, of course!” you are a) an idiot or b) the Democratic Party.

Could there be a worse spokesperson for the Democrats now? She is not only a habitual liar, but a bad liar. Appearing on Brooke Baldwin’s show, she began her spin by arguing that the shut-down was worth doing because it had the “potential for momentum.” What does that even mean? As always, Wassermann Schultz makes Kellyanne Conway seem like Cicero. Host Brooke Baldwin looked completely puzzled, and responded,

“I know Americans are listening, and they heard you say ‘potential for momentum,’” Baldwin said. “And they’re thinking, ‘Potential for momentum. Was that really worth shutting the government down for?’ The potential for something?”

Whereupon Debbie, predictably, lapsed into her trademark Authentic Frontier Gibberish: Continue reading


Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

Let’s See If MSNBC Has The Integrity To Fire Joy Reid…Because, You Know, It Should

“Yippee! There go all them Democrats and minorities!”

(I didn’t mean for this to turn into Our News Media Stinks Day, I really didn’t. But our news media stinks…)

People keep asking how the mainstream news media can back away from the abyss, stop being an enemy of the American people a true profession is duty bound to serve, and start re-instituting professional standards into the rotting, putrid news business. Firing reporters, pundits and anchors who fail to meet minimum levels of objectivity, honesty, independence and competence would be an excellent start. These partisan hacks behave as they do because they know they can get away with it.

Take, for example, MSNBC’s Joy Reid and this  episode of runaway journalism bias and incompetence cascade.

The National Review’s David French wrote an essay about the possible outcome of a nuclear strike on an American city, as a response to the false alarm in Hawaii. He’s a military veteran and a substantive commentator; I usually admire his work more than this piece. I see what he was trying to do, but “a nuclear strike isn’t as bad as people think” just isn’t a position worth taking, in my view.

Well, as I know as well as anybody, they all can be gems. [Update: French criticized the article as well, saying, “On re-reading it, I’m slightly embarrassed. The post is so basic and simple that it barely scratches the surface of decent prepping. As something of an amateur prepper, I have thousands more words I could unleash. But this wasn’t a magazine piece. It was a blog post.”]

Here is part of what he wrote in the original article, titled, “If a Missile Alert Sounds, Prepare to Live”:

The bottom line, even if a nuclear weapon as big as the largest North Korea has ever tested were to impact squarely on Manhattan, the vast majority of New Yorkers would survive the initial blast. A strike would devastate central Honolulu but leave many suburbs intact. If the missile misses a city center even by a small amount, the number of initial casualties plunges dramatically.

Only a rabid partisan attack dog could read French’s exhortation to  survive rather than surrender to panic in an emergency as an ideological or even a conservative piece. Newsweek, however, which has devolved into the scum on the sides of the bottom of the journalism barrel, described the article with this headline:


Divisive, misleading, unfair, and inflammatory. Then, to make its smear explicit, Newsweek wrote this:

Amid heightened tensions with nuclear armed North Korea a conservative magazine is telling its readers not to worry about a potential nuclear strike because they live in America’s suburbs and countryside. An article published Monday in the National Review reassures readers that nuclear war—and North Korea’s arsenal—shouldn’t cause them concern because a nuclear strike will mostly vaporize those in major cities while suburbanites will come out largely unscathed….

During the 2016 election, Trump won 50 percent of the vote in suburban America and 62 percent of the vote in small cities and rural areas compared to Hillary Clinton’s 45 and 34 percent performance in the regions. Conservatives tend to prefer small towns and rural areas, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center study, with 46 percent of liberals preferring city life compared to just 4 percent of conservatives who said the same.

Nice. Continue reading


Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions