Ethics Quote Of The Month: Matt Taibbi, “Rolling Stone” Columnist

“I can understand not caring about the plight of Michael Flynn, but cases like this have turned erstwhile liberals – people who just a decade ago were marching in the streets over the civil liberties implications of Cheney’s War on Terror apparatus – into defenders of the spy state. Politicians and pundits across the last four years have rolled their eyes at attorney-client privilege, the presumption of innocence, the right to face one’s accuser, the right to counsel and a host of other issues, regularly denouncing civil rights worries as red-herring excuses for Trumpism.”

—Progressive “Rolling Stone” columnist Matt Taibbi, in “Democrats Have Abandoned Civil Liberties: The Blue Party’s Trump-era Embrace of Authoritarianism Isn’t Just Wrong, it’s a Fatal Political Mistake”

I’m not highlighting Taibbi’s excellent essay as an appeal to authority, not at all. I’ve written about the situation he’s bemoaning for more than three years, and I’ve made my case. (Check the “Totalitarianism” tag—Taibbi should be using that term rather than “authoritarianism.”)  I don’t need Matt Taibbi to prove my analysis correct. I’m calling attention to his essay because it’s a relief: so many people have told me that I am a Fox News, Trumper zombie for pointing out what should be screamingly apparent. For years I have been reading fevered warnings that the President was a dangerous authoritarian endangering democracy, when it seemed apparent that the party those critics supported were presenting the real threat by undermining our institutions and ignoring both the Constitution and the law.  I was beginning to doubt my sanity, just like Ingrid Bergman in “Gaslight.” Only a handful of analysts with courage and integrity—Professors Turley, Dershowitz, Jacobson and Althouse; journalist Glenn Greenwald, a few liberal pundits like Taibbi and Andrew Sullivan (sometimes) kept me from self-commitment.

More from Taibbi, on Michael Flynn:

Warrantless surveillance, multiple illegal leaks of classified information, a false statements charge constructed on the razor’s edge of Miranda, and the use of never-produced, secret counterintelligence evidence in a domestic criminal proceeding – this is the “rule of law” we’re being asked to cheer.

Russiagate cases were often two-level offenses: factually bogus or exaggerated, but also indicative of authoritarian practices. Democrats and Democrat-friendly pundits in the last four years have been consistently unable to register objections on either front.

Flynn’s case fit the pattern. We were told his plea was just the “tip of the iceberg” that would “take the trail of Russian collusion” to the “center of the plot,” i.e. Trump. It turned out he had no deeper story to tell. In fact, none of the people prosecutors tossed in jail to get at the Russian “plot” – some little more than bystanders – had anything to share.

Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias. Continue reading

Friday PM Ethics Discoveries, 5/15/2020: A Coup Option On The Way Out, A Narrative Reappears, Trump Tweets, Reasonable Discrimination Opposed, And More

Well let’s check the ol’ ethics box and see what we have today!

1. That’s one coup option down the drain! Based on what reporters heard during the phoned-in oral arguments on Chiafalo v. Washington and State v. Baca, it appears that the Supreme Court is going to rule that states can require electors to vote for the candidates the state’s voters instructed them to vote for. If so, good. That will eliminate at least one of the unethical coup options that were attempted after Trump upset Clinton. You will recall that there was a mass effort to hijack the Electoral College using the rationalization that Alexander Hamilton would have approved.

Lawrence Lessig, the wacko Harvard law professor we have discussed here more than once, represented the electors who were blocked from voting against the electorate’s wishes. Maybe its just me, but if I’m going to be represented before the Supreme Court, I think I’d choose a lawyer who hadn’t announced that he was running for President  as a “referendum president” who would serve only as long as it took to pass some pet progressive legislation, and then would quit and let his VP take over. Lessig obviously does not take elections seriously; no wonder he thinks electors should be free to vote for Chucky Cheese.

2. “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!”, Fake History Division.  Adam Liptak, long-time SCOTUS reporter for the Times, writes in his story about #1 above,

“A swing by just 10 electors would have been enough to change the outcomes in five of the previous 58 presidential elections, according to a Supreme Court brief. In the 2000 election, after an assist from the Supreme Court, George W. Bush beat Al Gore by just five electoral votes.”

See how Liptak pushes a progressive narrative in what is supposed to be a news story? There was no “assist”; we now know that Bush would have won Florida’s electoral votes with or without SCOTUS halting the recount. What the ruling in 2000 assisted was the nation having an orderly transfer of power within a reasonable time. Even though the “Bush and the Supreme Court stole the Presidency” lie has been thoroughly exposed as such, Democrats and the news media keeps injecting it into the public’s consciousness by constant repetition. Continue reading

Another Smoking Gun: The Television News Blackout Of Tara Reade

New York Times media reporter Ben Smith bought back a smidgen of the paper’s shredded credibility by authoring a relatively—for the Times—thorough article exploring the phenomenon of TV news shows declining to interview Tara Reade. The problem is that there is good reason to question Smith’s sincerity. His query is like asking why all those supposedly #MeToo-supporting Democratics who condemned Brett Kavanaugh are endorsing Biden. Gee, what a mystery! What could explain it?

Well, not completely. TV networks make their revenue on ratings. That a Reade interview  would attract viewers is no-brainer, so why hasn’t there been a rush to grab her first? The answer to that question, which Smith treats as completely confounding, is clear–res ipsa loquitur, in fact—but it is a topic of widespread denial, rising to the status of gaslighting. Journalists, as well as the organizations they work for, are more committed to allying themselves with the Left than they are to practicing ethical journalism, or even making money. Sherlock Holmes’ formula applies: when you have eliminated every other explanation for a phenomenon, the one remaining, however unlikely, has to be the correct one. Continue reading

Ethics May Day, 2020: Biden, Reade, Planned Parenthood, A Renegade Times Pundit, And The Democrats Get Their Way.

It’s May! It’s May!

1. So Joe Biden went on “Morning Joe” and denied that Tara Reade was telling the truth. So what? What does this tell us? Was there any chance whatsoever that he was going to say, “Yup, I finger-fucked her. I don’t know what came over me!”? No. This is like the Kurt Gödel conundrum about the island where there are only truth-tellers and liars, and there are some questions where they will give exactly the same answers. He picked a screamingly partisan journalist, Mika  Brzezinski, to ensure soft-ball treatment (she actually was a bit tougher than expected), and, to some eyes, looked as if he had rehearsed his statement. Ann Althouse does an extensive analysis here.

I don’t see the point. It’s a pro forma denial, and Biden was pressured into it.

I do think the Post article used some unfortunate phrasing..

“The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee was rebutting Tara Reade’s accusation that he reached under her skirt to penetrate her with his fingers somewhere in the Capitol in 1993. This denial requires him to thread a thin needle.”

2. Showing it has more integrity than most women’s groups, Planned Parenthood, the Daily Beast reports, was the only one among  the major pro-abortion groups in the nation that responded directly to the progressive site’s request for a comment regarding Tara Reade’s allegations. The “Democrat-aligned” groups either “did not respond” or ” replied and did not provide a statement”…except Planned Parenthood.

Its president released a statement saying in part, “We believe survivors—and saying we believe survivors doesn’t mean only when it’s politically convenient…Joe Biden must address this allegation directly.'” Continue reading

Today’s “Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!” Note

Honestly, I feel like I’m beating a dead horse by constantly writing about the news media’s toxic, destructive, self-destructive partisan bias. The problem is that the horse isn’t dead, and that once fair and intelligent people, millions of them, stare at the stinking, rotting, whinnying and snarling zombie carcass, and then will look you in the eye and tell you the beast is ready to run in the Preakness. This continues to be amazing to me, but also increasingly infuriating. We are far past the guilty beyond a reasonable doubt stage, and even the beyond all doubt stage, and yet they persist in increasingly unsupported denial. So I am forced to keep producing the carcass, and hoping against hope that somehow, a bolt of clarity, or integrity, or disgust, or something, will stir these sad, brain-washed  people to awareness, and they will finally exclaim, “Oh my GOD! That thing is disgusting!” And I am dedicated to keep hauling these repetitive smoking guns to the top of the pile, until that miracle occurs.

The now blazing and audacious conspiracy by the mainstream media to refuse—just refuse, that’s all!—to report on Joe Biden’s #MeToo accuser is, or should be, another piece of conclusive evidence. The New York Times interview of its won editor was as smoky a gun as there is, but there is so much more.

In 2018, when Christine Blasey-Ford accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of a suddenly (and conveniently) remembered sexual assault while the two were in high school, CNN put out seven articles the same day that the news became public. After that, it was “Katie bar the door!’ wherever that old expression came from. Mollie Hemingway at the Federalist did a search, and behold! CNN did more than 700 articles about the Blasey-Ford allegations, this in addition to the hundreds of hours of televised discussions on the topic.

Hemingway links to many of the headlines. She writes, Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/17/2020: Sir Paul, Fauxahontas, #MeToo, The Flying Ace, And The 2016 Ethics Villain Of The Year

good morning.

my college freshman dorm room was where e.e. cummings spent his freshman year too. never liked ol’ e.e.’s poetry much, but admired his clever stunt to avoid having to worry about upper case letters, presenting laziness as style.

i wonder if i could do the same thing with basic spelling?

1. You don’t necessarily have to blame the victim, but you shouldn’t give him gifts for being irresponsible either. Pitching ace Roy Halladay had only been retired for three years when he died in the crash of a private plane he was flying. After his death, he was elected by baseball writers to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ahead of the mandatory five -year waiting period, an honor that was given posthumously to Roberto Clemente, the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder who died in a plane crash in 1972 while trying to deliver relief supplies from Puerto Rico to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua. Clemente was a no-arguments Hall of Famer; Halladay was not, though he was certainly a valid candidate. He was elected by sympathy and emotion as much as by careful evaluation; this is one reason the Hall makes players wait at least five years. Now the  National Transportation Safety Board’s report on the investigation of his death is coming out.

This week it reported that Halladay had a  mix of amphetamine, morphine and other prescription drugs in his system while he was doing aerial acrobatics and stunt flying. It was a miracle that he didn’t kill anyone else, as he was flying dangerously close to boats before his amphibious sport plane  plunged into the Gulf of Mexico  on Nov. 7, 2017.

The 13-page report says Halladay had 10 times the recommended level of amphetamine in his system, as well as an antidepressant, a muscle relaxant, a sleep aid and morphine. Continue reading

BREAKING (And Astounding): A Smoking Gun Inside A Smoking Gun!

 

The New York Times just published an interview with its editor, Dean Baquet. You, everyone needs to read it. I’m want to minimize commentary, because I think–I think–that the interview  speaks eloquently for itself. What it says, amazingly, is that the New York Times is exactly as biased and partisan as its critics have said it is, and yet is somehow both in denial and incapable of making  coherent statements adequate to the task of fooling anyone who isn’t already on the “team” and committed to its mission. That the paper would subject its own editor to an interview—the interviewer is ex-BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith–that exposes the Times’ unethical manipulation of news and reveals the Times’ own editor as a babbling, rationalizing, spinning and obfuscating fool is incomprehensible.

And the Times published it! How can that be explained? Did the paper want to confess? That can’t be it. Is the Times so completely delusional that they don’t see how awful and incriminating Baquet’s answers are, that they are signature significance for an editor of exactly the kind of newspaper those who resent American journalism turning into partisan propaganda have been saying it is?

Is Baquet, who had to approve this, that certain that his readers have been so corrupted, or are so gullible, that they wouldn’t derive the obvious conclusion from his  double-talk?  Really?

One exchange is sufficient to make the point. Here Smith asks about the fiasco Ethics Alarms covered here, when the Times wrote, of its investigation of Tara Reade’s allegations, “The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden, beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.”

Smith: I want to ask about some edits that were made after publication, the deletion of the second half of the sentence: “The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden, beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.” Why did you do that?

Baquet: Even though a lot of us, including me, had looked at it before the story went into the paper, I think that the campaign thought that the phrasing was awkward and made it look like there were other instances in which he had been accused of sexual misconduct. And that’s not what the sentence was intended to say.

“The campaign thought that the phrasing was awkward and made it look like there were other instances in which he had been accused of sexual misconduct.” This was left in the interview! The statement means the New York Times was coordinating its reporting of a serious  charge against against the presumptive challenger to President Trump with that challenger’s campaign, and now sees that kind of—shall we say collusion?—as so routine that the editor doesn’t even think it’s damning. Continue reading