Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/30/18: Double Standards, Signature Significance, Facebook Tricks, And Pettiness From Beyond The Grave!

Gliddy glup gloopy!!

1. Tennis Ethics: Yes, I’d call this a double standard…When I saw the headline at AOL— “The US Open has been accused of sexism after a female tennis player was slapped with a code violation for changing her top in the middle of a match”—I assumed that this was another bare-breasts equality story. No, it was even stupider than that. At the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows this week,  Alizé Cornet was playing Swedish star Johanna Larsson when Cornet realized she  had put her her top on backwards during a break.

So she quickly fixed the wardrobe malfunction on the court, briefly exposing her black sports bra. The Horror. The umpire slapped Cornet with a code violation, unsportsmanlike conduct. But male players frequently remove their shirts on the sidelines, and usually aren’t wearing any bra at all. Indeed, male player Novak Djokovic  removed his shirt on the same day Cornet received her warning. Women’s Tennis Association rules state that women are not allowed to change clothes while on the court, but there is no similar rule for men.

2. Signature significance for an unethical politician. (But it’s Andrew Cuomo, so we knew that anyway.) During the New York  gubernatorial candidates’ debate  between Governor Andrew Cuomo and actress-turned-politician Cynthia Nixon, there was this exchange,

Cuomo: Excuse me, can you stop interrupting? 

Nixon: Can you stop lying?

Cuomo: Yeah, as soon as you do!

The audience thought this was funny.

New Yorkers.

3. Today’s  alarming “Nah, [enter Social media of mega-tech company here]  doesn’t abuse its power 0r manipulate information for a political agenda! Why would anyone suggest such a thing?” note:

NPR, to its credit, published an investigative reporting piece debunking a popular anti-gun fake stat, one that David Hogg et al. have wielded repeatedly: the U.S. Education Department’s claim that in the 2015-2016 school year, “nearly 240 schools … reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting.”  The NPR investigation findings:

“…NPR reached out to every one of those schools repeatedly over the course of three months and found that more than two-thirds of these reported incidents never happened. Child Trends, a nonpartisan nonprofit research organization, assisted NPR in analyzing data from the government’s Civil Rights Data Collection.

We were able to confirm just 11 reported incidents, either directly with schools or through media reports.

In 161 cases, schools or districts attested that no incident took place or couldn’t confirm one. In at least four cases, we found, something did happen, but it didn’t meet the government’s parameters for a shooting. About a quarter of schools didn’t respond to our inquiries.

“When we’re talking about such an important and rare event, [this] amount of data error could be very meaningful,” says Deborah Temkin, a researcher and program director at Child Trends.

Gee, ya think?

This statistic has been disputed before, but since the challenges came from conservative news media, the NRA or other Second Amendment supporters, the mainstream media kept using it, and I’m sure the Parkland kids will keep using it anyway, since facts seem to have little importance to them. National Public Radio, however, has been resolutely anti-gun for decades, and never saw a liberal cause it didn’t admire.

When a Facebook user shared the NPR article on Facebook, however, it was removed because, as Facebook informed him,  “it looks like spam and [it] doesn’t follow our Community Standards.” See?

Again: You cannot trust these companies or the people who run them. Continue reading

Integrity Check For “The Resistance” And The News Media (But I Repeat Myself)

“The U.S. economy had a blockbuster second quarter, with growth surging to a 4.1 percent pace the Commerce Department said Friday. That was nearly double the first quarter rate of 2.2 percent and the strongest pace in nearly four years. President Trump has been steadfastly claiming that his policies will catapult the U.S. economy into a much higher rate of growth — 4 percent over the next few years. That would be about double the growth rate in recent years. And it would almost certainly mean a big boost in the standard of living for many Americans, with higher wages and better public services as the government raked in more tax dollars from a booming economy.”

This isn’t from Fox News or Breitbart. It’s from NPR. (Sometimes even biased new sources have no choice but to just report the news.)

Stipulated: The anti-Trump deranged are now fully incapable of admitting that this President has done something right or that he is capable of doing something, anything, right.  The New York Times already started pooh-poohing the positive report before it was released, with this story, Why Friday’s G.D.P. Number May Be a Size Too Big. (Hard copy headline: Get Ready For Sizzling Growth Data. Then Take a Deep Breath.)

Now I’m obligated to note that if President Obama’s stumbling, growth-restricting policies had produced a leap like this, no mainstream media news source would have offered anything but unrestrained praise, though Fox News might well have said, “Well it’s about damn time!”

OK, that’s out of the way.

How long does “the resistance” think it can get away with the intellectually dishonest, obviously unfair, self-indicting strategy of insisting on a parallel reality where double standards reign and no good news or welcome developments will ever, ever, prompt it to concede that the President was right, succeeded or improved the nation’s status? Indeed, why does it think it is getting away with that destructive, divisive and dishonest strategy now? Half the nation doesn’t trust the news media, meaning it cannot change anyone’s mind even when changing the minds is crucial. Democratic opposition to Trump appears to be personal rather than substantive, and it appears that way because it is.

The Ethics Alarms position, since it is an ethics blog (and yes, “The Ethics Alarms position” means MY position, Tim…) is that every single one of the reasons I wrote so many posts explicating them that led me to believe that Donald Trump should never be President stands. Every one. Nothing that he has done, and especially the manner in which he has done what he has done, alters my analysis in any way. However, he is President, so analyzing whether he should be is moot. Now the questions are…

  • How well are his policies and initiatives working?
  • What good are they doing for the country?
  • What harm are they doing, or might they do, and how do we mitigate that?
  • If there are long term benefits of his Presidency, what are they?
  • If there are long term deficits, what are they, and and how do we mitigate them?
  • How does the nation, the public and its institutions best ensure that the results of the President’s tenure on the nation and the culture are as beneficial as possible?
  • What have I and other analysts been proven wrong about, and what does this mean for future analysis going forward?

None of these tasks can be done competently by anyone who is so soaked in hatred, partisan agendas and bias that they are determined to deny the President his wins and “I told you sos,” and there have been a surprising amount both. Nor is it helpful to be willfully blind to the President’s strengths when they become apparent, and some have become apparent.

For example, he cannot possibly be as stupid as I assumed in 2016, and had concluded many years before. President Trump is something else, and I’m not sure what the word for that something else is, or, I suppose, he’s the luckiest bastard who ever lived. I am relatively certain that in the grand cosmic scheme Donald Trump is what philosopher Isaiah Berlin, in his famous essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox” called a hedgehog, someone who, in words of the Greek poet Archilochus, “knows one big thing” as opposed to a fox, which knows many things. The thrust of the essay (and a later book) is that a lesson of history is that the hedgehogs tend to win out over the foxes.

Now I just have to figure out what the one big thing Donald Trump knows is. Based on the evidence so far, it is worth knowing.

_______________________

Pointer: Ann Althouse

 

Ethics Hero: Jimmy Carter

Say what you will about former President Jimmy Carter, he has never shied away from confronting what he believes are unpleasant truths. Thus he earns an Ethics Hero designation by telling New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd;

“I think the media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I’ve known about. I think they feel free to claim that Trump is mentally deranged and everything else without hesitation.”

Hilariously, USA Today immediately proved Carter’s point by writing, in its naturally objective and fair story on the quote,

“Perhaps Carter is seeking to placate Trump as part of a job interview: The 93-year-old former president said he is willing to undertake a diplomatic mission to North Korea to discuss its nuclear weapons program.”

In a related and illuminating story, former NPR CEO Ken Stern, nine years after he left the taxpayer- funded radio news network, has suddenly realized that there may be some liberal bias in the news media! His op-ed for the New York Post begins,

“Most reporters and editors are liberal — a now dated Pew Research Center poll found that liberals outnumber conservatives in the media by some 5 to 1, and that comports with my own anecdotal experience at National Public Radio. When you are liberal, and everyone else around you is as well, it is easy to fall into groupthink on what stories are important, what sources are legitimate and what the narrative of the day will be.”

Gee, that’s kind of nice. What we usually hear from reporters, editors and media management is that the accusation of partisan bias, based on such overwhelming evidence that it makes a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard look like a breeze, is just a Fox News myth, a conservative concoction and a false talking point. It would have been more nice, of course, if Ken Stern had come to this obvious conclusion and used his position to do something, rather than wait nine years and speak up when the average informed person reads his name on an article and thinks, “Who the hell is Ken Stern”?

I confess, I detest these too little, too late confessions of enlightenment, which are usually self-serving. I smell a book and an interview tour, don’t you?

Well, I won’t be reading it. Later in his conveniently tardy piece, Stern writes, Continue reading

It’s Corporation For Public Broadcasting Fundraising Time, Which Means Deception At NPR And PBS

The "Car Talk" brothers today, or so we are told.

The “Car Talk” brothers today, or so we are told.

It is fundraising time for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, and once again, perhaps more than ever, NPR and PBS are lying to you. If you watch the PBS broadcast of “Downton Abbey” this weekend, for example, you will find the show introduced by a series of promotions for such companies as Viking Cruise Lines. These spots look, feel, sound and smell like commercials, but because PBS describes them with the euphemism “promotional considerations,” it thinks it can magically make them non-commercial, and thus, within seconds of running these ads, and while making its audience wait fifteen minutes to actually see the programming, describes PBS as “commercial-free television.”

If you can sell commercials, guys, don’t tell me that the survival of Western civilization depends on my tax-payer dollars going into your pockets.

Over at National Public Radio, it’s also deception and hypocrisy, but worse. I just turned on WMAU, a local NPR affiliate, and heard the familiar strains of Boston townie accents talking about automotive issues on “Car Talk,” where  the Tappet Brothers made the banter between Cliff and Norm sound pedestrian by comparison. After the last segment, in which “Click and Clack” answered a query from an LA area student about whether he should buy a car (Their answer, after much foolery: “No.”) Tom Tappet came on and explained that if this were commercial radio and they were sponsored by an auto manufacturer, the bothers might have felt pressured to give a different answer, or perhaps been fired for giving the honest one they did. And this is what is so important about NPR being listener-funded, he explained. It is independent radio. NPR is only interested in the objective truth, and isn’t swayed by conflict of interest.

Right, Tom! Ask Juan Williams about how independent NPR is. Continue reading

On “Media Watchdogs,” NPR, Ted Cruz, And Unethical Editing

NPR-cruz

Newsbusters is a “media watchdog” site that doesn’t pretend to be non-partisan: it goes after the liberal mainstream media for bias. I am tempted to conclude that agenda-driven watchdogs are more credible than so-called objective watch-dogs, like CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” which are almost as biased but pretend not to be.

Newsbusters does good work sometimes, then comes up with something like Matthew Balan’s sneering attack on the news media’s praise of “Spotlight” ( CBS Celebrates ‘Very Powerful,’ ‘Fantastic’ Liberal Reporter Movie) which didn’t contain a word about why the media shouldn’t be praising it. (I don’t think Balan saw the movie.) It’s an embarrassing piece, Newsbusters at its biased worst. The writer keeps telling us that actor Mark Ruffalo. who plays one of the reporters in the film,  is “left wing,” as if that is relevant to the role he played in the film (it isn’t). Apparently Balan thinks that a remarkably accurate movie about good investigative reporting and a scandal involving harm to hundreds of thousands of children shouldn’t be made because it doesn’t make organized religion look good, and does make a liberal newspaper look good.

He’s nuts. Are religious conservatives that deranged, that a straightforward, true account of the news media doing its job (for a change) and the historic and world-shaking scandal it uncovered confirms their suspicions of a progressive Hollywood conspiracy? The movie isn’t political in any way! It was praised by CBS and other critics because it’s a terrific movie that has only one agenda, which is to tell an important story compellingly. Sorry that it gives the Catholic Church the treatment it deserves, Newsbusters.

On the left is Media Matters, David Brock’s site that makes Newsbusters look like the epitome of non-partisan analysis. It’s not even a watchdog, and barely pretends to be any more: it is a propaganda arm of the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign. Is there a good, objective, non-partisan media watchdog site that isn’t trying to prop up parties and candidates? The closest is probably Poynter.org, (Wait, why isn’t this in the Ethics Alarms links? Better fix THAT…), out of the Poynter Institute, which has the broader agenda of teaching and promoting good and ethical journalism. The site doesn’t—can’t—cover all the misconduct in the media. It does a good job when it does, though: here’s a current post on the media’s race-baiting Justice Scalia, which I covered yesterday. It concludes…

“The New York Times duly noted that one Scalia remark “drew muted gasps in the courtroom.” (The New York Times) But “far from being racist, that proposition is an acknowledgment of racial inequality — and it’s central to the argument for racial preferences. Those preferences wouldn’t be necessary if applicants from all racial and ethnic groups possessed exactly the same paper credentials.”(The Los Angeles Times) Unfortunately, the digital age brings a few too many reporters sitting at desks and doing facile, Twitter-friendly rewrites of stuff they know little about.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Back to Newsbusters: When it is good, it can be very good, as it was yesterday exposing an outrageous distortion of a Ted Cruz interview on NPR. I knew that interviewers edit interview answers for broadcast. I did not know that any major news organization would think it was ethical to distort the emphasis, thrust and meaning of a Presidential candidate’s words this blatantly. (But then Cruz is a conservative.) NPR duly posted the unedited interview transcript online, which is not good enough: how many listeners are going to check what they heard driving to work to discover what was really said? How many suspect that what they heard was sliced and diced like gazpacho? Not many, and NPR knows it.

In checking what Cruz really said and what the broadcast of his interview with NPR Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep made him out to say, Newsbusters reporter Tim Graham found text that showed the Cruz’s answers were shortened by mid-paragraph cuts, blunting his points and also censoring his most critical comments about the Obama Administration and its current policies. Here is the section of the interview containing the most edits. Graham has bolded the cuts; what is not bolded is what the NPR audience heard. I’ll break in here and there, in italics.

Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal)

I'm so disgusted with Nancy Pelosi that I can't tolerate seeing her face on the blog, so I'm posting a picture of one of my favorite animals, an Okapi...which would, by the way, be a likely improvement in over Pelosi.in Congress.

I’m so disgusted with Nancy Pelosi that I can’t tolerate seeing her face on the blog, so I’m posting a picture of one of my favorite animals, an Okapi…which would, by the way, be a likely improvement in over Pelosi in Congress.

Count the dishonest, idiotic, misleading, unethical statements in this jaw-dropping interview exchange. I count eight. I may have missed one or two, because I was vomiting by the end:

REPORTER: Since the IRS happened on President Obama’s watch, how much of a hit — or do you think at all Democrats will take a hit on the IRS in the 2014 midterms?

REP. NANCY PELOSI:  Well, you said it happened under his watch. (1) It happened under the appointment of the head of the IRS, who was appointed by President Bush. His length of stay extended into President Obama’s stay.  I think that points to the fact — (2) why is this a politicized issue?  We all are concerned about how the IRS does what it’s supposed to do but does not do it in a selective way. I said before what they did was wrong. The Inspector General has said over and over(3)  it is not illegal.  The committee wants to challenge the Inspector General on his findings, so that will unfold. But again (4) the IRS is an independent agency.  (????So the inference to be drawn happened on his watch is that it happened on his watch the way some other cabinet agency of government would. (5)  No, this is an independent agency is headed up by a Bush appointee. What they did was wrong. We have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Selective review. We don’t like it on our side or their side. It has no place.

REPORTER: Doesn’t the buck stop with him? Should he have known about these things but he said he didn’t know about any of this? Continue reading

Heroes, Dunces, Truthtellers, Liars, Spinners, Incompetents, and Fools: More Ethics Forensics On The Government Scandal Wave

bosch

This is a mercurial story, several in fact, but one of its most valuable uses is to allow us to sort out various individuals and institutions for their trustworthiness and character based upon their words and conduct regarding the multiple scandals hurtling around Washington.

  • Fool: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Mn). Bachmann is talking impeachment, which has signature significance: any elected official who brings up impeachment now or anytime before hard evidence turns up proving that President Obama personally delivered  a bag of gold to the IRS leadership to make sure proprietary tax information was leaked is an utter, irresponsible dolt. 1) No President has ever been convicted after their impeachment, and heaven knows we have had multiple Chief Executives factually guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” It is a waste of time, an all-encompassing political warfare glut that this nation can’t afford at this point, especially when the U.S. Senate is in control of the same party the impeached POTUS belongs to. Yes, I agree with the principle that corrupt Presidents should be punished; I’m glad Bill Clinton got his just desserts, but I also know that if he and the rest of the government had been concentrating on what was going on in the world rather than hiding blue dresses, the Twin Towers might be standing today, and 3000—10,000?—-Americans wouldn’t be dead. Impeachment is like using a nuclear bomb: it’s a useful threat, but the reality is too horrible to permit. 2) Anyone who thinks making Joe Biden President is a solution to anything is certifiable. 3) There is nothing at this point that would support a legitimate impeachment. 4) Putting the scandals in that context just supports the agreed-upon White House and media spin that this is all about politics. Shut up, Michele.