And The Self-Destruction Of America’s Journalism Continues: I Pronounce The Boston Globe Ethics Alarms DEAD

The Boston Globe is the first newspaper I ever read, admittedly because it long had (no more, alas) the best sports section in the country. Even after fate took me away from my beloved home town and deposited me, apparently forever, in Washington, D.C., I continued to subscribe. Many times, notably when the paper’s special investigative unit blew the top off of the city’s deep and long-rotting child molestation scandal among its Catholic priests, leading to the exposure of the unimaginable world-wide scandal that went all the way to the Vatican, the paper validated my loyalty and admiration.

But political bias was always the Globe’s Achilles Heel. The editorial staff was a Kennedy family lapdog, and this metastasized into knee-jerk  Democratic Party support even when it could not be logically justified. Eventually, it was obvious that the paper’s ethics alarms, if not dead, were barely pinging. in April of 2016, the paper suffered a crippling Donald Trump-sparked nervous breakdown, turning itself into a print version of Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds.” It featured a phony front page —a portent of the fake news to come, but not just at the Globe—showing the dystopian future that awaited in the hopefully alternate dystopian universe where  Trump was elected President:

I wrote in part,

So disturbed is the editorial staff of the Boston Globe over the nauseating threat of a Donald Trump presidency that it has jettisoned all established principles of journalism ethics in an embarrassing, self-destructive effort to “stop” him. Mark this down as one more wound on the culture that Trump has inflicted with his luxury ego trip, with the assistance of his irrational supporters, of course….

“This is Donald Trump’s America. What you read on this page is what might happen if the GOP frontrunner can put his ideas into practice, his words into action. Many Americans might find this vision appealing, but the Globe’s editorial board finds it deeply troubling,” the editor’s note reads. Then follows an editorial urging the GOP to stop Trump.

The editorial is fine. The Globe could have even chosen to place it on its real front page instead of creating a National Lampoon imitation and been well within journalism ethics standards. Publishing fake news stories about what a theoretical President Trump might do? This is a spectacular  failure of professionalism and a journalistic disgrace. A newspaper is pledged to report the news, not imagine it. It is not ethically entitled to morph into Saturday Night Live or the Onion because it really, really, really feels strongly about an issue.

(Gee, I really called the news media’s eventual total abandonment of journalism ethics, didn’t I? Where are my bouquets? My Pulitzer?)

That was the end of my regular reading of the Boston Globe. This is the end of my regarding it as a newspaper. The correct term is “rag.” Come to think of it, that may be an insult to rags. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/3/2017: In the Wake Of Las Vegas…

Good Morning.

1 The reaction of the anti-gun forces is so depressingly predictable, the arguments being put forth are so well-worn, the demonization of those who comprehend the importance of the Second Amendment so shameless and the misrepresentations are so familiar. I am considering just ignoring it this time, and referring anyone to the copious essays already written here tagged with Sandy Hook Ethics Train Wreck. Maybe I should just re-publish them after using a search and replace to switch Sandy Hook and New Town with “Las Vegas Strip.”  I’m sure in future months we can look forward to testimony at various legislative hearings by family members of the slain and wounded, as our elected officials, as usual, choose to use emotion, sentiment and grief to ram through legislation that they could not and cannot justify if the public’s attention isn’t distorted. I was on the road most of yesterday: has Hillary shot off her mother yet? Obama? Piers Morgan? Jimmy Kimmel? Diane Feinstein? I honestly haven’t had a chance to check. How quickly did some predictable Ethics Alarms commenters use the tragedy to start attacking gun ownership? By the time I finish the Warm-Up, I’ll probably know. I’ve made a few wagers with myself…

2.  Fake news, hoax postings and irresponsible rumor-mongering was rampant after the shooting. Is there any point in noting that ISIS, with its apparently false claim that this was one of its terror attacks, is unethical?  How about 4chan, which deliberately pinned the crime on the wrong man, and habitually inaccurate conservative websites like The Gateway Pundit, which circulated the lies? Twitter users with the character of poorly raised reptiles also got in on the fun: From the New York Times:

In a telling exchange, Gianluca Mezzofiere of Mashable reached out to the operator of one Twitter account sharing misinformation and reported the following:

Mashable reached out to the troll to ask why he’s spreading misinformation during such a critical time.

“I think you know why,” he replied. “For the retweets :)”

When Mashable pointed out that it’s unethical to spread misinformation when people are desperately looking for their missing family and friends, he just said: “You are right I’m sorry.”

“Jack Sins” said he chose TheReportOfTheWeek (aka Reviewbrah) just because he’s a meme and tweeted Johnny Sins because he “is a living legend.”

Asked whether he’s done it before and whether he’d do it again, he replied:

“Yes and maybe.”

Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Ann Althouse

I like Ann and admire her, as readers here know. She’s quirky and smart; she’s either political moderate or apolitical; she tries very hard to stay objective; she’s an iconoclast and a contrarian, and best of all, she agrees with me about 75% of the time. Thus it pains me no end to designate her an Ethics Dunce, but I have no choice. She posted this:

“New Clinton Memoir: ‘We All Made Mistakes But You Made Most Of Them.'”

“‘I’m not suggesting it’s entirely your fault, but, let’s be frank, 99 percent of it is,’ read one passage from the chapter entitled ‘Seriously, What Were You Thinking?’ in which the former candidate conceded missteps she had made over the course of her campaign while also clarifying that none of them should have produced the final election outcome, which she characterized as ‘squarely on you fucking people.'”
It’s fake news. It’s from “The Onion,” and while that may seem obvious to some, the fact that Ann Althouse’s blog is not a satire, or fake news site means that this unmarked  gag post once removed is a lie.I have been seeing this with more frequency of late—among other, Glenn Reynolds has posted fake stories on Instapundit, assuming that readers will immediately get the joke with him having to flag it. Or maybe he was fooled: the point is that there is no way to be sure. The Althouse post above, coming on the heels of the Clinton excerpt from the book of yesterday, seemed just a step or two farther along on The Road to Lunacy. I believed it might be true, which is the only reason I clicked on the link. As I learn from commenters here every day, most people do not click on links.  Many people will repeat as fact to a third party what they read in a headline without reading the rest.

This  headline is New Clinton Memoir: “We All Made Mistakes But You Made Most Of Them.” Is that really so inherently hilarious and nonsensical that Althouse can be certain no readers with a functioning brain will believe it? Is it harder to believe she would write this in her book than say, during last year’s campaign, “I was surprised that he used personal email account if he is at State.”? Or remember when Hillary was asked about the stunned responses of viewers when she said, in her first debate with Bernie Sanders, that the reason she was getting getting millions in widespread Wall Street firm support, that “So, I represented New York, and I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked. Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is. I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country.” ?

During that same  debate,  CBS passed a tweet along from a fellow head-explodee.. “And Secretary Clinton, one of the tweets we saw said this,” said CBS’s tweet-mistress Nancy Cordes. “I’ve never seen a candidate invoke 9/11 to justify millions of Wall Street donations until now.” The idea being, yes, you were a champion of the community after 9/11, but what does that have to do with taking big donations?”

Hillary answered—“Well, I’m sorry that whoever tweeted that had that impression.” HAD THAT IMPRESSION??? That’s what she had literally just said! How hard is to believe that a woman who would claim, on live, coast-to-caost TV,  that a voter is mistaken to interpret as what she just said as what she just said, wouldn’t also write in her post-election  botch memoir that We all made mistakes but you made most of them”? Continue reading

Infowars’ Alex Jones, Purveyor Of The Most Untrustworhy Political Website North Of “The News Nerd,” Provides One Of The Most Disingenuous Apologies Imaginable

A few stipulations:

1. Anyone who for a second thought it was anything more than a bad spoof that John Podesta and Hillary Clinton were engaged in a child sex ring operating out of a D.C. pizza joint has gone waaaay beyond “Bias Makes You Stupid” to “Bias Makes People Who Are Stupid Already Too Dangerous For Human Companionship.”

2. Anyone who believes anything that appears on the conspiracy blog “Infowars” is a sitting duck for the next Ponzi scheme.

3. My theory is that Breibart pays Jones to make it look reliable and objective by comparison. And it gets its money’s worth..

The so called Pizzagate conspiracy theory held that top Democratic officials were involved with a satanic child pornography ring centered around Comet Ping Pong, a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C. There was never any evidence to support it, and more importantly, was ridiculous on its face. It did not originate with Alex Jones, the proprietor of far right Infowars, but since it was uncomplimentary to Democrats, Jones was supporting Donald Trump, and he has also claimed on Infowars that the 9/11 attacks were  carried out by the United States government and that the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown  was a hoax concocted by anti-Second Amendment fanatics, the Pizzagate theory fit right in to the rest of the BS. Thanks in great part to Jones,  the hoax circulated on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, flourished in online forums frequented by idiots, and produced more static interfering with a rational approach to a crucial election.

This hoax, unlike, say, the claim that the Pope had endorsed Donald Trump, had measurable consequences. The pizzeria, its owner and his employees received death threats. Their business has suffered. Nearby businesses have also been adversely affected, and the hoax even spread to several other pizzerias around the country for some reason.The restaurant was closed for two days in December after Edgar M. Welch, one of the above referenced idiots,  showed up at Comet Ping Pong to “investigate,” and fired a semiautomatic rifle  inside the pizzeria. Welch pleaded guilty on Friday to assault with a dangerous weapon and interstate transportation of a firearm. Good. One idiot down.

Now Jones has issued an apology. It was obviously crafted by lawyers: Comet Pizza had demanded one in February, and by law Jones had one month to retract his libel (arguably liable) to avoid being sued. The month would have been up this weekend. Here is that apology, with key sections bolded and numbered to make commenting here easier: Continue reading

Two From The “Bias Makes You Stupid” (Or The “Fake News”?) File:

trump-boos

1. “Newsweek”reporter Kurt Eichenwald reported via Twitter that Iowa supporters of president-elect Donald Trump booed astronaut and former Senator John Glenn when Trump mentioned his recent death. This “news” gave Trump-haters and Trump voter-haters everywhere more to justify their hatred, and the tweet (above) prompted thousands of retweets and likes….

fake-boosNever mind. It didn’t happen. The crowd was booing anti-Trump protesters, not Senator Glenn. Eichenwald sheepishly retracted the “scoop.”

2.Yesterday morning, MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle claimed on the air that  Fox News was holding its Christmas party at President-elect Donald Trump’s recently opened Washington hotel, in the course of a discussion of Trump’s conflicts of interest. What a great example of how the conservative media is in bed with Trump—almost as much as the mainstream media was coordinating with the Clinton campaign!

Unfortunately, Fox News hasn’t held its annual party yet, and has scheduled its actual party at a hotel that isn’t affiliated with Trump. Ruhl had to issue an apology and a retraction.

In response to the recent Ethics Alarms post about the hypocrisy and dubious motives behind the mainstream media’s sudden obsession with the “fake news” crisis, some commenters argued that EA is confounding good faith journalism mistakes with the real “fake news,” a term that should be narrowly used when a source intentionally issues a false story “maliciously.” The spectrum, however, is too seamless to parse this way. Continue reading

Carol Costello To The Rescue: CNN Spins For The Boston Globe

Globe Parody

Many in the on-line pundit community feel that the Boston Globe’s use of a fake future news front page to attack Donald Trump was bad practice and a slippery slope not to be ventured upon by serious news outlets. They are correct.

Trump hate runs high in mainstream media-land, however, and the ethics alarms there sound softly if at all. I just witnessed that most biased and smug of TV anchors, CNN’s Carol Costello, furiously spinning for the Globe, because the foundering ship of untrustworthy journalism feels that the crew must pull together, or something.

Though Costello’s colleague Brian Stelter had sort of criticized the the fake front page  saying that it “resembles an April Fools Day prank by a college newspaper — but is bound to get a lot more attention,” Costello was in full defense mode. She began by mischaracterizing where the objections to the Globe’s stunt were coming from, citing only Trump himself as the critic—and we all know how crazy he is, right? Costello played a clip of Trump registering his objections—mostly reasonable and fair, by the way—as Costello gave her audience her trademark “Can you believe this idiot?” smirk, which she flashes virtually any time a conservative or Republican is saying anything. She then repeated portions of the Globe’s defenders’ talking points, and brought on the Globe’s Sunday Ideas Editor Katie Kingsbury to give its own, as if Trump owned the only two hands not applauding. What was offered was a series of rationalizations: Continue reading

The Boston Globe’s Fake Front Page: A Vile Ethics Foul, And The Beginning Of The End For Newspaper Journalism

Globe Parody

So disturbed is the editorial staff of the Boston Globe over the nauseating threat of a Donald Trump presidency that it has jettisoned all established principles of journalism ethics in an embarrassing, self-destructive effort to “stop” him. Mark this down as one more wound on the culture that Trump has inflicted with his luxury ego trip, with the assistance of his irrational supporters, of course.

Today the Boston Globe hit the news stands and front walks featuring a satirical front page with headlines about a fictional, future Donald Trump presidency accompanied by a fevered “Stop Trump” editorial. The page was headed the “Ideas” section in the paper.

The Globe placed a PDF of the hoax  page on its website yesterday. Dated April 10, 2016, the scare-headlined page shouts: “Deportations to begin, President Trump calls for tripling of ICE force; riots continue.” The articles about Trump’s actions as President contain no humor or satirical tone.  There are solemn references to an Attorney General Chris Christie, and we learn that  ex-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly is hanging out, Ron Burgundy-style, in a bar because she’s been placed on President Trump’s black list. Readers are also informed that “U.S. soldiers refuse orders to kill ISIS families” and that there is a new libel law aimed at muzzling the press. Another story reports that Trump named  his new dog after the Chinese First Lady as a calculated insult. Continue reading