Tag Archives: Newsbusters

On “Whataboutism”

“Shut up! How dare you point out my hypocritical double standard!”

I am abashed to admit that I read the term “whataboutism” many times without having a clue regarding what it meant. Properly used, the term could have been a useful one. I often wondered what to call it when, say, Newsbusters, would run one of the stories like this one (there have been far worse. but this was the most recent):

FLASHBACK: CNN Didn’t See GOP Winning Governor Races in 2009 As Referendum On Obama

What does CNN’s analysis eight years ago have to do with whether its analysis regarding 2017 election results are persuasive or not? Nothing. It’s a deflection without substance: “Oh yeah? Well, why should we pay attention to your claim that the GOP losing State House races is ominous for the party now when you didn’t say the same thing when Democrats lost elections under Obama?” It makes no sense, especially since those losses were a warning for Democrats, who got clobbered in the 2010 mid-terms.

That’s real “whataboutism”: an intellectually dishonest argument that changes the subject to avoid dealing with the issues. It flourished during the Obama years, especially in the comments on political blogs. Virtually any discussion about Obama’s myriad botches and failures were routinely countered by, “Oh yeah? Well, Bush lied and people died!”

This kind of “whataboutism” involves the use of Rationalization #2, Ethics Estoppel, or “They’re Just as Bad,” and #22 The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”

The idea, again,  is to avoid honest consideration of fair criticism by pointing somewhere else.

But progressives and liberals are very good at stifling dissent and argument by constricting language and discourse, so now “whataboutism” is increasingly being used to shut down efforts to point out double standards….and double standards, which are reaching plague proportions, must be stopped, and the only way the stop them is to identify them.  Continue reading

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: CNN Reporter April Ryan

“Sarah, is slavery wrong? Sarah, is slavery wrong? Does this administration think that slavery was wrong? Sarah, does this administration believe slavery was wrong?”

CNN’s April Ryan, yelling to White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders as today’s press briefing ended. She really did.

President Andrew Jack…no, that’s wrong. It’s President …Johnson, right? Lyndon Johnson? No, no..Barry Lyndon? No…Barry Goldwater? Barry Bonds? U.S. Bonds? U.S. Grant? Boy, history is hard

I assume that this was intended as a rhetorical rebuttal to the position of President Trump and those non-totalitarian-minded citizens—I hope not just conservatives and Republicans— who regard toppling statues and memorials of important figures in America’s past as a form of Orwellian thought control and manipulation of the historical record. Maybe she attends Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia.

Whatever it was, it wasn’t journalism, fair, or professional. Since Ryan knew the only answer that could or would be given, if Sander had been foolish enough to dignify the insult with a reply, it was really just partisan harassment and race-baiting, the equivalent of  a reporter shouting out at a Johnson era press conference, “How many did LBJ kill today?,” calling out after a Bush briefing, “Hey, any signs of those weapons of mass destruction?,” or calling out after an Obama White House briefing, “Does the President still promise that if we like our health plan, we can keep it?”

A news organization that doesn’t immediately discipline a reporter behaves like this at a White House press briefing—and Ryan should have been suspended, removed from the White House beat, or exiled to cute kitten stories on Headline News—it is announcing one of the following:

a) This new organization will  no longer apply minimal standards of respect, fairness and professionalism to coverage of this President.

b) This network no longer has any standards.

c) This network will allow gross demonstrations of bias and partisan animus by its reporters.

Under these conditions, the White House has no obligation to permit such an organization to attend press briefings, any more than it has an obligation to permit anti-Trump demonstrators to attend, or to tolerate reporters chanting slogans and carrying placards. And it should not. If CNN won’t uphold minimal standards of professional journalism, then the White House must. CNN should be told that until it receives a public apology for Ryan’s outburst, she is replaced by a trustworthy reporter, and the network pledges that it will not permit such conduct by its employees to occur again, CNN will no longer be invited to briefings. Its place will then be taken by Ethics Alarms, or Weekly Reader, or any entity with a concept of journalism ethics superior to CNN’s.

Meanwhile, while we are on the topic of professionalism, I have this to report: Continue reading

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

NPR Gets Careless With Its Bias (And The Post Tries To Provide Cover)

Shannon Watts. Well, not really...

Shannon Watts. Well, not really…

Ethics Alarms returns to the evergreen topic of the journalism ethics defying left-agenda bias of the Mainstream media with the most defiant and annoying perpetrator of all, National Public Radio. Its solemn, cultivated con on this occasion involved, naturally, the news media’s war on guns, which, for those you don’t understand the concept of “fair and objective reporting,” is supposed to be “the news media explicating the left’s war on guns.”

A week ago, NPR’s Chris Arnold reported on the emergence  of a “powerful new gun control group,” Everytown for Gun Safety. The organization came out of  the union of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns  and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group launched by Shannon Watts during the post-Newtown gun control push.

Describing Watts, the NPR feature said:

“Much of the groundswell behind this crusade comes from just regular people pulled into it for their own reasons. For a woman named Shannon Watts, she was drawn in by another mass shooting — the murder of 20 schoolchildren 6- and 7-year-olds in Newtown, Connecticut. Watts wasn’t there: She lived 800 miles away in Zionsville, Indiana. She was folding her kids’ laundry, actually, when the news broke. And she wanted to do something. ‘I was obviously devastated but I was also angry and I went online and I thought, ‘Surely there is a Mothers Against Drunk Driving for gun safety.’ And I couldn’t find anything. Watts had never done anything political before but she made a Facebook page and she called it One Million Moms for Gun Control [now Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America].”

Now, this is how the news media can slant an issue and later say, “Who, us?” This paragraph is designed to send the visceral, lizard-brain-level message “Anti-gun activism GOOD.” The public, especially the college educated, generally well-off listeners of NPR, is rightly suspicious of lobbyists and activists of all stripes, and sophisticated, well-funded efforts to influence public policy. They are most likely to trust the instincts of, well, themselves, or people like themselves, or better yet, “innocents” driven by conviction and unselfish, unsophisticated democratic motives, like, say “Guns BAD’ and “Do something!” Thus the paragraph above describes a hero that Every Listener can identify with, for many of them see themselves as ” just regular people” who “never done anything political before.”

They also melt like lemon drops over activism by moms, because many are moms, and everyone loves mom.  This is also why savvy activists like to name their groups after mothers.

You have to love the details NPR chose to include and what they suggest. “Zionsville, Indiana”…might as well be called Everytown. Watts was folding her kids’ laundry when she heard of Newtown. Can’t you just picture Donna Reed or Marion Cunningham hearing the news on NPR, probably with tears in her eyes, getting a that look of determination in her eyes (“I know that look, honey!”) and deciding to, dammit, do something, having never done “anything political” before?

But in the case of Shannon Watts, that was an intentionally misleading image, crafted by her and abetted by NPR to promote sympathy for the anti-gun movement.

Let’s look at NPR’s  correction after Newsbusters, the conservative news watchdog, newsbusted the story in a post titled “Dishonest NPR Tells of ‘Regular’ Mom Who Put the Con in Gun Control”: Continue reading

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The Right Wing Media Tries A “Gotcha!” On Brian Williams, And Looks Ignorant, Biased And Unfair

Atom bomb cloud

Bias makes us stupid, as I write here often.

One after another,  conservative media reporters  pounced on MSNBC’s Brian Williams, the exiled ex-NBC anchorman, for saying this on the air, in a discussion about the anti-nukes movement, re-energized by President Obama’s remarks at Hiroshima:

“It is and that is still the threat that people worry about that this material will fall into the wrong hands. If people have found the U.S. to be preachy in the years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki about the use of weapons, it’s because we’re the only nation to have used them in anger. Sometimes, I am amazed that the world has been without these weapons all the years since, but it is a point of, a great pride by the people who have seen to it.”

My God! Brian Williams, that lying liberal, actually smeared the United States and President Truman by suggesting that we dropped the atom bombs out of spite! Revenge! Hate! And he did it on Memorial Day weekend; its’ an insult to everyone who fought and died in that war!

Curis Houck, Newsbusters: “Williams  took a swipe at the entire reason that Truman had the bombs dropped (which was to end the war)”…

David Rutz, Washington Freebeacon: “MSNBC’s Brian Williams said the U.S. used nuclear weapons against Japan “in anger” Friday, an expression sure to upset those who recognize the decision potentially saved hundreds of thousands of lives by bringing about a swift end to World War II.”

Matt Vespa, Town Hall: “[T]he notion that anger was seemingly the primary motivating factor in dropping atomic bombs is nonsense. We did it to end the war….”

Sarah Hoyt, Instapundit: “WHAT THE? HOW ABOUT WE USED THEM IN STRATEGY?  Do these people have to have their brains ablated before getting newsmedia jobs?…And if we had used them in anger, would they have stopped the war less?  Stopped the massacre of our troops less? Stopped the likely suicide (in case of American invasion) of Japanese citizens less?  Dear Brian Williams, get a clue.”

There is nothing quite like living up to the worst stereotypes of conservatives pushed by the liberal media. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media

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

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Time For Ethical People To Boycott Fox News

No-Fox

Brian Stelter, CNN’s media critic, just played a newly-uncovered tape of the phone call to then-reporter Bill O’Reilly telling him that a shadowy figure in the JFK assassination had committed suicide. This was the same gentleman that O’Reilly, in his best selling “history” book, “Killing Kennedy,” claims shot himself with a shotgun while O’Reilly was just outside his door.

Documentation of O’Reilly lies are proliferating like Republican Presidential hopefuls, and the Fox News Head Bloviator continues to respond with bluster, ad hominem attacks and threats. In doing so, he refuses to abide by the standards he articulated—correctly—explaining why NBC’s fabulist anchor Brian Williams could no longer be trusted by viewers.

Meanwhile, Fox News has disqualified itself as a news source even for those who (completely justifiably) distrust the left-biased mainstream media. At least NBC had the integrity and professionalism to (eventually) investigate Williams’ conduct and take him off the air. Fox, in stark contrast, has issued deceitful defenses of their most profitable commentator, and continues to back, promote, and air a proven liar. (We already knew Bill was a bully, a jerk, and a narcissist.) Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, History, Journalism & Media, Professions

And Now, How A RIGHT Wing “Watchdog” Views The World…

PRinc_rm_photo_of_jaundiced_eye

In commenting on today’s early post about Mediaite inexplicably neglecting to mention that the “ethics watchdog”now accusing Rep. Louis Gohmert of skimming off his campaign funds is in fact part of the Media Matters left-wing hit squad, commenter Steve-O-in-NJ observed…

“As has been pointed out many, many times on this site both by yourself and others, most Americans have some shade of partisan goggles on that makes it harder to see ethical violations by those they are sympathetic to and easier to see them by those they are not. It doesn’t help that there are any number of partisan dyes (racism, sexism, patriotism) we can release to further cloud the waters we swim in with these goggles on. Eventually there’s so much dye in the water and the lenses become so tinted that everyone forgets what clear water actually looks like.”

Truer words were never uttered. To prove Steve’s point from the other side of the political spectrum, I present Newsbusters, which holds a higher level of esteem from me than CREW by being transparent about its skewed perspective: the site, part of arch conservative Brent Bozell’s empire, acknowledges that it exists to show liberal bias in the news media, and Lord knows, there is plenty to show. Unfortunately, Newsbusters is addicted to the same silly routine its counterpart Media Matters employs, the “X spent this much time on this story but only this much time on this story that exposes the rank incompetence and corruption of a politician/program/party we hate” bit. The complaint has legitimacy when the news media is deliberately burying an important development and hiding facts from the public, as the mainstream media has done with the IRS scandal and attempted to do with Jonathan Gruber’s revelations, or as Fox did with results of the Congressional investigation of Benghazi. More often, however, the real complaint is “Why don’t the biased news sources adopt our biases instead of their biases?”

Today brings a classic example on Newsbusters: Continue reading

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