Tag Archives: NPR

More On “Media Bias Report 3.1”

It is amazing how many desperate liberals  circulate or defend  the absurd, misleading and incompetent chart purporting to measure the bias of various news sources as if the thing had any integrity at all. First of all, they could not (I hope) have read the creator’s nonsensical criteria for her assessments. Second, it should be obvious that no single individual could possibly examine and compare over 40 news sources with anything approaching thoroughness and accuracy. How would this be possible, even as a full-time endeavor, which it most certainly was not in this case? A research group like Pew might be able to pull such a study off with a large budget, lots of time, and a substantial staff, and even then I’m very dubious.

The chart is a classic example of making fake research—garbage in, garbage out— look impressive through packaging. This is, of course, unethical.

For the record, here are some of the factors someone who was seriously interested in measuring bias objectively (and not primarily determined to show that mainstream media bias is a right-wing myth): Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions, Research and Scholarship

Exhibit A. On Why The News Media Won’t Address Its Unethical Bias

Just look at that chart, sent to me by a frequent commenter here. I wish I could make it larger on the site, but a clearer version is here.

The woman [going by only the name “Vanessa,” as far as I could discover] who created this appears to be serious: if this is satire or trolling, she fooled me. The thing is so obviously itself a product of liberal bias that it is amazing that it would be presented as otherwise. There is Fox News way over in the hyper-partisan conservative field, which is mostly fair, but lo and behold, there sit outrageously hyper-partisan CNN, The New York Times and the Washington Post mostly in the “neutral” field while ABC, CBS, NBC,  NPR and TIME [KABOOM!] are sitting entirely in “neutral.”

How is it possible that someone could come to such an obviously incorrect conclusion? Several ways, actually. One is that she is far enough left that the biased and slanted hackery of sources like CNN seem moderate and fair to her. Another is that she doesn’t have a clue what bias is. A third is that she’s an idiot, and a fourth is that she’s doing propaganda for the propagandists. She has a long section on her methodology here: please read it if you are curious, and report back. I’m not going to waste my time. Any methodology that leads to the conclusion that NPR is paragon of unbiased journalism is crap by definition. I don’t need to read it to figure that out. Vanessa says we should trust her analysis because she in an English major and a patent lawyer.

Oh.

This visual representation of denial does have value: it demonstrates that there are no unbiased news sources, and that journalism is not merely untrustworthy, but actively impeding the communication of essential knowledge to the public, so they can make the informed choices crucial to a functioning democracy.

Of course, I knew that already.

(Somebody tell Vanessa.)

 

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship, The Internet

Afternoon Ethics Incitement, 4/10/2018: All About Apu

Ethics Alarms covered the silly, hyper-political correctness attacks on ‘The Simpsons” character  Apu Nahasapeemapetilon—Oh NO! They are making fun of Indian NAMES!—, the Indian immigrant owner of the local convenience store. Now “The Simpsons” itself addressed the issue:

Naturally, the progressive victim-mongers who cooked up this phony controversy are mad at Marge and Lisa. Here is a typical response from the Angry, Perpetually Offended Left, by former TV critic and lawyer-turned-blogger Linda Holmes, who I am now convinced turned away from the law because she couldn’t meet the tough reasoning requirements.

(And have a mentioned before that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for social justice warrior drivel like this? I’m sure I have…)

At the end of her screed, she writes,

“I know: It’s a cartoon. That is the easiest, silliest response to this debate. It’s just a cartoon. It’s just a comedy. Or, as the photo of Apu pointedly says, don’t have a cow. But the show doesn’t have this defense to call on, because it has accepted accolades for decades as a thoughtful, intelligent, satirical work that deserves to be taken seriously. It has accepted a Peabody Award, and a GLAAD Media Award. It has been praised and slobbered over and quoted and praised again, and to plead insignificance at this point is unavailing.”

I hate to be harsh, but this is idiotic beyond excusing. To say “It’s a cartoon” is not to say that it is insignificant, and to say “It’s just a comedy” is not to argue that its content doesn’t matter.  It’s a cartoon means that cartoons as an art form, exaggerate, stereotype and mock individuals and groups using funny faces, voices, words and actions, and anyone who takes personal offense—or who works hard to find offense– at a cartoon that was not intended to offend is best dealt with by saying to him or her, “Avoid animated entertainment. You don’t understand it.” And maybe a pat on the head will help.

This is me, by the way:

 

(I’m not offended, though I am not yellow, have broader shoulders, my skull isn’t that big in proportion to by body and don’t have that big line in my forehead.) Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Humor and Satire, Popular Culture, Race, U.S. Society

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/1/2018: The Easter-April Fools Edition [UPDATED]

Happy Easter, or April Fools Day,

…whichever you chose, or both.

[My family celebrated Greek Easter (next Sunday, this year), or not, depending on how Greek my mother was feeling. The whole thing left me thoroughly confused. And why no Greek April Fool’s?]

1 Hey, it’s only the Pope carelessly allowing centuries of Catholic teachings to be declared, if informally, null and void. What’s everyone so upset about? Recipe for a fiasco:

  • The Pope inexplicably has a meeting with a 93-year-old atheist reporter, Eugenio Scalfari, who has reported on the alleged contents of their private meetings before.
  • Scalfari has admitted “on more than one occasion” that he doesn’t take notes or record his conversations with the Pope.
  • The Pope either opines, or doesn’t, or sort of does depending on your interpretation, and if you are an atheist confirmation bias comes into play, opine that Hell doesn’t exist, saying, according to his pal, “Hell does not exist…The disappearance of sinful souls exists.”
  • Scalfari, presumably without permission or consent, but he’s a journalist, so he’s going to report the news, and the Pope saying that all that stuff in the Bible about Satan is a lot of hooey is, you have to admit, news (although who knows if Matt Pearce would report it as news; I guess it would depend on whether he wanted the public to know there was no Hell, right?), naturally lets the world know that the Pope doesn’t believe what his predecessors and follower have been using to scare the Hell out of sinners all this time.
  • The Vatican issued a statement saying:

“What is reported by the author in today’s article is the fruit of his reconstruction, in which the precise words uttered by the Pope are not cited. No quotations in the aforementioned article, then, should be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”

That’s called “spin.” Why do we trust these people?

2. Why is NPR taxpayer-funded again? This “correction” actually appeared in the NPR story about the Pope’s Hell problems:

Correction March 30, 2018: An earlier version of this post incorrectly described Easter as “the day celebrating the idea that Jesus did not die and go to hell or purgatory or anywhere at all, but rather arose into heaven.”

Competence? Editors? Basic education? Respect for people’s faith? Knowing something about the predominant religion ins the nation you are reporting on? Hello? Continue reading

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Ethics Quote Of The Week: Lee Smith, Making It All Clear

“Yet for its advocates, the questionable veracity of the Russiagate story seems much less important than what has become its real purpose—elite virtue-signaling. Buy into a storyline that turns FBI and CIA bureaucrats and their hand-puppets in the press into heroes while legitimizing the use of a vast surveillance apparatus for partisan purposes, and you’re in. Dissent, and you’re out, or worse—you’re defending Trump…In other words, there’s the truth, and then there’s what’s even more important—sticking it to Trump. Choose wrong, even inadvertently, …no matter how many times you deplore Trump, and you’ll be labeled a Trumpkin.”

Lee Smith in his essay, Who Believes in Russiagate?”

Later he adds,

“What unites [critics of Russiagate on the Left and the Right] obviously isn’t politics—rather, it’s the recognition that the Russiagate campaign represents an attack on American political and social institutions, an attack on our liberties, an attack on us. Russiagate is a conspiracy theory, weaponized by political operatives, much of the press, as well as high-level intelligence and law enforcement bureaucrats to legitimize an American election and protect their own interests, which coincide with those of the country’s larger professional and bureaucratic elite.”

You might wonder why I chose to highlight the first quote  rather than the second. The second tells me nothing I don’t know, or that readers of Ethics Alarms don’t know: I’ve made it a theme here since early in 2017. I learned something from the first quote, however. This is the phenomenon I have been experiencing on Facebook, where periodically pointing out unfair and intellectually dishonest attacks on President Trump and pointing out the news media’s horrific bias increasingly get me labelled as a Trump supporter, apologist or enabler. Meanwhile, I recently had a follow-up exchange  with NPR over my objections to Prof. Butler’s “Oh, come on!” outburst when I was correctly pointing out what was ethically dubious about late accusations of sexual harassment against political figures.  Oh, no, I was told. He wasn’t saying “Oh come on!” because I misrepresented sexual harassment law. He was saying that because he thought I was making excuses for Trump. Continue reading

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NOW Monica Lewinsky Says She Was Abused And Sexually Harassed

 

I called it!

Remember in December when I had this exchange on NPR during a panel about sexual harassment and political figures in the early states of #MeToo?

ME : A hostile work environment means that the recipient of this has to feel hostility. They don’t like it. So, for example, if somebody – I have a hypothetical that I’m sure has happened, where someone is grabbed by Donald Trump back when he’s a celebrity, and she comes home. And she’s kissed, and she tells her roommate, “That was cool! Donald Trump kissed me.” And then when everybody she knows detests Donald Trump, she suddenly says …”I was harassed.”

BUTLER: COME ON!

HOST MICHEL MARTIN: OK. Yeah, I think we’re going to go to a different…All right. All right, Jack, you’ve had your say on that. And I think there are a lot of people who would want to argue with – I’m going to let Paul speak his piece on this. What do you say to that?

But the professor didn’t go beyond his interjected cheap shot, and went on to his own agenda, leaving the impression that my exposition on the strangeness of sexual harassment law was off-the-wall. It wasn’t, though. I was 100% correct, and NPR listeners, thanks to a grandstanding law professor whom I suspect wasn’t up on sexual harassment (he’s a criminal law professor who concentrates on race issues), were left less-informed than when they tuned in.

My point was and is valid: nothing stops an object of sexual attention in questionable propriety and taste from treating it as welcome at the time, then choosing, months, years or decades later, when there are non-ethical motivations to vilify or harm her one-time suitor, to withdraw her consent and “welcome,” and claim, retroactively, that she was harassed and abused.

This is exactly what Monica Lewinsky has done. Continue reading

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Cutting Government Support Of The Arts

Among the productions I was most proud of during the 20 year run of The American Century Theater: June Havoc’s “Marathon’33”, brilliantly produced by Rebecca Christy with negligible government funding…

 President Trump’s proposed budget for the 2019 fiscal year includes deep cuts to public arts and media funding.

Good.

Perhaps my reaction surprises you, given that I co-founded and for 20 years helped run a non-profit professional theater company.

The proposal cuts the Institute of Museum and Library Services and reduces the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s budget from $445 million to $15 million. It also cuts the funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities by almost 80 percent as prelude to phasing them out. As an aside, it will be interesting to see those suddenly emergent national debt hawks who were in cryogenic sleep during the Obama administration manage the trick of bemoaning the deficit created by the GOP tax cuts while fighting to the death for the superfluous federal expenditures on the arts. If we can’t cut these programs, we literally can’t cut anything.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, if it was ever necessary, is no longer. There were just three TV channels when it was launched: there are now hundreds. PBS is no longer commercial-free television: have you watched it lately? That doesn’t even take into consideration the constant fundraising. It is true that the commercial network fare  now completely eschews any but the lowest culture, but increasingly so does PBS. The theory, as it has been for years, is that if a TV show is British, it is high culture. It isn’t. “Father Brown” is junk. There are better mysteries on CBS.  “Midsummer Murders” is so slow you want to rend your garments. “Downton Abbey” was fun, but it was a soap opera. Taxpayers should not have to underwrite shows like this.

I confess to enjoying NPR, and it has been good to me professionally and personally. But it is partisan, and a publicly funded news station should not be. It is also flagrantly elitist to its core. If NPR is really popular, then some foundations and its wealthy listeners should be able to fund it.

Fox’s Tucker Carlson, a rich kid himself, has called arts spending “welfare for rich, liberal elites.” I agree in the sense that the government is paying for what the wealthy in a community should devote more of their own funds to pay for. The performing arts are now too expensive for anyone but the wealthy. Movies are half the price of a typical community theater show, and movies are seeing their box office numbers dropping. Opera? How many middle class Americans go to the opera? Symphonies? Ballets? Same thing. The entertainment industry doesn’t even pretend to care about keeping their product affordable for anyone not driving a Lexus. Look at the prices to see “Hamilton” or Bette Midler as Dolly on Broadway.

The New York Times unwittingly gives away the real reason they feel we need the government funding the arts, however. It’s indoctrination and propaganda:

[T]he National Endowment for the Arts  amplifies the voices of Americans who aren’t the so-called coastal elite, or the aristocratic, or the advantaged. It seeks to diversify the stories we tell and the lives we see. This diversity can take many forms. It can be seen in racial difference and regional difference, in terms of gender and in terms of class…. Over the last 50 years, through Creative Writing Fellowships alone, the endowment funded the work of Tillie Olsen, who wrote stories about the deep fatigue of working-class mothers; Philip Levine, a Detroit-born poet and the “Whitman of the industrial heartland”; Ernest J. Gaines, the descendant of sharecroppers who wrote fiction about rural Louisiana; and Bobbie Ann Mason, a short-story writer from rural Kentucky who, along with Carver, brought “dirty realism” into vogue — a working-class counterpoint to the fictional worlds populated by rich, liberal elites.

Bingo. When the government funds the arts, it cannot help itself from funding artists and art that advance the government’s agenda and those of its agency administrators. What this means, and what honest artists will admit, is that artists change their projects and messages to attract dollars, not to express themselves. My theater company encountered this constantly. It was made clear that we would have a better chance at grants if we did more works by women, about minorities, and exploring gay issues. I am proud of our eclectic and diverse choice of seasons, projects and artists.We also kept our ticket prices lower than almost all of the other small professional theaters. Indeed, we suffered for that: since we charged about what the amateur theaters did, a lot of people assumed we weren’t a professional company. As a company run by straight, white lawyers that attracted older citizens with advanced degrees and explored American stage works 25 years old or older, government funders had steadily decreasing interest in our work, even though it was the only professional theater in the area that admitted children free of charge.  What mattered most was whether our art supported the government’s objectives. The quality of the art was secondary.

I don’t fault them for that: they were  giving out money, after all, Nonetheless, the power to fund is the power to control, warp and destroy.

Artists will always be with us. So will the performing arts, but new structures, systems and funding needs to be found that does not involve the government, whose participation pollutes art and make integrity impossible and innovation difficult.

Trump may not be seeking to cut government funding of the arts for the right reasons, but it’s still the right thing to do.

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