Tag Archives: Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck

Ethics Hero: CNN’s John King

Things are pretty bad in the profession of journalism when a reporter can be an Ethics Hero by simply staying objective and stating the obvious, but such is the wretched state of journalism ethics in 2017.

As mentioned in the earlier post, CNN immediately avoided journalism and defaulted to partisan Obama Administration defense mode when it was revealed that Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice “unmasked” Trump campaign personnel whose conversations were inadvertently picked up in security surveillance. Rather than examining the story, objectively, factually, CNN anchors Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo declared the story, respectively, a Trump-manufactured  diversion and “fake news.” (The New York Times did its part by burying the Rice story on page A-11.)

CNN’s John King, however, bravely eschewed the company line, that line being “partisan spin.” Showing a video from last month, King began…

“This is Susan Rice a short time ago on the PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff. When asked at first, her name was not involved at first in the conversation at this point. When asked at first the House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes says there was unmasking done by Obama administration officials.”

Now he runs the tape…Woodruff’s question was, ” I began by asking about the allegations leveled today by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes that Trump transition officials, including the president, may have been swept up in surveillance of foreigners at the end of the Obama administration.”

SUSAN RICE: I know nothing about this. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today. I really don’t know to what Chairman Nunes was referring. But he said that whatever he was referring to was a legal lawful surveillance and that it was potentially incidental collection on American citizens.

The clip ends.

KING: Uh, remember the beginning of that. “I know nothing about this.” This is the same Susan Rice moments ago on MSNBC.

He runs the second clip.

RICE: There occasions when I would receive a report in which a U.S. person was referred to. Name not provided. Just U.S. person. And sometimes in that context in order to understand the importance of the report and assess its significance it was necessary to find out or request the information as to who that U.S. official was.

The clip ends.

KING: Not to be a jerk here but will the real Susan Rice please stand up?

Added guest Yahoo! News chief Washington correspondent Olivier Knox:

KNOX: The second part of that on MSNBC there a perfectly logical explanation on how unmasking works but the problem is the previous comment in which she denies any knowledge of it so she can’t in the same breath…

KING: Welcome to the witness list.

KNOX: Yeah, I mean, come on!

Translation: If what Rice did was innocent and unremarkable, why did she initially deny she did it? Continue reading

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Case Study Of A Story News That Media And Web Bias Makes Impossible To Check: Susan Rice’s “Unmasking”

I am not going to write about the ethics issues in the latest Susan Rice controversy, but I am going to write about why I can’t get an objective enough assessment of what the story is to write about it competently.

Susan Rice, President Obama’s National Security Advisor,  sought to “unmask” the identities of members of President Trump’s campaign and transition team who were incidentally mentioned in foreign surveillance intelligence reports. This was first reported over the weekend by conservative conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, which meant that no commentators on the Left believed it, but then it was confirmed yesterday by Bloomberg’s Eli Lake.

Many conservatives treated this as confirmation of President Trump’s much-derided claim that the Obama administration “wiretapped” him. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board issued an op-ed this morning, saying,

All this is highly unusual — and troubling. Unmasking does occur, but it is typically done by intelligence or law-enforcement officials engaged in anti-terror or espionage investigations. Ms. Rice would have had no obvious need to unmask Trump campaign officials other than political curiosity.

On Medium, Mike Doran wrote,

“In late December, the administration launched an information campaign designed to depict President-elect Trump as Moscow’s Manchurian candidate. Vladimir Putin had installed Trump in office by “hacking the election,” so the argument went; Hillary Clinton, therefore, was the rightful president.

The claim that Susan Rice was unmasking merely to arrive at the ground truth of Russian behavior would be easier to swallow if the information she gleaned from unmasking had not been used to perpetrate a fraud on the American public. The leak to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius about General Michael Flynn’s conversations with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak (which I discuss in this article) is the most egregious example of a senior administration official using material gathered from illicit unmasking in order to tell a very big and very pernicious lie.”

The New York Times, sadly predictable in its knee-jerk defense of Democrats rather than resolving to get at the truth,  immediately argued that there was nothing to the story at all: 

Former national security officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described the requests as normal and said they were justified by the need for the president’s top security adviser to understand the context of reports sent to her by the nation’s intelligence agencies.

Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum mocked the story as pure conservative fantasy regarding a favorite villain:

But! Susan Rice is also a Republican bête noir, the villainess of Benghazi who LIED ON TV repeatedly and tried to get everyone to believe that the attacks were due to an INTERNET VIDEO when we knew all along they were really the work of RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISTS, a phrase that OBAMA WAS UNWILLING TO UTTER.Here’s what we can say about the Rice situation at this point.

Sarcasm is used by Drum here to hide the fact that Rice did lie about Benghazi, and was part of an Obama administration effort (that included Hillary Clinton) to blur the fact that it was a planned terrorist attack, not a spontaneous reaction to a video, which would have undermined Obama’s campaign assertions that he had “decimated” Al Qaeda. ( Mother Jones readers will not believe anything negative about Obama, Democrats, or progressives.)

The Federalist, meanwhile, called foul on CNN, which immediately moved to discredite the latest Rice story: Continue reading

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Ethics Dunces: The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences

The Academy Awards announced that it will allow PriceWaterhouseCoopers to continue to represent the Oscars’ integrity as well as the organizations pledge that the results aren’t being, will not be, cannot be and haven’t been rigged, misread, wrongly tallied or mistakenly announced.

This, despite the fact that the firm proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it cannot be trusted to do this, by either the Academy or the Oscar viewing audience, because it did not do it, exposing its carelessness and incompetence on national TV.

This is NASA letting Morton Thiokol continue to build space shuttles. This is the federal government re-hiring the same IT firm that made Healthcare.gov. This is Wesley Snipes rehiring the tax expert who told him he didn’t have to pay income taxes.

In addition to complete failure of management that the Academy’s decision to let bygones be bygones represents, it also has cultural consequences. As a culture, the United States has become allergic to accountability in all sectors. Over at Wells Fargo, where management presided over a nation-wide conspiracy to defraud depositors,  CEO John Stumpf opted for early retirement after the scandal, and is walking away with around $130 million, according to SEC filings.  Unless further action is taken by Wells Fargo’s board, which looks increasingly unlikely, Stumpf will leave with a fortune made up of stocks, cash payouts and other compensation. The Obama Administration, as documented here, repeatedly refused to hold incompetent agency heads accountable for fiascos, notably both of its Attorney Generals, and all three of its White House spokesmen. University president after university president disgraced their institutions by capitulating to racist, anti-speech, anti-education demands by students without consequence to their tenure. In journalism, Brian Williams remains on NBC’s payroll and the TV screen, despite having proven himself to be a habitual liar. Continue reading

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From The “‘Dear Colleague’ Letter Aftermath” Files: Amherst’s War On Men

Once the Obama Education Department sent out its threatening “Dear Colleague” letter that strongly hinted at dire consequences for universities and colleges that did not tilt their sexual assault disciplinary procedures toward a less stringent standard of guilt, horror stories about male students unjustly presumed guilty of sexual assault or rape have been proliferating. This is the worst one I’ve ever seen.

In February of 2012, a male, Asian-American student (“John Doe”) and “Sandra Jones,” as she is referred to in court documents, went back to Jones’ dorm room after a night of hard drinking.  John blacked out, and couldn’t  recall anything about the evening, a claim Amherst deemed “credible” during his disciplinary hearing. At some point, Sandra performed oral sex on John. Nearly two years later, Sandra  accused John of sexually assaulting her.  In his lawsuit, John Doe alleged that his adviser couldn’t speak for him, that he could only write down questions for his accuser or witnesses ( no cross examination)  and that the hearing panel was made up of administrators trained in “social justice education.” You know: Men bad, women victims.

In the school’s hearing, Jones claimed she texted a friend to come over for help because she had been sexually assaulted. The school never bothered to obtain those text messages—after all, they followed the Hillary Clinton directive that “victims of sexual assault have the right to be believed.”  Here’s what she texted to her girl friend: Continue reading

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Comment of the Day: Signature Significance: President Obama’s Farewell Speech Jumbo

Accusation

I woke up this morning to not one but three Comment of the Day-worthy posts from readers, and there was already one waiting in the queue. We have to begin with this lovely post by Pennagain, in the discussion about President Obama’s remarkable conviction that U.S. race relations have improved on his watch, in defiance of all apparent evidence. ( Adding to the evidence countering the President’s self-serving delusion, a new Pew survey shows (among a lot of other things) that 75% of police officers report “increased tension between cops and the black community.” )

Here is the first Comment of the Day Of The Day, on the post, Signature Significance: President Obama’s Farewell Speech Jumbo:

My experience over the last four years – in my half-baked melting pot of a city – has been that the economic status has improved for self-identified non-whites who were already educated and on career paths. As far as social status goes, however, there has grown up a new “separate but equal” world mandated as Black which does not welcome non-melaninated visitors. This is not the Harlem of the 20s! It has a presence in nearly every neighborhood and does not require white financial investment, advertisement nor approval. It speaks its own language (particularly body language) that eschews the obviousness of Ebonics but has instead a sly, wry, deliberate anti-Establishment pronunciation to it that isn’t heard in the weekday workplace. Black people I did not previously so designate, those whom I have worked with for decades in many different jobs and at least three different professions, are not unfriendly; if anything, they are better comrades and easier bosses than ever before. But there is no longer any doubt that we will not be discussing Travon or Trump. The gates are closed. Continue reading

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Signature Significance: President Obama’s Farewell Speech Jumbo

jumbo-film

“Now, I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10 or 20 or 30 years ago, no matter what some folks say.”

It’s funny: when I was searching Google after entering this quote, I found one site the had as a headline, “2o Quotes From President Obama’s Farewell Speech That Will Melt Your…” and that’s where it cut off.  Which was it, I wondered, “heart” or “brain”? It was heart….and the 20 also included the quote about race relations.

I also checked the Washington Post, which “fact-checks” major speeches with annotations. In the transcript, that line was indeed highlighted—I thought there was a 50-50 chance, knowing the Post’s pro-Obama bias, that it would let that whopper slide. The annotation by reporter Aaron Blake in its entirety:

Obama has seen the polls. A July Washington Post-ABC News poll [showed 6 in 10 thought race relations were bad, and a majority thought they were getting worse](Poll: Majority of Americans think race relations are getting worse)

Now that’s a tentative fact-check! Obama has seen the polls, so …he must know something we don’t? Obama has seen the polls, so…he’s basing this certitude on his own impeccable wisdom? Obama has seen the polls, so….he’s having a little fun with us? Obama has seen the polls, so…he’s lying through his teeth? What is the Post saying?

For this is rather significantly counter-factual. Yet demonstrating the hard-hitting investigative reporting that the Post is renowned for, the paper recently launched an investigation into whether Donald Trump was LYING when he told the Times, in one of his typical, off-hand, “this just popped into my head” moments, “There will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars [at the Inauguration] All the dress shops are sold out in Washington. It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.” AHA!  This is NOT TRUE! This is further proof that the man is NOT FIT TO BE PRESIDENT! And EEEEVIL!!! A Post reporter actually interviewed multiple dress shop owners, and concluded,

“It’s hard to imagine how Trump came to his conclusion, and a transition team spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But for all of the president-elect’s promises about economic stimulus, it doesn’t seem that he’s making Washington dress-shopping great again.”

In contrast, when the first African-American President of the United States, having seen his performance lead to the devastation of his party and the installment of a new President so antithetical to his world view as to risk the two of them exploding if they shake hands, makes a completely ridiculous assertion about a crucial American problem like race relations, we get a 27 word shrug and a link.

American journalism in 2017. Continue reading

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