When An Apology Proves You’ll Say Anything: Ed Schultz’s Amazing Mea Culpa
After MSNBC had announced that it was suspending Ed Schultz for a week without pay for calling conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham a “slut” on his syndicated radio show, its boorish left-wing star delivered an on-air apology. Schultz certainly seemed sincere and contrite, saying solemnly that his “vile and inappropriate language” was wrong and uncalled for. “I am deeply sorry, and I apologize,” he said. “I apologize to you, Laura, and ask for your forgiveness…It doesn’t matter what the circumstances were. It doesn’t matter that it was on radio and I was ad-libbing. None of that matters. None of that matters. What matters is what I said was terribly vile and not of the standards that I or any other person should adhere to…..And I have been in this business since 1978, and I have made a lot of mistakes. This is the lowest of low for me. I stand before you tonight in front of this camera in this studio in an environment that I absolutely love. I love working here. I love communicating with all of you on the radio and the communication that I have with you when I go out and do town hall meetings and meet the people that actually watch. I stand before you tonight to take full responsibility for what I said and how I said it, and I am deeply sorry.”
“My wife is a wonderful woman,” Ed continued, getting emotional. “We have a wonderful family. And with six kids and eight grandkids, I try to set an example. In this moment, I have failed. And I want you to know that I talked to my sons especially about character and about dignity and about the truth. And I tell you the truth tonight that I am deeply sorry and I tell them every day that they have to live up to standards if they want to be a successful human being in life. And I have let them down. I have never been in this position before to the point where it has affected so many people. And I know that I have let a lot of people down…. Continue reading
A Faint Cheer For MSNBC, and A Search for Civility Standards
When I learned that MSNBC’s human hate-machine Ed Schultz had called conservative radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham a “right wing slut” on his syndicated radio show, I wondered if the cable network would take any action. It did, suspending Schultz for one week while issuing a statement that “Remarks of this nature are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.” It’s good that MSNBC has some standards of discourse, however low, though having some one like Schultz on the air dispensing his crude, angry, frequently mistaken and dishonest rants is pretty intolerable as it is. But what does it mean by “of this nature”?
MSNBC’s action does distinguish it from HBO, which took no action at all against Bill Maher when he called Sarah Palin a “dumb twat.” What are we to take from this disparate treatment? That at HBO “dumb twat” is acceptable and will be tolerated? Apparently so. Is the difference because HBO is a premium channel, and MSNBC is not? That’s a strange definition of “premium”: “HBO, where political commentators can call women twats!” Would “slut” have gotten Maher in trouble? Should Ed have called Ingraham a “twat” instead? Continue reading
Ethical Quote of the Month: President Barack Obama
“You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations – to try to impose some order on the chaos, and make sense out of that which seems senseless. Already we’ve seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health systems. Much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.
“But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.
“Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, “when I looked for light, then came darkness.” Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.
“For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.
“So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future.
“But what we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together….
“…If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.
“The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives – to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy (it did not), but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud…”
—- U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking at the memorial event, “Together We Thrive: Tucson and America,” at the McKale Memorial Center in Tucson, Ariz., eloquently and sensitively rejecting partisan and media efforts to exploit the Tucson shootings for political gain, and calling for a unified quest for an end to rancor and violence.
Blood Libel Ethics and the U.S. News Media’s Integrity Dead End
First you make a baseless, inflammatory accusation–the Big Lie. Then you attack your victim for how she responds to it.
The news media’s self-destructive obsession with discrediting Sarah Palin has reached its ethical nadir, and with it any reasonable hope that U.S. journalism, as currently practiced, will be returning to credibility and respectability within the foreseeable future. Continue reading
Ethics Final For Barack Obama
Is President Obama the fair, ethical, unifying, anti-partisan president of all the people that he promised to be in 2008, or is he a Machiavellian, undercover Chicago pol, willing and ready to use divisiveness and deceit to enhance his power, silence critics and advance his agenda? During the past two years, there has been ample evidence supporting both descriptions, but his address in Arizona Wednesday could settle the issue. If the President emulates his Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton, using the massacre in Arizona as a political wedge the way Clinton used the Oklahoma City bombing—if he adopts the philosophy of former Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emmanuel that one should never waste a crisis—then we will know the dispiriting truth about Barack Obama. Continue reading
On the Post-Shooting Finger-Pointing Apology Watch
It may be that the first apology for the partisan rush to lay twenty shootings and five deaths at the doorstep of the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, and conservatives came from Arizona Daily Star’s cartoonist, Dave Fitzsimmons, and the paper itself in an editorial today. It began with a statement from the cartoonist, and continued: Continue reading
Partisan Opportunism: The Media and the Arizona Massacre:
The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Federal judge, and 18 others yesterday has exposed media bias and unfairness at its despicable worst. That so many reporters, commentators and bloggers learned of Arizona parking lot carnage and immediately thought, “Wow, what a chance this is to pin everything on Sarah Palin and the Tea Party!” speaks volumes about the ethics and integrity of America’s journalists. The Daily Beast, for example, began a column this way:
“No motives have emerged from today’s senseless shooting in Tucson, but Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has a long history of being targeted by the Tea Party—sometimes in violent terms.”
Is there a shred, an inkling, a hint or a clue anywhere that the man who did the shooting had anything whatsoever to do with the Tea Party? No. Is there anything at all linking Tea Party rhetoric to his motives for the shooting? No. So how can this paragraph be explained? Easy. The Daily Beast doesn’t like the Tea Party movement, and saw this horrific shooting as an opportunity to discredit it. Continue reading
Joe Scarborough, Sarah Palin, and “No Labels”
Joe Scarborough, the former Florida congressman and as host of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, the token conservative on MSNBC, is a participant in the launching of “No Labels” on December 13 at Columbia University in New York. He will be joined by such political glitterati as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Sen. Joe Lieberman, (I-Conn.), former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn), Los Angeles’s Democratic Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Sen. Deb Stabenow (D-Mich.) and others.
“No Labels” is a primarily centrist-Democrat call for civility in politics, that according to its “Declaration,” written by Mark McKinnon (a former media advisor to George W. Bush in 2000 and Sen. John McCain in 2008, who appears to be a paid consultant rather than a participant), is dedicated to countering partisan deadlock with reason and cooperation.
“We are not labels, we are people,” the screed says.”We believe hyper-partisanship is destroying our politics and paralyzing our ability to govern… We may disagree on issues, but we do so with civility and mutual respect….We have a crisis of governance – a crisis that compels us to work together to move America forward… We must put our labels aside, and put the issues and what’s best for the nation first.”
In preparation for the “No Labels” debut, Scarborough wrote a column for Politico, in which he warned Republicans to stop Sarah Palin before it was too late. In it, he variously described Palin as “anti-intellectual,” “maniacal,” “a reality star,” and “ignorant.” Would it be fair to label “Morning Joe” as “a hypocrite”?
Civility is a core ethical virtue but a tricky one, both to define and to maintain. Peter Wehner has written a superb (and short!) essay on the topic at the Commentary Magazine site, applying it especially to political discourse.
” We can possess civility while at the same time holding (and championing) deep moral and philosophical commitments, ” Wehner writes. Continue reading
This is an epic Comment of the Day using an unusual approach. Michael West explores aspects of public discourse that is at the core of ethical misunderstanding and ethics malpractice by focusing on a multi-party twitter exchange regarding an issue discussed on Ethics Alarms, the firing of former National Review writer Kevin Williamson after he doubled-down on an extreme position regarding abortion: he believes it is murder, and therefore believes that capital punishment is a fair punishment for what should be considered a crime. Moreover, he said that because of the violent and depraved nature of the crime, a violent execution, like hanging, would be appropriate for the women who allowed their fetuses to be aborted.
Michael also used his comment to highlight a concept we have not used on Ethics Alarms, at least by name, “the Overton Window.” That is defined as “The spectrum of ideas on public policy and social issues considered acceptable by the general public at a given time.” Of course, what the “window” is can be tricky to determine. Donald Trump broke the alleged window repeatedly. My preferred approach to this “window” is to challenge it, and to try to expand its boundaries, consequences be damned. I equate the Overton Window with de facto censorship and thought-control.
I am especially glad that this comment again raises the Williamson firing and the related ethics issues. These are rich topics, and yet the matter fled the blogs and commentary sites quickly, paved over by successive outrages of the day.
Here is Michael West’s Comment of the Day on #2 in the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/7/2018: “Ruggles Of Red Gap” And “Williamson No Longer Of The Atlantic’.” This is a bit challenging to read, but worth the effort. For clarity, Michael’s commentary is in bold italics.