Breaking Ethics Thoughts: The White House Bars The NYT And Others From Its Press Briefing

accessdeniedWASHINGTON (CBS SF/AP) — The Trump administration ramped up its war against the press Friday, blocking several major outlets from a scheduled White House press briefing.The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN and Politico were among the news organizations excluded from the meeting, reportedly an untelevised gathering with the press instead of the usual on-camera briefing with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

I am not aware of the specific reasons for the action, but:

1.  I read the New York Times daily. It is routinely making every effort to present the actions of the Trump Administration in a negative light, often engaging in outright deceit to do it. It is behaving, as it has for years, as a Democratic Party organ.

2. CNN simply teems with anti-Trump hostility, in the tone of panel discussions, in the framing of the news, in the sneers and body language of its talking heads. This is not ethical journalism.

3. Politico is left-biased, but I haven’t followed it closely. The LA Times has conditions for use that I can’t meet. I’m not sure how biased they have been.

4. There is nothing per se unethical about a Presidential administration deciding that a news source it considers untrustworthy, unreliable and allied with groups that want to literally bring it down should be treated accordingly. Competent, unbiased, fair and ethical journalism is not an excessive requirement.

5. The response to Trump’s very clear warning to the news media last week was, “You can’t stop us, and we will be as hateful as we please.” This is his response to that. Hubris has its consequences. After MSNBC’s “Morning Joe’s” co-host Mika Brzezinski ‘s comment this week, some attitude adjustment seems to be mandatory. She said of the President,

“He is trying to undermine the media and trying to make up his own facts. And it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think. And that, that is our job.”

No, Mika, actually leaders always  lead, which always means trying to persuade the public.  That is their job. You job is to keep the public informed without telling them what to think, since as this statement proves, you don’t think all that well. At all.

6.  I am surprised that the Washington Post wasn’t shut out as well, especially after a slime job like this story.

7. Would I recommend this action by Trump? No. But it is a defensible response to a real threat to his ability to govern, and an informed democracy. It may not be a responsible or prudent response.

8. The best response would be for journalists to start doing their real job, and report the news fairly and competently without aligning themselves with political agendas.

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Pointer: Zoltar Speaks!

New Category: “This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President”…And The DNC Chair Candidates Forum Earns It First

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Obviously the Ethics Alarms “This will help elect Donald Trump”  category is outdated now. The ongoing inquiry of why he was elected is not. When I launched the old category late in the campaign, I never thought any of the stories so categorized, alone or in concert, actually would elect Trump; I just was trying to flag how the unsavory Clinton campaign and the divisive and inept Obama administration were giving the chaotic Republicans more of a chance than they deserved. Still, the cumulative effect of the entries in the category persuaded me that my earlier resolve to swallow a lot of Dramamine and vote for Hillary Clinton was professionally untenable, though not as untenable as voting for our new President.

It became clear to me that Republican voters last November were voting against something, just as Democratic voters in 2008 had voted for something, and in both instances, the man their votes brought to power was a beneficiary of a significant emotional release in American society, sparked by events and the conduct of elected officials.  Ethics Alarms could not have been more definite in its verdict, stated often, that voting for Donald Trump was an irresponsible and unethical act. As a believer in democracy, American character and ideals, I have to somehow reconcile that conclusion with the shocking results. The Democratic Party’s conclusion that racism, sexism and stupidity explains it all is not valid, and is in fact a big part of why Trump was elected. Also among the major factors, we have learned, are the deeply entrenched undemocratic attitudes that have led so many on the Left to behave disgracefully since the election, and the attitudes in the news media that have led journalists to increasingly abandon whatever shreds of professionalism they had remaining.

Learning and understanding what so many Americans voted against is an unfinished and ongoing inquiry. The new category, launched today, should assist the learning process.

The first episode to earn the new marker is yesterday’s forum for candidates to lead the Democratic National Committee, featuring a group including  Boynton Brown, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), former secretary of labor Tom Perez, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley, South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison, Democratic strategist Jehmu Greene and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.  It lasted about an hour and 45 minutes, and covered many topics.

This was a perfect event for a reporter to choose which aspect of the discussion to feature, conveying to the public a distortion of reality like that experienced by the proverbial six blind men and the elephant. Politico, a prominent Democratic Party-supporting political news source, scrubbed its report of any substance that might harm the cause: it told us merely that the candidates “agreed to agree.”

The Washington Post, reporting on the session held in its backyard at George Washington University and presumably reliable, described a session that focused on “diversity and racial justice,” and concluded with Rep. Keith Ellison’s call for action that will show that “the Democratic Party is on the side of inclusion and empowerment.” Another source, Grabien News (this site rates it one of the least biased news sources; I would call it a conservative-biased  news site), reveals a bit more:

Early into the event the candidates gravitated toward a particular scapegoat for the party’s poor showing in November: Political consultancies owned by white people.

“We have to stop, particularly with the consultants,” said the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, Jaime Harrison. “You cannot come to the DNC and get a contract and the only minority face you have is the person answering the phone.”  Minority consultants “need to get the same resources that the white consultants have gotten,” said a Fox News analyst and candidate for the chairmanship, Jehmu Greene. “The DNC did a piss poor, pathetic job” attracting minorities, she said.

Democrats must provide “training” that focuses in part on teaching Americans “how to be sensitive and how to shut their mouths if they are white,” urged the executive director of Idaho’s Democratic Party, Sally Boynton Brown, who is white. 

Continue reading

Fake News Update: Fake History, Santa’s Number One Elf, And The Ornery Irishman

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Consider this three-headed post an exploration of just how tangled and gray the Fake New Ethics Train Wreck really is.

Let’s start with…

1. The Irishman.

Last week the obituary of Chris Connors was viral on social media. The first part of it read,

Irishman Dies from Stubbornness, Whiskey

Chris Connors died, at age 67, after trying to box his bikini-clad hospice nurse just moments earlier. Ladies man, game slayer, and outlaw Connors told his last inappropriate joke on Friday, December 9, 2016, that which cannot be printed here. Anyone else fighting ALS and stage 4 pancreatic cancer would have gone quietly into the night, but Connors was stark naked drinking Veuve in a house full of friends and family as Al Green played from the speakers. The way he died is just like he lived: he wrote his own rules, he fought authority and he paved his own way. And if you said he couldn’t do it, he would make sure he could…

I instantly liked Chris, as did millions of others. This was published on the obituary site, Legacy.com. People like me sent the obituary  around to friends, thought about it, and talked about it, because it made us feel good. Now there’s someone who did not go gentle into that good night!

Do I have any idea if this obituary is 100% accurate, or accurate at all? No. How often are obituaries fact-checked, if they aren’t written by a reporter? For normal people, like Chris Connors, almost never. Do you care? Do you care in this case? I don’t I am pretty sure that the obituary gives a fair sense of the kind of man Chris Connors was, even if it is hyperbolic, as I assume it was. Nevertheless, the obituary made me feel good, as it was supposed to. Christmas is starting to depress me as the years mount up: too many memories, too many lost loved ones, the sense of time passing too, quickly , of time running out. Chris’s story, which may have been only partially true, was a great, bracing, much-needed slap in the face. He had the right idea, or if he didn’t, whoever wrote his obituary did. Is there any harm anyone can attach to this inspiring farewell? If it was fake news by Facebook’s new standards, does it matter?

2. Santa’s Number One Elf

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Julia Ioffe’s Vile Tweet: Now The Question Is Whether There Are Any Depths Of Unprofessional Conduct And Unhinged Bias That Disqualify A Journalist [UPDATED]

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Julia Ioffe, a columnist at “Foreign Policy” and a contributing writer for “Politico Magazine” was moved to issue the above tweet by accounts that First Daughter Ivanka Trump would serve as First Lady while Melania Trump remained in New York to care for the Trump’s young son . Oh, nice! Keep it classy, news media!

Ioffe now joins John Oliver, Charles Blow, Harry Reid, The View, Harvard Law professor Larry Lessig and others on a growing list of nominees for the 2016 Ethics Alarms Award as the most unsavory passenger on the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck. The problem is that she isn’t a British comedian, a race-baiting Times columnist, a full-time asshole, a talk show hosted by celebrity ignoramuses, or an especially deluded academic. Ioffe is supposed to be a journalist whose analysis can be trusted, and the vicious character and unrestrained hate that her tweet reveals should disqualify her for that profession. Before Donald Trump—you know, the new President whom the New York Times decreed is exempt from ethical treatment?—such a public statement would have disqualified any journalist and ended her career immediately. This would have happened because journalism organizations once valued not just professional conduct and objectivity but the appearance of it.

The tweet wasn’t just disgusting, it was incompetent, misleading and stupid:

  • The news report has been denied by the Trump transition team, so the alleged journalist was spreading “fake news.”

There have been almost two dozen permanent or temporary First Ladies who had other family relationships with Presidents, including daughters, daughters-in-law, nieces, sisters, cousins, and aunts. Three daughters assumed the First Lady role when their mothers died: Letty Tyler Semple for President Tyler,  Mary Harrison McKee for President Benjamin Harrison, and Margaret Wilson for Woodrow. Oddly, none of them were accused of having sex with their fathers. Margaret Wilson shared First Lady duties with President Wilson’s cousin Helen Bones, who had worked for the first Mrs. Wilson as personal secretary. Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren and Chester Arthur were widowers, so their First Ladies couldn’t be spouses. Jefferson’s daughter Martha Randolph, Jackson’s niece and daughter-in-law Emily Donelson and Sarah Jackson were all First Ladies.  James Buchanan and Grover Cleveland were bachelors when they assumed the presidency,  so Cleveland’s sister Rose Elizabeth served as his First Lady until he married Florence Folsom fifteen months into his administration, and Harriet Lane, Buchanan’s niece, acted as his hostess and was the first Presidential spouse referred to as the “First Lady.” Many other non-spouses served in the capacity for limited amounts of time for reasons comparable to Melania’s conflicts.

In short, Ioffe is ignorant of American history and didn’t know what she was tweeting about, but did so anyway, misleading the public. Continue reading

Fake News Headline Of The Afternoon: “Electors Demand Intelligence Briefing Before Electoral College Vote”

fake-newsWow! The Electors have been so impressed by the CIA’s unsupported guesswork that Russia was trying to help Donald Trump win that they are demanding an intelligence briefing! The Electors! You know…well…

…Nine Democratic electors who are already pledged to vote for Hillary Clinton, and self-important paramedic Chris Supron, Republican Never-Trumper who has already said he is voting for John Kasich.

This headline by Politico (The Hill’s is just as bad:” Electors Want Briefing on Russian Interference”)  is deliberate and calculated fake news, and far more disruptive to the election and the nation than anything the Russians leaked. It’s in the specialized category of deceitful reporting to mislead, as well as click-bait. “Electors” sounds like the news media’s unconscionable drum-beating for Democrats trying to undermine both the election and Trump’s Presidency has a chance of actually overturning the results. “Ten electors”—the truth— sounds irrelevant to anything, which it is: Nine partisan Democratic electors and a faithless Republican who has already made up his mind comprise a pathetic and biased group of bitter-enders, and nothing more. It isn’t worthy of a news story at all. I wonder, what is the minimum number that The Hill and Politico would try to justify referring to as “electors.” Five? Two?

Among the Democrats, by the way, are Christine Pelosi, Nancy’s daughter, New Hampshire’s Carol Shea-Porter, a former member of Congress, and three three former  Democratic New Hampshire legislators, Terie Norelli, Bev Hollingsworth and Dudley Dudley. (Yes, Dudley Dudley.) Then there is D.C. Councilwoman Anita Bonds, former Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Clayborne Pell, Maryland progressive activist Courtney Watson, and Colorado  delegate Micheal Baca, who has been working since the election to use the Electoral College to veto the votes of millions. No political agendas there!

And Chris, of course, the sole Republican.

I certainly hope the public understands and remembers how the Democratic Party disgraced its traditions and role in American politics by trying to win an election through twisting the rules after the votes were counted. I thought the fixed Senate impeachment trial of Bill Clinton was a travesty, but this is infinitely worse.

I haven’t heard any prominent party leaders condemning this attack on democracy, which tells us how just corrupt and unprincipled this increasingly anti-democratic party has become. The news media is complicit, of course, as Politico’s inexcusably misleading reporting shows.

Both deserve to pay a high price in the loss of respect and public trust.

A New Poll Shows That President Elect Trump’s Popularity Is “Soaring”…GOOD!

Yes, it's that cognitive dissonance scale again! See, if the nation and the U.S. Presidency is +10, and a newly elected POTUS was -3 before being elected, what happens?

Yes, it’s that cognitive dissonance scale again! See, if the nation and the U.S. Presidency is +10, and a newly elected POTUS was -3 before being elected, what happens?

Ann Althouse, who blogged about the poll, seemed surprised. “Why do you think this happened?” asks the astute, well-educated, presumably historically informed law professor.

Why? Because that’s the way it’s supposed to work, and that’s the way it has always worked, that’s why. I explained this phenomenon here, to the jeers of skeptics. I also wrote, “Most people don’t understand the Presidency or their own culture,” though I’m a bit surprised that it applies to Ann. In the original post about the vicious attempts on the Left to undermine the new President before he has even taken office, I explained,

“Americans have always realized that the slate is cleared when someone becomes President, and that the individual inherits the office and the legitimacy of that office as it has been built and maintained by it previous occupants. He (no “he or she” yet, sorry: not my fault) becomes the symbol of the nation, the government and its people, a unique amalgam of prime minister, king and flag in human and civilian form. That immediate good will, respect for the Presidency, and forgiveness of all that went before has made the transfer of power in the US the marvel of the world, and has kept the nation from violence and division. It is part of our strength as a society. It is part of the election process, and a vital one.”

Let me quote the Gallup piece I cited before, backing this up:

“In general, the American public rates all new presidents positively — all have received majority approval in their debut ratings — though Obama is clearly near the top of the list. The three presidents who took office after the death or resignation of their predecessors tended to start out with even greater public support, as the nation rallied around the new chief executive in times of crisis. These include Harry Truman in 1945 with an 87% approval rating, Lyndon Johnson with 78% in 1963, and Gerald Ford with 71% in 1974.”

The new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll of registered voters found that 46% of voters now have a very favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of the previously reviled Trump.  Now only 34%  have a very unfavorable opinion of him, with 12% somewhat unfavorable. Continue reading

Collusion…But Then, As The Times Reminded Us, “These Are Not Ordinary Times,” So It’s OK

collusion

Over the weekend as the  2016 campaign’s first Presidential debate loomed, four news organizations published major stories pronouncing Donald Trump a liar, and essentially conferring on the Rationalization #22-ish Hillary “She’s not the Worst Liar” endorsement.

This was a new maneuver in the mainstream news medias full and open opposition of Trump that has left objectivity, neutrality and American journalism ethics in the dust. First came the The New York Times attack—the Times, as the flagship of U.S. journalism, had already given its blessing to biased coverage—with its “A Week of Whoppers“on Saturday. Politico, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times all followed the leader in short order. (Or followed orders in short…never mind, that doesn’t quite work.)

Contacted by a curious but gullible Brian Stelter, CNN’s biased but maybe a little less biased than he might be “media watchdog,” publication editors who were involved swore the timing was, as John Travolta says in “Face-Off,” “a  coinkydink!” Marty Baron, the executive editor of The Washington Post, told Stelter indignantly, “We don’t coordinate coverage with anyone else!”

“The four stories were welcomed by the Clinton campaign,” Stelter wrote.  “Aides cited the statistics in television interviews on Sunday.  However, there is no indication that the Clinton campaign was involved.” (That’s my emphasis, if you couldn’t tell.) Continue reading

More On The DNC E-Mail Scandal: Proposition Proved! An Unethical Organization, Seeking To Respond To The Revelation Of Corrupt Practices, Will Only Further Demonstrate The Depth Of Its Unethical Nature [Part 2]

"Fair and square," eh Donna?

“Fair and square,” eh Donna?

[Items 1-5 are covered in the previous post, More On The DNC E-Mail Scandal: Proposition Proved! An Unethical Organization, Seeking To Respond To The Revelation Of Corrupt Practices, Will Only Further Demonstrate The Depth Of Its Unethical Nature,Part I]

6. Donald Trump remains, and will remain, the riskiest option for President in 2016, simply because he has no qualities and no experience that qualify him for high office, and many, many traits and habits that disqualify him absolutely. Nonetheless, not since Richard Nixon has a presidential candidate been more likely, if elected, to get enmeshed in scandals involving abuse of power and the violation of laws than Hillary Clinton. Democrats and anyone else who votes for her must understand this. Clinton’s lauditory statement about Wasserman Schultz is proof of it, as was her State Department e-mail scheme. She will encourage and support dishonest, undemocratic schemes in pursuit of her agenda. Nothing could be more certain.

7. The key question is this: How can Clinton herself, and not just the ex-DNC chair, not be held accountable for the nomination fix? Are Democrats satisfied with that result: she coordinates the rigging of the system, and completely benefits from the plot, achieving everything she sought, and the only one punished is an official who should have been fired long ago? Poignantly asks New York Times columnist Charles Blow, as reliable a Democratic Party apologist as walks the earth,

“What are those Democratic voters supposed to do who don’t trust the candidate, the party or the process, even if they view The Donald as the Devil?”

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Donald Trump’s Acceptance: Good Speech (Wrong Speaker)

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Donald Trump’s acceptance speech last night at the Republican National Convention must have been easy to write. Anyone with a modicum of communication skills who had been paying attention the past eight years and isn’t either in denial or thoroughly corrupted could have written it. I could have written it. President Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as their supporters, have provided so much material, or, if you like, ammunition. No wonder the speech was so long: it was the longest acceptance speech since 1972. It easily could have been longer.

There is no honest or reasonable argument to be made against Trump’s recitation of what is wrong in America. Escalating class, racial, gender and ethnic divisions, uncontrolled illegal immigration, handicapped law enforcement, sluggish economic growth, over-regulation, dangerous debt, incompetent foreign policy, weak national leadership, corruption, attacks on individual rights, and more…the speech hit a lot (not all, because there are so many) of the obvious failures of the Obama presidency, one of the most disappointing and disastrous in U.S. history. Most astute of all, the speech correctly painted Hillary Clinton as a candidate pledged to continue disastrous policies and anti-American philosophies. Read the text here.

The criticism of the speech from the left and mainstream media journalists (all together now: “But I repeat myself!”) was both predictable and telling. “Trump delivered a deeply negative speech that described a darkening America,” wrote Politico.” He spoke of spiking crime, “third-world” airports, growing trade deficits, “chaos in our communities,” and terrorism on the home front. Abroad, he said, the situation was “worse than it has ever been before.” On CNN, former Obama “czar” Van Jones said that “What Donald Trump did tonight was a disgrace. That was a relentlessly… dark speech. He was describing some Mad Max America.” Jones continued: Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Politico

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“This is the fundamental tension of being Clinton’s chief speechwriter: How do you write effectively for a policy-driven candidate who is allergic to campaign-speak? …But it’s also deeper than just a speechwriting problem: It’s about how the most experienced person to ever run for the White House continues to struggle with one of the most basic parts of the job: committing to a message that helps establish a general sense of affection from the electorate.

—-Annie Karnie in Politico, in a post called “Has Hillary finally found her voice?”

The news media has become so biased, so incompetent, so arrogant and so dishonest that I could fill this blog every day with only posts aimed at exposing the horrific and damaging “profession” of journalism. The increasing boldness with which reporters and editors aim to manipulate public opinion and government policy by intentional disinformation is staggering. In focusing on Politico’s Big Lie about Hillary’s credentials, I chose not to write about several others, such as, for example, Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Jessie Balmert, who wrote that the number of murders in the U.S. last year was 15 times higher than it actually was. Another candidate was liberal website ThinkProgress, which headlined a story “GOP Platform Proposes To Get Rid Of National Parks And National Forests.” (It proposes nothing of the sort, but ThinkProgress’s false headline operates as both clickbait and confirmation bias fodder for its readers.)

I chose Politico’s bland statement as fact what is not a fact, but rather easily disprovable pro-Hillary propaganda, because this technique is so insidious. The  biased news media repeats falsity over and over again until it is accepted as truth. No, Trump did not say that “Mexican immigrants were rapists.” No, equally qualified women do not get only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. Those two examples however, have some arguments, however unfair and warped, to justify them. By no possible interpretation can it be claimed that Hillary Clinton is “the most experienced person to ever run for the White House.”  It is an unequivocal falsehood, perpetuated by the news media out of incompetence and ignorance, or in order to intentionally mislead the public. Continue reading