ABC News Breaches Its Duty Not To Make The Public Stupid

Give generously to save victims of ABC's "This Week."

On ABC’s Sunday public affairs show “This Week,” the usually admirable Jake Tapper breached the broadcast journalist’s duty not to promote logically flawed arguments that will make the public dumber than it already is.

Debating with his guests the merits of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s efforts to severely reduce the collective bargaining rights of public unions, Tapper cited an intellectually dishonest New Republic article by Joseph McCartin which used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to make this statement: Continue reading

Teachers Unions: Not Unethical, Just Uninterested in the Public Welfare

His union is competent; it's just that he isn't

Public unions and their Democratic supporters (and supported) are not going to have much luck winning the public relations battle with Republicans as long as teachers unions are front and center. Teachers unions are not— I repeat not-–primarily concerned with the welfare of schoolchildren, or the public, or the deficit, or even education. Their priority is the welfare of their membership, and if any of those other stakeholders have to take it on the chin to make sure that the teachers have good salaries, benefits and iron-clad job security, well, that’s just the way of the world.

This doesn’t make teachers unions unethical any more than lawyers are unethical to represent their clients. But it does mean that any time a teacher’s union official claims to be concerned with anything but his members, he or she is lying through their teeth. And that is unethical. Continue reading

Breaking News: Journalistic Ethics Not Dead, Just Unpopular

The Society of Professional Journalists issued the following release condemning the Buffalo Beast’s fake call to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, in which the BB’s editor attempted, spectacularly unsuccessfully, to trick the Governor into making inflammatory or embarrassing statements. All he managed to do was to prove that Walker had never spoken to David Koch in his life, effectively debunking conspiracy theories that the Koch brothers were calling the shots in the Wisconsin public unions showdown. It was still a low point in recent journalism—quite an achievement, really—as the SPJ made clear: Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Carnage in Wisconsin: The Ethics Grades So Far”

Commenter Glenn Logan argues that President Obama’s C- Ethics Grade in the post is too high. Here is his Comment of the Day, on the post “Ethics Carnage in Wisconsin: The Ethics Grades So Far.”

“I think that Obama is getting grade inflation here. Obama was elected to lead all Americans, not just unions.

“While Walker’s position and comments may be imperfect, and Obama is certainly within his rights to disagree, it is his duty to all Americans to at least take the other side into account. Presidents who are entirely partisan are poor presidents, and in this instance, a C- is unfairly high.

“Combine that with his pronouncement to Republicans after he was elected that “Elections have consequences, and I won,” and in my view, you have an ethics train wreck.  This is as two-faced and unfair as it is possible to be, and dispatching his political organization to inject an even more partisan impact into the problem and the best grade I could give him is a D-.”

Ethics Carnage in Wisconsin: The Ethics Grades So Far

The battleground

The story to date: Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker announced a budget-repair measure to address  looming budget deficits (in a state with a balanced budget mandate in its constitution) by requiring state employees to contribute a larger proportion of their pensions and health care plans, and  restricting their long-standing  collective bargaining rights. Wisconsin’s deficit is projected at $30 million for the remainder of the 2011, with a shortfall of $1.5 billion projected for next year. In response to Walker’s announcement and the near certainty of his plan being passed by the Republican dominated state legislature, 14 Democratic legislators fled the state to prevent a quorum and block a vote, teachers left their classes to protest in Madison, where they were joined by thousands of pro-union protesters, many of whom were organized and bused in by Organizing for America, a White House operated political group.

Let’s try to separate the ethics wheat from the chaff—amazingly, there is actually some wheat–and get an early line on the heroes, dunces, villains, and the rest as the Wisconsin budget battle threatens to become a full-fledged Ethics Train Wreck. Continue reading