Ethics Pot Meet Ethics Kettle II: Apparently The Washington Post Really Thinks It Has More Integrity Than Fox News

Here’s the head-exploding quote from Washington Post political columnist Phillip Bump today:

Speak up, Bret Baier. Speak up, Chris Wallace. Join colleague Geraldo Rivera in making public your unvarnished thoughts about “Patriot Purge” and all the other non-journalism that somehow qualifies for prime-time airing at Fox News. Your insistence on addressing the network’s outrages “internally” is a cowardly approach and one that is, by all evidence, not working.

The Washington Post, and indeed Phillip Bump himself, are ethically estopped from attacking Fox News for “non-journalism.” In fact, the sudden escalation in attack on Fox News by the worst mainstream media Democratic propaganda purveyors—like the Post—appears to be just another tactic in the now desperate “We have to save Joe Biden!” push by the same people who should be fairly and critically documenting the unfolding catastrophe in D.C..

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I’ve Looked And I’ve Tried And I Believe In Civility, But The Only Fair Descriptive Word For These People Is “Asshole”

That graph above dominates the New York Times front page this morning, but not in a normal way. The graph is at the bottom of the page and covers its entire width. The long bar representing current unemployment page runs up the entire right margin; it’s a full 18 inches. This wasn’t necessary to convey the information. It was necessary to alarm readers as much as possible. The Times publisher and editors are assholes.

I have been criticized for using that vulgar word here. I think the first time I used it, ironically enough, was to describe Donald Trump when he first said he was running for President in 2012. I used the word to describe the Christian minister who announced that he was going to burn the Koran at a time when Muslim crazies were murdering Christians in retribution for every perceived insult to their religion. I don’t use the word lightly. I use it when more socially acceptable descriptors like “jerk” are obviously inadequate.

An asshole is a person who willfully and often gleefully defies positive social norms for personal gain or just because he or she can, indulging the basest human motivations and non-ethical considerations to the detriment of society. Jerks can reform; usually assholes cannot. When someone acts like an asshole but is not one, often the simple device of  calling them what they are acting like will shock them back into more responsible behavior. This is why the word must remain among our ethics enforcement tools, like a gun, usually holstered, but still available when needed.

It is needed a lot right now.

As I keep reminding readers, in 2015 I wrote a post declaring that if Donald Trump were elected President, he would turn America into a nation of assholes. I was right about that, but completely mistaken about the process. I thought that Trump’s reflexive lack of ethics and civility would poison the young, who typically adopt the values and manners of prominent role models in the culture, and historically no individual exercises more powerful influence over our culture than the President. However, what we have witnessed over the past three years is an epidemic of asshole conduct by those who oppose President Trump, who actually despise him. I didn’t see that coming. The Wuhan virus emergency has especially brought their assholism (“assholery?” “assholicity?” ) into focus.

Ann Althouse said it nicely (without using the word) reacting to Joe Biden’s current strategy of tossing off incoherent insults and second-guessing regarding the President’s handling of the epidemic. She wrote in part… Continue reading

Cultural And Societal Poison, Pumped Into Our National Bloodstream [Corrected]

When I worked for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the 1970s, I was once dispatched to an Amway convention at the Atlanta Omni  to speak to the packed arena about carious Chamber citizen activism projects. Right before I was scheduled, the Amway “Diamond” hosting the thing (it was so strange and cult-like that “thing” is the best I can come up with this early in the morning) rallied the glassy-eyed crowd with a speech the likes of which I had never heard before. Among the crazy assertions he made to cheers and  cries of “Amen!” was that Jimmy Carter, then President, was card-carrying Communist and an agent of the Soviet Union, preparing as he spoke to turn over America to the Russians He also said, Joe McCarthy-like, that he had authentic documents to prove this.

As I sat in the wings, my mind raced to determine what I should do. I did not want to endorse or support what I had just heard in any way, but I also was on an assignment from my boss, who, I was and am quite sure, would have been just as horrified by what I had just heard as I was. Amway’s founders, Jay Van Andel and Rich De Vos were Chamber board members and big contributors to the Chamber’s PAC. Nothing I was promoting there was sinister. Still, I seriously considered leaving immediately, or even using my huge radio mic to denounce what I had just heard as outrageous lies, at least until I was brought down in a hail of bullets, or torn limb from limb by the infuriated mob.

In the end, I gave a shortened version on my planned speech—the crowd was very receptive—and got the hell out of there. When I returned to D.C., I announced that I would not appear at any more Amway conventions, or, for that matter, any John Birch Society meetings or KKK rallies, and my wishes were respected. I remained disturbed by the incident, and especially by the extremist bile that was apparently circulating quietly among the public that was barely hinted at in what was then naively called the “respectable media.”

Sunday, I read a column by Thomas Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author who writes for the New York Times. In a column called Iran Is Crushing Freedom One Country at a Time,”  this supposedly mainstream and eminently respectable pundit wrote, Continue reading

A Cautionary Tale: The Corruption Of Post Columnist Colbert King, Part II

Part I is here.

King refused to apply his usual ethics alarms to Obama, but continued to be a credible and objective analyst where the D.C. government was involved. He was an instant Donald Trump-hater, however. the second the 2016 results were known. I can understand reaction to the two-time runaway winner of the Ethics Alarms “Asshole of the Year” award. But King concluded Trump was a racist—his embrace of  birther accusations against his beloved Obama was enough to guarantee that—and once Trump was elected, King became the Post’s counterpart to Trump-deranged Times columnist Charles M. Blow, except that King at his worst is usually more endurable than Blow at his best.

King’s latest anti-Trump screed, however, shows how far a smart pundit can fall when the cognitive dissonance scale and confirmation bias work in tandem, especially when old age marches on and one is mired in both work and personal bubbles where a single bias dominates.

The column begins with one of my least varieties of fake news, future news, when a journalist sets out to push a negative view of a politician based on what he will do.  The headline is “It’s a good bet Trump pardons his felon allies. Here’s when that’s most likely.”

I don’t think it is a good bet, though it is certainly possible. King assumes it is a good bet, as his column makes clear (along with all of his previous columns relating to Trump) because he thinks of the President as a corrupt racketeer. King’s once nimble mind  is now incapable of imagining a justification for pardoning the “allies” in question, Roger Stone, Mike Flynn, and Paul Manafort. I can: arguably all three of them were indicted and convicted because of the “resistance”effort to try to drive Donald Trump from office, and to send a message to anyone who might be of value to his administration that they would instantly be in cross-hairs if they dared to try to support the President. President  Trump might feel responsible for their plight, and use his absolute clemency power to relieve their burdens. If so, it would not be an unprecedented political or personal use of the pardon and clemency power. King reallywas just using this question as a pretense to vent about the President, whom he detests, shredding his own credibility in the process. For example, Continue reading

A Cautionary Tale: The Corruption Of Post Columnist Colbert King, Part I

Colbert King is 80 now, but he is still a regular columnist with the Washington Post. As a recent column demonstrated, he has finally fallen prey to the Post culture and no longer is what he once was: the rare pundit, in his case, a liberal one, who could be counted upon for fairness and integrity regardless of the topic. The one-two punches of Barack Obama and Donald Trump showed how cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias can corrupt the best of us, and make no mistake about it, King was once one of the best.

Although he is an African-American, he stood out for decades among his corruption- enabling black colleagues in consistently calling out the D.C. government’s corrupt leadership—notably Marion Barry but many others—on their arrogantly dishonest, venal and untrustworthy practices and attitudes.

Then Barack Obama happened. I listened in surprise on a local Sunday talking head show as King defended Barack Obama’s quiet, decades long assent to the black liberation (that is, anti-white, anti-American rantings of Reverend Wright, Obama’s “spiritual mentor.” Were these rationalizations I heard Colbert King uttering? King reliably mocked rationalizations, and yet here he was using them, notably “Everybody does it,” to defend  a black Presidential candidate’s approval and association with a black racist and demagogue.

Once Obama was elected, King got worse. Not only could Obama do no wrong, but those who criticized were enemies in his eyes; worse, King treated Obama’s appointees and cronies with similar reverence, a complete reversal from his approach to the  parade of incompetent or criminal black politicians in D.C.  Notably, he defended Obama “wing man” Eric Holder, the racialist Attorney General, when he was refusing to comply with a legitimate Congressional inquiry into the Justice Department’s Fast and Furious fiasco. His excuses for Holder and his attacks on Republicans were so redolent of partisan hackery that in 2012 I was moved to write my one-time Ethics Hero the “Open Letter”: Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month (And STUPID Beyond Belief, As Usual): Joy Behar Of ABC’s “The View”

(Bear with me: This video will be relevant by the end, I promise..)

“If you’re going to take people’s guns away, wait until you get elected — then take the guns away. Don’t tell them ahead of time.”

“The View’s” panelist Joy Behar, commenting on Beto O’Rourke’s exit from the Democratic presidential nomination race after announcing that he advocated the confiscation of semi-automatic weapons.

I don’t even watch “The View,” and Joy Behar’s ignorant and strident vocal abuses of law, ethics and logic have still made it into many Ethics Alarms posts. Imagine if I actually watched the show regularly. The woman is astoundingly ignorant, and celebrates it, issuing loud and emphatic opinions that would be argued down in a competent 7th grade class (if there are such things), yet ABC gives her a public platform that is only responsibly reserved for, if not brilliant and knowledgeable pundits, at least ones that could win a game of Scrabble with a Dachshund puppy.

You know what her last featured howler was on Ethics Alarms? This: she asked, in reference to a President Trump tweet mocking Rep. Omar, “Why can’t he be brought up on charges of hate speech?Why can’t he be sued by the ACLU for hate speech? I don’t get it. How does he get away with this?”

Why? WHY, you incredibly ill-informed woman? Because there is no such crime as “hate speech.” Because the ACLU defends free speech, it doesn’t sue people for what they say. You don’t get it because you’re the most illiterate, ignorant pundit on television, maybe on television since its inception. He gets away with this because it’s the United States, and we have a Bill of Rights. Or as the late Sam Kinison would say,

This latest must be my favorite Joy cretinism. See, she’s a typical progressive totalitarian as well as a dolt. The way to get your agenda enacted is to lie to the public so they vote you into office based on false pretenses!  Sure, that’s the ticket! And not just any agenda, either—this isn’t like Barack Obama promising to be a unifying President who favored neither black not white. No, Joy wants candidates who plan on gutting individual rights to lie about their plans so citizens will go to the polls like lambs to the slaughter. Usually it’s villains that TV shows trying this trick, monsters like Hitler and Sideshow Bob. The View has a permanent panelist who endorses that route to power, openly, proudly.

She better watch out: Democrats don’t want her spilling the beans like that,

Of course, the strategy is impossible. To begin with it’s unconstitutional, but naturally Joy, having slept through school, doesn’t know this. Second, eventually people would find out that Beto’s Brownshirts were going door to door, and the results would not be pretty. These are just details, however: Joy just says whatever flotsam and jetsom  flots into her cranium, and does her level best to make View viewers as brick-stupid as she is.  Here are some other Joy highlights from past posts:

Speaking of Joe Biden’s habitual groping: “It’s a long way from smelling your hair to grabbing your hoo-ha… I don’t think it rises to the point we’ve been listening to like Harvey Weinstein and the rest of these people”

Justifying Democrats  manufacturing imaginary offenses by the President: “Because we’re desperate to get Trump out of office. That’s why.”

Explaining how the GOP can control the Senate when more votes were cast for Democrats in the House: “Because of gerrymandering!”

On the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Kavanaugh hearings: “These white men, old by the way, are not protecting women… They’re protecting a man who is probably guilty.”

Responding to Alan Dershowitz’s  criticism of Mitch Mconnell blocking the Merrick Garland nomination: “Well then how come Mitch McConnell is not in jail? That’s what I want to know.”

There are many more. Now, Joy has a right to be stupid, but she does not have a right to have a major network facilitating her making the public stupid. As I wrote here, I don’t advocate her being forced off the air by boycotts, in the manner that so-called liberals have tried to silence Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson. That’s censorship; that’s the Left’s MO in 2019. However, it is irresponsible for any network to package the clueless opinions of a woman with the intellect of a Pet Rock for public consumption. It’s like selling tainted food, or a car that keeps breaking down.

It is broadcast malpractice. She should be fired. She should have been fired years ago.

I even wrote a song about it. Sing the words to the music of “How do you solve a problem like Maria?”(from “The Sound of Music”) in the video above. I skipped the intro: it starts with the main theme.

Can’t The View Fire an Idiot Like Joy Behar?

Can’t the View fire an idiot like Joy Behar?

Why can’t they put that loudmouth in her place?

The View should protect the public from her nonsense

And wipe that smug expression off her face.

Many a thing you know they’d like to tell her

There is so much she doesn’t understand

But how can they make her read

Or research before a screed

You might as well try to lift a baby grand…

Oh, how do you fix an idiot like Joy Behar?

When will this moron finally be canned?

She is constantly confused

Ill-informed and so bemused

Hasn’t read the Constitution even once…

She’s predictable I guess

Since her values are a mess

She’s not clever! She’s not funny! She’s a dunce!

But Joy’s certain she is smart

And with gusto plays the part

Of the brave progressive warrior at work

Confrontational and loud,

She’s intolerant and proud

She’s embarrassing…let’s face it,

She’s a jerk.

Can’t the View fire an idiot like Joy Behar?

Why do they want to make their viewers dumb?

It’s so perverse inflicting her like they are…

Her opinions are like a drug that makes brains numb.

Many a thing you know you’d like to tell her

Millions of things she doesn’t know and more

But how do you make her stay

And listen to what you say

When her IQ is stuck at eighty-four?

Why can’t they fire an idiot like Joy Behar?

 Why won’t they show that imbecile the door?

__________________________

Pointer: Steve Witherspoon

Ethics Quiz: Trevor Noah’s Joke

“Africa won the World Cup. I get it, they have to say it’s the French team. But look at those guys. You don’t get that tan by hanging out in the south of France, my friends.”

—-Trevor Noah, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”

Noah, who is black, was immediately accused of racism. “So basically, Trevor, all the African-Americans in the US are just Africans, right?,” said one critic. “Know that as a French of Algerian, German and Spanish descent, I find it insulting. We are all French, we are one people. Ask the players,they’ll tell you they’re proud Frenchmen!”

Your more complicated-than-it-looks Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Does Noah have anything to apologize for?

I mean, other than that fact that his joke isn’t particularly funny. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/17/2018: Blacklisting, Boycotts, And A Fox News Ethics Breach

Good Morning, all.

1 The blacklisting of R. Lee Ermey. Ermey, the ex-Marine turned actor who gained fame playing a Marine drill sergeant in “Full Metal Jacket,” died this week. I had thought he might already be dead, since I hadn’t seen him show up in movies or TV shows for quite a while. No, it appears that he was blackballed by Hollywood after he criticized President Obama in 2010, while he was being hired with some regularity. Speaking at a Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots rally, he said it was difficult to raise money for the charity because “the economy sucks” and went on to blame the Obama Administration, saying,

“We should all rise up, and we should stop this administration from what they’re doing because they’re destroying this country. They’re driving us into bankruptcy so that they can impose socialism on us, and that’s exactly what they’re doing, and I’m sick and damn tired of it and I know you are too.”

Ermey’s agent and the sudden reduction in his offers persuaded the tough Marine to beg for forgiveness with an abject apology for daring to critique Obama so harshly. Never mind:  His contract as a GEICO character was terminated, and the company removed Ermey’s commercial from their official YouTube channel. He later told interviewers that he had been blacklisted by Hollywood, and that he never had major film offer after he criticized Obama.

Observations:

a) I wonder when fair, decent, ethical Americans who believe in freedom of thought and expression will become sufficiently alarmed about progressives and Democrats using blacklists and boycotts  to enforce ideological conformity. This increasingly totalitarian end of the political spectrum needs to be informed that its ethics alarms are seriously malfunctioning.

b) Actors identified with products and companies cannot complain when they lose those jobs after making divisive political comments. If Ermey wanted to do commercials for anyone other than the NRA, his comments about Obama were just plain stupid.

c) As an actor in films, however, Ermey played villains and parodies of military characters.  His political views in those contexts should have been irrelevant, and certainly wouldn’t harm receipts for movies he was in. If he really was blacklisted, it was an act of punishment for refusing to accept the Hollywood community’s lockstep worship of a weak and divisive President.

d) In contrast, recall this public rant from actor Robert DeNiro in January regarding the current President of the United States:

“This fucking idiot is the President. It’s The Emperor’s New Clothes – the guy is a fucking fool. The publication of the Pentagon Papers was a proud moment for American journalism. The Times and the Post challenged the government over critical First Amendment issues. And the press prevailed. Our government today, with the propping-up of our baby-in-chief – the jerkoff-in-chief I call him – has put the press under siege, trying to discredit it through outrageous attacks and lies.’

I don’t think Bobby has lost any roles over this. To be fair, if there is a place where The King’s Pass, aka “The Star Syndrome,” rules supreme, it’s Hollywood. A major star like DeNiro obviously has more leeway than a narrow-range character actor like Ermey, and Ermey had to know that. Still, the double standard is striking. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Andrew Sullivan

Once again, Ethics Alarms is honoring Andrew Sullivan for unusual courage in the field of punditry. In this case, the honor is less for what he has written than the fact that he wrote it at all.

His general topic is genetic research, taking off from a recent op-ed appeared in the New York Times by Professor David Reich, a  Harvard geneticist, which broached the virtually taboo topic genetic variations between subpopulations of humans, that is to say, races. On the way through Sullivan’s essay, called “Denying Genetics Isn’t Shutting Down Racism, It’s Fueling It,” Sullivan makes many perceptive observations, like…

“This argument should not be so controversial — every species is subject to these variations — and yet it is. For many on the academic and journalistic left, genetics are deemed largely irrelevant when it comes to humans. Our large brains and the societies we have constructed with them, many argue, swamp almost all genetic influences.

Humans, in this view, are the only species on Earth largely unaffected by recent (or ancient) evolution, the only species where, for example, the natural division of labor between male and female has no salience at all, the only species, in fact, where natural variations are almost entirely social constructions, subject to reinvention. We are, in this worldview, alone on the planet, born as blank slates, to be written on solely by culture. All differences between men and women are a function of this social effect; as are all differences between the races. If, in the aggregate, any differences in outcome between groups emerge, it is entirely because of oppression, patriarchy, white supremacy, etc. And it is a matter of great urgency that we use whatever power we have to combat these inequalities.”

Agreed, and stipulated: the progressive position on this aspect of science is, as in so many other areas, a deliberate refusal to deal with reality in order that ideological goals may proceed.

More from Sullivan later in his piece… Continue reading

CNN Vs. The NRA: Ethically, It’s No Contest

1. Let us begin with this. The National Rifle Association is an advocacy organization. Advocacy organizations operate exactly like lawyer representing clients, and their ethical obligations are similar. They must be loyal to the interests of the object of the representation. They must be zealous, honest, and they must avoid conflicts of interest. In this regard all advocacy organizations, regardless of where they land on the ideological or partisan spectrum, are the same. They have a mission, and a job, and a duty to do it well. The ACLU exists to be an advocate for absolute integrity of the Bill of Rights, particularly the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Ninth. The NRA has a similar mission regarding the Second Amendment, because the ACLU has never been zealous about that one. FIRE advocates for free speech on college campuses, which is often not a First Amendment issue.

NARAL is a zealous advocate for abortion rights, in absolute terms. Most advocacy groups adopt absolute positions which often seem unreasonable to moderates. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is an advocacy group for business—I once worked for them—and opposed government regulations. The Association for Justice—I worked for them too–is an advocacy group for plaintiff’s trial lawyers, and fights any efforts at reforming the tort system, such as capping damages or punishing frivolous lawsuits. All of these and more take the extreme position on one side of a controversy to balance other advocacy groups that take extreme positions in opposition. In this they are very much like opposing lawyers in a trial, except the public is the jury. This is how democracy works, and it is the only way democracy can work.

Condemning and demonizing an advocacy organization because one does not agree with or dislikes the position it advocates is, in my view, exactly like condemning a lawyer for effectively representing an unpopular client—and a lot of ignorant Americans do that, too. Citizens have a right to have an effective organization promote their views and opinions in the court of public opinion, just as citizens have a right to have a competent attorney to represent their interests in a court of law. Attacks on this principle are unsustainable, unethical, and undermine democracy.

2. CNN, and other segments of the news media but especially CNN, has been aggressively attacking this principle since February 14, when Nicholas Cruz opened fire. CNN is NOT an advocacy organization, or is not supposed to be. It is a news organization, and its job and duty is to present facts to the “jury” without trying to influence it one way or the other. On the gun issue, CNN has completely abandoned objectify and its duty to inform, in an unethical effort to advocate for anti-gun interests antithetical to journalism standards.

3. Here is a stunning admission by the New York Times, which has been almost as shrill in its call for gun bans as CNN, in a front page story (Bolding mine):

To many of its opponents, that decades-long string of victories is proof that the N.R.A. has bought its political support. But the numbers tell a more complicated story: The organization’s political action committee over the last decade has not made a single direct contribution to any current member of the Florida House or Senate, according to campaign finance records.

In Florida and other states across the country, as well as on Capitol Hill, the N.R.A. derives its political influence instead from a muscular electioneering machine, fueled by tens of millions of dollars’ worth of campaign ads and voter-guide mailings, that scrutinizes candidates for their views on guns and propels members to the polls.

“It’s really not the contributions,” said Cleta Mitchell, a former N.R.A. board member. “It’s the ability of the N.R.A. to tell its members: Here’s who’s good on the Second Amendment.”

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