Rachel Maddow As the Symbol Of American Journalism’s Corruption

Over at the American Conservative, a veteran State Department employee and author Peter Van Buren makes his case that Rachel Maddow is the symbol of the catastrophic deterioration of America journalism over the past three years, as it openly joined the “resistance.” I disagree with his central thesis: nobody who works for MSNBC can symbolize journalism’s rot, since MSNBC has never been objective, competent, or trustworthy, not three years ago, not ever. I would choose the New York Times  for that honor.  Nevertheless, Van Buren’s description of what journalism has become in the rush to “Get Trump!” is well-argued, and should be persuasive to anyone not incapable of accepting the truth, that being  that honest, independent journalism has all but vanished, and the viability of our system of government is imperiled as a result.

Do our progressive friends and relatives deny this because they are corrupt, because the news media’s slant bolsters their desires so they accept it, because they are dim, or because, as Van Buren writes of Maddow, they are “people who refuse to accept facts and insist they alone understand a world you can’t even see. Delusion. Denial. Psychosis. Obsession. Paranoia”?

I’m not sure.  It has been obvious here that journalism now tries to manipulate our politics rather than report it since well before the 2016 campaign, and I’ve been listening to and reading denials all along.

Van Buren writes in part, Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, April 3, 2019: Morning Disillusionment And “Morning Joe”

Good morning!

Since this is an ethics blog, I guess I’ll have to confess that it’s really a lousy morning, since I was up until 1 AM watching the Red Sox lose to Oakland 1-0…

1. From the “Why do I bother?” Files. I’ve been complaining (too much, but it makes me feel better) about the precipitous fall in Ethics Alarms traffic  since the Trump Deranged fled the objective discussions here and Facebook decided to make it impossible to post anything I write. Yesterday, I returned to the periodic theme of teachers facing termination when their naked forms pop up on the web, including the controversial photo in question. Because of that post, and not any of the important Ethics Alarms commentary over the past 12 months that were significant and useful, the blog  had its highest traffic total in more than a year. None of the visitors had anything to say or constructive to offer, of course.

This is undoubtedly why Tucker Carlson’s website routinely includes tabloid style cheesecake features, like—let’s see what it is today—Ah! “Celebrate Amanda Bynes’ Birthday With Her Hottest Looks”! Bynes is a fallen ex-child and teen star who has been out of show-business for years because of emotional illness and drug problems.

Stay classy, Tucker.

2.  How constant political correctness immersion rots even superior brains: A case study. One of the smartest, sharpest, BS intolerant people I have ever known or ever will know just posted this approvingly on Facebook:

I am  depressed. These directives from a Montgomery County, MD sponsored community groups are largely idiotic, and like all word policing, efforts at thought and language control. My friend is a parent of two teens, but I would expect  her, of all people, to send them the lesson that they should never capitulate to this kind of sinister conditioning, which is what it is: “The Collective will tell you what you can and cannot say without sanction! Await further instructions.” Almost all of these are awkward, meaningless distinctions of the ” ‘colored people’ BAD, ‘people of color’ GOOD” variety. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, April 2, 2019: Maddow, Schultz, Pugh, Fosse, AOC, And All That Jazz…

Good afternoon!

1. If anyone cared, this would do in Rachel Maddow. The fact that so many of my otherwise intelligent and reasonable liberal friends insist that Rachel Maddow is God’d gift to journalism was a mystery to me  when she first brought her perpetual smirk to MSNBC. It  perplexed me greatly as she so obviously hyped and twisted her commentary, and once she became the #1 Russia-Trump conspiracy theorist on TV, I admit that I have lost the edge of respect for anyone who still watches her. Rachel Maddow bottomed out, I’d say, yesterday, when she was saying this last week:

“It’s hard to believe that they’d leave the newly appointed Attorney General William Barr to himself to personally pick through the [Mueller] report to try to figure out which mentions in this 400-page report might pertain to an open case”They wouldn’t leave that to Barr to do that. Mueller would have done that!

Mueller’s team would have done that as part of producing anything that they handed over outside their own offices. They’ve done that with every other document they have produced in the course of this investigation. You’d assume they’d be able to do that for this document too. But William Barr says, [exaggerated sigh] it’s taking him a really long time because he’s having to do all that himself.”

While  was saying that it was suspicious that Barr wouldn’t seek Mueller’s assistance with the redactions, the chyron underneath her read,

“Barr: Special Counsel Is Assisting with Redactions”

Unlike the much-mocked Fox News gaffe, in which the talking heads were correctly reciting the story while  the chyron said that Trump was pulling aid from “three Mexican countries“, this time the chyron was right, and the talking head was wrong.  It might just be me, but I’d rather the actual reporters to be telling the truth, and graphics be messed up. Continue reading

More Ethics Observations On The Post-Mueller Report Response

1.The video montage above is the “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias” smoking gun for all time.

2. If the Democratic Party had competent and ethical leadership, this is what those leaders would do right now. They would thank Robert Mueller for doing a thorough, professional and objective  job under difficult circumstances. They would say that that American needed to be assured that there were no illegal and wrongful efforts by the President, his campaign and his party to conspire with a foreign power to undermine a fair election. They would say that they look forward, now that the cloud hanging over the White House has been removed, and President Trump’s assertion that there was no wrongdoing has been confirmed, to working with President Trump in the spirit of cooperation and mutual concern for the national interests, without rancor or recriminations, and hope that he will do the same.

They would also, not publicly, instruct elected officials from their party to accept the conclusions of the report, to be gracious rather than bitter, to end what will now appear to be vindictive investigations, and to get on with the job of governing.  This is a grand opportunity for them to regain the respect of the non-hate polluted public, and to behave like adults, patriots and statesmen for the first time since November, 2016.

If they don’t do this, and it is already obvious that they won’t, it will demonstrate that the party is cowering in fear of its most radical and irrational base, that it is following rather than leading, that it has neither integrity, honesty, decency, or the sense God gave a marmoset. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Round-Up, 1/20/2019: Blogging Angry

Yeeee-hah!

I’ve been angry all day about the absolute perfidy and vicious dishonesty of the news media, magnified by the hate-fed gullibility of my friends on social media. I wanted to wait until my fury subsided before composing the warm-up. No luck.

1. The most egregious example of incompetent, biased, mob journalism yet? Meh. That story of how online left-wing gossip site BuzzFeed concocted a fake report that suggested impeachable conduct by Donald Trump, and how it was accepted without question by the mainstream media which spent all day feeding a buzz about imminent impeachment until the Mueller investigation had to make a public announcement that the story was crap? The New York Times had it on page 11. The original false story, of course, was on the front page, above the fold. Just for giggles, I checked to see what Rachel Maddow was saying at MSNBC, since she is supposed to be the Best of the Worst, and MSNBC had been reveling in a virtual impeachment orgy. I guess she has been learning at the knee of Al Sharpton; maybe his office is next to hers. She went full Tawana Brawley. Rachel’s spin was that just because this didn’t happen doesn’t mean it couldnt have happened, because we all know that Trump should be impeached and thus this doesn’t really change anything. Then she brought on the editor of BuzzFeed who told her audience that he stands by his story.

I’ve been feeling a lot like Cassandra lately. Long ago I concluded that Maddow was a charismatic fraud, smug and pursuing an agenda, and completely untrustworthy. “Oh no!” protested several of my moderate and progressive friends in the ethics field. She’s wonderful! Funny! Fair! Never biased!

One reason I’m angry is that so many of my friends have allowed themselves and their integrity to be corrupted. I expected better of them. Maddow is an ethics corrupter.

2. Then there was the Catholic schoolboy in the MAGA hat. This was a flash Ethics Train wreck I stumbled upon it on Facebook: one of my friends there posted a CNN link with a video about an ugly episode after the March for Life in which a group of Catholic school teens wearing MAGA hats harassed and mocked an elderly Native American man who was engaged in some kind of religious ritual. In response to a comment, my friend wrote that this was one more ugly example of what the current “racist environment” had created—in other words, it’s all Trump’s fault. Since the guy is in a profession in which integrity as well as objective and unbiased consideration of facts is part of the job description, I felt this cheap shot was not only unwarranted but misleading to others who might regard him as more than just the usual Facebook goof, and so I noted that a) wearing a Trump campaign cap doesn’t make you racist and b) because someone misbehaves wearing a Trump hat no more implicates him than wearing a Boston Red Sox cap implicated Alex Cora. His response was to write me a terse note demanding that I not comment on his edicts, and then he blocked me.

That turned out to be just  the beginning. I hadn’t followed it, but the story turned out to be yet another manufactured fake news story in support of an anti-Trump narrative. The video was deceptively edited. The Native American Man confronted the kids, not the other way around, and a couple of them smirked at the old wacko beating a drum in their faces. He turned out to be a serial activist who had pulled such stunts before, trying to provoke confrontations. He, it turned out, was mocking the boys, not the other way around. Meanwhile, a radical Black Nationalist group was also shouting at the kids. Continue reading

‘Twas Two Nights Before Christmas Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/23/18: Ho-Ho-Hypocrisy

Merry Christmas!

1. Yes, Merry Christmas, dammit. Those responsible for that moment of doubt and ethical uncertainty every time I encountered a stranger on my just completed Ethics Rock Extreme road trip to New Brunswick, New Jersey deserve to be entombed alive in peppermint and plum pudding.  The greeting simply says, “I wish you to be joyful and happy in a season where people are a little less selfish and a little more ethical: I’m not trying to indoctrinate you into Christianity!” Much of this completely unnecessary addition to holiday stress is due to to jerks—yes, I think the word is fair—like Julia Ioffe, the author of  “Please don’t wish me ‘Merry Christmas’/It’s impolite and alienating to assume I follow your religion.”

I thought Charles Dickens slam-dunked that nonsense definitively in “A Christmas Carol,” followed by almost all the Christmas movies that make the same obvious point except to deliberate holiday wet-blankets like Ioffe. No, jerk, the greeting is an expression of cultural unity among human beings, and the celebration of values that need have not be restricted to religious Christmas holiday because this is also a secular tradition as well. As soon as I get this post up, I’m going to re-post the Ethics Alarms Christmas commentary.

Somebody send it to Julia.

2. 2018 Hypocrisy Award, locked up! It doesn’t matter if you are happy or disappointed to see President Trump pull U.S. troops out of Syria and Afghanistan; you should still be able to marvel at the blatant, shameless, pandering, hateful and, really, laughable—if the cultural fad of denigrating the President of the United States regardless of what he does wasn’t so destructive and wrong— hypocrisy by news media Trump-haters, among others. Glenn Greenwald, who sees the world from a leftward perspective but maintains his integrity, called out MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who could be the symbol of the whole nauseating. He tweeted,

The most bizarre aspect of Rachel Maddow’s deep anger over troop withdrawal from Syria is that she wrote an entire book in 2012 denouncing illegal US Endless War without congressional approval – exactly what Syria is. I interviewed her about it here: Funny: citing that interview I did of Maddow’s book on the evils of Endless War without Congressional approval reminded me that she asked me to blurb that book, which I did. Here’s what I said – so ironic in light of her anger over Syria troop withdrawal

This upset Glenn’s loyal progressive followers, one of whom sent this fascinating retort:

“The most bizarre aspect of Glenn Greenwald’s inexplicable credibility is his ability to appear as first an advocate and then an opponent of almost everyone and everything. Can’t choose one perspective.”

See? To people like this—the commenter’s handle is IstandwithMaxine, which pretty much explains everything—is that they have been brainwashed to believe that is is bizarre unless adopts a single  view—theirs. of course, otherwise you are evil–and never alters it or admits that it may need re-thinking when that view leads to dead ends, disasters and pitfalls, no matter what new information arises. Someone like Greenwald, who tries to apply the same standards of analysis and ethical judgment to all regardless of whether it advances an ideology, is just untrustworthy, a traitor.

This cartoon has been circulating online. It is 100% fair and accurate regarding Trump’s critics self-indicting reaction: Continue reading

LATE Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Dunce: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow”

My inexcusable failure to previously post this Comment of the Day by Curmie, originally offered nearly two months ago, is especially bad because of the rapidity with which the news media concocts, hypes, or otherwise featured new tangential assaults on President Trump every day. I had forgotten about this one: the White House posted an incorrect version of the Helsinki press conference transcript. Boy, that seems like a hundred scandals, real, manufactured, and imagined, ago!Allow me to refresh your memory and mine:

MSNBC hostess Rachel Maddow, along with many of her fellow journalist members of “the resistance,” pounced on the mistake, accusing the White House of intentionally editing the transcript. Then, after the Washington Post explained  that the omission was not the fault of the White House, Maddow, who is often cited as a trustworthy left-wing journalist simply because she is so much less flagrant than her MSNBC colleagues, denied that her reporting was incorrect, saying,

“This is one possible explanation for why the White House transcript & video from Helsinki doesn’t include Putin saying he wanted Trump to win. But Putin really did say that in Helsinki…..and the White House transcript & video still does leave it out. WaPo now says it has updated its own transcript. Will the White House? After more than a week of reporting on the bad transcript (see link below)…

(1): White House has let it stand uncorrected, and

(2): POTUS now asserts that Putin wants *Dems* to win, not him.

I love WaPo with the heat of 1000 suns, but nothing here from WaPo disproves our report.”

 Washington Post reporter Philip Bump, quickly pointed out Maddow’s dishonesty, writing,

“Your report asserts that the video was edited and implies that the incomplete transcript was posted intentionally. There’s no evidence for the first point and my piece provides context to suggest that the second was unintentional.”

With that background, here is Curmie’s much delayed Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Dunce: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. He also gets extra points for the baseball reference at the end…

Apparently I’m one of the few lefties who comment here even occasionally these days. I trust I will not become an “exile.”

This story becomes an intriguing example of the partisan fragmentation of the country that has been happening for about a generation. Some people will believe everything Rachel Maddow (or Sean Hannity, or…) says; some will believe nothing. Too few will parse the content.

Maddow’s allegation that someone intentionally edited the tape/transcript is unsupported by facts, and her smug reassertion of a discredited argument is, to say the least, problematic.

But I’ve written on my blog about two variations on what I call the Christine Vole effect, named for the character in the Agatha Christie short story/play and subsequently Billy Wilder movie who intentionally allows her absolutely truthful testimony describing her husband’s guilt to seem instead to be the vengeance of a jealous wife. The jury was influenced by the implosion of her testimony, which was, by the way, unnecessary to the prosecution’s case; they acquit.

The variation, as we saw often in the likes of James O’Keefe, and here with Maddow, is the unintentional corollary: by making an extreme statement, the speaker undermines the rest of an otherwise persuasive argument. Continue reading