From The Ethics Alarms Archives: “Portrait Of An Ethics Train Wreck: The Race-Baiting ESPN Commentator”

Checking what I had written previously about the despicable race-baiting journalist Jemele Hill (who has authored a piece for the Atlantic advocating a return to segregation in college), I re-read the post I had written two years ago as Hill when paving her road out of ESPN. As is often the case, I had completely forgotten what I wrote, and getting re-acquainted with it, I not only approved of the analysis but saw its application as relevant to other situations we have seen since and will continue to see.

Let me add that the fact that angry, divisive, unethical journalists like Hill have a place in legitimate (or what once were legitimate) news and commentary outlets is proof of ethics rot in the industry. She is no better nor different from ugly hacks like Alex Jones on the right, yet maintains visibility and a platform for her cultural poison for three reasons: she is a progressive, she is black, and she is female. None of these are valid reasons to inflict her personal vendettas and hateful rhetoric on America. Jones has been largely banned from social media, but Hill’s bile still flows undammed.

The post also is depressing proof of how relentless and irrational “the resistance” has been The line in the two-year-old essay—“Too many of Hill’s likely peer groups and those around her have, since last November 8, engaged in nearly continuous disrespect of the President’s person, his office, and the process that elected him. This continues to be divisive, destructive, and dangerous for the nation. It is wrong.”—has a familiar ring, for I have written almost the same sentence too many tomes to count since. I will probably write it again next week.

Here, lightly edited, is the September 14, 2017 post titled, Portrait Of An Ethics Train Wreck:The Race-Baiting ESPN Commentator”:

The recent still-rolling ethics train wreck launched by ESPN “SportsCenter” co-host Jemele Hill is a perfect example of how such cultural fiascos occur.

Stage I:  The Instigator

Hill, a young African American woman, went on a Twitter rant against President Trump  this week.

“Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime,” Hill tweeted. “His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period. He is unqualified and unfit to be president. He is not a leader. And if he were not white, he never would have been elected.”

Factors, Stage I

A. An ethics alarms doesn’t  ring.

Why in the world would Hill think that the face of a national broadcast network could publicly call the President of the United States a white supremacist without causing a problem for her employer? The key ethics values being breached  are trust and responsibility. She has a responsibility to ESPN, which should be able to trust her not to harm it or upset viewers.

B. An instigator has an inflated view of his or her own importance, indispensability, wisdom, expertise or authority.

We are living in an age where narcissism is epidemic, but even so, a sports anchor has to be able to comprehend that once he or she is outside the realm of sports, her opinion on the President or anyone else cannot possibly have a positive effect on public discourse unless it is carefully thought out, crafted,, and expressed.

The key ethics values being breached are competence and  humility.

C. Social media. Continue reading

Psst! Everybody: Joe’s Not Going To Make It. The Public Can Stand Only So Much Hypocrisy and Double Standards, And Biden Is Already Testing The Limits of Both.

Just how out-of-it can Joe Biden act and sound before Democrats realize that he’s not just a lost cause, but an irresponsible choice?

Item I: At a New Hampshire rally a week ago,  claimed that as Vice President he had once been asked to travel to the dangerous Kunar province in Afghanistan to pin the Silver Star on a war hero who had rappelled down a steep wall to retrieve the body of a fallen comrade. Biden said he ignored others who warned him not to go. “We can lose a Vice president,” Biden said he answered boldly. “We can’t lose many more of these kids.”

When he pinned the medal to the soldier’s uniform, the Navy captain told Biden that he didn’t deserve the medal because he hadn’t been able to save his comrade’s life. “This is the God’s truth,” Joe told the audience. “My word as a Biden.”

Now the Washington Post has fact-checked the story–the paper’s goal is to get Kamala Harris the nomination, in case you’re tempted to think that the Post is suddenly being objective—and concluded that “almost every detail in the story appears to be incorrect.”

Hilariously, or typically, or disgustingly, CNN’s ridiculous April Ryan—another unprofessional journalist that no respectable and trustworthy network would continue to employ, but you know…CNN— attempted to rationalize and defend Biden telling a fake story and calling it “God’s truth.”

Ryan, appearing as an “analyst” on  CNN’s OutFront  was spinning like mad dervish for  host Jim Sciutto, saying,
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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/27/2019: Desperation

Good morning.

1. Here is why the breast-beating about “doing something” about climate change is dishonest, disingenuous, futile and pointless. Brazil is telling the rest of the world, especially nations that developed their own economies with reckless impunity on the way to wealth and power, to back off its demands that Brazil stop burning its own rain forest. Of course it is taking this stance, and Brazil isn’t the only developing nation that will take that position and has every right to take that position.

Brazil’s defiance is also a definitive rebuttal to the argument that the United States should spend billions—trillions?—in virtue-signaling climate change policies that under the most optimistic scenarios won’t “fix” anything without mass cooperation by nations in Brazil’s position—and that’s not going to happen.

2.  The theory: somebody has to pay. A judge in Oklahoma yesterday ruled that Johnson & Johnson  intentionally hid the risks and hyped the benefits of opioids, ordering the company to pay the state $572 million in damages. This is the first trial of a drug manufacturer for the destruction wrought by prescription painkillers.

I don’t know if the verdict is fair, having not seen the evidence and heard the arguments. I don’t know that the verdict will hold up on appeal. The theory used by the state was questionable: the judge found that Johnson & Johnson perpetuated a “public nuisance” by  contributing to an ongoing public health crisis that could take decades to address successfully. Yet there was no proof offered that doctors who prescribed the drugs were misled, or that Johnson & Johnson violated federal drug regulations.

Public nuisance laws typically apply in cases where something interferes with a right common to the general public and results in danger on roads, parks,and other public areas, and not usually public health, which is what the state argued in this case. Johnson & Johnson’s lawyers contended that the state was contorting public nuisance law to the point of being unrecognizable. Of course, the same argument was made when product liability laws started moving beyond the “buyer beware” stage.

Not reading and hearing all the evidence, I can only wonder if this is case of deep pockets being held responsible for a tragedy that had no single, obvious villain. Doctors prescribed drugs approved by federal regulators, and the drug manufacturers supplied them, legally. Then citizens took the drugs, voluntarily, in a political and social culture that increasingly shrugs off drug use and abuse. Continue reading

Let’s Give A Big Ethics Alarms Hello To New Rationalizations 25B, “The Irresistible Impulse,” And 38B, “Joe Biden’s Inoculation”!

These are the 98th and the 99th rationalizations to join the Ethics Alarms List of Rationalizations And Misconceptions, an ongoing project here. I initially didn’t think that the listwould ever reach 100, but now that looks likely, and we have Joe Biden to thank for it. Thanks, Joe!

The strained logic of both new rationalizations were evoked in a recent New York Times article airing the desperate spin attempts by Biden’s campaign staff to try to minimize the significance of their candidate’s apparently incurable tendency to butcher his attempts at communications. While I realize these two mitigating arguments employed by Joe’s team were not being used as rationalizations for unethical conduct (exactly), that is often the use others find for them.

Rationalization 25B, The Irresistible Impulse, or “I can’t help myself!”
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Joe Biden, The Double Standard Candidate

The fact that Joe Biden is even taken seriously as a Democratic candidate for President is an indictment of his party, as well as evidence that  progressive principles are instantly alterable, optional or ready for deep freeze any time they become inconvenient.

The ethics value issue, of course, is integrity. If the Democratic Party cared about it, Joe Biden would be looking forward to spending his Golden Years playing with his grandchildren and copping feels with their baby-sitters.

That’s the threshold hypocrisy, as we know. Joe is a serial and unapologetic sexual harasser. There are many photographs online, and probably many more to be found, of him hugging, sniffing, and fondling women of all ages while they seem approximately as comfortable as if Joe were a rabid octopus. The conduct displayed is the equivalent or worse  of behavior that has caused hundreds of executives and  many  high-profile leaders in a wide range of sectors to be removed from their jobs. The Democratic Party styles itself as the party of women and #MeToo, but has been flagrant about applying double and even triple standards: witness Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, still in office with the support of his party despite both a credible rape accusation and an allegation of sexual assault, both more serious than any of the accusations made against Senator Al Franken, a Democrat, who was forced to resign. None of the Republicans or Democrats who have been pilloried for sexual harassment carry the photographic evidence that indicts Biden, and yet there he is, topping the polls.

The Democratic Party’s hypocrisy goes far beyond harassment where Joe is concerned, however, as a recent Times article called Joe Biden Knows He Says the Wrong Thing,” itself a naked rationalization to excuse incompetence. Hmmmmm...Is this rationalization  on the Ethics Alarms list? Give me half a minute while I check…

NO!

Incredibly, Joe’s excuse, “I know I’m doing it,” has so far escaped the definitive rationalizations list! That will be remedied shortly.

Joe and his defenders regularly employ other rationalizations for his groping problem (and others), among them, #1. The Golden Rationalization, or “Everybody does it” variations “Everybody is used to it.,” “Everybody accepts it,”“Nobody’s complained before” and “It’s too late to change now,” #8. The Trivial Trap (“No harm no foul!”),#13A The Road To Hell, or “I meant well,” #19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice,’  #21A. The Criminal’s Redemption, or “It’s just a small part of what I am!,”#22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.,” #41 A. Popeye’s Excuse, or “I am what I am,”  #42. The Hillary Inoculation, or “If he/she doesn’t care, why should anyone else?,” 43. Vin’s Punchline, or “We’ve never had a problem with it!,” and #64A. Bluto’s Mistake or “I said I was sorry!.”

Sorry for the digression. Back to the Times article: I seriously considered posting the whole piece with Donald Trump’s name replacing Biden’s. How could the Times reporters write this, or anyone read it, without noticing that all the habits and tendencies being cited as Joe’s problems are the exact same proclivities that Democrats claim should disqualify Trump for high office, and all of the defenses on behalf of Joe echo the arguments of Trump defenders? Here are some quotes: Continue reading

MSNBC Legal Analyst Tweets Fake News, Social Media Makes It Viral, Prof. Turley Makes Excuses. Yecchh. [UPDATED]

First, MSNBC legal analyst Joyce Alene Vance sends out the completely false tweet above. Of course Fox News covered the hearing. Why would she do that? Is it because she works for all all-anti-Trump-spin all the time network? Or is it because she’s a hard core partisan, having been an Obama U.S. Attorney? Maybe its because she’s not a journalist, and has no idea what kind of standards journalists are supposed to use before reporting “news.” Then again, virtually nobody at MSNBC appears to know what ethical journalism is.

Whatever the reason, she tweeted it, and immediately confirmation bias set in, with such sophisticated political analysts as horror novelist and well-established Trump-hater Stephen King helping to spread the word–three “words,” really: Fox won’t report news unfavorable to Trump, Trump is afraid of the Mueller Report (never mind that anyone’s been able to read it for months) and that Mueller’s testimony was going to be a likely calamity for the President—to his more than 5 million followers.  [NOTE: It wasn’t. It was a calamity for “the resistance” and Robert Mueller’s reputation]

Here’s King:

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Lunch Time Ethics Appetizer, 7/16/2019: Funny But Wrong, Important But Incompetent, Too Hungry But Still Employed, And Right But Irrelevant

Yum!

It’s ethical dilemma time for a Red Sox fan. I have an opportunity to get two excellent seats for Sunday’s game in Baltimore. It will be about 99 degrees, and the seats are without any protection from old Sol. Loyalty and dedication demand that I go and support the Sox, whom I have not watched in person for two years. Survival and common sense—non-ethical considerations—argue that this would be nuts.

As Jack Benny said when a robber stuck a gun in his ribs and said, “Your money or your life!,” 

1. Funny! Revealing! But still wrong. Campus Reform utilizes a James O’Keefe- inspired wag named  Cabot Phillips whose signature stunt is to get college students to reveal their ignorance and unthinking social justice warrior ways. He typically does this by lying to them, as when he gives them quotes from Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton and tells them that the speaker was Donald Trump. Outrage and hilarity ensues.

This time, he traveled to the University of Miami and presented students with a fake petition demanding that the college remove its famed mascot and team name, “Hurricanes,” because the name might be  offensive and hurtful to students who’ve been “negatively impacted by hurricanes throughout their lives.” Sure enough, many of the students he spoke with agreed withe the premise. Phillips then posted the video of the students making fools of themselves.

Human beings are wired to trust other human beings, and these stunts take advantage of that. Trust is essential to a healthy and cohesive society, and any exploitation of trust, be it for political purposes, financial gain or amusement, damages society.

It’s not worth it. In this case, the same point could be made by asking, “Would you a support an effort to ban the “Hurricanes” nickname as being potentially hurtful to the victims of tropical storms?”

2. “Spinquark” A helpful reader sent me a link to this website, which purports to expose “big tech companies that don’t respect your privacy..that aren’t transparent and consistent in their algorithms and policies or who use their platforms as a type of privatized online government, a government without recourse or representation.” Continue reading