Ethics Warm-Up: I Wish I Were Surprised, But I’m Not

NOW what?

Quite a bit, actually…

1. Res Ipsa Loquitur #1 The Democratic National Committee has barred Fox News from hosting its Presidential primary debates. I guess the Democrats don’t want any tough questions interfering with their efforts to rig the nomination this time around.

If there was ever better proof that the Democratic Party considers the mainstream media their captive allies, I don’t know what it would be. In 2016, Republicans subjected their candidates to outright hostile questioning from CBS and CNBC journalists, and Fox treated Donald Trump as roughly as a candidate can be treated in the Republican debates. I watched all the pre-nomination debates: Fox’s Neil Cavuto was among the very fairest of all panelists, and as Fox News has correctly said in its protest about the Democratic slur, Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, the proposed Fox News debate questioners, are at least as objective and professional as any Left-media journalists.

DNC Chair Tom Perez’s excuse for this blackball move is self-evidently dishonest: “Recent reporting in the New Yorker on the inappropriate relationship between President Trump, his administration and Fox News has led me to conclude that the network is not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates. Therefore, Fox News will not serve as a media partner for the 2020 Democratic primary debates.” Oh, the New Yorker says so! That settles it then!

The GOP didn’t pull out of the Vice-Presidential debates in 2008 even though the NPR’s debate moderator, Gwen Ifill, had her pro-Obama book sitting at her publisher  waiting for he candidate to win. CBS wasn’t barred from hosting debates, event though David Rhodes, then president of CBS News, is the brother of Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser. Meanwhile, Ben Sherwood, president of ABC News, is the brother of Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, an Obama  special assistant.  Claire Shipman, a national correspondent for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” was married to Jay Carney when he was President Obama’s press secretary. These were real, hard, conflicts of interest. The bias of the Fox News journalists is apparently based on the fact that they may run into Trump pal Sean Hannity in the lunch room.

The Democratic Party is prepared to do everything in its power to make sure the American public does not get properly informed regarding the character, skills and beliefs of its 2020 Presidential candidate, and is confident that every network but Fox can be depended upon to assist them in achieving that goal.

2. Almost certainly untrustworthy study of the week, but great for confirmation bias purposes:  According to an article in “The Atlantic,”  a survey conducted by the polling firm PredictWise that assembled a county-by-county index of American political intolerance  based on poll results determined that ” the most politically intolerant Americans… tend to be whiter, more highly educated, older, more urban, and more partisan themselves.”

That would explain the posts by my Facebook friends… Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/30/2017: Bad Tweets, Bad Rep., Bad Rap, Bad NBC…

Bad night, but…

Good Morning!

1 Straight to the top of the charts…When we put together the definitive list of President Trump’s Top Ten (Top 100? Top 1000?) stupid, undignified and self-wounding tweets, yesterday’s sequence of unsubstantiated videos–from a radical right wing British group— of alleged violence by Muslims has to be on the list. I could counter that the eruption of indignation by the vast majority of people who can comprehend what’s wrong with this is a bit annoying from the progressive side—the official Obama Administration position that Islam is a lovely religion of rainbows and unicorns and that Muhammad doesn’t instruct his followers from the grave that infidels are scum and deserve to die is far more dangerous than Trump’s hate-tweets—but that would obscure the key point. Trump’s retweeting is ugly, unnecessary, undignified, looks bigoted, and plays into the hands of the worst of his enemies, who express themselves like this.

Now we have to listen to that dishonest and contrived 25th Amendment garbage again, which never quite stopped anyway. Once again, the President has blown more wind into the sails of anti-democratic hypocrites like Ezra Klein, who argues for a Constitution and Separation of Powers-wrecking version of impeachment to get rid of Trump. No, Trump hasn’t gone crazy: he’s exactly the man we elected, and exactly as able to do his job as he ever was. Tweeting irresponsibly is not a high crime and misdemeanor. Being Donald Trump is not a high crime and misdemeanor.

But the President is playing with fire by encouraging the large political movement that would criminalize not agreeing with their world view. That’s as indefensible as it is idiotic.

2. This much is clear. It is now clear that NBC only fired Matt Lauer because an explosive Variety exposé was on the way, and it was a close call at that. It is pretty clear that the mystery of why NBC rejected journalist Ronan Farrow’s investigative reporting on Harvey Weinstein has been solved: NBC had its own lurking sexual misconduct cover-up to worry about. It is, or should be clear from Variety’s reporting that the astounding brazenness of Lauer’s conduct had to be common knowledge among Lauer’s colleagues and NBC executives, and that they unethically applied The King’s Pass, deliberately allowing Lauer to abuse and terrorize female employees, some of whom played along to get along. TMZ uncovered an old interview in which Katie Couric happily revealed that one consequence of working with Matt was that she got her butt pinched a lot. Nobody paid attention, in part because our pathetic news media buried it. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Month: Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH)

“It is a shame that anytime something goes wrong, they pick on women and minorities..All of the things they have disliked about things that have gone on in the administration, they have never called a male unqualified, not bright, not trustworthy. There is a clear sexism and racism that goes with these comments being made by unfortunately Sen. [John] McCain and others . . . How do you say that a person with Susan Rice’s background is not qualified? I wonder what your qualifications are for your job. Where did you finish in your class? You know, I know one of them finished in the bottom of their class. Susan Rice was a Rhodes scholar. How do you say a person like Susan Rice is not qualified?…I mean, Susan Rice’s comments didn’t send us to Iraq and Afghanistan. Somebody else’s did. But you’re not angry with them.”

—-Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), accusing GOP Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham, and Kelly Ayotte (a woman) of sexism and racism for their harsh criticism of UN Ambassador Susan Rice for her repeated assertion on multiple news shows that the Benghazi attack that killed the American ambassador in Libya was a spontaneous demonstration over a YouTube video after the Obama Administration had been told otherwise.

It must be comforting to be able to rationalize all criticism arising from your own conduct and to attribute it to the biases of your critics. Crippling, but comforting. If one cannot regard criticism as legitimate, then one can never assess one’s own mistakes and weaknesses and work to improve.

Fudge is one of the habitual race-card players in Congress: earlier this year, she accused the bi-partisan House ethics committee of racism because a disproportionate number of the Congressional Black Caucus’s members were under investigation. (This was, of course, because a disproportionate number of  the Congressional Black Caucus’s members, like Fudge, have engaged in dubious practices that indicate a weak grasp of ethics.) This time, she had lots of company, including Rep. James Clyburn (D-NC), who later said that the word “incompetent” was racist code. Brilliant! This means that no black public official can ever be called incompetent! Sure to be added to the code book if this theory sticks: inept, ineffective, corrupt, careless, irresponsible, and unqualified. Fudge, Clyburn and their colleagues propose to make legitimate criticism of black and female officials—those who are Democrats, that is—impossible, one word at a time. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.)

I know that Ethics Alarms has been a bit relentless regarding the accusations and the innuendos against Sarah Palin and others in the wake of the Arizona shooting, but it is an unusually widespread out-break of unfair conduct, and the Ethics Dunces are coming in waves, and from all sides and sectors.

We have a sheriff on the scene, Clarence Dupnik, who seems determined to create the assassin’s defense for him, by claiming, in the face of much evidence to the contrary, that he was driven to violence by inflammatory political rhetoric. Watch Loughner’s crack criminal defense team run with that. We have the nation’s supposedly premiere news source, the New York Times, running a revolting editorial describing Loughner’s attack as political, when this is clearly not true. (An excellent condemnation of the Times piece by James Taranto can and should be read here). Not to be outdone, Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.), the third-ranking House Democrat, took the same low road. Referencing defeated G.O.P. Senate candidate Sharron Angle’s justly criticized “Second Amendment solution” statement from the campaign (it probably, and justly, lost her the election), Clyburn tied it to Jared Loughner’s attack. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Nancy Pelosi

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is currently engaged in a demonstration of how the objectives of public service can become so distorted in the minds of those with power that they lose their ethical bearings completely.

By many standards of legislative success, Pelosi’s tenure as the leader of the House of Representatives has been a triumph. Nevertheless, she has become the face of the epic rejection of Democrats at all levels of government in the recent election. Her personal approval rating outside her native San Francisco hovers in single digits, and the Republicans successfully made “Fire Pelosi” a successful campaign slogan. Voters did fire Pelosi. Fairly of unfairly, she came to symbolize the arrogance of power, a contempt for the opinions of ordinary citizens, and runaway government. Like Harry Reid, her counterpart in the Senate, Pelosi’s talents lie in getting things done behind the scenes, not making herself look good in front of them. Now, with the country no longer mesmerized by Barack Obama and souring on the Democratic leadership and agenda, she needs to get off the stage.

But she refuses to go. Historically, most speakers whose party has been turned out of power accept responsibility for the defeat and allow new leadership to emerge. It is the logical course: only raw ego argues for anything else. Many believed that Pelosi would resign her seat and leave the House altogether. To the surprise of political observers, however, she announced that she would seek the post of Minority Leader, setting off a power struggle in her party. Current Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer, announced that he would seek the #2 power role of Minority Whip, pitting him against current whip James Clyburn,  and also pitting Democratic moderates, represented by Hoyer, against the influential African-American leadership in the party, represented by Clyburn.

Meanwhile, Republicans are rejoicing. Pelosi’s return will look like one more Democratic refusal to respect the will of the public, and the prospect of having the same leadership trio of Obama, Reid and Pelosi leading the party after its electoral dressing down seems like a dream come true.

Pelosi’s decision is bad for her party and her colleagues, who have been loyal to her. It is also bad for the country, even if one believes, as many do not, that her imperious leadership style is justified by the legislative success it produces for progressive policies. Washington and the public trust are being poisoned by anger, cynicism and partisanship, and Pelosi shares the blame for all three. The Democrats desperately need a new style and a new symbol in Congress, and most in and out of the Democratic Party know it.

Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to step aside places her own ego above the needs of public service and country, and is as blatant an example of power corrupting judgment as one can imagine. At a time when all ethical considerations argue for her to swallow her pride and let others take over, she is willing to jeopardize not only her party’s comity, unity and image but her own legislative achievements.

In politics, having one’s most dedicated adversaries  cheering your decision is a strong clue that you are missing something. In this case, what Nancy Pelosi is missing are accountability, humility, fairness, and common sense.