Well, Now We Know What Kind Of Bandleader The New “Tonight Show” Will Have…

"Welcome to the show, Congresswoman!"

“Welcome to the show, Congresswoman!”


Meanwhile, in the headline to the relevant excerpt from his autobiographical book,  Salon inaccurately quotes Questlove as blaming his victim, Rep. Michele Bachmann, for the fact that his uncivil, cowardly and disrespectful stunt nearly got him fired. Score one unethical headline for Salon. Questlove blames himself. He obviously feels no remorse for being unfair and disrespectful to Bachmann, but he doesn’t blame her.

I wrote about the incident when it occurred: Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Sen. John McCain

It’s good to have the old maverick doing what he does best.


Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota’s shame, used her oxymoronic presence on the House Intelligence Committee to argue in a June letter to the State Department and a letter this week to fellow Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison, that  Huma Abedin, the top aide of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, may be a security risk  because Abedin’s late father, mother, and brother had or have connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.  Abedin’s position, Bachmann suggested  ominously, ‘‘affords her routine access to the secretary and policy-making.’’ Her letter to Ellison was signed by  five other Republicans: Reps. Trent Franks of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Thomas Rooney of Florida and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia.

Sen McCain angrily took to the Senate floor to call this example of ethnic profiling and Muslim bigotry what it is: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Jimmy Fallon and The Roots

Why is this Be Unfair To Michele Bachmann Month? Because everybody knows when you don't agree with someone, its OK to be unfair to them..

Late night NBC talk show host Jimmy Fallon’s band, The Roots, has developed a habit of choosing “walk-on music” for Fallon’s guests that contain editorial comment on the guests themselves. The practice is not original, but the degree to which The Roots choose titles that are direct insults is, and it’s an unethical practice. Guests are guests, and playing the music of a song with lyrics that intentionally insult a guest is still atrocious manners, not made any less rude because only those who know the song get the message.

When Rep. Michele Bachmann came on Fallon’s show this week, the band played Fishbone’s “Lyin’ Ass Bitch.” Foul. In ethical terms, this is the equivalent of the band standing up and shouting insults at Bachmann on camera, except that it’s more cowardly. Bachmann didn’t know that she was being insulted, and it was a sure bet that she wouldn’t: I doubt anyone expects Fishbone to be on Michele’s playlist.

Kimmel’s band was proud of itself; Roots drummer Questlove alerted his followers  on Twitter before the ambush, tweeting:

   “Aight late night walkon song devotees: you love it when we snark: this next one takes the cake. ask around cause i aint tweeting title.”

Fallon owes Bachmann an apology, and The Roots need to have basic professionalism explained to them.

UPDATE: Fallon and Questlove both apologized over Twitter.

Unethical Quote of the Week: Rep. Michele Bachmann…Again

Bachmann doesn't kid about this.

“When you take the 9-9-9 plan and you turn it upside-down, the Devil’s in the details.”

—-Rep. Michele Bachmann, concluding her critique of rival Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” tax plan during the Bloomberg GOP presidential candidates’ debate.

Throughout her campaign, as she has throughout her political career, Rep. Michele Bachmann has been sending coded messages to her Evangelical Christian base, usually through Bible references that most Americans don’t recognize. But most of us have seen “The Omen.” When an Evangelical like Bachmann suggests, with a big smile of course, that a black Presidential rival named Cain is pushing a plan that becomes the Mark of the Beast when turned upside-down, she’s not joking….indeed, I have never seen any evidence that Michele Bachmann is capable of joking. Continue reading

Some Post Iowa Debate Ethics Awards

Other than the fact that both would look crazy on the cover of Newsweek, how is Humpty Dumpty like Michele Bachman?

The GOP pre-Iowa straw poll presidential debate last night earned a few ethics awards, with many more to come as we get to know these pretenders better:

Journalistic Integrity Award: Chris Wallace, Fox news anchor and questioner.

Wallace continues to bring legitimate and fair journalistic practices to his job, and gets accused of being biased anyway. Or, as in this case, (and as when he shocked Michele Bachmann by asking her directly what everyone was implying, “Are you a flake?”), conservatives who expect softballs from Fox react with indignation that an assumed ally is asking a tough question. Wallace asked Newt Gingrich about his flailing campaign organization, and Gingrich angrily called it a “gotcha” question. That’s not a “gotcha,” Newt, and you know it. When most of a candidate’s  campaign staff, those who know him  best, have indicated that they don’t think he has a chance—or perhaps shouldn’t have a chance—by jumping ship, it is fair and responsible to ask a candidate to explain. Continue reading

Dear Newsweek: We Can Figure Out That Michele Bachmann Is A Little Off Without The Crazy Photos, But Thanks For Your Concern.

Holy Crap!

When I put up yesterday’s post about Nancy Pelosi’s excessive and uncivil accusations about Republicans, I went searching for an appropriate photo. I found one that I came this close to using, because it was angry, like the quote, and just a little bit deranged-looking. (Pelosi has a lot of photos out there that make her look quite mad.) I didn’t use it. I decided it wasn’t fair.

Of course, I have to try to be fair; I’m an ethicist, and this is an ethics blog. Journalists, however, don’t…wait, aren’t they supposed to be fair too?

Not in Tina Brown’s book, or rather magazine. Newsweek made the choice to be the MSNBC of pulp even before Brown took over, and now it is officially shameless. Because Newsweek, like its almost as moribund rival Time, once was a respected journalistic enterprise, some of Newsweek’s now non-operable reputation for integrity remains. It can still do damage with its cheap tricks. That’s why its wild-eyed cover photo of Michele Bachman is so despicable. Continue reading

Dear God: Stop Calling!

We now have heard two pretenders for the Republican nomination, Rep. Michele Bachmann and unannounced tease Texas governor Rick Perry,suggest that they have been “called” to run for the White House. In other words, God told them to do it. Apart from the fact that this posits the existence of a rather disloyal and mischievous deity who enjoys starting fights among the faithful for the fun of it, a politician claiming to be endorsed by the Almighty is unsettling in many ways—so unsettling, in fact, that I  think the statement alone is grounds for disqualification for high office, since it strongly argues for a diagnosis of deranged.

Besides that, it is also unethical:

  • If not an indication of insanity, it shows dishonesty, and a frightening willingness to manipulate the gullible and trusting.
  • It is immodest and disrespectful to competitors, like baseball players saluting God after a home run, as if He decided to give a boost to his favorite player on his favorite team. (I have sometimes wondered why  players don’t make the same “Thanks, God!” gesture when a player on the opposing team gets injured on the field.) It takes a trivial and self-centered view of God to presume that the all-powerful creator of the universe has nothing better to do than to mess with the run spread in a baseball game, and only a slightly less trivial and self-centered attitude to believe that He is handicapping the GOP presidential field, and finds the other choices so flawed and sinful that He has to play kingmaker— just like with David in the old days. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Dunce: Rep. Michele Bachman”

Oh, how I LOVE LOVE LOVE this comment, from “ruralcounsel,” regarding my post about Michele Bachmann embarrassing herself, and not for the first time. Seldom does a commenter employ such shameless rationalizations and staples of intellectual dishonesty, and for his grand finale, he breaches one of the explicit Comment Policies by employing that all-purpose fallacy, “you’re just using ethics to go after political enemies.” I’m especially happy about the latter, because no one has accused me of being biased against the Right since “Ronbo.” I can’t hope for as much entertainment from ruralcounsel, but I am certainly grateful for this (Forgive me. I have to give interlinear commentary. I can’t resist): Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Rep. Michele Bachmann

Ah! Historical New Hampshire...

Rep. Michele Bachmann (D-Minn), Tea Party leader and potential presidential candidate, recently told a Manchester, New Hampshire crowd that she was in the state of “the shot heard ’round the world.” Ethics Foul. Minnesota disgrace. Congressional Disgrace. Tea Party disgrace. National disgrace.

U.S. educational system disgrace!

As most grade school children know (Some grade school children? Grade school children in New England, maybe? Please?), the source of that loud shot, the Battle of Concord (the Battle of Lexington was fought on the same day) was fought in Concord, Massachusetts, which, like Lexington, is a next door neighbor of my home town, Arlington, Massachusetts, known as Menotomy on April 18, 1775 —which, as Rep. Bachmann can tell you, was also the date of Phil Sheridan’s ride. Oops! I mean Paul Revere’s ride! Continue reading

Scalia’s Latest Controversy: Does An Appearance of Impropriety Have to Be Reasonable?

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is once again under critical fire for appearing to feed a conservative bias. He accepted G.O.P. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s invitation to address the Tea Party Caucus next month, as the group holds its first Conservative Constitutional Seminar. Some are claiming that the meeting is unethical, raising the specter of an “appearance of impropriety.” Continue reading