Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/29/18: ‘Infuriating Stuff I Wish I Didn’t Have To Know About Or Write About’ Edition

Screaming from mountain tops does no good, I know, but this is the life I have chosen…

Good Morning.

(My beautiful Christmas tree is drooping already, despite meticulous care. (Did you know that in Philadelphia it’s called a “Holiday Tree”? Did you know they had gone mad in Philadelphia?) I’ve had some last until February first. Not this one, I fear.)

1. Like most of the journalism establishment here, only less subtle about itDer Spiegel reporter Claas Relotius was exposed this month to be that publication’s version of Stephen Glass, a star journalist who just made stuff up. He, however, made stuff up to play to anti-Trump sentiments abroad, writing multiple stories to show how bigoted and backward the town of Fergus Falls, Minnesota was, explaining why it went for President Trump in the 2106 election.

The New York Times story on the hoax shows how Relotius could have accomplished the same mission using just spin, slanted framing and old fashioned bias. Read the thing: it just drips with thinly veiled contempt for Trump voters, and the President, of course. “The election results speak for themselves,” says the Times, knowing how the typical times reader will take that. The Times reporters reveal that the town isn’t full of racist yahoos as if that is news in itself.

2. Can’t let this pass, unfortunately. President Trump and first lady Melania Trump were taking calls from young children wondering about Santa’s whereabouts on Christmas Eve, as part of the NORAD Santa tracker (which I think is a waste of money no matter what it costs, and an example of the government being involved where it should not be), and had  this conversation  with 7-year-old Collman Lloyd which was videoed on both sides;

Collman told the President about the Santa visit preparations underway at the Lloyd household, saying “Probably put out some cookies and then we’re hanging out with our friends, so that’s pretty much all.”

The President: “Well that’s very good. You just have a good time.”

Collman: “Yes, sir.”

The President: “Are you still a believer in Santa?”

Collman: “Yes, sir.”

Trump: “Because at seven it’s marginal, right?” 

Collman: “Yes, sir.”

The trivial exchange triggered more Trump-bashing and a ridiculous amount of negative commentary. This approaches blind hate at a pathological level. The focus of the attacks were that the President’s “marginal” line supposedly destroyed the girl’s belief in Santa Clause. Ugh.

  • She later said that she had no idea what “marginal” meant. We  all know Trump can’t talk: this is Julie Principle territory. The only way one assumes that his intent was to shatter the girl’s innocent faith is if one thinks the President is a monster…which is what the news media wants the public to think.
  • If I had to guess, I would say that he was noting that not all of her friends did believe in Santa—which is, studies say, true. My son was a skeptic at 6. I. in contrast, believed in St. Nick until I was 28…
  • Collman also said that what the Evil Scrooge Trump said didn’t cause her not to believe in Santa, though this could be called moral luck.
  • Even at seven, a personal exchange with the President of the United States would have meant so much more to me than any dents in my Santa Claus beliefs that I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. Of course, when I was seven it was the norm that all citizens respected and honored the President, because that was whom our democracy chose to lead us.

Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: A Reporter At The Press Conference By Dr. Ronny Jackson,The President’s Personal Physician.

“Did you tell the current president about his predecessors’ exercise routine and does this president ask you about how he could follow his predecessors’ example to be as fit as Barack Obama was?”

Unidentified reporter at today’s press conference by Dr. Ronny Jackson regarding President Trump’s physical.

It doesn’t matter who this particular biased, incompetent, unethical journalist was. It is impossible for an objective individual—that is, one who is not totally  unhinged by the Trump Presidency like the “resistance” fanatic who told Nancy Pelosi  at her Q and A session over the weekend,

“The idea that we are going to put all our eggs in the basket of the 2018 midterm election is seriously delusional…[he is] “threatening the whole world with nuclear weapons, right, plundering our precious ecosystems, now opening up our coastline right now, accepting the fact that we are going to have a white supremacist in power for four years and Nancy Pelosi has said impeachment is off the table.”

—to have retained any respect for or trust the rotting profession that has so obviously abandoned all shreds of its traditional ethics. If the idiot who asked that question of Dr. Jackson was an outlier, or an imposter, or a performance artist, one could ignore it. But the assembled journalists didn’t laugh, or jeer. They probably all thought it was a fair question. It wasn’t. It showed that the news media’s absurd and crippling infatuation with Obama is still choking its collective brain by the stem.

Obama is a decade and a half younger than the President, so one possible answer to the query would be,  “I told him to find Doc Brown’s DeLorean.” There is also scant evidence that Obama was especially fit. Unlike Trump, the President was (and perhaps is still) a smoker. He used recreational drugs, and he uses alcohol, none of which are activities that Trump ever engaged in. Unlike Obama’s predecessor, President Bush, he was not a conspicuous exerciser. He was younger and thinner than Trump, that’s all, and his medical condition was as vaguely described to the public as Trump’s was. Based on family history, Trump is a good bet to live longer than Obama. “It’s called genetics,” Jackson said.  “Some people have great genes. I told the President if he had a healthier diet over the next 20 years, he might live to be 200 years old.”

The translation of the foolish question that I highlight today is, essentially, “We all like Obama much better than Trump. Why can’t be more like our idol?” That’s all. The news media should be embarrassed, but they are not.  In 2013, Barbara Walters told an interviewer regarding Obama, Continue reading

The Ohio State Fair Accident: Thanks, TV News, But I’LL Decide What I Should See

From ABC News:

Eighteen-year-old Tyler Jarrell, of Columbus, Ohio, was killed Wednesday evening when the Fire Ball ride he was on at the Ohio State Fair broke apart in mid-air, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said. Seven people were also injured in the incident…The victims were transported to local hospitals and at least three are in critical condition.

On all the news channels I saw, including CNN, HLN, ABC, Fox and CBS, video taken by an onlooker was frozen at the moment the ride broke apart. As HLN’s  cheery Robin Meade put it, “We’re not going to show the rest of the video, because it’s graphic and disturbing.”

Wait, Robin: YOU saw it. The producers saw it. Why don’t I get to see it?

I posted the unedited video above. It’s not any more graphic than this…

 

…and people paid to see that scene. But never mind, the silly hyper-protectiveness isn’t the ethics issue.

The ethics issue is that this is how journalists convince themselves  that they can withhold information, or distort it, change it or spin it for our own good. No, I don’t grant them that privilege, or the role. The job of the news media is to let us know what happened, as thoroughly as they know it. Today it’s some people flying off of a malfunctioning fair ride, yesterday it’s that a President of the U.S. might have raped someone. Tomorrow it might be, oh, I don’t know, this story, which had barely nicked the news networks as of yesterday.

I don’t trust these people to decide what it’s healthy for me to watch. If they want to give warnings, fine. I want the news, the whole news, and nothing but the news. Continue reading

Congratulations To New York Times Reporters Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman, Winners Of The First Ethics Alarms “Popeye”

 

Now and then I see or read about something that seems too trivial for a post, but it gnaws on me and torments me, and I worry that, like Lewis Black’s famous over-heard  “if it wasn’t for my horse, I wouldn’t have spent that year in college,” it will fester and eventually kill me.

 

 

I’m going to launch a new category for these things, the Popeye, in honor of the gruff spinach-eating sailor’s quote that signaled a fight was coming, “That’s all I can stands, cuz I can’t stands no more!”

This morning, while reading this story by Times reporters Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman about the President gratuitously attacking his own Attorney General, I read this sentence…

“But even if Mr. Sessions remains in his job, the relationship between him and Mr. Trump — the Alabama lawyer and the Queens real estate developer, an odd couple bound by a shared conviction that illegal immigration is destroying America — is unlikely to ever be the same, according to a half-dozen people close to Mr. Trump.”

Wait—when did Sessions or the President express the “conviction” that ” illegal immigration is destroying America”? I googled the phrase. Few references came up, but over half of those that weren’t quotes of this article came from pro-illegal immigrant sources, as their exaggerated characterization of what illegal immigration critics say or think. It is a false representation, explicitly designed to make such critics appear hysterical and foolish.  Continue reading

A GOP Candidate Wins A House Seat In Montana Despite Attacking A Reporter The Night Before The Election. What’s Going On Here?

Yesterday, in an Ethics Alarms post pointing out that nobody should vote a person who physically attacks reporters, or indeed, who attacks anybody, into Congress, I wrote,

What kind of person would vote for Gianforte after last night’s display? The kind of person who argues that character doesn’t matter in elected officials, only their positions.

And idiots, of course.

Candidate/Thug Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate, won the election nonetheless with over 50% of the votes. Rob Quist, the Democrat, received only 44%. Does this mean that over 50% of Montana voters are idiots? No, that wouldn’t be a fair conclusion. An estimated 60% of voters had turned in their ballots already, so the Gianforte voters in that batch weren’t necessarily idiots. (As I implied in the post yesterday, the advocates for voting before election day, thus allowing late-arriving information about the candidates—as in, “Hey! This guy is an unstable, volatile jerk with the judgment of a bar room goon!” to have minimal effect on  election results, have embraced an irresponsible, idiotic even, policy.)

Gianforte’s victory illuminate  other ethics issues, hwoever:

1. Addressing supporters in his victory speech, Gianforte apologized to the reporter he body-slammed, the journalists who witnessed the attack, and Montanans, saying “When you make a mistake you have to own up to it. That’s the Montana way.”

Ugh, yecchh, gag, petui!

If that’s the Montana way, why did Gianforte sit back and allow his campaign to blame the episode on the reporter? Remember, the statement from Gianforte’s staff, which is to say Gianforte,  said that the reporter,

“entered the [campaign] office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions….After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”

That isn’t owning up. That’s covering up, spinning and lying. Does the new Congressman’s apology mean that he acknowledges that his campaign was lying? When will he own up to that?  An apology now is cheap, cynical and meaningless, for Gianforte won, and Montana is stuck with him for two years.

2. A Montana TV station refused to inform its viewers that Gianforte had assaulted and battered a reporter. NBC affiliate KECI, recently purchased by the conservative media conglomerate Sinclair Broadcasting, adamantly kept the report of the attack and the audio of the incident,  arguing that “The person that tweeted [Jacobs] and was allegedly body slammed is a reporter for a politically biased publication.”  That “biased publication” was the Guardian, and the tweeter was Ben Jacobs, the victim. His account was confirmed by reporters from Fox News…you know, that liberal network that is always trying to make Republicans look bad. The anchor of the evening newscast, Laurel Staples, read a statement that said, in part, “NBC Montana takes pride in reporting only verifiable facts from an independent, reliable sources.”

 NBC News, including the Today show and affiliates across the country, played the audio of the altercation between Jacobs and Gianforte, who was charged with misdemeanor assault, indicating that reports of the episode were reliable. Continue reading

Incompetent POTENTIAL Elected Official Of The Month: Montana Republican Greg Gianforte, or, Ethics Verdict: Anyone Who Votes For This Guy Today Is Irresponsible, And Probably An Idiot”

First a classroom fist fight between teachers, and now this.

Last night Republican Greg Gianforte, in a close and closely watched contest with Democrat Rob Quist to fill the open, and only, Montana Congressional seat in today’s special election, snapped and attacked Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian. You can read the account of a witness (from Fox News) here, and the recording above seems to confirm it. The aspiringg statesman was charged with misdemeanor assault.

Good.

Three newspapers, this one, this one and this one, immediately withdrew their previous endorsements of the Republican in the race.

Good.

Good.

Good.

This passage from The Missoulian’s editorial this morning is a succinct summary: Continue reading

Weekend Ethics Alarms Challenge: What’s The Best Headline For This Story?

turning-tables

[The winning headline will be added to the post, and an appropriate graphic will replace “the turning table.”]

April Ryan, a reporter for American Urban Radio Networks,  accused White House aide Omarosa Manigault of telling her, during a tense exchange at the White House last week,
that Ryan  she was among a group of reporters on whom the White House is keeping dossiers with negative information. Ryan claimed that she was  “physically intimidated” by Manigault, and described Manigault’s behavior as threatening enough to be “Secret Serviceable,” implying  that it warranted intervention by law enforcement officers. The accusation was widely circulated on the web as an example of the President’s “Nazi” conduct toward the news media.

Manigault denied Ryan’s accusations, and called them “fake news.” Ah, but now we learn that a White House media employee recorded the encounter, and the recording backs up Omarosa.

Ryan, amusingly, is outraged and claiming to be a victim of a surreptitious  recording  she never consented to. “This is about her trying to smear my name. This is freaking Nixonian.” April says she may sue… for slander?

Here is one more example of how smug and self-righteous journalists are also often as ignorant as a pile of dog collars. Making such a recording is legal under D.C. law, which has a “one-party consent” law that recordings  if one person in the conversation consents. As for a slander suit, how would that work? The tape would be evidence that April Ryan slandered Manigault, not the other way around.

Ryan claims that the tape must have been altered. Sure she does. The Washington Post and other sources report that other journalists on the scene do not back Ryan’s account of the argument between the two women, and nobody heard anything about “dossiers.”

Manigault told reporters that White House media staff regularly record interviews between reporters and officials. “We do it all the time,” she said. “When you come into [the press staff’s offices], you’re on the record.”

When you know that the entire mainstream news media is out to get you, and that there are reporters like Ryan, taping everything makes perfect sense.

Nah, the news media isn’t “the opposition party.” Nah, it’s not biased–whatever would give you that idea?

(Kudos to the Washington Post for reporting this media bias smoking gun, incidentally.)

______________________

Pointer: Powerline

Source: Washington Post

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts, and seek written permission when appropriate. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work or property was used in any way without proper attribution, credit or permission, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.