The Sixth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2014 (Part 3)

ellen-selfie

2014 Conflicts of Interest of the Year

  • Conflicted Elected Official: Philadelphia State Senator LeAnna Washington. This is always an entertaining category. Washington was convicted of using her tax-payer financed staff to organize a yearly campaign fundraiser around her birthday party. When one staffer complained that this was illegal, she reportedly replied, according to his grand jury testimony:

“I am the fucking senator, I do what the fuck I want, and ain’t nobody going to change me. I have been doing it like this for 17 years. So stop trying to change me.”

  • Conflicted Journalist: CNN sent Jay Carney, fresh off his assignment as President Obama’s official spokesman, defender and spinmeister, to cover his ex-boss’s speech.
  • Conflicted  “Non-partisan” Watchdog: CREW. The Center For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and its chief, Melanie Sloan, finally came clean (after falsely claiming non-profit status as a non-partisan organization for years) by making David Brock, head of the openly partisan, foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Republican media watchdog Media Matters its Chairman of the Board, essentially merging the two groups.
  • Appearance of Impropriety Award: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La), Republican Whip. It is not certain yet whether Scalise knowingly spoke to a group of white supremacists in 20o2, inadvertently spoke to the group, or just spoke to another group meeting in the same venue before the David Duke-affiliated group of racists started comparing sheets. It isn’t even clear that Scalise knows, but everyone should agree that it looks awful no matter how you categorize it, making the fiasco a classic appearance of impropriety situation. If the Republicans were smart, they would dump him.

Unethical Attire of the Year

Offensive shirt

This.

Unethical Political Candidate of the Year

Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, whose campaign materials were largely plagiarized from the materials other candidates.

Ethically Clueless Voters of the Year

New York’s 11th Congressional District, which contains Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. These alert and ethical citizens sent back to Washington thuggish and crooked Rep. Michael Grimm (R), then facing a 20-count indictment by federal authorities for fraud, federal tax evasion, and perjury, having earlier distinguished himself by threatening to kill a reporter and being recorded doing so.

  Unethical Advertising of the Year

Lawyer Division:

Public Service Announcement Division:

TV Program Division:

The Discovery Channel’s campaign for “Eaten Alive!” which did not, in fact, feature anyone being “eaten alive,” or at all.

Private Sector Product Division:

Halos. Or perhaps this is the Child Abuse Division:

Political Campaign Division:

Wendy Davis, Democratic candidate for Texas Governor, offered an ad attacking her wheelchair- bound opponent that 1) appealed to bias against the disabled 2) misrepresented the duties of a state attorney general 3) misrepresented the facts of the cases the ad referred to and  4)  deceived the public regarding the ethical duties of lawyers, which Davis, a lawyer, presumably understands. Continue reading

Selfie Ethics: Yes, Big Papi Exploited The President

Ortiz-Obama-Selfie.jpg

I wrote about this ethical breach when Ellen DeGeneris did it at the Oscars. The short version is this:

“It’s unethical to pretend that a selfie is a spontaneous  gesture of fun and friendship when you have a commercial agreement in place to use the photograph in a way that promotes the cell phone manufacturer.”

This is exploitation for commercial gain, and it’s wrong. It’s wrong when the victims are movie stars, and it’s wrong when the exploited party is President of the United States. Continue reading

Darling Ellen’s Deceptive Tweet For Samsung

Taken completely spontaneously using a

Taken completely spontaneously using a Galaxy S5 by Samsung. Get yours today!

Ellen DeGeneris is adorable, and as ideal a public face to place on the image of gay acceptance and same-sex marriage as you could concoct in a marketing strategy meeting. She’s funny, she’s friendly, she’s nice: to be threatened in any way by Ellen is to be the epitome of an irrational homophobe.. Her accumulated good  largely insulated her from the negative criticism she earned with a shockingly inept performance as this year’s host of the Academy Awards ceremony. She didn’t exactly make one long for Seth (“We saw your boobs!”) McFarland, last year’s oppressive MC,but watching her—any experienced performer could see the signs of a comic who knew she was bombing and had no idea what to do about it—was uncomfortable when it wasn’t deadly boring.

The one routine that seemed successful was DeGeneris’s successful effort to create the “most re-tweeted tweet of all time,” which she accomplished by dragooning Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lawrence  Lupita Nyong’o, Kevin Spacey and Jared Leto in to take a selfie with her. It garnered over 3 million retweets at last count. But it was a set-up. This was not just a fun party stunt with friends, which is how it was represented to the audience and indeed to the stars themselves. No, the selfie was part of a very pricey deal between the Academy and Samsung, which sells the recently enhanced Galaxy S5 Ellen used to take the picture.

From the Wall Street Journal: Continue reading