Tag Archives: Sarah Palin

The Trustworthy New York Times, Whose Editors Don’t Read Their Own Paper

I was stunned when the New York Times, after a Bernie Sanders supporter engineered a sniper attack on a group of Republican Congressmen (Steve Scalise is still hospitalized) published an editorial including the “everybody does it” argument that Republican rheteric had activated madmen too, reminding readers that there had been a  “clear” and “direct” causal connection between Palin’s PAC’s “targeting” of Gabrielle Giffords’ district and Jared Loughner’s murder of six people in Tucson. How could they be dredging up this old smear again, after it had been so thoroughly debunked? It seemed like a desperate, vicious deflection.

The  theory had caused an extended and heated debate at the time of the Tucson attack, with left-biased media pundits, including the Times’ Paul Krugman and others, attempting to silence conservatives by arguing that their harsh “eliminationist rhetoric” had put Gifford in the crosshairs, literally. The Left’s prime scapegoats for the shootings were the most vocal conservative  critics  of President Obama and the Democrats at the time, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin.The smear was transparent and dishonest; eventually even President Obama rejected it in the best speech of his tenure as President. It was also quickly disproven by the facts. Loughner, if anything, was a progressive lunatic. His written rants suggested no influence by the Right at all, and certainly no indication that Palin’s use of a crosshairs graphic to indicate Democrats “targeted” for defeat at the ballot box had even been seen by the killer, much less set him on his murderous path.

The revived lie was taken down online within a day, though not before the Times’s rival for the title of  “Parper Most Willing To Devastate Its Reputation To Destroy Donald Trump” issued a merciless ‘factcheck.”  The falsehod was also put into print. Several lawyers suggested that Palin had grounds for a defamation lawsuit, even though, as a public figure, prevailing in a lawsuit would require her to prove “actual malice.” Palin did sue.  Sure enough, The Times is denying malice by arguing that it made an “honest mistake.” But how could it be an honest mistake, when the Times itself had published reporting that finally proved Loughner was no devotee of Palin or Limbaugh.

For the Times editors to claim they made an honest mistake, they must insist that they were unaware of what had been prominently published in their own newspaper, under their own oversight. Sure, that’s certainly the kind of professionalism, competence and care one expects from the flagship of American journalism. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/17/2017

1. If you haven’t yet read them, Steve-O-in NJ’s Comment of the Day on Chris’s brilliant Comment of the Day regarding ideological and partisan hate—plus Chris Bentley’s Comment of the Day on the same post, are all especially worth reading, not that all Comments of the Day by Ethics Alarms readers are not. I apologize for an unusually long intro to Steve’s post, but I had been holding on to a lot of related material from the day past on the topic, and it was either use them there or be redundant later. This meant putting Steve-O’s COTD after the jump, which is why I’m giving an extra plug to it now.

2. There were two significant criminal trial verdicts yesterday: the guilty verdict in the trial of  Michelle Carter, a Massachusetts woman charged with murder for using text messages to persuade her teenaged boyfriend to kill himself, and the acquittal of the Minnesota police officers who shot and killed black motorist Philandro Castile during a traffic stop. I’ll cover the Carter case later.

There were the obligatory riots after the verdict acquitting Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who fatally shot Castile in his car after he told the officer that he was carrying a legally registered firearm and then reached for his wallet to show the officer his license. This is just the latest cattle-car in the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck, the familiar pattern of a badly-trained cop, a dubious police stop, poor judgment by a victim, and a needless death. I would compare it to the Tamir Rice shooting in Cleveland, where the officers involved weren’t even indicted.

Why in the world would a motorist tell a cop in that situation—Castile had been officially stopped for a broken tail light, but in reality because he was black, and the officers thought he resembled a suspect in a crime who was also black—that he had a gun? This could be interpreted as a threat, and obviously Yanez saw it as one. The verdict looks wrong at a gut level, but it is easy to see how the jurors were thinking: they placed themselves in the officer’s position. They would have been in fear of their lives, so they couldn’t find a way to pronounce Yanez a murderer for doing what they could see themselves doing under similar circumstances. This was a legitimate case for reasonable doubt under the law. Police officers, however, are supposed to be less likely to panic than a typical juror. Castile is dead because of incompetent police work, but the criminal laws don’t allow different standards to be applied  for different occupations, not should they. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/14/17

1.  I am wrestling myself to the ground to avoid making any assumptions about the shooting this morning (about three miles from my home in Alexandria, Virginia) of two Republican Congressmen and an aide while the GOP baseball team was practicing for tomorrow’s annual Congressional baseball game for charity. When Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot (and a judge killed, among others) in Tucson, Arizona, the news media, pundits and Democrats leaped to blame Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh for so-called “eliminationist rhetoric,” defined in Palin’s case as using cross-hairs on an electoral map to indicate which Democrats could be defeated in 2012—you know, as in “he’s in my cross-hairs.” This was a transparent effort to stifle political speech. In 1995, when a Federal building in Oklahoma City was blown up in a domestic terrorist attack, “violent anti-government” rhetoric from the Right was also blamed, though there was no evidence that Timothy McVeigh would not have done exactly the same thing if political discourse had been all John Lennon and rainbows.

The Giffords explanation was cynical and contrived; the Oklahoma City response a bit less so, but in neither of those cases were violent imagery and hateful language (no party officials and member of Congress used “fuck” back then, late night TV hosts were largely apolitical and couldn’t call Presidents “cockholsters” without being fired, the “resistance” in 1995 consisted of fringe militia groups, not recent unsuccessful Presidential candidates with a large following, and nobody was giving standing ovations to Central Park theatrical productions showing a doppleganger of the President of the United States being assassinated. In other words, if Rush Limbaugh had held up a prop bloody head of Barack Obama prior to Giffords’ shooting, I would not have derided the critics who argued that irresponsible partisan rhetoric was at least part of the cause. But he didn’t. Nobody did. Nobody would have thought of doing so. Then.

So when my wife told me, the second I woke up, about the shooting this morning, my immediate thought was, “I wonder who the shooter is, an illegal immigrant, a Muslim, or a member of “the resistance?”  This was unfair, and I knew it. The shooter might have been, as it was in Tucson, a wacko. It might have been moral luck that it was the Republican baseball team that was attacked and not the Democrats, just as it was moral luck that nobody was killed. Continue reading

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Sexual Harassment, Victim Blaming, Toxic Corporate Cultures, President Trump’s Defense and Other Ethics Notes On Bill O’Reilly’s Fall (Part II))

The Ethics Alarms audit of the Bill O’Reilly canning by Fox (okay, technically it wasn’t a firing, but it was) continues…

9. One problem with the Left’s thinly veiled joy at getting O’Reilly is that it encourages the Right’s narrative that O’Reilly’s only crime was being conservative. Also not helping were President Trump’s interview statements about O’Reilly to the New York Times, in which he said in part,

“I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person… I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”

Stupid, stupid, stupid; irresponsible. Maybe two stupids and two irresponsibles. Do otherwise good people engage in sexual harassment? Of course: good people do bad things. But when a prominent individual says publicly that a sexual harasser is a good person, it sends a message that sexual harassment, like all abuse, doesn’t create a rebuttable presumption that someone is not a good person. Add to that Trump’s last statement, “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong,” and the toxic messaging is complete. Either that statement means that the President is, based on nothing, claiming that the allegations against O’Reilly are untrue, or worse, he is saying that there is nothing wrong with sexual harassment. Based on his infamous exchange with Bill Bush, there is good reason to believe that this is exactly what he means.

10. That interview, in turn, led inevitably to this fatuous and offensive article by conservative blogger Roger Simon. Sure, Roger, you dummy, O’Reilly did nothing wrong except support Donald Trump. Count the rationalizations in this piece of offal by one of the shimmering stars in the Pajama Media firmament of conservative thought-leaders.

The sad truth is the many conservatives—most?—really don’t think sexual harassment is a big deal. It is one of many ethics blind spots.

11. One conservative who lacks that blind spot—though she has lots of others—is Sarah Palin, who had this exchange yesterday with CNN’s Jake Tapper: Continue reading

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(PSSST! Bill Nye Fans? Honorary Degrees Aren’t Real Credentials…)

bill-nye-the-science-guy

I detest  stupid debates. In college I watched a local TV debate in Boston between Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the infamous atheist, and a local Catholic wacko known as Mrs. Warren, who talked like Chico Marx, on the topic of the existence of God. I finally called into the fiasco as “Jehovah” and got through the screeners for the program, which was called “Cracker Barrel. I used a cardboard toilet paper tube to make my voice sound unworldly as I assured O’Hair that Jehovah approved of her challenging the faithful, and would not turn her into a pillar of salt. O’Hair and the host thought it was funny. Warren said she would pray for me.

The upcoming debate between TV’s “Science Guy” and Sarah Palin over climate change is a good bet to be even more stupid than that debate, and for some of the same reasons. Like that debate, there is zero chance that anybody who is silly enough to bother watching will have their minds changed by what transpires because they, like Palin and Nye, already have their minds made up and facts have little to do with their points of view. Like the “Cracker Barrel” debate, it will really be about faith, what the adversaries want to think is true, and who they prefer to believe. Do either Sarah Palin or Bill Nye know what the world’s climate will be like in 100 years? No. Can either say with certainty that any particular policy measures will or will not have a salutary effect on conditions a hundred years from now? No.

It’s a stupid debate.

Nevertheless, only Palin is being mocked for participating in it, because Sarah Palin could cure cancer and the news media would mock her. It’s ridiculous for her to presume to debate anyone about climate change, but what about the fool who thinks its worth anything to debate her, whether he “wins” or not? It’s like mocking a Labrador retriever for having the hubris to debate John Kerry on U.S. foreign policy. What’s Kerry’s excuse? Continue reading

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Another Hoax News Site And A Vile One…Unethical Website Of The Month: NewsLo

NewsLo Caption: "Palin Posed with dead hog: 'I picked a black one so no one could say I was racist!'" Yes, your Democratic neighbor believes this crap, and is posting it on Facebook right now...

NewsLo Caption: “Palin Posed with dead hog: ‘I picked a black one so no one could say I was racist!'”
Yes, your Democratic neighbor believes this crap, and is posting it on Facebook right now…

I’ve got a lot of genuine ethics issues to write about, and I resent having to waste my time on this despicable hoax news site. But a lawyer and gentleman I very much respect just got fooled by a post there, and these vile hoax sites are apparently proliferating. They are designed to pollute the web with rumors and false information, relying on confirmation bias to make others look stupid, or best of all (in their warped view), get a legitimate news site to misinform its readers.

NewsLo’s gimmick is that it publishes fake news stories that include real stories within them, and readers can push buttons that say “Show Facts” (that will highlight the true portions of the fake posts) or “Hide Facts.”  All posts initially come up with the facts hidden, however, so the site is easy to misunderstand. The comments on the posts indicate that a lot of readers don’t push any buttons, which is just what the creeps who maintain this site hope for.

IF you go to the Home page, and IF you go down to the very bottom of that, then you will find an “ABOUT” link, where you will read: Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Unethical Websites

This Is David Letterman’s Final Week On CBS. Good.

I have a hard time laughing at awful people.

I have a hard time laughing at awful people.

I will not be shedding tears or watching while biting my lower lip as David Letterman, Late Night Fick and ethics corrupter, finally leaves the pop culture scene, one hopes forever. The testimonials and accolades in Letterman’s case are nauseating; CNN spent almost 20 minutes singing his praises this morning. Every other late night talk show icon—Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno—managed to finish their tenures without making American society meaner, more divided, and less ethical in the process. Not Dave. He rode his stardom and the initially refreshing irreverent comic instincts that created it to test the limits of the King’s Pass, doing and saying things that would have gotten less lucrative performers fired or suspended. In the process he corrupted his network, his audience and his nation’s culture.

The fact that Letterman is a misanthropic, bitter, angry man should not be a surprise, for almost all the great comics are, and it has ever been thus. “Milton was a miserable bastard. We all are,” Sid Caesar once said to a shocked Larry King as he was trying to coax out some kind words about Milton Berle, who had just died. Sid was undeniably right, but most comic manage to keep their vile behavior out of the spotlight until someone in his inner circle cashes in with a tell-all book. Not Letterman. He cheated on his live-in girlfriend with his current wife, then had a son with his mistress six years before he deigned to marry her. Once whimsical, he became a broadcast bully, neatly choosing victims whom he knew he could abuse without his liberal audience—a bit older and less vulgar than Bill Maher’s—holding him to standards of decency.

In 2009, Letterman noted that Sarah Palin attended a Yankees game during a recent trip to New York City. First Letterman referred to Palin, then Alaska’s governor, as having the style of a “slutty flight attendant,” then said,  “One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game…during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.” The daughter accompanying Palin was Willow Palin, then 14-years-old. Sarah Palin, among others, sharply criticized the late night host’s choice of targets. The next night, Letterman unconvincingly claimed that he was really attacking Bristol, Palin’s older daughter.

Oh, well that’s OK, then. If he had made a similar joke about Chelsea Clinton, CBS would have suspended Letterman so fast he wouldn’t have had time to say bye-bye to Paul Shaffer. It wasn’t until later, after NOW weighed in on the inappropriateness of Letterman’s joke, that he finally apologized to all involved. See, the National Organization for Women matter–they’re not conservatives. Or Republicans.

NOW was strangely quiet, however, when it was revealed later that year that the recently-married Dave was a serial sexual harasser and running his show and production company like his own personal harem. Among his conquests was Holly Hester, who announced that she and Letterman had engaged in a year-long “secret” affair in the early 1990s while she was his intern and a student at New York University.  The official explanation for why no discipline of Letterman was forthcoming was, believe it or not, that Worldwide Pants, Dave’s  appropriately-named production company, had no policies forbidding superiors from boinking their staff members, who depended on them for their career advancement and livelihood. Gee, I wonder why? Continue reading

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