“Fredo” Ethics And Chris Cuomo

 

In case you too missed this enjoyable and revealing story, Chris Cuomo, the CNN anchor with a former New York governor father and a current New York governor brother,  erupted into a string of fucks and fuckings (I’ll fucking ruin your shit. I’ll fucking throw you down these stairs like a fucking punk!”), other insults, and also threatened  to throw a man down some stairs after he called Cuomo “Fredo.”

One of the lessons of this incident is that you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time when everything you do in public is likely to be captured by a smartphone. The fact that Cuomo, who works in the news media,  has yet to grasp that principle is one more bit of evidence in a long, long convincing chain that the nickname “Fredo” is apt.

The incompetence, arrogance, ignorance and bias of Cris Cuomo is what finally drove me away from CNN as my early morning news source. The horrible, smirking Carol Costello couldn’t do it, as openly partisan and obnoxious about it as she was. At least Carol had some apparent intelligence and arguable qualifications for being a newsreader. Cuomo’s “qualifications” are only that he’s what passes for beefcake in the news business, had a famous father and has a powerful brother. I would say that his law degree is a qualification, except that he has proven repeatedly that something funny was going on with that, because he has tweeted out and recited many howlers that no real lawyer or D+ law student would ever think, much less broadcast.

Here’s the Ethics Alarms Chis Cuomo file. Here are representative excerpts from my commentary on Cuomo’s various adventures in idiocy:

  • May29, 2019: “We know—there is no doubt about this, and Ethics Alarms has documented the fact—that Cuomo is really, truly, a dolt. He is the poster child for affirmative action for celebrity and politician offspring. An alleged lawyer, his every other reference to the law is incorrect. …He is the perfect example of that horrible species, the stupid person who thinks he’s smart. CNN keeps him employed because 1) he’s cute, 2) he seems to be a nice guy, and 3) he’s a typical knee-jerk progressive. Reading his twitter feed is profoundly depressing. He is at once glib, earnest, and incoherent.”
  • August 18, 2018: “CNN cannot be taken seriously as a news organization as long as it continues to employ Chris Cuomo. I have concluded that Cuomo was only admitted to law school because his father was a popular governor of New York. No other explanation makes sense. Even after allegedly completing his three years, he doesn’t comprehend basic law or the Constitution. He has, for example, advanced public ignorance by stating that “hate speech” is not protested under the First Amendment. On another occasion, he said that it would be illegal for citizens to read leaked classified material available on the web, but that journalists could read it and then tell the public about it. The man is an idiot. He constantly utters legal and logical nonsense, and with the certitude that only a true idiot can muster. As a journalist he is biased and sloppy; as a pundit he is pompous and unqualified.”

You get the idea. Apparently Rush Limbaugh has adopted the habit of referring to Chris Cuomo as “Fredo” as if that were really his name. That sounds like Rush. The man who was the target of Cuomo’s tirade swears that he really thought that was Cuomo’s name—he is a loyal Limbaugh listener—and tells Chris that on the video. I believe him; there are people named Alfredo who go by the nickname “Fredo”; I worked with one a long time ago. Obviously the “Godfather” movies have made the name less popular.  The claim still isn’t so farfetched,  and if Cuomo was the nice guy he’s supposed to be—I retract that statement, incidentally—he would have given the stranger the benefit of the doubt.

Even while blowing his top, Cuomo couldn’t avoid spreading disinformation—it’s what CNN journalists do, after all— claiming that “Fredo” was an ethnic slur, like calling an African-American a “nigger.” Right. When did THAT happen? I think Chris may believe this  so he doesn’t have to process the real reason he’s called “Fredo”—like the pathetic John Cazale character, he’s weak and stupid, doesn’t know it, and demands respect.

Poor Fredo. Poor Chris.

The outburst tells me that Chris is beset with feelings of inferiority from a lifetime of being compared to his father and brother, and “Fredo” strikes a nerve. Would any self-confident, genuinely competent and intelligent professional react so violently to being called “Fredo”? In my family, evoking Fredo and his “I’m smart!” lament is a running joke, and it’s funny because there are no Fredos among the Marshalls. (My mother’s family was another story…)

Some random points: Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 4/16/2019: The Wide, Wide World Of Ethics

1. Notre Dame fire ethics:  Michael West, whose rare (of late) comments are valued as pearls, offered a proposed poll regarding the proper response to the destruction of the ancient cathedral’s spire. Here it is, with a few tweaks from me:

At the risk of tainting the voting, I have a pretty strong opinion about this. The structure  should be left as it is. Did they repair the Great Sphinx’s nose? Did they cover up the crack in the Liberty Bell? Once a part of an ancient structure or monument us gone, it’s gone. Replacements and restorations are ersatz and deceptive. The fire is part of the cathedral’s history, and what remains should reflect it. There are far better—and more ethical– uses for the many millions it will take to restore the spire.

2. Thanks for all the kind comments in light of Ethics Alarms hitting two major milestones on the same day. In commemoration, the blog will launch a new series, Ethics Alarms Retrospective (EAR), focusing on one or more of the  10,000+ posts I have immodestly placed here, most of which even I have forgotten.

For the first installment of EAR,  I offer “The Unethical Humiliation of Sister Rita X”from August 10, 2010. The topic was Sean Hannity’s practice of allowing clearly deranged progressives to have extended exposure on his radio call-in show, so he could engage in cheap mockery with the implication that they are representative of the Left generally. The comments are especially fascinating, almost all of which were Hannity fans who concocted all manner of distortions and rationalizations to justify what was the equivalent of exploiting the mentally ill for laughs. Comment highlight? This:

Again- I don’t expect you to respond- because you already said you would cut this conversation off.
Again- typical lib.
And I have facts.
What have you got besides a hollow ideology and kool aid?

That’s me, all right: a typical lib! By the way, that (minor) post was shared 4 times on Facebook, where as the last several hundred or so have received none. Continue reading

Election Day Ethics Warm-Up, But Mostly What Yesterday’s Warm-Up Would Have Been If My Whole Day Hadn’t Spun Wildly Out Of Control…

Good Morning, Voters!

1. From the “bias makes you stupid” files. Yesterday two smart, once reasonable Massachusetts lawyers of the female persuasion debated me regarding the appropriateness of Dr. Blasey Ford’s late and unsubstantiated hit on Brett Kavanaugh. They were obnoxious about it, too, rolling their eyes and giggling to each other at my position, with one saying that I sounded like her “Southern friends.” I like them both, but a better example of how bias makes you stupid could hardly be devised. Their primary reason why Blasey Ford’s suddenly recalled trauma from the distant past should have been allowed to smear a qualified nominee for the Supreme Court in nationally televised hearings was this: women and girls in those les-enlightened days had good reason not to report rape and sexual assault, as they often were not believed and because a “boys will be boys” attitude prevailed in the culture. Moreover, they said, almost in unison, women still have good reasons not to report sexual assault. “Do you have daughters?” they asked, “gotcha!”-style.

To anyone whose ethics alarms are in good working order and who recognizes the difference between an emotional argument born of gender and partisan alliances and a good one, the rebuttal is obvious and comprises a general ethics principle:

One person’s misfortune, no matter how tragic or unjust, never justifies being unfair or unjust to somebody else.

Accusing anyone of anything three decades after the alleged incident is unfair.

Publicizing an allegation that cannot be verified and for which there is no supporting evidence is unfair.

Using alleged misconduct as a minor to impugn the character  of an adult and a professional with an unblemished record of good conduct is unfair.

Dispensing with a presumption of innocence under any circumstances is unfair.

Dispensing with due process under any circumstances is unfair, because due process is itself fairness. (The two lawyers kept saying that this was not a trail so due process was not involved. The argument is either disingenuous or ignorant. Due process just means procedural fairness, in any context.)

Punishing one individual male for the fact that other males have escaped accountability for sexual misconduct is unfair-–and illogical.

Giving special considerations to one individual female because other females have been unfairly treated regarding their allegations is unfair—and illogical.

The two female lawyers kept saying that my position is a conservative one. It is not. It is not an ideological position in any way, though their position certainly is. May they regain intellectual integrity soon. And I forgive them for being so utterly insulting during our debate.

2. This is essentially a Big Lie argument from Vox: Ezra Klein, Vox creator, tweeted,

I don’t think people are ready for the crisis that will follow if Democrats win the House popular vote but not the majority. After Kavanaugh, Trump, Garland, Citizens United, Bush v. Gore, etc, the party is on the edge of losing faith in the system (and reasonably so).

An esteemed commenter recently accused me of being unfairly dismissive and insulting when a commenter dissents. That’s occasionally true but not generally true, and one circumstance where I may become dismissive and insulting is when a position is indefensible, like this one. It is either dishonest or so obtuse that no one capable of writing it down should be trusted again. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “From The Ethics Alarms ‘Horrible People’ Files: The Vile Progressive Professor (Yes, Another One, and Yes, I Would Fire Her)”

More interesting musings on the proudly vicious Fresno State prof, who is the current poster model for many things: the ugliness of today’s political divide, the abuse of freedom of speech and academic freedom, and the arrogance of academia. I just realized that Randa qualifies as a fick, someone who “openly and blatantly violates social norms of responsibility, honesty or fairness without shame or remorse.”

Here is Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day on the post, From The Ethics Alarms “Horrible People” Files: The Vile Progressive Professor (Yes, Another One, and Yes, I Would Fire Her):

I’m seeing an absolute deluge of comments online rehashing the general theme of: “You free speech activists sure seem to discard your principles when it’s convenient.” And It’d like to take a moment to dissect that.

Before I get too far into these weeds, I want to make a distinction: I think the cleanest comparison between the left and the right on this issue would be the left’s protection of Randa Jarrar from firing, and a situation where the right protected someone who had invoked the ire of the left—let’s assume a Nazi. I don’t think there’s a large contingent of people lining up to say that employers should retain people who are openly anti-Semitic. There might be some, but I feel this would be the exception as opposed to the rule, and that these people would be warping the principle of free speech to things they shouldn’t. This means that almost by nature, the people saying variations of “You free speech activists sure seem to discard your principles when it’s convenient.” are almost certainly comparing apples to oranges.

But I think that those people don’t really understand the distinction that makes that true. Following that… Cast Iron Pot, meet Stainless Steel Kettle.  It would be great if just for once progressives actually lived up to their own ideals. If they believe, as they’ve been telling us for years now, that free speech has consequences, and they believe that this case is actually synonymous to all the other cases that they think prove the abject hypocrisy of the right, then by all means point out that hypocrisy, but do so in a way that doesn’t protect Jarrar… Because you’re admitting what she did wasn’t protected. Look, there’s a possibility that someone in any situation might be able to define a difference between two situations that you might not see. They might be wrong, but there could be at least a semblance of internal consistency, even if it’s flawed… If you think that this is the kind of situation that the free speechers would normally be defending but aren’t for partisan reasons, while simultaneously defending what you admit you would normally not specifically for partisan reasons, then you don’t even have the fig leaf of internal consistency and should hide your head in a sack. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/18/2018: The Bad, The Beautiful, And The Stupid

Good morning, everyone…

1. Tales of the King’s Pass. Fox News put out a statement saying that Sean Hannity had its “full support.” We can assume that means no punishment, no sanctions, not even any public regrets, despite the fact, and it is a fact, that the right-wing talk-show host-turned-Trump propagandist went on the air and defended Trump’s fixer, Michael Cohen, without mentioning the fact that Hannity was Cohen’s client. Thus Fox is announcing, in effect, that undisclosed conflicts of interest are just fine and dandy if your ratings are good enough. This also means that Fox News is admitting that it really doesn’t care about candor, honesty, and objectivity, since it will ignore blatant violations of all three if the profit is sufficient.

In fairness to Fox, Hannity’s blatant biases toward all things Trump are no more egregious than the open Obama bias displayed across the mainstream media’s full spectrum of journalists and pundits; it just stands out more because he has less company. However, this is a specific conflict of interest, with Hannity having undisclosed connections to a newsmaker that could reasonably affect his commentary. The closest parallel would be ABC’s George Stephanopoulos reporting on the Clinton Foundation’s dubious activities without telling viewers that he was a $75,000 donor. ABC didn’t discipline him, either, but at least he made a public apology on the air.

To make the King’s Pass case even stronger, after Politico reported this week that dinnertime news anchor Bret Baier played nine holes of golf with President Trump over the weekend, Fox News acknowledged that Baier was admonished by the president of the network.  I don’t agree with the reprimand at all. The opportunity to spend that kind of time with a President is invaluable, a rare opportunity to acquire insight and access over an extended period of time. The idea, I assume, is that it creates the illusion of chumminess. It’s a dumb illusion. If I were a journalist,  I would play golf with anyone if it allowed me to learn something. If I were president of a network, I’d reprimand a reporter for turning down such an opportunity.

2. The Virtue-Signaling Hall Of Fame. Starbucks is reacting to the PR nightmare arising out of the arrest of two black men for refusing to order anything while waiting for a companion in a Philadelphia Starbucks by a grand gesture: it will close all U.S. stores and corporate offices on the afternoon of May 29 for “employee racial bias training.” I suppose this is good crisis management, though cynical and non-substantive. It also permanently tars as a racist the Starbucks ex-manager, who says she was following a locale-specific company policy in an area that had experienced problems with loitering. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/17/2018: Blacklisting, Boycotts, And A Fox News Ethics Breach

Good Morning, all.

1 The blacklisting of R. Lee Ermey. Ermey, the ex-Marine turned actor who gained fame playing a Marine drill sergeant in “Full Metal Jacket,” died this week. I had thought he might already be dead, since I hadn’t seen him show up in movies or TV shows for quite a while. No, it appears that he was blackballed by Hollywood after he criticized President Obama in 2010, while he was being hired with some regularity. Speaking at a Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots rally, he said it was difficult to raise money for the charity because “the economy sucks” and went on to blame the Obama Administration, saying,

“We should all rise up, and we should stop this administration from what they’re doing because they’re destroying this country. They’re driving us into bankruptcy so that they can impose socialism on us, and that’s exactly what they’re doing, and I’m sick and damn tired of it and I know you are too.”

Ermey’s agent and the sudden reduction in his offers persuaded the tough Marine to beg for forgiveness with an abject apology for daring to critique Obama so harshly. Never mind:  His contract as a GEICO character was terminated, and the company removed Ermey’s commercial from their official YouTube channel. He later told interviewers that he had been blacklisted by Hollywood, and that he never had major film offer after he criticized Obama.

Observations:

a) I wonder when fair, decent, ethical Americans who believe in freedom of thought and expression will become sufficiently alarmed about progressives and Democrats using blacklists and boycotts  to enforce ideological conformity. This increasingly totalitarian end of the political spectrum needs to be informed that its ethics alarms are seriously malfunctioning.

b) Actors identified with products and companies cannot complain when they lose those jobs after making divisive political comments. If Ermey wanted to do commercials for anyone other than the NRA, his comments about Obama were just plain stupid.

c) As an actor in films, however, Ermey played villains and parodies of military characters.  His political views in those contexts should have been irrelevant, and certainly wouldn’t harm receipts for movies he was in. If he really was blacklisted, it was an act of punishment for refusing to accept the Hollywood community’s lockstep worship of a weak and divisive President.

d) In contrast, recall this public rant from actor Robert DeNiro in January regarding the current President of the United States:

“This fucking idiot is the President. It’s The Emperor’s New Clothes – the guy is a fucking fool. The publication of the Pentagon Papers was a proud moment for American journalism. The Times and the Post challenged the government over critical First Amendment issues. And the press prevailed. Our government today, with the propping-up of our baby-in-chief – the jerkoff-in-chief I call him – has put the press under siege, trying to discredit it through outrageous attacks and lies.’

I don’t think Bobby has lost any roles over this. To be fair, if there is a place where The King’s Pass, aka “The Star Syndrome,” rules supreme, it’s Hollywood. A major star like DeNiro obviously has more leeway than a narrow-range character actor like Ermey, and Ermey had to know that. Still, the double standard is striking. Continue reading

Sex! Denial! Confirmation Bias! Media Obama Protection! Betrayal! Assholes! Hannity! It’s “Spermgate,” The Ethics Controversy That Has Everything!

Is this a stupid story? It is worthy of Ethics Alarms’ time and attention? That’s a legitimate question well down the list of issues raised by “Spermgate”—my name for it, and I hope nobody else’s, because it is intentionally silly—regarding whether President Obama’s official portrait contains an intentional representation of a sperm cell, a trademark of the artist, Kehinde Wiley.

But to prematurely answer that question, yes, story is worthy of Ethics Alarms’ time and attention, because the related issues it cracks open for examination are more important than the specific story itself.

I was going to title this story “Stop making me defend Sean Hannity.” Hannity, whom I regard as a blight on multiple landscapes, including national ethics standards, was among the first to assert that the portrait of Obama included a sperm on his face. I heard about this third hand, and immediately concluded that this was just one more anti-Obama Hannity fantasy. And there we have it: bias, one of the themes of this whole episode. I don’t trust Sean Hannity, I don’t respect him, and I question his integrity and motives. As with all bias, the Cognitive Dissonance Scale immediately took over. Here it is again…

Hannity is down around  -10. For me, if he declared that chocolate wonderful, and chocolate was at +7 on my scale, his endorse ment would yank it down into negative territory. So I didn’t even bother to check out Hannity’s claims—after all, he’ll claim anything to embarrass Democrats.

Then I stumbled across a mocking piece in the Daily Kos, full of mockery regarding Hannity’s crazy claim and launching the (pretty funny) gag, “Oh the #spermhannity.” The article began with the assumption that Hannity’s claim was res ipsa loquitur ridiculous, and signature significance for an right wing idiot. I accepted this analysis, even though I have about tyhe same level of bias reagrding the Daily Kos that I do regarding Hannity. It seemed as if Hannity himself had doubts, because after the barrage of abuse and ridicule, he deleted his tweet and the article on his website about the  “inappropriate sexual innuendo” and the hidden image of sperm in the portrait. I was prepared to leave it at that, but decided to follow up this link on the Kos post:

“If you’re hoping for more explanation than that, you will not find it in the article, which is still available to read via cache. It moves on from there to note that the artist once sardonically used the phrase “kill whitey” in New York magazine profile, which at least has the virtue of being true, unlike the claim that he put sperm in his painting of Barack Obama, which is objectively not true.”

Through that link, I eventually found the close-up section of the portrait pictured above. Here is the portion of it at issue:

Anyone who says that it is objectively untrue that the section doesn’t include what might have been an intentional representation of a sperm is either lying or is in the throes of crippling confirmation bias and denial.  Of course that could be a sperm. Here are sperms…

Here’s that vein in Obama’s head again…

Continue reading