Unethical Website Of The Month: HealthNews NJ.com

One of the most patently dishonest campaign tactics is for a candidate to put up a fake website purporting to report “news” that is really there to attack his or her political opponent. Who would do such a thing? Well, one good bet would be a U.S. Senator who already narrowly escaped conviction on bribery charges because his providing political favors to a “friend” who showered him with gifts could be proven to result from a quid pro quo arrangement.

Sure enough, the new website HealthNewsNJ.com, with the exception of a tiny-print disclosure at the bottom of its home page does all it can to convince readers that it is an independent news site.  In reality, it is a campaign-run hit site put up by the campaign of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) to attack his opponent, Bob Hugin, the former CEO of the pharmaceutical company Celgene. A typical post on the website, which runs below a byline crediting it to “HealthNewsNJ Staff,” is titled: “How greedy drug company CEO Bob Hugin gouged cancer patients and enabled Donald Trump.” On Facebook, the site’s page calls itself  a “news and media website.”  Neither it nor the HealthNewsNJ  Twitter account mentions a tie to Menendez or his campaign.

Putting up a fake website like this is signature significance. Menendez is willing to deceive the public. He’s a liar, by definition. He cannot be trusted.

Luckily for him, he’s running in New Jersey, so it probably won’t matter.

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/16/2017: SNL, NFL, Collusion, Gossip, And Bribery

Good Morning.

1 Why am I only now getting around to today’s Warm-Up? It is because I spent more than 8 hours over the weekend, and three hours this morning, writing a Motion to Dismiss in response to a ridiculous, retaliatory, vindictive lawsuit by a pro se litigant with a grudge. The complaint has no legal cites, because no legal authority supports its claims. I, however, have to cite cases to show why the Complaint is completely without merit. Since the Complaint is a brain-rotting 18 pages, I have to carefully redact it to have a prayer of meeting the 20 page limit for motions. Even then, there is no guarantee that this won’t drag on for months.

No penalty will be exacted on the plaintiff for filing this spurious and groundless law suit. To do so would chill the right of citizens to seek justice and redress for wrongs through the courts. Thus the underlying objective of the suit will be accomplished: to force me to expend time and effort that I have far better uses for. Ethics Alarms readers are affected, my family is effected, my work is affected, my enjoyment of life is affected, and, of course, the system and the taxpayers who fund it are affected. This is an abuse of the system, but one that cannot and must not be impeded.

2. Does anyone have a theory about why the bribery trial of Democratic Senator Bob Menendez has received minimal mainstream media coverage that does not show bias? When Abscam was going on, the trials of the various members of Congress caught in a bribery sting were front page, Evening News headlines for weeks. The only U.S. Senator tried (and convicted) was a Democrat Harrison Williams. Has the news media become that much more partisan since the Reagan Administration?

3. As expected, exiled NFL kneeler (first) and quarterback (second) Colin Kaepernick has filed a grievance accusing NFL teams of colluding to prevent him from getting a contract with any team this season.

We’ve been here before. This is the Barry Bonds scenario all over again. Bonds, the definitive ethics corrupter in Major League Baseball and a flagrant steroid cheat and liar, was not resigned by the San Francisco Giants after the 2007 season. He was 42, but his season had been productive, with a 1.o45 OPS, close to the best in the game. I wrote an article for The Hardball Times arguing that Bonds would not be signed, because doing so would permanently scar any team that accepted him, injure the team’s culture, corrupt its young players, and wound baseball itself. The invective hurled at me and my article by sportswriters and readers was unrelenting. ESPN’s Keith Law said that my essay made anyone who read it stupid. MLB’s satellite channel’s hosts laughed about the idea that teams cared about such matters as integrity. Bonds, however, was not signed, and never played again. While he and his defenders claimed collusion among the owners, no evidence appeared. Continue reading

Unethical Trio: An Ambush, An Incompetent Diagnosis, and Partisan Journalist Hackery

Doctors and Kurtz

There were three notable unethical performances last week from professionals who should know better:

I. Dr. Benjamin Carson, neurosurgeon. Carson was invited to give the keynote speech at the National Prayer Breakfast (don’t get me started about why there even is a National Prayer Breakfast, and why the President should feel obligated to attend it) last week and turned what is traditionally understood to be a non-partisan, non-political speech into a direct attack, without explicitly designating it as such, on President Obama’s policies. Yes, it was a well-written, well-reasoned and well-delivered speech, but it was an ambush. Many conservatives were pleased to have President Obama  subjected to an articulate complaint that “spoke truth to power,” yet the objectives and specific content of the speech doesn’t matter: that wasn’t what Carson was invited to do, and it wasn’t what he should have done. Dr. Carson has subsequently justified his actions in self-congratulatory terms as an act of courage, but in reality it was an instance of a citizen seizing an opportunity to grab national attention and a prominent soapbox that weren’t his to grab. His actions made the President of the United States a captive audience to his amateur analysis of national affairs. It was disrespectful, and because it was given under false pretenses, dishonest. Continue reading

Ethics Check: Sen. Bob Menendez’s Dominican Republic Sex Scandal

“…and how could you see him with that gray thing covering your face?”

The Daily Caller is breathlessly promoting this as a sex scandal, so I should let it speak for itself:

“Two women from the Dominican Republic told The Daily Caller that Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez paid them for sex earlier this year.
In interviews, the two women said they met Menendez around Easter at Casa de Campo, an expensive 7,000 acre resort in the Dominican Republic. They claimed Menendez agreed to pay them $500 for sex acts, but in the end they each received only $100.”

Assuming that the story is accurate, which we cannot know at this point (if ever), what does it signify regarding Menendez’s fitness to be a U.S. Senator? Well, he didn’t break any laws: prostitution is legal in the Dominican Republic. The Senator wasn’t betraying his wife: he is divorced.

The incident reflects badly upon his character if, as the women allege, he agreed to pay them one fee and stiffed them (poor choice of words, sorry) cheated them by paying them less, with a “take it or leave it, I’m a U.S. Senator” brush-off. That’s truly unethical and mean behavior, and would demonstrate actual contempt for women (as opposed to much of what Menendez’s party has been labeling as such this election season) as well as a penchant for abusing power and breaking his word.

However, the Senator could also be a victim of some women seeking a pay-off after a commercial dispute, or a failed shakedown. Given the uncertainty, I don’t believe it’s fair for this incident to hurt Sen. Menendez’s standing with his constituents or the public, and The Daily Caller was wrong to publicize it.
_____________________________

Facts: Daily Caller

Graphic: Daily Caller

More on Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut’s Lying Attorney General

Now that we know a little bit more about Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut Attorney General whose pursuit of a U.S. Senate seat has him periodically masquerading as a Vietnam War veteran, it is clear that simply defeating him at the polls isn’t enough. He should be impeached as Attorney General, and deserves professional discipline from the Connecticut Bar as well. Why? Well, he’s an unrepentant serial liar on a grand scale. Lawyers, including Attorney Generals, are prohibited from engaging in dishonesty, misrepresentation, fraud and deceit, and it is professional misconduct when this rises to a level that calls a lawyer’s trustworthiness and fitness to practice law into question. Does pretending to have credentials, especially military combat experience, that you do not have in order to get a job reach this level?

Of course it does. Continue reading