Rainy Day Ethics Puddles, 3/24/2021:

1 Shut up or be funny. For some reason, the fact that Monday’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers’ included a gratuitous and facile lecture by the host about gun control legislation was plastered all over the progressive news media as if he had begun speaking in tongues or channeling the ghost of Emily Dickinson. I hate to be a spoil sport, but who cares what Seth Myers thinks about gun control? He’s a comedian and a comedy writer, and has been nothing but since college. Again, he has no brief to lecture anyone on that topic: he has his job to be funny, and the show he hosts is, theoretically at least, a comedy show. Did Julia Child ever lecture her PBS audience about U.S. nuclear policy while explaining how to cook an omelette? No. Did Walter Cronkite ever break into knock-knock jokes during The CBS Evening News? Never. Did Andy Williams ever pause in the middle of “Moon River” to deliver his analysis of a Presidential campaign? Absolutely not.

Myers has a right to his opinion, as sophomoric and echo chamber-nourished as it may be (he was pimping for “common sense gun laws,” which is what people say when they have no idea what laws will stop the criminal use of guns, but want us to “do something”), but it is arrogant and presumptuous to perform a bait and switch on his audience, which doesn’t come to his show for public policy wisdom. If they do, he has an ethical obligation to make it clear that they shouldn’t. As far as I can tell, Myers knows zilch about law, guns, government, or the Constitution, yet he presumes to use a vehicle awarded to him only because of an alleged gift for topical humor (personally, I don’t see it) for political advocacy.

Be funny, get educated, run for office, or shut up, Seth. And incidentally, there are not mass shootings “three or four times a week” and never have been. In a single atypical week, there were two mass shootings, and no Constitutional gun laws are likely to have stopped either of them.

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As Expected, The Golden Globes Were Ethically Incoherent

It is not surprising that last night’s Golden Globes award, pre-hyped as some kind of virtuous purging of the old, bad Hollywood culture where men used their power to sexually abuse women, and women submitted–and stayed silent—to achieve power and wealth of their own, was self-contradictory, hypocritical and incoherent.

What, for example, did the all-black outfits mean? Here is B-list actress Amber Tamblyn trying to explain in the New York Times:

“We actresses are not just modeling clothing when we walk a red carpet on award show night. We are modeling a kind of behavior. We are speaking in a coded language to other women — even young girls — that says: The way I look and what I wear and how I wear it is the standard for women. What is being worn is not an exception. It is the rule. You must dress a certain way and look a certain way if you want to be valued as a woman, no matter what you do for a living or who you are. We never intend for this to be the message we are sending with what we wear, but often it is the perceived one, whether we like it or not…Tonight, you will see just such an experiment as myself and hundreds of women from the Time’s Up movement will reject colorful gowns for black ones on the Golden Globes’ red carpet and at related events across the country. Wearing black is not all we will be doing. We will be doing away with the old spoken codes in favor of communicating boldly and directly: What we are wearing is not a statement of fashion. It is a statement of action. It is a direct message of resistance. Black because we are powerful when we stand together with all women across industry lines. Black because we’re starting over, resetting the standard. Black because we’re done being silenced and we’re done with the silencers. Tonight is not a mourning. Tonight is an awakening.”

Oh. What? This is Authentic Frontier Gibberish. I sincerely doubt that what actresses wear on the red carpet has as much influence, or even close to it, on young women as what the actresses wear in films and TV. The black is a statement of action? What action? Resistance to what? Anyone who thinks that now, suddenly, a hundred years of a corrupt culture has been erased, and that if a message is sent by a male director, producer or star that an ambitious young actress can prevail over her competition by acceding to a date, a grope, or a night of sex, that won’t get essentially the same results it always has is naive. Tamblyn doesn’t think that, and I guarantee that  Meryl Streep doesn’t think that. This means that the all-black stunt was just grandstanding, and a mass deception upon the public.

If this was genuinely turning the page, why didn’t any of the actors—not one–mention Harvey Weinstein? They didn’t because they are afraid that he might come back, that’s why. Mel Gibson came back. David Begelman came back. Hollywood has a cruel, venal, ethics free,culture, and all of these women and actors know it. They won’t burn bridges, not completely. This is why Rose McGowan, who was the most vocal and audacious of the abused actresses, one who took grave personal risks to accuse Weinstein of raping her and then paying her off, as well as Ashley Judd and Salma Hayek, who both went public with the abuse before other stars felt secure enough to come forward–Hayek wrote that Weinstein threatened to have her killed —were completely ignored during the ceremony. Nobody saluted them. Nobody thanked them. Harvey might take it personally.

When host Seth Meyers, in his opening monologue, mentioned Weinstein, it was with this  jibe “Harvey Weinstein can’t be here tonight because, well, I’ve heard rumors that he’s crazy and difficult to work with.”  (That was an anti-Trump shot, of course) “But don’t worry — he’ll be back in 20 years when he becomes the first person ever booed during the ‘In Memoriam’ segment.”

The crowd, supposedly there explicitly rejecting the Weinstein culture,  moaned and booed. What bad taste for Myers! Imagine, being mean to a rapist! (“See Harvey? I didn’t laugh! Can I read for that part?”) Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/17/2017: Comey, Eminem,”Hustler”… And Cognitive Dissonance

ARRGH! I thought this was posted hours ago! Verizon is doing it to me again, going on and off every ten minutes. This is war.

 

Good Morning!

1 Nicely dovetailing with last night’s Ethics Alarms post, Christian Toto put his finger on the tragic and narcissistic delusions of Hollywood celebrities and athletes, without specifying what is really going on: a complete failure to comprehend the Cognitive Dissonance, and the perils of defying the scale. His post is called, “Celebrities make it official: Pick Trump or Us!”

He relates…

Eminem appeared at the BET Awards this week to do more than plug his new album. He unleashed a four-plus minute rap against President Trump…

That’s hardly worth a news item alone. Virtually every player at every level of the entertainment world is against this Commander-in-Chief. Trump…A few have wished him dead in colorful ways. Eminem didn’t go that far. Instead, he turned some of his ire against Trump towards those who support the president:

“And any fan of mine who’s a supporter of his

I’m drawing in the sand a line: you’re either for or against

And if you can’t decide who you like more and you’re split

On who you should stand beside, I’ll do it for you with this:

Fuck you!”

The next night, “Late Night host Seth Meyers praised the rapper’s “powerful” rant-rap, and then said:

“And I was inspired by that, so tonight, I say to any fans of this show who are also big fans of Donald Trump, it’s time to make a decision,” said Meyers. “Get off the fence. Do you support him or do you support this show, that constantly mocks and denigrates everything about him? I know it’s a tough call, but the time has come to make a decision. Now, I’m not much of a rapper, but here it goes. My name is Seth and I’m here to say, if you like Trump, then go away.”

Then Meyers ended by flashing his middle finger.

Nice. Also incredibly arrogant,  stupid and ignorant. Whatever Donald Trump’s status on the public’s cognitive dissonance scale

…was before November 8, it was a lot better after. The Presidency is high on the scale for the vast majority of Americans, because the Presidency, no matter who occupies it presently, carries the respect and prestige of all of the former Presidents, including Washington, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, and yes, Obama. That yanks a new President up the scale, and hard. Part of the assault on Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Washington and Madison by progressives consciously or unconsciously seeks to counter this effect by tearing down the office—yes, “the resistance” would destroy the institution of the Presidency to save it—, but it doesn’t matter. The power of the office can’t fall far enough or fast enough to pass Seth Myers or Eminem on the lower rungs. These ludicrously confused semi-celebrities, just like the NFL stars that most people couldn’t pick out of a line-up, really think choosing between them and the President, the flag and the United States of America—you see, that is the team—and their minuscule and trivial personas is an easy choice. It is, but not the choice they think. When Trump wrongly injected himself into the foolish NFL kneeling protests, the players actually believed that if they showed “solidarity,” NFL would choose them over the President of the United States.

Brilliant.

2.  Yesterday, the FBI confirmed that James Comey indeed drafted his July 5, 2016 statement declaring that Hillary Clinton’s official and classified email machinations did not quite violate the law two months before he made it, and before Clinton had even been interviewed on July 2, 2016.

I initially was inclined to give Comey the benefit of the doubt here, but especially following on the heels of  the FBI  “discovering” last week 30 pages of documents related to the strange 2016 tarmac meeting between former President Bill Clinton and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch while the investigation of Bill’s wife was at a critical stage, I have to revise my opinion. Before the election, Comey’s FBI denied that any such documents existed. Are serious people really going to keep claiming that the President firing Comey was “obstruction of justice”? Increasingly it looks as if Obama’s keeping him in office was a travesty of justice. Or Justice.

 

The release of Comey’s prescient draft confirms information that Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of that committee, disclosed in a letter to new FBI Director Christopher Wray in August.  The Senate Judiciary Committee is reviewing Comey’s conduct as director and President Donald Trump’s firing him in May.

Some analysts are defending Comey, but that seems to be an increasingly forced exercise. “To me, this is so far out of bounds it’s not even in the stadium,” Chris Swecker, who retired from the FBI in 2006 as assistant director for the criminal investigative division and acting executive assistant director for law enforcement services, told reporters. “That is just not how things operate…. It’s built in our DNA not to prejudge investigations, particularly from the top.” Ron Hosko, an assistant FBI director under Comey, said that while drafting statements is not unusual, having such drafts include conclusions regarding matters that have not been thoroughly investigated is:
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Ethics Dunce: “Late Night” Host Seth Meyers

meyers-giuliani

Seth Meyers is a comedy writer and performer, and his job, on the show following the Tonight Show, is to be funny, not to use the program as a platform for his political views. His predecessor twice-removed, David Letterman, increasingly ignored that line as time went on and he moved to CBS. This stratified his audience, and abused his role, but massaged Letterman’s massive ego. (Meyers’ immediate predecessor, current Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, may not always be funny, but he knows his place.) Meyers is relatively new to the job, and this week went much, much farther than Letterman ever went, while being supremely smug about it. Here were his hilarious comments last night:

MEYERS: So there were some incendiary and counterproductive responses to the tragedy in Dallas, but there were perhaps no worse response than that of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who complained, in perhaps the most galling and offensive way possible, that those peacefully protesting for police reform should shift their focus.

RUDY GIULIANI (on video): If I were a black father and I was concerned of my child, really concerned about it, and not in a politically activist sense, I would say, “be very respectful of the police. most of them are good. some can be very bad. and just be very careful.” I’d also say, ‘Be very careful of those kids in the neighborhood and don’t get involved with them, because son, there’s a 99% chance they’re going to kill you, not the police.’

MEYERS: Okay, first of all, don’t ever start a sentence with the phrase, “if I were a black father.” If you are black father, you don’t need to say it. And if you’re not, you should probably just shut the fuck up. And if Giuliani’s willing to say that some police can be very bad, you would think he’d see the value in the Black Lives Matter protests. But instead, he condemned them.

Observations: Continue reading

Guess Who Invited Donald Trump to the White House Correspondents Association Dinner?

OK, who's the wiseguy that brought the skunk to the picnic?

I missed it, but the Washington Post of April 28 revealed who it was that invited Donald Trump, fresh from a month of trying to make the President’s citizenship a campaign issue while denigrating Obama’s integrity, legitimacy, and honesty, to the annual light-hearted White House Correspondents Association dinner, where the President is always a featured “performer.” It was buried in the gossipy Style section, but there was the culprit. Who invited him?

The Washington Post invited him, that who.

Inviting Trump to that event is in approximately the same good taste as inviting blogger Pamela Geller to a Park51 (a.k.a. “the Ground Zero Mosque”) controversy, or allowing a group of “Truthers” to crash a testimonial to Dick Cheney.

What could the Post have been thinking? “He’s a fascinating figure to Washington right now!” the Post’s representative breathlessly explained on the 28th. We are to assume, then, that if the dinner was being held this week and Osama bin Laden hadn’t been dispatched (most respectfully, of course) to Davy Jones’ Locker, the Post might have invited Osama’s bullet-riddled corpse to slump at its table.

The Post was stirring the pot, is what it was doing, and that is not the media’s proper of ethical role. If the intention was to set up Trump, who had been called everything from a joke to a fool to a thug to a racist by various Post writers only days before, to be insulted to his face by host Seth Myers and the President, that is taking sides in the news rather than reporting it. If it the intent was to position volatile elements together in the hopes of sparking a story, that is unethical  journalism too.

The paper got both results that it presumably desired: Trump was a sitting duck at the dinner, and then he embarrassed himself by later complaining about the skewering he so richly deserved. It also, not for the first time, showed how rusty those old ethics alarms are at the offices of Washington, D.C.’s most prestigious newspaper.

[Thanks to sharp-eyed Post reader Robert Sher.]