Tag Archives: signature significance

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/18/17: (Part One) The Frankenmedia

Wait, how does that go again? What is it that “dies in darkness”?

Good morning (or, as I first typed it, “good monging”), everyone!

1 CNN’s walking, talking, “mistake…CNN’s alleged ethics watchdog, Brian Stelter, is really an embarrassment. He sees his job as defending the news media, not making its conduct better through objective criticism. He especially works up a sweat defending CNN, perhaps the most rooutinely unethical of all…but then, CNN pays his salary, the fools. He’s useless.

In a podcast,, both he and CNN token conservative S.E. Cupp blamed the mean conservative media and commentators unfairly dwelling on “mistakes” to undermine public trust in journalism.  See Rationalization #19. The Perfection Diversion: “Nobody’s Perfect!” or “Everybody makes mistakes!”

This is a legitimate defense if, in fact, an individual has been accused of not being perfect.  Usually, however, it is an attempt to minimize the significance of genuine misconduct. When an act suggests that more than an honest mistake or single instance of bad judgment was involved, and that an individual’s conduct indicates a broader lack of character or ethical sensitivity, “Nobody’s perfect!” and “Everybody makes mistakes!” are not only inappropriate and irrelevant, but are presumptively efforts to change the subject. The fact that nobody is perfect does not mean that it isn’t necessary and appropriate to point out unethical conduct when it occurs. It also does not argue for failing to make reasonable assumptions about the ethical instincts of the actor if and when the unethical nature of conduct strongly suggests that it is not an aberration, but a symptom.

Though nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, we are all still accountable for the mistakes we make.

It’s not a mistake when CNN shows itself to be blatantly biased, it’s dishonest and a breach of integrity. It’s not a mistake when CBS, ABC and NBC refuse to report a Democratic Senator’s trial for bribery  until  it ends in a mistrial, its deliberate refusal to report the news. (CBS recently devoted 45 second to the President drinking from a water bottle.) It’s not a mistake when NBC reinstated a news anchor (Brian Williams) who was shown to have lied repeatedly, its contempt for journalism, and irresponsible. It’s not a mistake when ABC ignores basic conflict of interest principles to allow former Clinton staffer and current Clinton Foundation donor George Stephanopoulos to interview both Hillary Clinton (nice, easy interview)and the author of a book criticizing her (hostile interview), it’s incompetent journalism. Etc, meaning I could go on for, oh, 50,000 words or so without having to check my notes.

The fact that CNN lets an unqualified dolt like Stelter talk about ethics isn’t a mistake either.

When mistakes—and fake news, the description of misconceptions as facts, and bias-driven choices regarding which stories to cover and which to bury are not mistakes—by professionals reach a critical mass, they implicate trust.

2. Like THIS mistake, for example…Here, courtesy of Newsbusters, is veteran CNN journalist Gloria Borger spinning for Al Franken:

Borger …immediately went into spin mode by downplaying the fallout, stating that KABC radio host Leann Tweeden “did not call for him to step down or say he ought to step down” and didn’t render an opinion upon being told an investigation had been launched.

Gloria really needs to 1) read Ethics Alarms and 2) take Ethics 101. What a victim chooses to say about an unethical act that harmed her doesn’t alter the seriousness of the act in any way.

From there, Borger continued proving this segment as one of political tribalism, declaring that what matters most is “the context in which all of this occurring, which is Moore — Judge Moore — and that has been, you know, brewing and percolating, whatever you want to say, for days and days and days.” 

In other words, “Look over there!” This is also Ethics 1o1 stuff: Whether the conduct of individual A is better or worse, the unrelated conduct of individual B must be judged on its own ethics breaches. Borgia is appealing to Rationalization #22, “It’s not the worst thing.” (This is also the current favorite of my Facebook friends, who are embarrassing themselves. At least they aren’t posing as journalists.) Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: Bill Maher, As Usual

Bill Maher, the star of HBO’s “Real Time,” was hosting comedian Joy Behar of “The View” to talk about her new book when they got on the subject of Bill O’Reilly and his  $32 million settlement of a single sexual harassment claim.

Maher observed that many of the recent powerful men of Hollywood accused of sexual abuse always seem to be married.  Behar expressed puzzlement regarding why that was.

Now, I could answer that question for Joy, as could anyone else smarter than she is, which is to say, almost anyone. Joy, you will recall, earlier this month excused sexual harassment by progressives like Weinstein over harassers like Bill O’Reilly because, she said, at least the liberals weren’t hypocrites. (She didn’t explain the pro-feminist/misogyny contradiction, but then Joy is, as I just noted, an idiot.)

Rich and powerful men are almost always older, usually middle-aged, in Hollywood, and everywhere else for that matter. See, Joy, it takes a while to become rich and famous. Nobody heard of you when you were 25 either, and let me tell you, I was much happier then.

The older a man is, the more likely he is to be rich and powerful—sexual harassment doesn’t require power, but power inequity helps—and also he is more likely to be married, especially in Hollywood, where executives  start wondering whether you are gay if you aren’t married and 40. Not that they care if you are gay—after all, more than 50% of Hollywood men probably are— but they care if the public cares, because then you won’t be as marhetable as a romantic lead. Thus even gay middle aged men are usually married by the time they are powers in Hollywood. This has been true since the 1920s.

Another reason is that it takes a while to accumulate hundreds of victims, as in the case of  James Toback.

Maher, however, had a different, if predictable, answer:

“Because they have shitty sex lives.”

Oh, was that a joke, Bill? Hilarious! Except Bill wasn’t joking. He’s a well-documented misogynist, not that this would stop a hypocritical feminist dimwit like Behar from sucking up to him since he is on the right side of history, and Maher has always made it clear that he thinks marriage is for chumps. Maher defended Bill Clinton’s sexual harassing/assaulting ways by arguing that he “earned it,” and has extolled his own lifestyle as a play-the-field, aging bachelor like Sam Malone on “Cheers” as Man Heaven. It should surprise no one that Bill  believes that if married women were good little submissive spouses and eagerly cheered while their fat, disgusting husbands masturbated in front of them like Weinstein or humped their leg like James Toback, men wouldn’t have to force young women looking for jobs to do it instead. Continue reading

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I Hate To Say This, And Believe Me, I REALLY Hate To Say This, But The More I Read Of “What Happened” And The More I Hear Hillary Spin Her Defeat, The Less Upset I Am That Trump Is President

Exhibit A:

Yes, Hillary Clinton thinks the lesson of Orwell’s “1984” is that the public needs to rely on leaders, the news media and “experts.”

This would have exploded my head, thus earning a KABOOM! tag, if it was much of surprise. There is no benign reading of this passage, which was presumably either written by Clinton or approved by her, as well as by editors who one would assume had her interests in mind. Hillary is saying that it is authoritarian to try to define reality, and that the public should trust the government, leaders, the press and approved experts to define reality.  Their authoritarianism is evil; OUR authoritarianism is good, because, of course, we are right. Hillary Clinton thinks this way. She just told us, if we didn’t know already.

Terrifying.

Or, perhaps, “Whew! That was a close one!”

This is, as readers of Ethics Alarms will recall, the reason I ultimately abandoned my decision to vote for Clinton as the horrible but obviously better candidate than Donald Trump. I realized that Hillary and her party now embodies exactly this anti-democratic and creepily (and creeping) totalitarian mindset. We know what’s best; we are manipulating the news, facts, and public opinion (and the nomination, debates, statistics, FBI investigations, the Constitution, Senate procedures, IRS policies, whether Benghazi was caused by a YouTube video…) for your own good, so trust us; when they do it, it’s wrong and sinister, but when we do it, it’s gooooood… Continue reading

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“U.S. Race Relations Have Finally Reached The Point Where They Make No Sense Whatsoever” Sunday #2: The Ol’ Miss Banana Peel Saga

Honestly, I thought this was a hoax story. I still hope it might be, and if it isn’t, it should be. If it is true, the episode all by itself is signature significance proving that the U.S. race problem has turned into cultural insanity.

Last weekend, leaders from the University of Mississippi’s Greek Life group held  a three-day at Camp Hopewell in Lafayette County, designed to “build leaders and bring the campus closer together.” It went spectacular wrong as a result of a banana peel. It really did.

The group included student members of the Panhellenic Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council. The retreat was organized by Fraternity and Sorority Life and the national group IMPACT,  a campus-based leadership institute designed to foster improved relationships among campus leaders through such events. Saturday morning, the participants ate breakfast together, and the breakfast options included various fruit, including bananas. Breakfast was followed by a discussion session on race relations at Ole Miss.

Shortly thereafter, three students noticed a banana peel in a tree. This was taken as intentional racist symbolism. and the rest of the day was occupied by heated debate regarded racist symbols. Senior accounting major Ryan Swanson eventually stood up and admitted that he put the banana peel in the tree when he could not find a trash receptacle nearby.

[Aside: I once did exactly the same thing on a Boy Scout hike.]

Never mind. It didn’t matter that this was not a racist act. The banana peel continued to be the focus of intense debate.  Like a good social justice patsy, Swanson fell on his sword. “I want to sincerely apologize for the events that took place this past weekend,” Swanson told the college paper afterwards. “Although unintentional, there is no excuse for the pain that was caused to members of our community.” Continue reading

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Ethics Quote Of The Day AND Incompetent Elected Official Of the Month, Plus KABOOM! and “ARGHHHHHH!” : Rep. Nancy Pelosi

“The Constitution does not say that a person can yell ‘wolf’ in a crowded theater. If you are endangering people, you don’t have a constitutional right to do that.”

—-Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi in an interview with KRON4’s Pam Moore, as the party leader explained why she believed that alt-right advocates should not have the benefits of freedom of speech and assembly.

Observations:

  • This is a classic. Biff and his various incarnations in the “Back to the Future” trilogy must be kicking themselves.  They said,

 “Eight o’clock Monday, runt. If you ain’t here, I’ll hunt you and shoot you down like a duck.”
(“Mad Dog” Tannen’s Gang Member : “It’s “dog”, Buford. Shoot him down like a dog.“)

and

“Why don’t you make like a tree and get outta here?

and

“I’m not one to look a gift horse in the butt.”

and

“It’s time to race the music.”

and  Biff’s great-great-grandson Ziff Tannen said,

 “I’m going to make like a banana and skedaddle!”

And more. But “crying wolf in a crowded theater” is funnier—and dumber— than any of them. Continue reading

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Welcome To Incompetent Leadership And Toxic Management: President Trump’s Jeff Sessions Attack

I detest bad leadership. I’ve studied leaders since I was 11, and studied management since I was 19. Incompetent leadership and inept management cripples business, the arts, sports, education, government, civilization, the world. I seldom see as horrible an example of both as in the case of President Trump’s verbal tirades against his own Attorney General,Jeff Sessions, first to Republican Senators at a White House dinner on this week,  and later in an interview with the New York Times. Sessions responded to his boss’s disgraceful behavior by saying that he intended to serve “as long as that is appropriate.”

The only reason it would be appropriate for anyone to work for a leader, executive, manager or supervisor who treats subordinates this was is patriotism. The nation has to be managed; the government has to function. Other than that, no one with honor, self-respect or a sense of responsibility should voluntarily subject themselves to the kind of abuse this President offers.  Reportedly the President insists on loyalty, but loyalty has to be minimally reciprocal. Criticizing a subordinate in public, as with the press, or in private, behind that subordinate’s back, is the equivalent of sin for any leader. It is cowardly. It’s unfair and disrespectful.  It is irresponsible, incompetent and stupid, stupid stupid. Continue reading

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The New York Times’ Smoking Gun Op-Ed

Robert Leonard is the news director for the radio stations KNIA/KRLS. He wrote a jaw-dropping op-ed yesterday, one that only could be written and voluntarily made public by someone completely committed to the idea that the news media should decide what the public thinks, and who should run the government. That the New York Times would publish this unethical, biased and anti-democratic screed is signature significance. If the Times editors had any respect for the nation’s democratic processes or the proper boundaries of journalism, it would have regarded the column as risible and an embarrassment to its profession. Instead, the Times published Leonard’s piece in the prime left-hand column of its op-ed page.

Let’s begin with the creepy headline: “Want to Get Rid of Trump? Only Fox News Can Do It.”

No, you arrogant jerk, only democratic elections can “do it.” The entire premise of Leonard’s essay, and it is the premise that the mainstream media now believes, though won’t admit, is that journalists have the power and the obligation to take down a government they don’t approve of. That is what it is trying to do, and that is what the Times is trying to do in concert with the rest. If this was not the case, the Times would not allow such an incendiary headline in its paper.

The op-ed begins with a lie, at least a lie by the kinds of standards applied by the Times in assessing what constitutes “lying” by the President:

“President Trump’s administration is in crisis, consumed by fears of what Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russia’s meddling in the election, might find. Everyone’s lawyering up — even the lawyers have lawyers.”

The Trump Administration isn’t in a crisis according to any facts in evidence. It’s a crisis because the news media wants it to be in crisis, and keeps publishing whispers from leakers  trying to undermine the administration as it says so. Everyone is “lawyering up” is a pejorative phrase intended to imply guilt: in a government investigation, anyone likely to be questioned or come under scrutiny gets legal representation, and this partisan hack knows it. Nevertheless, he is making an innuendo suggesting guilt. Nor does he have any justification that the Trump administration is “consumed by fears of what Robert Mueller might find.” That assumes there is something incriminating to find,  a false assumption, and thus a false statement.

Normally, I would stop reading at that point. This is an incompetently cooked stew of partisan, anti-Trump propaganda, not worth my time, written to appeal to the Times’ “resistance” subscribers. I continued however, because I sensed a vivid illustration of how estranged from objectivity, moderation and responsible writing the Times has become.

The op-ed continues… Continue reading

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