Ethics Hero: Joe Concha at Mediaite

Berman and Romans: mystery solved. Well, not really a mystery, maybe "Marshall incompetence addressed" is more accurate,..

Berman and Romans: mystery solved. Well, not really ” mystery solved;” maybe “Marshall incompetence addressed” is more accurate,..

Lots of kind readers pitch in here to help Ethics Alarms do its lonely job better and more efficiently. Some of you e-mail me with typos, which are getting fewer thanks to a new a new proofreading regimen, others send me links to stories that raise ethics issues, and others still offer off-site critiques and comments that are helpful and thought-provoking. I do not expect that kind of generous assistance from major media blogs that get more traffic in the time it takes me to post an article than Ethics Alarms gets in a week. Thus it was a nice surprise to wake up this morning to Joe Concha’s post at Mediaite, properly chiding me for getting the CNN anchors wrong on the recent Simon Cowell egging story, and best of all, giving me the right names, which I had failed to find, as in “didn’t do my due diligence and look hard enough.”  [For the record, it was not Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan who I heard cheering on the woman who threw eggs at Simon Cowell during “Britain’s Got Talent,” but John Berman and Christine Romans, who now inherit the Ethics Dunces honor that should have been theirs from the beginning.]

The fact that Concha enlightened me while taking full advantage of the egg angle (“Blogger’s Got Talent? In Egg-Filled Irony, Ethics Alarms Gets CNN Hosts Wrong” is the headline) and chiding me for my fact-checking inadequacies is beside the point—-I deserved it. What matters is that I’m grateful that 1) he’s reading about ethics, which should be discusses on Mediate every day, given the state of the news media, 2) that he found the right anchors and 3) told me, so I could finally get that post right….which I will do as soon as I post this.

Again, my apologies to Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan for unjustly labeling them Ethics Dunces. I wish them good luck on their new show, and may I never have the occasion to mark them as Ethics Dunces again, in contrast to Soledad O’Brien, whom they replace.


Facts: Mediaite

Ethic Dunces: CNN Morning Anchors John Berman and Christine Romans

Attacked and attacker. Guess which one the CNN sympathizes with?

Attacked and attacker. Guess which one the CNN sympathizes with?

[Update and Correction: When I wrote this post, the designated Dunces were identified as Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan, the new kids on the CNN block. I thought I verified that on CNN’s site, but a helpful reader told  me that Cuomo and Bolduan haven’t debuted yet. Which CNN anchors it was who egged on the egger were in doubt, so on June 11, I changed the post, discussing the issue but only referring to “CNN anchors.”  I also apologized to Chris and Kate, and put out a call for the right names. And promptly forgot about it: with everything else going on, this was neither a major ethics issue nor a two-day story. Then, today, June 13, Joe Concha of Mediate posted a full-fledged smackdown of me, Ethics Alarms and my research skills, and helpfully provided the correct identification in the process

I’m grateful to Joe, who also preserves my original correction, which this replaces. Once again, I apologize to CNN, Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan, and also to my readers for mucking up this one so thoroughly. ]

“It’s about time,” snickered  CNN early morning male anchor John Berman, as his partner Christine Romans smiled and nodded. They were approving of a man being assaulted live on TV while doing his job, a job he performs better and more profitably than anyone else in the world.

The man is Simon Cowell, late of “American Idol,” and an angry musician from the studio orchestra seized the opportunity to run onstage during the finale of  “Britain’s Got Talent” and hurl five eggs at Cowell from the stage. The woman, Natalie Holt, had been a contestant in the past, and the assault was part revenge for her own group’s harsh treatment on the show last year, part vainglorious stunt to punish Cowell, she claimed, for his “influence,” and part stupidity. After the show, Holt apologized to the two finalists whose performance she marred, but not to her victim, saying: “I want to apologize to Richard and Adam for overshadowing their performance. I’ve never done anything like this before and in hindsight I have realized it was a silly thing to do.”

But to listen to the CNN pair, what Holt did wasn’t silly, but hilarious, and justified. Continue reading

“American Idol” Jumps the Ethics Shark

Just four audition episodes into the new “American Idol,” it is obvious that the show is done. It might hang on for a few, even several more seasons; after all, “Happy Days” continued for almost a decade after Fonzie jumped the shark. But it’s still over, and it wasn’t because the show lost its center and star, the acid-tongued, irresistible Simon Cowell…well, not exactly. It didn’t have to be the case, but when Simon left, the show lost the one thing it has to have–integrity. Continue reading

The Trouble With Auto-Tune

The British show that launched “American Idol,” X-Factor, admitted that it had used Auto-Tune, an audio processor that corrects a singer’s pitch and tone. An 18-year-old contestant named Gamu Nhengu sang just a little too well in the show’s seventh season premiere, and fans and critics started hinting at conspiracy on the web, especially via the show’s Facebook page. Finally, a spokesman for “X-Factor” confessed that Auto-Tune was used to fix disruptions caused by the many microphones used on stage during the telecast, but that the judge’s decisions were definitely based on the actual, non-Auto-Tuned performances of contestants. The show’s producers, he assured the public, only used the processor to “deliver the most entertaining experience possible for viewers.”

I’m sure that is true. This is exactly the reason TV executives rigged the quiz shows in the 1950’s. It is the reason why TV reality shows are scripted, and why NBA stars get away with game fouls that referees call against lesser players. Any competition’s entertainment value is enhanced by better competitors and more suspenseful action. The problem is that once spectators know or suspect that they are being manipulated, they stop watching at all. The fact that Simon Cowell’s UK hit would use the device immediately roused “American Idol” conspiracy theorists, and  Cowell to immediately announced an Auto-Tune ban. Continue reading