Tag Archives: spin

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/26/17: Rationalizations And Double Standards [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

1 Flat learning curve  On “Meet the Press” today, Nancy Pelosi’s defense, if you could call it that, of besieged Democratic representative John Conyers was a special display of what a total integrity void looks like. It was so obvious one has to wonder—again—if these people have that much contempt for the public, or if they are just not very bright. She called for “due process,” which presumably means a formal investigation or some kind of official proceeding, but Democrats haven’t cared about “due process” while demanding that Roy Moore withdraw because of the allegations by his teenage dream dates, or while attacking candidate Trump based on his boasting on the “Access Hollywood” tapes. Nor was “due process” a concern when they sicced Anita Hill on Clarence Thomas during his nationally televised confirmation hearing.

Pelosi then appealed to Conyers’ status as an “icon,” saying,

“John Conyers is an icon in our country. He has done a great deal to protect women – Violence Against Women Act, which the left – right-wing – is now quoting me as praising him for his work on that, and he did great work on that.”

In other words, “The King’s Pass.” Conyers should be treated differently from any regular, run-of-the mill member of Congress, because his many accomplishments should be able to offset any wrongdoing. I’m sure Pelosi endorses this anti-ethical principle; after all, she thinks that she’s an icon too. In truth, kings, stars and icons should be held to higher ethical standards, not lower. If not, they become ethics corrupters.

Pelosi also employed another cynical rationalization, saying she was sure Conyers would do “the right thing.” This is a sneaky version of Rationalization #14. Self-validating Virtue, since she never says what the right thing would be. She is saying that whatever Conyers does would be the right thing, because he’s an icon and what he does must be right.

As a final hypocritical flourish, Pelosi questioned the credibility of Conyers’ accusers. Wait–isn’t the position of the Democratic party and progressives that such women should be believed? Pelosi also spoke as if none of the alleged victim of misconduct had been identified. Naturally, “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd let Pelosi get away with this, although she said, “I do not know who they are. Do you? They have not really come forward.”  An ethical and non-partisan journalist would have said, “Actually, Rep. Pelosi, government ethics lawyer and former staffer Melanie Sloan is one of the Congressman’s accusers. Since her organization, CREW, is a government watchdog that is habitually easy on Democrats, she has a lot of credibility.  Why don’t you believe her?

UPDATE: Conyers has surrendered his leadership position on the Judiciary Committee.

2. Nah, there’s no progressive media bias! The Daily Wire—just because its a conservative website doesn’t mean it’s facts are always wrong–produced this list of 24 sex scandals involving Democrats that CNN chose not to report on.

3.  Blame Senator Moore on Franken, Conyers and Pelosi…and Alabama Republicans, of course… If Roy Moore wins a Senate seat, spectacles like Pelosi’s doubletalk and spinning will be a major reason why.

4. A new rationalization! A comment in the Joe Morgan/steroid/Hall of Fame thread made me aware of a missing rationalization. LoSonnambulo wrote, in an excellent comment explaining the history of the dispute over allowing baseball’s proven steroid cheats into Cooperstown, Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/25/2017: NPR, Spin Cycle, A Mother Bugs A Classroom, and a Jumbo!

 

Good Morning, Black Saturday!

1 Self promotion Dept. I’m going to be back on NPR (WBUR, D.C.) in what I think is a live panel discussion (“Barbershop” is the show—I wonder what a ‘barbershop” is? ) hosted at 5: 30 pm, EST by the estimable Michel Martin. The topic is The Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, though that’s not what they’ll be calling it.

2. “For every time, Spin Spin Spin, there is a season..” I may mention this New Republic article, or at least be ready to torch a fellow panelist who cites it favorably. The tortured reasoning of writer David Dayen led him to assert that the “sexual harassment crisis” resulted from ” a broken justice system.” Let me summarize it for you: men harass women in the workplace because it’s too hard to convict people and put them in jail. When did liberals start being the ones who want to dispense with civil rights protections and due process assurances in court?

“But we should identify the real culprit for this state of affairs: the long, slow abandonment of the rule of law in America. The reason adjudicating sexual misconduct claims has been left to the media and the crowd is that people have no expectation that the legal system will adjudicate those claims fairly. How can anyone blame them? They have witnessed endless instances of powerful people, mostly wealthy men, getting away with criminality and deception, in every context imaginable. When you don’t have a working justice system, you get a kind of vigilantism as a result. The problem isn’t the vigilantism—it’s the broken framework that leads desperate people to take matters into their own hands. That powerful people face little sanction for misbehavior is an old story, as true in gender as it is in class. But brazen impunity for the powerful is a hallmark of our era. The worst financial crisis in America in nearly a century led to practically no convictions for those whose actions facilitated the meltdown. The Catholic Church shuttled around sex-abusing priests for decades with little reckoning. Cops shoot black people and go back on the job….”

None of this has much to do with sexual harassment, which isn’t a crime, and the three examples cherry-picked by Dayen don’t support his stated argument. The Wall Street wheeler-dealers operated primarily within loopholes and gray areas in the laws and regulations. There were few convictions because it was hard to prove that laws were broken. When the molesting priests were identified, still living, and in the U.S., many were sent to prison. (That the Catholic Church behaved abysmally doesn’t show that the U.S. justice system is broken, obviously). And “Cops shoot black people and go back on the job” is deceitful, simple-minded agitprop. Colin Kaepernick, is that you?

The article is a desperate and clumsy attempt at ethics jujitsu, with the recent exposure of progressive hypocrites as sexual predators being flipped to pivot to the talking point that “everything is rigged against the poor, blacks and women.” What Dayen ends up arguing is that we need to make it easier to prove criminal guilt when we just know the defendants are bad dudes (white, male and rich) —shouldn’t that be enough?— and all the “beyond a reasonable doubt” stuff should be junked…except when black “non-violent drug offenders” are involved.

3.  It’s still illegal. Fark.com called this story “a woman being arrested for mothering while black.” Nice. David Dayen, is that you? Continue reading

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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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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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Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/23/17”

Like Baltimore removing its politically incorrect statues, here I am in the dead of night trying to catch up with the Ethics Alarms Comments of the Day.

By the way, of all the statues taken down and under attack, the one I can most sympathize with is that of Chief Justice Roger Taney. There is only one reason anyone remembers Taney, and only one thing a statute to him can symbolize: the Dred Scott decision, which he authored. Since it is, by acclamation, the single most disastrous Supreme Court decision in the nation’s history, having a statue of Taney standing in front of the Maryland state house is difficult to defend.

Taney is something of a tragic figure. The rest of his judicial career was distinguished, but that is a bit like saying that the rest of that performance of “Our American Cousin” was terrific. He actually thought the Dred Scott decision would avert a civil war by settling the slavery question once and for all. He was not an evil man, just a horribly misguided one.

There is a street named after Taney in Alexandria. Every time I pass the sign, I think, “This is weird.” Who defends the Dred Scott case? Who has defended it in the last 150 years?

But I digress.

Tippy Scales is an undercover journalist, registering his period disgust at the ethical collapse of his profession here because it is not safe to do so elsewhere. He filed this Comment of the Day two days ago, on the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/23/17

(I’ve linked to the topics and posts he  has referred to within his post.)

Let’s review the past few days… Continue reading

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UPDATE: So THAT’S What Really Is Going On. Boy, Wouldn’t It Be Great If There Was Some Trustworthy Professional Source That Would Report Events Without Spin And Intentional Distortions?

 

Somehow, I expect the New York Times to be better than this.

Today’s Morning Warm-Up included this item as its final note:

Ethics Alarms will certainly feature more on this development, but for now I’ll just welcome the decision, sure to be attacked as “white supremacy,”  by the Justice Department’s civil rights division to begin  investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants. Affirmative action has always been a euphemism for “race-based discrimination in favor of the right race,” and while it can be argued that it was a necessary evil in the wake of Jim Crow, it is still a hypocritical and unconstitutional policy.  I hope the Justice Department includes discrimination against Asian-American students in its crackdown as well.

Well what do you know?

DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores  put out a statement today clarifying what the New York Times went out of its way to distort, saying,

“Press reports regarding the personnel posting in the Civil Rights Division have been inaccurate. The posting sought volunteers to investigate one administrative complaint filed by a coalition of 64 Asian-American associations in May 2015 that the prior Administration left unresolved. The complaint alleges racial discrimination against Asian Americans in a university’s admissions policy and practices.”

This was the 2015 complaint by Asian-Americans claiming they were victimized by quotas at Ivy League schools that was discussed in the Ethics Alarms post I linked to this morning. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/17/17 [UPDATED]

Good morning, everyone!

1. President Trump is upset about an ABC-Washington Post poll that among other things indicates that 70% of those polled believe that he has acted “un-Presidential” since being elected. Several analysts have suggested that pollsters have slanted their polling pools toward Democrats (remember the election?), but my question regarding this poll is, “What the hell is the matter with the other 30%?”

How in the world could anyone conscious argue that Trump is “Presidential,” other than on the rather technical basis that since he’s President, what he does is by definition Presidential? It would be mighty nice if an aide, a Cabinet member, a daughter, a White House chef or someone would explain this to him, but I’m convinced: he doesn’t get it, he won’t get it, and what weve  seen is what we’ll continue to get.

2. ALERT! The forgoing was written after I was fooled by a fake news site, aided and abetted by Instapundit, which either was also fooled or linked to the site as its own joke.  Thanks to reader Tom Adams for being  more alert than I was and quickly flagging this.

And by the way, screw them. I’m taking off the link, and I will probably give the site an Unethical Website designation. The only hint that the site is a hoax site is the other stories (“GOP Adopts Christie’s Sad, Bewildered Face As New Party Mascot”), but I read dozens of stories every day, and if i stopped to check all the other boxed and highlighted pieces I would never have time to do my job. There is nothing on the home page designating the site as satirical. Unethical.

I apologize to anyone I led astray. Somebody alert Instapundit. I’m not speaking to it.  Here was the original post…

That said and mournfully accepted, he won, he’s President, and the fevered efforts to somehow turn back time (I would not be surprised to see a new Bon Jovi Direct TV ad on the subject)  by “the resistance,” the Democrats and the news media are profoundly anti-democratic. This is what Jake Tapper was alluding last week with his tongue stuck so firmly in his cheek that it almost broke through his face. “The conspiracy goes much deeper than anyone expected,” Jake Tapper said on his news segment “The Lead.” “We’re talking tens of millions of people involved in this secret plot to make sure Hillary didn’t make it into the White House and to prop up Donald Trump as the winner….It’s far more sinister than we thought.”

Yes, some conservative websites and others took Tapper’s pointed gag seriously. This tells us…

…how little trust CNN has left with many Americans..

…how dumb a lot of conservatives are…

…why broadcast news hosts and reporters, even fair and clever ones like Tapper, should avoid sarcasm, satire, or facetious statements, and stick to the facts.

…Jake Tapper should get away from CNN before its toxic culture ruins his reputation. Continue reading

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