Ethics Quiz: Trevor Noah’s Joke

“Africa won the World Cup. I get it, they have to say it’s the French team. But look at those guys. You don’t get that tan by hanging out in the south of France, my friends.”

—-Trevor Noah, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”

Noah, who is black, was immediately accused of racism. “So basically, Trevor, all the African-Americans in the US are just Africans, right?,” said one critic. “Know that as a French of Algerian, German and Spanish descent, I find it insulting. We are all French, we are one people. Ask the players,they’ll tell you they’re proud Frenchmen!”

Your more complicated-than-it-looks Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Does Noah have anything to apologize for?

I mean, other than that fact that his joke isn’t particularly funny. Continue reading

Jon Stewart Betrayal Update: Concha Gets It Right

Jon-Stewart-and-BarackLast night Jon Stewart finally commented on the reports of his meetings at the White House, and by his smug demeanor and evasiveness, confirmed the assessments of Ethics Alarms and many others.  Joe Concha of Mediaite nailed it:

“Well, I mean, I don’t know if they were secret,” the 52-year-old said last night while pointing out his name (which one?) was clearly on the visitor logs. It all sounds so much like Stephanopoulos explaining that his donations to the Clinton Foundation that were also there for all the public to see… buried on his tax forms. All I know is this: If I met with the president and hosted a program which primarily focuses on politics, pretty sure I’d let my audience know at the very least that what had happened. Unless, of course, I have to carry out my PR orders in a way no White House Press Secretary or Sunday talk show appearance ever could…Why attend a meeting with the most powerful person on the planet if you can’t report back what was said? In the end, these people are there not for an interview, but for instructions. And that’s exactly why Stewart took the Acela down to DC: To come back to New York and serve as the Baghdad Bob of arguably the most influential news program—forget that it’s billed as fake—on the dial right now…No matter…Stewart will get the Letterman treatment next week when he leaves The Daily Show, and rightly so. He didn’t earn $25-$30M a year for hosting a show four days a week for nothing. His timing, delivery and intelligence is something you don’t teach or learn.

In the end, Jon Stewart will be looked back on as one of the great performers of our generation. He’s also one of the more dishonest, and about as phony as they come.”

Exactly.

Jon Stewart’s Betrayal

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Politico has confirmed that on two occasions, Comedy Central’s Now I’m a comic-Now I’m a pundit-Now I’m a journalist Jon Stewart secretly went to the White House to meet with President Obama:

Jon Stewart slipped unnoticed into the White House in the midst of the October 2011 budget fight, summoned to an Oval Office coffee with President Barack Obama that he jokingly told his escort felt like being called into the principal’s office.In February 2014, Obama again requested Stewart make the trip from Manhattan to the White House, this time for a mid-morning visit hours before the president would go before television cameras to warn Russia that “there will be costs” if it made any further military intervention in Ukraine.

To engage privately with the president in his inner sanctum at two sensitive moments — previously unreported meetings that are listed in the White House visitor logs and confirmed to POLITICO by three former Obama aides — speaks volumes about Stewart and his reach, which goes well beyond the million or so viewers who tune into The Daily Show on most weeknights.

It mean rather more than that. The visits mean that what Stewart and Comedy Central represented to the public as independent commentary on public affairs by a wise, critical and trusted truth-teller was in fact state propaganda, dictated by the President of the United States to a messenger of influence. Continue reading

The Sixth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2014 (Part 2)

Rice and Janay

Ethics Corrupter of the Year

(Awarded to the unethical public figure whose prominence, popularity and success most corrupts the public’s ethical values)

Janay Palmer Rice, beloved punching bag of NFL star Ray Rice, who was caught on camera smooching with her man shortly after being cold-cocked by him in a hotel elevator, married him, and has repeatedly defended her husband, prompting confused female pundits to defend her. She is not only the embodiment of Rationalization #42. The Hillary Inoculation, or “If he/she doesn’t care, why should anyone else?”, she is also a good bet to get some young women killed by giving them a role model who stands for standing by your abusive man with the hard right hook.

Double Standard Of The Year

In a year of double standards, the treatment of soccer star (and accused child abuser) Hope Solo by her sport, feminists, the media and the public takes the prize. The standard, as I understand it, is that big, strong female athletes can beat up smaller, weaker family members with impunity, and it’s no big deal, but when a male athlete does the same, he is scum. Got it.

Uncivil U.S. Official of the Year

Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and the top American diplomat in Europe, was caught saying in a viral Youtube video saying “Fuck the EU.”  Now that’s diplomatic. Of course, she wasn’t fired, because she works for the Obama Administration

The Jesse Jackson Award 

(For the Year’s Worst Amateur Diplomat)

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First Lady Michelle Obama, who helped her husband make the U.S. look weak and ineffectual (he needs no help), by engaging in this ridiculous effort at hashtag diplomacy. Those kidnapped girls were never found, and Boko Haram, the Nigerian terrorist group that took them, I learned today, just killed a reported 2000 more victims. Time for another sad picture, Michelle!

Most Unethical Sports League

The NFL, last year’s winner, was even more unethical this year, with the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson fiascos, Commissioner Roger Goodell showing no innate instinct for right and wrong and both the league and its teams making up rules and policies according to talk show calls, polls and wet fingers in the air. Meanwhile, it’s still making billions paying young men to lobotomize themselves. What a great sport.

Sports Cheat of the Year

Alex Rodriguez, suspended Yankee star, had denied, denied, denied, threatened to sue Major League Baseball and the union, and insisted that he had not, as an investigation had determined, used performance enhancing drugs supplied by Biogenesis. Then, just as his season-long suspension was lifted, it was revealed that A-Rod had, under oath, admitted using steroids from 2010 to 2012.

Annual Sports Ethics Controversy That Gets Worse Every Year

Steroid cheats (like Rodriquez) and their fitness for admission to Baseball’s Hall of Fame

Unethical Lawyer of the Year

Michael Fine, the Ohio lawyer who allegedly hypnotized female clients in order to sexually molest them.  Runner Up Alexa Van Brunt. She didn’t do anything unethical; she just advocates ethics rules that would eliminate the core of legal ethics, proving that she doesn’t understand her own profession.

Unethical Judge of the Year

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Wade McCree, the handsome devil pictured above (he circulated this selfie), who, presiding over a felony child-support case, conducted a secret sexual relationship with the woman seeking support from the defendant. This was just the latest of his embarrassments.  Runner up: Texas District Judge Jeanine Howard, who handed down a stunningly lenient sentence of probation and 250 hours of community service at a rape crisis center for a man who confessed raping a 14-year old girl at her school.

 

Unethical National Broadcast Journalist Of The Year

CNN’s Carol Costello. She was biased, smug and incompetent all year long, but reached her nadir when she gleefully played a recording of Bristol Palin explaining to police how she had been assaulted, saying to her viewers, “You can thank me later.” She refused to apologize on the air, or to Palin. Continue reading

Brad Paisley and Jon Stewart: The “It Was Just A Joke” Follies

Joker04Once again, we visit the ethically murky realm of jokes, near-jokes, misfired jokes, fake jokes, the ‘it was just a joke’ excuse and things the purveyor of non-jokes wish were jokes after the fact. Interestingly, by my estimation, the real and non-offending joke among our twin set today was the one delivered by a non-comedian, and the dishonest joke excuse was employed by a professional comic.

Case A: Jon Stewart

Appearing on CNN election day with Christiane Amanpour to talk about the  midterm elections, the host asked Stewart if he voted. The comic/pundit/news anchor/progressive hit man responded “no” saying, “I just moved. I don’t know even where my thing is now.” Said Ann Althouse:

“The epitome of apathy. And this is the man who shows the young folks how to think!”

She was not alone. Later, as he hosted a special live election night edition of “The Daily Show,” Stewart  apologized, saying:

“…to set the record straight, I did vote today… I was being flip, and it kind of took off, and you know what, I want to apologize. It sent a message that that I didn’t think voting was important. I shouldn’t have done that. That was stupid.”

This was flagged to me as a solid and ethical apology, and I agree, if that’s what it was.  I don’t think that is what it was, though. I think it was damage control, and a lie. Maybe Stewart voted and maybe he didn’t, but he’s a professional comic. His “flip” dismissal of voting to Amanpour didn’t read a s a joke, and she didn’t seem to take it as one. He’s one of the highest paid and popular comedians in the country, and doesn’t know how to make it clear when he’s joking? Or can’t tell when a joke misfires, and he has to backtrack so people don’t think he’s serious? I am dubious. Continue reading

The Daily Show’s Redskins Ambush

Washington-Redskins

Here’s the theory behind this episode: if you disagree with the virtuous, unassailable position of the proudly politically correct, you don’t deserve to be treated with honesty, fairness, or respect. This is essentially the same attitude displayed by partisan hit-blogs, conservative talk radio, and Debby Wasserman Schultz. In the case at hand, Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” decided that anyone who hadn’t caved to the victim-mongering over the Washington Redskins name should be embarrassed and mistreated on TV, and that their smug, young , knee-jerk progressive audience would enjoy the spectacle.

And yes, this is among the reasons why I, despite appreciating Stewart and Colbert’s skills from a technical viewpoint, don’t watch Comedy Central any more. (The other reason is this.)

The Washington Post tells the tale: Continue reading

The Progressive Clown vs. The Apoplectic Conservative Radio Host On Gaza: Jon Stewart, Funny But Irresponsible…Mark Levin, Uncivil But Right

Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” riff on the Gaza conflict was praised to the skies by anti-Israel pundits, like MSNBC’s Cenk Uyger and the Daily Beast’s Dean Obeidallah as providing some kind of much needed moral clarity. In truth it was exactly the opposite, with the Obeidallah column unintentionally showing exactly what’s wrong with Jon Stewart.

Knowing that a disturbing number of Millennials (and an even more disturbing number of ignorant, impressionable older viewers who should know better) see the comedian as a truth-teller, Stewart makes no allowances in his comic routines for that fact. He intentionally encourages the idea that he is a legitimate pundit, then retreats to the convenient bunker of “Come on! I’m a comedian! Don’t take me so seriously!” when he is called out for lazy, misleading and biased—but funny! commentary. (Stewart criticizes Democrats with approximately the frequency of a lunar eclipse, which would be just fine for a comedian who didn’t pose as an objective critic of American politics.) Continue reading