In response to my recent question in a comment thread about when Ethics Alarms first noted that the Democratic Party was embracing totalitarian attitudes, tactics and principles, reader and commenter Zoltar Speaks tracked the post down, which, as I had speculated, was published in late October, 2016, right before the election. It was interesting, in light of having just passed the two year mark in the Trump Presidency, to review my thoughts at the time. Upon re-reading it, I conclude that there is nothing in that post I would retract, and that I wish I was as smart every day was I was on October 20, 2016. This section, however, really stood out in light of what has occurred since; the context was the last debate between candidates Trump and Clinton: Continue reading
As a professional ethics specialist, I find the enthusiasm with which alleged professionals have used the election of Donald Trump to excuse their abandonment of such ethical values as fairness, responsibility, respect and citizenship deeply discouraging, and I am seriously considering becoming a beachcomber. I already knew that the journalism profession no longer could distinguish ethics from a hairy crab, so this wasn’t too surprising, nor was it too much of a shock that the New York Times has become a non-stop anti-Trump fear-fest and rant machine. Let’s see, in today’s edition alone there is a hit piece on Trump advisor Steve Bannon called “Bannon’s Coriolanus Rewrite,” then “Donald Trump’s Racial Ignorance,” “Where the Right Went Wrong,” (an amazing title, given the current balance of political power after Hillary’s botched campaign), “How the Truth Got Hacked,” “Is Democracy in Danger?” “Trump, the Russian Poodle,” and “Is This Collective Trauma?” The last, I guess, explains why mass trauma is inevitable for progressives, moderates and “Never Trump” Republicans when “the political order they long took for granted — defined by polarization, yes, but also by a commitment to basic principles of democracy and decency — is suddenly gone.” One would almost wonder from that sentence which side of the political spectrum is calling for armed insurrection, pre-inaugural impeachment, and the overturning of the election results. The Times is also a showcase for columnists whose minds have snapped like dry branches in the wind, causing them to leap manically onto the Trump Hysteria Express. Economist Paul Krugman has long been a hyper-partisan scold for whom fairness is alien territory, but this tweet was spectacularly vicious even for him:
“Thought: There was (rightly) a cloud of illegitimacy over Bush, dispelled (wrongly) by 9/11. Creates some interesting incentives for Trump.”
An ethical newspaper wouldn’t want someone capable of such a comment working for it.
Many broadcast journalists were stunningly unprofessional, indeed amateurish, on election night. Martha Raddatz choked up with emotion reporting Clinton’s loss; now there’s an objective reporter. Rachel Maddow described the evening as a “nightmare.”
Education has been racing journalism to the ethics barrel bottom for years, but I did not expect universities to send such intimidating messages to their students that they were expected to either be in mourning or on the verge of emotional breakdowns because the Democrats lost. Once, higher institutions of learning aimed to teach students critical thinking skills so they could make up their own minds regarding civic affairs. High school administrators and teachers also forgot their duties, and allowed students to skip school because, you know, TRUMP!!!!, and “ARRRGHHHHH!!!!”
Lawyers have lost their ethical bearings, of course, as have law professors, with perhaps the best example of the latter being the Georgetown Law Center adjunct who claims that the Constitution is unconstitutional, because following it will elect Donald Trump. My law alma mater isn’t faring too well in the train wreck: another professor, Paul Butler, argued that Supreme Court justices shouldn’t normally attack a President Elect, except when it’s Donald Trump.
Other academics have disgraced themselves. A prominent historian, for example, even resorted to making up history to provide an excuse for Democrats losing to such a horrible creature. Professor Larry Lessig of Harvard Law, who heads an ethics institute there, is encouraging electors to be “faithless,” as in “double-cross the voters who elected them.” Some ethics institute you have there, Harvard!
Artist, actors and show business professionals have debased themselves even more than usual, beginning with the Broadway cast of “Hamilton’s” breach of the Performer’s First Commandment: DON’T ABUSE THE AUDIENCE. They have even started turning on each other: Jon Voight, whose sin was that he expressed support for the man elected President, was booed at recent awards show by his fellow actors. Nice.
But as bad as this has been, I didn’t expect food critics to be corrupted. Continue reading
1. Ugliest moment of election night: Trump’s assembled chanting “Lock her up!” as the electoral victory approached.
2. Anti-Trump bias made the entire journalism profession and punditry class incompetent, forming an almost impenetrable echo chamber that assured its smug occupants and Democrats that Hillary Clinton literally couldn’t lose. “Bias makes you stupid” is a frequent refrain here, and I cannot think of a more powerful example.
In a terrific if rueful article in Slate, Jim Newell writes of how the whole Democratic establishment convinced itself that Hillary couldn’t lose:
I think of the lawmakers, the consultants, the operatives, and—yes—the center-left media, and how everything said over the past few years leading up to this night was bullshit…Think of how wrong the entire national media conversation was—and yes, I contributed my fair share—about how the Republicans were being torn apart as a party. I prewrote a piece Tuesday afternoon, to be published in the event of the expected Clinton win, pushing back against both myself and other members of the media, arguing that Democrats and Republicans were both in existential trouble and that, in the short-term context of a decaying political system, Republicans might even have the edge…This was wrong. Republicans don’t have a slight edge over Democrats in a decaying political system. Republicans are ascendant.
The whole point of experts and analysts is that they use facts and objectivity to cut through rationalizations and bias. If they can’t or won’t do that, they are useless. They are frauds. Here’s the Washington Post’s media columnist, Margaret Sullivan, who proves elsewhere in the essay, even as she writes about bias, that she is still a partisan to her core:
To put it bluntly, the media missed the story. In the end, a huge number of American voters wanted something different. And although these voters shouted and screamed it, most journalists just weren’t listening. They didn’t get it.They didn’t get that the huge, enthusiastic crowds at Donald Trump’s rallies would really translate into that many votes. …It would be too horrible. So, therefore, according to some kind of magical thinking, it couldn’t happen.
Journalists — college-educated, urban and, for the most part, liberal — are more likely than ever before to live and work in New York City and Washington, D.C., or on the West Coast. And although we touched down in the big red states for a few days, or interviewed some coal miners or unemployed autoworkers in the Rust Belt, we didn’t take them seriously. Or not seriously enough….We just kept checking our favorite prognosticating sites and feeling reassured, even though everyone knows that poll results are not votes.
The news media anti-Trump bias might have even lost Hillary the election, not just by outraging the public–it was so, so blatant–but by deceiving the Democrats. Clinton didn’t bother to campaign in Wisconsin, so convinced was she that voters there would blindly follow the party, as usual. The state was one of the big victories for Trump.
Yes, bias has made U.S. journalism incompetent, stupid, self-satisfied and useless. It will take more than one fiasco to reform it—if it can be reformed. I hope it can because democracy doesn’t function well with an untrustworthy newsmedia, Continue reading
“Oh, I’m sure she’s never been grabbed before…”
—-Donald Trump, responding to the most recent accusations of sexual assault, in this case from Jessica Drake, a porn star who became the 11th woman to claim Trump assaulted her in a press conference over the weekend.
I suspended the Ethics Alarms Unethical Donald Trump Quote of the Day, or UDTQOTD, feature a couple of months ago when I realized that pretty soon there would be no room for anything else. This one, however, is special, and can’t be ignored. It perfectly encompasses so much of what is fatally wrong with Trump, his character and his campaign.
Here and elsewhere, desperate Trump rationalizers have defended voting for him over the horrible Hillary Clinton by reducing his abundant deficits of character to a couple of adjectives, essentially representing him as acceptable by strategic omission. As I recently replied in part to a commenter who argued that Trump may be “narcissitic and crude” but...gotta love that equivocal “may”:
“And no, you cannot get away with “narcissistic and crude” here. …Take out crude and narcissistic, and that still leaves ignorant, lazy, corrupt, arrogant, a fantasist, a liar, a misogynist, a fool, a political incompetent, a terrible delegater, a poor judge of character, lacking in any relevant experience, literally unable to comprehend what ethical conduct is, governed wholly by rationalizations, unaccountable, feckless, incompetent, cruel, mean-spirited, devoid of common sense, self-control, prudence, compassion and decency, and, on top of all of that, inarticulate and dumb as a brick. No responsible voter can risk making such an individual President, and doing so is indefensible. “
Let’s see…18, 19, 20…today’s quote embodies 21 of the characteristics on that impromptu list, and in only seven words, which is impressive. Continue reading
Last night, at exactly 11:02 PM EST AMC’s “Talking Dead” host Chris Hardwick had his live audience scream out in unison “Suck my nuts!,” a quote from the just completed premier episode of the seventh season of “The Walking Dead, apparently the most popular TV show right now. This occurred slightly after an animated discussion about an actor having to cope with a tick on his penis, or a “dick tick” according to Hardwick (to BIG laughs).
Boy, that Donald Trump sure is vulgar when he doesn’t know he’s being recorded…
I am reasonably confident that this cheery gutter level discourse would have been deemed unacceptable as recently as last year. This is how fast basic levels of decency, restraint and civility are declining, although I give AMC credit for not having another “Flip another man’s meat”commercial during the breaks: maybe that’s just for baseball games.
I eagerly anticipate the explanations of why this nosedive in public decorum is unrelated to having a Presidential candidate talk at length about his penis size (I didn’t intend to have it come out that way, but hell, I’ll leave it; it’s 2016, man!) during Republican debates (you know, the conservative, family values party).
Heck, why not? Here’s that link again.
Just the campaign was enough…
Substance, of course, is officially irrelevant to the 2016 Presidential election. This is a bitter “be careful what you wish for” realization for Ethics Alarms and its author, as I have long argued that leaders’ values and character are more important and should be given more weight in any choice of candidates than their political affiliations or official policy positions. I did not foresee a race in which both candidates have definitively proven that they are unfit for office and corrupt beyond repair or redemption, and one of those candidates is so unfit that even the epic dishonesty and democracy-corroding conduct of his opponent cannot begin to justify a vote for him by anyone with the sense of a bivalve mollusk.
Thus, once again as in the first two debates, the leading story coming out of last night’s snark-fest relates to character, not substance. In this case, it doesn’t even relate to practical reality. Donald Trump was asked by debate moderator Chris Wallace,
Your running mate Governor Pence pledged on Sunday that he and you, his words, will absolutely accept the result of this election. Today your daughter Ivanka said the same thing. I want to ask you here on the stage tonight, do you make the same commitment that you’ll absolutely accept the result of the election?
..and after talking around the question interminable, as usual, Trump finally answered,
What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, okay?
Hillary Clinton immediately pronounced the answer “horrifying,” and her assessment is currently being echoed on editorial pages and by pundits and analysts as if Trump announced that he was raising an army of NRA members to take the White House by force. Gasped the Washington Post this morning, in an editorial titled, “Trump’s Breathtaking Repudiation of American Democracy,” “Respecting the will of the voters has since the end of the Civil War allowed for a peaceful transition of power that has made this country the envy of the world….[Clinton’s flaws] fade to the status of trivia in the face of an opponent who will not accept the basic rules of American democracy.”The New York Times, in its editorial titled “Donald Trump’s Contempt for Democracy,” pontificated,
Mr. Trump’s meltdown in the closing weeks could be dismissed as a sore loser’s bizarre attempt at rationalizing his likely defeat. But his trashing of the democratic process, in service of his own ego, risks lasting damage to the country, and politicians of both parties should recoil from him and his cynical example.
It in no way excuses Donald Trump to take notice of the “breathtaking” dishonesty here.
“Take a look. You look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”
—Donald Trump, denying People Magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff’s claim that he “brought her into a room, shut the door, “and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat.”
This comes as close to being funny as a man running for President who proves his sexism and misogyny even in the act of denying them can be. It is tragic, however.
Trump can’t help himself. He can’t help himself for two reasons. The first reason is that he really does, deep down, believe that women exist on earth for purely the carnal enjoyment of men, particularly wealth and powerful men. This is part of his world view, and he is incapable of changing or learning. When Trump said, in his second pseudo-apology for his recorded 2005 comments, that he had “changed,” implying that he had changed in regard to his enthusiastic endorsement of privileged sexual assault, he was lying, straight up. This comment, which is an ad hominem attack upon and insult to his accuser, proves it, not that the claim wasn’t an obvious lie when he said it in the apology video.
The second reason is that the man literally is incapable of thinking through what he says before he says it. We already knew this, too. He has pitiful self-control, de minimus common sense, and the judgment of Ryan Lochte.
In this instance, Trump reminded me of Fredo’s downfall in “Godfather II,” when mere minutes after he pretends to not know Johnny Ola, Hyman Roth’s henchman (having previously denied to his Godfather brother that he had ever had any contact with him), Fredo loudly contradicts himself by telling the group including his brother that Johnny Ola had recommended the Havana sex club Fredo had brought them to. Fredo, being an idiot, doesn’t even realize what he has done. Continue reading