Tag Archives: The Fake News Ethics Train Wreck

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/10/2017: Posts Collide! Journalists Self-Destruct! Women Undermine Themselves! And A Poll…

Good morning!

1  Bingo!  Amy Alkon, aka the Advice Goddess, has been staking out lonely territory as a feminist who feels the #MeToo mob and its attendant hysteria is setting the cause of women back, not advancing it. Here most recent post begins by mocking an LA Times hysteric who wrote that

“What happens when society ignores sexual assault? You get Lesotho, where girls aren’t even safe at the grocery store…”

Akon responded in part…

This sort of ridiculous hysteria — that our country is anything like a place where 19% of teenaged girls are forced to marry — makes things here cumulatively worse, not better.This is the safest, most modern, most individual rights-driven country in the world.

If you are in a profession where there’s a great deal of money and power, there are likely to be sociopaths of various stripes who will prey on you — whether you’re a man or a woman. No, sexual assault should not be ignored, but we also don’t help ourselves by turning an invitation out for a drink by a co-worker into some sort of victimization.

If it isn’t your boss trying to manipulate you into the sack when you want no such thing; if there’s no quid pro quo; if requests for a date stop when you ask for them to stop (or maybe after the second time), do you really need to identify as a victim?…

People have conflicting goals and desires. Any two people. Heterosexual men negotiate these with each other. They’re very comfortable with it — as am I, no matter what sex or sexuality you are or have. If one person isn’t holding the other down or saying “fuck me, or you lose your job…” …If there’s merely a need for a mild rebuff (like, “Sorry, I don’t date co-workers), well, this seems to me like a normal part of adult life.

I predict two things from the current hysteria (where, say, a stolen kiss from a drunken co-worker is equated with Harvey Weinsteining and may even be seen as a firing offense):

1. Employers will think twice about hiring women, especially when they have the option of hiring a commensurately qualified male.

2. Men will start seeing escort workers in larger numbers than ever, and it will become more acceptable than it’s ever been to pay for sex.

2. Who will save journalism, and when will it admit is needs saving? Washington Post politics reporter Dave Weigel‏ mocked the President for declaring his Florida rally “packed to the rafters” last week. Wiegel’s tweet included a picture of a half-empty Pensacola Bay Center.This was, it turned out, a mistake, but also a mistake brought about by confirmation bias, sloppiness, and hostility to the President. Once again, the news media handed the President the ammunition to discredit it, as it deserves to be discredited.Trump tweeted after the rally...

“@DaveWeigel WashingtonPost put out a phony photo of an empty arena hours before I arrived the venue, w/ thousands of people outside, on their way in…Real photos now shown as I spoke. Packed house, many people unable to get in. Demand apology & retraction from FAKE NEWS WaPo!”

Weigel apologized, tweeting,

“Sure thing: I apologize…Was confused by the image of you walking in the bottom right corner…It was a bad tweet on my personal account, not a story for Washington Post. I deleted it after like 20 minutes. Very fair to call me out.”

Weigel is a well-known Washington Post reporter, and the fact that he botched this in his own name rather than the Post’s doesn’t diminish its harm to the credibility of the already reeling news media one whit. The apology was nice, but it was also unavoidable. While Trump certainly has primed journalist skepticism with his adversarial relationship to reality, reporters are supposed to be professionals, and leaping to conclusions without confirmation or sufficient evidence isn’t professional, or worthy of public trust. Fact: Weigel would not have done this to Barack Obama.

Weigel’s gaffe was minor compared to CNN’s fiasco the day before, or the Brian Ross episode at ABC, but it deserves to be considered as part of the same pathology. Wrote Glenn Reynold on his blog today,

In attempting to “denormalize” Trump, they’ve denormalized themselves. If they simply reported fairly and accurately, without their screamingly obvious bias, they’d be able to do him much more damage. But they can’t help themselves.

Bingo. They can’t help themselves, and the ethics alarms when bias looms just don’t sound. Today the New York Times has a front page story, complete with a creepy photo of the President, featuring a long, insulting quote from Nancy Pelosi about how “unprepared” Trump was for the job. Oddly, nobody thought, “Wait, did we publish anything like this about the most unqualified President elected up to that  point? You know, the last one?”
Continue reading

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December 8, 2017, When Our Old And New News Media Proved Beyond A Doubt That They Were Untrustworthy And If Not Completely Useless, Close Enough For Horsehoes

I am marking down today to cite the next time someone tells me that the news media isn’t disastrously biased, or that President Trump is threatening the First Amendment when he tweets about “fake news” or untrustworthy journalists.

Or perhaps, as an alternative, I will hurl myself into a woodchipper.

Democracy cannot survive, must less thrive, without an informed citizenry, which can only be achieved with an objective, independent, competent journalism sector.

We no longer have one. Behold the nauseating developments of today: Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: Jimmy Carter

Say what you will about former President Jimmy Carter, he has never shied away from confronting what he believes are unpleasant truths. Thus he earns an Ethics Hero designation by telling New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd;

“I think the media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I’ve known about. I think they feel free to claim that Trump is mentally deranged and everything else without hesitation.”

Hilariously, USA Today immediately proved Carter’s point by writing, in its naturally objective and fair story on the quote,

“Perhaps Carter is seeking to placate Trump as part of a job interview: The 93-year-old former president said he is willing to undertake a diplomatic mission to North Korea to discuss its nuclear weapons program.”

In a related and illuminating story, former NPR CEO Ken Stern, nine years after he left the taxpayer- funded radio news network, has suddenly realized that there may be some liberal bias in the news media! His op-ed for the New York Post begins,

“Most reporters and editors are liberal — a now dated Pew Research Center poll found that liberals outnumber conservatives in the media by some 5 to 1, and that comports with my own anecdotal experience at National Public Radio. When you are liberal, and everyone else around you is as well, it is easy to fall into groupthink on what stories are important, what sources are legitimate and what the narrative of the day will be.”

Gee, that’s kind of nice. What we usually hear from reporters, editors and media management is that the accusation of partisan bias, based on such overwhelming evidence that it makes a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard look like a breeze, is just a Fox News myth, a conservative concoction and a false talking point. It would have been more nice, of course, if Ken Stern had come to this obvious conclusion and used his position to do something, rather than wait nine years and speak up when the average informed person reads his name on an article and thinks, “Who the hell is Ken Stern”?

I confess, I detest these too little, too late confessions of enlightenment, which are usually self-serving. I smell a book and an interview tour, don’t you?

Well, I won’t be reading it. Later in his conveniently tardy piece, Stern writes, Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/7/17

Good Morning!

1. “Data from the Association of American Medical Colleges indicate that race is a substantial factor in medical school admissions, not one of many. For example, from 2013 to 2016, medical schools in the United States accepted 94 percent of blacks, 83 percent of Hispanics, 63 percent of whites and 58 percent of Asians with top MCAT scores of 30 to 32 and grade-point averages of 3.6 to 3.8; for MCAT scores of 27 to 29 (G.P.A. of 3.4 to 3.6), the corresponding figures are 81 percent, 60 percent, 29 percent and 21 percent. For low-range MCAT scores of 24-26 (G.P.A. of 3.2 to 3.4), 57 percent of blacks were admitted, 31 percent of Hispanics, 8 percent of whites and 6 percent of Asians.” (New York Times, August 4, 2017) Yet the announcement that the Trump Administration Justice Department Civil Rights Division will be looking at illegal discrimination in university admissions was condemned across the progressive spectrum as an effort to bolster white supremacy and proof of the President’s “racism.”

Those statistics are res ipsa loquitur to me; no further evidence is needed. How can they be otherwise? Medical school admissions are discriminating on the basis of race. A similar set of statistics in any field where blacks rather than Asians were at the bottom would be treated by courts as “disproportionate impact” discrimination no matter what the explanation was.

In the same issue of The Times where this appeared, the paper devoted its entire letters section to readers expressing indignation that any Times writer could praise the President for anything.  Micheal Kinsley had triggered them with a tongue-in cheek (Michael has only one tone) “he’s not all-bad” column. This shows the blindness and bias of “the resistance,” Democrats and the Left generally. They cannot even see that open, blatant discrimination based on color, which would have certainly been embraced by a Clinton Administration, is a blight on  democracy, and that striking it down will be an absolute good for which any President responsible would warrant praise.

2.  When the NFL is involved, all ethics alarms freeze up, apparently. In September, former NFL quarterback Michael Vick will be inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame. Vick is a convicted felon and confessed animal abuser as a central figure in a dogfighting ring. The case study by the Animal Legal Defense Fund states, “After his three co-conspirators pled guilty and began cooperating with authorities, Vick also pled guilty, admitting to funding the dogfighting operation and the associated gambling operation. He admitted to knowing about four dogs that his co-conspirators killed in 2002, and he admitted to agreeing to the hanging and drowning of 6-8 dogs who underperformed in 2007. Vick admitted he provided most of the operation and gambling monies, but he claimed he did not gamble by placing side bets or receiving proceeds from the purses”.

As I have noted before, admitting athletes like Vick is defensible for Halls of Fame that make it clear that only what a player does on the field matters. The athlete can be a child-molester, serial rapist, mass murderer or airplane bomber, but as long as he could hit his receiver 70 yards down field, he should be held up  as a great role model for kids and fit to represent the entire sport forever.

Oops!  The Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame has a character clause, unlike the NFL’s Hall. It says an admittee “must be of good character and reputation [and]not have been a source of embarrassment to the university in any way.”

I guess we can assume that the school isn’t embarrassed in any way by its alum being responsible for this…

and this…

or even this…

Good to know. Continue reading

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Yale’s Core Values Betrayal: The Case Of The Student’s Unnecessarily Provocative Philosophy Essay

It certainly appears as if U.S. higher education is sailing toward the shoals of ethics bankruptcy, full speed ahead. It also appears that Yale, although it’s part of a tightly bunched armada, is leading the way.

A law suit called Doe v. Yale tells a jaw-dropping tale that once would have been unbelievable, “once” meaning “before a large segment of the culture accepted the proposition that free expression and thought were undesirable unless they met certain lockstep requirements that will ease the way to a progressive utopia.” The plaintiff, a male student, claims that Yale punished him for the offense of writing a class essay that offended a female teaching assistant.

According to his lawsuit, in late 2013 a philosophy teaching assistant filed a complaint with the university’s Title IX office, complaining about a short paper “Doe” had written in the class she was helping to teach.  The essay discussed Socrates’ discussion, recounted in Plato’s “Republic,” of the three divisions of the soul and their relationship to justice. It applied the Greek philosopher’s ideas to rape, arguing that the crime was also an irrational act in which  the soul’s appetites and spirited components overwhelm its reason, which must have primacy for mankind to be moral and just.

The Title IX coordinator, an associate dean in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences named Pamela Schirmeister, told Doe that his essay was “unnecessarily provocative.” By daring to discuss rape, he had committed an offense against the teaching assistant. He was told to have no contact with the teaching assistant, and ordered to attend sensitivity training at the university’s mental-health center—re-education and indoctrination, in other words. “Doe” was now, he was told, a “person of interest” to Yale, meaning that that the college was now going to be watching him with a grounded suspicion that he was a potential danger to the campus.

What followed, a few months later, were two dubious accusations of sexual assault by female students, both handled with the slanted, pro-accuser, due process-avoiding  approach that has become epidemic on campuses since President Obama’s Dept of Education issued its infamous “Dear Colleague” letter in April of 2011.  Ethics Alarms has discussed some of these cases and the letter, but that is not the topic before us today.

Today the topic is the suppression of free speech, thought, and expression on college campuses.  Continue reading

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The Washington Post’s Very Bad, Very Revealing Day: How Often Does This Have To Happen Before Journalists Decide Their Bias Is Making Them Stupid…And Untrustworthy?

Yesterday, the Washington Post, one of the three alleged standard-bearers of U.S. print journalism, published gossip and lies as news, got caught and humiliated..twice!.., and again illustrated vividly why the distinction between hoax stories, what the mainstream media condemns as “fake news,'” and their own false reporting due to incompetence and bias, is illusory.

First, the Post published a weird and alarming story about how Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was behaving like a sultan and ordering subordinates to lower their gaze in his presence:

“Many career diplomats say they still have not met him, and some have been instructed not to speak to him directly — or even make eye contact”

This, of course, sparked widespread ridicule by the Left’s bloggers, commentators, journalists and other tweeters, despite the fact that no sources were named to back up the claim. We have here an example of confirmation bias at its most foolish,  on the part of the reporter, the editor, the paper, and the eager partisan bigots who think businessmen are monsters and the Trump administration is made up of freaks and creeps.  The Huffington Post happily published a collection of celebrities, politicians and random social media users reacting to the  story, including Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu , who said he found the article “disturbing.”

So do I. I find it disturbing that the Post, like the New York Times, cannot be trusted to check out inflammatory slurs against public official before declaring them facts. Note that the quote says the diplomats SAY they have not met him, but that some HAVE been instructed not to make eye contact. The Post stated what sounds like obvious holdover-staff rumor-mongering and sabotage as truth, opening the door for widespread contempt and disrespect of the Secretary of State without justification. Yes, that’s disturbing.

It was fake news. I didn’t believe it. I assumed this was the Post’s anti-Trump bias once again seeping into its deteriorating organizational brain. To his credit, Associated Press reporter Mike Lee immediately called foul, B.S., and fake news. Lee said that he had heard the allegation about employees being forced to avert their gaze in the presence of the Secretary of State two weeks before the Post’s story was published, and after checking into the claim,  determined that it was a rumor without basis.

“It’s compelling gossip. I have looked him  in the eyes and not turned to stone. At least not yet…This is not true and people repeating it are making it more difficult to address very real issues.”

When challenged to back up his statement that the story was false, Lee replied,

“Because I have covered State since 1999. Because I know people who didn’t start in 2009 [that is, Obama era partisans].”

Can anyone defend this Post sliming as anything but biased hackery?

But wait, there’s more! Continue reading

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From The Ethics Alarms “Fake News That Deniers Of Mainstream Media Bias Claim Isn’t Fake News But It’s Still Fake News” Files: The New Michael Brown Video And CNN

As we all remember, teen-aged African- American Michael Brown was arrested and subsequently shot to death by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson after he was attacked  by Brown. The narrative, based on a lie told by Brown’s friend and accepted as fact by the news media, that the teen was shot while shouting “Don’t shoot!” and holding his hands up, sparked riots in Ferguson and demonstrations elsewhere, as well as racial tensions that still continue. Much to its disappointment, the Obama Justice Department couldn’t find evidence that Wilson behaved improperly under the circumstances, and he was never charged.

From the New York Times:

[P]olice released a security video from a nearby store that showed Mr. Brown pushing a worker and taking cigarillos minutes before the shooting. But a second, previously unreported video from that same convenience store included in a new documentary is raising new questions about what happened in the hours before the shooting on Aug. 9, 2014.

The footage shows Mr. Brown entering the store, Ferguson Market and Liquor, shortly after 1 a.m. on the day he died. He approaches the counter, hands over an item that appears to be a small bag and takes a shopping sack filled with cigarillos. Mr. Brown is shown walking toward the door with the sack, then turning around and handing the cigarillos back across the counter before exiting.

Jason Pollock, a documentary filmmaker who acquired the new tape, says the footage challenges the police narrative that Mr. Brown committed a strong-armed robbery when he returned to the store around noon that day. Instead, Mr. Pollock believes that the new video shows Mr. Brown giving a small bag of marijuana to store employees and receiving cigarillos in return as part of a negotiated deal. Mr. Pollock said Mr. Brown left the cigarillos behind the counter for safekeeping.

What does the new video, which the store owners deny shows what Pollack says it does, have to do with the circumstances of Brown’s shooting, and whether Officer Wilson was in fear of bodily injury, requiring him to use deadly force?

Nothing. Not a thing.  Nada. Zippo. What occurred hours before Brown encountered Wilson had no impact on the subsequent events. It doesn’t matter whether Mike Brown was selling drugs, stealing something, making funny faces, or clog dancing. It doesn’t change the evidence that he tried to wrest Officer Williams’ gun from him, fled the police car, and turned and charged the officer.  The video literally doesn’t matter, any more than a video of “Pootie Tang” or “The English Patient.”  Because it doesn’t matter, the video has no significance to what does matter, whether the police shooting was just, or racially motivated.  It isn’t news. It isn’t useful or enlightening. If it is represented as news, then the public is being misled. Continue reading

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