A Too Common Media Practice That Is Per Se Unethical: The Purchased “Opinion”

"But remember---we tell you what opinion to express. Deal?"

“But remember—we tell you what opinion to express. Deal?”

Lanny Davis, the attorney and Washington D.C. political consultant who became a tiresome, repetitive and shameless presence on national television during the Monica crisis, has just authored a review of sorts of Hillary Clinton’s book, “Hard Choices.” On “The Hill,” he pronounces it a genuine portrait of its author, and as accurate as it is complimentary. “No, Hillary Clinton hasn’t changed through all the years: the importance of family and friends, the “service gene” as active today as I witnessed some 45 years ago,” David writes, ” motivating her to “never quit — never stop working to make the world a better place.”

Maybe the book is wonderful, and maybe it isn’t; about that, I do not care. Davis begins with a lie: he says that the book’s sales “are strong,” when the buzz on the web, and not just among those rooting for Clinton to fall on her face, is how disappointing sales are. But Davis is paid by his clients to shade the truth; I’m not going to quibble about the deceit inherent in “strong.”

This, however, matters, and it is a long-held pet peeve of mine: Lanny Davis works for the Clintons. He has for years. If he is not currently on Hillary’s payroll, he will be, or is angling to be: pick a, b, or c. The conclusion is the same no matter which it is: he is biased; he will personally benefit from endorsing Hillary and her book, and thus his article, which purports to be an honest, objective, reliable assessment, is almost certainly nothing of the kind. Continue reading

Ethics Hero and Ethics Quote of the Week: Sen. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) delivered the following remarks as the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Obviously Ethics Alarms approves of Graham’s vote and reasoning, as it is consistent with what I believe is the most ethical, fair and responsible course for all Republican senators. His statement, however, is extraordinary in its appeal to the best instincts of ethical public servants, and rather than just a link (the text comes from The Hill), I think proper respect and admiration dictate a full presentation. It embodies fairness, civility, professionalism. respect and dignity, as well as the ideals of collaborative government. When he concluded, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said, “During the course of his statement, I reflected on some of the things that I have said and how I’ve voted in the past and thought that perhaps his statement suggested there was a better course for many of us to consider in the future.”  The chances of such a course actually being followed would have been vastly increased, of course, if some of Graham’s colleagues shared his courage and integrity. Still, it is a start.

Here is what Sen. Graham said: Continue reading