Gayle King, R.Kelly, Journalism Competence And The King’s Pass

For some reason—OK, I think I know the reasons—CBS morning host Gayle King is getting plaudits for mishandling the insane R.Kelly interview last week. The photo below  says it all: Kelly, his reputation and career falling apart in chunks because the years of rumors and accounts of his alleged sexual misconduct with underage girls finally caught up to the hip-hop superstar (thanks to an explosive documentary—hmmm, where have we heard that before?— is standing, shouting, ranting and generally going bonkers as King sits immobile and silent, with her eyes cast down.

There were two exhibitions of the King’s Pass on display in the interview and its aftermath. Kelly, being allowed to behave outrageously on the air was one, for most guests in any setting would be ordered to sit down, act civilly, or leave the studio after such an infantile and threatening display. King was the other, praised for showing that her frequent feminist rhetoric was convenient claptrap, and that she did not have the guts or principle to assert her power over an abusive male when professional ethics demanded it.

I’m not sure which is more unforgivable. CNN said that King’s passivity was a masterclass in journalism. The Washington Post praised her “composure.” She told the New York Times that she was silently thinking, “Don’t walk off the set. Don’t walk off the set.” A competent journalist should have given him a warning, and then had him thrown off the set. A female professional who had the integrity to demonstrate how women should handle male abuse would have demanded that he sit down, apologize, or leave. They train salespeople and operators to push back against abusive customers, but a national TV host doesn’t have the fortitude to act when a guest behaves like a berserk barbarian? Continue reading

More Amazing Tales Of “The King’s Pass”: The Megan Barry Saga

You can’t make this stuff up. Well, you could, but nobody would believe you. That’s not quite right: I would believe you, but then I’ve seen this story.

Maybe you’ve seen some of it. There are interesting posts on Nashville’s disgraced and jettisoned mayor here, here, and here. 

Surely you read them. No? I forgive you—after all, Facebook deems the output of this blog not fit for human eyes, so why should anyone bother reading, especially when Ethics Alarms persists in pointing out the astounding double standards being fought for in the media and by progressive warriors? Here, let be provide some quick bullet points as a review, kind of like those Netflix shows do in their second seasons to recap the previous season…

  • “Nashville’s first term mayor Megan Barry admitted yesterday that she had an extramarital affair with the police officer in charge of her security detail. She apologized “for the harm I’ve done to the people I love and the people who counted on me” but said she won’t be resigning. In a news conference, she said nothing illegal happened and no policies were violated.” The Nashville Mayor’s Affair, 2/1/18
  • (Same source as above): “This is sexual harassment. The officer was a subordinate, and she was his boss, with the power to fire him or worse. There can be no genuine consent in such situations….the conservative media constantly points out that when Republicans are involved in scandals, the news media always places their party affiliation in the first paragraph, but when the miscreant is a Democrat, it is buried or not mentioned at all. Let’s use this story as a test:1. NOLA (local), below: No mention of the Mayor’s party at all.2. The Tennessean (local), below: Third paragraph.3. USA Today: 22nd paragraph!

    4. NPR: Nope!

    5. NBC: Nope!

    6. ABC: Nope!”

  • And this just in! Nashville’s main newspaper, the Tenneseean, reports that Rob Forrest, the Mayor’s married lover, earned substantially more overtime than the other bodyguards on Barry’s secuirty detail, $173,843.13  between July 2015 and January 2017, which was nearly $53,000 more than the other four bodyguards received combined. But, as several internet wags have noted, let’s be fair: Rob was doing more for the mayor than those other bodyguards..How Many Rationalizations Can You Spot In This Op-Ed? (2/20/18)
  • “The statement is a whitewash, a delusion, and a lie. It is the upbeat farewell of a successful leader, not what it should be, the humble request for forgiveness from a terrible one, acknowledging wrongdoing and promising to be better. The statement shows no contrition, no remorse, no accountability, no courage, and no conscience. Based on these words, I think Megan Barry is a sociopath.” Unethical Quote Of The Week: Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s Resignation Statement, 3/7/18
  • Same source: “… after various revelations that suggested illicit and excessive compensation somehow made their way to her huggy-bug, both Barry and paramour Robert Forrest had to plead guilty to theft of property over $10,000 — a Class C Felony. She will pay $11,000 to the city in restitution and serve three years’ probation, as will Forest, though he will have to pay back $45,000 to the city.”

Continue reading

Amazing Tales Of “The King’s Pass”: The Johnny Manziel Saga

To refresh your memory, from the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list:Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list:

11. The King’s Pass, The Star Syndrome, or “What Will We Do Without Him?”

One will often hear unethical behavior excused because the person involved is so important, so accomplished, and has done such great things for so many people that we should look the other way, just this once. This is a terribly dangerous mindset, because celebrities and powerful public figures come to depend on it. Their achievements, in their own minds and those of their supporters and fans, have earned them a more lenient ethical standard. This pass for bad behavior is as insidious as it is pervasive, and should be recognized and rejected whenever it raises its slimy head.  In fact, the more respectable and accomplished an individual is, the more damage he or she can do through unethical conduct, because such individuals engender great trust. Thus the corrupting influence on the individual of The King’s Pass leads to the corruption of others.

There was good news on the King’s Pass front, when reports emerged that the Philadelphia Philllies decided to spend their “crazy money” on free agent outfielder Bryce Harper rather than free agent infielder Manny Machado because of Machado’s unsportsmanlike conduct during the recent post-season and his excusing his loafing to first  in a game by saying that he “wasn’t Johnny Hustle.” Since Harper’s ridiculous contract from Philly ended up being 30 million dollars more than Machado’s ridiculous contract with the San Diego Padres,  one could conclude that Machado ‘s conduct, which would get a lesser player benched, demoted, traded for a bag of peanuts or released, at least cost the jerk 30 million dollars.

Good.

But with the King’s Pass, such episodes are rare. Yesterday we learned that alleged football star quarterback—his nickname is “Johnny Football”—Johnny Manzeil was released from the Canadian Football League. The CFL wouldn’t give details, saying only he had “contravened the agreement which made him ineligible to play in the league,” but since it was known that the agreement included weekly therapy appointments, mandatory doctor visits and monthly Lithium tests, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happened: Johnny happened. Here’s a summary of Manziel’s “controversies” from Wikipedia:

June 2012 arrest

On June 29, 2012—before he was chosen as Texas A&M’s starting quarterback and before his first college game—Manziel was arrested and charged with three misdemeanors—disorderly conduct, failure to produce identification, and possession of a fictitious driver’s license. These charges stemmed from a late-night fight…In July 2013, he pleaded guilty to failure to produce identification, and the other two charges were dismissed.

…After the incident, Manziel eventually regained the favor of his team and head coach…and was named the starting quarterback… When reporters asked about the incident during his first press conference on November 27, Manziel stated that he had learned from the mistake and “had to make a lot of changes in [his] life.”[146][147]

2013 offseason

During the 2013 offseason at Texas A&M, Manziel drew significant media attention over his behavior off the field. Notable incidents include his early departure from the Manning Passing Academy after allegedly oversleeping, tweeting that he “can’t wait to leave College Station” after receiving a parking ticket, and getting kicked out of a fraternity party…ESPN reported that the NCAA was investigating whether Manziel accepted payments for autographs that he had signed in January 2013. The NCAA did not find any evidence that Manziel accepted money for the autographs, but reached an agreement with Texas A&M to suspend him for the first half of the season opener against Rice University, due to an “inadvertent violation” of NCAA rules.

2015 offseason

On February 4, Manziel entered a treatment program for unspecified reasons. On May 30, Manziel was involved in an incident with a heckler at a   golf tournament. The heckler had been continually asking for an autograph, to the point that Manziel became fed up and threw a water bottle at the man. The water bottle missed the heckler. Security and police were called, but no charges were filed.

2015 season

Manziel was pulled over by a policeman after fighting in his car with his then girlfriend, Colleen Crowley. Although no charges were made, Manziel admitted to having had some alcoholic drinks earlier that afternoon…On November 24, a week after Manziel was announced as the NFL C;eveland Browns’ starter for the remainder of the season, head coach Mike Pettine demoted Manziel to third string after a video of him partying surfaced on the Internet….It was later revealed Manziel reportedly lied about the video… Manziel was seen at a Las Vegas casino the night before the Browns played their final game of the 2015 season. Manziel was scratched from the final game because of a concussion. …The next day, Manziel failed to report to the Browns on Sunday morning when he was supposed to report to the team medic, which all players with concussions are supposed to do.

2016

On January 6, 2016, Manziel’s marketing agency, LRMR, announced that it would no longer work with Manziel. Manziel’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, also announced that he would no longer represent Manziel. On February 5, 2016, the Dallas Police Department announced that they were opening a criminal investigation with a claim of domestic violence involving his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley. Dallas police had originally closed the case, but re-opened it with allegations stemming from an altercation on January 30, 2016, at a downtown Dallas hotel. According to Crowley, Manziel forced her into a car, pulled her by the hair, and threatened to kill both her and himself. On April 24, Manziel was indicted by a Dallas grand jury on misdemeanor assault charges for the incident.

On April 19, 2016, after just two months of representing him, agent Drew Rosenhaus terminated Manziel as a client, marking the first time in Rosenhaus’ 27-year career he fired an NFL player.On the same day, Nike ended its sponsorship with Manziel.[166]

On June 24, 2016, Manziel’s attorney, Bob Hinton, accidentally sent a lengthy text message to the AP relating to Manziel’s defense in his domestic violence case. In the message, Hinton expressed concerns about Manziel’s ability to stay clean, saying that he was given a receipt that suggests Manziel spent around $1,000 at The Gas Pipe, a drug paraphernalia store. On the same day, Manziel’s father, Paul, told ESPN: “He’s a druggie. It’s not a secret that he’s a druggie. Hopefully, he doesn’t die before he comes to his senses. I mean, I hate to say it, but I hope he goes to jail. I mean, that would be the best place for him. I’m doing my job, and I’m going to move on. If I have to bury him, I’ll bury him.”

On June 30, 2016, he was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. On December 2, 2016, Manziel and prosecutors finalized a plea agreement in which Manziel agreed to undergo counseling and have his conduct monitored by prosecutors for up to a year or face prosecution.

Apparently Wikipedia got tired of updating Johnny’s page. Now kicked out of the NFL and the CFL, a new pro league is thinking about signing Johnny Football, and here is how USA Today reported it, in part: here is how USA Today reported it, in part:

It’s no surprise Johnny Manziel’s sudden availability was cause for great celebration around the AAF (Alliance of American Football). Johnny Football would be the ultimate addition for the upstart league….Before anybody whips out a contract and a pen, however, be warned: You don’t know who you’re getting. Will it be Johnny Manziel, who last summer spoke earnestly of prioritizing his mental health and the costly lessons he’d learned from when he didn’t? Or will it be Johnny Football, whose boozed-up escapades and immaturity sent him crashing out of the NFL two years after he was a first-round pick?

Gee, I think it will be Johnny Manziel, certified asshole, who has been behaving the same way since college, but teams keep signing him and giving him money, sending the rest of the team, football, kids and the world that if you have talent, you can get away with almost anything, or at least get an endless number of “second chances.”

The other news? Manziel’s wife was accused of cheating in a half-marathon, and lying about her time.

Come on, AAF, sign him up! What are you waiting for?

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/16/2019: The King’s Pass And Kool-Aid

Good morning…

1. A literal “King’s Pass”! The King’s Pass, #11 on the Ethic Alarms rationalization list, was acted out with perfection in Great Britain, where Prince Philip, despite causing an automobile accident that injured another driver, was not charged or ticketed by authorities. The nonagenarian royal has been persuaded to surrender his driving license, however.

2. Politics do not belong in the sports pages...but don’t tell the New York Times. In another King’s Pass-related story,“Patriarch’s Racist Emails Stagger Cubs Owners” (the print version), in which the Times subtly lobbies for the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball to take punitive action against Joe Ricketts, the billionaire whose family owns the team, we had the following statements…

  • “The false assertion that Obama, who identifies as Protestant, was Muslim and born outside the United States were prevalent in right-wing politics during his presidency.” This is just false. The birthers were a radical fringe of the conservative opposition to Obama, and that weak conspiracy theory was never “prevalent.” Nor can the birther claims be fairly called “racist,” though certainly many of their adherents were racist. Among the “racist” sentiments attributed to Ricketts in the article were “we cannot ever let Islam become a large part of our society.”  At worst that’s religious bigotry, not racism. At best it’s a defensible point of view.

In fact, I tend to agree with it, and the experience of Western Europe supports the position.

  • The article approvingly cites the mandatory grovel by Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs, who denounced his father’s emails in a statement, saying, “We are aware of the racially insensitive emails in my father’s account that were published by an online media outlet. Let me be clear: The language and views expressed in those emails have no place in our society.”

Let me be clear: any language and all views have a place in a society founded on the principles of freedom of thought and expression. The casual and routine endorsement of thought-crime and censorship by the mainstream news media (and academia) is far more alarming than any private emails by an elderly billionaire. Continue reading

Unethical, Shameless, Gutsy, Creepy Or Thought-Provoking: Kevin Spacey’s Christmas Video

What do we make of this, released by actor Kevin Spacey lastweek almost at the same time as he was being indicted for sexual assault?

Yikes.

The much-acclaimed actor  career collapsed in 2017 as more than 30 people claimed that Spacey had sexually assaulted them. Now he is speaking in the persona—with accent!— of his Netflix series villain, Frank Underwood, the central character of “House of Cards.” Or is he? Much of the speech seems to refer to Spacey’s own plight, and suggests that the actor is being unfairly convicted in the court of public opinion. By using the voice and character of an unequivocal miscreant however, for Frank is a liar, a cheat, a sociopath, indeed a murderer, such protests are automatically incredible.

Or is Spacey making a legitimate argument that an artist’s personal flaws should be irrelevant to the appreciation of his art, especially in a case like “House of Cards,” where the actor’s role can’t possibly be undermined by the actor’s own misdeeds: whatever one says or thinks about Spacey, he can’t  be as bad as Frank Underwood. If you enjoyed watching Underwood destroy lives on his way to power, why should Spacey’s conduct, even if it was criminal, make you give up the pleasure of observing his vivid and diverting fictional creation? This isn’t like Bill Cosby, serially drugging and raping women while playing a wise, moral and funny father-figure. Spacey seems to be arguing that there should be no cognitive dissonance between him and Underwood at all. Who better to play a cur like Frank  than an actor who shares his some of his darkness? Continue reading

Tennis Ethics: Spectacular Ethics Train Wreck At The U.S. Open

 

Wow.

And tennis is supposedly one of the most ethical sports.

This weekend’s U.S. Open women’s final opened up so many cans of ethics worms that they should be squiggling for weeks.

Here is the New York Times report in part:

Anger, boos, tears and an accusation of sexism overshadowed a remarkable victory by Naomi Osaka, a rising star who became the first tennis player born in Japan to win a Grand Slam championship.

Osaka soundly defeated her childhood idol, Serena Williams, 6-2, 6-4, in the women’s final of the United States Open on Saturday, blocking Williams from winning a record-tying 24th major singles title. But the match will long be remembered for a series of confrontations between Williams and Carlos Ramos, the match’s chair umpire, who issued three penalties against Williams in the second set, after Osaka had established her dominance.

The first was a warning after Ramos felt Williams was receiving instructions from her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, from the stands, which is against the rules. Williams was offended by the implication that she was cheating, and she demanded an apology. Later, after losing a game, she smashed her racket on the court, incurring a second penalty and the loss of a point. Finally, after she called Ramos a “thief” for taking the point from her, Ramos cited Williams a third time, resulting in the loss of a game. Williams’s anger intensified, and she pleaded for help from the tournament referee, Brian Earley, and the Grand Slam supervisor, Donna Kelso….

But what should have been a moment of uninhibited joy for Osaka turned into tears of sadness. The postmatch celebration was tarnished by the angry booing from fans upset over what they perceived as Ramos’s unfair treatment of Williams, and amid the cacophony, amplified by the closed roof because of rain, Osaka pulled her visor down over her face and cried….

In the second game, Ramos spotted Mouratoglou urging Williams to move up, and Mouratoglou conceded that he was, in fact, coaching. But he argued that it is done by every coach in every match and that the warning was the cause of what followed. He said Ramos should have quietly told Williams to inform him to cut it out. “That’s what umpires do all year,” the coach said, “and it would have ended there, and we would have avoided a drama that was totally avoidable.”

Williams approached the chair to tell Ramos that it was a “thumbs-up” gesture and that she would never accept coaching on court, which is against the rules of Grand Slam events. “I don’t cheat to win,” she said in a stern tone. “I’d rather lose.”

During the next changeover, tensions seemed to simmer down during a civil exchange when Williams explained to Ramos that she understood he might have interpreted some coaching, but that none actually existed.

Williams went back on court, held her serve in that game, and then broke Osaka’s serve to take a 3-1 lead in the second set. If she could have consolidated that break, it might have turned the flow of the match. But Osaka broke right back, and after the game ended, Williams destroyed her racket by throwing it to the court in anger. That resulted in a racket abuse penalty, a second code violation, for which the penalty is a point. Osaka would start the next game ahead by 15-0. When Williams realized that, she argued more and demanded that Ramos apologize to her and make an announcement to the crowd that she was not receiving any coaching. Ramos, known for his no-nonsense approach, did not relent.

“You owe me an apology,” Williams said. “I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter and I stand for what’s right for her and I have never cheated.”

When the next changeover came, with Osaka leading, 4-3, Williams, still visibly distraught over what she perceived as unfair treatment, told Ramos that he had stolen a point from her and called him “a thief.” For that, Ramos gave Williams a third code violation, which meant she lost a game. Without swinging her racket, Osaka was now ahead, 5-3, and one game from the championship. Williams did not appear to realize that Osaka had been given the game until she reached the baseline again. Now fuming, she returned to the chair and demanded to speak to Earley and Kelso. Fighting back tears as the crowd yelled, hooted and booed, Williams pleaded her case. She said the treatment was unfair and argued that male players routinely behave in the same manner without facing penalties.

“There are men out here that do a lot worse, but because I’m a woman, because I’m a woman, you’re going to take this away from me? That is not right,” Williams told one official. Later, at a post match news conference, she accused Ramos of sexism for issuing a code violation for her “thief” accusation….

As the players stood next to each other, fans booed and Williams, seeing how upset Osaka was, moved over and put her arm around the new champion and then pleaded with the fans not to boo.

Osaka, in her speech, apologized to the fans, acknowledging that most of the fans were rooting for Williams in her quest to set a career record.

Now this, from the Sporting News:

Patrick Mouratoglou admitted to coaching Serena Williams during the U.S. Open final, but believes she never received his message….Mouratoglou said he had attempted to help Williams, but added coaching was common in almost every match.”I’m honest, I was coaching. I don’t think she looked at me so that’s why she didn’t even think I was,” he told ESPN.

“But I was, like 100 percent of the coaches in 100 percent of the matches so we have to stop this hypocritical thing. Sascha (Bajin, Osaka’s coach) was coaching every point, too. “It’s strange that this chair umpire (Carlos Ramos) was the chair umpire of most of the finals of Rafa (Nadal) and (his uncle) Toni’s coaching every single point and he never gave a warning so I don’t really get it.”

If you read Ethics Alarms with any regularity at all, you should be able to predict some of the commentary here, if not all of it.

Observations: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Round-Up, 8/23/2018: A Quote Fest!

Good Morning!

1. Now THIS is narcissism! It’s long, but go ahead and read it.  This  was Madonna’s “tribute” to the late Aretha Franklin at the VMAs this week:

Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life. I left Detroit when I was 18. $35 in my pocket. My dream was to make it as a professional dancer.
After years of struggling and being broke, I decided to go to auditions for musical theater. I heard the pay was better. I had no training or dreams of ever becoming a singer, but I went for it. I got cut, and rejected from every audition. Not tall enough. Not blends-in enough, not 12-octave range enough, not pretty enough, not enough, enough. And then, one day, a French disco sensation was looking for back-up singers and dancers for his world tour. I thought, “Why not?” The worst that can happen is I could go back to getting robbed, held at gunpoint and being mistaken for a prostitute in my third floor walk-up that was also a crack house. So I showed up for the audition, and two very large French record producers sat in the empty theater, daring me to be amazing. The dance audition went well. Then they asked if I had sheet music and a song prepared. I panicked. I had overlooked this important part of the audition process. I had to think fast. My next meal was on the line. Fortunately, one of my favorite albums was “Lady Soul” by Aretha Franklin. I blurted out, “You Make Me Feel.” Silence. “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman.” Two French guys nodded at me. I said, “You know, by Aretha Franklin.” Again, “Mmmhmm.” They looked over at the pianist. He shook his head. “I don’t need sheet music,” I said, “I know every word. I know the song by heart, I will sing it a cappella.” I could see that they did not take me seriously. And why should they? Some skinny a– white girl is going to come up here and belt out a song by one of the greatest soul singers that ever lived? A cappella? I said, “Bitch, I’m Madonna.”

No, I didn’t. I didn’t say that. Cause I wasn’t Madonna yet. I don’t know who I was. I don’t know what I said. I don’t know what came over me. I walked to the edge of the pitch black stage and I started singing. When I was finished and drenched in nerve sweat. Y’all know what this is, right, nerve sweat? They said, “We will call you one day, and maybe soon.” So weeks went by and no phone call. Finally, the phone rang, and it was one of the producers, saying, (French accent) “We don’t think you are right for this job.” I’m like, “Why are you calling me?” He replied, “We think you have great potentials. You are rough for the edges but there is good rawness. We want to bring you to Paris and make you a star.” We will put you in a studio . . . it sounded good, and I wanted to live in Paris and also I wanted to eat some food. So, that was the beginning of my journey as a singer. I left for Paris.

But I came back a few months later, because I had not earned the luxury life I was living. It felt wrong. They were good people. But I wanted to write my own songs and be a musician, not a puppet. I needed to go back home and learn to play guitar, and that is exactly what I did. And the rest is history.

So, you are probably all wondering why I am telling you this story. There is a connection. Because none of this would have happened, could have happened, without our lady of soul. She led me to where I am today. And I know she influenced so many people in this house tonight, in this room tonight. And I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us. R-e-s-p-e-c-t. Long live the queen.

Another anecdote I would like to share: In 1984, this is where the first VMAs were, in this very building. I performed at this show. I sang “Like a Virgin” at the top of a cake. On the way down, I lost a shoe, and then I was rolling on the floor. I tried to make it look like it was part of the choreography, looking for the missing stiletto. And my dress flew up and my butt was exposed, and oh my God, quelle horreur. After the show, my manager said my career was over. LOL.

The fact that Madonna is getting flack for this is almost as funny as the fact that she would think a long monologue about herself qualified as an appropriate tribute to Franklin. This is a manageable mental illness, but it is pathological, and Madonna is an extreme narcissist in a business that produces them in bushels. But didn’t everyone know that? Why, knowing that this woman only sees the world in terms of how it can advance her interests, would anyone entrust  her with giving a tribute to anyone else? That’s rank incompetence.

Narcissists are incapable of ethical reasoning, since ethics requires caring about someone other than yourself.  Madonna’s “tribute” is a valuable window into how such people think. Madonna really thought the nicents thing she could say about Aretha Franklin is that she made a cameo appearance in Madonna’s epic life.

2. Next, a ventriloquist act! Continue reading