Tag Archives: The Star Syndrome

My Mistake! I Thought Having Trump As President Would Teach Our Kids To Be Uncivil, Vulgar Assholes…I Didn’t Foresee Anderson Cooper Helping Out

[The title above is a reference to this post from last year, in case you missed it despite my linking to it just about every other day since…]

On the May 19, 2017 edition of Anderson Cooper 360, the CNN host became frustrated with President Trump’s flack Jeffrey Lord—consider him this President’s less slick version of Lanny Davis or less repulsive version of Paul Begala—-as Lord defended the President’s alleged description of former F.B.I. Director James Comey as a “nut job,” leading to this immortal exchange.

Cooper: If he took a dump on his desk, you would defend it.

Lord: What? [Starts laughing.]

Niiiiice! So professional! So respectful to the President of the United States and any CNN viewers left who have a shred of civility, decency, and sense of  etiquette in public discourse!

So disgusting.

As we know, a back-up weekend weatherman who said this about the  previous President or any before him would have been fired before he finished the 7 day forecast. Cooper, however, is permitted this gutter level breach of courtesy and professionalism, because 1) as CNN’s star, he is held to a lower standard (The Star Syndrome) than weekend weathermen, as we saw in when Cooper smirked and joked with Rachel Maddow about the gay term “teabagger” in order to mock the Tea Party movement,  2) CNN has normalized blatant partisan gestures and outbursts by its talking heads, and 2) this President of the United States  has been found  unworthy of respect and courtesy, or professional journalism standards. CNN will do nothing to discipline Cooper or send te message that his conduct is unacceptable, because the dirty little secret is that as long as President Trump is the target, it is acceptable. At this point in its devolution, CNN is cheerleading what has been accurately called a slow-motion attempted coup by the one-time news network’s party of choice. A Harvard media study released last week showed CNN to be the most unbalanced of all major news outlets in its reporting on the President’s first 100 days, with 97% of its coverage negative in substance or tone.

Cooper later apologized to Lord in the segment, saying, “I like having your voice on here and I think you’re an important voice to have, so I’m sorry I was a little crude. And you defend the president very well, and that’s your job.”

A little crude? Continue reading

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The Most Unethical Sentencing Fallacy Of All: Lavinia Woodward Gets “The King’s Pass”

Oxford University student Lavinia Woodward, 24,  punched and stabbed her boyfriend in a drunken rage, then hurled a jam jar, a glass and a laptop at him. This, in the U.S., would be called a criminal assault, and maybe even attempted murder.  Ah, but British Judge Ian Pringle knows better. He agrees these acts would normally mean a prison term, but Lavinia is a star student, and wants to be a surgeon. He hinted that he would spare her prison time so that her “extraordinary” talent would not be wasted. As poor Lavinia’s barrister, James Sturman, argued, his client’s dreams of becoming a surgeon would be “almost impossible” if she had to serve time.

Well, we certainly mustn’t jeopardize a violent felon’s dreams.

This kind of reasoning is infused with The King’s Pass, also known as The Star Syndrome, the rationalization making the perverse unethical argument that the more talented, prominent, useful and important to society a miscreant is, the less he or she should be accountable for misconduct that nets lesser lights serious and devastating consequences:

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.

Judge Pringle is taking the King’s Pass/Star Syndrome to a new low: he’s arguing that Lavinia should receive special treatment based on how valuable to society she might be, given enough immunity from the consequences of her own conduct.  Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz: Is Jose Fernandez: A Fallen Hero or A Dead Asshole?

When Miami Marlin pitching star Jose Fernandez died, along with two friends, in the night crash of a speedboat he owned, the city of Miami and Major League Baseball was thrown into a state of extended grief. Not only was the 24-year old pitcher the super-star of the Miami Marlins franchise, but, we were told, was a young man of extraordinary character as well. He had the brightest future imaginable. Fernandez was expected to earn between 300 and 500 million dollars during what was expected to be a Hall of Fame caliber career. His girlfriend was pregnant. He was already a role model and a celebrity.

After his death, the team mourned their fallen star with dignity and emotion. This season, the Marlins to honor plan his memory in various ways.

But.

After nearly six-month investigation, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s report on the accident  concluded  that Jose Fernandez was driving the speed  boat when it crashed. killing the pitcher, Eduardo Rivero and Emilio Macias  in the early morning of Sept. 25, 2016. Fernandez’s blood alcohol level was .147 and there was “noted presence of cocaine,” according to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s toxicology report.

The speed of the 32-foot vessel during the impact of the crash on the north side of a jetty was 65.7 miles per hour, far too fast for the conditions and the area. The report concludes:

“Fernandez operated V-1 with his normal faculties impaired, in a reckless manner, at an extreme high rate of speed, in the darkness of night, in an area with known navigational hazards such as rock jetties and channel markers.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is it ethical, responsible and right for the Miami Marlins, or anyone, to honor Jose Fernandez in light of these revelations?

Continue reading

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Ethics Dunces In Arms: Gloria Steinem And The New York Times Demonstrate How “The Star Syndrome” Works

Gloria 2017 (right), with her ghostwriter, Gloria 2007 ( left)

Last week, Gloria Steinem authored an op-ed in The New York Times headlined, “Women Have Chick-Flicks. What About Men?”.

It was standard issue male-bashing; biased and badly researched junk, but more interestingly, at least half of it was ten years old, substantially lifted from a piece Steinem wrote for the Women’s Media Center website in 2007. This kind of lazy self-plagiarism is a major ethical breach that respectable publications do not suffer gladly, at least when the miscreant isn’t a feminist icon that their editors worship, or at least feel has earned immunity from those annoying ethical principles lesser mortals have to deal with.

As an aside, it really is a silly op-ed, not worthy of publication the first time, much less plagiarizing now. Some excerpts:

I was on a flight from New York to Seattle when a long delay on the tarmac prompted the airline to offer us a free movie. As the flight attendant read the choices aloud, a young man across the aisle said, “I don’t watch chick flicks!” I knew what he meant, and so did the woman sitting next to me. A “chick flick” is one that has more dialogue than car chases, more relationships than special effects, and whose suspense comes more from how people live than from how they get killed.

Translation: “Men are morons, women are sophisticates.” No generalizations or stereotypes there…

Think about it: If “Anna Karenina” had been by Leah Tolstoy, or “The Scarlet Letter” by Nancy Hawthorne or “A Doll’s House” by Henrietta Ibsen — if “The Invisible Man” had been “The Invisible Woman” — would they have been hailed as classics? Suppose Shakespeare had really been the Dark Lady who some people still think he/she was. I bet most of her plays and all of her sonnets would have been dismissed as ye olde Elizabethan chick lit and buried until they were resurrected by stubborn feminist scholars of today.

Two words: Prove it. Since  very few  great female authors were writing similarly brilliant literature in those periods, Steinem’s bet is rigged. Where are those buried woman-authored masterpieces that stand up as the equals of “King Lear” and  “War and Peace”? I’ll make another bet: I bet if those works had been written by women, we’d know it, and they would be just as admired and immortal as the works authored by men. Has Gloria heard of Wuthering Heights? Jane Eyre? Frankenstein? Pride and Prejudice? Has she heard of Jane Austen?

But I digress.

The original article published referred to that airplane flight as taken by Steinem  “recently.” That word was taken out after Gloria’s cheat was discovered, and this “Editor’s Note” was added: Continue reading

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From The “Kings Pass” Files: Rep. Lewis Abuses His Icon Status [UPDATED]

john-lewis2

Yesterday, Rep. John Lewis told NBC audiences that Donald J. Trump, duly elected, legally and without question, was “an illegitimate President.” This was an unprecedented act of vicious partisanship and unethical public service. Worse, Lewis’s statement was intentionally racially divisive, timed to appear the day before Martin Luther King Day, and less than a week before the Inauguration. Imagine the bipartisan fury that a similar pronouncement by a white Congressman would have (justly) attracted in January, 2009. But double standards are “in” this year, if you are a progressive, a Democrat, or just someone who wants to weaken the United States of America and make certain that the recent election results in a calamity.

Lewis, as he has much of his tenure in the House, was relying on his status as a civil rights icon 60 years ago to immunize him from the consequences of his actions. In other words, he was depending on  Rationalization #11, The King’s Pass, that particularly corrosive rationalization—it is also called “The Star Syndrome”— which holds that distinguished figures who should be role models must be allowed to get away with conduct that anyone less prominent would be punished for. The King’s Pass wrecks companies and sports teams, allows sexual predator Presidents to get away with lying under oath, and is one of the many reasons the world doesn’t work very well. In addition to showing that “laws are for the little people,” abusers of status like Lewis  stand for the proposition that ethics are just for little people too.

Martin Luther King’s associates and lieutenants have been particularly prolific in exploiting The King’s Pass. Jesse Jackson proved himself to be a venal race hustler, but was insulated from the criticism he deserved by virtue of his civil rights era bona fides. Worse yet was the late Marion Barry, a cynical and corrupt mayor of Washington, D.C., whose loyal African American supporters treated him as if he could do no wrong. Police arresting him for smoking crack the same week he lectured schoolchildren on the evils of drugs was widely condemned by his supporters as racially motivated.

Our juvenile and impulsive President-Elect, sadly but predictably, reacted to Lewis’s irresponsible attack by tweeting a “shut up and do your job” response. “He’s a counter-puncher, ” explained Corey Lewandowski , the ex-Trump campaign manager who virtually counter-punched a reporter when she tried to ask the candidate a question at a rally. No, he’s a fool, but Trump’s unpresidential tweeting doesn’t excuse or validate Lewis’s conduct. “Fury Builds as Civil Rights Icon Is Denigrated”  headlines today’s Times, growing more biased and inflammatory by the day. Lewis was intentionally trying to spark fury as well as partisan and racial division, and he earned that denigration, because it was unpatriotic, unstatesmanlike, and willfully destructive.

It only seems less so because so many in Lewis’s party are behaving almost as poorly. Continue reading

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Oh, Great…CNN’s Don Lemon Was Stinking Drunk On The Air Again This Year

How professional.

Clearly, the news media, after its disgraceful performance in 2016, is determined to win back the public’s trust.

I have nothing to add to last year’s post about this. Here’s the main point…

Naturally, lots of tweeters and bloggers thought this was just hilarious and endearing, just as they would probably react with admiration if President Obama turned up stoned for his State of the Union address. The fact that too many Americans are juvenile dummies who don’t care about proper deportment, responsibility and professionalism, and who think impairment is cool, doesn’t excuse a supposed news network from validating their stupidity, or allowing an anchor to debase journalism and to send the message that being smashed on the job is acceptable. Drunks on the job cost businesses millions and occasionally get people killed. Being drunk on the job is always wrong, unless you are a paid drunk. I don’t know any of those.

It does not mitigate this display of vulgarity and lack of responsibility by CNN’s star talking head that he decided to toss all restraint and proper on-the-air conduct to the winds the second he had a colorable excuse. CNN is as irresponsible as Lemon: once he started misbehaving and embarrassing the network (assuming they know what embarrassment in broadcast journalism is, which I now doubt), someone should have ordered him off the air….An ethical news organization would at least suspend Lemon and require an on-air apology. An ethical journalist would, in fact, apologize without being forced. But an ethical journalist wouldn’t get bombed on the job.

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Nick Kyrgios, Pro Tennis Fick

Or, perhaps, Nick Kyrgios is the pro tennis Donald Trump?

A fick is someone who is openly unethical and defiant about it. Leroy Fick gave the condition his name when he laughed about collecting public assistance checks in Michigan after winning millions in the state lottery. There have been many ficks past and present: one of them is running for President. Nick Kyrgios is pro tennis’s fick, and the sport is proving itself an ethics dunce of Republican Party proportions by not  banning him from competition until he shapes up.

The gifted 21-year-old, who has already been fined many times for ugly behavior during matches including insulting spectators and officials, sank to new depths this week at a tournament in Shanghai.  Kyrgios blatantly tanked his match against Mischa Zverev, declining to make an effort to win on many points. Among his displays of contempt for the match was  hitting a lob serve  and walking off the court before Zverev  could  return it.  He lost a 48 minute straight-set decision, 6-3, 6-1.

“Nick, you can’t play like that, okay?” The chair umpire said when Kyrgios threw away a point . “It’s just not professional.”

Ooooh, that should scare him! How about, “Do that again, young man, and you’ll forfeit the match and your prize money. And that will be for starters. Understand?”

When a fan criticized him from the stands, he shouted back,  “You wanna come here and play?Sit down and shut up and watch.” Required answer: “Sure. I’ll play.  couldn’t do any worse than you, and at least I’d do my best.” After the match, Kyrgios was asked by a reporter if  his conduct wasn’t disrespectful to paying fans.

“I don’t owe them anything,” he said. “If you don’t like it, I didn’t ask you to come watch. Just leave.”

Fick. Continue reading

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