Ethics Quote Of The Month: Secretary Of State John Kerry

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“…I’m proud of all the efforts we made to try to lead people to a peaceful resolution.”

John Kerry, in an interview on MSNBC, when asked if he had any regrets about the Administration’s handling of Syria;

The Sec. of State’s full answer:

Well again, Andrea, I’m going to have a lot of opportunities to be able to look back and digest what choices might have been made. I’m not going to do it now… Except to say to you, very clearly, that I’m proud of all the efforts we made to try to lead people to a peaceful resolution. And in fact, the only solution to Syria will be a peaceful agreement along the lines of what we laid out… and the several communiques that we issued, and the United Nations resolution that we passed. 2254. Those will be the basis for whatever happens, if they get there.

No, I’m not going to call Kerry’s statement an unethical quote, even as close as it came to making my head explode. Fortunately my expectations of John Kerry are basement-level low, from long experience. However, the latest fatuous sentiment from this veteran doofus is provocative and instructive.

In many pursuits, as we discuss here often, whether someone has done the right thing, made the ethical choice, should be evaluated on the basis of whether the conduct was competently considered and arrived at according to facts and ethical considerations before the conduct commenced. Judging its ethical nature  afterwards, when factors the decision-maker could not have foreseen or controlled have affected the result, is a fallacy: “It all worked out for the best” and thus the decision must have been ethical. This is consequentialism, and “the ends justifies the means” in its most seductive form.

A very recent example was the Republican leadership’s decision not to consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. No, the tactic wasn’t unconstitutional or illegal. It was unethical, however: obstructive, partisan politics defying tradition and fairness. It was also, as I pointed out at the time, stupid. When Obama, knowing of the GOP’s intent, appointed not a flame-breathing left-wing zealot but a moderate-liberal judge of impressive credentials, the GOP majority in the Senate should have rushed to confirm him, knowing well that a nomination by Obama’s presumed successor, Hillary Clinton, would unbalance the Court to a far greater degree.

The GOP lucked out, as we now know. Now President Trump will fill that vacancy on the Court, with major impact on important legal disputes for decades to come. That’s all moral luck, however. The ethics verdict on the conduct still stands. It worked, but it was wrong.

Success is not irrelevant to ethics, of course. Many jobs are ethically complex because getting a desired result is part of the mission. The result and the manner of achieving it are important. If your job is to win the war, you can’t say you did an excellent job if the war was lost. Competence is still an ethical value. A successful CEO’s company does not go belly-up by definition. Government is often analogized to sailing a ship to a destination, or flying a plane, with good reason. Part of the responsibility a government leader has is to make choices that work to the benefit of  those governed, and others as well. A captain whose ship sinks cannot say afterwards, “I did one hell of a job.” Continue reading

This Might Force ME To Vote For Donald Trump: Clinton Campaign Manager Robbie Mook’s Unethical Quote Of The Month

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“All that we’re asking is that if Donald Trump lies, that it’s pointed out. It’s unfair to ask that Hillary Clinton both play traffic cop with Trump, make sure that his lies are corrected, and also to present her vision for what she wants to do for the American people…I think Donald Trump’s special. We haven’t seen anything like this. We normally go into a debate with two candidates who have a depth of experience, who have rolled out clear, concrete plans, and who don’t lie, frankly, as frequently as Donald Trump does.So we’re saying this is a special circumstance, a special debate, and Hillary should be given some time to actually talk about what she wants to do to make a difference in people’s lives. She shouldn’t have to spend the whole debate correcting the record.”

—-Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook, explaining to George Stephanopoulis on ABC’s “This Week”why the Clinton campaign insists that debate moderators should run interference for her and intervene to contradict and rebut Trump’s assertions, unlike every other Presidential debate and every legitimate and fair debate of any kind, where that responsibility rests with the debaters.

Well, that’s almost it for me. I am officially a hair’s breadth from deciding that as repulsive as the thought of Donald Trump achieving the Presidency is, the prospect of the United States abandoning democracy, process and fair elections to defeat him is infinitely more repulsive.

What Mook is proposing is no less than the rigging of the election process, with one candidate given “special” privileges, while another is subjected to “special” handicaps and the “special” opposition of the news media. I had previously resolved, and on Ethics Alarms so stated, that in a binary choice between the most unqualified, unstable, vile, ignorant and boorish candidate ever nominated by a major party to be President and the corrupt, inept and dishonest Hillary Clinton, responsible Americans are duty-bound to cross their fingers, hold their noses, toss a horseshoe over their shoulders and vote for the certifiably awful Mrs. Clinton, in her own right the most corrupt and untrustworthy figure ever to come this close to the Presidency. (We can debate about Aaron Burr some other time.)

I no longer can say with certainty that I believe that now. Continue reading

George Stephanopoulos Grills Hillary

"Hi, Hillary! Gosh, it's good to see you!"

“Hi, Hillary! Gosh, it’s good to see you!”

On ABC’s Sunday morning talking heads show, Hillary Clinton is being interviewed right now “one on one” by former Clinton machine insider George Stephanopoulos. This is, as I have pointed out before without rebuttal because there is no rebuttal, a grotesque example of unethical journalism, a screamingly obvious conflict of interest, and an insult to ABC’s viewers.

I resolved not to watch this inevitable loogie in the eye of respectable and fair campaign coverage, because until viewers refuse to be treated with such contempt, news departments will continue to be contemptuous. Some strange impulse forced me to light on ABC for exactly 23 seconds, and I got to hear Hillary go through the same focus group-tested talking points, rationalizations and lies she has been using to defend her e-mail machinations for a year—“Colin Powell did it too,” “national security wasn’t endangered,” “it wasn’t the best choice,” etc.—and to thank the President for compromising the integrity of the investigation while he was saying that he wouldn’t compromise the integrity of the investigation. There was enough ammunition in that single snippet to give any competent and objective interviewer an opening to expose her deceit for all to see. George’s response, delivered with a benevolent smile and the dreamy gaze of a true blue admirer…

“So, are you confident about this Tuesday?”

Res ipsa loquitur.

 

This Just In: George Stephanopoulos Still Has A Conflict Of Interest

Steph-and-Bill-ClintonI just watched George Stephanopoulos grill Bernie Sanders on his Sunday morning show on ABC.

It was a fair, professional interview. It doesn’t matter. George Stephanopoulos has a bright, shining, unshakable conflict of interest of long-standing, and both he and his employer, ABC, pretend it doesn’t exist.  He is a former Clinton staffer. He has a previous relationship with Hillary Clinton. He withheld the fact that he had contributed $75,000 to  the Clinton Promotion Slush Fund And Under The Table Influence Peddling Machine, also known as the Clinton Foundation. In 2006 he was a featured attendee and panel moderator at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). He was also a 2008 panelist at the CGI annual meeting. In 2009, he served as a panel moderator at CGI’s annual meeting. In 2010 and 2011, he was an official member of the Clinton Global initiative.In 2013 and 2014, he served with Chelsea Clinton as CGI contest judges for awards.

This long, obviously close and supportive relationship with the Clintons would dictate Stephanopoulos’s removal from any reporting of the Democratic Presidential competition between his former patron and current favored candidate and Bernie Sanders, if ABC was the least bit interested in promoting fairness, professionalism and objectivity in its journalism. Obviously, it isn’t. It isn’t even interested in avoiding a giant, blinking, neon appearance of impropriety that suggests that the fix is in.

At the very least, Stephanopoulos should have been required to give viewers a full account of his ties to the Clintons, so viewers can decide for themselves how objective he is. At very least, if he was an ethical journalist, George should have done this on his own. Continue reading

The Sunday Morning Horror: ABC Shows Us Why Ethical, Perceptive Voters Are In Despair

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You have to congratulate ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos today for managing to demonstrate, within a 45 minute span, everything that is currently wrong with the Presidential race, and the current front-runners:

First George interviewed Donald Trump, who, as always, said nothing of substance, declared that what he would do as President would be wonderful, gave no specifics whatsoever about how he would “be great for the blacks, bring all those jobs back from China,” and showed that his versions of law, logic and ethical reasoning are infantile…BUT did it with cockiness and flair, which is apparently good enough for millions of people. He  mainly rambled on about how Chief Justice Roberts has been “a disaster,” demonstrating that he assesses judges like interior decorators: if you like the result, they did a great job. Trump cited Ted Cruz’s support for Roberts’ nomination, and  Stephanopoulos didn’t have the wit to point out that Cruz wasn’t elected to the Senate until 2012, whereas Roberts was confirmed in 2005.

Actually, the Cruz-Roberts connection is that Cruz recruited Roberts, whom he knew as a Supreme Court law clerk, for George Bush’s legal team during the 2000 election controversy. Bush won that election, you will note, so in that case, Roberts seems to have been a good choice. I suspect that history will look at Roberts as an unusually skillful Chief Justice who managed to keep an unusually fractious court in line, and squeezed a lot of unanimous decisions out of a group that easily could have been dysfunctional.

When the host pointed to an old video in which Trump appeared to endorse the concept of “New York values,” Trump repeated his stunt that worked so well during the debate, waxing on about the city’s response to 9-11. I can understand why Cruz didn’t make this point, but a competent interviewer is obligated to: “Wait, sir, are you saying that New York City reacted any differently or more courageously to that tragedy than Charleston responded to the church shooting or the people of Oklahoma City responded to its bombing? Surely you know that Sen. Cruz was talking about liberal social values, not typical American resilience in the face of tragedy?” Continue reading

Thoughts Upon Watching George Stephanopoulos Interview Another Hillary Clinton Advisor This Morning

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1. Why is George Stephanopoulos still being allowed to interview anyone connected to, critical of or opposing the campaign of Hillary Clinton? He has an irreparable conflict of interest and the appearance of impropriety. He was deceptive regarding his continued support for the Clintons, by not reporting serial large contributions to their foundation/political slush fund. ABC is essentially ignoring basic journalism ethics.

2. Interviewing another one of Hillary’s paid liars--I didn’t catch his name, and frankly, they are fungible: let’s call him :Lanny Davis 2016″—George asked the same question about trade that Jake Tapper did, but barely pressed on after receiving the same evasive answer. Why? Because Tapper is a real journalist and George isn’t? Or because George was attempting to show he is objective by asking the question, but is still essentially an undercover, though not so covered, Clinton booster?

3. George then asked another tough question, asking Lanny 2016 about what he said about Clinton in 2008 when he was working for candidate Barack Obama against Hillary, saying that Clinton couldn’t be believed and that she adopted positions according to political calculus rather than sincere beliefs. The honest answer would have been, “Well, you understand this, George: Obama was paying me then, Hillary’s paying me know, just as the Clintons paid you once, and now ABC does.” Instead, Lanny II replied with a canned statement that didn’t address George’s question at all, and George let him get away with it. Why? Because he’s a hack? Because he’s dumb? Or because he’s in the tank for Hillary Clinton?

Comment of the Day: “Remember That “Kaboom!” About ABC’s George Stephanopoulos’ Hypocritical Conflict Of Interest? Well…”

Still exploding after all these years...

Still exploding after all these years…

I knew I would quickly regret making the initial post about George Stephanopoulos’s undisclosed and hypocritical conflict of interest partially about me rather than just George. I couldn’t resist, though: I was still (am still) annoyed by the comments on the original post that suggested that there was nothing wrong with his cross-examination of “Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer and his mouthing all of the Clinton team’s talking points while sounding like a clone of Lanny Davis.

I’ll admit it: I am finding it increasingly difficult to hold anything but contempt for those who refuses to see, or admit that they see, how corrupt Hillary Clinton is, and how utterly unqualified and untrustworthy she is to hold any elective office. I have the least respect for the women who disgrace feminism (and embrace bigotry) by saying that they will (ewwww) “vote with their vaginas.” This is the essence of brain-dead tribalism: sorry, if all you care about in the White House is chromosomes, you’re a sexist idiot and a disgrace to democracy. I’m curious, too: is there anyone with a vagina that you wouldn’t vote for? Rosie O’Donnell?  Maxine Waters? Sofia Vergara?  Debbie Wasserman Schultz? Paris Hilton? Kris Kardashian? ANY Kardashian? Because, you know, I’d trust any one of them at least as much as I’d trust Hillary Clinton.

Stephanopoulos was angry and adversarial in the interview, while Schweizer was candid and unconfrontational. The ABC News star’s pro-Clinton orientation—sharp tone, annoyed expression, defense attorney language— was obvious to anyone not thinking “Go get him, George!” That’s not objectivity. That’s taking sides, without admitting it.

I was right again, you’ll note, when I concluded by saying that ABC wouldn’t discipline George, and that’s exactly what the network has said. The entire journalistic establishment should rise up and slam the network for this, but all but a few slivers of that establishment are as corrupt, biased and conflicted as George and his bosses. Tell me, ABC, why is he too conflicted to moderate debates, but not too conflicted to continue to interview candidates and critics challenging Clinton? Or to discuss controversies involving the Clintons, or to moderate—moderators are supposed to be fair and neutral–round table discussions about those controversies? Would an objective moderator keep putting a paid Democratic operative like Donna Brazile at his round table and pretend that she is an independent pundit?  ARRRGH!

I’ll have more after Dwayne N. Zechman’s spot-on Comment of the Day covering other aspects of this ethics fiasco, on the post: Remember That “Kaboom!” About ABC’s George Stephanopoulos’ Hypocritical Conflict Of Interest? Well…. Continue reading

Remember That “Kaboom!” About ABC’s George Stephanopoulos’ Hypocritical Conflict Of Interest? Well…

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From Mediaite:

ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos was forced to apologize today after it was revealed that he donated roughly $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation in the past two years and never, in all his coverage of Clinton Foundation controversies, disclosed it.

[UPDATE: The new figure is $75,000 in the past three years.]

I don’t generally like to take bows, but I had this one pegged, ladies and gentlemen, exactly.

I had it so pegged that my head exploded, remember? I was astounded that this journalist of all journalists would have the cheese to raise an eyebrow and challenge “Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer’s credibility and integrity because he had been a Bush speechwriter, when George himself was playing defense for the Clintons as former long-time Clinton insider, staffer and adviser. Now we know that his conflict was far worse: George Stephanopoulos was debating the propriety of the operation of a Foundation he supported and contributed to.

This isn’t a minor conflict of interest. This is a major one, and not to disclose it—it is not credible that George forgot—is disqualifying for a news anchor…easily as disqualifying as Brian Williams’ tall tales.  The Clinton conflict has always been George’s ethical Achilles heel. I have argued in the past that he should be required to withdraw from covering any story in which the Clintons are involved—and that’s a lot of stories. This proves that Stephanopoulos is insufficiently sensitive to his conflicts, which means he is insufficiently sensitive to conflicts, which means he is insufficiently schooled in the ethics of journalism, which means he is not an ethical journalist, which means he is not a trustworthy journalist. ( The increasingly pathetic New York Times wrote that this makes Republicans less likely to trust him. Good lord. So it’s okay for a Democratic journalist to be conflicted and not transparent as long as he’s biased toward Democrats? What has happened to this paper?) At worst, it means that Stephanopoulos is still an agent of the Clintons. I just know I’ve written this before: a news organization that is properly concerned about its integrity and professionalism would fire him. At very least, he has to be suspended.

He won’t be, and I just explained why. The ABC statement: “As George has said, he made charitable donations to the Foundation to support a cause he cares about deeply. He’s admitted to an honest mistake and apologized for that omission. We stand behind him.” Yes, he’s admitted that he’s a biased, conflicted, dishonest, untrustworthy hack. Can’t wait to see him moderating those debates.

But we’ll have plenty of time for all that.

Meanwhile:

Thank you!

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen!

I’ll be here all week!

The Clinton Foundation’s OTHER Ethics Problem—And An Ethics Trainwreck Update

clinton_foundationEven if it weren’t being used for what looks like influence peddling…even if the foreign contributions to it didn’t create a textbook “appearance of impropriety,” which is prohibited for a Secretary of State…even if Hillary Clinton’s unilateral destruction of thousands of e-mails makes her surrogates’ (and imagine: one of those surrogates is an ABC new show host, and the network sees nothing wrong with that) argument that there’s no “smoking gun” evidence of wrongdoing a shining example of gall for the ages…there is another ethics problem with the Clinton Foundation, one that is beyond reasonable debate, and one that even the most shameless Clinton acolytes won’t be able to deflect by attacking the messenger.

It’s an unethical foundation, by well-established non-profit standards, and that has nothing to do with politics. Continue reading

KABOOM! ABC’s George Stephanopoulos’ Mind-Blowing Hypocrisy

Why this didn't happen to George this morning, I'll never know....

Why this didn’t happen to George this morning, I’ll never know….

I honestly don’t know why this one didn’t make  GEORGE’S head explode. For most people, there is only so much hypocrisy one can engage in without breaking down and screaming, “All right! ALL RIGHT! I admit it! I’m accusing someone of doing exactly what I’m doing THE VERY SECOND I’M ACCUSING HIM!!”

I will be discussing some of the more blatant efforts by the Hillary Clinton Shameless Rationalizers Brigade to spin away the fact of her unethical creation of a serious conflict of interests and appearance of impropriety once I have put my brains back into my skull. Meanwhile, I must briefly point out one of the most shocking examples of hypocrisy I have ever witnessed from a journalist, or anyone, for that matter.

On This Week With George Stephanopoulos this morning (that was Sunday, 4/27) the opening interview was with Peter Schweizer, a conservative reporter and author of the soon to be published book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story Of How And Why Foreign Governments And Businesses Helped Make Bill And Hillary Rich.”  He is in the news because the New York Times and the Washington Post will be using his book, notes and sources to bolster their own investigative reporting, and one of its revelations regarding donations to the Clinton Foundation from foreign interests is already making waves for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Stephanopoulos executed what I would call an adversarial interview, fair, but skeptical and hostile. It was also misleading, though not necessarily intentionally. George, like most journalists, isn’t too conversant in government ethics, or ethics generally. He kept hammering at the fact that no evidence of a crime had surfaced, as if that made everything fine and the story trivial. This is a classic Compliance Dodge: sneaky, dishonest, corrupt people are often expert at doing bad things without breaking the law. In fact, I just described the Clintons, and, sadly, a lot of lawyers. The fact that they didn’t break laws, or covered their tracks sufficiently not to leave evidence of law-breaking, does not mean that what they did wasn’t unethical, and seriously so. This is the case with the foreign contributions that just happen to have arrived in conjunction with matters where Clinton’ State Department had a decisive say that could benefit the donors. Accepting undisclosed contributions from such interests, in violation of a signed agreement that was a condition precedent to her confirmation as Secretary of State, is seriously unethical whether it was illegal or not. Because of this, it creates the appearance of impropriety, which officials in the Executive Branch, like Clinton, are prohibited by law from creating. This is a fact. Nothing more needs to be proved.

Stephanopoulos may not understand this, and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he does not. If so, however, he is incompetent to perform the interview with Schweizer, who does understand it, because George should be trying to enlighten his audience, not confuse them. Harping on whether a law was broken does confuse his audience, and also abets the Clintons’ denial and confound efforts.

Schweizer was prepared; he anticipated all of the questions and the attempts to undermine his findings. He was patient and clear. Then Stephanopoulos suggested that his research was unreliable because he had worked for the Bush Administration and had ties to Republicans in the past.

Kaboom!

George Stephanopoulos was a long-time, close political aide and confidante of Bill and Hillary Clinton! Continue reading