Tag Archives: Time

When A Reality Show And A Self-Promoting Billionaire Are More Trustworthy Than TIME, American Journalism Is Seriously Ill

astrology

This week’s print TIME and the magazine’s website has a story titled “Astrologer Susan Miller On Why You Should Pay Attention to the Lunar Eclipse.” The TIME writer, Laura Stampler,  promotes the astrologer as if she was Nate Silver,  a reliable, respectable expert in a legitimate field  who has something to teach us. Susan Miller is not a reliable, respectable expert. She is an astrologer, meaning that she is as legitimate as a palm reader, a douser, or the Amazing Kreskin. She is a fraud, in a fraudulent field, however ancient or popular. There is no scholarly controversy about this. There is more evidence of the existence of Bigfoot, Nessie, ghosts and flying saucers than there is that astrology is more than pseudo-scientific claptrap. Continue reading

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Unethical Excuses From All Over: Time Magazine, Richard Cohen, and Toronto

escuses

Caught red-handed in unethical conduct, the right, honest, courageous and yes, practical thing to do is to admit wrongdoing, eschew excuses, acknowledge fault, express contrition, and resolve not to behave in a similar manner again. Unfortunately, this is difficult for many people, especially, it seems, those in the public eye. Another reason it is difficult is that people who engage in grossly unethical conduct tend to gravitate to unethical responses when they are called to account for it.

We are currently awash in examples of this phenomenon:

I. Time explains that its fat slur cover on Chris Christie wasn’t what it seemed.

Ethics Alarms was one of the first to call foul on Time’s unprofessional “Elephant in the room” cover on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and the condemnation of it was almost universal. There was no defense for this, a purely juvenile and biased insult masked as journalism. An ethical organization would have immediately responded:

‘Time used poor judgment in its language on the recent Chris Christie cover, which was gratuitously insulting to the Governor and millions of Americans. It was wrong to mock the governor because of his weight, as it is wrong to denigrate anyone based on their physical appearance. This was a failure of our editing process, by our staff, and of the entire organization, which failed to meet the high standards of professionalism, fairness, civility and integrity that Time has traditionally strived to meet, and has met in the past. We apologize to Governor Christie and our readers. Everyone should expect better of Time magazine, and we betrayed that trust. We vow to work diligently to regain it.’

But noooooooo!

What Time really did was… Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Professions

Unethical Magazine Cover Of The Year: Time (As Henry Luce Spins In His Grave)

Time Christie

It really is past time for Time to go away.

Once the epitome of sharp, incisive, erudite weekly news reporting and commentary, it long ago morphed into just another left-biased shill for liberal politicians and positions, but with a desperate, tabloid-style habit of using intentionally gross, disturbing or controversial cover graphics to sell more copies than its equally biased and shameless rival, Newsweek. Now Newsweek is mercifully gone, but Time’s rude cover habit remains, culminating in the above disgrace to Time’s traditions and responsible journalism.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is fat, get it? He’s the “elephant in the room.” Continue reading

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Unethical Quote Of The Week: Josh Barro

“‘If you like your health plan, you can keep it’ was never a reasonable promise; health reform that addressed America’s combination of high cost, middling outcomes and spotty coverage was necessarily going to have to change a lot of people’s health plans. So yes, that statement is proving false — and it’s a good thing.”

—–Josh Barro in Business Insider, joining the ranks of the untrustworthy while discussing the unfolding realities of the Affordable Care Act.

Or as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius would say: "Whatever."

Or as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius would say: “Whatever.”

James Taranto has catalogued several more disgraceful efforts to deny the undeniable—that President Obama’s assertion that nothing in the Affordable Care Act would cause any American to lose a plan that he liked was a calculated and intentional lie—thus adding those individuals to the growing list of people Americans should never pay heed to again on any topic, because they have proven themselves to lack integrity and are thus untrustworthy.

Among them: New York Times pundit David Firestone, James Carville (I’m shocked!), Time’s Kate Pickert, and my friend Jason Linkins over at the Huffington Post, a funny, smart man who ought to be ashamed of himself.  The comments that most alarmed me, however, were those of another addition to the list, commentator Josh Barro. “The statement is proving false” is a particularly loathsome version of “mistakes were made,” which attempts to remove the human being responsible from identification and accountability. Obama’s statement isn’t changing or doing anything. Barro’s dishonest phrasing denies the fact of human agency. Obama made a promise regarding matters that he had complete control over in every way, and that promise was false when it was made. By him. The President could have guaranteed that his promise would be kept by refusing to sign a bill that didn’t make certain, through its provisions, that it would be kept. In fact, he has known all along (or has no excuse for not knowing)that millions of Americans wouldn’t be able to keep the plans they wanted to. The promise isn’t “proving false;” it was always false.

As for Barro’s airy declaration that the fact that it is “proving false” is a good thing, this is essentially an endorsement of lying as tool of public manipulation. Lying to the public is never a good thing, and a President lying to the public is a terrible thing. That so many of President Obama’s allies and supporters, like Barro, endorse lying and shamelessly so if it achieves ends that they happen to believe are beneficial should set off not merely ethics alarms, but democracy and republic alarms. Self-government cannot flourish or even survive when this kind of conduct by elected leaders becomes commonplace and accepted.

Although I have seen scant evidence of it so far, I hope that the progressives, Democrats, journalists and others who are now discarding all semblance of honesty and objective reasoning to rationalize away the President’s words in this episode recognize that their obligations to their illusions and ideologies must be secondary to their duties to the culture, fellow citizens, American values and the nation. Many of these desperate deniers are my friends, some are my family. I call on them to stop amplifying a lie and excusing betrayal. You’re disillusioned—I accept that. I’ve been in your position. It is devastating when those you have admired, believed, and tied your own credibility to show themselves to be unworthy of that trust, and abuse it. But denial makes the consequences of that conduct worse, and indeed ratifies it and guarantees that it will continue. This is cowardly and irresponsible. You are better than that; the country is better than that. This is not a culture that has embraced the concept of “the King can do no wrong,” indeed, the Constitution and the Declaration are predicated on the truth than leaders are fallible.

The President lied to everyone, and that is not “a good thing.” It is something that should never be trivialized nor allowed to pass without serious, meaningful consequences, and there can be no consequences when good and intelligent people abdicate their duty of self-government, which includes the duty of oversight, to protect the wrongdoers. All the polls say that we want our government to be trustworthy. Well, it can’t be trustworthy if we excuse its lies. For the government to be trustworthy, we have to be trustworthy too. We have to be able to trust each other not to aid the lies we are told, and to confront the liars.

It’s not too late.

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Pointer and Source:Forbes, Business InsiderWall Street Journal

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society

Of Fareed Zakaria, Scraping, Plagiarism and Hypocrisy

Is it “Oops!”, “Damn!” or “Better luck next time”?

I once had a dear friend in the DC theater community who committed an industry taboo when he mounted a play before, rather than after, obtaining the performing rights. His company was in the red, and his intent was to get some advance sales to pay the licensing fees that he otherwise couldn’t afford. It was a desperate, foolish scheme and an unethical one, as he readily admitted, and my friend paid dearly for it, as he was fired as the head of the theater company he had founded, and rendered a pariah in the community. What always infuriated him, however, was the instant condemnation and pious pronouncements he received from his peers in the theater world. “I know for a fact that everyone of them either would have done the same thing or had done the same thing, or worse, to keep their theaters running,” he told me.  “I was wrong and I know I was wrong, but for them to act as if I am some kind of a monster when I know they are really thinking, ‘Yikes! I better be more careful, that could have been me!’ is driving me crazy.”

I wonder if disgraced CNN host and Time writer Fareed Zakaria is thinking the same thing as his colleagues in the news media and assorted web commentators are describing him as a plagiarist and an untrustworthy fraud in the wake of his suspension for lifting a paragraph from another writer’s work  and putting it in his own Time essay without attribution. After the parallel passages were flagged on the conservative website Newsbusters (you didn’t think he would have been outed by a liberal site, did you—or that Newsbusters would have been looking for plagiarism from a rightward  journalist?) both Time and CNN suspended Zakaria indefinitely.

This was the appropriate response. Zakaria is an opinion journalist, or a pundit: the idea that he is surreptitiously cribbing from others undermines his credibility substantially and perhaps fatally. That is not an entirely fair description of what Zakaria did, however.  What he engaged in was “scraping,”  the web-age technique where an author cuts and pastes a passage or more from another work and uses it as the foundation for a portion of a supposedly original article. When the passage in question is substantive, contains the ideas and conclusions of the author  whose work is being scraped, or is the product of another writer’s research, that is indeed plagiarism. When the passage being scraped is something the borrowing author could have written himself, however, it is more accurately described as lazy. It is still wrong, but it does not necessarily rise to the level of intellectual theft that can reasonably justify calling the author untrustworthy. Continue reading

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Time and Newsweek: Reaching The Dregs, and Ethics Be Damned

Dishonest or tasteless? Irresponsible or sensational?  A lie or a crime? The nation’s two, sad, archaic, useless, shameless, diminished news magazines, Time and Newsweek, both reached new lows this week as both magazines desperately brayed for readership with eye-catching covers that are to good journalism what Britney Spears will be to good judging in her new gig as a panelist on “X-Factor.”

I was going to make this an ethics quiz—which is more unethical?—but decided it was futile. The Time cover is colorable kiddie porn, using a (God, I hope!) photoshopped image* that no child should  be permitted to see on a news stand. The Newsweek cover, in addition to continuing the publication’s unconscionable deification of Barack Obama no matter what he does, is a lie. Obama isn’t gay. Newsweek is making a rhetorical link between Obama’s (vastly over-praised and still tepid endorsement of gay marriage) empathy with gays and Bill Clinton’s faux-status as the nation’s “first black President, but it is fatally flawed, logically and graphically. Everyone knows Bill Clinton isn’t literally black (except, perhaps, in the way Elizabeth Warren is Native American), but we can’t see that Obama isn’t gay from his image on the cover. All there is the copy: “The First Gay President.” There are people who will believe that, and who will see the cover without buying the magazine, since almost nobody buys either magazine any more.

Neither cover is responsible journalism. Both are graphic desperation, with neither magazine showing respect for readers, their topics, or their own distinguished pasts.

* Boy, was I wrong.

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Graphics: Time and Newsweek

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