On The Bright Side, At Least This Esteemed Journalism Professor Doesn’t Deny Bias…

This is three years old—the numbers are much worse for journalists now. And rightly so…

He celebrates it!

Stanford Communications Professor Emeritus Ted Glasser, in an interview with The Stanford Daily, asserts that objectivity is an impediment to good journalism. The profession, he said, must “free itself from this notion of objectivity to develop a sense of social justice.”  Instead, of objective reporters of events and facts to be then used by the publlic to make their own decisions and come to their own opinions. Glasser sees “journalists as activists because journalism at its best — and indeed history at its best — is all about morality…Journalists need to be overt and candid advocates for social justice, and it’s hard to do that under the constraints of objectivity.”

Yes, a veteran journalism professor actually believes that, openly admits it, and presumably has been teaching that to journalism students all these years.

It would strain credulity and chance to think he was alone in this approach, especially the way our current journalistic establishment behaves. Bolstering my confidence that Glasser is not an anomaly was Wesley Lowery,  an African-American journalist who has been a reporter with the LA Times, CBS News, and currently CNN (what a surprise!).   In a tweet, Lowery declared “American view-from-nowhere, “objectivity”-obsessed, both-sides journalism is a failed experiment…The old way must go. We need to rebuild our industry as one that operates from a place of moral clarity.”

Let me be clear. Since objectivity and the absence of bias are the very foundation of journalism ethics, the positions of Glasser and Lowery (and, I would guess, the majority of American journalists who may not be as candid, self-righteous and arrogant as them) would remove journalism from the ranks of professions, which all have defining ethical mandates designed to make them trustworthy. For a journalist, or worse, a journalism professor, to hold that it should be the objective of journalists to decide what to report and how to report it according to their own ideological objectives based on their personal interpretation of “morality” is a rejection of journalism and an endorsement of  the role of propagandist, which is the antithesis of ethical journalism. Continue reading

Shut Up And Sing, Joan. OK, You Can Paint If You Want To…

Joan Baez, the iconic folksinger, painted that, posted it, and wrote,  “Dr. Fauci continues to be disrespected & marginalized by the administration’s lack of commitment to science. My painting offers the message to TRUST FAUCI. We can put our faith in science & truth, not lies, smoke screens & snake oil.”

It is amazing to me that so many people who continue to blame President Trump for the  results of the Wuhan virus simultaneously exonerate and extol Dr. Fauci, whose advice the administration has almost completely followed, who has frequently contradicted himself, who was saying in March that there wasn’t much to worry about, who initially said not to wear masks and then admitted that was intentional disinformation, and did this:

Moreover, the argument that policymakers should blindly follow the opinions of scientists is ignorant,  and indeed infantile. All a doctor is going to care about is the disease; he will not consider the practical aspects of his advice in other areas, like wrecking education, strangling the arts, crashing the economy, and indeed, that is something to which his expertise does not extend. Dyed in the DNA  liberals like Baez want a virtual dictatorship by scientists because of climate change, which Baez almost certainly knows nothing about other than what people like Al Gore have told her. Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms Archives: “President Obama’s Epic, Tragic Incompetence: A Review”

Obama

I was not planning on re-posting this depressing piece from 2014. I found it while I was doing some research on a post that may have to wait until tomorrow, noting the delightful embarrassment of evidence of Bill Clinton accepting the favors of one of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex slaves being published today, just as Bill prepared to address the Democrat’s virtual convention.

But I realized that this was an ideal time to revisit the post, as the Democrats devote their convention to weaving dreams of an alternate past, when the Presidency was in masterful hands before Donald Trump screwed it up.

I am not entirely happy with the post; amazingly, I did not even mention what may be Obama’s worst, most lasting and most ironic failing, his steady undermining of American race relations, the tragic consequences of which we are seeing today. Four months after I wrote this, a large, angry teen attacked a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri and got himself shot. Obama chose not to use his popularity with African Americans to quiet the anger, but to  facilitate the exploitation of it.

***

I stumbled upon this piece in Commentary by Peter Wehner. At first I was grateful that he had written it so I didn’t have to, and then was struck by the title: The New Obama Narrative: Epic Incompetence. New? This has been the narrative of the entire Obama Presidency, and I have been periodically and grimly drawing attention to that fact, while watching the mainstream media attempt to obscure it, from the very beginning. Now, as the Veteran Administration fiasco finally presents a scandal that Democrats and journalists don’t dare to try to dismiss as, in Dana Milbank’s description of the Benghazi cover-up, a “nothing-burger,” incompetence in the unaccountable, unmanaged, embarrassingly unprofessional Obama Administration is suddenly being pronounced unacceptable. To the contrary, it is because the news media unethically accepted it that the incompetence of this President is finally killing people.

The tragic legacy of Barack Obama will be recorded in three parts: his groundbreaking achievement as the nation’s first black President, his utter incompetence at governing and leadership, and his dishonesty and the dishonesty he engendered by those who reported to him. The first has been fatally undermined by the second and third, and the third, dishonesty, necessitated by the second, the relentless incompetence. The reason this is so tragic should be obvious to all. President Obama, like all trailblazers, needed to be a stand-out, exemplary performer to avoid setting back the causes his ascension needed to advance. But instead of Jackie Robinson, he has been Pumpsie Green, and that may be unfair to Pumpsie, the first black player to wear a Boston Red Sox uniform who knew his limitations, and did the best he could for as long as he could. It is also tragic because America, as much as any time in its history prior to the Civil War, needed a strong, wise, confident, unifying leader to deal with great and difficult problems that will only get worse with time. The challenges would have tested the best of leaders; for President Obama, with neither leadership instincts or talent, they have proven impossible. Worse, the basic requirements of governing have been proven to be beyond him, and he does not have the self-awareness or humility to seek the help he needs.

From Wehner’s piece:

“The emerging narrative of Barack Obama, the one that actually comports to reality, is that he is a rare political talent but a disaster when it comes to actually governing. The list of his failures is nothing short of staggering, from shovel-ready jobs that weren’t so shovel ready to the failures of healthcare.gov to the VA debacle. But it also includes the president’s failure to tame the debt, lower poverty, decrease income inequality, and increase job creation. He promised to close Guantanamo Bay and didn’t. His administration promised to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed before a civilian jury in New York but they were forced to retreat because of outrage in his own party…The White House response to everything from the VA and IRS scandals to the seizure of AP phone records by the Department of Justice is that it learned about them from press reports. More and more Mr. Obama speaks as if he’s a passive actor, a bystander in his own administration, an MSNBC commentator speaking about events he has no real control over. We saw that earlier today, when the president, in trying to address the public’s growing outrage at what’s happening at the VA, insisted he “will not stand for it” and “will not tolerate” what he has stood for and tolerated for almost six years…On every front, he is overmatched by events. It’s painful to watch a man who is so obviously in over his head. And more and more Americans are suffering because of it.”

Just as surprising as the fact that this is still being written as if it were news is that so many pundits, journalists and citizens still deny that the obvious is true. Every agency and department shows evidence of mismanagement, and yet virtually no one is held accountable by the President. He even seems to fail to grasp that such ineptitude is a problem. Asking the Veteran’s Administration to investigate its own scandal, like having Eric Holder’s consiglieri Justice Department investigate “Fast and Furious,” or an Obama political donor to oversee the investigation of the IRS’s misconduct, appears to be a defiant statement that there will be no accountability in the Obama regime, and that only how they play with “the base” matters, not whether the country is governed well. Ron Fournier writes in the National Journal: Continue reading

A Jumbo For The Ages And Other Ethics Observations on “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich”

For me, the most stunning ethics moment in the Netflix documentary “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich” was when Prince Andrew, a long-time pal of the late sex-trafficker/billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, appears on camera and engages in a spectacular Jumbo. In a televised interview, the brother of Prince Charles claimed he never met Epstein—though there are photos of the Prince standing with him. He also said he had no recollection of knowing the woman pictured in the photo above, who was one of the under-age girls Epstein sexually exploited and passed around among his friends. The woman in the background is British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who served as one of Epstein’s procurers (and who was recently arrested as an accessory to his crimes). Yet when Andrew was asked how he explains the photo if he never had anything to do with the American teenager it shows him with his arm around, he said, incredibly, “I can’t explain it.”

Wow. “Photo? What photo?” “Teenage sex toy? What teenage sex toy?” “Pedophile billionaire? What pedophile billionaire?”

All Jimmy Durante had to deny was the existence of the stolen elephant he was holding at the end of a rope.

Reasonable minds may disagree about the worst ethical breaches on display in the documentary; there are so many. Epstein, of course, was scum—a predator, a sociopath, and a crook. I found no surprises regarding him personally. I also knew that wildly wealthy villains have the ability to corrupt everyone around them, but the supporting cast of the Epstein story provides  bracing reminders, such as… Continue reading

Nice Try, Charley…But You Still Struck Out

I usually skip the New York Times Sunday Review section now. By mid-2017, it had become so partisan and such a nest of rabid Trump Derangement that it was not unusual for 75% of the content to consist of anti-Trump screeds. I finally got bored with it; the stuff was predictable and too often completely bats. If I read it at all, I did so to check how fanatically the Times was supporting the various coup efforts.

Charlie Warzel is one of the less hateful of the Times op-ed writers, though based on his Ethics Alarms file he is also one of most juvenile. He was the author of a New York Times editorial  titled “Open States, Lots of Guns. America Is Paying a Heavy Price for Freedom,” or in my print edition, “Will We Get Used To The Dying?” that I had fun shredding—it wasn’t hardhere. I was curious to see if he’s gotten any better since May in his Wuhan virus hysteria. His title seemed promising:  “How to Actually Talk to Anti-Maskers: You cannot force public trust; you have to earn it.”

I think “anti-maskers” are jerks. It is still unclear to me how much good masks do, and the information from the “experts” has been inconsistent. I still see no reason to wear the things outside when nobody is going to come within ten feet of you, and I don’t. However, the ethical reasons to wear them are still valid:

  • They might make a difference.
  • Wearing them demonstrates good will and that one is trying to be responsible.
  • It places those at enhanced risk at ease.
  • It can’t hurt. The recent claim of Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) that his mask probably infected him was spectacularly dishonest and irresponsible, but you know, that’s Louie.

I also regard fanatic pro-mask hysterics as ridiculous and will say so when pressed.

However, I was interested to see if Charlie, having gotten himself on the Ethics Alarms Naughty List with his previous screed about the pandemic, would redeem himself. For writing op-eds is all about trust too: if I know you shade the facts, omit relevant information, engage in bias and cheat in your logic, I really don’t care what your opinion is. It’s not worth reading.

Charlie begins with an anecdote about how health officials gained the trust of the public in Senegal during an Ebola outbreak. OK—as long as the idea is to make a point about trust. Ebola isn’t the Wuhan virus, and the United States’ culture isn’t remotely like Senegal’s. Then he writes,

Taiwan is welcoming baseball fans back into stadiums. As of June, more than 20 other countries have begun the process of bringing children back to school. Thailand, a country of 70 million, hasn’t had an instance of local coronavirus transmission in seven weeks, as of last Thursday. And yet Americans are staring down nearly 150,000 virus deaths while governors and health officials pleading with citizens to wear masks are starting to sound like substitute teachers who’ve lost control of the classroom.

One indicator of how bad things are: Last week, Anthony Fauci, the United States’ leading infectious-disease doctor, felt compelled to reassure his audience during an online talk, “You can trust respected medical authorities.” He added, “I believe I’m one of them, so I think you can trust me.”

Ah! So Charlie trusts Dr. Fauci on the topic of masks., and thinks we should to. And my immediate reaction to this is.. Continue reading

Ethics Encounter In The CVS Parking Lot

My local CVS on Quaker Lane in Alexandria, VA, scene of many human dramas….

The errand I tried to complete this afternoon (resulting in my hearing the most outrageous comedy act I have encountered  since Red Foxx and Buddy Hackett were in their vulgar primes) failed, so I had to return to my pharmacy to get four refills of various drugs. As I was getting out of the car, I heard a loud voice shouting “God DAMN you!” and realized that the expletive came from behind the mask of large African-American man  of indeterminate age. I had to ask, “Was that directed at me?”

He immediately shook his head vigorously and walked over to me, saying, “No no! I’m so sorry, I was yelling at myself! I’m so damn mad—I locked myself out of my car!”

He continued, “Hey, maybe you’re my guardian angel.” He started handing me his IDs and wallet, and showed me the pills he had just received from the same pharmacy where I was headed. The man was sweating hard.  “I’m not some gangster or anything, I swear—I’m just hot, and tired, and I have prostate cancer…” I interrupted him.

“Just tell me how I can help. Do you need a ride home?” Continue reading

Oh Joy! A Baseball Ethics Story! Alex Cora Finally Speaks Out!

While the players union and Major league Baseball bicker over the terms under which the American Pastime will have a limited season in 2020, the specter of the ugly ethics scandal that closed out the off-season came out to say “Boo!” Alex Cora, fingered in the Commissioner’s report as the mastermind behind the Houston Astros 2017 sign-stealing scheme, which apparently extended into the play-offs and World Series (which the cheating Astros won), finally talked about the episode, which promises to haunt the Astros, baseball and him for a long time. Cora was suspended for a year and lost his job as manager of the Boston Red Sox. Carlos Beltran, the Astros player who was found to be Cora’s partner in crime, was fired from his new position as manager of the New York Mets, and both the manager and the general manager of the Astros were suspended and fired.

Cora, to my surprise, was cleared in an investigation of the allegations that his Red Sox team in 2018 was also stealing signs. The MLB report faulted a single coach and determined that the sign-stealing was sporadic and relatively minor. I fully expected Cora to be found as the culprit in a second major cheating scandal, and to perhaps be banned from baseball entirely. Well, good: I’m relieved. he’s not the Bad Seed I feared he was.

Back when I was certain Cora was facing the end of his baseball career—and he still might be—I proposed a 12 Step Program for him to regain the trust of fans and his sport. The steps, which are described in detail here, were… Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms Archives, August 21, 2014: “Wishing Ethics: What Should We WANT The Outcome To Be In Ferguson?”

finger-crossed

[This seems to be a propitious time to re-post this essay, from the peak of the Micahel Brown shooting upheaval. I’m going to wrestle my fingers to the ground and avoid making any comments on it now, and leave such reflections to the comments.]

The simple answer to the question in the headline is: we should all want the truth to come out, whatever it is, and be dealt with honestly and justly. I don’t think that result is possible, unfortunately, just as it proved impossible in the Martin-Zimmerman tragedy.If the truth could be determined, however…if an experimental, advanced video recorder just happened to capture everything that occurred between Officer Wilson and Mike Brown, including in the squad car; if it captured the incident from all angles, and we could hear and see everything that transpired between them, what would we want that to be, recognizing that the tragedy cannot be undone?

Would we want it to show that Mike Brown was murdered, that he was fleeing for his life when he escaped the car, then turned, fell to his knees ( as at least one witness claims) and was gunned down with his hands in the air? Obviously many Americans, including Brown’s family, the Ferguson protestors, many African-Americans, civil rights activists, police critics, politicians and pundits, have an interest in seeing this be the final verdict of investigators, for a multitude of reasons. The grieving family wants their son to be proven innocent of any fault in his own death. Others, especially those who prematurely declared Officer Wilson  guilty of “executing” Brown, have a strong interest in being proven right, for even though it would not excuse their unfair and irresponsible rush to judgment, such a determination would greatly reduce the intensity of criticism leveled at them.

[Side Note on Ethics Dunce Jay Nixon: That won’t stop the criticism here, however: Whatever the facts prove to be,  Gov. Jay Nixon’s comments are indefensible, and inexcusable. Now the Democrat is denying that they meant what he clearly meant to convey: calling for “justice for Brown’s family” and a “vigorous prosecution” can only mean charging Wilson, and that is what those calling for Wilson to be arrested took his comments to mean. If the Governor didn’t mean that, as he now claims, then he is 1) an ignoramus and 2) beyond incompetent to recklessly comment on an emotion-charged crisis in his state without choosing his words carefully.]

Or should we hope that the facts exonerate Wilson? After all, shouldn’t we want the one living participant in this tragedy to be able to have some semblance of a life without being forever associated with villainy? Certainly his family and friends, as well as member of the Ferguson police force who want their own ranks to be vindicated, and police all over the nation who have had their profession attacked and denigrated in the wake of the shooting, fervently hope that the narrative pushed by the demonstrators is proven wrong.

Others want to see Wilson proven innocent for less admirable reasons. They want to use the incident to condemn police critics, and undermine and discredit civil rights advocates, especially long-time ideological foes like Al Sharpton. They want Eric Holder to look biased, (he looks biased anyway, because he appears to be taking sides) and to make the case—one that a single episode neither supports nor can possible rebut—that police do not have itchy trigger fingers when their weapons are pointed at young black men.

From the standpoint of ethics, which means that the best outcome will be the one that does the most good for society, the choice is complex.  Continue reading

It’s Time To Play The Exciting Game Show, “Pick Your Autopsy!”

From the New York Times today:

George Floyd died not just because of the knee lodged at his neck by a Minneapolis Police officer, but also because of the other officers who helped hold him down, a private autopsy found.

Dr. Allecia M. Wilson of the University of Michigan and Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City medical examiner, were hired by Mr. Floyd’s family to help determine his cause of death. “Not only was the knee on George’s neck a cause of his death, but so was the weight of the other two police officers on his back, who not only prevented blood flow into his brain but also air flow into his lungs,” said Antonio Romanucci, a lawyer for the family.

Well I guess that settles it, then! And that Hennepin County medical examiner conclusion that the county autopsy “revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation,” and that ” that other factors were involved in Mr. Floyd’s death, including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease”? Obviously rigged, wrong and based on racism. Or a cover-up. Or something.

Autopsies are not supposed to be advocacy proceedings. For the Floyd family to bring out their own, bought and paid-for autopsy to contradict the official one means that the case is being litigated in the news media and outside of the courtroom, and that is not the “justice” that Floyd’s protesters supposedly seek. Continue reading

Mail-in Voting Ethics

Ann Althouse flagged this tweet by “Dilbert” cartoonist/Trump-whisperer Scott Adams, and as is her wont sometimes (unfortunately), uses it to get tangled up in the logical conundrums she finds amusing. I’m not sufficiently amused: Adams is wrong, but he did put his finger on one of the problems with mail voting that advocates for the process refuse to acknowledge.

There is only one way to complete a vote: the voter does something that directly registers his or her choice without any intervening agency or process. No voting procedure that permits voting with intervening agency or process is sufficiently secure and reliable. Those who advocate such systems are to be viewed with suspicion and presumptions of either bad intent or faulty reasoning.

Both Adams and Althouse seem to be laboring under the misconception that someone who accepts the responsibility of mailing someone’s vote has a choice. Such an individual is, under the law, a gratuitous bailee, meaning that they have accepted an obligation without compensation. That means that if they fail the obligation, the one whose task they defaulted on usually has no legal recourse, but it doesn’t change the ethical situation at all. The gratuitous bailee promised to do something for someone, that individual relied on their promise, and the “friend” engaged in betrayal. Continue reading