Why American Presidents Need A Fair News Media To Be Competent, And More Evidence That They Won’t Get One Anytime Soon, If Ever…

fakenews

It’s my own fault. I’ve written so many essays here since 2009 about the disgraceful descent of the news media into partisan propaganda that I can’t find the relevant post I was looking for on my own blog. That would be the one during the Obama administration in which I pointed out that being assured that no reporters and virtually no pundits would have the guts or integrity to criticize Obama’s performance as President had made him lazy, arrogant, and reckless. If you know anything you do will be extolled whether it deserves praise of not, and any mistakes and blunders will be covered up or spun, why be careful, especially if you’re an arrogant narcissistic like Barack? The same principle operated on President Trump, but in reverse (I honestly don’t recall if I noted this, but I noticed it). If a President is certain that whatever he does will be attacked by the news media, there is no reason for him to consider the press in his policy considerations. Summary: bad journalism makes bad Presidents.

Several commentators are finally waking up to this phenomenon now, as they try to find some other than Joe Biden to blame for Joe Biden’s incompetence. I have now read several pieces opining that the President was certain that the press would have his back no matter what happened in Afghanistan.

That was really foolish on Biden’s part (but then…Biden) for two reasons. First, he is not nearly as popular as Obama, and nobody was going to call a reporter “racist” for criticizing him. Second, and more importantly, journalists destroyed their influence and credibility during their four year campaign of fake news and glorified rumors to bring down Donald Trump. Most of the public doesn’t trust the mainstream media—good!—because it is untrustworthy. The days when it could cover a President’s botches effectively have passed.

One would think that this would spur the news media to be more careful about the lies they present to the public as truth, and one would be tragically wrong. Two recent examples from last week demonstrate that no “Oh-oh, we better start practicing honest journalism!” alarms are ringing yet.

Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Shots, 7/11/2021: A Rescue, Larry Vaughn In Tokyo, Joe Trippi Trips, And “La Bamba” Meets Calvinball

Alexander Hamilton died on this date in 1804, in a bizarre episode in U.S. history with profound ethical and political implications. There Aaron Burr fatally shot dead the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury and essential political thinker in an illegal duel at Weehawken, New Jersey. It was, of course, unethical to break the law, especially for these two men, who qualified as national leaders. Hamilton’s son had died defending his father’s honor in 1801 at the exact same spot (What was Alexander thinking?)

According to Hamilton’s “second,” Hamilton deliberately fired his weapon into the air rather than at Burr, a gentlemanly gesture and also a profoundly stupid one, if Hamilton believed half the things he had said and written about Burr’s character for years. This was why they were dueling, after all. Burr’s second claimed that Hamilton fired at Burr and missed, and the more I’ve thought abut this, the more I’ve come to believe that this is the more likely scenario. Hamilton was anything but naive, reckless or stupid. Yes, he was a crack shot, but anyone can miss. Even if the gesture of “throwing away his shot” as “Hamilton” puts it, would have impressed some adversaries and been seen as a display of mercy and an offer of reconciliation, it made no sense at all with this adversary. Moreover, Hamilton considered Burr a threat to the nation—he was right about that—why wouldn’t he shoot him? Whatever really happened, Burr, who had the second shot, killed Hamilton with a ball that went through his stomach into his spine. Hamilton died the next day.

This ended Burr’s political career: Would killing Burr have ended Hamilton’s? Probably, but Burr was the one who had issued the challenge. Maybe Hamilton would have been excused by the public. Maybe he would have ultimately become President; all the Founders of his magnitude except Ben Franklin did. For good or ill, Alexander Hamilton would have been a strong and probably transformative leader. But if he hadn’t died at Weehawken, it’s unlikely that we would have “Hamilton” the musical….

1. Baseball, hotdogs, and a bystander hero. Dr. Willie Ross, the father of Washington Nationals pitcher Joe Ross, saved the life of a choking fan midway through yesterday 10-4 Giants win over Washington at Oracle Park in San Francisco. Ross saw that a female spectator was choking, and when Ross came over to her seat to check on her, she couldn’t talk. Ross helped dislodge two pieces of a hot dog by using the Heimlich maneuver, then reached into her throat to take out the third and final piece. The woman, who is a nurse, could breath and speak at last. Ross received a standing ovation from nearby fans.

Continue reading

Meanwhile, The News Media Keeps Lying For Stacey Abrams

Stace Abrams 2

As noted in the previous post, it’s unethical to use Stacey Abram’s crummy romance novels against her, when she herself is such a revoltingly unethical public figure. The Democrats and the news media have been trying to make a hero out of Abrams, who pretty clearly is a fake and an opportunist whose ethics alarms rusted shut long ago. Most recently, she pushed Major League Baseball to pull the All-Star Game from Atlanta because of the “Jim Crow” election law changes in Georgia Joe Biden repeatedly lied about. MLB, desperately pandering, relocated the game to Colorado, a state whose safe-guards against voting fraud are more stringent than Georgia’s. (Trying to make voting less easy to rig is “racist.” Yeah, I don’t get it either.)

After MLB followed Abrams’ exhortations and it was revealed that the move would devastate small businesses in Atlanta, many of them minority-owned, Abrams said she was “disappointed” in baseball.

Yes, she is a weasel in human form. The fun part is figuring out how long before enough people figure it out. The mainstream news media, which resembles Pravda more with each passing day, is doing its best to delay that moment of reckoning, as the recent revelation about her stealth-edited USA Today essay illustrates.

The piece was published on March 31, right before Major League Baseball made the despicable choice to withdraw from Georgia the law that Abrams opposed. Abrams then argued that the boycott was a correct corporate response. Abrams was also arguing both sides of the argument at once, something she does a lot, shameless phony that she is. She wrote in part:

“Boycotts work…The impassioned response to the racist, classist bill that is now the law of Georgia is to boycott in order to achieve change. Events hosted by major league baseball, world class soccer, college sports and dozens of Hollywood films hang in the balance. At the same time, activists urge Georgians to swear off of hometown products to express our outrage. Until we hear clear, unequivocal statements that show Georgia-based companies get what’s at stake, I can’t argue with an individual’s choice to opt for their competition. However one lesson of boycotts is that the pain of deprivation must be shared to be sustainable. Otherwise, those least resilient bear the brunt of these actions; and in the aftermath, they struggle to access the victory. And boycotts are complicated affairs that require a long-term commitment to action. I have no doubt that voters of color, particularly Black voters, are willing to endure the hardships of boycotts. But I don’t think that’s necessary — yet. … I ask you to bring your business to Georgia and, if you’re already here, stay and fight. Stay and vote.”

Continue reading

The Great Stupid Rolls On: Once Again, The News Media Makes Us Play “Wheel Of Fortune”…

Barely three weeks ago, Ethics Alarms offered this post, “The New York Times Refusing To Inform Its Readers What Meyers Leonard Was Suspended For Saying Is Far More Unethical Than Leonard Saying It.” Readers of the Times and many other news sources had revealed that the NBA’s Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard was in big trouble because he had used a word that was an ethnic slur so terrible that we couldn’t be told exactly what it was. This is censorship and journalism incompetence at its worse: without knowing the word, the story makes no sense. It is a central fact that the public must know in order to assess whether the outrage over the utterance and the eventual consequences were just.

Ethics Alarms had to inform readers that the word was “kike.” That’s not my job. Nonetheless, I have respect for the public, language, the duty of communication and free speech that the majority of American journalists do not.

Now, in an example of bad ethics deja vu, it’s happened again. Rather than do their job and tell the story, most of the news media is requiring the public to play “Wheel of Fortune,” and complete a phrase by guessing what a word is in order to understand why its utterance by a professional athlete is newsworthy.

Here was how USA Today reported the episode:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis apologized for a tweet he sent Sunday night that contained an anti-Asian slur.  Davis said he confused the term for one he was intending to mean “lame” while trying to blame the media for the traction the tweet received.”I would never offend any group of people,” Davis, 24, wrote. “You reporters can look for another story to blow up. The term was directed towards a producer claiming he ‘ran Miami’ With that being said I’ll retire that word from my vocabulary giving the hard times our Asian family are enduring. According to ESPN, Davis wrote “Gotta stop letting (expletive) in Miami” in the tweet that has since been deleted. Anti-Asian attacks have increased recently as the COVID-19 pandemic continues into its second year.In response to the tweet, the Asian American Journalists Association Sports Task Force said in a statement that it “is disappointed by his sentiment, especially at a time when Asians in the United States are experiencing a sharp increase in anti-Asian hate which has resulted in harassment and attacks.”

Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Peeps, 3/28/21: “Hey, Everybody! Free Gym Memberships!”

Peeps

1. Speaking of useless awards shows: Here are the winners of the NAACP Image Awards, presented by Black Entertainment Television, which raises questions all by itself. Now someone explain to me how such awards are helpful, productive, and justified in the United States of America in 2021. As hard as I try, I cannot think of any words but hypocrisy, apartheid, and double standards.

I’d really appreciate an argument from an African-American reader.

2. An ethical firing at USA Today. After Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa shot up a supermarket in Boulder, Hemal Jehaveri, who held the Orwellian post of “Race and Inclusion Editor,” proved her qualifications by tweeting “It’s always an angry white man, always.” This did not go over well, for several reasons.

Race tweet

First, “it” isn’t “always” a white man. Second, this particular shooting appears to be based on religious and ethnic hate, not race. Third, for a “race and inclusion” editor to announce racial bias of her own on social media would seem to be immediately disqualifying. Fourth, as a journalist, she needs to be trusted, and not tweet out false information on a whim.

Fifth, she’s a biased idiot.

She was fired. Good. Now she’s claiming that her firing was race-based:

Continue reading

Evening Ethics Exorcism, 12/2/2020: Boy, I Hate Thinking About This Stuff Before Bed…

pazuzzu

1. This is too stupid to devote a post to, but too stupid to ignore. Some group of wackos calling itself the We the People Convention is advocating that President Trump invoke “limited martial law” and hold a new election by fiat. The group somehow scraped up the money to call for this in a full page Washington Times ad, not that the Times is a particularly prominent newspaper, but it is a conservative one, which I guess is why they thought it was okay to accept money for such junk. It isn’t.

As for the WTPC’s argument, it is based on bad history, bad law, and bad thinking. The press release “explains”:

The Ad compares the Extraordinary Executive actions implemented by President Abraham Lincoln in his efforts to save the Union during the Civil War and the literal civil war that is dividing our nation today. Without full confidence that our courts or Congress will indeed follow the 12th Amendment of the Constitution and defend our electoral process, the ad calls upon President Trump, like Lincoln, to exercise the Extraordinary Powers of his office and declare limited Martial Law to temporarily suspend the Constitution and civilian control of these federal elections in order to have the military implement a national re-vote that reflects the true will of the people.

Cue “Murder by Death”:

What the ad and petition are arguing for is wildly unconstitutional. Lincoln’s various excesses were also unconstitutional and among the most serious abuses of Presidential power in our history, but at least he had an actual Civil War to deal with. There is not, obviously, any “literal” civil war today. If something as unprecedented and nationally disrupting as a voided election and a do-over is going to happen (it won’t), it would have to occur through the courts, which is to say, through the rule of law.

The ridiculous, offensive, reckless and foolish suggestion would have probably received the scant attention it deserved had not, if what I have seem reported is correct, recently-pardoned Mike Flynn and pro-Trump lawyer Linn Wood, who looks and sounds more like Michael Avenatti every day, publicly endorsed it. (Wood is not a member of the Trump legal team, incidentally, though I keep seeing that reported.)

Well, shame on them both, but Flynn is a notorious loose cannon, and Wood, well, is Wood. Their approval won’t make the petition any less ridiculous, and their poor judgement reflects badly on nobody but themselves.

Continue reading

The Amy Coney Barrett Hysteria, PART I

We knew that whenever it was that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had to be replaced (and those of us who have not completely forgotten the immutable rules of mortaliy were not shocked when this occurred sooner rather than later) we knew that the Left would freak OUT. That they—by “they” I mean Democrats, “the resistance,” the Trump Deranged, pro-abortion fanatics, feminist ideologues and the substantial segment of social media that can be counted upon to react like the cattle in “City Slickers” when Billy Crystal turns in his battery-powered coffee grinder—would freak out quite this embarrassingly, however, I did not foresee.

This is only because I am an idiot, of course. The way the left has reacted and is reacting to Donald Trump’s election should have prepared me. Surely the despicable way they treated Brett Kavanaugh should have prepared me. It’s just that I find it hard—maybe I should say “painful”— to believe that one whole side of the political spectrum is capable of it all.

Need I mention that metaphorically running around screaming nonsense with one’s hair on fire is unethical? It is irresponsible citizenship, it is neither competent nor prudent, and it upsets the less-intelligent members of the herd, and it is wildly unfair to Judge Barrett.

Let’s just stick with that proposition, and concentrate primarily on examples that are res ipsa loquitur, meaning in this case that if you have to be told why some things are nuts, then you’re nuts too.

  • Senator Gillibrand’s tweet:

The fact that this outrageous statement is not out of character for the Junior Senator from New York doesn’t make it any more tolerable. The statement itself is another iteration of The Big Lie. Of course Barrett is qualified for the Court. Her former colleagues say so, the ABA says so, and and the current membership of the Court itself says so, since there are more than one Justice whose qualifications upon being confirmed were considerably less impressive.

Gillibrand represents the dangerous brand of anti-democratic thought her party is now peddling, albeit more openly and flagrantly than most of her compatriots, who are smarter than she is. That false principle is that only those who bow to Leftist cant are “qualified” to have any influence, legitimacy or power at all. Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/13/2020: “Hail To The Thingamajiggies!” Edition [Corrected]

How.

1. When late is worse than never. Reports say that the Washington Redskins will officially announce that they are changing their name, to what nobody knows, not even them. The team’s obnoxious owner, Dan Snyder, who has run the once cultishly popular and successful NFL franchise into the ground during his incompetent stewardship, had memorably said that he would never change the controversial team name, unquestionably the most politically incorrect in all of sports. That pledge did not anticipate his league going nuts and supine before the George Floyd Freakout, to the point that there may be mandatory kneeling by the time the 2020 season opens.

The attack on the Redskins name was always about power, as has been the decades-long assault on all team nicknames with ethnic references. Survey after survey has shown that the vast majority of Native Americans don’t care; the idea is to bring corporate interests to heel, and then aim at the next, more substantive objective. The competent way for a team to handle this problem is to quietly retire a problematic name like “Redskins” (or a anachronistically provocative logo like the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo) when the heat is off, making it clear that the change is volitional and not compelled. Then the social justice mob members can’t puff out their little pigeon chests with pride and think “I did this! What’s the next target?”

I don’t care what the D.C. team’s name is. I do care about dishonest and illogical arguments, which is what have been mounted against this name for as long as I can remember. That’s why the Redskins and related matters have so often been a topic here.

I did laugh yesterday when I read a comment predicting that Snyder would announce that the new name would be “the Washington Murderous Savages”… Continue reading

Unethical Headline Of The Week, “Nah, The News Media Isn’t Promoting Fear And Panic” Division

What possible excuse can there be for this? There is none.

Let’s start with the “six wars combined” stat. That doesn’t count the  top six wars in  US history in combat deaths, each of which  also happen to have  had more than 10,000 deaths. The “battlefield” modifier is also a cheat: the headline actually calls deaths from the disease “battlefield deaths”! They aren’t battlefield deaths.  Meanwhile, the two earliest major wars in our history both had more than 10,000 military deaths, which is the usual way we tote up such things. The next three combined, The Iraq War (#9), the Philippine-American War (#10), and the Spanish American War (#11) add up to more than 10,000, so to  get to six you have to  carefully work around the list and drop in some wars nobody remembers.

But who thinks like that? We have have over 40,000 suicides every year. Almost 40,000 die ever year from car accidents. About 35,000 die every year from falls. 10,000 is less than the typical year’s deaths from fire, choking and drowning, and so what?

The headline is yet another cognitive dissonance trick: war is something we regard as especially horrible, so the idea is to get the public to associate the epidemic with wars, which involve violent death. Yeah, let’s really scare them .But the Wuhan virus has nothing to do with wars. The comparison doesn’t belong in the story, much less the headline. Comparing it with other pandemics and epidemics would be misleading enough.

The news media’s coverage of the Wuhan Virus epidemic  has been uniformly despicable: sensational, politicized, unreliable. At a time when a competent, objective press and broadcast media is essential—it always is, but in a national emergency especially so—journalism has dived to a new low.  None of the news media is beyond reproach: Fox News has frequently taken the opposite approach to the rest, hyping skepticism about the seriousness of the outbreak and various doomsday models, and spreading rumors and speculation as fact. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: USA Today Op-Ed Writer Elvia Diaz

“Jack Wilson is a hero alright. It took him only six seconds to kill a gunman at a Texas church, saving countless lives. Unfortunately, that kind of split-second heroism has been turned into a PR tool by gun advocates…. he’s exactly the kind of man you want around with a firearm. But we know nothing about the at least six other parishioners who also appeared to draw their handguns at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas. And that’s terrifying.”

Elvia Diaz of the  Arizona Republic, USA Today, in a Jan. 1 , 2020  USA Today op-ed.

The paper, soon to be defunct (thankfully—I would not be shocked if it didn’t last the year), has been furiously flamed on social media for this obnoxious and telling commentary. It doesn’t take much, beyond respect for American citizens and the Second Amendment, to pinpoint the ethics illness on display here.

Every mass shooting instantly is politicized into a repetition of the anti-gun propaganda that has become a reflex on the Left and in the mainstream media since the Sandy Hook school shooting. The disappointment among this group over a shooting being foiled by a lawful gun owner has been nauseating. The right to own guns is the right to self-defense, and not to have to depend solely on  the government for self-preservation.

The result in White Settlement should be used to counter the efforts to strip gun rights from citizens, because there are many benefits to society of private gun ownership.

The op-ed perfectly summarizes the media’s distrust of Americans and personal liberty. It’s so terrifying that those owning guns, and prepared to use them lawfully, haven’t been certified as worthy of self-defense rights by obtrusive government overseers. What an ugly bias.

The social media reactions have been impressively on point… Continue reading