From The Ethics Alarms “Doing The Right Thing For The Wrong Reason” Files: The President Snubs The White House Correspondents Dinner


President Donald Trump has declined the invitation to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, becoming the first President to skip it since Ronald Reagan in 1981, who missed the dinner while recovering from an assassination attempt but still delivered remarks over the phone.


Once, before it was televised, over-publicized, and hyped, before Presidents started hiring comedy writers to give them professional qualify stand-up material, and especially before the last eight years of an event that looked like the President was fraternizing with complacent and sycophantic supporters and cronies—which he was— the dinner served the purpose of sending a salutary message that the relationship between the press and the President in power was adversarial but not personal, and that like all professionals, the adversaries could disagree intensely on important issues and have a congenial beer together later. It had become a classic example of the appearance of impropriety, however, going hand and in hand with Joe Biden’s “Super-Soaker” party for journalists that I examined in 2010.

Let me take you down on a stroll down Memory Lane. After Wolf Blitzer, Ed Henry and others appeared on You-Tube giggling and playing games with Vice President Biden, Rahm Emanuel and other Obama administration officials at the Biden-hosted party, Glenn Greenwald wrote,

I personally don’t think that these types of interactions ‘violate journalistic ethics,’ because I don’t think such a thing exists for them.  Rather, all of this just helpfully reveals what our nation’s leading “journalists” really are:  desperate worshipers of political power who are far more eager to be part of it and to serve it than to act as adversarial checks against it — and who, in fact, are Royal Court Spokespeople regardless of which monarch is ruling.  That’s why they’re invited into the heart of Versailles to frolic with the King’s most trusted aides:  it’s their reward for loyal service as Court courtiers.”

To which I added,

It’s not very complicated: if the public believes that journalists are inclined to be favorable toward government officials because they like them, get benefits from them, and seek their approval, then they cannot trust the objectivity of the news. The Biden party proves that some prominent journalists either don’t understand this, or don’t care.

Now, after 8 years,  we know: they don’t care. Their relentless partisan bias has become transparent, and journalists, as well as the beneficiaries of their bias, are content to continue denying it, pointing to the solid and fair reporting mixed in with the deceptive and incompetent stories. The White House Correspondents Dinner has been both the product of an illicit relationship between the White House and the press, and proof of it. To bolster the public’s trust, to avoid conflicts of interests and to reduce the appearance of impropriety, Presidents, Vice-Presidents and high government officials should not participate in this event or others like them—OR super-soaker parties at the VP’s mansion. Continue reading

NOW You Tell Us: The Undeniable Deceit In The Post-Sandy Hook Anti-Gun Push

It's a litmus test: if this story doesn't bother you, then you believe the ends justify the means, as long as you like the ends.

It’s a litmus test: if this story doesn’t bother you, then you believe the ends justify the means, as long as you like the ends.

From the Los Angeles Times:

“Gun crime has plunged in the United States since its peak in the middle of the 1990s, including gun killings, assaults, robberies and other crimes, two new studies of government data show. Yet few Americans are aware of the dramatic drop, and more than half believe gun crime has risen, according to a newly release report by the Pew Research Center. In less than two decades, the gun murder rate has been nearly cut in half. Other gun crimes fell even more sharply, paralleling a broader drop in violent crimes committed with or without guns. Violent crime dropped steeply during the 1990s and has fallen less dramatically since the turn of the millennium.”

Interesting timing, don’t you think? This information would have been invaluable during the months of Democrat-fueled hysteria following the Newtown tragedy, when gun violence suddenly was represented far and wide, on television, in print and on the stump, as a deepening crisis so serious and deadly that it warranted pushing all other priorities aside. Now, after the dishonest and emotion-based assault on guns and gun-ownership stalled, the public is provided with the information, always there and waiting in official government statistics, that would have placed the need for new gun laws in proper perspective. Instead, the public was treated to laments by mourning parents, scripted statements by Gaby Giffords, and harangues by Piers Morgan.

Gee. I wonder why more than half the public believes that gun violence is getting worse? Continue reading

“The Ortiz Standard,” With An Ethics Note To High Appointed Officials: If You Can’t Say Something Responsible And Intelligent, Please Shut Up!

Gee, thanks, guys. Fuck.

Gee, thanks, guys. Fuck.

Apparently April is officially “Let’s Make The U.S. Permanently Vulgar and Uncivil Month.”

We’ve had a University of Maryland sorority lovely ream out her charges with a rant that would, in the words of Henry Higgins, “make a sailor blush.” Kmart launched a potty-minded commercial based entirely on the hilarious similarity between the phrase “ship my pants” and “shit my pants,” including two happy seniors boasting how they “shipped our pants.” In Bismarck, North Dakota, a local station’s brand new anchor man’s very first words to the audience were “…fucking shit!” because he didn’t know his mic was live.  And, of course, given the honor of representing his team during the Boston Red Sox’s pre-game ceremony honoring the heroes of the past week in their terror-besieged city, slugger David Ortiz told 35,000+ spectators, including many children, and a large TV audience, also including young children, watching the event, “This is our fucking city!” He was then unanimously praised for his passion.

Not to be left out of this full-throated endorsement of public incivility and locker room banter as the new normal, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski sent out a tweet for those wondering how Ortiz’s outburst would be received by the FCC, which has previously threatened fines of networks that didn’t take sufficient precautions against live obscenities. He wrote,

“David Ortiz spoke from the heart at today’s Red Sox game. I stand with Big Papi and the people of Boston – Julius.” Continue reading

Tell-Tale Signs Of An Incompetent Government: Rationalization # 32, Star Trek and Chairman Who?

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One of the common rationalizations that leads to both unethical conduct and an unethical organizational culture is “The Management Shrug,” often verbalized as “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”  (It is #32 on the Ethics Alarms ever-lengthening Rationalizations List; it really should have been in the top ten.) This is a favorite excuse of self-anointed big thinkers of the arrogant and incompetent breed, and is an attitude at the core of a much more sinister ethical fallacy, “the ends justify the means.” The Obama administration has been habitually guilty of the Management Shrug, as has a national news media that largely refuses to hold it accountable, and the U.S. public, which pretty obviously doesn’t notice or doesn’t care.

Here’s a ridiculous example: some idiot paid  with your tax dollars thought it was appropriate to place a quote from Chairman Mao on the Kids’ Zone page at the National Center on Education Statistics website. Continue reading

The Curse of the Honest Vice-President and the Evolving President

“EEEK! The President is EVOLVING!!!”

Vice-President Joe Biden sent Washington, D.C.’s pundits into a tizzy when he told  NBC’s “Meet the Press” last Sunday that he was“absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage. It is amazing, when Biden has lapped all previous Vice Presidents in goofs, mistakes, outrageous statements and embarrassments that this statement—honest, reasonable and forthright—should be regarded as a serious blunder. What did he do wrong this time? As Dana Milbank of the Washington Post put it, Biden “committing the classic Washington gaffe of accidentally speaking the truth.”

And why is it a gaffe for this Vice President to tell the truth by stating his support for a position strongly favored by the majority of Democrats, and increasingly the public as a whole? Why would Biden be off message by embracing a core cause of the gay, lesbian and transgendered community, which is overwhelmingly in the Obama camp? The answer is that he has embarrassed the President by calling attention to the fact that President Obama has conspicuously avoided making such a clear and unequivocal statement on the issue, because he wants to avoid being open, honest, direct and truthful about his views on gay marriage until after the election. Continue reading

The GSA Spending Scandal, Panetta, Biden, the Obama Administration Culture

Outrageous! Why would the GSA have to hire this clown? Talk about “carrying coals to Newcastle…”

That the GSA’s spending 0ver $800,000 on a Vegas staff fling masquerading as a working conference was unethical and an example of government agency arrogance at its worst seemed so obvious to me that I was going to eschew commentary entirely. When Newt Gingrich, Eric Holder and Kim Kardashian would likely understand what is wrong with any conduct, my analysis is superfluous. However, here are a few observations regarding the more critical issue of what this episode teaches us about the Obama Administration, the culture it has fostered and its leadership:

  • I do not think it is unfair to consider whether  the General Services Administration scandal might be a direct result of the culture in the Obama Administration generally. The overwhelming  impression left by the entire administration from the top down is that austerity is for everyone else. The message sent by continued unnecessary and profligate spending at all levels of the government was bound to be taken as a general green light to be abused by someone, and that someone happened to be at the GSA. Of course, there may be other someones who haven’t been found out yet. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Day: Allahpundit

"Hide! The Vice-President says that if the jobs bill doesn't pass, we might be raped!!!"

“The very first question at the next Solyndra hearing should be, “How many rapes could Democrats have prevented by giving that $535 million to cops instead?”

“Hot Air” blogger Allahpundit, marking the below-the-belt tactics of Vice President Joe Biden, who angrily suggested that Republicans who voted against the President’s jobs bill would be responsible for rapes and murders because of the resulting inadequate numbers of police.

Biden’s fear-mongering is beyond demogoguery, whatever the virtues of the President’s bill. States make budgetary decisions, and if a state’s priorities in funding didn’t include sufficient police personnel to prevent rapes and murders, the state is accountable, not Congressional Republicans (and Democrats) who don’t like the President’s bill. Meanwhile, the jobs bill seeks $5 billion for cops (and firefighters) and $30 billion for teachers. Is Obama willing to risk more rapes by not putting more money into law enforcement and less into teacher’s unions?  Continue reading

Sarah Palin Blows the Whistle On A Classic Media Bias Trick

After Sarah Palin, during a televised interview, said North Korea when she meant South Korea (me, I always mix up North and South Carolina)—an obvious slip of the tongue, since she had correctly identified our ally among the Koreas previously in the same interview, multiple media reports decided the gaffe was newsworthy, or at least another opportunity to show the American public that the former Alaska governor is, as they believe, an idiot. Palin, who is nothing if not feisty, took to the New Media with a Facebook post pointing out that equally egregious flubs out of the mouth of President Obama had been ignored, and listed some of them, including the time Obama raised the number of states to 57, momentarily confusing them with ketchup. Continue reading

Cindy McCain Shows Us What the Absence of Integrity Looks Like

What sense can we make out of the conduct of Cindy McCain, Senator John McCain’s wife?

In a celebrity video ad, posted online by a gay rights group called NOH8, Cindy McCain has properly linked the bullying of gay teens (and the recent spate of gay teen suicides) with the second-class citizen, undesirable human being status attached to gays by politicians who support the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Then, as the media began speculating about the policy rift in the McCain household, since Sen. McCain still supports the archaic, unconstitutional and unjust policy that forces gays to hide their sexual orientation or be deemed unfit for military service, Cindy McCain sent out a Twitter message that read:

“I fully support the NOH8 campaign and all it stands for and am proud to be a part of it. But I stand by my husband’s stance on DADT.” Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Geraldo Rivera

Geraldo Rivera has declared that Rolling Stone Magazine is a journalistic miscreant for not treating comments that weren’t expressly “on the record” as “off the record,” and reporting the derogatory comments of now-deposed Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his staff regarding  President Obama, Vice-President Biden, and others.  The upcoming article’s contents, he reasons, do no good and much bad, and are irresponsible…”a terrible thing.”

Some news media reporting in times of war are indeed irresponsible and unethical, as when the New York Times has published the details of intelligence operations. This is not such a case. Continue reading