Wall Street Journal
Whose Lie Was More Newsworthy, Olympic Swimmer Ryan Lochte’s Regarding His Imaginary Mugging In Rio, Or The Obama Administration’s Regarding Paying Ransom To Iran? [UPDATED]
The story that Ryan Lochte told four days ago was frightening and detailed, the Olympic gold medalist recalling a late-night robbery and a pistol pressed against his head. On Thursday, Brazilian authorities presented evidence they say contradicts that account and could turn what at first had been a deeply embarrassing incident for the Summer Games’ host country into a different kind of international incident.
The head of Rio de Janeiro’s civil police, Fernando Veloso, said the version of the events told by Lochte and three U.S. swimming teammates was fabricated. The athletes, he said, damaged a gas station bathroom early Sunday morning and were involved in a confrontation with armed security before paying about $50 to resolve the matter.
“We can confirm that there was no robbery as they described, and they were not victims as they presented themselves,” Veloso told a packed news conference, alleging the athletes had given “a fantastical version of events.”
The State Department conceded for the first time on Thursday that it delayed making a $400 million payment to Iran for several hours in January “to retain maximum leverage” and ensure that three American prisoners were released the same day.
For months the Obama administration had maintained that the payment was part of a settlement over an old dispute and did not amount to a “ransom” for the release of the Americans. Instead, administration officials said, it was the first installment of the $1.7 billion that the United States intends to pay Iran to reimburse it for military equipment it bought before the Iranian revolution that the United States never delivered.
But at a briefing on Thursday, John Kirby, the State Department spokesman, said the United States “took advantage of the leverage” it felt it had that weekend in mid-January to obtain the release of the hostages and “to make sure they got out safely and efficiently.”
There is little doubt as to which of the two lies the U.S. public is being informed about most thoroughly today: It’s #1. After all, Ryan Lochte is a reality TV star, and a celebrity, and an athlete, and this is the Olympics! Up close and personal! Bread! Circuses!
The second story? Meh.What’s the big deal? So the Obama Administration paid ransom for hostages, endangering U.S. citizens all over the world, and repeatedly lied to the press and the public about it over the past two week, issuing unequivocal denials that the 400 million dollar payment and the hostage release were related in any way. So what?
On CNN this morning, the stupid, stupid, stupid story about how a group of boorish Olympic athletes (‘USA! USA!”) peed on the walls of a Rio bathroom and made up a robbery —at gun point!—story to cover up their vandalism was the subject of a full panel discussion. If the Obama version of Iran-Contra was covered at all, it wasn’t in the hour I saw.
Google News search, “Ryan Lochte”…nearly 10 million results.
Google News search, “Iran ransom”…about 220,000 results. Continue reading
One Ethics Observation On The Fox Business-WSJ Republican Candidates’ Debate.
That was professional, unbiased, fair debate moderation.
Maria Bartiromo, Gerard Baker and Neil Cavuto made it look easy.
This should be a template for all future debates in either party, and between the eventual nominees.
And bravo to Neil Cavuto for his mild, pointed and well-deserved shot at his predecessors at CNBC in closing For once, a debate was about the candidates and not the moderators.
May it always be thus.
The Wall Street Journal Steals From A Blogging Lawyer…Luckily For Them, A Nice One
I always do a double-take when I see that someone has “re-blogged” a piece from Ethics Alarms. Unless there is something in my WordPress agreement that allows other bloggers to lift my work and publish it as their content without my permission—oh, who knows, there probably is—this is a copyright violation, but worse than that, it’s wrong. Apparently they think that if they give attribution, that makes everything fine. Why would they think that? I’m writing for my blog, not anyone else’s. If a blogger wants to reprint all, most or some of my commentary in order to critique it, that’s fine ( WindyPundit is doing this right now). But lifting all or most of my work to fill space on your website, without my permission? Not fair, and not ethical.
This just happened to personal injury lawyer and estimable blogger Eric Turkewitz, but the culprit wasn’t a blogger, it was the Wall Street Journal. It took his post about Google Cars and just slapped it into the print and online editions of the paper. “Lawyer Eric Turkewitz writes that self-driving cars will hurt the business of many personal-injury attorneys,” said the sub-head under “Notable and Quotable.” Hmmm. Usually a writer gets paid to write features for a newspaper. I guess just lifting copy without permission is “Fair Use.”
No, First Amendment expert Marc Randazza points out in his typically irreverent way, it isn’t:
In this case, the Wall Street Journal used 44% of Turkewitz’ post, with no additional commentary, criticism, or discussion. The WSJ could have called Turkewitz a moron for his views, and quoted the whole thing (theoretically). Or, the WSJ could have given approval, more discussion, or turned the article into piece of art, with spray painted Che Guevaras and stencils of Paris Hilton, as a commentary on Turkewitz, tomato soup, and golf, or whatever. But, they didn’t do any of that.
So lets look at the §107 [Fair Use]factors
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The purpose and character of the use is certainly commercial and for profit. The WSJ sold its newspaper with Turkewitz’ work in it, and even put it behind its paywall online. Same exact use, except WSJ took what Turkewitz distributes for free, gathered it, and sold it.
The nature of the copyrighted work was Turkewitz’ original opinions and thoughts.
The amount and substantiality of the portion used? 44%. Pretty substantial. Remember, this is not dispositive, but if you used almost half of an original work, you better have a good reason.
The effect of the use on the potential market for the value of the copyrighted work? That’s sorta iffy. It isn’t as if Turkewitz sells his work. But, that is not a requirement. Turkewitz’ blog currency is readership. If you do some quick online searches for some of the content, sometimes the WSJ version comes up above Turkewtiz’ version. Not cool. Ultimately, the WSJ blew it here because they didn’t add anything to the original — they just lifted it and reposted it….
So the verdict? The Wall Street Journal is definitely guilty of copyright infringement for lifting a bloggers’ work without any justification.
It’s worse than that, however. Continue reading
The Wall Street Journal’s Uncultured Culture Critic
In a jaw-dropping essay for her employer, The Wall Street Journal, alleged culture critic Joanne Kaufman proudly and candidly disabuses readers of any misconceptions they might have had regarding her qualifications for her job. She is not merely unqualified, but willfully, shamelessly, spectacularly unqualified. In a smug screed in which she admits to habitually walking out on Broadway shows at intermission, Kaufman reveals herself as lazy, arrogant, disrespectful of artists, and most crippling of all, to be afflicted by the attention span of the average Twitter addict.
“Don’t ask me what happened during the second acts of “Matilda,” “Kinky Boots,” “Pippin” and, reaching back a few seasons, “Boeing-Boeing” and “Billy Elliott, ” Kaufman boasts. “Really, I have no idea. But I am nothing if not cosmopolitan in my tastes, or distastes—French farces, English musicals set in gritty industrial cities, and American entertainments involving Charlemagne ’s Frankish kin.”
You can read her entire piece here; if the Journal doesn’t fire her, it is run by fools. “I’m of the “brevity is the soul of wit” school and of the belief that only a few bites are required to determine that you just don’t like a particular dish,” she happily admits. “My ideal night in the theater runs 90 minutes without an intermission (it is best not to put temptation in my path), which means that Shakespeare and I don’t tend to see a lot of each other.” This is the culture writer, remember. Yet she is admitting to membership in the lazy, sound-bite, bumper-sticker, multi-processing, distracted, ADD-addled public that has caused writers, playwrights, producers, book publishers, film-makers and song-writers to dumb down, redact, trivialize and simplify entertainment in an accelerating death cycle: plots don’t make sense, explosions start early, subtlety is forbidden, and no issue, thought or topic that can’t be fully explored in the time it takes to do a load of laundry is going can find its way on stage or screen. The Journal’s culture writer doesn’t have the time or interest to sit through King Lear, Hamlet, The Ice Man Cometh, or Death of a Salesman, or to view all of “Seven Samurai,” “A Man for All Seasons” or “Gettysburg”—hey, a movie about one of those short Civil War battles for Joanne, please: she’s got a 15 minute segment of “Robot Chicken” to catch. Continue reading
When Evil Doesn’t Seem Wrong: The Post World War II Lobotomies
The recent, shocking discovery that the Soviet Union forcibly lobotomized thousands of World War II veterans when the battle-weary soldiers could not cope with the post traumatic stress created by the horrors of war reaffirms our convictions about the dehumanizing effects of totalitarian government.
Wait…did I say the Soviet Union? My mistake. It was our government that did this, and sent letters to their families like this one:
From the Wall Street Journal this week: Continue reading
The Authority Trap: Elizabeth O’Bagey’s Three Ethics Strikes
It is not, you see, enough to have a good idea, an original argument, or a brilliant solution.There must be reason for important people, people who make decisions that affect lives, to pay any more attention to you than they do anyone else who claims to have such things, because its is often difficult for even intelligent and experienced individuals to distinguish genius from well-expressed garbage. There must be something that elevates that unique and valuable perspective you bring to a problem above the swirling mess and noise generated by the blabbering and shouting competition, and the thing is, if you really have a valuable perspective to contribute, you owe it to not just yourself, but to your country, even humanity.
There is one asset, if you are otherwise unknown, that will provide that elevation besides the inherent virtues of your brilliant idea, and that is authority...a book, a connection everybody knows and respects, or, perhaps most of all, academic credentials. And there are two things that will make it impossible to raise your special contribution above the throng, and they are a conflict of interest, and a reputation for hiding the truth. These are the murderers of trust.
This brings us to the strange case of Elizabeth O’Bagy, a senior analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, who managed to get the Wall Street Journal to publish her analysis of the civil war in Syria, and her conclusions, based, we were to assume, on her study, analysis and time in the country, regarding the benefits of U.S. employment of military force in the region. Continue reading
Ethics Dunces: The Wall Street Journal Editors
There may be good arguments to support that massive trolling of Verizon Business phone records by the NSA revealed yesterday, but so far, the justifications are either disingenuous, rationalizations, or leaps down the slippery slope. None exemplified this better than the Wall Street Journal, in its editorial defending the recently revealed surveillance. My favorite paragraph:
“The critics nonetheless say the NSA program is a violation of privacy, or illegal, or unconstitutional, or all of the above. But nobody’s civil liberties are violated by tech companies or banks that constantly run the same kinds of data analysis. We bow to no one in our desire to limit government power, but data-mining is less intrusive on individuals than routine airport security. The data sweep is worth it if it prevents terror attacks that would lead politicians to endorse far greater harm to civil liberties.”
- “The critics nonetheless say the NSA program is a violation of privacy, or illegal, or unconstitutional, or all of the above.” “The critics?” Can someone honestly say that taking my personal and private phone communications data without my knowledge or consent is not a violation of privacy? To argue that is the definition of Orwellian. “We’re not violating your privacy, we’re just secretly examining your private communications.” Oh. Continue reading
The Reporter and the Diplomat: Anatomy of an Ethics Train Wreck
Gina Chon, who handled the Iraq beat for the Wall Street Journal, “quit under pressure,” a.k.a. “was fired”, yesterday after it had been discovered that she had carried on a romantic affair with Brett McGurk, a high-placed American official, while both lived in Baghdad in 2008. McGurk was on the National Security Council staff during the Bush administration and has been nominated by President Obama to be ambassador to Iraq. Chon was covering McGurk’s activities while she was also romantically engaged with him, a cardinal ethics sin for a journalist. She also shared “certain unpublished news articles” with him, also a violation of Journal policy and journalism ethics. The relationship had been hidden by Chon, and only came to light when racy e-mails between the two were revealed. Of course, the fact that they had recently divorced their respective spouses and married each other probably should have been a clue.
This is a full-fledged ethics train wreck, and it is not over yet. Let us review the participants so far:
Typical of ETW’s, the coverage itself was ethically flawed. The Washington Post story about the Chon-McGurk affair appeared in the Post’s Style section, which covers media, entertainment, and gossip. McGurk is the current Obama administration nominee to be Ambassador to Iraq, a key post. This was the last line in the Style story:
“The disclosure has intensified doubts about McGurk’s nomination for ambassador among some Republican members of the Senate, but the Obama administration has stood by him.” Continue reading
Attention FCC: What the News of the World Scandal Reveals About Rupert Murdoch
Concluding that the News of the World scandal in Great Britain shows that Rupert Murdoch has less than a sufficient reverence for ethics, journalistic or otherwise, is an intellectual achievement well within the powers of Forrest Gump. Concerns about the integrity of the Australian media magnate have been voiced since he first stuck his kangaroo’s nose in the American media tent. As is too often the case here, legitimate points were minimized by their linkage to political bias: was Murdoch bad for American journalism because he was unethical, or because he was conservative? His most vocal critics, being from the Left, regard the two as the same, which allowed Murdoch to accumulate defenders on the political right who should have been just as wary of his methods and ethical deficit.
Now his flagship tabloid, The News of the World, has folded in the midst of a still-unfolding scandal. You can read details here; the important thing to know is that the tabloid was essentially lawless. Continue reading
This Comment of the Day by repeat awardee Humble Talent was really yesterday’s Comment of the Day #2, but it seems silly to keep the 2 when it is being posted today. See how hard my job is? I should hire an accounting firm to take care of this stuff and make sure it doesn’t get screwed up.
I was aware of the PewDiePie (that’s him on the left) flap, but not enough to investigate it (name bias on my part), and am grateful to Humble for highlighting the story, and its significance. The news media bias crisis is not going to end well, especially if they and their beneficiaries on the Left continue to deny it. Eventually, most of the public will wake up. My wife just flipped out when a Facebook friend posted, as part of her ongoing attack on the President, that he was undermining an “independent press.” It has to dawn on these semi-ignorant partisans that independence without standards, integrity, competence, objectivity and honesty…in short, ethics…just means “unaccountable.” And, of course, the current mainstream news media isn’t independent by a long shot.
Other than that, it was a perceptive observation.
Here is Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day on the post, Breaking Ethics Thoughts: The White House Bars The NYT And Others From Its Press Briefing: