Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/5/2020: Welcome To The No Nervous Breakdown Zone!

Apropos to this morning’s post: I just read a thread on Facebook entirely populated by people I knew, some of whom have befriended me. They are mostly lawyers, and after reading what was written, I could only comment that their conversation was deranged. I didn’t feel like arguing with people who could really write that if the Democrats didn’t win in November, Americans would lose their civil rights (when it is the ideological compatriots of these individuals who are stripping away the rights of free speech and association, championing race-based policies, and condemning the President for insisting that universities observe due process when a student is accused of sexual misconduct. How can they write that? What happened to them? Then there was the section of the thread in which they discussed that the President was certain to refuse to leave office if he is defeated, and my personal favorite, the assertion that those defending Kyle Rittenhouse are racists.

These are lawyers. They were taught about the requirement that every individual has a right to a fair trial, which means that he or she must not be pronounced guilty in the court of public opinion before all the facts are known, and proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They should know, as I do, D.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2 (b), which says, “A lawyer’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social, or moral views or activities.” Moreover, it is very likely that Rittenhouse, if he is ever tried, will be found not guilty. Did these deranged lawyer watch the video? I hope not, or they have really lost it. Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, and appears to be in the process of being railroaded by a racially biased justice system in Wisconsin, driven by the media and uninformed public opinion. I’ve seen the video. I’ve also been a prosecutor. I would not charge him, just as would not charge the officer who shot Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. I’ve also been a defense attorney, and  I would take on Rittenhouse’s defense confident that I had a winning case.

I also was struck by the snide comment about those who object to “Black Lives Matter” signs being obvious racists. I flagged that group as being a racist hate group when it first raised its ugly, divisive head, and damn right I object to seeing signs extolling a group responsible for riots, arson, and terrorizing diners in D.C. by demanding that they raise their fists.

Finally, these formerly rational professionals—who were once even as you or I! —-had the gall to talk about how Republicans and conservatives were promoting violence and a civil war. Yes, the end of the spectrum that includes the antifa, the rioters, and a party that has worked for four years to undermine our democratic processes, is really accusing others of seeking division and violence. This warrants FOUR standard Ethics alarms clips: This one,

…this one, of course,

…I have to use this one, though these people one were not morons…

And finally,

Get well quick, friends. Please. Continue reading

Monday Ethics Mixture, 8/17/2020: Let’s See What I Can Concoct Today…

1. Is this fair? Houston-based freelance photographer Bill Baptist shared a meme on his Facebook page that parodied the Biden-Harris campaign logo. It read, “Joe and the Hoe.”

Former WNBA star Sheryl Swopes saw Baptist’s post, shared it on her own timeline and demanded that the NBA to fire the photographer. So he was fired. Baptiste tried the inevitable grovel, writing,

“I deeply regret posting on my Facebook page a phrase that I saw and copied from others as a sample of some people’s reactions to Biden’s selection of Senator Harris as his choice for VP. The phrase I posted does not reflect my personal views at all. I should not have been so insensitive to post the statements by others. I sincerely apologize to all of those who have rightfully been offended and I have taken the post down from my FB page. It was a horrible mistake on my part.”

It didn’t save his job.

Observations:

  • Does sharing a tweet or a meme necessarily mean “I agree with this”? Can’t it mean, “Look at this”?
  • What kind of person actively seeks to have people fired for words or conduct that have nothing to do with their jobs? My answer: cruel people.
  • In this episode, Sheryl Swopes showed herself to be  a worse human being than the photographer.
  • Kamala Harris  exploited a sexual relationship with power-broker Willie Brown to advance in her career.  The meme could be considered legitimate satire if she were white. Is it illegitimate because she is sort of black?

2. And the Ed Wood Award goes to...The Orpheum Theater in Memphis. Ed Wood, bonkers director of such camp classics as “Plan Nine From Outer Space,” was creative, courageous, indefatigable, and passionate.  He was also completely incompetent, and not smart enough to realize it.  That brings us to the Orpheum, which installed a nine-hole miniature golf course on its stage to  create a revenue stream during the pandemic. Continue reading

OK, What’s Going On Here?

In the Washington Post yesterday, the Washington Post’s Sunday “Outlook” section included an op-ed in which  Lawrence Downes,  a former member of the New York Times editorial board, enthusiastically wrote about his new pastime:

[I have] right-wing culture war books from the Fox-News-angry-White-person’s superhero universe. Besides Hannity, I’ve got Lou Dobbs, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Rudy Giuliani and Bernie Kerik. The list is not comprehensive. It includes Karl Rove and Hugh Hewitt but not Newt Gingrich, Tucker Carlson or Donald Trump…The Fox folks seemed so bilious and out of place in that pleasant company, like toadstools among the daffodils. So I’d buy them up and take them home. Not for reading, which brought no pleasure, but for quarantine. The books are dispatches from a phony war, the one Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes helped gin up and got obscenely rich on. If you believe, as I do, that the plutocrat propagandists of Fox, talk radio and the GOP are lying liars who have vandalized our politics and country, then finding a Hannity or Ingraham book is like finding one of their bricks. The books piled up in my basement, out of circulation (which was the point) but always naggingly present, like asbestos. I wanted to be rid of them. And yet I paused, because even contemplating destroying books felt terrible…

I hit on the answer…. About once a week, I tear them into strips. I add them to the coffee grounds, potato and carrot peelings, onion and avocado skins, asparagus stubs, the papery bits of garlic, eggshells and dead flowers, and let the worms do the rest…

Turning propaganda into worm castings is not going to measurably reduce the amount of Fox News-iness in the environment. It is not strictly necessary. But if Hannity and company want to keep telling us that we are all at war, to keep stoking the flames and fanning the fear, then, for the good of this country, the people we love, the democracy we might lose and the world we want, so be it.

What’s going on here? Continue reading

“Ethics Dunce” Is Too Nice A Label For CNN’s Brian Stelter

And it insults both unethical journalists and dunces.

Stelter is special. Consider that this mega-hack and shameless partisan shill was the media reporter for the New York Times before taking on the job for CNN, and you know all you need to know about the trustworthiness of both Stelter and the Times.

We already know about the the trustworthiness of CNN.

A little background on Stelter’s latest equivalent of hiring a skywriter to put “I am a the King of the Hacks!” in blue and white over every major city:

One of the many, many things Democrats are terrified of as the 2020 election campaign approaches in earnest is that they have as a presumptive nominee for President a man who was once a gaffe-prone mediocrity but absolutely adequate to serve as a Vice-President for a healthy young POTUS, but who, in his late seventies, has shown unmistakable signs of cognitive decline. This, it should be said, was screamingly obvious the second Biden announced his candidacy: I was alarmed the first time I saw him speak. It was irresponsible and cynical for Democrats to encourage him to run; cruel for his family to let him run, and proof of desperation that primary voters supported him.

It is an open secret that Biden and his party have allowed the pandemic and lock-down to minimize his public exposure this long, but that lucky circumstance is running out quickly. Biden will have to be interviewed by some non-generous journalists eventually. He also will have to debate Donald Trump, but some progressives and Democrats, and their media allies,  are trying to find a way to let Joe avoid the debates, which have been a feature of every Presidential campaign since 1976. That’s 44 years and eleven campaigns. The public expects debates. If Biden refuses to debate while the President repeatedly calls him out, it will be a disaster for him. Even knowing this, Democrats seem to think that Joe engaging in debates will be an even greater disaster given the rate of Biden’s deterioration. Continue reading

The Ethics Vacuum That Is CNN’s Brian Stelter

Brain Stelter probably finishes no higher than third in CNN’s “Unprofessional and unethical broadcast journalists who any trustworthy news organization would fire but since CNN isn’t trustworthy it won’t” sweepstakes. Nonetheless, he is shockingly and consistently ethics free, which is particularly grotesque for an alleged media ethics critic. You can read the ugly  Ethics Alarms Stelter dossier here.

He’s also, in addition to being a 24-7 ethics dunce, not very bright.

D.C. attorney Mark Zaid (who also has an Ethics Alarms file!) tweeted this regarding the Washington Post’s settlement of the $250 million defamation suit filed against it by Nick Sandmann:

Being a dolt, Stelter probably thought it would be cute to retweet it, so he did. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/25/2020: The Congressional Playpen And Other Embarrassments

Good Morning!

Bulgaria has a holiday called “July Morning” that celebrates freedom, friendship, and love of life.

Maybe I’ll move to Bulgaria…

1. I cannot believe this doesn’t alienate more people than it pleases. I watched the Red Sox-Orioles game last night to open the Strangest Baseball Season Ever in Boston, and would have enjoyed it completely ( the Sox won 13-2) had I not had to constantly avert my eyes from the Red Sox management’s ostentatious virtue signaling, if you can call it that, since pandering to Black Lives Matter is far from virtuous.

Not only was the special BLM MLB logo at the back of the pitcher’s mound (BLM MLB is a palindrome!), but the full Black Lives Matter name was emblazoned on a banner, about 250 feet long, across the empty bleachers.

I’d love to know how many Red Sox executives, or if any of them, actually know what the “movement” the team is pimping for intends. My guess is that the decision to promote BLM was a cynical go along to get along decision that had nothing to do with substance, but rather was made in fear and expediency.

2. On the Fox News harassment accuser. The sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Tucker Carlson by Cathy Areu now appears to have fatal flaws. Continue reading

Still More From The Ethics Alarms “Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!” Files, Double Standards Section

As various wags have noted recently, the partisan, ideologically-driven and deliberately manipulative mainstream news media isn’t even trying to hide its bias any more. It openly is taking sides, and the news media isn’t supposed to take sides when reporting events. Nor is it supposed to frame what it reports in ways that warp a reader’s comprehension of it.

Two details are notable in the items above. First, the Post report refers to the individuals as vandals or engaging in vandalism rather than as protesters, as was the apparently agreed upon terminology when describing various statues being defaced or toppled. This was a typical report:

CNN: Protesters tore down a George Washington statue and set
a fire on its head: A crowd of protesters gathered around a statue of George Washington in Portland, Oregon, on Thursday night and lit a fire on its head before…

Second, the race of the protesters is never mentioned unless they are white…and, as the previous post demonstrated, sometimes the report attempts to make the reader think a white-supremacy minded  individual engaged in wrongful conduct even when the miscreant wasn’t white.

There was a third bit of sinister misdirection in the evidence above; at least it fooled me. Slogans painted in block letters on a street do not constitute “murals.”  When I read the media reports, I assumed that artwork was destroyed.

This is a mural:

This  (in D.C.) is government propaganda:

The definition of “mural” specifies that it is on a wall or ceiling

Streets don’t count, yet somehow multiple news media sources deci—all on their own!—to use a word that was  misleading, and made the act seem like something other than it was. What a coincidence!

It did nor require an artist to create this “mural, “or to design it;  it took a few government employees with yellow paint and big stencils. In fact, I’d be tempted to call painting political slogans on public streets vandalism by the government. Legal vandalism.

The stories also demonstrate that the city governments and the news media are allied, which should make fans of democracy nervous. Police aren’t looking for those peaceful protesters who tore down the Christopher Columbus statue in Baltimore’s Little Italy and threw it in the bay, but the police have the bloodhounds out for the pair of white vandals who painted over “Black Lives Matter.”

Final notes:

  • It’s all vandalism, unless those destroying public property allow themselves to be arrested and charged. Neither the white vandals nor the raceless protesters who protest by engaging in vandalism but the media won’t call it that because they approve of tearing down the statues of Founders, Presidents and others had the guts or integrity to  accept the consequences of civil disobedience.
  • City governments should not be plastering the political views and biases of its elected officials on city property. “Black Lives Matter” is no more legitimate than “Vote For Biden,”  “Eat at Joes” or “Mayor Muriel Bowser is God” (no, not mural. Cut that out!) I hope lawsuits against this ominous trend succeed: giant block letters telling us what to think is in the same noxious category as giant portraits or Lenin, Stalin or Mao.
  • Increasingly. “Fact Don’t Matter” to the news media: the “movement” does, the “resistance” does, social justice “by any means necessary” does. This means that, also increasingly, we have no news media, just partisan agents. The Founders whose statues are being toppled believed that democracy was impossible without a free (and responsible) press.
  • They were right.

 

Washington Post Editor Karen Attiah, The Human Smoking Gun

The above tweet was posted two days ago by Karen Attiah, the Washington Post  global opinions editor. After it was immediately and legitimately attacked for what it was—yes, this is res ipsa loquitur— she took it down, but not before her position had been captured in hundreds of screenshots like the one above. Later she tweeted, “Non, je ne regrette rien,” French for “No, I do not regret anything.” (Apparently Attiah believes the foes of unethical journalism are too primitive and uneducated to understand French, or too dim to use an online translator.)

The Washington Post should have given her reason to regret, but it hasn’t, and unless its readers and media critics force the paper to act, it won’t. Since the deleted tweet, the Post has refused to comment on its editor’s outburst, and other than her snotty Gallic tweet of defiance, so has Attiah. Continue reading

From The Washington Post: A Fake News Classic!

And, of course, a “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!” masterpiece.

For shame.

Here is the headline:

Trump keeps claiming the most dangerous cities in America are run by  Democrats. They aren’t.

To be fair, the writer of the piece, apparently insane Post reporter Philip Bump, focuses on the President’s statement that the top twenty most dangerous cities are run by Democrats. Gotcha! Bump triumphantly produces this stunning graph to prove that, once again, Trump has lied, the bastard:

Ah HA! See??? Continue reading

Ethical Quote, Fair Quote, Unethical Quote, Share Quote…

The ethical quote:

These words are on the outside wall of the Museum of Natural History near the Teddy Roosevelt statue that will be coming down, according to the museum.

The quote is a far better memorial to Roosevelt  and his character than the statue.

The fair quote:

The question is how soon this will dawn on the groveling, and how soon the intimidated will have the courage to speak the truth.

The unethical quote:

The Washington Post issued a justification for its widely (and correctly) criticized 3000 word story about a politically incorrect  costume that a woman wore at the Halloween party of Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles two years ago. Because two vicious social justice Furies who were guests at the party decided that the current George Floyd Freakout presented  an opportunity to humiliate the woman and contacted the paper, it published 3000 words about an old, private incident, resulting in the woman losing her job, and Toles, who had refused to identify her when one of the vengeful and self-righteous women called him to re-open the episode, was embarrassed by his own employer.

The Post’s own readership found the paper’s news journalism ethics atrocious (as do I), prompting this response from a spokesperson to Fox News:

“Employees of The Washington Post, including a prominent host, were involved in this incident, which impelled us to tell the story ourselves thoroughly and accurately while allowing all involved to have their say. The piece conveys with nuance and sensitivity the complex, emotionally fraught circumstances that unfolded at the party attended by media figures only two years ago where an individual in blackface was not told promptly to leave. America’s grappling with racism has entered a phase in which people who once felt they should keep quiet are now raising their voices in public. The story is a microcosm of what the country is going through right now,”

A simple “We’re sorry, we screwed up, the story never should have been written and we don’t know what came over us and we pledge to be more responsible and to exercise better judgment in the future” might have salvaged a smidgen of the paper’s rotting reputation. Instead we have more evidence of just how unethical and untrustworthy this rag is: Continue reading