Bad PR 112: #CNNBlackmail and Journalistic Ethics Going to Die

Listening to the news anymore can be an exercise in patience.  Trust me, I get it.  I got my degree in journalism.  Which I am not using in any productive way now, getting yelled at in a call center.  Doesn’t my life sound great?  However, as I watch this field that I once wanted to pursue as a career deteriorate around me, I can’t help but see some of the most recent incidents as sad reminders of what a shallow grave this profession is digging.  If you want to see why, look no further than the most recent fuck-up by CNN.  This is bad PR nirvana.  I could go on for hours about how bad this looks.

Some kid on Reddit, and it has been verified to be a kid of 15 years of age, decided to do a little trolling on The Donald subreddit and create a video image from WWF when Donald Trump kicked Vince McMahon’s ass, putting a CNN logo over McMahon’s face.  Is it immature?  Sure.  Do I care?  Nope.  Not even a little.  It is kinda funny.  I don’t even like Trump and I find it funny.  A stupid, intentionally-juvenile video clip made to troll CNN.  To normal people online it would have begun and ended there.  Except Trump found it as it was getting shared around and liked it.  So he shared it.  Well, as you can imagine, in the world of professional outrage, this act had to have some deliberately-stupid consequences.  Because a professional organization like CNN couldn’t show that they are the bigger people and display a little maturity.  No, that’s asking WAY too much.

Like CNN finding out about this and getting their dander up.  They claimed that Trump was threatening them with violence, and how that is completely inappropriate.  Then, when the kid who made the GIF came forward to them, they, in no uncertain terms, made very clear that if he does anything that they don’t like, they are going to publish all his personal information online.  Don’t believe me?  Here, see for yourself.

CNN just came out and said that if this underage kid does anything that they don’t like in the future, they are going to dox him.  They are fucking threatening a teenager with destroying his life if he does anything that they disapprove of now or in the future.  That’s…unbelievably stupid.  This is a crime.  A news outlet that claims to be about journalism has just published a story where they outright say that this kid could have all his personal information put online by them.  Maybe Ben Kuchera and Jim Sterling should work for this company.  Both of them support doxing too.  Maybe get Anita Sarkeesian and Rebecca Watson in on the fun.  Why not?  After all, if you can’t destroy the life of someone who made a GIF mocking your ethically-vapid news outlet, what can you do?

This is such a step in the wrong direction for this news outlet.  In a time when the regular news is going the way of Myspace, for this company to choose to get all butthurt and go at CNN this hard just blows my goddamn mind.  This kid did NOTHING wrong, CNN!  Not one goddamn thing!  But because he made you look kind of silly in a GIF that signifies absolutely nothing (but they will swear up and down in a secret threat), you had to go at him this hard?!  What the fuck is wrong with you!?

And hey, let’s not have CNN have all the fun.  Another intellectually-void publication decided that they wanted to get in the spirit of things too – Salon.  Take a look.

No, Salon, CNN is not the good guy here.  They are forcing someone to do what they want, and if that person doesn’t do that, then they will use something they are holding over their head against them.  That’s called “blackmail.”  Huh, I wonder if that’s a crime.  Well, it turns out there is a rather fascinating debate on the matter.  Here’s a link to that debate.  Makes me wonder what would happen if that kid decided to take CNN to court.  I sure as hell would.  Or that kid’s parents.  If someone threatens my child with doxing if he doesn’t do what they want, and it’s a professional organization like CNN, all for making a GIF, I would have my lawyer on the phone that day and the filing of a lawsuit the next.  After all, thanks to the wonderful people of the Internet, this action is never going to leave.  Ever.  For the rest of their time as a “news” outlet, CNN will have this sort of press following them around.

Here’s the PR lesson I have to teach – I cannot possibly imagine a worse look than this.  Their entire professional image is destroyed.  They got so butthurt about someone mocking them that they went out of their way to find out who it was and now holds their identity hostage unless this kid does what they want.  How do you spin that to look good?!  I honestly am trying to think of a way.  Nothing’s coming to me.  All their talk about how they are the good guys, and Trump is the bad guy for attacking them and making them look bad, now they do shit like this.  They might as well just put Jerry Springer on their network and flush all their ethical integrity down the fucking toilet.  Hey, Anderson Cooper, are you proud of the network that has your name associated with it?  Hey, Wolf Blitzer, what about you?  Jack Cafferty?  Any of the talking heads on that station?

When you reach a point that your image is synonymous with this level of incompetence, when you have reporters being fired because they got busted faking a story about Russia hacking the election, when the first thing that people see when they look you up is this tire fire that you started, it might be time to throw in the towel as a news network.  Just put on some trash programming about women fighting in Wal-Mart’s parking lot and you can join UPN in the garbage bin of networks that had potential and flushed it all away.

How pathetic.  How utterly, unbelievably, unethically pathetic.

Until next time, a quote,

“There is no better test of a man’s integrity than his behavior when he’s wrong.” – Marvin Williams

Peace out,

Maverick

Advertisements

Jameis Winston Should Sue for Defamation (A response to The Hunting Ground)

If there is a more clear-cut case for defamation of character, look no further than the highly lauded documentary The Hunting Ground.  This is the latest in propaganda to come from the social justice crowd with one mission – men in college are sexual predators.  Don’t believe me?  Well, watch this movie with a completely uncritical eye and you’ll realize that not only does this film go out of its way to tar and feather men as sexual predators, along with colleges for unfeeling enablers of rape.  Ever university that is featured in this film should be suing, but there is one person in-particular that I think needs to bring the legal hammer of justice to the makers of this film, because I genuinely don’t think I’ve seen a better case for defamation made in any film.

The guy’s name is Jameis Winston.  He’s a quarterback at Florida State University.  He was accused of rape by a woman named Erica Kinsman.  But just like in the case of “Jackie” with Rolling Stone and Crystal Mangum with the Duke lacross players, the truth came out.  Kinsman’s entire story is full of holes, and while no one may ever know what happened in that room, we do know that it is all complete bullshit.  Here’s a fantastic article which lays out all the holes of the story and shows how this film goes out of its way to make sure Winston looks like the biggest piece of shit to ever exist.  You read that article, and you realize something – the makers of that documentary must be SO pissed that the whole UVA story was proven to be a hoax.  I get the feeling that the other major 15 minute segment would have been devoted to that story, and this documentary would have been that much longer.

But despite how ugly all of this is, the thing that pisses me off is this – this movie has huge nationwide appeal!  It was screened at the White House!  It’s getting accolades left and right!  But the entire movie is so blatantly full of shit!  It takes the 1 in 5 statistic and plasters that all over the movie.  A statistic so ludicrous that if it were true, no parent would send their daughter to college.  None.  Not one.  However, the mainstream media is eating this bullshit up.  When critics call out the erroneous statistics and virtually non-existent fact-checking, it’s decried by people everywhere and insensitive.

There is some hope that something can be done to strike back against this sort of outright character assassination.  And what can be done is this – Jameis, sue the fuckers who made this movie.  Sue the fuck out of them.  This is defamation of character if I have ever seen it.  Either these filmmakers are so stupid that they didn’t even do the slightest amount of checking their facts, or the fact that they they have a chip on their shoulder told them not to.  Phi Kappa Psi is suing Rolling Stone, and I hope that they don’t settle out of court and drag those bastards through the streets in a figurative drawn and quartering of their reputation.  Similarly, the makers of this documentary need to have the same thing done to them.  Although, given that the “victim” in the Winston case is suing him to keep her from continuing to bad-mouth him, maybe he has too many problems already.

Still, I hope that he fights this.  I hope that he burns these people.  The only time that the social justice crowd is going to stop this madness is when people actually fight back.  And since the people who do this sort of thing are professional victims, the only way to hurt them is financially.  Hurt their pocketbooks, and the rest will follow.  Fuck the makers of this film, and fuck their bullshit narrative that one can fact-check in two seconds on Google!  What A-level “research” they did.  Maybe Sabrina Ruben Erdely can work for them next.

Until next time, a quote,

“The story was simply too tempting, too sensational, to let facts get in the way.” – Lawsuit against Rolling Stone

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Boston Legal Episodes

Boston LegalIn the realm of shows from my younger years that I still remember fondly, there is Boston Legal.  A spin-off of the show The Practice, this one followed the continuing career of the popular character, Alan Shore.  He went to work at the very large firm Crane, Poole and Schmidt.  It was a very funny and very smart show that looked at the various issues of the day in a legal way, while still examining things critically.  Since you can see in the bar above that I have done a character analysis of Alan Shore, you can imagine that the bulk of my favorite episodes are about him primarily, but it was a great show with lots of the characters.  Here’s hoping you enjoyed it too.

10. Smile
Season 2
This was an episode that felt very person to me, given how I am a guarded person, emotionally.  An old friend of Alan’s comes in, asking him to help her very artistically gifted daughter get into a school for exemplary children.  They have denied her because she was injured and suffered nerve damage in her face, making it impossible for her to smile.  The conversations with her, along with her unique perspective made the episode very warm and fuzzy.  Plus, seeing how she shows her appreciation to Alan for his help is just so happy-making.  It’s feel-good and not as funny as other episodes.  It’s all about the fuzzies.

9. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Season 2
I loved the episodes with Betty White in them.  She has a gift at being this warm-hearted but very smarmy smartass who can bring a lot of charm to the role.  This episode had her trying to break a friend of hers out of an old-folk’s home, because her friend’s life was being held hostage by a cruel and evil man who had her as a “ward.”  She goes to Alan, who she had a repore with and gets him to help her stop the man.  In addition to being a fun episode with Betty White in it, there was also a REALLY good demonstration of Alan’s darker side, when he finally is able to stop the man from totally destroying the old woman’s life and selling it.  For real, he was such a boss in how he does it that you can’t help but be impressed.  Oh, and there is this charming sub-plot with Shirley trying to help a man getting a divorce keep his Victorian Erotica collection.  That part is funny.

8. Helping Hands
Season 2
A character who I wished had been a larger one in the series was Daniel Post, played by Michael J. Fox.  In this episode, he second chairs a case with Denise, defending a teacher from malicious parents who are suing her for what they believe was negligence that led to their child’s death.  Daniel’s work as a lawyer showed that he had the chops for this kind of show, and it’s a pity that his role was so brief.  I get why, given what kind of character it was, but still.  Kind of wish he could have been on longer.  There was also the case Alan was doing, defending a colleague and friend, Jerry Espenson, against his own firm.  How that subplot ends is actually pretty interesting, showing a lot about several characters.

7. Legal Deficits
Season 2
One of my favorite adversarial characters in anything was Melvin Palmer, who debuted in this episode.  His unending battle with Alan Shore is so funny, given how Palmer is a man who has a very big display if being down-home and folksy, but it’s all a front.  Underneath it all, he is an amoral man who doesn’t care about anything.  It’s all for show.  And Alan hates his guts.  He makes a comparison between him and one of those clown dolls that you hit and it comes back up.  In this episode, Alan’s assistant, Melissa, is $50,000 in debt.  Palmer is representing to credit card company who is her debtor.  How Alan attacks Palmer is just awesome.  I’m with Melissa in saying that it is one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen.  Plus, it starts off their little war, which is so much fun to watch.

6. Son of the Defender
Season 3
This episode combined some REALLY old footage of a show that William Shatner had almost been in, with him as a lawyer when he was much younger.  It comes back in this episode, when Denny and several other people in the firm are taken hostage by a man who believes that the man who was charged but acquitted for murdering his mother was guilty.  So, they replay the case, with several hostages acting as the jury.  It is an interesting look into Denny’s psyche as he is facing down the demons of his past.  You also learn about the turbulent relationship he had with his father and how that shaped him as a lawyer.  Meanwhile, Alan is in jail after being held in contempt, when defending a prostitute he knows and the senator she was with.  That part is funny.

5. No Brains Left Behind
Season 4
Another character who was woefully under-used in the show was Shirley Schmidt’s grandaughter, Marlena.  Another smary smartass who is fun to watch, the kid gets into trouble when she takes the standardized tests that her classmates were given, shreds them and throws the confetti all over the Principle’s office.  Shirley defends her, and watching the kid beat the hell out of everyone there with her wit and intellect is just great.  Granted, She annoys the hell out of Shirley, but it is so fun to watch.  Later, she is assisting Alan and Denny in their mission to join the military.  I was kind of hoping that the kid would become something of a protegee to Alan, which would have worked, considering his revelation that he only saw women as sexual objects.  It would have given him a new perspective and a new experience.  Still, awesome episode and it was far too brief.

4. Brotherly Love
Season 3
Another character who I thought was so fun and wished there had been more of him was Frankie Cox.  A completely unethical and very chipper lawyer who has been arrested for helping his brother hide evidence after his brother murdered his wife.  He goes to Alan for defense, coming off as a oddball attorney who wasn’t above doing bad stuff to get the job done.  Despite being kind of a scuzzy guy, there was something so likeable.  And seeing the testimony he gave about his brother was just so heart-warming.  Sure, he did a bad thing, but his motives were pure.  It’s a pity we never got to see him again, but he was fun while we could.

3. Trial of the Century
Season 3
As season finales go, this one was great!  Alan and Denny team up to defend a pair of brothers who are accused of killing their father.  This is another episode where Denny’s mental health is called into play, but he is awesome.  The thing that shines in this case is the legal work.  The back-and-forth between these two legal titans and how they play off one-another is just awesome!  And when the case isn’t looking good, the way that they are able to resolve the situation is incredible!  It’s an old trick, but damn it all, in the right hands, it works brilliantly.  It’s both feel-good and compelling to watch.  Everything that it is supposed to be.

2. The Bride Wore Blood
Season 3
An aspect of Alan Shore that this show didn’t go into the same way its predecessor did was his dark side.  There were a few episodes where it was on display in a large way, but rarely do you get to see it in all it’s glory.  In this episode, and old lover of Alan’s comes running to him in a courthouse in a wedding dress, asking for his council.  The catch is – it’s covered in blood.  She’s being arrested for murder, with Alan as her council.  The case starts to unravel a dark story about his client, which has Alan confronting his own darkness in one of the most awesome climaxes in the entire show.  For real, I could watch the scene where he interrogates her about the entire story again and again.  It also confronts Alan’s desire to do the right thing, whatever the cost.  It’s intense and profound.  Something this show had the talent to do in spades, when it wanted to.

And my favorite episode of Boston Legal is…

1. True Love
Season 5
There are few episodes of the show that were genuinely depressing.  This was one of them.  In this episode, a plot about Alan and an old flame of his comes to a close.  The woman’s husband is arrested for murder and she comes to him to defend him.  The husband is clearly a foul human being, which leaves Alan in the position of wanting to lose the case, but being unable to, due to his own sense of integrity.  However, all is not as it seems.  The episode culminates in one of the most dark and painful revelations, when Alan finds out that he was used, in a horrific way.  You can see it hurts him, leaving him to believe that love will never find him again.  I felt for him at the end of this episode.  As brief as the last season was, it had some emotionally deep moments to leave us on, even if we wonder whatever became of the people who left the firm.

This was an underrated show that didn’t get much love, but it was and still is one of my favorites.

Until next time, a quote,

“Here’s the thing about me – I am a hoot.  But I insist on putting adversary back into the system.  And I do it openly and notoriously for all to hear.”  -Alan Shore, Boston Legal

Peace out,

Maverick