Fumento farewelled

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Last updated on March 5th, 2018 at 01:45 pm

Great column from Cathy Seipp.

Posted by Tim B. on 01/19/2006 at 09:52 PM
    1. Interesting – but I’m not sure I’d agree that it is ethics that stops her from taking money as related.  It is rather the fear of the boy who cried wolf – if someone finds out a journalist got payola (which they will with the web), no-one will want to buy any more of her pieces.  This is self-interest, not ethics.

      Journalists perform a valuable role in society, and we would be much worse off without them) but why do they try to trick things up with ethics magicked out of thin air?  (This probably goes back to Watergate when the serious – and left dominated – press reinvented itself as existentially opposed to the powers that be).

      The point of ethics, as they apply, for example, to lawyers and doctors, is that they are the opposite of self-interest (for example the fidciary dealing rules) and require the person upon whom the ethical duty is imposed to act against his or her own self-interest.

      I am somewhat sceptical of “ethics” that coincide completely with self-interest.

      Posted by Bilious Young Fogey on 2006 01 19 at 11:27 PM • permalink


    1. I loved O’Donnell’s pious double-talk about there being “good” lobbyists.

      No.  There aren’t.

      It’s one thing to for a lobbyist to take money to press a group’s case before Congress.  But the minute that money travels on from his hands to a Senator’s or Congressman, no matter how noble the cause, whether as cash, goods or favors, that lobbyist becomes a cancer, and a virulent one, leading dimbulb politicos like Mark Kennedy not only to believe they are entitled to charge for services they were elected and already paid to perform, but to wax arrogant about it.

      At that point, the choice is either get rid of the lobbyists, or get rid of the incumbents.

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 01 19 at 11:31 PM • permalink


    1. I think the political process is the corrective for lobbyists – as the law can’t do it.  They’re regulated as is.

      Posted by Bilious Young Fogey on 2006 01 19 at 11:36 PM • permalink


    1. Miss Seipp has jumped in too fast here.

      How the Conservative Columnist Witch Hunt Burned Me By Michael Fumento

      Oh, no! Yet another writer has been swept up in a “pay-for-play” scandal, and again, a right-of-center one. “A Columnist Paid by Monsanto,” declared the headline of a Business Week “news analysis.”

      But I knew this was a hit piece packed with more falsehoods than the New York sewer system has rats – because The Bad Guy was me.

      Read it all

      Posted by walterplinge on 2006 01 20 at 12:01 AM • permalink


    1. Bilious Young Fogey:
      You have no idea what “self interest” means when you describe ethical behaviour and self interest as opposites.

      Take, for example, business misrepresentation. By your definition it is in the interests of a business man to mislead his customers regarding the quality of his products. Ethical behaviour is to be honest in your representations to custoners.

      When the customer eventually becomes aware of the misrepresentation, what do you think happens to the reputation of that man’s business? With a nosediving reputation his interest (the success and profitability of his business) is destroyed or severely compromised. It is clearly not in his “self interest” to engage in unethical behaviour.

      If you are a range of the moment thinker not looking to the long term consequences of your behaviour you could well suffer from such delusions. Our prisons tend to be occupied by such people.

      Posted by amortiser on 2006 01 20 at 12:11 AM • permalink


    1. The businessman’s behaviour is pure self-interest once again.

      It may be as a matter of philosophy that there is such a thing as ethical behaviour, but that is different to the idea of ethics.  His self-interest is to make as much profit as he can, tempered by the fear that if he makes too much, his customers may go elsewhere.  Depending on your view, this might not be ethical.  Ethical behaviour for the businessman may be to not make excessive profit from customers (eg the Catholc and Islmac usury or alms rules), but you would (or you should) laugh if the businessman said he was bound by a code of ethics.  Of course, you might agree a Catholic businessman who tithed, or a Muslim who rendered zakat, was behaving ethically.

      You are conflating two different things here.

      Posted by Bilious Young Fogey on 2006 01 20 at 12:18 AM • permalink


    1. Thanks for the link, Walter. I’ve always admired Fumento’s work and I’m not going to turn on him unless he’s caught telling lies, whether for Monsanto or anyone else.

      Posted by andycanuck on 2006 01 20 at 01:29 AM • permalink


    1. My impression of “I am such an ethical person’’ essays is that there’s something going on.

      Ethics is fairly fierce about the light under a bushel reminder, which isn’t an injunction to modesty but a warning about what ethics looks like.

      Ethics might for a writer be more like carving the duck at the joints, which is to say, finding the actually best lines.

      That’s what it is for an artist, whether the work is commissioned or not.

      Posted by rhhardin on 2006 01 20 at 01:45 AM • permalink


    1. From David Pogue’s NYT weekly circuits email, points that might interest Andrea (sorry can’t find link anywhere):

      “But my correspondent never wrote back. That, of course, would violate the rules for being an Internet pill, reprinted here in their entirety, courtesy of the Pills of the American Internet Neighborhood Society (PAINS):


      WHEREAS, 95 percent of all the e-mail received by critics and columnists is civil, friendly or respectfully constructive;

      but WHEREAS, this is the Internet age, and we’re all anonymous and can avoid making eye contact forever;

      and WHEREAS, there’s so much information overload, a little heat and drama on your part may be necessary just to be heard above the din;

      and WHEREAS, many of those who fire off potshots are missing out on some of the best techniques for effective snippiness;

      THEREFORE let us now post the rules for membership in the Pills of the American Internet Neighborhood Society.

      1. Use the strongest language possible. Calling names is always effective, and four-letter words show that you mean business.

      2. Having a violent opinion of something doesn’t require you to actually try it yourself. After all, plenty of people heatedly object to books they haven’t read or movies they haven’t seen. Heck, you can imagine perfectly well if something is any good.

      3. If it’s a positive review that you didn’t like, call the reviewer a “fanboy.” Do not entertain the notion that the product, service, show, movie, book or restaurant might, in fact, be good. Instead, assume that the reviewer has received payment from the reviewee. Work in the word “shill” if possible.

      4. If it’s a negative review, call the reviewer a “basher” and describe the review as a “hatchet job.” Accuse him of being paid off by the reviewee’s *rival*.

      5. If it’s a mixed review, ignore the passages that balance the argument. Pretend that the entire review is all positive or all negative. Refer to it either as a “rave” or a “slam.”

      6. If you find a sentence early in the article that rubs you the wrong way, you are by no means obligated to finish reading. Stop right where you are–express your anger while it’s still good and hot! What are the odds that the writer is going to say anything else relevant to your point later in the piece, anyway?

      7. If the writer responds to your e-mail with evidence that you’re wrong (for example, by citing a paragraph that you overlooked), disappear without responding. This is the anonymous Internet; slipping away without consequence or civility is your privilege.

      8. Trolling is making a deliberately inflammatory remark, one that you know perfectly well is baloney, just to get a rise out of other people. Trolling is an art. Trolling works just fine for an audience of one (say, a journalist), but of course the real fun is trolling on public bulletin boards where you can get dozens of people screaming at you simultaneously. Comments on religion, politics or Mac-vs.-Windows are always good bets. The talented troll sits back to enjoy the fireworks with a smirk, and never, ever responds to the responses.

      9. Don’t let generalities slip by. Don’t tolerate simplifications for the sake of a non-technical audience.Ignore conditional words like “generally,” “usually” and “most.” If you read a sentence that says, for example, “The VisionPhone is among the first consumer videophones,” cite the reviewer’s ignorance and laziness for failing to mention the prototype developed by AT&T for the 1964 World’s Fair. Send copies of your note to the publication’s publisher and, if possible, its advertisers.

      And there you have it: the nine habits of highly effective pills. After all: if you’re going to be a miserable curmudgeon, you may as well do it up right!

      Posted by Bilious Young Fogey on 2006 01 20 at 02:25 AM • permalink


    1. #4 Walterplinge

      Excellent link – Fumento has been got at – any organisation the invokes retrospectivity for company policy has no credibility.

      Gee witch hunting is alive and well.

      Posted by Louis on 2006 01 20 at 04:19 AM • permalink


    1. Bilious Young Fogey — It may be self-interest for the businessman to make as much profit as possible, but enlightened self-interest should tell him that double-dipping is no-no.  It’s wrong when a delivery man tries to hold you up for a payment at the door on a prepaid package; it’s wrong when your bank or credit-card company tries to slip unexplained charges onto your statement, and you would think it should be wrong for a Senator or Congressman to charge the electorate for access to his services in a job he’s already being paid to do, whose terms and conditions he accepted when he chose to run for the office.  Or did I miss something?

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 01 20 at 10:54 AM • permalink


    1. I agree with Richard McEnroe (and not just because he has a video of me in a zoot suit doing an impersonation of Cab Calloway). It just makes sense: ethical business behavior is both virtuous and smart.

      Posted by paco on 2006 01 20 at 01:14 PM • permalink


    1. Journalism may not really be a profession,…

      How many journos would admit that ? What a gal.

      Posted by JAFA on 2006 01 20 at 04:02 PM • permalink


    1. The donation to Hudson Institute was not “payola.” Even Cathy Siepp, the author of the “great column,” admits that:

      “I’m not talking about think tanks. That’s an alliance with a general philosophy, not a particular entity, and the columnist/think tank relationship is normally made clear in the columnist’s tagline.”

      Since she is so sensible about this, I can only assume that Siepp wrote her piece without knowing the facts of Fumento’s case. Monsanto donated to Hudson. Fumento works for Hudson. Neither of these truths was ever concealed. You—and Siepp—are free to believe that Fumento’s integrity is tainted because he works for a nonprofit foundation that solicits corporate donations (I think otherwise), but you can hardly say it was undisclosed.

      blogged about it here. Read it if you like, but I’ve pretty much summarized my opinion here in this comment.

      Posted by Sean Gleeson on 2006 01 20 at 05:59 PM • permalink


    1. Hidee, hidee, hidee, hee… *click* What?

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 01 20 at 08:26 PM • permalink


    1. 16. Whew! THAT’S a relief.

      Posted by paco on 2006 01 20 at 10:19 PM • permalink


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