Roger Ailes’ 20-year reign as the chairman of Fox News ended this week, the result of a sexual harassment scandal.
He will be remembered by journalism ethicists as the poster boy for conflict of interest. But of Ailes’ many departures from journalistic norms of impartiality, the most egregious was his hiring of a cousin of presidential candidate George W. Bush during the 2000 election.
Partisan journalism, redefined
We talk a lot about conflict of interest in my journalism ethics class: why travel writers shouldn’t accept free trips to Disney World. Why food critics shouldn’t write about their sister-in-law’s restaurant. Why no journalists should actively support or work against any causes or organizations that they may be called upon to write about.
And, especially, why no news executives should assign stories that promote their allies or attack their enemies.
On Thursday, June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a race-conscious post-secondary admissions policy at the University of Texas at Austin.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered to be the swing vote, joined Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor, in a 4-3 decision that affirmed the constitutionality of the race-conscious policy and the university’s compelling interest in the educational benefits of a diverse student body.
At the same time, the decision addressed the need for institutions to continue to assess whether so-called race-neutral alternatives are available and workable, and suffice for achieving the university’s goals.
A large body of evidence shows so-called race-neutral admissions policies are not as effective for attaining racial diversity on campus. They could even exacerbate existing racial inequities.
In an election year notable for the success of “outsider candidates,” Pennsylvania confirmed that the party establishment has a much stronger hold on the Democratic than it does the Republican Party.
Pennsylvania Democrats participated in three notable statewide races: for president, for senator and to replace Kathleen Kane as attorney general. As we saw, in all three cases, the establishment candidate won by a significant margin.
Presidential power, especially their unilateral authority, has been a fierce point of contention in the Obama era. Recently, 43 senators, all Republican, filed a friend-of-the-court brief challenging President Barack Obama’s, as they put it, “extra-constitutional assertion of a unilateral executive power” over immigration policy. The public, and many in the press, assume that the controversy centers on an executive order. This is incorrect.
Editor’s note: This column originally appeared on Penn State News through a partnership between the Rock Ethics Institute and Penn State Today. You are invited to ask a question by filling out and submitting this form. An archive of the columns can be found on the Rock Ethics Institute website.
Question: What can the power of invisibility teach us about the role of ethical leadership in contemporary democracy?
An ethicist responds: Caucus season is here. In picking the next president, how do we choose the best candidate? Common criteria include candidates’ takes on specific issues, their ability to serve as commander in chief, and how we imagine they would navigate delicate international imbroglios. It is telling that we are less likely to consult a crucial set of concerns regarding whether candidates would lead in a manner that is just, virtuous, and compassionate.
Enter one of the oldest philosophical thought experiments, Plato’s Ring of Gyges, a tale about a shepherd who finds a magic ring that grants him the power of invisibility when he turns the bezel toward his palm. Imagine the possibilities. If you found a ring of invisibility, how would you use it? For good? For evil? To promote justice? For personal gain? To play amusing pranks on unsuspecting colleagues? Continue reading Focus on research: Can Plato help us pick the next president?→