David Manning Trivial Liars of the Month for April 2004

Sam Solovey

Pointing out unethical conduct on "The Apprentice" is akin to pointing out that Julia Roberts has a lot of teeth, so Ethics Scoreboard has restrained itself from noting any of the approximately 350 ethical howlers committed by Donald Trump’s bootlicking wannabes during its disturbingly successful first season. But early cut Sam Solovey truly earned Trivial Liar status with his disingenuous attempted "bribe" of Trump on the show’s finale. Brandishing a suitcase filled with cash, Solovey supposedly offered the oddly-coifed tycoon a $250,000 pay-off for a job….a transparent sham if there ever was one, because as materialistic as Trump may be, a mere $250,000 wouldn’t motivate him to do much of anything. But Sly Sam made sure the millions of "Apprentice" fans watching knew that his handsome suitcase was made by Samsonite (Sam, Samsonite: ah, the cleverness of it all!), and revealed on Washington, DC radio that the whole thing was a marketing ploy for the luggage-maker, who clearly paid Sam to sneak a product placement onto the show for free. Solovey was quite proud of himself for concocting the idea, which involved pretending to do one thing (playing a light-hearted if unamusing prank at Trump’s expense) while actually doing another (saving Samsonite a healthy measure of cash for a high-profile ad.)

The setting and objective were trivial, but the principle is not. Sham Sam’s Samsonite scam cheated NBC out of legitimate ad fees, misappropriated the series for personal gain, and generally demonstrated why people like Sam Solovey shouldn’t be allowed within 200 yards of a corporate executive suite. Observe what company hires Sam, and then take appropriate action regarding any corporation who regards such an ethics-mocking individual as management material.

Janet Jackson

At the risk of over-complicating the trivial, Ethics Scoreboard hereby establishes the Jumbo Cluster, to be given to David Manning Trivial Liars when they emulate comic Jimmy Durante’s famous response in the Broadway musical Jumbo (by Rodgers and Hart) as he was apprehended in the act of stealing an elephant. “Where are you going with that elephant?” the constable demanded. Durante’s reply: “Elephant? What elephant?”

Janet Jackson has now appeared on the David Letterman Show to deny that her infamous Super Bowl breast-baring was anything but an accident. Before we discuss what a ridiculously transparent lie this is, let us also ask, “Why bother?” The damage, whatever it is, is done. Nobody is going to believe her. This was a fine opportunity for Jackson to stand up, admit an error in judgment, and use her celebrity to endorse some ethical values, like honesty, taking responsibility for one’s actions, and contrition.

But nooooooo.

Janet wants us to believe the incident was an accident, completely unchoreographed or planned. Never mind that:

  • Justin Timberlake’s move uncovering Ms. Jackson’s breast occurred on a musical beat, corresponding to song lyrics referring to his “having her naked by the end of this song.”
  • Her costume conveniently had a detachable flap that would expose the breast without doing any damage to the rest of her outfit.
  • Her breast had a large, uncomfortable-looking decoration of some kind stuck to it, raising the obvious question of what it was doing there if it wasn’t intended to be seen.
  • Timberlake’s comments immediately after the show confirmed that the moment was choreographedÂ…

Oh, just never mind. If this were a crime, any jury would find Jackson guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Even the most dishonest people, when confronted with undeniable proof of their misdeeds, will usually confess. Not Janet Jackson.

Here’s your elephant, kid. This Jumbo’s for you.

View the definition of Trivial Liars and a list of "winners" from previous months.



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