September 2009 Ethics Heroes

Almost an Ethics Hero: Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer

One nice thing about ethics is that no matter how badly you louse things up, you always have another chance to be ethical coming around the bend. Sometimes, in fact, you can have a chance to be a Scoreboard Ethics Hero because you made a mistake. Like Jim Greer. He almost made it.

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August 2009 Ethics Heroes

Patti LuPone and Tim McGraw

The New York Times entertainment reporter Dave Itzkoff chided actress Patti LuPone earlier this year when she stopped a performance of the Broadway musical Gypsy to tell an audience member to stop taking photos during the performance, Such conduct is a distraction to both performers and audience members and specifically forbidden by the theater. A few months later, she was at it again, this time stopping a concert appearance to reprimand an audience member who was sending a text message during the performance.

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Clark Hoyt

Integrity is critical to a journalistic organization. Nevertheless, integrity has been in increasingly short supply throughout the news media world as the pressures of increasing competition and decreasing revenue have led many once-proud institutions to abandon principles and standards. The New York Times, once the exemplar of integrity, has hardly been immune from this problem, but apparently it still is capable of making a stand for the best of journalistic traditions. When a Times retrospective on CBS news icon Walter Cronkite was published despite being riddled with typos and factual errors, the paper’s “public editor,” Clark Hoyt pulled no punches by criticizing his own employer.

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July 2009 Ethics Heroes

John McDonald

John McDonald isn’t just an Ethics Hero, he’s a hero, period. Driving to work on L.A.’s 10 Freeway as he does every day, from his home in West Covina to Venice, California, he saw a burning car, flipped on its side. Many of us would have slowed down, decided that someone would be responding soon, and drive on. Some of us would have called 911, as good citizens, to make sure of that. Some would have stopped to see if anyone was hurt, a reaction which would be even more admirable.

McDonald stopped, but he went a critical step further.

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June 2009 Ethics Heroes

Washington Nationals Leftfielder Adam Dunn

As anyone who has followed the sad progress of the steroids scandal in major league baseball knows, professional ballplayers will seldom pass up a new way to get a competitive edge, and many of them will risk their own health, criminal charges and the reputation of their sport if the edge is great enough.

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Simon Cowell

Yes, that Simon Cowell.

In a remarkable piece for Britain’s Daily Mail, Cowell engaged in an honest and thorough critique of his conduct during the recently completed season of “Britain’s Got Talent,” concluding that he had made several errors. Among them: being too harsh in his live criticism of a child contestant, and not being sufficiently protective of the break-out phenomenon of the competition, the unlikely Scottish song-bird Susan Boyle.

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May 2009 Ethics Heroes

Kris Allen, American Idol

Kris Allen, the new American Idol, has a lot to learn about show business. It’s all about ego, supreme confidence, self-promotion and relentless ambition. But when he was chosen, based on almost 100 million viewer votes, as the winner of Fox TV’s annual search to find the nation’s next pop star, the winner decided to tell the truth.

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March 2009 Ethics Heroes

Dave Rohlman and Darius McNeal

From ESPN and local media reports comes this story of sportsmanship and ethics heroism in high school basketball.

On Saturday, Feb. 7, Milwaukee Madison high-school senior Johntell Franklin’s mother succumbed to cancer. A starter on the school basketball team, Franklin initially told his coach that he was too upset to play, but decided, at the last minute, that he should be on the court in that night's game against DeKalb (Ill.) High School.

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February 2009 Ethics Heroes

Bailout Bill

Ethicists have a self-destructive tendency to waste time and trees musing over questions that really can never be answered with finality, and that aren’t all that important anyway. The result, over the last 2400 years or so, is to make ethics seem as dry as a soda cracker and about as interesting.

One of those ethical theory dilemmas is how one should evaluate the goodness of an act — by the intentions behind it; by its nature; or by its actual results?

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Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger

If the great Paul Harvey were telling this Ethics Hero story, it might go something like this:

The man distinguished-looking, gray-haired man with the dapper moustache felt badly. He hated to be irresponsible more than anything. He was a military man, a former Air Force fighter pilot, trained for combat .He knew about obligations and duty. But he had borrowed a book from the Danville Library, requiring an interlibrary loan from Fresno State, and failed to return it on time. And now the book was not only overdue, he was embarrassed to have to admit, but also probably lost.

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January 2009 Ethics Heroes

President Obama

He didn’t have to do it, since it was the law of the land already. But President Obama’s executive order banning torture was necessary, appropriate, and courageous. When the history of the Bush Administration is written, its deceitful, slippery, cynical and self-righteous approval of torture as an interrogation device will be its most shameful legacy, the critical point where the U.S. abandoned its ideals and values, descending to the level of its worst enemies to combat them.

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Previous Heroes

Heroes 2008

December: President Bush, Vanessa Niekamp

November: President-Elect Barack Obama and Senator John McCain

October: Christopher Buckley

September: Paul Newman, Marsha Bartel

August: San Diego Padres Outfielder Brian Giles

July: Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.

June: LA Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, Jockey Kent Desormeaux

May: Me – Sort of

April: Senator John McCain

March: Arizona Diamondbacks

February: Dean Ovshak

January: Ethics Hero Emeritus: Sir Edmund Hillary 1919-2008, Washington D.C. Firefighter Gerald Burton

Heroes 2007

Heroes 2006

Heroes 2005:

Heroes 2004:

** 2004 Ethics Hero of the Year

(View all winners in The 2004 Ethics Score)



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