Ethics Filter
March 31, 2004 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Richard Clarke asks MoveOn to remove his name and recordings of his voice from their new advert. MoveOn refuses.
posted by alms (25 comments total)
 
I think it's a wonderful ad. And he's clearly being quoted. I would never think he contributed to it, beyond the video editor's USE of an audio-recorded quote of him talking in the first place. Just as much as I don't think Bush himself posed for the video used of him in the ad.
posted by Peter H at 1:42 PM on March 31, 2004


Well, MoveOn has the right to use this quotation, but I wish they hadn't done so.

Much of the right is treating the Clarke situation as a partisan attempt to take jabs at the Bush administration, and this is only fueling the fire. I think Clarke is more interested in telling the truth about the pre-9/11 situation than in bringing down Bush—and by using his words in an anti-Bush ad, it seems that MoveOn is unintentionally dividing the Clarke issue along partisan lines.
posted by acornface at 1:54 PM on March 31, 2004


Interesting case. It seems that Clarke isn't a fan of Bush's handling of terroism, but he's clearly not a fan of Kerry at all and I would guess he's a republican that doesn't want to be used by a lefty group out to topple Bush.

It's a small quote that seems like fair use though, but they use his actual voice. Using printed quotations in political ads is nothing new, but taking soundbites might go a bit farther.

Still, since Clarke asked specifically, they should pull it at his request, especially the use of his actual voice.
posted by mathowie at 1:59 PM on March 31, 2004


acornface, MoveOn doesn't exist to serve Richard Clark, and Richard Clark can't cherry pick the truth to be told, or who tells it. If there are folks who want to paint this as a partisan fight, and dismiss because of that, so what?
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:00 PM on March 31, 2004


Should be an "e" at the end of Clarke, both times, of course. Maybe its just partisan leanings that left it out ...
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:02 PM on March 31, 2004


I see three questions:

A. Is it legal for them to use the material?
B. Is it ethical for them to use the material?
C. Is it politically effective for them to use the material?

The answer to A appears to be yes.
The answers to B and C can be argued.

B is sort of a boring old ethics argument.

C is an interesting political argument. Is it better for MoveOn to help Clarke preserve his non-partisan creds? In other words, is MoveOn killing their own golden goose here? Will the ads just play to the base they already have? Or should they exploit him for all he's worth?
posted by alms at 2:12 PM on March 31, 2004


Wulfgar: by making Clarke appear aligned with left, MoveOn essentially confirms the White House's claims that Clarke is partisan and thereby discredits the biggest weapon against Bush that the left currently possesses.

This is an example of the left shooting itself in the foot as it is frequently wont to do.
posted by Ryvar at 2:16 PM on March 31, 2004


I was probably being a bit too snippy there, so I thought I'd add this: The guy did a job for the public, on the public's buck. He's made conclusions, and testified to those under oath, before the Congress of the people ... the very people who paid him to garner and analyse the knowledge he professes and now wants to claim as his own. Nope, notta, no way. I paid for him to tell me that the Bush administration dropped the ball, and he wrote a very profitable book stating as much for his own gain. For him to now say that he doesn't want that message heard is telling me that he can make money on the information WE own, but for moral reasons he doesn't want that information used by others, and that's just plain goofy.

Sorry, Dick. We bought it, you said it, we own it. If MoveOn wants to use that, too bad. The Bushies are welcome to do so to. There's no moral or ethical conflict here.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:17 PM on March 31, 2004


moveon.org sucks. Who cares?
posted by jlachapell at 2:22 PM on March 31, 2004


I'd like to see Clarke's words up against Condi's upcoming words in an ad.

I think his statements were made publicly so are fair game ...and of course, this was being spun as Clarke being a partisan Kerry guy from the beginning, so this can't hurt any more than he already has been.
posted by amberglow at 2:29 PM on March 31, 2004


by making Clarke appear aligned with left, MoveOn essentially confirms the White House's claims that Clarke is partisan and thereby discredits the biggest weapon against Bush that the left currently possesses.

This, in itself, proves the failings of Democracy. Either the man spoke the truth, or he didn't. The greatest of ad hominems to date is stating that one cannot be trusted because he appears to believe in something. Anybody who really buys into that is a jackass, and deserves derision, whether they are politically powerful or not. The act of judging partisanship is de facto creating it, looking for the enemy instead of looking for something real. This may well be "the left" undercutting itself, but as foldy is want to say, we will reap the whirlwind from it.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:31 PM on March 31, 2004


And he's clearly being quoted. I would never think he contributed to it

Unfortunately there are thousands of Free Republic goons out there who think that Moveon.org, Democratic Underground, Heinz Ketchup and ANYONE critical of the Bush Administration are all part of an interconnected web of liberal lies and conspiracy; the ultimate goal of which is to allow, nay, encourage daily 9-11 attacks... or some such nonsense, anyway...

These are the same folks who are champing at the bit to label Clark a homosexual.

Clark is right to distance himself from the politics and to allow his statements to stand on their own.

Moveon's commercial may do more harm than good among certain demographics...
posted by wfrgms at 2:38 PM on March 31, 2004


Quick nitpick:
"...objected Wednesday to the use of his name and critical comments about Bush in a new broadcast advertisement from a political group supporting Democratic candidate John Kerry"

MoveOn.org, as far as I know, isn't so much aligned with Kerry as it is against Bush(ABB). Has MoveOn noticed this AP piece and wanted to get this corrected, as it possibly could negatively affect the Kerry campaign? Vice-Versa for the Kerry camp?
posted by mnology at 2:40 PM on March 31, 2004


This, in itself, proves the failings of Democracy. Either the man spoke the truth, or he didn't. The greatest of ad hominems to date is stating that one cannot be trusted because he appears to believe in something. Anybody who really buys into that is a jackass, and deserves derision, whether they are politically powerful or not. The act of judging partisanship is de facto creating it, looking for the enemy instead of looking for something real. This may well be "the left" undercutting itself, but as foldy is want to say, we will reap the whirlwind from it.

Thank you. If someone is making an argument it doesn't matter who or what they believe in; the merits of the argument stand alone: in this case Clarke's argument being that the White House was told repeatedly to take the threat of terrorist action on U.S.A soil seriously but repeatedly failed to do so and then reacted disingenuously. The only reason his beliefs would have any bearing on this at all is if they accuse him of being an out and out liar (they weren't told, etc.), which seems implausible given the other higher-ups who have spoken out to similar ends after leaving the administration.

If more people understood the basic principles of argumentative technique and the various fallacies involved with arguments vs. testimony and relevant vs. irrelevant information, the political world would be a much better place.
posted by The God Complex at 3:14 PM on March 31, 2004


It seems that Clarke isn't a fan of Bush's handling of terroism, but he's clearly not a fan of Kerry at all and I would guess he's a republican that doesn't want to be used by a lefty group out to topple Bush.

I haven't heard Clarke say anything one way or another about Kerry, other than declaring he wouldn't join his cabinet (if I recall correctly). Has he said other things that lead you to conclude he isn't a fan?

The other possible angle is that he approves of -- or at least doesn't mind -- the use of his statement in the ad, yet feels he must object in an attempt to preempt further attacks on his character. Unlikely, but worth considering.
posted by schoolgirl report at 3:22 PM on March 31, 2004


Interesting case. It seems that Clarke isn't a fan of Bush's handling of terroism, but he's clearly not a fan of Kerry at all and I would guess he's a republican that doesn't want to be used by a lefty group out to topple Bush.

He said himself on Meet the Press that he voted for Gore in 2000. He might be a republican, but he's not exactly a die hard.

I think he honestly means what he said, he wants the focus to be on policy.
posted by malphigian at 3:48 PM on March 31, 2004


This seems pretty straightforward to me; Clarke's value to anyone who wants Bush unseated in the Fall is heavily dependent on the convincing case that he represents a "dissenting Republican" position -- that is to say that his criticism of the Administration truly comes from within the community of people who are not necessarily and at base aligned with whatever Democratic candidate challenges Bush. This ad makes it easier for the right to cast him as not a dissenting Republican, but as a crypto-leftie. Personally, I think his rise to fame as the former was incredibly valuable (whatever he said about voting for Gore, he was still a registered Republican, and he's been wisely careful to preserve his identity as an independent, and a civil servant first and foremost).

I agree, Wulfgar, about the poor logic involved in connecting political convictions (the possession of which ought to be considered a civic virtue) with "partisanship" (a fuzzy but popular vice) but I think this could have been played smarter. There must have been -- must be -- other ways to make use of what Clarke has uncovered. And, ethical issues aside, the refusal coming from MoveOn to Clarke's request sounds the wrong note entirely -- despite the cautious language, it sends a legalistic, "there's nothing you can do to stop us" message -- which itself smacks of that circular-firing-squad problem the left has had in the past. A better response would have conveyed more respect, and more of the idea that Clarke and MoveOn have a common cause.
posted by BT at 5:24 PM on March 31, 2004


BT, I agree, and that frustrates me and angers me all the more for it.
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:39 PM on March 31, 2004


BT, nailed it. We all have a common cause here, let's work to that rather than cannibalize each other. Clarke is convincing. That's his power and it needs to be preserved.
posted by velacroix at 5:42 PM on March 31, 2004


Thank you. If someone is making an argument it doesn't matter who or what they believe in

Just a nitpick here. While this statement is true, in the case of Clarke, who he is and what or who he is aligned with can have some bearing. Some of his assertions are based on conversations that are not recorded (to the best of my knowledge) and therefore we must believe that he is telling the truth about those conversations. If it is discovered that he has serious partisan leanings (and, of course, it hasn't) then his recollection of events and conversations could be colored, or simply not true. It's analogous to eyewitness testimony in a criminal case; the background of the witness and his or her relationship to the case can and will be taken into account by the jury.

In this instance, I think that Clarke making noise about MoveOn removing him from their ads is probably enough to limit political damage, even if they don't honor his request. I hope.
posted by deadcowdan at 5:55 PM on March 31, 2004


Clarke voted Democrat, but asked not to be quoted or named, as to do otherwise would be to damage his credibility. Smart move.

MoveOn made a good commercial with an effective message that damages the president's stance as being "tough on terrorism". Smart move.

I don't see any loser here, except Bush.
posted by insomnia_lj at 6:27 PM on March 31, 2004


Has he said other things that lead you to conclude he isn't a fan?

Saying the equivalent of "I would never work for that guy" makes me think he's not a fan.
posted by mathowie at 6:55 PM on March 31, 2004


>I don't see any loser here, except Bush.

Same here. If you work for the government, kiss your privacy goodbye. This is all part of the transparency pie we should have on all levels of government.

Man, I watched Clarke on Hardball (?) and he said he was surprised to see himself on TV. Oh please Clarke, you're a public servant giving testimony to a committee and you want complete and utter privacy and some kind of strange copyright protection?

Maybe we can just remove fair use completely from the books and let Disney trademark every word in the dictionary, eh?
posted by skallas at 7:07 PM on March 31, 2004


Maybe we can just remove fair use completely from the books and let Disney trademark every word in the dictionary, eh?

I think our friends at Viacom would have something to say about that!
posted by The God Complex at 11:03 PM on March 31, 2004



I don't see any loser here, except Bush.


I figure Clarke has lost something. Matt rang pretty true with the soundbite argument. The quotes are up for grabs, but to yoink my voice for a project I do not support is over the line.
posted by thirteen at 11:22 AM on April 1, 2004


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