Better still is Douglas Kern's funny story about this in National Review Online. Kern correctly points out that these donations rules aren't that wise: they don't prevent bias in their journalists, but only the appearance of bias. I've thought that for a while about a number of similar rules and attitudes in the government. A Supreme Court justice gives a speech that seems too political. Should he be prevented from doing so, to keep him unbiased? Or is the speech a reflection of his existing biases, not the cause of them? Clearly, it's the latter.
And Kern honorably points out the differences between a society worried about ethics and one worried about virtue and morality. In fact, he claims, it is the sign of moral decay if ethics becomes the primary concern, because it is merely a superficial thing and can cover up deep moral problems. A moral people won't have much need for ethical dilemmas.
That's my oversimplification, and I don't think that that is always true, or in all situations.
But I've been skeptical of The Ethicist and his advice for a few years, now. I used to listen to him regularly on NPR's Weekend Edition, and I remember one caller who was on drugs (marijuana) and had some question about his company's no-drugs policy. Cohen told him it was none of the company's business, and he seemed pretty emphatic about that. I've held his opinions at arm's length ever since then, but I'd failed to find much in the way of criticism of him, at least online.
Not a problem, now. And even his Wikipedia entry is pretty much against him. Wikipedia attracts all kinds of opinions to anything remotely controversial (and even some things that shouldn't be), but I was surprised he didn't have a lot of people writing favorable things about him.
[...] Cohen outlines his personal beliefs about ethics as being ultimately dependent on a person's immediate circumstances, while dismissing the notion that personal moral character might influence an individual's ethics.
Yeah...that's not helping my opinion of him. I don't care if he hasn't had "formal training in ethics" or philosophy; plenty of people could give good advice on the matter without formal training (preachers, for instance), and I sometimes worry that philosophy (certain philosophies, at least) tends to encourage people into immoral behavior. But it's what his advice actually is that bothers me.
Well, from the Wikipedia page, I have now found other critical articles on Cohen, like this one from Reason.