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‘The Brandon Walsh Awards’: 2012 Pulitzers Reward Leftist Narratives

Why is PJ Media launching the Walter Duranty Prize? Because the "liberal equals smart" narrative has created newsrooms full of reporters like the 90210 journalist.

by
David Steinberg

Bio

April 27, 2012 - 12:00 am

On the heels of PJ Media’s announcement of the inaugural Walter Duranty Prize — to be given to “the most egregious example of dishonest reporting” for the period of July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012 — it is worthwhile to note the Pulitzer Prize’s recent contribution to the media environment the Duranty Prize is aimed at reforming.

PJ Media actually submitted an entry for a Pulitzer this year: while we certainly did not expect to win, we cannot say we thought we had no chance at a prize. We entered our “Every Single One” series — what the staff here generally considers to be the most successful investigative project PJ Media has completed since its founding — in the National Reporting and Investigative Reporting categories. On April 16, the Pulitzer board announced what had been the more likely result: no award for us. Sigh, slumped shoulders.

However, our biggest disappointment lay within the remainder of the honorees for the other categories. Though we had no basis for assuming this year might be different, the 2012 Pulitzers again proved to be a self-congratulatory ceremony for media champions of a Leftist agenda. Narrative was king, not objective quality.

Were any of the works commendable? Absolutely. But the 2012 Pulitzer Prize committee awarded 14 journalism awards, and not one of them rewarded material criticizing President Barack Obama or his administration.

Recall, for starters: 2011 included bold reporting on a federal gun-running scandal resulting in hundreds of deaths, one of many lawless actions by the DOJ; plus reporting on a war undertaken in Libya without the authority of Congress.

While no juried award can eliminate subjectivity, we did happen to have objective truth on our side with our submission: the 2007 Pulitzer committee awarded the Boston Globe’s Charlie Savage the National Reporting prize for a submission which included an investigation of the exact same topic. Savage found that 58 percent of Department of Justice, Civil Rights Section hires under the Bush administration showed evidence of conservative-leaning political views on their resumes. This finding led Savage (and apparently the Pulitzer Prize committee) to believe that federal law banning politically based hiring had been violated.

However, we found that 100 percent of Civil Rights Section hires under the Obama administration showed evidence of left-leaning political views on their resumes. So you see why we might have felt confident enough to Endust a spot on the office shelf.

I went with the “Brandon Walsh Awards” as a metaphor because a significant portion of today’s younger and mid-career journalists spent at least some of their formative years with Jason Priestley’s character on Beverly Hills, 90210 being pitched by Hollywood as the ideal “do-gooder” liberal of a reporter — one headed to a career of Pulitzers and UN subcommittee participation. (Brandon’s character left the show to take a once-in-a-lifetime job at “The New York Chronicle”. Likely, this was not a reference to the Post.) The character advanced the “liberal implies smart” elitism that lies at the heart of the Pulitzers’ choices, and behind the current generation of youth which cannot comprehend why their soft education has left them unemployable, and which sees student loan repayment as an “unfair” burden.

The most distressing award from this year’s batch of Pulitzers is also surely to be a nominee for the Duranty. It was given to the Associated Press, for Investigative Reporting:

For a distinguished example of investigative reporting, using any available journalistic tool, ten thousand dollars ($10,000) awarded to Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan and Chris Hawley of the Associated Press for their spotlighting of the New York Police Department’s clandestine spying program that monitored daily life in Muslim communities, resulting in congressional calls for a federal investigation, and a debate over the proper role of domestic intelligence gathering.

Here is comment from Judy Miller regarding the selection (a decade ago, Miller shared a Pulitzer awarded to the New York Times staff for a series exposing al-Qaeda):

The subtext was that the NYPD’s monitoring was illegal, unconstitutional, and unnecessary — an infringement on Muslims’ civil rights and an outrageous example of religious and ethnic profiling.

But the series itself failed to document such illegality or over-the-top conduct. Moreover, the department’s assertions that its surveillance efforts were legal and its explanations about how the program worked were invariably given short shrift, buried in the AP’s flurries of unsupported allegations. Never mind that the series failed to find a single individual whose professional or religious life had been harmed by the police department’s efforts to protect the city and its residents from another catastrophic terrorist attack. Of course the threat of terrorism is no excuse to run roughshod over civil liberties, and questions should be asked about how the NYPD’s program has been implemented and overseen. But the AP articles offer no evidence that the NYPD’s efforts to understand communities in which terrorists are more likely to hide and recruit have violated anyone’s civil rights.

A recent Quinnipiac poll showed overwhelming support for both the NYPD’s efforts — which have helped thwart 14 terrorist plots against the city, police say—and its methods. The poll shows that 58 percent of New Yorkers disagree with the AP’s claim that the NYPD “has unfairly targeted Muslims.” Over 80 percent call the NYPD “effective in combating terrorism.”

Most New Yorkers saw the AP campaign for what it was: manufactured news that played to left-wing stereotypes about police and law enforcement excesses. And as the New York Post suggested, the prize says more about the state of mainstream journalism than about the NYPD. Fortunately, New Yorkers don’t depend on either the AP or the Pulitzer jury to keep their city safe.

The 2012 Explanatory Reporting Pulitzer was awarded for a topic and narrative that couldn’t possibly be more aligned with Obama administration interests. Indeed, talk of increasing taxation of the “wealthy” has dominated Obama’s recent public appearances via his proposed Buffett Rule:

For a distinguished example of explanatory reporting that illuminates a significant and complex subject, demonstrating mastery of the subject, lucid writing and clear presentation, using any available journalistic tool, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000) awarded to David Kocieniewski of the New York Times for his lucid series that penetrated a legal thicket to explain how the nation’s wealthiest citizens and corporations often exploited loopholes and avoided taxes.

The Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Cartooning was given to Matt Wuerker of Politico. Do click on his slideshow: a more stereotypical lampooning of conservatism — using age-old propagandistic themes — you would be hard pressed to find or to create.

With such a skewed organization leading the way, it’s time to draw attention away from Left-leaning narratives by focusing on the terrible damage caused by a media’s deliberately avoiding topics which do not fit an agenda. Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer is an unquestionable nadir in this regard; hopefully the Pulitzer committee and misdirected media take the hint and redefine their stance on professional honor.

David Steinberg is the New York City Editor of PJ Media. Follow his tweets at @DavidSPJM.
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