Roger L. Simon

Duranty Prize Awarded

The 2013 Walter Duranty Prize for mendacious journalism was awarded in front of an upbeat crowd at a dinner Monday night at New York’s 3 West Club.

This prize – in honor (or, more accurately,  dishonor) of Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow correspondent during the 1920s and 1930s – was first given in 2011 by PJ Media and The New Criterion.  For various reasons of sloth and bureaucracy, it has taken the organizations a year and a half to award a second round, but the prize will now be put on an annual basis.

A second award — The Rather (after Dan Rather) — for lifetime achievement in mendacious journalism was initiated this year.

The redoubtable and witty James “Best of the Web” Taranto  of the Wall Street Journal again officiated at the event.

The 2013 prizes will be announced here followed by the opening speech of the evening, “Why a Walter Duranty Prize,” by Roger L. Simon.

Starting tomorrow for the next four days we will publish the four presentation speeches from committee members.  Next week they will appear in video form from Ed Driscoll.

The Duranty Prize for 2013:

Second runner-up:  John Judis for his absurdly biased and ignorant reporting on Israel and the Middle East in general in The New Republic. Presentation speech by Ron Radosh.

First runner-up:  Candy Crowley of CNN for her unprecedented personal intervention in a presidential debate she was moderating on the subject of Benghazi.  The committee realized this intervention took place 2012, but the committee noted Crowley continued to justify this unconscionably biased intervention throughout 2013.  Presentation speech by Claudia Rosett.

THE DURANTY FOR 2013: David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times for his supposedly thorough unraveling of the Benghazi affair, “A Deadly Mix in Benghazi,” which was revealed almost instantly to be a meretricious piece of deception worthy of Walter Duranty himself.  Presentation speech by Roger Kimball.

THE RATHER:  Seymour Hersh for a lifetime of astonishingly dishonest journalism on subjects ranging from the war in Iraq to JFK and Marilyn Monroe. Presentation speech by Roger L. Simon

The committee wishes to thank the readers of PJ Media and The New Criterion for their nominations.  It should be noted that Kirkpatrick and Crowley got the highest number of recommendations.


WHY A WALTER DURANTY PRIZE – Speech by Roger L. Simon

Or, as my ancestors said every year, why is this night different from all other nights?  On other nights we celebrate journalistic excellence… as in the Pulitzer Prize… but on this night we celebrate a man who lied about Stalin and won the Pulitzer.

Well, we don’t really celebrate him.  We refer to him.  We use him as our emblem of something that is all around us — journalistic mendacity so awful, so meretricious, so despicably self-regarding that it is indeed in the tradition of Walter Duranty who — basically for his own self-aggrandizement, he wasn’t even a communist — white-washed Stalin’s mass starvation of upwards of a million Ukrainians, not to mention numerous other atrocities of the Soviet Union from the Gulag to the Purge Trials, for nearly twenty years as Moscow correspondent of the New York Times, while using, as an excuse for totalitarian evil, his oft-quoted phrase “You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.”

So we’re back again, a few months late, but we’re back, for our annual celebration of journalistic mendacity known as the Duranty Prize — and our new award for lifetime achievement called The Rather, of which more later.  I think any award of the nature of the Duranty should be judged by its past recipients, don’t you — whether they were really and truly deserving of their honor? That’s how we judge the Nobel Peace Prize, after all …. Don’t we?

Anyway, looking back briefly at last year’s Duranty honorees, we find as runner-up Bob Simon for his 60 Minutes segment “Christians of the Holy Land.”  That mini-documentary blamed the Israelis and their infamous security wall, not the Muslim terrorists who engendered its construction, for the plight of Christians in the West Bank.  During last year’s ceremony Roger Kimball called this 60 Minutes segment “a textbook case of employing the trappings and authority of objective reporting in order to further the ends of ideology.”

Was Roger correct?  And how!  Just weeks ago a video surfaced on YouTube from an exceptionally brave young Palestinian Christian woman named Christy Anastas.  Christy is living under political asylum in Britain now, an asylum she obtained in a record three days because she is under constant death threat from West Bank Islamists.  Ms. Anastas, evidently, appeared with her family in Bob Simon’s segment when she was still in Bethlehem, but she wasn’t particularly pleased by the way it was edited. In an eloquent speech at Upsala University that I commend to all of you, she contradicts literally everything Simon put forth on 60 Minutes about who is responsible for the Christian flight.  Of course, she may be biased.  Her uncle was blinded for life after being shot in the head at point blank range, not by an IDF soldier, of course, but by an Islamic terrorist — a curious omission, among many, from the 60 Minutes segment.

I should have known better but I was so outraged when I saw Ms. Anastas’ video that, on behalf of PJ Media, I called and emailed the executive producer of 60 Minutes Jeff Fager for a comment or reaction.  You may be astonished to hear that I have received, thus far, no reply.

As for our grand prize winner last year — the Duranty itself  — as many of you will recall that was awarded to Joan Juliet Buck and editor Anna Wintour for their charming Vogue magazine  “at home” with the trendy Assads:  “Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert.”  Where is Asma anyway these days?  It seems she’s disappeared from view, for some reason. No more shopping trips to Mayfair apparently.

A hundred and fifty thousand corpses later, it’s astounding that anyone could have ever written such cynical fawning tripe, even for a fashion publication. But that’s why we have the Duranty Prize — to make people stop and think before they do something as horrible as that…. or at least to call attention to it when they do.  Duranty’s photo, it is always worth noting, still adorns the wall of the New York Times along with its other Pulitzer winners.  Some things never change.

And now on to this year’s prizes.  James….