Prestigious Polk Journalism Awards Go to Bush-Bashers, Those Who Revealed Secrets

A year after Bill Moyers won a “career” award, the 2005 winners of the “George Polk Awards,” which “memorialize the CBS correspondent who was murdered while covering the civil war in Greece in 1948,” were announced late Monday. The winners, as selected by an advisory panel assembled by Long Island University, are a who's who of liberal activists, including left-wing New York Times columnist Frank Rich and Victor Navasky, the long-time Editor of the far-left The Nation magazine. Virtually all the winners in reporting categories went to journalists who revealed secret anti-terror operations, undermined the Bush administration's anti-terror efforts or embarrassed people and/or contractors linked to the Bush administration.

As posted tonight (Monday) by Romenesko, the “Television Reporting” award went to ABC's Brian Ross “for revealing the treatment, which many experts consider to be torture, that the CIA used in secret detention facilities. In naming the countries where the facilities were located as well as exposing the White House-approved 'enhanced interrogation techniques' used by the CIA...the reports triggered an avalanche of critical reaction from governments and the public around the world.” The “National Reporting” nod was earned by “Dana Priest of the Washington Post for unveiling the existence of secret CIA-run prisons and wrongdoing that included the death of an Afghan detainee and the attempted cover up of the mistaken imprisonment of a German citizen. Priest detailed the elaborate covert operations in a series of 10 articles that unleashed an international furor and raised troubling questions at home about the government's counter-terrorism campaign.” (More award winners follow.)

Long Island University's page for the awards has not yet, as of the time of this posting, been updated since last year and the page listing the “advisors,” who pick the winners, hasn't been updated since 2003.

It's hard to find a non-liberal amongst the “career” winners going back to 1977.

Several of the award winners, as listed in the Polk Awards memo posted Monday night by Romenesko:
# George Polk Award for International Reporting will be Chicago Tribune reporter Cam Simpson and photographer Jose More for their investigation of the massacre of 12 Nepalese men in Iraq. Their two-part series uncovered a trail of forced labor and human trafficking that stretched from Nepal to the Middle East and was financed by a $12 billion U.S. defense contract awarded to KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton.

# ABC News correspondent Brian Ross and reporter Richard Esposito will be awarded the George Polk Award for Television Reporting for revealing the treatment, which many experts consider to be torture, that the CIA used in secret detention facilities. In naming the countries where the facilities were located as well as exposing the White House-approved "enhanced interrogation techniques" used by the CIA, including a method called "water boarding" that subjects detainees to simulated drowning, the reports triggered an avalanche of critical reaction from governments and the public around the world.

# The George Polk Award for National Reporting will go to Dana Priest of the Washington Post for unveiling the existence of secret CIA-run prisons and wrongdoing that included the death of an Afghan detainee and the attempted cover up of the mistaken imprisonment of a German citizen. Priest detailed the elaborate covert operations in a series of 10 articles that unleashed an international furor and raised troubling questions at home about the government's counter-terrorism campaign.

# Also from the Washington Post, reporters Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway will receive the George Polk Award for Foreign Reporting. Trekking across Afghanistan, they documented that claims of the U.S. reconstruction process in Afghanistan were a sham and a waste of millions of dollars. Shortly after they revealed that the U.S. Agency for International Development had misled Congress and the public, the longtime director of USAID resigned.

# Two New York Times journalists -- commentator Frank Rich and medical business reporter Barry Meier -- also will receive Polk Awards. For his barbed essays that intertwine popular culture with politics, including "The God Racket, from DeMille to DeLay" and "Enron: Patron Saint of Bush's Fake News," Rich will be honored with the George Polk Award for Commentary.

# Victor S. Navasky will receive the George Polk Book Award for "A Matter of Opinion," a unique memoir full of colorful personalities and big events published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Navasky, who became editor of the The Nation in 1978 and rose to become its publisher and editorial director in 1995, is now publisher emeritus. His work provides a historically significant view of the role that public discourse plays in sustaining the democratic process in an age of mass media and corporate dominance.

# JoAnn Mar, an independent radio producer, will receive the George Polk Award for Radio Reporting for "Crime Pays: A Look at Who's Getting Rich from the Prison Boom." Her one-hour documentary explored the privatization of the prison system during the past 25 years. It reveals how politically connected corporations and other businesses, as well as state and local economies, have a large stake in the prison business; some are active members of an influential consortium that has successfully promoted model legislation for longer sentencing requirements.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center