National Enquirer's Edwards Scoops 'Did Not Even Make the Top 10' on Pulitzer Jury

Los Angeles Times media reporter James Rainey discovered the Pulitzer Prize jurors weren't going to touch the National Enquirer with a ten-foot pole over their expose of John Edwards:

One juror told me that, among that competition, the Enquirer's stories about Edwards did not even make the top 10. The tabloid had first revealed Edwards' relationship with his campaign videographer, Rielle Hunter, in the fall of 2007 and continued to push the story forward through 2008. The Pulitzers announced this week were for work in 2009.

Rainey joked that the Enquirer should inspire a new award called the "Muffin Choker," for stories that make a morning newspaper reader choke on his breakfast.

The Times writer also suggested that the Pulitzers want to reward more prestigious media franchises for perhaps less stunning work:

The New York Times won a Pulitzer last year for the less demanding task of uncovering an ongoing government investigation — its revelation of then-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's fling with a high-priced call girl.

The Enquirer, in contrast, started and drove the Edwards investigation. But the story dribbled out for so long a Pulitzer juror could be forgiven for viewing more recent chapters as something less than what the paper likes to call "blockbuster exclusives."

Rainey said he was told the story was taken seriously.

According to people on the seven-member jury that picked the finalists for the investigative reporting prize, the Enquirer entry was read and taken seriously. "At the end of the day, it didn't rise to the top journalism of 2009," said Mark Katches, a juror and editorial director of California Watch, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting.

But ideological bias should not be discounted -- the Center for Investigative Reporting is a hard-left outfit, even if it's mainstream for Pulitzer people.  

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis