Cokie & Steve Roberts Hail Pulitzer Prize Winning Stories on Bush's "Abuse of Power"
This item was posted earlier today at part of the MRC's daily CyberAlert.
The April 24 MRC CyberAlert item, "Journalists on Sunday Shows Hail Leaker for Exposing Prisons," recounted: Far from condemning a CIA officials damaging leak of classified information about ongoing efforts to prevent terrorism, on the Sunday morning interview shows, three panelists -- a former network White House correspondent, a newspaper and radio veteran and a current network anchor -- hailed Mary McCarthy, the CIA staffer fired last week for telling the Washington Post's Dana Priest about secret prisons in Eastern Europe. ABC's Sam Donaldson heralded the revelations as "a victory for the American people" and compared her actions to those sitting at lunch counters in the 1960s, NPR's Juan Williams trumpeted her "right to speak" and her "act of conscience" and CBS's Bob Schieffer characterized the prisons as what "scares" him and claimed the "CIA fired an agent" just "for hanging out" with a reporter.
Another April 24 CyberAlert item related how, citing the Washington Post story on the then-secret prisons and the New York Times article disclosing terrorist surveillance efforts, both of which won Pulitzer Prizes on Monday, NPR's Nina Totenberg declared on Inside Washington that nefarious Bush administration practices justified the decision to reward the two newspapers: "It's a good thing that they won for those intelligence stories because the Bush administration is investigating now and is threatening to subpoena and conceivably jail those reporters. So I think it's important that those stories be rewarded as something important to have done."
I caught the Roberts/Roberts column on Romenesko, though he didn't highlight the portion which interested me.
"Pulitzers answered the 'dead tree' question," asserted the headline over the column as printed in the April 23 Sun-Herald in Biloxi, Mississippi. An excerpt:
A frequently asked question as industry circulation figures and stock prices continue to slide is whether newspapers are still needed. Steve's college students seldom read papers printed on "dead trees" (although they do read them online). And the recent sale of the Knight-Ridder chain, demanded by disgruntled investors, demonstrates the depth of the crisis.
Still, the answer to the question is an emphatic yes. Just look at the Pulitzer prizes announced this past week. They recognize the sort of journalism -- courageous, costly and comprehensive -- that only papers can provide.
"Prizes don't always say anything terribly important about the state of our business," said Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, which won three awards, "but this year's Pulitzers do, and what they say is the country never needed us more than they do today."...
The biggest story that newspapers unearthed last year was the abuse of power by the Bush administration. The Post won an award for revealing a system of secret prisons maintained by the CIA in Eastern Europe to interrogate terrorism suspects. The Times disclosed a program of clandestine government eavesdropping that many lawyers have denounced as illegal.
In both cases, the Bush administration pleaded with the papers to withhold publication. In both cases, the papers listened seriously, as they should, to the requests. Both papers made adjustments - the Post omitted the exact location of the prisons, the Times delayed publication for a year - but in both cases the editors ultimately decided that the public deserved to know what its government was doing. As Post editor Len Downie put it, holding a government accountable for its actions "is the most important work that a newspaper can do."...
The column is syndicated by United Feature Syndicate's Newspaper Enterprise Association.