Loose Lips Win Pulitzers

April 26th, 2006 10:17 AM

Max Boot, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes in the LA Times that this year's Pulitzer prizes "reflect a startling degree of animus toward the commander in chief in wartime."

On June 7, 1942, shortly after the Battle of Midway, the Chicago Tribune carried a scoop: "Navy Had Word of Jap Plan to Strike at Sea." The story, written by a correspondent who had seen intelligence reports left in an officer's cabin, reported that the U.S. knew in advance the composition of the Japanese fleet. It didn't say where this information came from, but senior officers privy to the U.S. success in breaking Japanese codes were apoplectic at this security breach. The Justice Department convened a grand jury to consider whether to charge the Tribune and its flamboyant owner, editor and publisher, Col. Robert McCormick, with a violation of the Espionage Act of 1917.

No charges were brought, in part because military officials were unwilling to share classified information about intelligence gathering. But the Chicago Tribune was reviled by other journalists for betraying national security, and no other publication followed up its revelation.

If only Col. McCormick had been alive today.

Today, he would have been hailed as a 1st Amendment hero, and his newspaper would have been showered with accolades. That, at least, is the only conclusion one can draw from this year's Pulitzer Prizes, which reflect a startling degree of animus toward the commander in chief in wartime.

It is hard to see how media apologists can deny their political bias when no fewer than four prizes were given at least in part for Bush-bashing....

There's nothing wrong with caustic criticism, but two of the award winners went further, into areas that may hamper our battle against Islamist terrorism. The Washington Post's Dana Priest won a prize for revealing the existence of secret CIA-operated prisons in Eastern Europe, and the New York Times' James Risen and Eric Lichtblau won for revealing the existence of a secret program to intercept communications between terrorists abroad and their domestic contacts.