Winning the Pulitzer Prizes for Misinformation

March 25th, 2023 7:25 AM

Mark Hemingway at The Federalist made an important point about media self-congratulation in an article provocatively titled "For Five Straight Years, The Pulitzer Prizes Have Rewarded Misinformation."

In 2018, a Pulitzer for national reporting was given to The New York Times and Washington Post for reporting on the Donald Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia.

A 2019 Pulitzer for “Explanatory Reporting” was given to The New York Times for reporting on Trump’s taxes.

The 2020 Pulitzer for commentary was given to Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times for the 1619 Project.

In 2021, a public service Pulitzer was given to The New York Times for its coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic “that exposed racial and economic inequities, government failures in the U.S. and beyond.”

In 2022, the Washington Post won a public service Pulitzer for its coverage of January 6.

Every one of these major stories was badly handled by the media writ large, served activist political narratives, frequently involved credulously regurgitating actual misinformation, or some combination thereof.

What you can sense is that the Pulitzer prize-pickers started from the “most important narrative” theme and worked backwards. Whatever theme was the most harmful to Trump (or in the 1619 case, harmful to history) needed positive reinforcement. Prizes for Russiagate coverage (which began with the preposterous Hillary-funded Steele dossier) are especially egregious in retrospect, as I pointed out last year.

If you look back through the eight years of the Clintons, you'll be hard-pressed to find more than one Pulitzer awarded to reporters for digging into the Clinton scandals, financial and sexual. Only after impeachment was there a Pulitzer: for a 1999 New York Times investigation of the corporate sale of American technology to China with Clinton administration approval.

Brent Bozell wrote about the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2007:

Any conservative student who aspires to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist should really try another line of work. Here's the list since George Will won in 1977 and William Safire won in 1978: Charles Krauthammer in 1987, Paul Gigot in 2000 and Dorothy Rabinowitz in 2001. That's five conservatives in 30 years.

In the 15 years since, you can only attempt to count Bret Stephens in 2013 and Peggy Noonan in 2017, both from The Wall Street Journal (like Gigot and Rabinowitz). And you can easily see from the Pulitzer website that Stephens won for columns with a "contrarian twist," with titles like “The GOP Deserves to Lose” and “Earth to GOP: Get a Grip.” Noonan won for columns including “The Republican Party is Shattering” and “Imagine a Sane Donald Trump.”

Hemingway points to Philip Terzian, who wrote back in 2007:

The Pulitzer Prizes are a singularly corrupt institution, administered by Columbia University and the management of the New York Times largely for the benefit of the New York Times and a limited number of favored publications and personalities. Any citizen who thinks that the annual distribution of awards has something to do with quality probably believes that the Oscar for Best Picture goes to the most distinguished film of the year. If you’re a connoisseur of unrestrained self-praise, may I recommend the citations when the Times awards itself the Pulitzer Gold Medal for Public Service.

So know what you're getting when liberal media outlets attempt to burnish their liberal guests as a "Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist."