The New York Times still hasn’t apologized for its Russia Hoax coverage
I need a favor. Since I no longer live in the Sodom and Gomorrah of journalism (i.e., New York), I cannot take the subway downtown to the newsroom of the New York Times. I need someone to deliver a note to the newspaper’s publisher. The note contains an address the Times needs to know.
It’s apparent the Times does not know the address of Columbia University’s School of Journalism. Among its other jobs aside from destroying any conservative thoughts in its students’ minds, Columbia’s journalist factory serves as judge and jury for awarding Pulitzer Prizes. Every year, members of a distinguished panel of retired newsies put down their scotches, get up from their reclining chairs, and fly to New York from senior citizens’ havens such as Palm Beach, Naples, and St. Petersburg. They are journalism’s omnipotent holiest of holies. They are the men and women choosing who will be crowned with this year’s Pulitzer Prize.
There was a time when the Pulitzer Prize was the most sought-after award a journalist could ever receive. It was news’s Nobel. Receiving it meant that your fellow craftsmen recognized that, in the year just ended, yours was the best work in the country. It was more than a prize. It was truly a lifelong honor.
However, in recent years, as what once was journalism slides further and further into nothing more than reprinting the latest Democrat talking points, the Pulitzer Prize has become about as important as the Oscar for Best Sound Editing in a Foreign Language Film based on an Original Manuscript. The latest Trump coverage fiasco pushes the Pulitzer, the concept of it, and journalism itself further down an unrecoverable slippery slope.
It all happened before. In 1981, Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke wrote a mesmerizing series of articles about an eight-year-old heroin dealer in the Southeast Washington ghetto. It was written in the voice of someone who personally watched the young man selling dope from his grandmother’s stoop. Cooke told of her anguish as she watched the boy inject heroin into what she described as his “sickly skinny brown arms.” In her heralded series, Cooke took her readers on an incredible tour of DC’s pre-teen, drug-infested underworld.
Among well-established journalists, it was clear Cooke’s series was the best thing in any newspaper all year. Cooke was a shoo-in for the Pulitzer Prize she received.
The problem? Cooke’s stories were entirely fictional. Not one word of them was true. When the Post finally bothered to check Cooke’s resume, it too was entirely imaginary.
The only decent thing about the entire incident was the Post returning Cooke’s fraudulently awarded Pulitzer Prize. It was still a huge embarrassment to the newspaper, but as one member of the White House press corps remarked, “Perhaps there really is some honor among thieves!”
It is now 40 years later, and if any honor existed in what once was called journalism, it is long gone.
Think back if you will to 2017. Ninety-nine percent of the nation’s journalists absolutely knew Donald Trump colluded with Vladimir Putin to ensure his election. How could there be any doubt? Senior congressmen promised they had seen absolute proof. Anonymous CIA officials confirmed Trump’s links with Moscow. So did secret FBI sources. The story led every newscast and consistently captured front pages. All reporters were sure they knew somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody who had actually seen the peepee tape.
When the reporters could not find an on-the-record source to confirm the allegations, they attributed their stories to “highly placed and well-informed anonymous sources inside Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.” Other stories were attributed to “senior FBI officials.”
Reporters on deadline claimed they had no time to “check it out.”
Image: The Pulitzer Prize medal (public domain); poster by Andrea Widburg.
The hyper-hyped coverage even included CNN reporters and photographers attending the supposedly top-secret, pre-dawn FBI raid on Roger Stone’s home. Feds in helmets and full body armor and carrying automatic weapons hadn’t had so much fun since they stormed that bungalow in Miami where they found little Elian Gonzales quivering in his uncle’s closet.
To understand just how huge this rush to judgment was, the New York Times mentioned the name Donald Trump 93,292 times during calendar 2018. Somewhere between 94% and 96% of those stories were negative. Probably the only words printed more often were “the” and “a.” Somewhere in the United States, some kindergarten class was probably told to memorize the meanings of the words, Dog, Cat, and Collusion.
The obsession with covering the Trump-Russia story was not restricted to the Times. The Washington Post joined the daily competition to see which paper could print the most outrageous anti-Trump story. The false stories spread across the country faster than COVID as paper after paper repeated the lies. How could the editor of the “Fargo Daily Dispatch and Trout Wrapper” dare question the editorial judgment of the most powerful newspapers in America?
So of course, when the Pulitzer committee met, there was no doubt where the prize would go. Since the Times and the Post both outdid themselves crucifying President Trump, the Pulitzer Prize was bestowed on both.
But then, like Cooke’s fictional drug boy story, it all began to unravel. First was Special Counsel Mueller’s report or should I say non-report? That was topped by his doddering inability to recall anything of substance during a nationally televised congressional hearing. Then the real stories began to leak out about senior FBI officials’ illegitimate warrants to spy on Trump associates. There was more every day.
Now we have Special Counsel John Durham’s indictments, which will eventually target the highest levels of the Hillary Clinton campaign. Who is Durham’s ultimate target? Trust me on this: Hillary is not sleeping well, nor with Bill, of course.
Imagine what went through the minds of “The Suits” at the Times and Post when they realized their 2018 publishing year was based entirely on constantly repeated falsehoods. I am sure that realization created added job security for many therapists in New York and Washington.
The Post recently retracted some of the “unfortunate errors” in their bogus Trump collusion coverage. The New York Times, however, has been silent regarding its incredible libeling of the president.
Mr. Trump will not sue. He does not need the money. But these newspapers which relished repeating false unverified accusations, whose editors wanted so badly for the anti-Trump lies to be true, can do the one thing which would demonstrate at least a small measure of penance. They could follow the Washington Post’s lead and return the dishonored Pulitzer Prizes as the Post did in the Cooke kid case 40 years ago.
So, in a quiet nudge to the publishers of these egregiously error-filled newspapers, I am supplying the return address for the Pulitzer Prize Committee. It is Room 203 of Columbia’s Pulitzer Hall at 2950 Broadway in Manhattan. For the guilty parties at the New York Times, doing the right thing would simply entail a quick ride in an uptown Uber. For the Washington Post, it is a little more involved but worry not. FedEx can have the disgraced prize back to Columbia absolutely, positively, overnight.
Ed Sherdlu is the pen name of a former CBS television network reporter. He uses a pen name because his mother would be so embarrassed to know that Ed’s 12-Step Journalism Recovery Program had been a failure.
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