Pulitzer prizes have become a sick joke

New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty, as Andrea Widburg notes here, got a Pulitzer prize for lying about the massive crimes of communism in what was then the Ukraine.  It's supposedly an embarrassment.

But not if you check out who got a Pulitzer this time: Greg Grandin, Hugo Chávez's biggest apologist — a guy who defends Hugo Chávez and all his crimes to his last breath.  I'm not talking about a guy like Bernie Sanders, who says "yes socialism in Venezuela is great but there are problems."  Grandin is a real dyed-in-the-wool useful stooge who can't stop praising the brutal communist dictator. T here never were a lot of those around, but the shills who were there were loud.  Given the embarrassment of socialism now, there are even fewer.  But Grandin is one of them.

Here's Al Jazeera's report on Grandin, who tells us with a straight face what a great guy this thug of Caracas was:

As historian Greg Grandin noted in his Chavez obituary for The Nation last March: "Over the last 14 years, Chavez has submitted himself and his agenda to 14 national votes, winning 13 of them by large margins, in polling deemed by Jimmy Carter to be 'best in the world' out of the 92 elections that he has monitored."

Beyond relentless elections, Grandin cites "[t]he participatory democracy that took place in barrios, in workplaces and in the countryside" during the Chavez era and credits grassroots organisations and social movements for their "heroic work in democratising society, in giving citizens venues to survive the extremes of neoliberalism and to fight against further depredations".

It is this landscape that prompts Grandin's contention: "Venezuela might be the most democratic country in the Western Hemisphere." Indeed, what drove the Venezuelan elite particularly mad about Chavez was the opening up of political space to the previously marginalised masses — overturning as it did the exclusivist system. 

Had enough?

I've read Grandin's garbage to understand how bad he was for years.  Here's what New York Times columnist Bret Stephens culled from Grandin's obituary of the Venezuelan dictator he just couldn't quit:

In a lengthy obituary in The Nation, New York University professor Greg Grandin opined, "the biggest problem Venezuela faced during his rule was not that Chávez was authoritarian but that he wasn't authoritarian enough."

In other words, as another famous Chávez apologist put it: "I don't regret setting bombs,'' Bill Ayers said.  ''I feel we didn't do enough.''

There are pages and pages of Grandin's apologetics for the dictator of Caracas, even as the latter shot people in the streets and destroyed Venezuela's democracy in the name of the anti-democratic Cuban model.  Like Duranty, Grandin covered it in sugar and sold it to leftists worldwide.  Now he has his Pulitzer prize for "general non-fiction," for some book he wrote to glorify his new topic now that Chávez is an embarrassment — illegal aliens.

Grandin's new Pulitzer confers big respectability on him around the establishment for making such repugnant, mendacious claims.  Hugo Chávez was a socialist nightmare and a complete disaster for Venezuela, a place where people eat zoo animals, live in the dark, get shot in the streets, and flee on foot to neighboring Colombia.  It's a living hellhole, except for its useful stooges to lie to us about how great it is and now collect their rewards from the establishment. 

Black is white.  Sheet is Shinola.  Whitey did it.  Hugo cared about the poor.  Socialism über alles.  And far from being a historian, Greg Grandin is nothing but a propagandist for the indefensible.

If this doesn't discredit the Pulitzer committee, what will?  An old-school Timesman, Tom Kuntz, recently wrote a RealClearInvestigation piece worrying that stuff like this would happen, warning that the Times had lost its integrity and it's likely he didn't want to see the Pulitzer committee go downhill with the paper.  Well, it did.

When I was a student at Columbia journalism school, I had the glorious experience of writing my master's project for the administer of the Pulitzer prizes in the 1990s, one of the great old-school Timesmen, Seymour Topping, and back then, integrity mattered.  It's also noteworthy that there were no awards of any gamy quality given on his watch.  I even got to meet wonderful conservatives who worked on the awards during that year, such as Claire Sterling and Philip Tierney.  Now it's all gone downhill.

Giving Grandin anything is a blot on journalism entirely.  Grandin has effusively praised Chavista state propaganda outlets and acted as a propagandist for the odious regime.  That he should now get a Pulitzer prize signals how far downhill the awards have come.  I am disgusted.

Image credit: Walter Vargas / TKTru via Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 2.0.

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