Our weekly recognition of less-than meritorious excellence in journalism worthy of Pulitzer consideration.
This week, we once again recognize the exalted performances seen in our journalism industry and compile a list of worthy submissions to the Pulitzer Prize board in numerous categories. It has been the usual busy week for the staff to filter through the submissions and find worthy efforts, so let us get right to the latest exemplars of journalistic excellence.
Distinguished Investigative Reporting
- Erik Wemple, Washington Post
At Fox News, Tucker Carlson has angered numerous operators in the media spectrum. But rather than delving into personal attacks on the pundit, or compiling video snippets to display caustic commentary of a troubling nature, Wemple set out to gather hard evidence to display just how problematic Tucker’s words can be. On a recent episode, Carlson, dismayed by the continuing mask mandates, was calling out those people who police others about wearing them. He comedically suggested turning the tables on these social scolds, harping on them for wearing masks and even calling the authorities if one sees a child abused into wearing one.
Seeing this, Wemple hit on the perfect plan; he would find out just how many from Tucker’s audience were following his directive, to show how dangerous the Fox personality can be and how gullible his unthinking viewers are in blindly obeying orders. Wemple reached out to over one dozen state agencies to compile a list of the instances of Fox viewer social assaults, cataloging his findings in a lengthy thread. The results were jarring. At the end, Wemple had managed to build up a list that revealed the grand total to be — None. It was a remarkable example of a journalist so convinced of the unthinking nature of a group but managing to prove that the lone viewer who did not grasp that Carlson was being facetious in his monologue was Wemple himself.
Fox News host @tuckercarlson last night urged people to call child protective services if they see kids wearing masks at play. So I've sent inquiries to about 15 state-level child-protection agencies across the country. 1/
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) April 28, 2021
Distinguished Social Commentary
- John Avlon, New Day/CNN
Recently, the news network made a loud announcement it was revamping its morning show, bringing in Brianna Keilar and tinkering with its format. The numbers for April came in and the show is pulling roughly one half of Fox & Friends, and Morning Joe. With people avoiding the CNN eye-opener it means they are missing out on this type of revelatory slobbering. In a deeply slavish Pulitzer performance, Avlon all but uses pom-poms to cheer on the magnificence of President Joe Biden, exploring why all of the partisan attacks of the President are not working.
He displays how the public raves about Biden’s economy (despite the spike in food and gas prices we have already witnessed) and contends that those complaining about Biden’s proposed spending plans are muted by President Trump raising the deficit by $8 trillion (ignoring his spending was over 4 years and much of it Covid-related, as Biden is poised to drop a sum of $6 trillion in a matter of months.) Then Avlon spikes the football by showing clips from Fox News making claims about Biden which are refuted by public opinion. It is irrefutable proof that Tucker Carlson wrong based on poll results — conducted by CNN.
“The attacks on President Biden feel like spaghetti being thrown at a wall. But nothing seems to stick,” says @JohnAvlon. He digs into Biden’s approval ratings to explain why. #RealityCheck. pic.twitter.com/BjiUMkUvKM
— New Day (@NewDay) May 3, 2021
Distinguished Public Service
- Sarah McCammon, National Public Radio
There is no better way to understand the risks, the plight, and the persistent impending doom journalists encounter than by listening to them. If one were to ever need a primer of just how important and vital their career is it would take little more than asking them, and frequently not even that much effort is needed — they volunteer these details with regularity. One such example comes from taxpayer-funded NPR, as we see where some of our unneeded cash reserves are being channeled, as correspondent McCammon details her newest acquisition of reporting gear.
The NPR correspondent shared this: “My bulletproof vest that I may need to be a journalist in America arrived and they sent me a Small and I had to adjust it to make it a little smaller and for a moment I was happy that I was too small for my bulletproof vest that I need to do journalism in America.” Did you all pick up on that detail? She needs a bulletproof vest to be a journalist in America. It has become a required component in order for her…to, uh do journalism. Now, it is probably a dose of mansplaining on my part to suggest she could contact the numerous female law enforcement officers or soldiers familiar with this gear to learn the proper sizing and adjustments on this gear, so I will refrain. She clearly knows how to do journalism, without my input.
(Clearly, these things are made with big dudes in mind because I'm not a tiny person.)
— Sarah McCammon📻 (@sarahmccammon) May 4, 2021
Distinguished National Reporting
Chris Cillizza, CNN
It was only a matter of time for him to merit Pulitzer consideration, right? CNN’s diversity hire earns his plaudits because of how giddy he became to report on Senator John Cornyn, of Texas, who makes a grand accomplishment in the mind of Cillizza — he’s the most prolific tweeter in Congress! Citing an analytical think tank study, Chris details just how active the politician is on social media: Cornyn, in fact, ran circles — tweeted circles? — around his competition. Between January 1 and March 31, Cornyn sent a whopping 2,198 tweets, more than double the second-place Republican finisher.
Cillizza did not stop there with his Woodward and Burnstein-level reporting that challenged our nation’s leadership; he has the numbers to back up his…observation. It’s the sheer number of tweets from Cornyn that stand out in the analysis. Cornyn’s pace breaks down to roughly one tweet for every hour of the day. Every day between January 1 and March 31. Chris seems lost on the concept of Congressional staffers who operate many social media accounts, and also on the fact that it takes most people about 15-30 seconds to compose a tweet, meaning Cornyn spends approximately 15 minutes or less a day tweeting. But most in Congress spend fewer minutes doing so!
Distinguished Explanatory Reporting
- CBS NEWS
It is not often that the simple act of polling garners enough raves to warrant a nomination in this industry, but when a news outlet employs tactics that reveal the deepest of truths about our country it becomes a worthy honor. Following President Biden’s first speech to Congress CBS came up with a measurement of just how gloriously his words were accepted by the nation at large. The result — Joe Biden’s speech was approved by 85% of viewers.
The deeply scientific and statistically rigorous polling should be lauded. After contacting, “a nationally representative sample of 10,420 U.S. adults, including 4,211 respondents who planned to watch the address,” the network whittled the responses down to 943 adults in order to get an accurate assessment of the widespread impressions shared by all. Of this sample 54% were Democrats. The total of Republicans who were polled came out to 169, or — 18%. In other words, a perfect cross-section of America, in order to glean the widespread approval for the President’s speech.
Distinguished Commentary Writing
- Jonathon Chait, New York Magazine
The journalism industry took a severe hit over the weekend when it was revealed some major news outlets — The Washington Post, The New York Times, and NBC News — each had to retract stories proven false on the matter of the FBI investigating Rudy Giuliani. This dark cloud hanging over professional media outlets was foreboding, but leave it to wizened pundit Jonathon Chait to find the gilded edges to this scandalous affair. After discounting the story with the always successful ‘Republicans pounce’ position (Giuliani’s media supporters immediately seized on this episode… ) he goes on to explain what this all means — comparing this bogus story to the bogus story of Russia working with the Trump campaign proves that Republicans support Russian collusion!
Now sure, you could ask how proving a story is fake means that you favor the activities from said story, but Chait has all the answers for this retort. Or, he has an explanation at least. Or — he just tosses some words out meant to justify this position. When conservatives invoke the “Russia collusion smear,” what they actually mean is that they believe colluding with Russia is perfectly fine. They think Russia’s efforts are laudable, and it’s fine for Trump to cooperate with them.
See, when conservatives say, “You all lied about Russian collusion,” what they are saying in actuality is they defend the scandal, and therefore support all the activities which did not take place — and the press lying about this Giuliani story now proves that the lies about collusion are what conservatives want to happen again…for the first time…I think. Anyway, this was brilliant.