Our weekly recognition of less-than meritorious excellence in journalism is worthy of Pulitzer consideration.
As an extension of the media-mocking venture at Townhall, Riffed From The Headlines, we once again recognize the exalted performances in our journalism industry and compile worthy submissions to the Pulitzer Prize board in numerous categories. To properly recognize the low watermark in the press, let us get right to the latest exemplars of journalistic mis-excellence.
Distinguished Breaking News
- Monica Alba – NBC NEWS
With the utter collapse taking place in Afghanistan, it has been amusing to watch as many in the press feign surprise that anyone would dare politicize the political catastrophe. In so doing, on NBC Nightly News, Alba noted how some have compared the airlift out of Afghanistan to that seen in Saigon, but she resorted to a tried method of calling out one side.
- “Still, helicopters continuously evacuated Americans and our Afghan allies throughout the day – an optical comparison Republicans have seized on as they continue to blast the President’s foreign policy strategy.”
Yes, she resorted to the practiced ”Republicans pounce” method here. But what makes this all the more ridiculous is that not only have numerous outlets invoked the Saigon comparison, Alba did so herself just moments before scorching the GOP, in the very same report.
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) August 16, 2021
Distinguished Explanatory Reporting
- Glenn Kessler – Washington Post
WaPo’s resident fact-checker faithfully carried out his job duty — going after Republicans. When GOP members questioned a new mask order from the CDC, Kessler rose up to fact-check their comments. Fact-checking the CDC order was not on his to-do list, it seems. When Kessler called out Elise Stefanik, Kevin McCarthy, and Dan Crenshaw for daring to be critical of the agency he only brushed up against the fact that the CDC had issued its order based on flawed medical studies, and one from a foreign country to boot.
“McCarthy also cited the fact that the paper was not peer-reviewed. Crenshaw noted that the paper was initially rejected under peer review, which turns out to be correct.”
In addition, the India study was based on results with a completely different vaccine than used in the U.S. As a result, Kessler grudgingly allowed that there was some basis to the GOP complaints. That did not deter him though from stating that, even though they were correct, the Republicans had attacked the agency.
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) August 12, 2021
Distinguished National Reporting
- Pete Williams – NBC News
It was a stern announcement that earned all of the stern delivery; The Department of Homeland Security issued new domestic terror threats, and Williams was on the case to supply the warning. Yet, as the agency announced a new terror threat advisory, it was one with rather dubious claims, which were not really questioned by the journalist at all. As it turned out, there was no terror to alert people about.
- “DHS has said this new terrorism advisory is not based on any actual threats or plots. But it says there is a rise in anti-government rhetoric.”
So…there is no actual danger to cite, but people are out there saying mean things. Barely seems worthy of reporting on, considering. And, even if you do not question the lack of a real threat, how about the potential overreach this can lead to from a government agency?
Is anyone in the press at all concerned DHS issued a new terror alert NOT based on any direct threats or discovered plots, but just topics they do not like?!
Disagreeing with Covid protocols or celebrating a religious holiday can get you labeled as a terror threat??? pic.twitter.com/clGyCJv52d
— Brad Slager – Gold Medal Loser in the Keg Toss (@MartiniShark) August 16, 2021
Distinguished Cultural Commentary
- Ryan Smith – Newsweek
With all of the news coming out of Afghanistan many people are trying desperately to measure just how big of a tragedy this is. Well, Newsweek is here to inform us of the gravity of the situation. We have seen a nation become overrun by terrorists, women and children becoming subjugated as humans, and we even saw people plunging off of an Air Force transport plane. But now – NOW – we can finally understand how devastating this tragedy really is; Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are upset about it!
Thanks to Newsweek, we learn that the formerly royal couple delivered a press release to let the world know they do not like what they see. This tragedy is so monumental that…it has affected them. In the PR form, they referenced “we/ourselves/us/” 18 times. It was a remarkable amount of words in a very lengthy statement by these two who claimed that, due to the events, “we are left speechless.”
Harry and Meghan say "we are left speechless" by Afghanistan's "pain" https://t.co/IQmRdfv16m
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) August 18, 2021
Distinguished International Reporting
- Miriam Fauzia — USA Today
Sure, there’s a lot of trauma going on right now across the planet, what with Afghanistan, tropical storms, Haiti earthquakes, a pandemic, and former British Royals being sad – but take heart. USA Today is here to help us make sense of things.
The intrepid fact-checkers have dug into the details and discovered that all of this global calamity is not, in fact, caused by a team in Iran behind the unearthing of an ancient mask with a golden eye in 2019! Great news – it turns out that discovery was made 15 years ago, so we are not under an archaic pestilence released by reckless antiquities hunters!
I hadn't heard of this story at the time, how interesting! https://t.co/91WMHSxqfH
— Sam Perrin (@misssamperrin) August 18, 2021
Distinguished Cultural Criticism
- Holland Cotter – New York Times
The New York Times’ art critic was at a gallery showing and came to a conclusion that the artist was depicting insensitive subject matter that sounds like it was grounds for cancellation.
– “It’s theme can’t help but put us on red alerts today, when accusations and verified reports of sexual assault on women appear almost daily in the news. In fact, the whole cycle, with its repeated images of gender-based power plays and exposed female flesh, invites #MeToo evaluation, and raises doubts about whether any art, however ‘great,’ can be considered exempt from moral scrutiny.”
This sounds unacceptable! Someone should see fit to cancel this artist — who happens to be the Italian master Titian who passed away roughly 550 years ago!
“Titian: Women, Myth & Power” is a small supernova of a show at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum — yet it raises doubts about whether any art, however “great,” can be considered exempt from moral scrutiny, our critic writes. https://t.co/Z133ll0hMQ
— New York Times Arts (@nytimesarts) August 12, 2021