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 Local Reporting
- Tovia Smith — National Public Radio
The desire to make everything about race in the press can lead to problems. NPR got strung up when they were eager to point out how disappointing it was that in the recent election in the city of Boston, one of the black females who ran for office was not elected. Small problem; in order to make this point, NPR had to effectively insult the winner, another female POC. As a result, the outlet took down its initial tweet, where it said this:
Michelle Wu – who’s Asian American — is the first woman and first person of color elected to lead the city. While many are hailing it as a major turning point, others see it as more of a disappointment that the three Black candidates in the race couldn’t even come close.
NPR declared this “misrepresented” the column and caused harm to others. Here is the next problem. That initial tweet is a direct quote from the article itself, and those alleged words of harm are still featured in the opening paragraph. It appears the only real harm from this has been to the credibility of the outlet.
Many were hopeful Boston would finally elect its first Black mayor, as most of the nation's 30 largest cities have already done.
Black activists and political strategists reflect on what they can learn from the 2021 campaign season. https://t.co/W5dz54ZBuF
— NPR (@NPR) November 16, 2021
Distinguished Feature Writing
- Jenna Ryu — USA Today
Energetically detailing for us a brand new discovery by those intrepid youngsters on TikTok, Ryu details for us this revolutionary technique they have discovered on the platform to improve our lives.
On the video platform, users have come up with a new task-management system, one they have dubbed “Time Blocking,” in order to categorize essential activities to maximize efficiency and lead to a sharp rise in productivity and see an expansion in the fulfillment of goals and achievements. This is a viral scheduling strategy that can help overcome procrastinating and even alleviate stress. This sounds like a landmark development in the expansion of possibilities for anyone, so for those of you who are not on TikTok, I’ll summarize this revolution for you in this way:
The kids discovered how to use calendars.
You have so much to do but so little time, and even the simplest tasks, like going for a walk, can't fit into your busy schedule. Users on TikTok claim they've found a solution: time blocking.https://t.co/acWGoxjXBi
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) November 15, 2021
Distinguished National Reporting
- Joe Scarborough — MSNBC
The host of Morning Joe had a rough go of it this week, as he tried to pontificate on the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. He initially declared Rittenhouse unloaded 60 rounds that fateful night, and when called out — even being mentioned by the defense counsel during closing arguments — he brazenly said he misspoke: “I corrected my question this morning, saying he fired his rounds in 60 seconds.” But then, Scarborough makes an audacious follow-up statement, one that placed the blame of his misinformation on — his own viewers.
This is obviously wrong to anyone following the case for more than a minute. I meant to say he unloaded his rounds in about 60 seconds. Thanks for pointing this out. https://t.co/opGKvw6VEL
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) November 15, 2021
Joe is not at fault for having delivered wildly false information — it is up to the audience to follow the trial ardently, then watch all three hours of his show, in order to glean what the facts are. Anyone resorting to simply listening to him, and believing his words were accurate, have only themselves to blame for being misinformed.
Distinguished Explanatory Reporting
- Tommy Christopher — Mediaite
Consider that in our current media environment, everything is shot through an ethnic prism. Right now, we are told that bridges are racist, using the word “education” is a code for actually wanting to use The N-word, and that you are a white supremacist for voting a female POC into a major office. So in this climate, it is revealing when Joe Biden says something racially insensitive and is defended to the highest order.
The media is bad enough, but when a site charged with covering the media messes things up, it is even worse. And, even funnier, Mediaite columnist Tommy Christopher is consistently a paradox, to the extent you could say he is not the brightest crayon against the wall in the knife drawer.
In a reflexive defense of Joe Biden, Christopher boldly disputes that the president referred to the great baseball pitcher Satchel Paige as a “Negro,” contradicting the reports from outlets such as our own. Of course, Christopher undercut his emotional defense by posting the video of Biden’s speech, AND also providing the transcript where Biden is clearly seen using the word.
Do not believe your lying ears: Mr. Christopher is here to set the record wrong.
No, Joe Biden Did Not Refer to Satchel Paige as a 'Negro' During Veterans Day Speech https://t.co/N0wU4nsWqK
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) November 11, 2021
Distinguished Investigative Reporting
- Glenn Kessler — Washington Post
On the topic of racist bridges, that deeply odd comment by Interior Secretary Pete Buttigieg was fiercely defended by some in the press. See, there was this book written about 50-some odd years back where it profiled a city designer of New York, claiming he intentionally made the bridges in town too low for buses, to keep the black residents from going to the beaches.
Glenn leaped to the fore to defend the good honor of Buttigieg, citing his lone source.
"…found it very difficult to obtain permits, especially to Moses's beloved Jones Beach; most were shunted off to parks many miles further on Long Island." There's much, much more. Easily one of the best nonfiction books ever written. https://t.co/vV0MWKxJRX
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) November 8, 2021
Then Kessler, the fact-checker extraordinaire, became fact-checked himself by some historians, and within days, that great book was suddenly more valuable serving as a door stop.
ICYMI -> We were too quick to cite Caro's work as definitive. Experts increasingly doubt the story …. Robert Moses and the saga of the racist parkway bridges https://t.co/xJxshDUKXC
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) November 10, 2021
Distinguished Cultural Commentary
- Sophie Egan — New York Times
This says so much about their readership. In a breathtaking exploration of how we consume our fruits and vegetables. Well…sort of. In a lengthy investigation, the column addresses the vital details behind what, if anything, might take place were you to consume the small labels affixed to your produce. I feel like it is no longer an insult to suggest that readers of The Times are paste-eaters.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 16, 2021