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Why the Pulitzer Prize Committee Should Rescind its Recent Award to the New York Times
Boycott The New York Times ^ | June 8, 2009 | Col. Kenneth Allard (US Army, ret.)

Posted on 06/08/2009 10:56:57 AM PDT by AIM Freeper

Author’s note: On May 24th, the start of the Memorial Day weekend, I sent the protest reproduced below to the Pulitzer Prize Committee. If Boycott NYT readers also find this award outrageous, the Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism is Nicholas Lemann ( The address: Columbia School of Journalism, 2950 Broadway, NY, NY 10027.

My journalistic colleagues (and there really are some good ones though most are even older than me!) characterize the Pulitzer Committee as “stubborn as mules and dumber than rocks.” The reason: the committee never acknowledges a mistake or rescinds an award, no matter how egregious their failure later turns out to have been. So our protests may be in vain: but doesn’t D-Day seem like a reasonable time to make our voices heard?


I formally protest the Pulitzer Prize for 2009 awarded to the New York Times (NYT) for its April 20, 2008 story, “Behind Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand.” That protest is based on precisely the same reasons presented in my statement to the Federal Communications Commission, one of three separate Federal investigations resulting from this article.

Among other things, I informed the FCC that the NYT article was badly slanted, probably defamatory but especially dubious as the basis for any governmental action — let alone three of them. Also included with my FCC statement are three syndicated articles I wrote in 2008. The July 11, 2008 column pointed out that the NYT piece had been a one-day sensation which no other major media organization followed up. I also quoted liberal activist Arianna Huffington, “If the NYT is going to imply that people carried water for the Pentagon, they damn well better prove it. In my evaluation they did not…”

While both the NYT and the Pulitzer Committee are entitled to their own opinions as to whether this story was biased, it is inexplicable that you could have ignored a critical fact which appeared in several of the enclosed columns — all of which were published nationally. By his own verbal admission, the author of the NYT article requested my help during roughly five hours of detailed telephonic conversations — and for two reasons. I was not only one of those military analysts but I had also written a book, WARHEADS: Cable News and the Fog of War (Annapolis, U.S. Naval Inst. Press, 2006) published almost two years before the NYT article appeared. Because it was drawn from my decade of experience as an NBC News “talking head,” WARHEADS provided context and personal insights conspicuously absent from the NYT article. But when that 7,800-word article was published, it deliberately concealed any mention of WARHEADS, never once mentioning that the book even existed, let alone pre-dated the alleged Times‘ expose. In short: the NYT “scoop” was not a scoop at all but instead concealed material facts that might have led readers to radically different conclusions.

Even worse: these deliberate omissions by both author and publisher raise the most profound ethical questions — just as they would in any undergraduate college with an Honor Code worthy of that name. Those issues become especially challenging when they involve an organization like the New York Times, where even more egregious shortcomings have not been unknown. To repeat my FCC statement: I will leave it to others to judge if the conduct of the NYT in this incident is simple plagiarism or just an appalling professional lapse.

But what is beyond any possible controversy is that your Committee failed its most basic professional responsibility: to ensure that the Pulitzer Prize was awarded to a recipient who epitomized the highest standards of journalistic integrity. You either knew or — by conducting a simple Google search — should have known about that criticism and the more serious questions surrounding this NYT article. At no point, however, did you make any attempt to contact me or my colleagues to resolve those issues — or even to verify them. Thanks to you, the familiar oxymoron of “military intelligence” has now been retired, replaced by “objective journalist” (although “liberal intellectual” cannot be far behind). Because the integrity of the Pulitzer Prize Committee has been so decisively compromised, I suggest that Columbia empanel an outside body to assess institutional culpability — and likely counter-measures.

Finally, you cannot be held responsible for the procedural excesses and gratuitous insults of roughly 40 congress-persons who have relied upon the NYT article to advance a clearly partisan agenda. But I find it shocking that you never even raised the slightest question before awarding the Pulitzer for an article that degraded 70 distinguished military officers who deserve honor and gratitude rather than calumny. As the least of my brethren, it is inconceivable to me that anyone would seek to demean a man like General Barry McCaffrey (NBC), one of the great heroes of the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars; or the late General Wayne Downing, (NBC) the father of America’s Green berets, an unsung hero of America’s secret wars and our informal spiritual leader; or Major General Don Shepperd, (CNN) whose unlikely survival over the Ho Chi Minh trail proves only that God protects fighter pilots crazy enough to fly into triple-canopy jungles rather than over them.

Because battlefield outcomes are in far greater hands, the soldier’s responsibility is simply to fight. I will therefore not stop fighting until the New York Times and its author acknowledge their distortions and dishonesty; until the congressional excesses outlined above are reversed; and until the Pulitzer Committee rescinds its 2009 award with appropriate apologies. My friend and NBC colleague Jack Jacobs concluded one of our appearances by reminding the audience of some famous words that are appropriate here as well: If not me, then who? And if not now, then when?


C. Kenneth Allard

Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.) Contributing Editor Colonel (Ret.) Ken Allard is an executive-in-residence at UTSA and the author of Warheads: Cable News and the Fog of War. Email him at Earlier versions of this column appeared at and in the San Antonio Express-News.

Guest columns do not necessarily reflect the views of Accuracy in Media or its staff.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: agitprop; dod; enemedia; kenallard; liberalmedia; mediabias; mediaelite; nyt; pentagon; propaganda; pulitzer; pulitzerprize; retiredmilitary; waronerror
1 posted on 06/08/2009 10:56:58 AM PDT by AIM Freeper
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To: AIM Freeper
The Pulitzer prize people give out this award as a reward for political activism, rather than what it was origionaly intended for.

The left corrupts everything it touches.

2 posted on 06/08/2009 11:08:32 AM PDT by Nathan Zachary
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To: AIM Freeper

Nothing else to say about your call to right an aggregious wrong.

Well done

3 posted on 06/08/2009 11:16:20 AM PDT by 101voodoo
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To: AIM Freeper
RE: Walter Duranty, the "principal New York Times correspondent in the U.S.S.R"

Ukraine Famine - 1932-1933 - 7,000,000 Deaths

Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, set in motion events designed to cause a famine in the Ukraine to destroy the people there seeking independence from his rule. As a result, an estimated 7,000,000 persons perished in this farming area, known as the breadbasket of Europe, with the people deprived of the food they had grown with their own hands.


Prize Specimen
The campaign to revoke Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer.

Andrew Stuttaford
May 7, 2003

We will never know how many Ukrainians died in Stalin's famines of the early 1930s. As Nikita Khrushchev later recalled, "No one was keeping count." Writing back in the mid- 1980s, historian Robert Conquest came up with a death toll of around six million, a calculation not so inconsistent with later research (the writers of The Black Book of Communism (1999) estimated a total of four million for 1933 alone).

Four million, six million, seven million, when the numbers are this grotesque does the exact figure matter? Just remember this instead:

The first family to die was the Rafalyks — father, mother and a child. Later on the Fediy family of five also perished of starvation. Then followed the families of Prokhar Lytvyn (four persons), Fedir Hontowy (three persons), Samson Fediy (three persons). The second child of the latter family was beaten to death on somebody's onion patch. Mykola and Larion Fediy died, followed by Andrew Fediy and his wife; Stefan Fediy; Anton Fediy, his wife and four children (his two other little girls survived); Boris Fediy, his wife and three children: Olanviy Fediy and his wife; Taras Fediy and his wife; Theodore Fesenko; Constantine Fesenko; Melania Fediy; Lawrenty Fediy; Peter Fediy; Eulysis Fediy and his brother Fred; Isidore Fediy, his wife and two children; Ivan Hontowy, his wife and two children; Vasyl Perch, his wife and child; Makar Fediy; Prokip Fesenko: Abraham Fediy; Ivan Skaska, his wife and eight children.

Some of these people were buried in a cemetery plot; others were left lying wherever they died. For instance, Elizabeth Lukashenko died on the meadow; her remains were eaten by ravens. Others were simply dumped into any handy excavation. The remains of Lawrenty Fediy lay on the hearth of his dwelling until devoured by rats.*

And that's just one village — Fediivka, in the Poltava Province.

We will never know whether Walter Duranty, the principal New York Times correspondent in the U.S.S.R., ever visited Fediivka. Almost certainly not. What we do know is that, in March 1933, while telling his readers that there had indeed been "serious food shortages" in the Ukraine, he was quick to reassure them that "there [was] no actual starvation." There had been no "deaths from starvation," he soothed, merely "widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition." So that was all right then.

But, unlike Khrushchev, Duranty, a Pulitzer Prize winner, no less, was keeping count — in the autumn of 1933 he is recorded as having told the British Embassy that ten million had died. ** "The Ukraine," he said, "had been bled white," remarkable words from the journalist who had, only days earlier, described talk of a famine as "a sheer absurdity," remarkable words from the journalist who, in a 1935 memoir had dismayingly little to say about one of history's greatest crimes. Writing about his two visits to the Ukraine in 1933, Duranty was content to describe how "the people looked healthier and more cheerful than [he] had expected, although they told grim tales of their sufferings in the past two years." As Duranty had explained (writing about his trip to the Ukraine in April that year), he "had no doubt that the solution to the agrarian problem had been found".

Well, at least he didn't refer to it as a "final" solution.

As the years passed, and the extent of the famine and the other, innumerable, brutalities of Stalin's long tyranny became increasingly difficult to deny, Duranty's reputation collapsed (I wrote about this on NRO a couple of years ago), but his Pulitzer Prize has endured.

Ah, that Pulitzer Prize. In his will old Joseph Pulitzer described what the prize was designed to achieve: " The encouragement of public service, public morals, American literature, and the advancement of education."

In 1932 the Pulitzer Board awarded Walter Duranty its prize. It's an achievement that the New York Times still celebrates. The gray lady is pleased to publish its storied Pulitzer roster in a full-page advertisement each year, and, clearly, it finds the name of Duranty as one that is still fit to print. His name is near the top of the list, an accident of chronology, but there it is, Duranty, Times man, denier of the Ukrainian genocide — proudly paraded for all to see. Interestingly, the list of prizewinners posted on the New York Times Company's website is more forthcoming: Against Duranty's name, it is noted that "other writers in the Times and elsewhere have discredited this coverage."

Understandably enough, Duranty's Pulitzer is an insult that has lost none of its power to appall. In a new initiative, Ukrainian groups have launched a fresh campaign designed to persuade the Pulitzer Prize Board to revoke the award to Duranty. The Pulitzer's nabobs do not appear to be impressed. A message dated April 29, 2003 from the board's administrator to one of the organizers of the Ukrainian campaign includes the following words:

The current Board is aware that complaints about the Duranty award have surfaced again. [The campaign's] submission…will be placed on file with others we have received. However, to date, the Board has not seen fit to reverse a previous Board's decision, made seventy years ago in a different era and under different circumstances.

A "different era," "different circumstances" — would that have been said, I wonder, about someone who had covered up Nazi savagery? But then, more relevantly, the Pulitzer's representative notes that Duranty's prize was awarded "for a specific set of stories in 1931," in other words, before the famine struck with its full, horrific, force. And there he has a point. The prize is designed to reward a specific piece of journalism — not a body of work. To strip Duranty of the prize on the grounds of his subsequent conduct, however disgusting it may have been, would be a retrospective change of the rules, behavior more typical of the old U.S.S.R. than today's U.S.A.

But what was that "specific set of stories?" Duranty won his prize " for [his] dispatches on Russia especially the working out of the Five Year Plan." They were, said the Pulitzer Board "marked by scholarship, profundity, impartiality, sound judgment and exceptional clarity…."

Really? As summarized by S. J. Taylor in her excellent — and appropriately titled — biography of Duranty, Stalin's Apologist, the statement with which Duranty accepted his prize gives some hint of the "sound judgment" contained in his dispatches.

""Despite present imperfections," he continued, he had come to realize there was something very good about the Soviets' "planned system of economy." And there was something more: Duranty had learned, he said, "to respect the Soviet leaders, especially Stalin, who [had grown] into a really great statesman.""

In truth, of course, this was simply nonsense, a distortion that, in some ways bore even less resemblance to reality than "Jimmy's World," the tale of an eight-year-old junkie that, briefly, won a Pulitzer for Janet Cooke of the Washington Post. Tragic "Jimmy" turned out not to exist. He was a concoction, a fiction, nothing more. The Post did the right thing — Cooke's prize was rapidly returned.

After 70 years the New York Times has yet to do the right thing. There is, naturally, always room for disagreement over how events are interpreted, particularly in an era of revolutionary change, but Duranty's writings clearly tipped over into propaganda, and, often, outright deception, a cynical sugarcoating of the squalor of a system in which he almost certainly didn't believe. His motivation seems to have been purely opportunistic, access to the Moscow "story" for the Times and the well-paid lifestyle and the fame ("the Great Duranty" was, some said, the best-known journalist in the world) that this brought. Too much criticism of Stalin's rule and this privileged existence would end. Duranty's "Stalin" was a lie, not much more genuine than Janet Cooke's "Jimmy" and, as he well knew at the time, so too were the descriptions of the Soviet experiment that brought him that Pulitzer.

And if that is not enough to make the Pulitzer Board to reconsider withdrawing an award that disgraces both the name of Joseph Pulitzer and his prize, it is up to the New York Times to insist that it does so.

*From an account quoted in Robert Conquest's The Harvest of Sorrow.

** On another occasion (a dinner party, ironically) that autumn Duranty talked about seven million deaths.

4 posted on 06/08/2009 11:32:12 AM PDT by ETL (ALL the Obama-commie connections at my FR Home page:
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To: Nathan Zachary

They need to take back Jimah’s too.

5 posted on 06/08/2009 11:41:35 AM PDT by chainsaw (If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free! -- P.J..)
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To: AIM Freeper

Save your breath.

6 posted on 06/08/2009 11:44:28 AM PDT by firebrand
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To: chainsaw

When did Jimah win a Pulitzer Prize?

7 posted on 06/08/2009 11:48:08 AM PDT by Borges
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To: AIM Freeper

Plagiarism is rappant today. The music industry gets upset when someone downloads an MP3 from a file sharing service for personal use. Plagiarism is the equivalent of downloading the MP3, claiming you wrote and performed the work, and selling it.

Plagiarists are lazy, dishonest, and unethical.

Of couse, why should we expect an outcry about plagiarism when the serial plagiarist, Joe Biden, gets elected Vice President of the United States?

At one time journalists understood plagiarism and reviled plagiarists. Where did these journalists go?

8 posted on 06/08/2009 12:10:41 PM PDT by Entrepreneur (The environmental movement is filled with watermelons - green on the outside, red on the inside)
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To: AdmSmith; Berosus; bigheadfred; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Fred Nerks; ...
protest the Pulitzer Prize for 2009 awarded to the New York Times (NYT) for its April 20, 2008 story, "Behind Analysts, Pentagon's Hidden Hand." That protest is based on precisely the same reasons presented in my statement to the Federal Communications Commission, one of three separate Federal investigations resulting from this article.

9 posted on 06/08/2009 5:03:30 PM PDT by SunkenCiv ( Jan 3, 2004__Profile updated Monday, January 12, 2009)
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To: Borges

When did Jimah win a Pulitzer Prize?

My mistake, Nobel in was

10 posted on 06/09/2009 2:33:52 AM PDT by chainsaw (If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free! -- P.J..)
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