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Thread: A "Pulitzer Prize For Treason"

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    A "Pulitzer Prize For Treason"

    A 'Pulitzer Prize for Treason'
    Hiding under the banner of free press advocates, right-wingers are calling for the heads of reporters who publish 'against the president's wishes.'

    By Glenn Greenwald, AlterNet. Posted April 18, 2006.

    Several weeks ago, the Washington Post published an Op-Ed jointly written by Bill Bennett and his neoconservative comrade Alan Dershowitz, in which Bennett -- of all people -- pretended to be an advocate of a free press by decrying the media's "capitulat[ion] to Islamists." Bennett was upset that only a handful of American newspapers had published the Mohammed cartoons, arguing that by failing to publish the cartoons, "the press has betrayed not only its duties but its responsibilities."

    As I noted at the time and on several other occasions, Bush supporters like Bennett are the last people who ought to be parading around under the banner of a free press, given their lengthy and intensifying efforts to destroy investigative journalism in this country by criminalizing its defining functions and threatening reporters with imprisonment who expose dubious (or worse) conduct on the part of the Bush administration. That is a very real and disturbing trend which has received far less attention than it deserves -- particularly from, ironically and revealingly enough, the press itself.

    Yesterday, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau received well-deserved Pulitzer Prizes for "national reporting" based on their (year-long-delayed) disclosure of the President's illegal NSA eavesdropping program. That award has unleashed a slew of bitter commentary from Bush supporters, including Bennett, proclaiming that Risen and Lichtblau belong in prison. On his radio show this morning, the great free press crusader Bennett said: "I think what they did is worthy of jail."

    Powerline blog, as always, helpfully expounds on this definitively American principle of throwing reporters in jail who publish stories which damage the political interests of the Commander-in-Chief during a Time of War. In an item entitled "Pulitzer Prize for Treason," Scott "Big Trunk" Johnson says that Risen and Lichtblau won the Pulitzer "for their treasonous contribution to the undermining of the highly classified National Security Agency surveillance program of al Qaeda-related terrorists," which -- according to Johnson, "is a particularly serious crime insofar as it lends assistance to the enemy" -- all together, now -- "in a time of war."

    According to Big Trunk, the Times reporters are even worse than Stalin apologist Walter Duranty, who wrote for the Times and won a Pulitzer in the 1930s. This is how he explains his sequencing of journalistic villains:

    What about the Pulitzer Prize committee? When Walter Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize for the Times in connection with his mendacious coverage of Stalin's Soviet Union, he performed valuable public relations work for a mass murderer. He nevertheless did no direct harm to the United States. Today's Pulitzer Prize award to the Times brings a new shame to the Pulitzer Prize committee that builds on its disgrace last year via the award to the AP.

    Remember: these are the people who think that they are elevated and pure enough to invade other countries in order to teach the repressed masses about democracy and freedom. They endlessly tout their own patriotism and crusades for freedom while agitating for the imprisonment of journalists who publish stories which reflect poorly on their leader. On countless fronts, they are on the precipice of dismantling every defining value and principle of liberty we have.

    In his Washington Post Op-Ed where he pretended to believe in a free press, Bennett said this:

    [O]ur general agreement and understanding of the First Amendment and a free press is informed by the fact -- not opinion but fact -- that without broad freedom, without responsibility for the right to know carried out by courageous writers, editors, political cartoonists and publishers, our democracy would be weaker, if not nonexistent.

    Today, Bennett said that the reporters who sparked one of the most important investigative stories in the last five years should be arrested, tried and convicted -- presumably for treason (I wonder whether Bennett and Johnson believe that a couple of decades in prison is a sufficient punishment for these reporters; after all, we hang, not imprison, traitors).

    It is difficult, and I think foolish, to ignore these ugly impulses which are always pulsating immediately beneath the veneer of so many Bush followers. These are not random, fringe commentators whose extremist views are being held up to make a point. Rather, these are among the most representative and, in Bennett's case, influential Bush followers who have been incessantly and indignantly calling for the imprisonment of journalists. And as the drumbeat for war against Iran grows more intense, so, too, will the perceived justification for these types of distinctly un-American measures. The more "times of war" we have, the less room we have for marginal liberties, such as the luxury of a free press.

    Bill Bennett's radio rant (audio here) is highly worth listening to in order to smell the destination to which our country has descended in five short years. Does this sound anything like the United States to you? Speaking of Risen and Lichtblau (and Dana Priest), Bennett said that they:

    took classified information, secret information, published it in their newspapers, against the wishes of the president, against the request of the president and others, that they not release it -- they not only released it, they publicized it -- they put it on the front page, and it damaged us, it hurt us.

    How do we know it damaged us? Well, it revealed the existence of the surveillance program -- so people are going to stop making calls -- since they are now aware of this -- they're going to adjust their behavior...
    Are they punished, are they in shame, are they embarrassed, are they arrested? No, they win Pulitzer Prizes -- they win Pulitzer Prizes -- I don't think what they did was worthy of an award -- I think what they did was worthy of jail, and I think this investigation needs to go forward...

    But these people who reveal our secrets, who hurt our war efforts... who hurt the efforts of the President's people . . . they shouldn't be given prizes and awards for this, they shouldn't be given prizes and awards for this, they should be looked into... the Espionage Act, investigation of these leaks, I'm telling you, I'm hot...

    They published this story "against the wishes of the president, against the request of the president." What journalists would dare defy the wishes of the president? And in America, no less. And now, The Terrorists know that we are trying to eavesdrop on them, because they never knew that before. And these reporters therefore belong in prison.

    Glenn Greenwald is a Constitutional law attorney and chief blogger at Unclaimed Territory. His forthcoming book, How Would a Patriot Act: Defending American Values from a President Run Amok will be released by Working Assets Publishing next month.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #2
    Partridge Guest
    Alan Dershowitz shguld get a "Pulitzer Prize for Academic Plagarism and Hoaxery".

  3. #3
    Partridge Guest
    The Pulitzer Farce: Mainstream Press Tries to Prove It Still Matters ...
    Alexander Cockburn - Counterpunch

    Forget the awards for hurricane coverage. They were predictable and certainly in the case of the Times Picayune and probably the Biloxi paper, deserved. The press thrives on disasters and rare is the year when a photographer cannot extract a prize from the dead or dying in an African famine, a Turkish earthquake or an Asian tidal wave.

    So far as the Pulitzer Prize committee is concerned this year, the U.S. could be at peace across the world. Maybe in 2007 a photographer will get a prize for a shot of those 11 dead civilians, including five children, shot at point blank range in a house in Haditha by US soldiers.

    The central project of the Pulitzer Prizes for work done in 2005 has been to remind the world that, appearances to the contrary, the nation is well served by its premier east coast newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

    I should rephrase that. The central project of the Pulitzer Prize committee is always to perform that function, only this year the need was more pressing than usual. 2005 was a bad year for the New York Times, dominated by steady disclosure of its important role in manufacturing and then disseminating lies designed to plunge the nation into war in Iraq.

    One would have thought that the New York Times would have simply withdrawn its name from contention in the 2006 Pulitzers, but shame was short-lived and the assigned function of the Pulitzer Prize Committee was to winch the paper’s name out of the mud.

    The Committee’s composition made this task easier. On the eighteen-member board sits Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia J-school and contributor to the New York Times magazine, and Paul Tash, boss of the St Petersburg Times, which is owned by the New York Times.

    So the Times duly reaped two Pulitzers, the first to a couple of journalists, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, who sat on an explosive story through the election of 2004, through most of 2005 before finally disclosing the NSA’s wiretaps in time to give a boost to Risen’s book on US intelligence.

    The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof got a prize for commentary. Kristof’s best known enterprise has been the purchase in 2004 of two young prostitutes in Cambodia, so I guess the award is for moral initiative, offsetting all the innumerable Times opinion pieces encouraging neoliberal economic polices which have forced hundreds of thousands of women in south Asia, most notably India, to sell their bodies and those of their children.

    Two prizes were not enough for full rehab so the Committee threw in another for two Times reporters for their China coverage.

    Having thus salvaged the Times, Pulitzer Board member Donald Graham, chairman of the Washington Post, duly extracted his price, which took the form of four Pulitzers for his paper.

    There was one for Dana Priest for her stories on renditions, one for fashion coverage, a rather mysterious one for pieces about Yemen, and one for Susan Schmidt, James V. Grimaldi and R. Jeffrey Smith for their work on the Abramoff scandal, which in substantive terms meant their efficiency in copying out the incriminating emails amassed by the McCain committee. (According to one committee staffer, the trio missed some of the juiciest communiqués.)

    The rest of the prizes were the usual mish-mash, though there was no “plucky underdog” award this year, unless you count the Sun Herald of Gulfport, Miss. I don’t grudge the San Diego Union and Copley News service the national reporting prize (shared with Risen and Lichtbau) for their work on exposing Duke Cunningham, the corrupt congressman now doing time. Those were good stories. The Portland Oregonian won an editorial writing award, even though the most conspicuous event in the life of the Oregonian’s editorial page in recent times has been its relentless downsizing.

    There it is, one more round in the unedifying spectacle of a small coterie of mutually back-scratching news executives and accomplices conspiring to promote their publications. The Attorney General of New York should indict them for insider dealing, designed to boost their stocks.

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