Eric “What Liberal Media?” Alterman‘s favorite whipping boy, Howard “I was on K Street!” Kurtz at the Washington Post, writes today about a movement that is underway to revoke a 1932 Pulitzer Prize awarded to Walter Duranty of the New York Times.
According to Kurtz’s piece in the Post (notably, the Times’ chief competitor in the annual race for Pulitzers), the paper of record’s new executive editor, Bill Keller, yesterday acknowledged that Duranty’s reporting on Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union in the early 1930s was egregiously in violation of journalistic standards and
“pretty dreadful . . . . It was a parroting of propaganda.”
After a review conducted by a history professor, Keller said, the Times essentially told the board in a letter that “it’s up to you to decide whether to take it back. We can’t unaward it. Here’s our assessment of the guy’s work: His work was clearly not prizeworthy.”
Columbia University professor Mark von Hagen said he found that the Moscow correspondent’s 1931 work “was a disgrace to the New York Times. There’s no one there who disagrees with me. They acknowledged that his is some of the worst journalism they ever published.”
Good to hear it. Duranty’s defense — if not outright praise — of Stalin’s gulag (one of the most shameful events of the past century, though Howard Kurtz doesn’t actually invoke it by name) was inexcusable, and perhaps indirectly led to the propagation of these forced labor camps and detention centers.
So, if the Times is looking to clean house and rid itself of potentially disgraceful awards given to those who “parrot propaganda,” we humbly look forward to the revocation of op-ed columnist Thomas L. Friedman‘s 2002 award. Friedman, after all, received his award based largely on his passionate writing on the events of September 11th, and more specifically, his defense of the present administration’s War on Terror™. Friedman’s most recent book, Longitudes and Attitudes (2002), is a compendium of these award-winning columns, and includes his twice-weekly musings on topics as diverse as why the bombing of Afghanistan was a just act, to why the bombing of Iraq was a just act, to…well, you get the idea. If the Bush administration wanted a viewpoint put forward, Friedman spent the past year providing justification for their actions.
Oh, and then there are his writings on the after effects of September 11th, as detailed by Geoffrey Wheatcroft in the Times’ September 2002 book review of their own columnist’s material:
“To begin with, Friedman is more often right than not. He was profoundly right in saying that Sept. 11 was an appalling crime that had no conceivable justification, or even any real origin in oppression and injustice. That might not sound like such an amazing insight, but it quite eluded the ”America had it coming” left in Europe and on some campuses in the United States.”
Except the Times’ audience wasn’t limited to this dissenting audience of European leftist academics, who had nary a voice to begin with; in those waning days after 9/11, the average American was in a state of shock and confusion, and not saddled with the self-loathing of the left. The paper of record, in Ground Zero’s hometown, no less, spoke to the nation at large, and had the opportunity not only to reassure us of our need for security but to further educate and enlighten the public as to options we may have had in moving forward from that tragedy. Instead, we had Friedman laying the groundwork for Bush’s war of binaries (good vs. evil), the PATRIOT act, and the seizure of civil rights across the country.
“It was a parroting of propaganda,” if you will. See you in 70 years, Tom!