Our weekly unworthy Pulitzer Prize recognition of less-than-meritorious excellence in journalism.
As an extension of the media-mocking venture at Townhall, Riffed From the Headlines, we once again note the sub-exalted performances from our journalism industry in numerous categories to properly recognize the low-water mark in the press.
Distinguished Investigative Reporting
An early leader in the clubhouse for the award has to be this fiasco of a report from the media expert and a lead political reporter at The Daily Beast. This requires a setup.
At Real America’s Voice, John Solomon had a phone interview with Donald Trump. There were some tech issues with the playback, so Trump sounded a bit off when listening. This led many to speculate it was not actually him, but that Solomon had been duped by a planted AI version of the former president. (Bear in mind, Solomon formerly was connected to the Trump administration and has well-developed contacts, as well as another detail being the Trump campaign reposted the interview on Truth Social rather than contesting it.)
Then, in looking into the matter the Daily Beast came out with a report that the owner of Real America’s Voice, Robert Sigg, was deeply concerned with this development. Baragona wrote that while speaking with Sigg, he learned they were calling to have various members of the team go through retraining on journalism ethics and behavior, to avoid this type of embarrassment. The only problem with this report: they had not been in contact with the actual Robert Sigg, and RAV demanded a retraction and hinted at legal action.
So to summarize: The Daily Beast claimed a genuine interview was fake, and based this on a fake interview the reporters fell for to make their charge. The hilarity of this is too rich. (The archived article that has been taken down is available here.)
Daily Beast Falls For Fake Interview (While Wrongly Accusing John Solomon of Fake Trump Interview) https://t.co/qT7NTCj16O
— RedState (@RedState) September 2, 2023
Distinguished Explanatory Reporting
Well, it only took two-and-a-half years, but the esteemed fact-checker at the Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, has come around to fact-checking the various tales and fables that Joe Biden has been spinning regarding his personal life. (To get a sense of the scope, here is a compilation of his mythical exploits.)
What is notable is that as Glenn kinda-sorta-somewhat, in a way, corrects the record, he manages to stop very short of one declaration. Note this, as he trots out a lengthy list of euphemisms to describe the prevarications from the president:
Aren’t credible / likes to tell stories / propensity to exaggerate / embellish tales / doubts about his truthfulness / his version / personal tales / cannot be verified / refuted by contemporary accounts / implausible story / claims / story has evolved / did not add up / amended his statement / not plausible
One thing Glenn just cannot bring himself to use – the word “lies.” After years of Biden delivering provably false information, the man who loved to tabulate every error from Donald Trump on his list of “LIES” is incapable of labeling very blatant lies from Biden in an accurate fashion.
Fact Checker: Here’s a guide to some of the stories told by President Biden that cannot be verified or are not plausible. https://t.co/d1GNg9WRGg
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 31, 2023
Distinguished National Reporting
The desire to slam Ron DeSantis over anything has led many a journalist down rabbit holes from which their integrity cannot be mined. Recall “60 Minutes” trying to create a scandal out of the governor using a popular grocery chain to supply citizens with free COVID-19 shots. In just the latest, CNBC reporter Annie Nova sees a rather innocuous line the Governor used on the campaign trail as a point of attack.
DeSantis has on occasion criticized Joe Biden’s college student loan forgiveness scheme by derisively asking, “Why should a truck driver have to pay for somebody that got a degree in zombie studies?” Annie Nova spoke with a number of college professionals, who not only spoke of the validity of teaching about zombies in higher education but also that DeSantis is being racist as he lodges this criticism.
“The figures that haunt our popular narratives are a society’s way of working through shared experiences and problems,” said Sarah Juliet Lauro, an associate English professor at the University of Tampa. Lauro argues in her book “The Transatlantic Zombie” that the stories are always in some way about slavery and resistance to slavery, given the myth’s origin. “Since DeSantis has taken aim at Black history, I think we can connect the dots on why the idea of ‘zombie studies’ gets under his skin so much,” she said.
DeSantis is taking aim at ‘zombie studies’ on the campaign trail. It’s a real thing https://t.co/46H2NsslWT
— CNBC (@CNBC) September 7, 2023
Distinguished Features Writing
Washington Post columnist Attiah has pinned down a previously hidden aggression. It turns out there is a rash of males who go around and butcher or even kill off the plants of the women in their lives. This conclusion was reached after Attiah went through a traumatic botanical event, when a prized fig tree of hers was allegedly killed off by some men, and this led her to vent on social media. She was met with numerous stories from other women, who accused men of similar herbicidal assaults as if this was a severe social scourge.
Just starting off with the premise that her personal experience was a flashpoint leading to “Why do men always do this?!”-levels of pontification is ridiculous enough. But there are a number of other disqualifying details.
She was not a victim of a personal attack; it was a professional job.
The pictures show the tree growing from the points where it had been pruned back.
Most importantly, it was not her tree! It is located at the home of her parents, and it was her father who called in a landscaping crew.
How Attiah interprets this as a misogynistic attack on herself is a complete mystery, but she then extrapolates this into a trend of male aggression sweeping across the gardens of this nation.
My latest… based on this week’s Twitter thread about women who deal with herbicidal men.
Why do men kill women’s plants? https://t.co/6tzbfomBgq
— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) September 1, 2023
Distinguished National Reporting
In promoting a piece about President Biden being critical of Donald Trump, Philip Bump made a rather daft claim about opposition to his candidacy. It seems there is a belief Trump is an inherent threat to our democracy and needs to be prevented from running for the highest office.
This, according to Bump, is the basis of a letter that was recently made public – and signed by thirteen former presidents!
You do not need to be a historian to understand why this is a curious claim, nor do you need to be one to figure out why he deleted the post.
— Brad Slager: CNN+ Lifetime Subscriber (@MartiniShark) September 8, 2023
Distinguished Editorial Writing
As crime is spiking in select blue cities and more people are dealing with the after-effects of defunding and minimizing the presence of the police, as well as radical district attorneys, the New York Times columnist looked at one aspect of this fallout – the rise in automobile thefts – and came to a sane conclusion; the blame is not on the criminals or the permissive local authorities. Instead, the blame should fall on the automakers, and they need to be financially responsible.
“Why are so many cars getting stolen? Police departments and city officials point to this: Millions of Kias and Hyundais are ridiculously easy to steal,” @fmanjoo writes. https://t.co/BGSVBgpZf7
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) September 2, 2023
Distinguished Features Writing
Most are aware that a big reason there are so many companies that come forward with customer-defying social activist positions is because massive investment firms impose social standards on companies to follow or absorb the cost of these entities dumping huge amounts of stock and driving down the market value. Many believe that Anheuser-Busch suffered its Bud Light debacle because it catered to Dylan Mulvaney in an effort to boost its ESG rating with investment firms, such as BlackRock.
In an exhaustingly long profile, the magazine seeks to burnish the image of Larry Fink, the head of that asset firm, renowned for pushing his social causes and trying to force his views on the public, by manipulating companies through his company’s ability to leverage compliance as it manages trillions of dollars worth of corporate holdings.
The Economist takes a sympathetic look at how Fink is portrayed in the public eye, trying to sell it as unfair how many perceive this corporate titan – even as it acknowledges the problem by declaring he is “the face of woke capitalism.” The overall impression of this piece? Won’t someone consider the plight of the megalomaniac billionaire?!?!
All he wanted to do was save the planet and make his firm a fortune. Why does the chairman of the world’s largest asset-management firm have so many enemies? https://t.co/c6Fo8Wx6IW
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) September 10, 2023