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When is an Award Prestigious? Is the Pulitzer Just BS?

When is an Award Prestigious? Is the Pulitzer Just BS?

Years ago, I was having dinner with a reporter friend.  I promised to give him a scoop on the yet unannounced winner of a “prestigious award.”  I leaked him the name of the man who would be honored as the Portland Cement Man of the Year.

For a prolonged time, he stared at me in disbelief.  When he finally found his voice, he questioned my sanity.  Did I really believe the Portland Cement Man of the Year was an important story – or that it was a prestigious award?  He went on to explain to me that it is an insignificant story.  It was merely a narrow industry honoring its own.  He even referred to the award as “incestuous” to dismiss the scoop I offered him.

After allowing him to ramble on for a few moments – providing all sorts of reasons why my information was beneath consideration –I got to the point.  I put on my best inquisitive face and asked him how the Portland Man of the Year Award differs from … oh, I don’t know … the Pulitzer Prize?

In fact, every objection he gave to the importance of the Portland Man of the Year Award could be equally applied to the Pulitzer.  It is a narrow industry honoring its own, for sure.  It is incestuous.  The only significant difference is that the folks who run the Pulitzer Prize are the same folks who run the newspapers that give the Award great coverage.  There is no end to the laudatory adjectives they apply to the Award – “prestigious,” “coveted,” “esteemed,” “distinguished,” “exclusive,” etc., etc., etc.

I have never been overly impressed by the Pulitzer Prize.  I offer three possible reasons.  (1) I am not generally impressed by awards.  (2) I never got one.  (3) I do not like their philosophic bias.  Three is the correct answer.

In case you have not noticed, the Pulitzer Prize is controlled by the most left-wing elements of the profession.  Any time there is a left-wing lean to a story or a book, it is more likely to take home the Prize.  And the Pulitzer bias has gotten worse over the years.  Conservative columnist George Will won one in 1977 – before he joined the folks on journalism’s rive gouache.  The late David Krauthammer (my personal favorite) won a Pulitzer in 1987.  But it is mostly left-wingers honoring … left-wingers.

In the history of the Pulitzer the Prize has never been taken away or recanted – but it should have been.  One close call was when Janet Cooke, of the Washington Post, declined the Prize at the last moment after it was revealed she had fabricated her story about an 8-year-old heroin addict.  

Alex Haley won a special award from the Pulitzer folks for his book “Roots.”  It was later discovered that he had plagiarized part of his writing from the work of another.  He was forced to pay a settlement to the original author.  Pulitzer did not revoke Halley’s special award.

The Boston Globe won the Prize for public service with a submission in which columnist Michael Barnicle was a key contributor.  IN an unrelated incident, he was canned from the Globe for inventing a news story.  Yes, that is that same Michael Barnicle who now pontificates regularly on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”  

There were calls to revoke awards in the past.  Once such case involved foreign correspondent Walter Duranty, of the New York Times.  His report denied the atrocities committed by Joseph Stalin- including the starvation of millions in Ukraine.  Though his report might have been more aptly considered Soviet propaganda, Duranty retained the Prize.

More recently, Texas Republic Congressman Lance Gooden sent a letter to the Pulitzer Board asking that the 2018 Prize awarded to the New York Times and the Washington Post for coverage of the mendacious Trump/Russian conspiracy narrative be revoked.  It seems a substantial amount of their coverage was baseless, and fact challenged, as proven in the subsequent special counsel’s Muller and Durham reports. 

The Prize is alleged to honor excellence, but I see it more like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.  You will recall, the overstuffed character was said to have a brain only because the Wizard bestowed a diploma on him.  The sheep skin was to proclaim his intelligence to the world.  So … does great journalism get the Prize, or is the Prize merely a means of putting an arbitrary imprimatur of great journalism on favored writers with favored political viewpoints?  I will leave that up to you to decide.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. frank stetson

    Knowing you, knowing the media and your opinion of such, I skipped this article. I already know the light you will shed in the darkness. Or how many times can you say “left;” apparently four times.

  2. Mike f

    Larry, Basically a prestigious award depends on how an individual interprets the award. You do not consider the Pulitzer Prize to be prestigious-that is certainly your right. Others may disagree with your interpretation and find it prestigious-that is their right. However, the point of this article seems to be that Larry needed a few more dimes in his purse, so he wrote some bullshit, got it published and received payment. No other purpose…

    • larry Horist

      Mike f .. i am sure those on the left — especially the recipients — consider it a prestigious award. Obviously the scarecrow loved the diploma even if it did not indicate any special achievement. You ignorantly insult my motivation. Back at you. What motives you to write all the inane crap you write — and you do not even get paid? I have two motivations. First and foremost to inform and persuade people — and yes, to get paid. Lucky me. You achieve neither So, what keeps you chained to your computer?

      • Mike f

        Larry, Obviously I enjoy pointing out your ignorance. It happens every time I respond to one of your tomes. The take away here is “who the hell cares about what you think about the Pulitzer Prize?” Obviously very few…

        • larry Horist

          Mike f … LOL … You proclaim that you enjoy pointing out my ignorance in answer to my question about your motivation to respond as often and in the matter you do. If that is your only motivation, it is pitiful. Good God! Get a life. And your claim to be enjoying pointing out my ignorance, when you seem to be displaying your own. Not to mention you arrogant omniscience — presuming to know what other think of my expressed opinion on the Pulitzer. But I do now understand that all the crap you put out is to make yourself feel good by your own personal accounting. You write for an audience of one. To that I say “enjoy.”

          • Mike f

            Yes Larry, I do feel good pointing out your ignorance-if just one of your readers realizes that your words are uninformed BS, then I have been successful! Have a nice day!

          • larry Horist

            Mike f … LMAO I get a real kick out of your baseless, factless moronic insults. You are the antithesis of intelligent dialogue — and I honestly doubt you change a single opinion regarding what I write. You might be more credible if you would try to deal with the subject of the commentaries in an intelligent manner instead of mad dog attacks on the author. But I fear that is beyond your pay grade.

  3. frank stetson

    ” Good God! Get a life.”

    Says the guy with knotted knickers over the Pulitzer.

  4. JPop

    If I was a writer (fiction or jornalist) I’d care more about people liking my work. Awards I can leave it, the gatherings for the award ceremonies are just back-slapping circle jerks (especially true now a days).

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