We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Today's announcement of the inaugural journalistic losers who won the Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity merits recognition:
First Place: Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Magazine, and Joan Juliet Buck, Author "For their stunning achievements in exemplifying the spirit of Walter Duranty, for their combined use of gumshoe reporting, headline packaging, impeccable timing and fearless dismissal of facts to produce Vogue's 2011 cover story, "Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert."
First Runner Up: Bob Simon, 60 Minutes/CBS "For the gross distortions in his CBS' 60 Minutes episode, "Christians of the Holy Land."
Second Runner Up: Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic "For his unsupported accusation, unfounded claims and multiple blog postings asserting that Trig Palin is not Sarah Palin's own son."
Last April, I wrote that the qualifications for the new Walter Duranty Prize for dishonest reporting that caused great harm should parallel Walter Duranty's infamous career. At least the first and second prize losers who won meet the criteria, but the third place loser who won dates back 4-years, doesn't involve foreign policy or foreign affairs, and -- simply -- is such a disregarded fool that he doesn't even merit being beneath contempt. Further, my suggestion of the fourth qualification, to also honor a journalist who really merits it for courage and insight, was not taken up. Below are the four qualifications that I proposed:
1.In parallel to the reportage by Walter Duranty, the prize for dishonest reporting should be reporting on a foreign country. Walter Duranty’s infamous whitewashing of the starvation and death of millions of Ukrainians in 1932-3 will be hard to exceed, but there are enough terrible instances of widespread state brutality today that journalists who espouse the state line or distort the facts should be the priority.
2.In parallel to the reportage by Walter Duranty, the prize for dishonest reporting should be to a bureau chief for a major news agency, newspaper, or other prominent media, as Walter Duranty was the longtime bureau chief in Moscow for the New York Times. This ties the responsibility directly to the owners of the venue.
3.In parallel to the reportage by Walter Duranty, the prize for dishonest reporting should be the recipient of an award for journalism, as Walter Duranty was of the Pulitzer Prize for his. This ties the responsibility to the journalism profession.
Although it was published some time ago, another valuable reference that counters Duranty's reporting is a book by Tim Tzouliadis, entitled The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia, Penguin Press, 2008. I highly recommend this book. His bibliography of seventeen and a half pages speaks for itself. Of course, any of the titles by Robert Conquest serve as foils to Duranty's "work", if you can call it that. For a superb account by an American gulag survivor, see An American in the Gulag by Alexander Dolgun. Both of these books are sobering but riveting reading. --chuck