- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

ABC News has accused The Center for Public Integrity of claiming full recognition for a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative report that ABC News says it greatly contributed.

ABC News President Ben Sherwood sent a letter on Tuesday to CPI Executive Director Bill Buzenberg, accusing him of taking full credit for a yearlong investigation, led by CPI’s Chris Hamby, even though ABC News says it spent countless hours in collaboration on the report.

“We believe that our reporters … should share in this high honor as they shared in the long months of reporting and producing the stories,” Mr. Sherwood wrote, as reported by Politico.

Jeffrey Schneider, ABC News‘ senior vice president, added: “[CPI] showed a stunning lack of integrity and misled the Pulitzer board with its submission which diminished our work to the point of non-existence.”

Mr. Buzenberg wrote Mr. Sherwood in an lengthy response on Wednesday, which questioned the “honesty and moral uprightness” of ABC News.

ABC is seeking to take credit for a large body of work that it did not produce,” he wrote. “The truth is that ABC did not join the investigation until part-way through, it focused on only one part of a multi-part series, and its reporting was sporadic and almost entirely geared toward the needs of television, not original content for the print series.”

Chris Hamby lived and breathed this investigation almost exclusively for a year,” Mr. Buzenberg continued. “The Center is prepared to show in great detail how little ABC’s Brian Ross and Matt Mosk understood about even the most fundamental concepts and key facts and how they repeatedly turned to Chris to advise them or, in some instances, to do their work for them.”

“We value these sorts of partnerships and were happy to work with ABC,” he said. “But let’s be honest about the contributions of each party.”

CPI and ABC News have shared recognition for the report in the past, which investigates how doctors, lawyers and members of the coal industry conspired to deny black-lung medical benefits to miners.

In March, the Harvard Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting was awarded to both CPI and ABC News reporters, and the pair is in the running for an award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Next month, the White House Correspondents Association will honor “The Center for Public Integrity, in partnership with ABC News,” Politico reported.

The ABC News president has promised to bring his grievance to the Pulitzer board and CPI’s board of directors.