Thursday, April 20, 2006

Dubious Pulitzers

The Pulitzer committee’s choices this year tell us more about the attitude of the media establishment than the quality of the journalism being honored, Andrew C. McCarthy writes at National Review Online,

“Of course, there are many Pulitzers, and some of them may be richly deserved in the merit-based sense of outstanding reportage and writing. The intention here is to focus narrowly on the ones awarded for what is called ‘Beat Reporting’ and ‘National Reporting,’ but would be better understood as the Prizes for Excellence in the Compromising of National-Security Secrets,” Mr. McCarthy said.

These awards unmistakably announced that organized journalism — the so-called mainstream media — is embarked on a defense of Dana Priest, James Risen, and Eric Lichtblau, he said.

“These are the reporters who, along with their powerful newspapers (respectively, The Washington Post and the New York Times), took it upon themselves to decide what national-security secrets were not important enough to keep confidential in wartime — notwithstanding that those secrets (viz., how our intelligence community houses high-level al Qaeda detainees and how it searches for potential terrorists operating within the U.S.) are designed to keep Americans from getting killed by the enemy,” he said.

With these Pulitzers, organized journalism is attempting to inoculate its operatives, who arguably have broken the law, Mr. McCarthy said.

“Yet, to criticize, let alone to indict, the conduct of the reporters and their newspapers, you must now rebuke the entire community that has lauded them,” he said. “A community which still profoundly influences the public narrative of events, and which has just sent you a patent signal that they intend to fight you every step of the way.”

Back on his feet

Conservative pundit Armstrong Williams, who was more or less drummed out of Washington media last year after it was revealed he took $240,000 from the Education Department to promote the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind program, has rejuvenated his career in New York.

Mr. Williams has been co-hosting “Drive Time Dialogue With Armstrong Williams and Sam Greenfeld” on WWRL-AM (1600), since March 2005, a couple of months after the story broke about his dealings with the Education Department.

“Starting on Monday, because of the success of the show, we’re moving to the morning drive time, 6 to 10 a.m.,” Mr. Williams told this column yesterday during a telephone interview, noting that this is “a coveted spot on the radio.”

The radio show, which has been in the 3-to-6 p.m. slot, was “the first media opportunity I had,” and “it’s revived my fortunes,” he said.

“It’s wonderful to have used bad judgment and be punished for it and then for people to forgive and give you another opportunity. And to make something out of the opportunity is even more special,” Mr. Williams said.

Because New Yorkers tend to be a liberal bunch, Mr. Williams said he has to bring his “A-game” every day. However, Mr. Williams said he was surprised to find that the liberals in New York are different from the liberals in Washington.

“They’re far more tolerant and open-minded,” he said.

Mr. Williams said his radio show offers an attractive audience for conservative authors and pundits, and that Washingtonians can hear it on the Internet at

Pressure tactics

It will be deja vu for some members of Congress over the next several weeks, as they’re bombarded with press conferences, rallies, phone calls and other pressure tactics in their districts by the group Americans United.

Last time around, the group was urging them to oppose Social Security personal accounts. This time, AU wants them to extend the May 15 deadline for seniors to sign up for the Medicare prescription-drug benefit and to make major changes to the new drug program.

AU is targeting 48 members of Congress in 18 states — six Senate Republicans, 30 House Republicans and 12 House Democrats.

House Democrat targets include Reps. Lane Evans of Illinois, Allen Boyd and Kendrick B. Meek of Florida, Paul E. Kanjorski and John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, and Harold E. Ford Jr. of Tennessee.

House Republican targets include Reps. Nancy L. Johnson, Rob Simmons and Christopher Shays of Connecticut, Jim Nussle and Jim Leach of Iowa, Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri, Jim Ramstad of Minnesota, and Mike Ferguson and Frank A. LoBiondo of New Jersey.

The six Senate Republicans are Jon Kyl of Arizona, Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, Jim Talent of Missouri, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and Conrad Burns of Montana.

A busy man

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani “continues to add dates to his fundraising tour for Republican candidates as he considers a run for president in 2008,” CNN political editor Mark Preston writes in the Morning Grind column at

“He is scheduled to hold a fundraiser later this month for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), heads to Iowa for several fundraisers including one for Rep. Jim Nussle (R), who is running for governor, next month, and he joined Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) [Tuesday] on the campaign trail. Now, the former New York mayor is scheduled to appear at a May 18 fundraiser for Ralph Reed, the embattled former head of the Christian Coalition, who is running for lieutenant governor of Georgia,” Mr. Preston said.

“Reed has been tangled up in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal that has already produced several guilty pleas, forced Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) to announce his resignation from Congress and is expected to produce more indictments. While Reed has not been charged in any of Abramoff’s misdeeds, his work on behalf of the lobbyist has come under close scrutiny.”

DeLay wins one

A Texas appeals court yesterday upheld a judge’s ruling throwing out a felony conspiracy charge against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Mr. DeLay, who announced this month that he is resigning his congressional seat, still faces a money-laundering charge and another conspiracy charge stemming from the financing of state legislative races in 2002, the Associated Press reports.

A lower court judge dismissed a conspiracy charge against Mr. DeLay in December, agreeing with defense arguments that the conspiracy law did not cover election code violations in 2002; the Legislature amended the law in 2003.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-33285 or

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