Pulitzers for blow jobs.

I’m not sure that Joseph Pulitzer would be proud of this year’s winners.

The Detroit Free Press:

For a distinguished example of reporting on significant issues of local concern, demonstrating originality and community expertise, in print or online or both, Ten thousand dollars $10,000.

Awarded to Detroit Free Press Staff, and notably Jim Schaefer and M.L. Elrick, for their uncovering of a pattern of lies by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick that included denial of a sexual relationship with his female chief of staff, prompting an investigation of perjury that eventually led to jail terms for the two officials.

via The Pulitzer Prizes | Citation.

and the New York Times:

For a distinguished example of local reporting of breaking news, with special emphasis on the speed and accuracy of the initial coverage, presented in print or online or both, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

Awarded to The New York Times Staff for its swift and sweeping coverage of a sex scandal that resulted in the resignation of Gov. Eliot Spitzer, breaking the story on its Web site and then developing it with authoritative, rapid-fire reports.

via The Pulitzer Prizes | Citation.

Two stories about sex. Not exactly what the man set out to do as a journalist interested in a press that was supposed to give us the tools to a stronger Republic:

In May 1904, writing in The North American Review in support of his proposal for the founding of a school of journalism, Pulitzer summarized his credo: “Our Republic and its press will rise or fall together. An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to know the right and courage to do it, can preserve that public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery. A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself. The power to mould the future of the Republic will be in the hands of the journalists of future generations.”

via The Pulitzer Prizes | Pulitzer biography.

Rome fell when those in power became more concerned with their bacchanalia than their democracy. It would seem the United States is on the same path.

My father said that Bill Clinton blew it when first asked about his extra-marital expeditions. The answer, according to Pops, was to face his questioners and say “Gentlemen don’t tell, and gentlemen don’t ask, when it comes to these matters” and stopped the proceedings right there.

If being moral had anything to do with being elected in the first place, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in. In the end, I’m less interested in who the politicians are having sex with- than with whom they’ve been screwing wholesale, of which you, gentle reader, and I, have been on the receiving end, without lube, for quite some time.

As long as this is the pinnacle of journalism- we’re going to continue to get screwed.

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16 Responses

  1. Larkin April 21, 2009 / 12:43 pm
    David, you need to read the pieces before you judge. Also, the stories weren’t about sex, per se, they were about lying. Not the same thing. 

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  2. Jen Kuhn April 21, 2009 / 1:05 pm
    David,
    Thanks!  You obviously understand the big picture.  With all that’s happened in our country over the last 8 years, I’d also hope for something more substantial.  And if the articles were also about “lying”…whoop dee doo!  We had a president do that for quite some time…cost some lives…and yet if he’d just had sex with someone we might have heard more about it.

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  3. David Esrati April 21, 2009 / 1:11 pm

    Larkin- They lied to us about WMDs. That bothers me.
    It’s nobody’s business what we do between consenting adults with our clothes off.
    That isn’t journalism.
    I didn’t invite the media into my bedroom as an observer. I don’t think most of us would.
    It’s time to get back to where the serious screwing is taking place.

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  4. Larkin April 21, 2009 / 1:13 pm
    Unless you’re a journalist, Jen, and unless you’ve read the pieces referenced your comments are as knee-jerk and vacuous as David’s. 

    I am disappointed to see you take this kind of right-wing blogger approach, David. Your posts are generally more thoughtful and this kind of intemperate “off the cuff” response won’t serve you well in office. (Look for the profile on Friday, btw.) 

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  5. Larkin April 21, 2009 / 1:32 pm
    David, read the pieces and get back to me. 

    Until then, hold your tongue. 

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  6. Frank Coleman April 21, 2009 / 1:34 pm
    The intent of journalism is to inform the citizenry and help preserve democracy by being a “watchdog” of the political process.

    I have found that journalism is degrading into sheer entertainment. The lines between reality and entertainment are sufficiently blurred.

    It’s a sad commentary on the industry I am training to become part of.

    David, America is Rome all over again. People are more concerned about “American Idol” than they are social issues. Instead of gladiator fights, we now have UFC matches, etc.

    Unfortunately, journalists are are preoccupied with “hot topics” and scandal than truly keeping us aware.

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  7. David Lauri April 21, 2009 / 2:12 pm
    I can say from personal experience one should always use lube.  It makes the experience infinitely more enjoyable.

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  8. Larkin April 21, 2009 / 2:29 pm
    It just amazes me that people are so keen to pass judgment without ever reading the stories. That’s become part of the American way, too, I suppose. 

    Except David Lauri, of course. 

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  9. John Ise April 21, 2009 / 3:02 pm
    Down here in Miami, Miami Herald photojournalist Patrick Farrell won the Pulitzer for his work covering Haiti after the floods caused by successive hurricanes.  Click on link and think how lucky we are: http://www.miamiherald.com/1401/story/1008735.html

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  10. David Esrati April 21, 2009 / 3:09 pm

    @Larkin
    I’ll give you the Detroit story wasn’t all about blow-jobs. However, don’t tell me the Spitzer one wasn’t.

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  11. Larkin April 21, 2009 / 4:49 pm
    David, you have to remember that it was through the IRS that Al Capone was finally apprehended.  The work that went into breaking the Eliot Spitzer story was phenomenal. It didn’t matter finally what was the substantive “reason” for toppling that self-righteous pompous little prig from atop his column, it was that he was toppled. The investigative reporting that made that possible deserved its accolades. 

    Have you read the stories yet? ;-)  

    The Detroit Free Press website has a great video of the newsroom after the Pullet Surprise was announced. The Free Press is an interesting contrast and compare to the DDN. They are the paper of the end of world as we know it, and yet they celebrate their blighted town even as they report its demise. Lots of lessons there to be learned, lots of “bigger picture” to see.  

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  12. Larkin April 21, 2009 / 5:09 pm
    Also, since I’m in such a cranky mood today…. the title of today’s blog entry implies an exchange of sexual favors for the most auspicious prize in Journalism. I know that wasn’t accidental. I know that you know that my mere nomination for two of those prizes is something I consider the pinnacle of my career, and thus, I teeter somewhere along the spectrum between hurt and offended.

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  13. David Esrati April 21, 2009 / 5:20 pm

    @Larkin- I read what was on the Detroit site-
    The Spitzer case- I read while it was happening.
    Yes, we elect bozos. Yes, they deserve to be toppled- but, affairs aren’t news, damn it.
    We would have run a lot of people out of office over the years if they were- Jefferson and Kennedy come to mind.

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  14. Jeff April 21, 2009 / 7:57 pm
    Lots of lessons there to be learned, lots of “bigger picture” to see. 

    Could you elaborate on that re the ‘Freep.

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  15. Greg Hunter April 22, 2009 / 1:31 am
    I did not read them but I will take umbrage with this statement;

    <blockquote>It didn’t matter finally what was the substantive “reason” for toppling that self-righteous pompous little prig from atop his column, it was that he was toppled.</blockquote>

    Wow is all I have to say as it appeared to me that Spitzer was one of the only ones that would have had the balls and the brains to call out the banking industry, but he “conveniently” went down as the bailouts were unfolding.  I find it very coincidental myself.    Check is most recent article on slate about <a href=”http://www.slate.com/id/2214407/”>AIG payments to cover Goldman Sachs</a>

    I would also contend that from my own experience that high pressure situations have a tendency to build up a certain amount of tension that must be worked off, which allows one to focus on the subject matter at hand.  If one is not wired like this then maybe one would not understand the Mr. Spitzers and Mr. Clintons of the world; but I do!  Sure they can take matters into their own hands, but if I could afford it or persuade it, why not?  Should I be asked about it?  Only by those participating in the act, and no one else.  Now should I give credit for helping me at this critical juncture of my job performance, I say absolutely.  And do not give me the wife business, if she actually understood she would be there in the first place.

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