A four-part series in the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) documents major lapses in journalistic standards in how establishment media pillars, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, reported on alleged Trump-Russia collusion ("Russiagate).
The Times and Post were both awarded Pulitzer Prizes for their subsequently discredited reports.
Following the CJR's report, the Pulitzer panel which awarded those prizes has decided to clam up.
In response to a request for comment on the CJR series, Pulitzer Prize Administrator Majorie Miller wrote, "Due to pending litigation regarding these matters, I am not able to comment on the story."
The "pending litigation" Miller mentioned is likely a lawsuit filed by former President Donald Trump. After the Pulitzer board had initially stood by giving the awards to the Post and Times, Trump — the central target of the narrative, which grew out of opposition research commissioned by his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton — filed a defamation lawsuit against them in December.
Trump wrote in a Truth Social post:
"The Pulitzer Board should have long ago rescinded awards given to the Washington Compost (known to some as the Washington Post) & the Failing NY Times for their fake stories on the Russia, Russia, Russia Hoax. However, Pulitzer refuses to do the right thing! The Hoax has now been further exposed by the devastating, irrefutable piece in the Columbia Journalism Review, and Pulitzer has no comment. I am suing the Pulitzer Board to set the record straight and continue fighting for TRUTH in America!"
The 19-member Pulitzer Prize board, which awarded the prizes, was comprised of various journalists, professors and writers, including several current or former staff members of the New York Times and Washington Post.
Just The News reported on Feb. 3 that it had reached out to 13 members of the panel "to find out if the CJR exposé had prompted second thoughts about the Russiagate prizes. Neil Brown, president of the Poynter Institute had an auto reply set, saying he was out of the office, while Steve Coll, former dean of Columbia Journalism School, had an auto-reply saying he is on sabbatical. None of the other board members replied."
The Pulitzer board had reportedly agreed to conduct a review of the awards, but concluded, "No passages or headlines, contentions or assertions in any of the winning submissions were discredited by facts that emerged subsequent to the conferral of the prizes."
Trump's lawsuit states: "On the facts known to Defendants at the time these reviews were allegedly conducted, it would have been impossible that a single objective, thorough and independent review would have reached such a conclusion, much less two. Defendants knew this and published the Pulitzer Statement anyway."
Despite the CJR exposé, The Washington Post continues to stand by its "reporting," with Vice President of Communications Shani George declaring: "We are proud of our coverage of the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 campaign, including our stories that were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for furthering the nation's understanding of this consequential period. We approached this line of coverage with care and a great sense of responsibility. On the few occasions in which new information emerged that caused us to reexamine past reporting, we did so forthrightly."
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