You wonder if the Pulitzer committee saw anything ironic in bestowing an award to a writer who attacked an outfit devoted to fact checking. Senior Editorial Writer Joseph Rago at The Wall Street Journal won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing yesterday. Here's a sample of Rago's distinguished writing:
So the watchdog news outfit called PolitiFact has decided that its "lie of the year" is the phrase "a government takeover of health care."...
PolitiFact's decree is part of a larger journalistic trend that seeks to recast all political debates as matters of lies, misinformation and "facts," rather than differences of world view or principles...PolitiFact is run by the St. Petersburg Times and has marketed itself to other news organizations on the pretense of impartiality. Like other "fact checking" enterprises, its animating conceit is that opinions are what ideologues have, when in reality PolitiFact's curators also have political views and values that influence their judgments about facts and who is right in any debate.
As long as the press corps is nominating "lies of the year," ours goes to the formal legislative title of ObamaCare, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. For a bill that in reality will raise health costs and reduce patient choice, the name recalls Mary McCarthy's famous line about every word being a lie, including "the" and "and."
According to the Pulitzer people, this kind of writing elevates the political dialogue. No wonder large news organizations are skittish about using the word "liar.