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Announcing the P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2001
14 December 2001
The P.U.-litzer Prizes were established a decade ago to give recognition to the stinkiest media performances of the year.
As each winter arrives, I confer with Jeff Cohen of the media watch group FAIR to sift through the large volume of entries. This year, the competition was especially fierce. We regret that only a few journalists can win a P.U.-litzer.
And now, the tenth annual P.U.-litzer Prizes, for the foulest media performances of 2001:
"Love a Man in a Uniform' Award - Cokie Roberts of ABC News "This Week"
'Protecting Viewers From the News' Prize - CNN Chair Walter Isaacson
"It seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties or hardship in Afghanistan," said Isaacson, in a memo ordering his staff to accompany any images of Afghan civilian suffering with rhetoric that U.S. bombing is retaliation for the Taliban harboring terrorists. As if the American public may be too feeble-minded to remember Sept. 11, the CNN chief explained: "You want to make sure that when they see civilian suffering there, it's in the context of a terrorist attack that caused enormous suffering i n the United States."
'Protecting Readers From The News' Prize - Panama City News Herald
An October internal memo from the daily in Panama City, Florida, warned its editors: "DO NOT USE photos on Page 1A showing civilian casualties from the U.S. war on Afghanistan. Our sister paper ... has done so and received hundreds and hundreds of threatening e-mails... DO NOT USE wire stories which lead with civilian casualties from the U.S. war on Afghanistan. They should be mentioned further down in the story. If the story needs rewriting to play down the civilian casualties, DO IT."
'Best Embrace of Terrorist Mindset' - columnist Ann Coulter
This category had many candidates - pundits apparently trying to sound as fanatical as the terrorists they were denouncing - but it was won by Coulter, who wrote in September: "We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."
Runner-up: Thomas Woodrow and The Washington Times, for a column headlined "Time to Use the Nuclear Option," which asserted: "At a bare minimum, tactical nuclear capabilities should be used against the bin Laden camps in the desert of Afghanistan. To do less would be rightly seen by the poisoned minds that orchestrated these attacks as cowardice."
'Tortuous Punditry' - Jonathan Alter of Newsweek
In the Nov. 5 edition, under the headline "Time to Think About Torture," Newsweek's Alter wrote: "In this autumn of anger, even a liberal can find his thoughts turning to ... torture. OK, not cattle prods or rubber hoses, at least not here in the United States, but something to jump-start the stalled investigation of the greatest crime in American history.... Some people still argue that we needn't rethink any of our old assumptions about law enforcement, but they're hopelessly 'Sept. 10' -- living in a country that no longer exists."
'Child Warnography' Award - Bob Edwards, NPR News
'Wild About That Madman' Award - Thomas Friedman of The New York Times
'History Is For Wimps' Prize - Newsweek
'Blame Certain Americans' First Prize - televangelist/pundits Jerry
Falwell and Pat Robertson
'America United Except For Those Decadent Traitors' Award - Andrew
Sullivan of The New Republic and Sunday Times of London
'Sheer O'Reillyness' Award - Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly and Catherine Seipp of MediaWeek