The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Now it's a press shakedown from the Ukrainians!

Earlier today, I had a piece on two examples of ethnic lobbying resulting in press self-censorship.

Now, the Ukrainians have made progress in achieving something vaguely similar. According to the NY Daily News (June 11), the Ukrainian National Association has been campaigning to get the Pulitzer board to withdraw the 1932 prize given to Walter Duranty, reporter for the NY Times - who else? - for reporting the USSR under the tender care of his best mate, Uncle Joe Stalin:
Duranty earned the prize for stories about the Soviet dictator's five-year plan that were published in 1931 - before millions perished in the Stalin-engineered famine that ravaged Ukraine. Duranty denied in reports for The Times that there was a famine.

Now, the piece says,
A subcommittee of the Pulitzer board is reviewing the 1932 award won by...Duranty...Specifically, the board said yesterday, it is responding to complaints from those who want the Pulitzer revoked..

In case you were wondering, according to this, the 2000 Census registered 862,000-odd Ukrainian-Americans. There's no information on the page about, say, Congressional Districts in which they might have useful numbers, though there is, it seems, a Congressional Ukrainian Caucus [1].

According to the News, the Pulitzer board considered the issue before, in 1990 [2], but
it decided unanimously against withdrawing a prize "awarded in a different era and under different circumstances."

The important point, of course, is not the fantasies of Duranty, but the fact that the a body supposedly charged with some responsibility for fostering independence and integrity in the media (by awarding prizes to those who demonstrate such qualities, amongst others) should be doing kow-tow to an interest-group intent on, it not rewriting history, then, at least, putting its own ideological spin on it.

Which, of course, that group is perfectly entitled to do. However, from the representatives of the erstwhile owner of the New York World, the proper response would have been - a Bronx cheer.

[Link via Romanesko]

  1. As there should be: there is, after all, an Armenian Caucus (my piece of March 17) for only about 320,000 Armenian-Americans!

  2. Though whether as a result of an ethnic shakedown isn't made clear.

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