Paul Gigot, Wall Street Journal editorial page editor since 2001, was named chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board on Monday. Under Gigot, the Journal editorial page has had several ethical lapses and has been a regular source of misinformation on climate science, health care, the Iraq War, and a host of other issues.
Pulitzer administrator Mike Pride told Media Matters a new board chair is chosen annually and the board member or members who have served nine years of their 10-year term normally get the post.
Gigot, who is going into his 10th and final year on the board, was the only member in that position this year, Pride said.
"It is really relatively automatic and nine years on the board give you a greater understanding in the way things work."
Pride, a former board member from 1999 to 2008, left in April 2008 after one year as co-chair with Joann Byrd. He is also the former editor of Concord Monitor. Pride became board administrator in September 2014.
But while Gigot's appointment is fairly routine, his position is one of power and influence over the board that distributes the most coveted awards in journalism, Pride said.
"The chair has some powers for sure in deciding which things we emphasize and which things we focus on," Pride said, later adding, "It's not a weak position at all, it's a strong position."
"He is on all the committees and is really involved in everything."
Gigot's appointment comes at a time when the Pulitzer Prizes have undergone sharp changes in recent years. In 2008, the categories were opened up to allow online-only entries, a major shift for the prizes that had previously been limited to newspapers.
And this year marked the first time magazine entries were allowed, in two categories. As board chair, Gigot can influence what changes are made or not, Pride said.
"The chair has a big effect on that so if the chair decides to slow down something the process will slow down," he explained. "If the chair decides to move faster, it will move along. It is a person that helps to determine the future of the prizes."
NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen called news of Gigot's new position "strange," noting that the Journal's newsroom "often rolls its eyes at the editorial page's evidentiary standards."
In 2011, Women's Wear Daily reported that the Journal's newsroom "often has objections to Paul Gigot's editorial page." The New York Observer noted that "under editorial-page editor Paul Gigot, opinion writers freely dispute the facts reported in the rest of the paper," while "news staffers disavow the contributions from Mr. Gigot's side."
One staffer told the Observer in 2006 that the editorial section is "wrong all the time" and that "they lack credibility to the point that the emperor has no clothes."
Rosen also noted it should "concern journalists" that the Journal editorial page under Gigot "has been a leader in the manufacture of doubt about climate change." As evidence, he linked to a Journal editorial comparing modern climate research to the party dogma of the Soviet Union.
The Journal's editorial page has also been criticized for ethical lapses under Gigot. In the run-up to the 2012 election, the paper routinely failed to disclose columnist Karl Rove's ties to political organizations acting to prevent President Obama's re-election and published at least 23 different op-eds from various Mitt Romney advisers without disclosing their blatant conflict of interest. (The paper eventually added a mention of Rove's political groups to his bio.)
In addition to its climate coverage and ethical problems, Gigot's editorial page has misled on several issues over the years, including electoral politics, the labor movement, health care, and the economy.
The Journal editorial page's low point under Gigot was probably its role in furthering falsehoods in the run-up to the Iraq War. The Journal routinely promoted the idea that Saddam Hussein either had -- or was on the verge of obtaining or producing -- weapons of mass destruction. A characteristic Wall Street Journal editorial from 2003 claimed that the coalition force would find "nasty weapons and the cheering Iraqis...when it liberates the country."
From the May 5 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:
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From the May 4 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Clinton Cash author and Republican activist Peter Schweizer acknowledged that, contrary to earlier reporting, there is no similar book in the works on the personal finances and policy decisions of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a claim journalists have previously cited to legitimize Schweizer's forthcoming book on the Clintons.
There are at least 20 documented errors, fabrications, and distortions in Schweizer's forthcoming book Clinton Cash, where the conservative author speculates about allegedly unethical ties between the Clinton Foundation and actions Hillary Clinton purportedly made as secretary of state. His allegations of impropriety by the Clintons and their family foundation have been picked apart by ABC News, BuzzFeed, MSNBC, NBC News, and ThinkProgress, among several other news agencies, and Schweizer has even been accused by one of his sources of taking comments "badly out of context" in hopes of slighting the Clinton family.
Bloomberg Politics reported on April 23 that in contrast to the "left-wing clamor that Schweizer is simply out to get Hillary Clinton," "Schweizer is working on a similar investigation of Jeb Bush's finances that he expects to publish this summer." Politico and CNN subsequently reported this would be a "book" on Bush.
But days later, Schweizer admitted that no similar book on Jeb Bush will be published. On the May 3 edition of Fox News' MediaBuzz, host Howard Kurtz asked about accusations that the book is "pursuing an agenda" based on his conservative political affiliations and activism. Schweizer acknowledged that while he's been researching Bush's finances, there are no plans to publish a book similar to Clinton Cash:
KURTZ: To be fair, you have been digging into Jeb Bush's finances --
KURTZ: -- So the Clintons aren't the only ones you're going to be looking at. But that's not going to result in a book, as I understand.
A spokesperson for Schweizer's current publisher, HarperCollins, previously told Media Matters that it has no plans to publish a book on Bush's complex finances. Instead, it expects Schweizer to issue a follow-up report at his far-right think tank, the Government Accountability Institute.
See the full segment here:
From the April 29 edition of Comedy Central's The Daily Show:
Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer's conspiracy that Bill Clinton's speaking fees influenced State Department grants in Haiti has fallen apart.
In his forthcoming book, the Republican activist and consultant alleges that Hillary Clinton's State Department "was quick to send taxpayer money" through a program called the Haiti Mobile Money Initiative (HMMI) to the company of Irish billionaire Denis O'Brien, who had allegedly helped arrange paid speeches for Bill Clinton that amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars around the same time. But Schweizer's allegation is undermined by numerous errors.
BuzzFeed reports today that "Bill Clinton was not paid for several speeches as reported in a forthcoming book about his family's foundation, spokespeople for the former president said."
From the April 24 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Fox News baselessly suggested that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally approved a deal that eventually gave the Russian government ownership of U.S. uranium mines to benefit a Clinton Foundation donor. But Clinton reportedly had no personal involvement in the deal, which was approved by representatives of nine U.S. agencies after a rigorous review process.
On the April 4 edition of Special Report, host Bret Baier previewed his upcoming hour-long special on discredited conservative author Peter Schweizer's forthcoming book Clinton Cash, in which he accuses Bill and Hillary Clinton of influence peddling with foreign governments in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation and speaking fees. The segment focused on Schweizer's allegations regarding Clinton's purported role in approving the sale of the uranium mining company Uranium One to the Russian government.
New York Times reporter Jo Becker, whose own reporting on the Uranium One story has been criticized by the Clinton campaign for burying "original reporting that debunks the allegation that then-Secretary Clinton played any role in the review of the sale," also appeared in the segment. Both the Times and Fox reportedly "made arrangements for exclusive access" to the book.
During the preview, Schweizer detailed the sale of Uranium One to the Russian state corporation Rosatom. He and Schweizer then had the following exchange:
BAIER: Now, does Secretary Clinton factor into this?
SCHWEIZER: For that deal to go through, it needs federal government approval and one of those people that has to approve that deal is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Baier concluded: "So what this amounts to, in the end, is a Russian company essentially controlled by Vladimir Putin, will now be in charge of a substantial portion of American uranium. Russia sends uranium to its client state, Iran. So American uranium could well be sent to the very nation we're negotiating with to try to slow its ability to develop a nuclear weapon. Thus, we see how far-reaching the effect of the Clinton blur, as Schweizer puts it, can be."
But Baier's preview omitted important context to misleadingly suggest that Clinton personally approved the Russian purchase. According to Time, which received this chapter of Schweizer's book in advance, the State Department's role in approving the deal was part of an extensive bureaucratic process, and Schweizer's chapter offers no indication of Hillary Clinton's personal involvement in, or even knowledge of, the deliberations. In fact, Time quotes Jose Hernandez, who as former Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs was involved the deliberations on behalf of the State Department, denying that Clinton was involved in the matter at all.
Moreover, Time pointed out that the "deal's approval was the result of an extensive interagency process that required the assent of at least nine different officials and agencies" through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. According to the report, "State has just one vote on the nine-member committee, which also includes the departments of Defense, Treasury and Energy. Disagreements are traditionally handled at the staff level, and if they are not resolved, they are escalated to deputies at the relevant agencies. If the deputies can't resolve the dispute, the issues can be elevated to the Cabinet Secretary level and, if needed, to the President for a decision. The official chairman of CFIUS is the Treasury Secretary, not the Secretary of State."
Furthermore, the Uranium One deal also had to receive approval from "the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an independent agency outside of the State Department's purview, as well as Utah's nuclear regulator. The deal also received approval from Canada's foreign investment review agency."
Clinton campaign press secretary Brian Fallon has denied any wrongdoing by Clinton and criticized Becker for burying crucial facts from her report "that debunks the allegation that then-Secretary Clinton played any role in the review of the sale."
Relying largely on research from the conservative author of Clinton Cash, today's New York Times alleges that donations to the Clinton Foundation coincided with the U.S. government's 2010 approval of the sale of a company known as Uranium One to the Russian government. Without presenting any direct evidence in support of the claim, the Times story -- like the book on which it is based -- wrongly suggests that Hillary Clinton's State Department pushed for the sale's approval to reward donors who had a financial interest in the deal. Ironically, buried within the story is original reporting that debunks the allegation that then-Secretary Clinton played any role in the review of the sale.
From the April 22 edition of Fox News' On The Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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The House Select Committee on Benghazi reportedly plans to release the findings of its redundant investigation into the terror attacks just in time for the 2016 general election. Fox News fought hard to establish the committee, and has devoted significant airtime attempting to link Benghazi to Hillary Clinton's presidential ambitions.
According to an April 22 Bloomberg report, the Republican-led House Select Committee will release a report "just months before the 2016 presidential election"detailing its ongoing investigation into the September 11, 2012, attacks that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya. Committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) claimed in a statement that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's "decision to seek the presidency of the United States does not and will not impact the work of the committee." A spokesperson for the Benghazi Committee cited "factors beyond the committee's control," including alleged obstruction by the White House, for delaying the release of the inquiry.
Ranking Democrat on the committee Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) responded, accusing House Republicans of targeting Clinton and noting that with the delays, "this investigation is on track to last longer than the investigations of Iran-Contra, the Kennedy assassination, Watergate, and 9/11, and it will squander more than $6 million in taxpayer funds in the process."
The Benghazi Select Committee is the product of a sustained campaign by Fox News and its affiliates to scandalize an American tragedy for political gain. The network's Benghazi Hoax, which Republican Mitt Romney tried and failed to capitalize on during the 2012 election, seems primed to be deployed against Hillary Clinton should she win the Democratic presidential nomination 2016.
From September 2012 to May 2014, a period of 20 months, Fox aired an astounding 1,098 evening and primetime segments dedicated to Benghazi, including several segments calling for the establishment of a special panel or committee to investigate the attacks and their aftermath. 105 of those segments raised the specter of Benghazi as a supposed factor against Hillary Clinton's presidential ambitions.
By November and December of 2014, when a separate GOP-controlled investigation exonerated both Clinton and Obama of culpability for the attacks and their aftermath, Fox News began blasting Republicans on that committee for being "soft on the Obama administration," and called on the newly-formed Benghazi Select Committee to take a stronger stance. And in March 2015, Fox capitalized on a botched Times report on Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email account while serving as secretary of state to revive its Benghazi witch hunt. The network even adopted Benghazi committee Chairman Gowdy's unsubstantiated claim that Clinton may have obscured relevant emails from previous inquiries to hype the need for further investigations.
As Bloomberg notes, the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi have been subject to numerous congressional inquiries by at least seven different committees, as well as an independent review by the State Department. None uncovered any wrong-doing on the part of then-Secretary Clinton, her State Department staff, or members of the Obama administration.
From the April 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the April 21 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:
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From the April 20 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:
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From the April 20 edition of Fox News' The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson:
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Right-wing media are trumpeting a spurious Judicial Watch report claiming that an Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist camp has been set up near the Texas border, allowing ISIS terrorists to be smuggled into the United States, despite the fact that U.S. federal law agencies say the claim is unsubstantiated.
An April 14 report from Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group, claimed that the terrorist group "ISIS is operating a camp just a few miles from El Paso, Texas," and ISIS terrorists are being smuggled "through the porous border," which is being targeted due to "understaffed municipal and country police forces."
Right-wing media outlets quickly echoed the dubious claim, and Fox News host Sean Hannity highlighted the Judicial Watch report on the April 14 edition of his radio show. Hannity read from the report, calling it "a very dangerous story," and stoked fears that Islamic State terrorists are being smuggled into the U.S., saying "we have said so many times for so many years that we need to secure America's borders." Hannity concluded by asking, "what are you going to do about that President Obama, anything?"
But federal law agencies involved with border security have said the Judicial Watch report of Islamic State terrorists near the U.S.-Mexico border is "unverified."
Right-wing media have a history of echoing dubious Judicial Watch reports to incite fear about terrorists crossing the U.S. border. Fox News parroted the group's September 2014 claim that a terrorist attack from the U.S.-Mexico border was "imminent," although the claim was roundly denounced by terrorism experts and rated "mostly false" by Politifact.