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."
Right-wing media outlets have used misleading voter fraud stories to stoke fears of rampant voter fraud in the months leading up to the 2014 midterm elections. But experts state that voter fraud in the U.S. is virtually non-existent and that voter ID laws would actually disenfranchise voters.
As strict voter ID laws are put into effect ahead of the midterm elections, recent judicial opinions and social science studies continue to poke holes in right-wing media's defense of voter suppression.
From the September 21 edition of Fox News' The Journal Editorial Report:
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Fox's Paul Gigot today claimed that Mitt Romney's tax plan was not overly friendly to the wealthy because it would eliminate deductions on the rich. But Gigot's claim is pure speculation, since Romney has said that he will not release specifics as to what deductions would be eliminated under his tax plan before the election.
On ABC's This Week, Fox News host and Wall Street Journal editor Paul Gigot claimed Romney's tax plan was not regressive because it it will "eliminate deductions" on "the well-to-do" and attacked the Tax Policy Center's analysis, which found that his plan would reduce the tax burden on the wealthy and increase it on middle-income taxpayers, as "made on false assumptions."
The Tax Policy Center and FactCheck.org have both found it impossible to concoct a revenue-neutral tax plan based on Romney's desire to dramatically reduce marginal income tax rates without increasing the tax burden on middle-income taxpayers. They have been hindered in their efforts because, as FactCheck.org noted, while Romney has said he will pay for his tax cuts by reducing tax deductions and credits, "he has steadfastly refused to say which tax preferences would be cut or reduced."
Recently, conservative media have been pushing for Israel or the United States to launch a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, in some cases justifying an attack by claiming that Iran is on the verge of acquiring a nuclear weapon. In the context of Fox's efforts to beat the drums of war, Fox News national security analyst KT McFarland distorted comments by Secretary of Defense and former CIA director Leon Panetta to claim that "Iran will have a nuclear weapon in a year or sooner." (Panetta actually said, "The consensus is that, if they decided to do it, it would probably take them about a year to be able to produce a bomb and then possibly another one to two years in order to put it on a deliverable vehicle of some sort in order to deliver that weapon.")
Contrary to what conservatives claim, however, there are significant questions about whether Iran is planning to build nuclear weapons at all. Indeed, 2007 and 2011 National Intelligence Estimates found no conclusive evidence that Iran is even trying to build a bomb. In January 31 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reiterated the fact that the U.S. intelligence committee does not have evidence to say that Iran is trying to build a bomb.
But there is another good reason to have some skepticism when conservatives warn that Iran is on the verge of having a nuclear weapon: they have been warning that Iran is months, a year, or at most two years away from the bomb for years. Here are some examples:
Fox News has claimed that TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline would create somewhere between 50,000 and a million jobs. In fact, even TransCanada acknowledges that the total jobs created would be far fewer, and an independent report has found that the project could actually destroy more jobs than it creates through higher fuel costs and environmental damage.
Slate's Jack Shafer raises a good point in suggesting exeuctives at the Wall Street Journal editorial page explain themselves and the defensive essay they published last month, lashing out at Rupert Murdoch's critics amidst the News Corp. phone-hacking meltdown. The screed also defended the Journal's former publisher, suggesting he was no way involved in the British scandal.
Additional hacking revelations this week though, now suggest almost everything in the Journal attack piece was off the mark.
Superficially, the Journal's defense of Les Hinton, the newspaper's former publisher, appears to have been especially wrong [emphasis added]:
In his resignation letter, Mr. Hinton said he knew nothing about wide-scale hacking and had testified truthfully to Parliament in 2007 and 2009. We have no reason to doubt him, especially based on our own experience working for him.
See, Journal editorial writers have worked with Hinton. He was their colleague. Therefore they believed Hinton's version of hacking events.
The problem, as Shafer explains, is that a recently revealed 2007 letter from Clive Goodman, a central player in the News of the World hacking scandal, suggests Hinton, who oversaw Murdoch's tabloid before becoming the Journal publisher, was informed about widespread hacking activities at News Corp.
We eagerly await a follow-up editorial from the Journal.
From the July 2 edition of Fox News' Journal Editorial Report:
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From the May 23 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:
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The right-wing Lynde & Harry Bradley Foundation has announced that conservative media figures Michael Barone and Paul Gigot are recipients of this year's $250,000 "Bradley Prizes for outstanding achievement."
According to a press release from the Foundation:
The 2010 Bradley Prize recipients are: Michael Barone, Senior Political Analyst for The Washington Examiner, and Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; Paul A. Gigot, Editorial Page Editor of The Wall Street Journal, and winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in Commentary; Bradley A. Smith, Josiah H. Blackmore II/Shirley M. Nault Designated Professor of Law at Capital University, and a former member of the Federal Election Commission; and John B. Taylor, Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics, Stanford University, and the George P. Schultz Senior Fellow in Economics, the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace.
"These accomplished and respected individuals are being recognized for achievements that are consistent with the mission statement of the Foundation, including the promotion of liberal democracy, democratic capitalism, and a vigorous defense of American institutions," said Michael W. Grebe, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Bradley Foundation.
The awardees were selected based on nominations solicited from more than 100 prominent individuals and chosen by a Selection Committee, which included Terry Considine, Martin Feldstein, Robert P. George, Michael W. Grebe (Bradley Prizes Committee Chairman), Charles Krauthammer, Dennis Kuester, Dianne J. Sehler, Abigail Thernstrom and George F. Will.
Not familiar with the Bradley Foundation?
The right-wing foundation shells out tens-of-millions of dollars each year to a slew of right-wing causes and individuals according to a review of the its IRS filings at Conservative Transparency, a project of our partner organization, Media Matters Action Network.
Who knew that pushing conservative misinformation so aggressively could be so profitable? Okay, stupid question.
Over the past week, Fox News figures have repeatedly asserted that emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia that critics have dubiously claimed undermine the scientific consensus on climate change were "leaked" -- citing no evidence for their claim -- or have described those emails as having been "revealed," "uncovered," or "discovered." In fact, CRU has stated that the emails were stolen from CRU's servers by one or more hackers.
Fox News hosts, reporters, and contributors have repeatedly provided or echoed the claims of only opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would give workers the right to form or join a union if a majority of workers sign a card stating they want to unionize. Absent from numerous reports and discussions on Fox News is the argument made by proponents of EFCA that under the current system, employers often fire union supporters and pressure employees to vote against unionizing.
In an email to readers encouraging recipients to read the National Journal article on the magazine's 2007 vote ratings, the National Journal Group wrote: "In 2004, President Bush invoked Senator John Kerry's liberal Vote Ratings score repeatedly on the campaign trail and at their head-to-head debates. We anticipate similar attention for our Vote Ratings across the 2008 election cycle." Numerous media did follow suit and tout the Journal's 2003 rating of Kerry. And once again, the media are giving the 2007 ratings the "similar attention" the National Journal Group anticipated -- despite the Journal's acknowledgment that the methodology it used to rate Kerry was flawed.
On Fox News' The Journal Editorial Report, Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor Daniel Henninger discussed the announcement that American and Japanese research teams discovered, in the words of the senior American scientist, a "new way to trick skin cells into acting like embryos" by "reprogram[ming] skin cells into multipurpose stem cells without harming embryos." Henninger said: "Basically, the controversy is over. And I think, in retrospect, we should say something on behalf of, say, [President] George Bush, who vetoed that stem-cell bill." However, the senior American scientist wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that the new developments "[f]ar from vindicat[e]" the Bush administration's policy "of withholding federal funds from many of those working to develop potentially lifesaving embryonic stem cells."