P.U.-Litzer Prizes For 2003
by Norman Solomon, AlterNet, December 22, 2003
P.U.-litzer Prizes were established more than a decade ago to
give recognition to the stinkiest media performances of the
As usual, I have conferred with Jeff Cohen, founder of the media
watch group FAIR, to sift through the large volume of entries.
In view of the many deserving competitors, we regret that only
a few can win a P.U.-litzer.
And now, the 12th annual P.U.-litzer Prizes, for the foulest
media performances of 2003:
Mogul of the Year – Lowry Mays, CEO of Clear Channel
While some broadcasters care about their programming, the CEO
of America's biggest radio company (with more than 1,200 stations)
admits he cares only about the ads. The Clear Channel boss told
Fortune magazine in March: "If anyone said we were in the
radio business, it wouldn't be someone from our company. We're
not in the business of providing news and information. We're
not in the business of providing well-researched music. We're
simply in the business of selling our customers products."
Iraq Prize – Tom Brokaw
Interviewing a military analyst as U.S. jet bombers headed to
Baghdad on the first day of the Iraq war, NBC anchor Brokaw
declared: "Admiral McGinn, one of the things that we don't
want to do is to destroy the infrastructure of Iraq, because
in a few days we're going to own that country."
More You Watch, The Less You Know" Prize – Fox News Channel
According to a University of Maryland study, most Americans
who get their news from commercial TV harbored at least one
of three "misperceptions" about the Iraq war: that
weapons of mass destruction had been discovered in Iraq, that
evidence closely linking Iraq to Al Qaeda had been found, or
that world opinion approved of the U.S. invasion. Fox News viewers
were the most confused about key facts, with 80 percent embracing
at least one of those misperceptions. The study found a correlation
between being misinformed and being supportive of the war.
It with the Pentagon" Award – CNN
A month after the invasion of Iraq began, CNN executive Eason
Jordan admitted on his network's "Reliable Sources"
show (April 20) that CNN had allowed U.S. military officials
to help screen its on-air analysts: "I went to the Pentagon
myself several times before the war started and met with important
people there and said, for instance – 'At CNN, here are the
generals we're thinking of retaining to advise us on the air
and off about the war' – and we got a big thumbs-up on all of
them. That was important."
Times for the 'Liberal' Media" Award – ABC News
Over the years, ABC correspondent John Stossel became known
for one-sided, often-inaccurate reporting on behalf of his pro-corporate,
"greed is good" ideology. He boasted that his on-air
job was to "explain the beauties of the free market,"
received lecture fees from corporate pressure groups, and even
spoke on Capitol Hill against consumer-protection regulation.
In May of this year, when Stossel was promoted to co-anchor
of ABC's "20/20," a network insider told TV Guide:
"These are conservative times. ... The network wants somebody
to match the times."
Donald" Prize – CBS's Lesley Stahl, ABC's Peter Jennings
On the day news broke about Saddam Hussein's capture, Stahl
and Jennings each interviewed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
In step with their mainstream media colleagues, both failed
to ask about Rumsfeld's cordial 1983 meeting with Hussein in
Baghdad on behalf of the Reagan administration that opened up
strong diplomatic and military ties between the U.S. government
and the dictator that lasted through seven years of his worst
Groupie Prize – Katie Couric of NBC's "Today" Show
"Well, Commander Thompson," said Couric on April 3,
in the midst of the invasion carnage, "thanks for talking
with us at this very early hour out there. And I just want you
to know, I think Navy SEALs rock."
Oblige Occupation Award – Thomas Friedman, New York Times
In a Nov. 30 piece, Times columnist Friedman gushed that "this
war (in Iraq) is the most important liberal, revolutionary U.S.
democracy-building project since the Marshall Plan." He
lauded the war as "one of the noblest things this country
has ever attempted abroad." Friedman did not mention the
estimated 112 billion barrels of oil in Iraq ... or the continuous
deceptions that led to the "noble" enterprise.
Solomon is co-author of
"Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You."