David Corn, the Washington bureau chief of the left-wing Mother Jones magazine and website, has won a George Polk Award in Journalism for his story about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s remark about the “47 percent” of Americans who pay no income taxes and would therefore, in his view, be less likely to vote for him. The story relied on a hidden video of Romney addressing an audience at a fundraiser in May 2012.
Corn’s article, while a legitimate bust–Romney never denied the comments–was troubled from the start by accusations that he had failed to release the entire video of Romney’s remarks. Corn promised to release the “full” video, but when it became apparent that there was a jump-cut in the footage, he updated his post at Mother Jones with an explanation that the source had inadvertently turned off the recording device.
Ironically, Mother Jones had previously mocked hidden-camera video investigations by the likes of conservative James O’Keefe, accusing O’Keefe (falsely) of “creating deceptive video smear jobs” in his exposés of the ACORN organization and National Public Radio’s willingness to raise money from Islamist radicals. The Polk award suggests a reversal of mainstream attitudes towards such investigations–as long as they come from the left.
Without denying the underlying news value of Corn’s report, the award continues a pattern of mainstream recognition of left-leaning reporters who do significant damage to a Republican candidate’s prospects. In 2009, Katie Couric won a number of distinctions for her controversial interviews of 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, including the Cronkite Award, the Al Neuharth Award and a variety of other awards.
It is rare that conservative journalists are recognized in the same way–though it is not clear that conservatives apply for such recognition. Investigative series such as the Washington Examiner‘s multi-part exposé of Barack Obama’s Chicago career, “The Obama You Don’t Know“; the Daily Caller’s investigation into Media Matters, the left-wing media pressure group; and other such efforts shed new light on past and present of the Obama left.
Successful exposés by conservative journalists are also less likely to be amplified by the mainstream media, as Corn’s story was. The Washington Post only found its way to reporting on an FBI investigation into Sen. Bob Menendez a month after the news had already appeared; the story was originally broken by conservative reporter Matthew Boyle. The infamous Weinergate scandal nearly slipped through the cracks as well.