Left-Wing Media Smears Jonah Goldberg For What It Calls 'Not Uncommon'

Left-Wing Media Smears Jonah Goldberg For What It Calls 'Not Uncommon'

This MSNBC story by Bill Dedman has been making the rounds to all the left-wing media sites, and opens quite provocatively:

On the dust jacket of his new book, “The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas,” best-selling conservative author and commentator Jonah Goldberg is described as having “twice been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.”

In fact, as Goldberg acknowledged on Tuesday, he has never been a Pulitzer nominee, but is merely one of thousands of entrants.

When this bit of résumé inflation was pointed out by a reporter for msnbc.com, Goldberg said he hadn’t meant to mislead anyone and removed the Pulitzer claim from his bio at National Review Online. (Here’s the page before and now.) And he added, “I never put it in the bio in the first place.”

Well, that does sound bad, doesn’t it?

But it isn’t until you get to paragraph seven that you realize Jonah’s obviously being singled out:

It’s not uncommon for Pulitzer entrants to claim to be nominees.

Well, how about that.

And then in paragraph eleven:

Claims to Pulitzer nominations have showed up in the bios of well-known sportswriters Bill Plaschke and Buster Olney, NPR host Michele Norris and others not listed on the Pulitzer site among the nominees, including a good number of university professors.

It gets better still. At the end of his piece, Dedman pretty much undermines his entire reason for attacking Goldberg with links to an endless list of authors who listed themselves as “nominees”:

Readers, here’s a link to people whose Wikipedia biographies contain the word “Pulitzer” and “nominee” or “nominated.”

Which ones aren’t real nominees?

Here’s a search form for actual winners and nominated finalists at the Pulitzer Prize site.

It can be tricky to tell who’s fibbing. A group of newspaper reporters, even an entire staff of a newspaper, could be nominated finalists in a category, without being named individually on the Pulitzer site. And nominees have been announced only since 1980.

Then way, way down near the bottom of the article, we learn that an honest and “not uncommon” mistake was immediately acknowledged by Jonah and his publisher and that they’ve already remedied the situation:

Then, later Tuesday, his publisher issued a strong defense of Goldberg’s integrity. Adrian Zackheim, president and publisher of Sentinel, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), sent over this statement:

“There’s no conspiracy here, just an innocent mistake at worst. In casual conversation, whenever a news organization submits one of their writers for a prize, people say that person was nominated. By that standard Jonah Goldberg, ‘has twice been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.’ You’ve brought it to our attention that the Pulitzer authorities don’t approve of that usage, and that technically Jonah was ‘entered’ but not ‘nominated.’

“We appreciate the notice, and we will treat it just like any other innocent mistake brought to our attention, such as a misspelled name or factual error. Specifically, Sentinel will correct the reference on future printings of The Tyranny of Clichés, and we will submit the correction to online retailers like Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com, which use our flap copy for their descriptive copy. Jonah is also correcting any other bios that have the error.

“However, it would be completely inaccurate for you to conclude that there was any intent to inflate Jonah’s credentials or deceive anyone. His credentials are extremely impressive already and don’t require any extra hype.”

Dedman also tries to make it sound as though Jonah has been caught doing this before and then blithely went ahead and did it again. But in order for us to believe that, we have to believe Goldberg reads the Daily Kos and all the comments in Amazon.com as fanatically as Dedman apparently does. We also have to believe that Goldberg knew in advance that the fever swamps had attacked him over this same issue with his last book, and then like some kind of lunatic expected it go unnoticed with this new book. 

If Dedman and his merry band of left-wingers want to argue the point that — even though Jonah was indeed nominated for a Pulitzer by outlets he wrote for — such a distinction shouldn’t be treated as a nomination, fair enough. And judging by their quick action and admission, Jonah and his publisher agree. But where are the long-form articles and investigations into the many others who have also done what we’re told is “not uncommon.”

Instead, what we have here is “gotcha,” and a partisan, dishonest attempt to make it sound as though, of all people, Jonah Goldberg, intentionally hyped or lied or manufactured one of the finest résumés any writer holds today.   

Dedman himself is a Pulitzer Prize winner, so you’d think he would know better than to bury the all-important context of how common this occurrence is and then to weave a snide smear into what amounts to a nothing-burger of a story.

Actually, judging by the outlets winning Pulitzers these days, that’s probably all Dedman knows how to do.