* LOCK UP THE FIRST AMENDMENT PRIZE -- CNNâ€™s William Bennett
Soon after being hired as a CNN pundit, Bennett went on his radio talk show and offered his views on freedom of the press -- and on reporters who broke stories about warrantless wiretapping and secret CIA detention sites â€œagainst the wishes of the president, against the request of the president and others.â€ Bennett fumed: â€œAre they embarrassed, are they arrested? No, they win Pulitzer Prizes. I donâ€™t think what they did was worthy of an award -- I think what they did was worthy of jail, and I think this investigation needs to go forward.â€
* BROKE-BRAIN MOUTHING AWARD -- MSNBCâ€™s Chris Matthews
As the movie â€œBrokeback Mountainâ€ (about a relationship between two cowboys) was gaining attention and audience in January, Chris Matthews appeared on the Imus show to hail â€œthe wonderful Michael Savageâ€ and the talk-show hostâ€™s nickname for the movie: â€œBareback Mounting.â€ Matthews and Savage had been MSNBC colleagues until â€œthe wonderfulâ€ Savage was fired -- after referring to an apparently gay caller as a â€œsodomiteâ€ and telling him to â€œget AIDS and die.â€ Now thatâ€™s hardball
* CASUAL ABOUT CASUALTIES AWARD -- Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch
Echoing an Iraq war talking-point heard regularly on Fox News, owner Murdoch said on the eve of the November election: â€œThe death toll, certainly of Americans there, by the terms of any previous war are quite minute.â€ As FAIR noted, U.S. deaths in Iraq exceed those in the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War and the Spanish-American War, not to mention the combined U.S. deaths of all this countryâ€™s other military actions since Vietnam -- including Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, the first Gulf War, Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo and Afghanistan
* FRONT-PAGE PUNDIT AWARD -- Reporter Michael Gordon and The New York Times
With many voters telling pollsters that they want U.S. troops to leave Iraq, the Times front-paged a post-election analysis by Michael Gordon -- headlined â€œGet Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast, Experts Sayâ€ -- quoting three hand-picked â€œexpertsâ€ who decried the possibility of troop withdrawal. Gordon didnâ€™t tell readers that one of his â€œexperts,â€ former CIA analyst Ken Pollack, had relentlessly promoted an Iraq invasion based on wildly false claims about an Iraqi threat. Gordon took off his reporterâ€™s hat that night on CNN to become an unabashed advocate for his view that withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq would lead to â€œcivil warâ€ (as though civil war werenâ€™t already underway)
* â€œPROVE YOUâ€™RE NOT A TRAITORâ€ PRIZE -- CNNâ€™s Glenn Beck
In November, Beck -- an Islamophobic host on CNN Headline News -- launched into his interview with Congressman-elect Keith Ellison, a Muslim American, this way: â€œI have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, â€˜Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.â€™â€ Beck then added: â€œAnd I know youâ€™re not. Iâ€™m not accusing you of being an enemy, but thatâ€™s the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.â€ Is it possible that primetime bigots like CNNâ€™s Beck have something to do with the prejudices â€œthat a lot of Americans feelâ€?
* GROUNDHOG DAY AWARD -- Ted Koppel
One role of journalism should be to help the public learn from past government policy disasters in hopes of preventing future ones. But in a New York Times column on Oct. 2, former ABC News star Koppel wrote that Washington should tell Iran it is free to develop an atomic bomb -- with a Mafia-like warning: â€œIf a dirty bomb explodes in Milwaukee, or some other nuclear device detonates in Baltimore or Wichita, if Israel or Egypt or Saudi Arabia should fall victim to a nuclear â€˜accident,â€™ Iran should understand that the United States government will not search around for the perpetrator. The return address will be predetermined, and it will be somewhere in Iran.â€ In other words, no matter what the evidence, Koppel urged our government to attack a predetermined foe, Iran. Didnâ€™t that happen in 2003 with Iraq?
So, there they are, the P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2006. Hold your nose and prepare yourself for 2007
Norman Solomonâ€™s book â€œWar Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Deathâ€ is out in paperback. For more information, go to: www.normansolomon.com