This reasoning is fairly absurd when applied to Obama (sure, the prize provides more irony-laden fodder for the president’s critics, but that fact does not a travesty make). Applied to Douthat, though—a young talent who has himself been given a pressure-cooker prize by way of a high-profile platform in The New York Times—the observation might be more true than the columnist would care to admit.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.