Winners: Peter Kaplan, legendary editor of the New York Observer, who announced yesterday that he would step down this summer after fifteen years in the post, and David Carr, who wrote a characteristically smart, stylish and sophisticated account of Kaplan’s career in this morning’s New York Times. Kaplan was responsible for scores of New York scoops, and he ignited the careers of more talented young journalists from the Observer’s launching pad than any other member of his generation. Kaplan also gets credit for inventing Full Court Press, because he was the first person to suggest that I should write it.
Of Kaplan, Carr wrote:
Known for his soaring soliloquies about the city he loved but did not live in — he resides in Westchester — Mr. Kaplan is a modern version of the fedora-wearing newsman, a man who saw his paper as a weekly libretto rendered in glamour and noir. During his tenure the longest for an editor in the newspaper’s 22-year history, The Observer played large for its size, catching Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., when he was a presidential candidate, taking the measure of Barack Obama by saying he was “articulate and bright and clean”; getting an interview with Jayson Blair at a time when his reporting for The New York Times was coming apart; and all but creating a television and movie franchise with its “Sex and the City” column.
Winner: C.J. Chivers, for a chilling battlefield account from Afghanistan, whose details suggest the gigantic task our new president has embarked upon—and how much it already resembles the quagmire of Vietnam.
Sinner: Peggy Noonan, for making the most inane remarks about the release of the Bush administration torture memos on any Sunday chat show (oh, such a high bar): “Some things in life need to be mysterious. Sometimes you need to just keep walking. … It’s hard for me to look at a great nation issuing these documents and sending them out to the world and thinking, oh, much good will come of that.”
Winner: Democratic senator Russ Feingold, for taking Noonan to task: “I frankly have never heard anything quite as disturbing as her remark that was something to the effect of: ‘well sometimes you just have to move on.’”
Winner: David Barstow of The New York Times, who was awarded a richly deserved Pulitzer Prize last week for his blockbuster investigation of a huge Pentagon propaganda scandal, in which retired military officers alternated between spouting the Bush administration line on all of the major TV networks and collecting inside information for the military contractors who employed them so they could get more contracts connected to the war. Presented as objective experts on CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, and MSNBC, these men actually work with “more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants” which are “all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror.”
Sinners: CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox and MSNBC, who not only did absolutely nothing to reform this corrupt system—they never even reported Barstow’s accusations, or, this week, the fact that Barstow had won a Pulitzer Prize for this work. For a typically thorough rundown of this outrageous behavior by every major commercial broadcaster in America, see Glenn Greenwald’s excellent account.
Winners: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who during the past week have been even more indispensable than usual.
For the definitive takedown of Messrs. Cheney and Rove, don’t miss Stewart on “Balzheimers Disease.”
And for the funniest five minutes and fifty seconds of television in recent memory, see Colbert’s demolition of the anti-marriage equality movement. It starts at 3 minutes and 50 seconds into the episode.