This year, PJ Media and the New Criterion inaugurated the Walter Duranty Prize for mendacity in journalism. Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Duranty Award dinner in New York City. No doubt you are aware of the sorry history of Walter Duranty, the Pulitzer-Prize winning New York Times reporter; this year’s honorees are worthy heirs to his tradition.
James Taranto was the master of ceremonies:
Andrew Sullivan, the second runner-up, was honored for his many achievements, including Trig birtherism; Andrew’s search for the real mother is rivaled only by OJ’s search for the real killer. Ron Radosh presented the award to Sullivan, in absentia. The honorees were invited, but none chose to attend:
Roger Kimball, whose New Criterion co-sponsors the prize, awarded the first runner-up plaque to Bob Simon for his 60 Minutes story about how Christians are fleeing the Middle East, and it’s the Jews’ fault. You can’t make this stuff up.
And finally, Claudia Rosett presented the 2012 Walter Duranty Grand Prize to Vogue magazine and its editor, Anna Wintour, and reporter Joan Juliet Buck, for their other-worldly paean to the First Lady of Syria: “Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert.” Vogue described Mrs. al-Assad as “the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies … breezy, conspiratorial, and fun … a thin long-limbed beauty with a trained analytic mind who dresses with cunning understatement.” With cunning timing, Vogue published its tribute just before Assad began mowing down thousands of uppity Syrians. I have always thought of Claudia as an exceptionally serious person, but her presentation was hilarious. She missed out on a career in comedy.
Roger Simon, the CEO of PJ Media, presided throughout. You can read his account of the evening here, including the remarks of all of the presenters as prepared for delivery.
The event was fun for me because I got to catch up with old friends like Roger (both of them) and also to meet a number of people whom I have admired for a long time, like Claudia. It turned out that the guys to my left at our table were Andrew Stuttaford and Andy McCarthy, whom I feel like I have known for years but until last night, had never actually met. I snapped this photo of the two Andrews:
My wife and youngest daughter were with me at the dinner; here they are with Anne Bayefsky (center):
One of the persistent phenomena of modern times is the Left’s ability to engage in the most dishonest and shameful conduct imaginable, while simultaneously assuming a pose of moral superiority. Walter Duranty was a case in point, as are last night’s honorees. The Left’s pretensions can best be deflated with mockery, and toward that end, the Duranty Prize makes a valuable contribution. May it be presented every year, until the business of journalism is reformed to the point where we no longer have need of it.