The recipients of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes have just been announced, with various prestigious honours going to those who work in publications in the USA. The international prize is split between Associated Press for their coverage of the war in Yemen, and Reuters correspondents who are presently in Myanmar prisons for their coverage of the crackdown on that country’s Rohingya Muslims.
Those jailed reporters represent the whistleblowers who would probably most please Joseph Pulitzer, having left a legacy in his will 102 years ago for New York’s Columbia University to establish the prize along with a school of journalism. Mr. Pulitzer was a renowned publisher who revolutionized the newspaper business, and was known for being a loud whistleblower himself. When the Panama Canal was being built, he published allegations about $40-million corruptly going to some of President Teddy Roosevelt’s friends and family members. A huge controversy ensued, with indictments for criminally libelling the President and his cohorts, and Pulitzer was labelled as a purveyor of Fake News, a term he often aimed at other prominent publishers at the time. The case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, and was finally adjudicated just before Mr. Pulitzer died. He was fully exonerated, and recent events makes one wonder just how much has changed in a century of publishing.
For example, last week another prominent publisher and whistleblower named Julian Assange was forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and arrested for breach of bail in UK. He’s wanted in the USA for publishing a huge amount of classified information on his WikiLeaks website almost a decade ago. It is alleged that he conspired with a US serviceman, Private Bradley Manning, who was subsequently found guilty of computer fraud and espionage, and sentenced to 35 years in the slammer. However, thanks to President Obama’s pardon, Private Manning was freed after serving about four years, during which time Bradley trans-gendered into Chelsea.
As if those facts are not complicated enough, while a refugee at the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2016 Mr. Assange published a dossier of emails and communications that were property of the Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign. Many blowhard obsessive progressives in the USA would relish having Mr. Assange testifying under oath as to whether those emails came from a Russian source, and if Donald Trump’s 2016 Election Campaign had knowledge of their procurement and publication. After a mind-numbing twenty-two months of Robert Mueller’s investigation, the aforementioned blowhard obsessive progressives are deeply dissatisfied that there was no finding of collusion between President Trump and Russian agents. They simply cannot accept Mr. Mueller’s ruling nor the result of the 2016 Presidential Election, and now see Mr. Assange as their best bet to explain why Hillary Clinton is not sitting in the Oval Office. If politics and publishing were fraught with intrigue and danger in Mr. Pulitzer’s days, they are just as intriguing and dangerous with Mr. Assange in the spotlight today.