Question of credibility



To the Editor:

After busting the New York Police Department for abusing a decades-old eviction law, nonprofit news organization ProPublica received a public service Pulitzer Prize. A powerful story of journalism in pursuit of justice, right?

Not so fast.

ProPublica professes to offer a new reporting model, one unswayed by the demands of readers and advertisers. It circulates stories for free, partnering with mainstream media outlets. Its website purports to deliver news “in an entirely nonpartisan and non-ideological manner, adhering to the strictest standards of journalistic impartiality. We won’t lobby. We won’t ally with politicians or advocacy groups.”

Nonsense. ProPublica’s journalistic model is dependent on millions of dollars in annual support from its stable of left-leaning donors. Catering to these donors’ political sensibilities is an existential necessity for ProPublica.

Would the Pulitzer committee consider a prize for a “news” organization bankrolled by the conservative Koch brothers? Of course not.

By recognizing ProPublica, the committee rewards the left side of the political spectrum.

ProPublica’s main backers are billionaires Herbert and Marion Sandler. The couple has pledged $10 million a year to the organization. Such a big-ticket annual contribution fits right in with the Sandlers’ extensive support for Democratic candidates, left-wing advocacy campaigns and PACs such as Moveon.org, which raises money for progressive office-seekers.

ProPublica said it “shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong,” but apparently not the people lured in at Golden West Financial. Better to stick with investigations of fracking, Republican politicians and other popular liberal targets than to ruffle the feathers of its powerful funders.

The self-proclaimed “independent newsroom” professes to restore investigative reporting to its stature as the highest type of journalism.”

But as Harry Browne of the Dublin Institute of Technology points out, nonprofit publications are driving out the very forces in traditional journalism that deliver hard-hitting and accurate news. Nonprofits are edging out traditional news outlets – operating with the advantage of donor subsidies.

Enabling ProPublica – let alone rewarding them with a Pulitzer – gives them credibility they haven’t earned.

It’s a sad day when left-wing advocacy bankrolled by liberal billionaires passes for disinterested journalism. Shame on the Pulitzer committee for rewarding ProPublica’s bias.

Drew Johnson

Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Washington, D.C.

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