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Former President Trump scolded the Pulitzer Prize Board Monday for standing by its 2018 National Reporting prizes given to The New York Times and Washington Post for “largely debunked” coverage of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“The Pulitzer Board has taken away any shred of credibility it had left with its ‘response’ regarding the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, which was awarded to The New York Times and The Washington Post for blatant fake news,” Trump told Fox News Digital.
“Instead of acting with integrity and providing transparency, the Pulitzer Board is running cover for the biggest reporting failure in modern history: the fake Russia Russia Russia collusion hoax. Why would The Washington Post or The New York Times ever want to admit their obvious mistakes and come clean when their false reporting is being guarded, and awarded, by the Pulitzer Prize, which at one point actually meant something? These outlets should hand back their prizes without notification from Pulitzer, which would be the honorable thing to do,” Trump continued. “The only way The New York Times and The Washington Post should get a possible Pulitzer Prize would be in a new category—disinformation, for helping to perpetrate a false story created and peddled by Crooked Hillary Clinton, the DNC, and certain lowlife Democrats.”
A separate source familiar with President Trump’s legal strategy indicated to Fox News Digital that “all options are on the table to ensure proper transparency and restore the integrity of the Pulitzer Prize” after the board’s Monday announcement that it would stand by the 2018 award.
“The truth is that the 2018 Pulitzer Prize was handed out for reporting that merely parroted political disinformation—disinformation that we know was fabricated by foreign operatives and my political opponents. If the Pulitzer Prize has become a blatant acknowledgement of false, liberal political propaganda, then the Pulitzer Board should just say so,” Trump said. “Instead, they hide their supposed ‘independent investigations’ in a veil of secrecy, so the public cannot know the truth. I will continue doing everything possible to right the wrong caused by the 2018 Pulitzer Prize.”
Trump communications director Taylor Budowich also ripped “media elites” who reward “propaganda” that he believes is designed to hurt the former president.
“The media elites, who are desperately trying to maintain the perception of power, are united in doing everything they can to stop President Trump from saving America. They spent his entire term in office reporting propaganda as fact, and rewarding it with ‘Prizes,’” Budowich told Fox News Digital. “Still, President Trump isn’t backing down, and he is committed to exposing the entire media industrial complex for their lack of transparency and integrity.”
Earlier Monday, the Prize Board declared the controversial award will stand despite criticism from Trump’s team, which included a fiery letter from the former president’s legal team calling for the Pulitzer committee to act.
“The Pulitzer Prize Board has an established, formal process by which complaints against winning entries are carefully reviewed. In the last three years, the Pulitzer Board has received inquiries, including from former President Donald Trump, about submissions from The New York Times and The Washington Post on Russian interference in the U.S. election and its connections to the Trump campaign–submissions that jointly won the 2018 National Reporting prize,” the Pulitzer Prize Board wrote.
“These inquiries prompted the Pulitzer Board to commission two independent reviews of the work submitted by those organizations to our National Reporting competition. Both reviews were conducted by individuals with no connection to the institutions whose work was under examination, nor any connection to each other. The separate reviews converged in their conclusions: that no passages or headlines, contentions or assertions in any of the winning submissions were discredited by facts that emerged subsequent to the conferral of the prizes,” the board continued. “The 2018 Pulitzer Prizes in National Reporting stand.”
The staff of the Times and Post shared the prestigious award for “deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nation’s understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration,” according to the Pulitzer website.
Trump’s attorneys, John P. Rowley III and John S. Irving, blasted the Pulitzer Prize Board for honoring “largely debunked” reporting that accused Trump’s campaign of colluding with the Russian government in order to gain an advantage in the 2016 election.
“The idea that President Trump plotted with Vladimir Putin to skew the 2016 election in his favor was always preposterous. Since 2018, if not before, it has been clear that the articles upon which the Pulitzer Board based its Prize include numerous false statements that are defamatory to our client,” the letter said. “We assume that in awarding the Prize, the Board was misled by frenzied media reports alleging that President Trump colluded with Russia. That was never plausible, and it has since been proven to have been a cynical invention of Hillary Clinton, her campaign, and the DNC.”
The letter makes a series of points that Trump’s legal team feels makes the Pulitzer Prize-winning stories unworthy of the prestigious honor. It cited Special Counsel Robert Mueller failing to find evidence of collusion, a DOJ Inspector General Report, a 2019 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order and the actions of multiple individuals such as Michael Sussmann and Igor Danchenko as evidence to support the claim that the Times and Post aren’t worthy of journalism awards for the Russian collusion narrative.
Subsequent reporting on Russiagate has found that many claims of the Christopher Steele dossier that drove some of the early narratives about Trump-Russia collusion were spurious, mere rumors or even outright falsehoods, and that figures like Sussmann and Danchenko acted on behalf of the Clinton campaign and pushed collusion narratives that filtered down to the media.
The winning collection of reporting included headlines such as “FBI was to pay author of Trump dossier,” “Trump’s actions now a focus of Mueller inquiry,” “Unlikely source propelled Russian meddling inquiry,” “Trump’s son heard of link to Moscow before meeting,” “President shifts rationale for firing FBI director, calling him a ‘showboat’” and “To sway vote, Russia used army of fake Americans.”
The Pulitzer Prizes, announced every year by the president of Columbia University on the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize board, are regularly given to liberal news organizations. The Times and Post have both taken home additional awards in the years since they shared the 2018 National Reporting prize.
Trump and his team had made multiple attempts in the past to reverse the “erroneous decision” of 2018 in the past to no avail. The latest attempt, which drew a reaction from the Pulitzer Prize Board, maintained that the record needs to be corrected.
“We hope that this information is helpful to the Pulitzer committee’s consideration of President Trump’s objections to the continuing publication of the Prize awarded to The New York Times and The Washington Post. The Pulitzer Board should not have its imprimatur on a story line that has been shown to be a political smear by Hillary Clinton, her campaign, and the DNC, and which is injurious to our client,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.
“Surely, the findings of multiple investigations, the trial testimony of former Clinton campaign officials, and other revelations since 2017 have made is clear that the articles upon which the Prize is based are unworthy of that honor,” the letter concluded. “We request the opportunity to speak with the Pulitzer committee so that we may offer any further assistance it needs to correct the record and promote journalistic fairness and integrity.”
The New York Times and Washington Post did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Fox News’ David Rutz contributed to this report.