Journalism and academia are supposed to honor, as their highest value, the fearless pursuit of truth. If you tried to parody the sad decline of prestige awards in those fields into an ideologically blinkered self-congratulatory echo chamber for progressive agitprop, it would be difficult to find a more on-the-nose example than the Pulitzer Prize awarded to Nikole Hannah-Jones of the New York Times for commentary. Hannah-Jones was, according to the Pulitzer committee, honored for “a sweeping, deeply reported and personal essay for the ground-breaking 1619 Project, which seeks to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America’s story, prompting public conversation about the nation’s founding and evolution.”
“Deeply reported” is one way to describe an essay that required the Times to append a correction and a separate “Editor’s Note” regarding an incendiary assertion that was presented without factual support, and that resulted in Hannah-Jones’s eventually admitting, after seven months of defending the claim, scrambling to find scholarly support for it, and bitterly denouncing her critics in racial terms, that “in attempting to summarize and streamline, journalists can sometimes lose important context and nuance. I did that here.” One hesitates to think what the runners-up for the award looked like.
Technically, the Pulitzer is for Hannah-Jones’s lead essay in the 1619 Project, and not for her role as the self-described architect of the rest of the essay collection. So, we can set aside the errors ranging from American political history to basic economics that plagued other submissions and focus on the lead essay.