Today The Huffington Post reports that The National Enquirer will be considered for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for journalism in the categories of Investigative Reporting and National News Reporting for its coverage of John Edward’s infidelity scandal during his presidential campaign of 2007 and 2008. The Enquirer has broken several stories ahead of the more legitimate press, such as Rush Limbaugh’s drug abuse, because unlike other sources, The Enquirer will pay for information. Should the Pulitzer committee award the Enquirer for its coverage of John Edwards, it should also censure the paper for its reporting methods and publication style.
There is little doubt that the honesty of a man running for public office, particularly for the Office of the President, is information vital to the public good. But if The Enquirer broke its story during the Edwards campaign, which it did, why didn’t other media outlets follow suit?
I am reminded of my mother and the time she told me the story of the boy who cried “Wolf!”. At the time I learned one reason not to tell lies is that there will come a time when nobody believes you and when you have a truth that is worth telling, for example that you or your flock of sheep are being gobbled up by wolves, people will laugh and say, “Oh, that boy. He works for a cheap grocery store tabloid that pays people to gossip about celebrities and prays on the misfortune of others in their most private and human of moments, and most of the time it’s false anyway. No, you can’t trust that boy.”
Well, perhaps I have not remembered the story exactly as my mother told it, but the notion that The Enquirer should be rewarded for getting one in a hundred stories right, but nobody realizing it at the time it was relevant because its history as a news source is laughably unreliable…well, mother would not approve.