The latest round of Pulitzer Prizes is set to be announced this afternoon, and two things can be said about the eventual winners: Some recipents will be more deserving than others, and there will be an excess of self-congratulation. So this is as good a time as any to point you toward WEEKLY STANDARD editor Philip Terzian's pithy and blunt summation of what's wrong with the Pulitzer Prizes from 2007. Terzian's own experience suggests he's well worth reading on the subject—he's been a finalist for the prestigious award and served on the Pulitzer jury:
You may have noticed that Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution won this year's Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Commentary. I might not have noticed it myself, except that a waggish friend sent me an email on the day of the announcement, reminding me of the last time Cynthia Tucker, the Pulitzer Prize, and I had crossed paths.
But first, as we say, two caveats. The first is to declare that I'm pleased Cynthia Tucker won the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Commentary. The second caveat is more complicated, but may be boiled down to one simple proposition that most casual observers would consider obvious: The Pulitzer Prizes are a singularly corrupt institution, administered by Columbia University and the management of the New York Times largely for the benefit of the New York Times and a limited number of favored publications and personalities. Any citizen who thinks that the annual distribution of awards has something to do with quality probably believes that the Oscar for Best Picture goes to the most distinguished film of the year. If you're a connoisseur of unrestrained self-praise, may I recommend the citations when the Times awards itself the Pulitzer Gold Medal for Public Service.
Does anyone detect a note of cynicism, perhaps even biliousness, in my tone? Well, maybe.