Pulitzer board stonewalls queries about Trump lawsuit, rescinding prizes for debunked reporting

On Tuesday, former President Trump threatened to sue the Pulitzer Prize Board over their awards to The New York Times and The Washington Post for their Russia collusion stories.

Updated: November 18, 2021 - 11:11pm

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The Pulitzer Prize Board has not responded publicly to former President Trump's threat to sue them if they don't immediately rescind the 2018 awards given to both The Washington Post and The New York Times for their Russia collusion stories, nor have they replied to multiple requests for comment.

Trump released a letter on Tuesday through his Save America PAC from his attorney Alina Habba, saying: "It is hereby demanded that the Pulitzer Prize Board take immediate steps to strip the New York Times and The Washington Post of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. Pulitzer Prize Board's failure to do so will result in prompt legal action being taken against it."

The awards were for several of the publications' now-debunked Russia collusion stories.

Igor Danchenko, the main source for the discredited Steele dossier, was indicted earlier this month by Special Counsel John Durham on charges of lying to the FBI. Danchenko, who pled not guilty to the federal charges last week, was one of the main sources the media outlets used for their reporting.

Following Danchenko's indictment, The Washington Post issued corrections for two of its stories on the dossier, although neither of them figured in the Post's Pulitzer, according to The Daily Mail.

The New York Times and the Pulitzer Prize Board have rebuffed numerous calls over the years to return or rescind the 1932 foreign reporting prize from the board to Walter Duranty, who was the newspaper's Moscow bureau chief until 1941. Reporting from the Soviet Union as it collectivized farms during the Stalin era, Duranty ignored reports the regime sent resistant farmers to concentration camps and enforced other inhumane policies that led to the 1932-33 famine that killed millions in the Soviet Ukraine.

The Pulitzer Prize Board declined to revoke Duranty's award twice — most recently in 2003 — as it said, "the board concluded that there was not clear and convincing evidence of deliberate deception." The Times said that they didn't have the award in their possession, implying that they couldn't return it.

Just the News sent multiple messages on Wednesday to the Pulitzer Prize Board asking whether they were concerned about the possible lawsuit or were seriously considering retracting the awards, but has not received any response.

The Pulitzer Prize Board had not responded to Trump's threat on their website and social media accounts as of Thursday.

Just the News also requested comments from both The Washington Post and The New York Times on Thursday regarding Trump's lawsuit threat, but only received a response from the former.

Sally Buzbee, executive editor at The Washington Post, told Just the News: "The story we corrected last Friday was not among those awarded the Pulitzer Prize. The coverage awarded the prize focused on Russia's interference in the 2016 election, the Obama administration's handling of the interference and contacts between certain members of Trump's administration and Russian officials. We are proud of that important work, which was later substantiated and affirmed by the investigations led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee."

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