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Durham report renews criticism of NY Times, Washington Post Pulitzer Prizes for Russian collusion coverage

The Durham report has renewed criticism of Pulitzer Prizes awarded to The New York Times and Washington Post for coverage of Russia collusion allegations against Donald Trump.

The Durham report has renewed criticism of journalism prizes awarded to The New York Times and Washington Post for Russiagate coverage.

Former President Trump filed a defamation lawsuit last year against the Pulitzer Prize Board over the 2018 National Reporting prizes given to The New York Times and Washington Post for coverage of the "now-debunked theory" of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

The suit, which is still ongoing, was filed months before Monday’s report by Special Counsel John Durham further deflated reporting from the Times and Post. 

"The Durham report confirms exactly what anyone outside the Washington and New York media establishments knows to be true— the Russia collusion narrative was contrived, untrue and solely designed to mislead the American people about President Trump in order to derail his candidacy and Presidency," a Trump spokesperson told Fox News Digital. 


"The lawsuit against the Pulitzer Board will once and for all vindicate the reputations of President Trump and some of his key supporters who were falsely maligned by innuendo and anonymously-sourced fairy tales made up by the likes of Post, Times, and their sycophants at Columbia University’s Pulitzer Board," Trump’s spokesperson continued. "The shameful, defamatory conduct by the mainstream media and their cohorts is worthy of the attention of the courts if there is any protection for the reputation of people in this country." 

The staff of the Times and Post shared the once-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. 

Washington Post headlines that helped the paper receive the award include, "FBI was to pay author of Trump dossier," "Sessions spoke twice to Russian envoy," "Trump reveals secret intelligence to Russians," "President asked intelligence chiefs to deny collusion," "Trump’s actions now a focus of Mueller inquiry" and "Doubting the intelligence, Trumps pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked." 

New York Times reports that took home the prize include, "To sway vote, Russia used army of fake Americans," "Emails disclose Trump’s son’s glee at Russian offer," "Unlikely source propelled Russian meddling inquiry," "Trump admitted dismissal at FBI eased pressure" and "President shifts rationale for firing FBI director, calling him a ‘showboat.’"

Subsequent reporting on Russiagate found that many claims of the Christopher Steele dossier that drove early narratives about Trump-Russia collusion were bogus, mere rumors or even outright falsehoods, and that figures like Michael Sussmann and Igor Danchenko acted on behalf of the Clinton campaign and pushed collusion narratives that filtered down to the reporters from the Post and Times.

Conservatives have criticized the liberal newspapers for keeping the awards for years, but the Durham report has put a newfound emphasis on whether the Pulitzer Prizes should be returned or stripped. 

Durham’s 300-page report indicated the Department of Justice and FBI "failed to uphold their mission of strict fidelity to the law" when it launched the Trump-Russia investigation that resulted in journalism awards but never found any collusion to begin with. 


Fox News contributor Joe Concha called the Times and Post standing by their awards the "hubris of the defeated." 

"Imagine this, standing by two plus two actually five, or the sky is green and swearing that you’re still right," Concha said earlier this week on "FOX & Friends First." 

"Here are the facts, and they are readily apparent to anyone sane or sober, that the Trump-Russia investigation should never have been launched. It kneecapped a presidency for most of its term based on evidence that did not exist," Concha continued. "The Washington Post has never endorsed a Republican presidential candidate in its history. The New York Times last endorsed a Republican presidential candidate in 1956, okay?" 

Concha feels the Times and Post, which also won coveted Murrow and George Polk awards for coverage of the Russia probe, "serve at the pleasure of the Democratic Party."

New York Post reporter Jon Levine expressed similar thoughts during an appearance on "America’s Newsroom" following the release of Durham’s findings. 

"There is no honor in receiving a Pulitzer Prize or a Polk Award anymore, they’re just meaningless things," Levine said. "They went to reporting that was all based on a lie." 


Garrett Ventry, a former Senate Judiciary aide who now works with prominent Republicans, said the report "confirms what we already knew" about the Pulitzers. 

"The DOJ opened an investigation into Donald Trump based off false intelligence provided by The Clinton Campaign, funded by Trump’s political opponents, and Obama and Biden were aware of it," Ventry told Fox News Digital. "The Times and Washington Post should return their Pulitzers, since all the reporting on the Russia hoax is proven to be false." 

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., agreed and recently argued the awards should be "taken back" following the release of Durham’s report. 

"I think the Pulitzer Prize given to The Washington Post and New York Times should be taken back because the entire episode was politically motivated crap. That's not something you should get a Pulitzer Prize for," Graham said on "America's Newsroom." 

The New York Times did not immediately respond to requests for comment. "The Washington Post stands by its reporting," a spokesperson for the paper told Fox News Digital.

Last year, the Pulitzer Prize Board issued a statement defending the 2018 award that prompted Trump’s lawsuit. 

"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 board continued. "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." 

Trump’s team wrote that the statement was published with "knowledge or reckless disregard for its falsity" and board members "knew that the Russia Collusion Hoax had been thoroughly discredited numerous times by exhaustive, credible, official investigations, contradicting the ‘deeply sourced, relentlessly reported’" award-winning articles. 

The Pulitzer board declined comment when asked if it continues to stand by the 2018 awards following the Durham report. "I am not able to comment due to the pending litigation," a spokesperson told Fox News Digital. 

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