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The P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2012

Recalling some of the stinkiest media moments of the year.

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The Times officially forbids the granting of anonymity "as cover for a personal or partisan attack." But how about to smear critics of U.S. policies as terrorist sympathizers?

-A Game That Needs Changing Award: PBS

In the first episode (4/11/12) of a four-part series called America Revealed, PBS reported that the agriculture industry "needed a game changer" in the fight against pests—and found it in genetically modified corn. Remarkably enough, the sponsor of the program, Dow Chemical, just happens to be lobbying for approval of its own brand of genetically modified corn.

-Strange Problems in Distant Lands Award: New York Times

A New York Times story (6/18/12) reported that "the television revolution some respects been bad news for Pakistan":

Some shows have given an unchallenged platform to extremists.... Conservative clerics have used the airwaves to reinforce prejudice and even urge violence against minorities. Editorial independence is sometimes curtailed by the businessmen who own the stations and unashamedly use them to peddle their interests.  

Controversy also surrounds the anchors, some of whom view themselves as players on the national stage rather than impartial observers of its machinations.

Extremists given a platform? Owners shaping the news? Self-important anchors? It's hard to imagine what life would be like in such a country.

-Fake News Award: New York Post

"OWS MURDER LINK," declared the New York Post's front page (7/11/12), announcing a report that DNA from the scene of a 2004 murder had supposedly been matched with DNA from a chain used to hold open a subway gate in an Occupy Wall Street protest. The Rupert Murdoch-owned paper had 37 paragraphs on the story, along with three large photographs. The story quickly evaporated--turns out the DNA was from a police employee--so the Post gave its follow-up story to the previous day's front-page story four whole paragraphs, under the headline "'04 Slay DNA 'Contaminated.'"

Apparently unreliable police work isn't as exciting a story as a sensational smear against a progressive protest movement.

-Apocalypse Non Award: Gloria Borger, CNN

In 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War, Mitt Romney was a pro-war college student exempt from the draft. The conflict killed 16,000 U.S. soldiers that year. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t at personal risk. According to CNN’s Gloria Borger (8/26/12), life as a Mormon missionary in France was rough:

In 1968, France was a dangerous place to be for a 21-year-old American. But Mitt Romney was right in the middle of it... The streets of France were in chaos.

Somehow he got through it.

-Asked and Answered Award: David Gregory, NBC

The Sunday after Hurricane Sandy devastated New York and New Jersey, NBC’s David Gregory asked in the opening of Meet the Press (11/4/12): "Should more attention be paid to a changing climate’s impact on the severity of these storms?" The answer, apparently, was "no" --that was the last mention of climate change on the show.

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