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Philadelphia Daily News Wins Pulitzer – Company’s Up For Auction

Yeah, the Washington Post won a bunch of Pulitzers yesterday, and so did Pro Publica, the new non-profit investigative organization. (Hank Williams won, too.) But I really have to give props to the scrappy little paper that could, my hometown paper: the Philadelphia Daily News.

Even though they’re operating in the shadow of an April 27 bankruptcy auction, and functioning with a threadbare staff, the Daily News pulled it out and won the Pulitzer prize for investigative reporting yesterday for their investigation into a squad of corrupt narcotics cops that sounded like something out of “The Shield.”

With good old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting, journalists Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman did a very unpopular thing – they stood up for justice, at great personal risk. This is the kind of reporting that’s all too rare today, and now they have a Pulitzer to show for it:

The newsroom was quiet this afternoon, save for the sound of a nervous editor repeatedly clicking his mouse while staring at a computer screen.

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

Finally, at 3 o’clock, the silence was pierced by a euphoric cry of, “YES!”

With that, word spread instantly: Daily News reporters Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman were named winners of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for the “Tainted Justice” series, their takedown of allegedly corrupt narcotics cops.

Their investigation into Officer Jeffrey Cujdik and other members of the Narcotics Field Unit began last February, when an informant told the reporters that the cops sometimes lied on search warrants.

Other serious allegations were uncovered during their reporting, which prompted an FBI investigation and numerous changes to police policy.

More than 50 convicted drug dealers are now fighting for new trials, alleging that officers fabricated evidence against them.

Laker, 52, and Ruderman, 40, are the third and fourth journalists to win a Pulitzer in the Daily News’ 85-year history.

[…] Laker and Ruderman were visibly overwhelmed by the news of their award. They hugged, laughed and jumped up and down while colleagues cheered wildly around them.

“I always felt like this is something that happens to other people, and not us,” said Laker, who joined the People Paper in 1993.

“We couldn’t have done it without our police sources, who were fantastic and who I adore,” added Ruderman, who joined the paper in 2007, following a five-year stint at the Inquirer.

[…] Daily News editor Michael Days said he believed all along that Laker and Ruderman deserved the Pulitzer Prize for the investigative work they did on “Tainted Justice.”

“They went through thousands of search warrants and knocked on hundreds of doors,” he said. “Nobody worked harder than those two.”

Because the paper is operating under the possibility of layoffs or even closure, this win was especially bittersweet:

Ruderman says winning the award is a journalist’s dream come true:

“Yeah, I feel like I can die or go into P.R. or something terrible like that. I just feel like I accomplished something that I never dreamed I’d accomplish.”

Laker agrees it’s a dream come true, but adds it’s more rewarding to give voice to the voiceless, remembering one night when she tracked down a woman who’d allegedly been sexually assaulted:

“She got out of the car and came over to me and she started to cry. And she hugged me and she said ‘I’ve been praying for this day.’ And at that one moment, I thought this is why I do what I do.”

‘Well, It’s Their Fault For Bringing Kids To A Battle’

McChrystal: ‘We’ve shot an amazing number of people … none has proven to have been a real threat to the force’

Wikileaks released this video today. Via Raw Story:

US military personnel apparently mistook the cameras slung over the backs of two Reuters journalists for weapons when they opened fire on them and a group of people in a Baghdad suburb in 2007, recently released video footage purportedly shows.

The whistleblower Web site Wikileaks on Monday released a 17-minute video of footage from an Apache helicopter that was reportedly one of two helicopters involved in a fight against insurgents in the neighborhood of New Baghdad on July 12, 2007.

The video purportedly shows the deaths of Reuters journalists Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22 and Saeed Chmagh, 40, along with six other people on a street corner. It also shows US forces firing on a minivan in which two injured children were found.

“The military did not reveal how the Reuters staff were killed, and stated that they did not know how the children were injured,” Wikileaks states.

Why We Don’t Pay Attention To The Villagers

Media Matters does their usual thorough wrap-up:

ABC’s Klein: “If Democrats lose this race, healthcare is effectively dead.” A January 17 article quoted ABC News senior political correspondent Rick Klein as saying of the Massachusetts Senate election, “If Democrats lose this race, healthcare is effectively dead.” The article also stated, “A Republican Win Could Kill Health Care Reform.”

Krauthammer: “If [Brown] wins, health care is dead.” On the January 18 edition of Fox News’ Special Report (accessed via Nexis), Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer stated of Brown, “If he wins, health care is dead.” Krauthammer later stated: “If Brown wins tomorrow the bill as we see it is dead. The only hope is if the House swallows the Senate bill whole, which I think is not going to happen. The only alternative is to delay the swearing in of the Republican in the Senate, and that would be catastrophic for the Democrats.”

Barnes: “The Health Care Bill Is Dead.” In a January 20 Weekly Standard post, Fred Barnes wrote: “The impact of Republican Scott Brown’s capture of the Massachusetts Senate seat held for decades by Teddy Kennedy will be both immediate and powerful. It’s safe to say no single Senate election in recent memory is as important as this one.” Barnes added: “The health care bill, ObamaCare, is dead with not the slightest prospect of resurrection. Brown ran to be the 41st vote for filibuster and now he is just that. Democrats have talked up clever strategies to pass the bill in the Senate despite Brown, but they won’t fly. It’s one thing for ObamaCare to be rejected by the American public in poll after poll. But it becomes a matter of considerably greater political magnitude when ObamaCare causes the loss of a Senate race in the blue state of Massachusetts.”

Barnes: “It’s dead in the House, it’s dead in the Senate.” On the January 21 edition of Special Report (accessed via Nexis), Barnes claimed, after Brown’s victory, “Scaling back Obama care is a non-starter. Look, it is dead. It is dead in the House. It is dead in the Senate. I’m not sure it would have passed even before Brown. Nancy Pelosi was down to 218 votes and some of the more moderate Democrats were queasy. But the whole thing is dead. Republicans aren’t going to help out on this. The Republican position is get that off the table. We will start anew.”

Washington Post: “Overhauling health care” faces “dim prospects” in wake of Brown’s victory. A January 24 Washington Post article stated that “Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts special election on Tuesday cost the Democrats’ their filibuster-proof Senate majority.” The article claimed that “Obama’s biggest priorities — overhauling health care, expanding college aid, reducing climate change — are now in limbo, facing dim prospects as Republicans show little interest in cooperating.”

Will: “I don’t see how” health care reform survives Brown’s victory. On the January 19 edition of ABC’s Nightline (accessed via Nexis), during a discussion of Brown’s victory, host Cynthia McFadden asked, “Can the president pull the chestnuts out of the fire on this one? Can health care survive?” ABC News contributor and Washington Post columnist George Will replied, “I don’t see how. There’s no clamor in the country for this. There is a clamor in the country to pay attention to other things.”

Hannity: “Prince Harry has to accept the fact that his health care bill is dead.” On the January 21 edition of his Fox News show (accessed via Nexis), Sean Hannity said that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — who Hannity referred to as “Prince Harry” — “has to accept the fact that his health care bill is dead” because of Brown’s victory.

Gingrich predicted Dems “cannot pass a reconciliation bill through the House.” Also during the January 21 edition of Hannity, after Hannity stated that Democrats were “floating the idea” that they would use reconciliation to pass health care reform, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich stated, “OK, let me predict that they cannot pass a reconciliation bill through the House of Representatives. The American people will be so enraged by some kind of a cheap political act by somebody like [Sen. Dick] Durbin who is the Democratic whip.” Gingrich continued, “I think the reaction of the country will be so angry that that bill would never get through the House.”

Freddoso: “With Brown’s victory, Obama’s big plans die.” In a January 21 Washington Examiner column, David Freddoso wrote, “With Brown’s victory, Obama’s big plans die. He will never have a more favorable Congress than the one he just lost — the one that barely passed the first draft of Obamacare.” Freddoso continued, “If his health care bill cannot pass, then neither can his larger agenda of carbon limits, higher taxes for new subsidies, and stimulus packages.”

Doocy: Health care reform was “like a runaway train before Scott Brown came along.” On the January 28 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed, “The Scott Brown thing really, it stopped health care in its tracks. It had been like a runaway train until Scott Brown came along and suddenly, everybody’s going, hmm, we better not vote for this, we might lose our jobs.”

Varney: “I hereby say, health care is dead.” On the January 19 edition of Fox News’ Hannity (accessed via Nexis), Fox Business host Stuart Varney reacted to Brown’s election by predicting: “It will have a profound impact on politics and policy. I hereby say, health care is dead and I think cap and trade is dead.”

Fox Nation: “Health Care Talks Collapsing, Americans on Brink of Victory.” On January 21, Fox Nation used the headline, “Health Care Talks Collapsing, Americans on Brink of Victory” to link to a Politico article titled, “Dem health care talks collapsing.” From Fox Nation, accessed January 21.

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