Palm Beach Post’s failed Pulitzer bid exposes the sad state of journalism today
One can almost hear the iconic sad trombone sound echoing through the nearly empty halls at the Palm Beach Post’s headquarters last week when the newspaper fell short in its bid to win a Pulitzer Prize. They tried so hard, too, lying to their readers about the source of funding for its “Black Snow” project, and also lying about the story’s actual impact.
The entire affair is worth taking a look at one last time, because all of Florida’s major newspapers follow a similar template in an effort to win prizes for journalism. They pick a target, write their story, publish it with as much fanfare as possible, including slick graphics, then they write follow-up stories, opinion editorials, and if they are really desperate, they start writing stories about their stories. And they do it all with an eye on the prize.
That’s exactly what happened here, and more. The Post applied for and received a substantial grant from the Knight Foundation, laundered through left-wing media front group Pro Publica, in exchange for an “investigative” journalism story claiming that air quality in some South Florida communities is harmful because of the agricultural practice of pre-harvest sugar cane burning.
Anyone with a hair of reason on their head could take a look at the facts and instantly know that the outcome of the project was decided from the start, that there was no real “investigation,” but rather a methodical effort to collect information that would justify the cost of the grant from the Knight Foundation. The Post’s reporter, Lulu Ramadan, couldn’t have reported the story fairly even if she’d wanted to. And the Post has refused to publish their initial grant application, which would have outlined the scope of the project but likely exposed the Post’s preconceived conclusion.
Imagine the scene in the Palm Beach Post’s editorial board conference room if Ramadan had come in after a full year of “investigating” and said, “Yeah, boss, I looked into it, but the data we found is exactly in line with EPA air quality standards.”
Ironically, that’s exactly what the Post’s data actually showed (see page 7, here), but they’ll never admit it because it undermines the entire project.
After a year of collecting data (some of which had to be thrown out by the Post due to inaccuracies), Ramadan wrote her story, and the Post went into overdrive to milk the year-long project for all the attention it could possibly generate. They not only wrote their original story and cross-published it on multiple platforms and websites, but then they wrote stories about their story. Finally, the Knight Foundation handed the Post an “award” for the story they paid the Post to produce, hoping the Post’s readers wouldn’t see through the ruse.
Through it all, the Post claimed, falsely, that their story had “significant public impact” because they got state regulators to replace an allegedly malfunctioning air monitor. In reality, the monitor wasn’t malfunctioning, but in fact was scheduled for an upgrade before the Post even thought about manufacturing a fake award.
In short, the Post’s 21+ stories and opinion pieces, all their congratulatory interviews, and a self-awarded prize from the Knight Foundation, accomplished exactly nothing.
Maybe the Pulitzer judges saw through the facade? Whomp, whomp, indeed.
Medicaid balloon could pop just in time for 2022 election impact
One of the most consequential issues in the United States from the coronavirus pandemic was the expansion of Medicaid coverage through the federal declaration of a Public Health Emergency (PHE). That declaration instantly prevented states from removing any existing Medicaid recipient from their rolls, even if they have otherwise become ineligible since.
The declaration made a profound impact on the number of Florida’s Medicaid enrollees. Prior to the pandemic, the state had about 3 million people enrolled. Today, that number has swollen to 5.1 million people, and the estimated budget impact to Florida’s bottom line over the last two years is about $2.3 billion, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Health Foundation.
But that balloon could be about to pop. One day after President Joe Biden assumed office in January 2021, his administration issued guidance to governors in all 50 states that the Public Health Emergency would “likely remain in place for the entirety of 2021,” after which point the administration would make a decision to either terminate the declaration or let it expire on its own. The Biden Administration has also issued guidance that they would give states a 60-day notice that the act would either be terminated or allowed to expire.
When either of those things happen, large numbers of people might suddenly find themselves scrambling to obtain health care coverage (states will have about 14 months to remove ineligible enrollees, but many wonder if that’s enough time), and the timing of that decision rests entirely in the hands of the Biden Administration. What happens to those who find themselves ineligible will instantly become a political football, with plenty of finger-pointing to go around.
Notably, a key date just passed last week: the 60 day termination window just passed over the expiration date of the most recent PHE renewal – if you’re scratching your head trying to follow along, it simply means that we’re likely to get another 90 day renewal in mid-July, otherwise the Biden Administration would have let the states know that the 60-day clock was ticking.
But 90 days from mid-July is…drum roll please…mid-October. Two weeks before the 2022 mid-term elections. Would the Biden Administration issue the 60-day warning in mid-August to force the issue onto the front burner to benefit Democrat campaigns that are already making health care a top priority? Or is Biden fearful that it’ll look like he’s the one pulling the rug from beneath the feet of families trying to make ends meet?