Conservative author Jonah Goldberg has an impressive resume. He is the founding editor of National Review Online and its current editor-at-large. He’s a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
But take a look at the dust jacket of his latest book, “The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas,” and you’ll find another accolade: two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.
The problem? Goldberg has never been nominated for a Pulitzer. His work has simply been entered. “I’ll check it out and have ‘em remove it if you’re right,” Goldberg told msnbc.com, who first reported the story. “Happily. If it’s not kosher, I shouldn’t have it in there. Period.” Goldberg did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.
The book’s publisher, Penguin Group (USA), insisted it was an “honest mistake.”
In a statement provided to TPM after the msnbc.com report, Adrian Zackheim, president and publisher of Sentinel, a Penguin imprint, said: “There’s no conspiracy here, just an honest mistake at worst. In casual conversation, whenever a news organization submits one of their writers for a prize, people say that person was nominated. By that standard Jonah Goldberg ‘has twice been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.’ You’ve brought it to our attention that the Pulitzer authorities don’t approve of that usage, and that technically Jonah was ‘entered’ but not ‘nominated.’”
His statement continues:
“We appreciate the notice, and we will treat it just like any other innocent mistake brought to our attention, such as a misspelled name or factual error. Specifically, Sentinel will correct the reference on future printings of The Tyranny of Clichés, and we will submit the correction to online retailers like Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com, which use our flap copy for their descriptive copy. Jonah is also correcting any other bios that have the error.
“However, it would be completely inaccurate for you to conclude that there was any intent to inflate Jonah’s credentials or deceive anyone. His credentials are extremely impressive already and don’t require any extra hype.”
The Pulitzer Prizes’ website makes clear the distinction between entrant and nominee: “Since 1980, when we began to announce nominated finalists, we have used the term ‘nominee’ for entrants who became finalists. We discourage someone saying he or she was “nominated” for a Pulitzer simply because an entry was sent to us.”
As of this writing, Goldberg’s bio on Penguin’s website still lists him as a Pulitzer nominee. Will Weisser, an executive at Penguin, echoed the company’s statement, saying it “was a simple misunderstanding of the language.” Weisser told TPM that Penguin is working to update Goldberg’s bio page on its website. “These things take time to update,” he said.
msnbc.com received the same statement as TPM, but also — it would seem inadvertently —an email chain between Goldberg and Penguin. “It’s a bull@!$5# story and I think this walks the line between acting in good faith and making that clear,” Goldberg reportedly wrote of the statement.
Here’s the dust jacket in question, posted by msnbc.com:
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com