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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Give Zito the Pulitzer

Salena Zito earned the Pulitzer Prize for commentary this year. She out-worked, out-thought, and most importantly, out-listened every other political writer this year.

In researching Trump the Press, I enjoyed her work as well as that of Byron York of the Washington Examiner. That they are now stablemates at that publication is a coup.

Her home newspaper, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. trimmed its staff to the bone, and she took the opportunity to work in Washington -- but I doubt she will become Washington Zito.

York and Zito did something few experts did. They went out to rallies and talked to people, rather than rely on reporting that too often was aimed at pleasing editors who decidedly were anti-Trump. Mark Steyn's report on a Trump rally in Vermont is hilarious. Read it and come back.

Back? OK. Of course, the book was about mocking the experts who got it wrong, then wronger, and then wrongest (and in a few cases, wrongerestest), so I quoted Steyn, York, and Zito just a few times to help me mock, mock, mock the failed experts.

Zito's work wins in just 16 words:
The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.
That is the story of the year in one Tweet-length sentence.

Occam hands her his razor.

She did not get that sentence by sitting around her office contemplating the wonders of the universe.

Zito went out and hustled those 16 words. She worked for more than a year to get them. They were published on September 23.

Maybe someone told her that along the way, but a writer's job is to listen and select what is important to repeat. But I like to think it is an original line. Peter Thiel repeated it later at the National Press Club.

Zito is not an overnight sensation. She worked in Pittsburgh and spent years writing columns, raising kids, and cooking. An American flag rises from her porch and waves. She has been writing about Trump voters for years, calling them Jacksonian Democrats, and knowing their political roots go deep to the Whiskey Rebellion when they fought President Washington, a confrontation mediated by Albert Gallatin. That's the reason there is a Gallatin, Tennessee.

On May 1, Zito wrote:
Does Trump – like Jackson – understand that the way to harness populist energy is to quell the public anger with arguments for a return to a civic future, to advocate the restoration of over-regulated freedoms, to encourage the pursuit of noble public service instead of demagoguery?
Has he sought balance, and moderated his populist appeal? Or promised to root out intrigue and corruption?
So far, not really.
Yet, as he stands on the precipice of being the Republican nominee, Trump has a choice: To become a man who expresses his willingness to be the vehicle of the people’s virtue in retaking their government from the elite – or to become this century’s Barry Goldwater.
Trump did just what she said he must do.

He wins the presidency, she wins the Pulitzer.

And if that doesn't win her the Pulitzer, then it is as worthless as the Venezuelan Bolivar.


Please read "Trump the Press," in which I skewer media experts who wrongly predicted Trump would lose the Republican nomination. "Trump the Press" is available as a paperback, and on Kindle.

For an autographed copy, email me at 


  1. Yep. And while there's probably technical mumbo-jumbo reasons that I don't care about why this cannot be so, you deserve tons of recognition too Don. And Scott Adams.

    You helped me keep my sanity, all of you. THANK YOU.

    1. Great post, Jeff. Yeah, people like Glenn, Salena, and Big D were (and are) like lighthouses in the night. We got more work to do, brother, but with God's strength and guiding hands, WE GOT THIS. What I told Trump supporters at CPAC 2016. WE GOT THIS.

  2. Hard to come up with the proper superlative here. Outstanding column. Somehow I suspect a version of this will be in the book.

  3. "Pittsburgh." That says a lot. She is not from inside the beltway or the North East Corridor but "fly-over country." I have enjoyed some of her articles and recognize how much work she put into them. I can see why she deserves a Pulitzer. - Elric

  4. I'm guessing that the Pulitzer Prize is not awarded for being right, and will not be awarded for telling the Left what fools they are, and how wrong they were, and why, and what they could have done about it if they had really cared, but didn't and wouldn't, being dedicated to The Narrative.

    1. I agree with Sam, but it may be hard to deny, even for Les Miserables in the press, that her reporting from a bar in Penn was the first solid indication that Trump had the momentum necessary to surprise everyone, perhaps even Trump himself. No one else in the national press saw this, possibly because they only drink with the each other in upper tier DC or NYC bars. If the Pulitzer has not become as worthless as the Nobel she will get one.

  5. I used to read Zito on Townhall back when it was a worthwhile site. She reminds me of the personal interest reporters that every paper used to have who would go around interviewing people to give the readers the flavor of the community. I was misquoted by one the first time I cast a vote and lost my respect for them, but she always came across as more sincere in her approach. She certainly read the people right on this one.

  6. Work. Think. Listen.

    The MSM is like, "Whaaaaat?"

  7. Great idea. You have consistently hit it out of the park.

    I would put you up for a Pulitzer for blogging if there was such an animal.

    1. If there is not, it is a shame. Internet Writing is The Fifth Estate and this election proves it to be every bit as valuable as any other form of publication.

  8. I am a SF Giants fan. When I see "Zito" I think "Barry".

  9. As a former colleague of hers, Salena is most definitely worthy of whatever awards might (but probably won't) come her way.