Waiting for Rosenthal: The 2014 Pulitzer Prizes will be announced today at 3 PM Eastern.
Around here, that amounts to a case of “Waiting for Rosenthal”—waiting for Elisabeth Rosenthal, who produced the most unusual journalistic work of the past year.
Full disclosure—we don’t even know if Rosenthal has been nominated for a Pulitzer. Nominations aren’t announced until the awards are given.
But last year, Rosenthal penned the voluminous PAYING TILL IT HURTS series for the New York Times. Back in August, we posted a run-down of her first three front-page reports, all of which concern the astonishingly high price of American health care:
Sunday, June 2, 2013: “The $2.7 Trillion Medical Bill.” 4165 wordsTo read our report, click here.
Monday, July 1, 2013: “American Way of Birth, Costliest in the World.” 3176 words
Sunday, August 4, 2013: “In Need of a New Hip, but Priced Out of the U.S.” 3792 words
Last August, we noted the length and the highly visible placement of these front-page reports. And we noted another striking fact—these reports were producing exactly zero discussion within the mainstream press corps.
Rosenthal continued from there, working in absolute silence. These were her subsequent major reports:
Sunday, October 13, 2013: “The Soaring Cost of a Simple Breath.” 3840 wordsWe don’t know the rules concerning publication date for Pulitzer consideration. But as we noted last August, these articles looked like the sort of work designed for such consideration.
Sunday, December 3, 2013: “As Hospital Costs Soar, Single Stitch Tops $500.” 3642 words
Sunday, January 19, 2014: “Patients' Costs Skyrocket; Specialists' Incomes Soar.” 3893 words
Sunday, April 6, 2014: “Even Small Medical Advances Can Mean Big Jumps in Bills.” 3632 words
To us, the reports seemed a little soft. In some ways, the reports were perhaps designed to avoid giving unnecessary offense.
But this was gigantic, front-page work on an enormously central topic. Rosenthal was discussing the looting of the American public.
Certifiably, no one in the mainstream press corps cared.
As of last August, Rosenthal had published three giant front-page reports about gigantic health care costs, and her name had barely been mentioned anywhere in the press corps. She had been interviewed by Terry Gross for Fresh Air—but that was it.
We just did another Nexis search on her name, spelling “Elisabeth” two different ways—and that still seems to be just about it. Aside from her interview for Fresh Air, we can find no mention of Rosenthal anywhere in TV or radio news over the past year.
On its face, the massive cost of American health care is a massive scandal—a major act of corporate and professional looting. This is also true:
Within the realm of the mainstream press corps, absolutely no one cares. This fact has now been proven.
Rosenthal may win a prize today. If she does, our point will be sharpened.