ABC News is calling on the Center for Public Integrity to share its Pulitzer, but CPI and the Pulitzer Prize Committee don't seem to be having any of it.
CPI's Chris Hamby won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for a series that exposed doctors and lawyers conspiring to deny benefits to coal miners sick with black lung disease. Poynter reported Tuesday that ABC News has told CPI that its contributions to the investigation merit credit as well.
Network president Ben Sherwood sent a four-page letter to CPI's executive director Bill Buzenberg affirming that ABC News was CPI's partner in the investigation. He argued that reporters Brian Ross and Matthew Mosk made "significant contributions" without which CPI would not have won the Pulitzer. He added that while the prizes are only awarded to print organizations, he hoped the Pulitzer Committee would recognize Ross and Mosk.
Buzenberg responded in a blistering rebuttal on Wednesday, stating, "ABC is seeking to take credit for a large body of work that it did not produce."
ABC News did a report on the year-long investigation for "Nightline," "World News" and abcnews.com, and Buzenberg claimed that the network merely "dropped in" on Hamby's work from time to time during the course of the year. It was Hamby's "intervention," he claimed, that saved the network "from making embarrassing factual errors in broadcast segments and online stories."
"The truth is that ABC did not join the investigation until part-way through, it focused on only one part of a multi-part series, and its reporting was sporadic and almost entirely geared toward the needs of television, not original content for the print series," Buzenberg added. The statement went on to address each of Sherwood's points.
"It is curious that you repeatedly reference dictionary definitions of 'integrity' in an apparent attempt to play off the Center’s name and imply hypocrisy," he wrote. "In fact, it is the behavior of ABC that should give rise to questions about honesty and moral uprightness."
The Pulitzer Prize Committee has remained firm in its decision to give the award solely to Hamby. Poynter reported that Buzenberg provided an email from Sig Gissler, the Pulitzer Prize administrator, in which Gissler said the series is "overwhelmingly Hamby’s work" and that "based on the entry, the prize to the Hamby alone is warranted."
Disclosure: Arianna Huffington, HuffPost's editor-in-chief, is on the board of the Center for Public Integrity.