Pulitzer Prizes: Aretha Franklin, Trump Tax Cheating Story Honored

Aretha Franklin Clinton inauguration

Donald Trump will have something to hate tweet about this afternoon.

The Pulitzer Prizes awarded two hard-hitting investigations into the 45th president during its annual ceremony on Monday. The New York Times earned a prize in explanatory reporting for an 18-month investigation into the elaborate steps that Trump and his family went to in an effort to avoid paying taxes. The piece was written by David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner.

The paper also recognized the staff of the Wall Street Journal in the national reporting category for breaking the story that Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen paid Stormy Daniels hush money in order to cover up an alleged extramarital affair. Trump has previously taken issue with the Pulitzer Prizes that were handed out in 2018 to stories that examined his campaign’s ties to Russia, claiming that Robert Mueller’s “no collusion” findings meant that the reporters should return their honors.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel earned a public service prize, considered the Pulitzers top award, for its look at the mistakes and failures made by education and law enforcement officials before and after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Seventeen students and staff members died in that attack. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette received an award for breaking news reporting for its coverage of another deadly shooting — the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue that left 11 people dead.

The Los Angeles Times’ report on a University of Southern California gynecologist who allegedly abused hundreds of young women earned a prize for investigative reporting.

The Pulitzers also honor the best in literature, theater, and music. To that end, Jackie Sibblies Drury’s “Fairview,” a piercing look at race and class in America, won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, beating out Clare Barron’s “Dance Nation and Heidi Schreck’s “What the Constitution Means to Me.” The show debuted at the Soho Rep, playing to sell-out crowds. After being extended three times, it closed last summer, but will return Off-Broadway in June for an engagement at Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn.

The late soul singer Aretha Franklin earned a special citation from the Pulitzer committee. Franklin, whose hit songs include “Respect” and “Chain of Fools,” died in August at the age of 76. Composer and sound artist Ellen Reid won the music prize for “Prism,” a look at sexual assault that premiered last fall at the Los Angeles Opera.

Novelist Richard Powers won the Pulitzer for fiction for “The Overstory,” a panoramic look at nine Americans whose lives become entwined because of their experiences with trees, and David W. Blight picked up the prize in history for his acclaimed biography “Frederick Douglas.” Jeffrey C. Stewart’s “The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke,” a look at the life of one of the founders of the Harlem Renaissance, received best biography honors, while Eliza Griswold’s exploration of an Appalachian family, “Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America,” earned a non-fiction prize.

The committee also gave a special citation to the staff of the Capital Gazette, a paper in Annapolis, Md. that was the subject of a deadly attack in June that resulted in the murder of five employees.

The Pulitzers are administered by Columbia University and come with a $15,000 cash award. The Capital Gazette will receive an $100,000 award.