Norman Mailer Wins A Pulitzer, But Gets No Respect From the Press


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May 8, 1969, Vol. XIV, No. 30 (New logo!)

Mailer Hits Press Coverage
by Joe Pilati

“I’ve been honored by the highest prize in your profession,” Pulitzer Prize-winning mayoral candidate Norman Mailer told a throng of reporters at a press conference Tuesday morning, “and yet the treatment our campaign has been given up to now has been close to scandalous.”

Mailer learned Monday that his book-length report on the October 1967 Pentagon demonstration, “The Armies of the Night,” had been chosen by the Pulitzer judges to share this year’s non-fiction prize with a work by micro-biologist Rene Jules Dubos. Mailer and his running mate, Jimmy Breslin, seized the occasion to launch a strong attack on the treatment accorded their campaign by the local media.

“We’re not getting a fair shake,” Mailer said, “and if you continue to treat us this way, you’re going to be a disgrace to your profession.” He said that he and Breslin, who is running for City Council President, “have campaigned harder than anyone else,” and “not a single reporter has followed us around for an entire day. Why don’t you guys go out and do an honest day’s work?”

Mailer charged specifically that a New York Post story assigned for April 10 had been killed, and that a memo had subsequently been circulated to Post staffers “by Dorothy Schiff” (publisher of the Post) stating that “the Post does not give publicity to former employes.” Until two months ago Breslin was a Post columnist.

He also attacked the New York Times for “burying on page 25,” the first announcement of his mayoral campaign, and then giving front-page treatment to a story announcing that Mrs. Elinor Guggenheimer had joined the Badillo slate as a candidate for Council president. “I do not with to be ungracious to a lady,” Mailer said, “but I do mean to be ungracious to the Times.”

Other local papers fared no better in Mailer’s lexicon. He said that a Daily News reporter had showed up at only “one press conference,” and that The Voice had also been remiss, assigning reporters to cover single campaign meetings rather than day-long activities.

In general, Mailer argued, the press was “as usual several steps behind the people” in regarding his and Breslin’s candidacy as a serious undertaking. “Anybody who thinks we’re running for fun has a perverted notion of fun,” he contended. “The Post is afraid of us because they’re supporting Badillo and Scheuer, and they think we’ll hurt their campaigns. And the Daily News knows we’ll hurt Wagner and Procaccino.”

Mailer’s remarks to the press followed a campaign speech to some 200 police trainees at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University. In his speech, Mailer attacked the notion that “only experts can run the city’s affairs — this is what we’re running against.” He also outlined his “power to the neighborhoods” platform and summarized his first position paper, which deals with air pollution and proposes “a day set aside, perhaps the last Sunday of the month, when nothing would move or operate in the city — no vehicles, no ships, no trains, no planes, and no electric power but for places of dire emergency. So a silence might come upon the city, a short period of rest not only for air and the lungs, but for the ears and the nerves, a brief period of restoration for the citizens.”

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