By: Diego Ibarguen, Associated Press Writer
(AP) Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who recently admitted copying passages from other works in one of her best-selling books, has withdrawn from judging the Pulitzer Prizes next month.
Pulitzer board administrator Seymour Topping said Monday that Goodwin “decided not to participate” when the board meets April 4 and 5 to pick the 21 prizes for journalism work done last year.
In a March 3 letter to board chairman John Carroll, the historian said “because I am so distracted by the media focus on my work, I do not feel capable of giving the considerable time needed to make the proper judgments.”
The Pulitzers, journalism’s highest honor, are awarded by Columbia University on the board’s recommendation. Topping said it was the first time any board member had withdrawn under such circumstances and no replacement will be named.
Carroll, editor of the Los Angeles Times, said the board would “do whatever was necessary to maintain the highest standard of integrity for the Pulitzer Prize process.”
Goodwin’s withdrawal, he said, would “allow this year’s judging to proceed without distraction. It would also give the board time to weigh the issues and determine what action, if any, should be taken.”
Goodwin, who was traveling to Washington from the West Coast on Monday, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Goodwin won a Pulitzer for her 1995 book “No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II.” She has been on the Pulitzer board since March 1999.
She acknowledged in January that “The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys,” released in 1987, contained passages that closely resembled prose from three other books. She settled privately with one of the authors soon after publication.
Goodwin said the copying was accidental. Since her admission, she has taken an indefinite leave from PBS’s “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” a show on which she was a regular contributor.
Other best-selling historians, including Stephan Ambrose, David McCullough, and Joseph Ellis, are under scrutiny following questions about their works.
Ellis, who won a Pulitzer for “Founding Brothers,” admitted he had lied about being a Vietnam combat veteran. McCullough said he erred in quoting Thomas Jefferson in “John Adams,” and at least five books by Ambrose have been cited for material lifted from other sources.