Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin pulls out of Pulitzer Prize judging

Tuesday, March 5, 2002

— Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who recently admitted copying passages from other works in one of her best-selling books, has withdrawn from judging the 2001 Pulitzer Prizes.

Pulitzer board administrator Seymour Topping said Monday that Goodwin "decided not to participate" when the 18-member board meets April 4 and 5 to decide on the 21 prizes for work done last year.

Topping said the decision was made after consultation this weekend between Goodwin and board chairman John Carroll, editor of The Los Angeles Times.

He said the board reached no conclusions as to the controversy about Goodwin's book.

Goodwin, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her 1995 book "No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II," joined the board in March 1999. Members serve a maximum of nine years.

In January, Goodwin admitted copying several passages from other works in her 1987 best-selling book "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys." She said the copying was accidental, but she told The New York Times last month she had copied more language than noted.

In a March 3 letter addressed to Carroll, Goodwin 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."

She has also taken an indefinite leave from PBS's "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," a show on which she was a regular contributor. The University of Delaware has rescinded its invitation to Goodwin to speak at its commencement.

Columbia University oversees the awards, journalism's highest honor, under the will of publisher Joseph Pulitzer. The university awards the prizes on the board's recommendation.