New York, NY, November 14, 2008 … Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten was honored today by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) with its distinguished ADL Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize for his body of "lively, literate and pointed" writing chronicling and commenting on the major social, political and religious issues of the day.
Following in the footsteps of a long line of distinguished media figures and institutions – among them Walter Cronkite, George Will, Jon Meacham and Meet the Press – Mr. Rutten, whose career at the Times spans more than three decades, accepted the award during the League's annual meeting in Los Angeles.
"As a columnist free to advance his personal viewpoint, Tim Rutten uses language that is lively, literate and pointed," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "His writing reflects a keen interest in domestic and international issues, analyzing the social, political, and even religious forces at play. His criticism and editorial writing display a concern for our most cherished principles and the mandates of real politik." (full remarks)
The ADL Humphrey Prize recognizes those who have made significant and lasting contributions to the protection and advancement of the First Amendment.
Mr. Rutten, who presently serves as an op-ed columnist and book critic for The Times, has held numerous positions at the paper, including city bureau chief, metro reporter, editorial writer and assistant national editor. In 1994, he was part of the team coverage reporting on the Northridge earthquake that earned The Times a Pulitzer Prize. But it is his work as a columnist that has had the most profound impact.
"We give this award in support of a journalist who openly invokes both the blessings of free speech and its responsibilities, said Mr. Foxman, citing Mr. Rutten's column as having a special insight into inconsistency, hypocrisy, irony and history.
Mr. Foxman singled out some examples from Mr. Rutten's work of recent years:
• His commentary about Iranian President and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's embarrassing public relations coup at Columbia University, which informed his readers of the Ivy League university's own lamentable past history when its president was an outspoken admirer of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
• His columns on the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion of the Christ," which were informed by an understanding of the history of Catholic-Jewish relations and took both the media and Gibson to task.
• A spirited response to self-styled right-wing iconoclast Ann Coulter's televised comment that she hoped to see Jews "perfected" through conversion to Christianity, in which Mr. Rutten decried the "vituperative language of the war between red and blue."
The ADL Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize is endowed by Dwayne O. Andreas, President of the Andreas Foundation, as a tribute to his close friend, the late Hubert H. Humphrey, who in a long life of public service was a Mayor of Minneapolis, a distinguished Senator from Minnesota and Vice President of the United States. The award is presented to institutions or individuals who, like Hubert Humphrey, have made significant and lasting contributions to the preservation and advancement of the ideals embodied in the First Amendment of the Constitution.