Feisty, Fresh and Fascinating: NYT’s Maureen Dowd to Receive NSNC’s Highest Honor

By Lisa Smith Molinari
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
Lisa MolinariShe’s been called “an antagonist of the White House,” “an equal opportunity faultfinder,” and “a striking redhead with a deceptively kittenish demeanor,” among other things. But no matter what you call Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, the fact is, she is one of the most interesting political commentators in America today.
Which is why NSNC is proud to announce that Dowd will be the 2017 winner of NSNC’s top honor – the Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award. Dowd will be at NSNC’s 2017 Annual Columnists Conference in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 8-11, to accept the award at the dinner event on Saturday night.
The youngest of five children in a working-class Irish-Catholic family, Dowd was born and raised in Washington, DC. She began her journalism career in 1974 as an editorial assistant for The Washington Star, where she later became a sports columnist, metropolitan reporter and feature writer. In 1983, she joined The New York Times as a metropolitan correspondent and then moved to The Times’s Washington bureau in 1986 to cover politics. She’s been an Op-Ed columnist for The Times since 1995, and in August 2014 she also became a writer for The New York Times Magazine.
Dowd has covered seven presidential campaigns, served as The Times’s White House correspondent, and written “On Washington,” a column for The New York Times Magazine. She is also the author of two best-selling books – “Bushworld” which covered the presidency and personality of George W. Bush, and “Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide,” a fascinating analysis of sexual politics.
Maureen Dowd

Maureen Dowd

Dowd’s latest bestseller, “The Year of Voting Dangerously: The Derangement of American Politics,” tries to make sense of the most recent Clinton-Trump Presidential race. As book reviewer Jim VandeHei put it, “Dowd surely captures the theater of our politics better than anyone else: The Clintons. The Trumps. The Obamas. The Bushes. She has been in their heads as long as they have been on our minds. She’s the establishment’s resident shrink.”

Although she runs in liberal circles, no politician or ideology is immune to Dowd’s scathing analysis. She is known for her frank criticisms of the Clintons, and the entry that won her the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary was a collection of columns about the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
In her most recent book, Dowd writes, “The Clintons don’t sparkle with honesty and openness. Between his lordly appetites and her queenly prerogatives, you always feel as if there’s something afoot.” But she doesn’t spare Trump, who she calls a narcissist who “could explode at any moment in a fiery orange ball.”
As a columnist, Dowd offers something more than strict political commentary, because she simultaneously delves into culture, society, humor and pop psychology. She gathers up the complex tangle of politics, current affairs and culture, and wrings out precious drops of fresh and pithy analysis.
“I always liked the sort of funnier, weirder thing to write about as opposed to the official thing that would be officially more prestigious but, to me, not as interesting,” Dowd said in an interview in The New York Times Magazine.
“Maureen Dowd makes some people sing and others seethe, but she makes everyone think. She’s smart, sharp and funny. She knows her way around the language, too,” said Jerry Zezima, past NSNC president and member of the Ernie Pyle award nominating committee.
Dave Astor, NSNC’s archivist and author of the monthly series of articles in The Columnist about past Ernie Pyle award winners, said that “Maureen Dowd’s columns are often satirical, sometimes deadly serious, and always well written as they tweak prominent politicians of both major parties.”
“Another thing I like about her columns,” Astor continued, “is the way they give national politicians little respect … Instead, Ms. Dowd often treats them like a bunch of students jockeying for their place in the have/have-not hierarchy of high school hallways.”
Some have called her “a flame-haired flamethrower,” “a cobra,” and a “scathing and smart” columnist with “a certain Jessica Rabbit ambience” and “a wardrobe that is very Siegfried and Roy.”
But this June at our Annual Columnists Conference in Manchester, NH (Register HERE), we will proudly call Maureen Dowd our 2017 Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
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