Straight Man’s Burden


June 9, 2011, 6:00 PM
Contact:  Carlton Carl/Julia Austin  
512-477-0746 / 202-255-5397


Jeff Sharlet of Harper’s Magazine Wins

2011 MOLLY National Journalism Prize

Honorable Mentions to Maureen Dowd of The New York Times
and Joshua Kors of The Nation

Gail Collins of New York Times Keynotes

The 2011 annual MOLLY National Journalism Prize has been presented at a ceremony in Austin, Texas, to Jeff Sharlet for his reporting in Harper’s Magazine about one of the most powerful Christian fundamentalist groups in America and its ties to anti-gay pogroms in Uganda.  The competition recognizes great American journalism and honors the memory of Molly Ivins, the legendary reporter, columnist and former editor of The Texas Observer.

Honorable Mention awards were presented to Maureen Dowd of The New York Times for a series of columns about her personal experiences and the scandals plaguing the Catholic Church, and Joshua Kors for his reporting in The Nation about the U.S. military  saving billions of dollars by wrongfully discharging veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan with diagnoses of personality disorder, denying them medical and disability benefits.

The awards are presented annually by The Texas Observer, the non-profit magazine that has covered Texas politics, government, arts and culture for almost 57 years.  New York Times columnist and author Gail Collins, the first femaie editorial page editor of the Times, was the keynote speaker.

“Molly would have been proud of the scores of worthy entries and especially pleased with these outstanding articles, which report on: the secrets of a little-known Christian organization with strong ties to many members of Congress, leaders of foreign governments, and homophobic legislation in Uganda; the injustice being done by the U.S. government to many of its veterans in drumming them out of service unfairly without medical and disability benefits; and the scandals that have now plagued the Catholic Church for decades,” said Susan Longley, president of The Texas Democracy Foundation, publisher of The Texas Observer.

His 2008 best-seller “The Family” courageously exposed one of the most powerful Christian fundamentalist sects in the U.S.  Its members include members of Congress, corporate leaders, generals, and foreign heads of state.  His follow-up book, “C Street,” further investigated this group’s ties to anti-gay pogroms in Uganda, to multiple Republican sex scandals, and to the US military.  Sharlet is being honored with the 2011 MOLLY for an excerpt of “C Street” that appeared in Harper’s under the title “Straight Man’s Burden.”

The MOLLY Prize-winning Sharlet article and the Honorable Mention submissions of Down and Kors, which will be excerpted in the next issue of the Observer, can be read at


Jeff Sharlet is the author of C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy (Little, Brown), The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (Harper), a national bestseller, and coauthor with Peter Manseau of Killing The Buddha: A Heretic’s Bible. He’s a contributing editor of and, published by the New York University Center for Religion and Media, at which Sharlet is a visiting research scholar.

In addition to Harper’s and Rolling Stone, for which he is a contributing editor, Sharlet has written for Mother JonesNew YorkThe NationNew Statesman, The New Republic, Oxford American, The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning NewsNerveSalonThe Chronicle of Higher EducationColumbia Journalism ReviewThe Baffler, Lapham’s Quarterly, The Forward, and Pakn Treger. He’s been a semi-regular guest on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” and made appearances on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show,” HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” “Hardball,” CNN, NPR, BBC, CBC, Air America, Radio France, The New York Times,Newsweek, and other media venues.

Jeff Sharlet received the MOLLY Prize for his article “Straight Man’s Burden”; published in Harper’s Magazine. See Sharlet’s related article “Dangerous Liaisons,” published in Advocate, and his interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air. Research for Sharlet’s work is supported by The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.


Maureen Dowd, winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary, became a columnist on The New York Times Op-Ed page in 1995 after having served as a correspondent in the paper’s Washington bureau since 1986. She has covered four presidential campaigns and served as White House correspondent. She also wrote a column, “On Washington,” for The New York Times Magazine.

Ms. Dowd joined The New York Times as a metropolitan reporter in 1983. She began her career in 1974 as an editorial assistant for The Washington Star, where she later became a sports columnist, metropolitan reporter and feature writer. When the Star closed in 1981, she went to Time magazine.

Born in Washington D.C., Ms. Dowd received a B.A. degree in English literature from Catholic University (Washington, D.C.) in 1973.

Maureen Dowd received an honorable mention for her series of articles “Eraser Duty for Bart?”; “Devil of a Scandal”; “The Church’s Judas Moment”; and “Worlds Without Women”; published in The New York Times.

Kors is an investigative reporter for The Nation, where he covers military and veterans’ issues. He is the winner of the National Magazine Award, George Polk Award, IRE Award, National Headliner Award, Casey Medal, Deadline Club Award, Mental Health Media Award and the Military Reporters and Editors Award.

Kors earned national attention this year for his work uncovering the veterans’ benefits scandal. His three-part series showed how military doctors are purposely misdiagnosing soldiers wounded in Iraq in order to deny them medical care and disability pay. He continued his reporting with ABC News, collaborating with Bob Woodruff on “World News Tonight” and “Nightline” pieces covering the scandal. The “Nightline” report won the Peabody Award. In July 2007 Kors testified before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, which convened to investigate his reporting. His testimony led to the creation of two new laws governing military discharges signed by President Bush in January and October 2008.

In September 2010 the House VA Committee convened again to examine Kors’ reporting.  His testimony sparked a Pentagon investigation into the U.S. Army’s torture of an American soldier. Complete bio.

Joshua Kors received an honorable mention for his article “Disposable Soldiers”, published in The Nation. Also see his accompanying articles, “How the VA Abandons Our Vets,” “Thanks for Nothing,” and “Specialist Town Takes His Case to Washington,” all published in The Nation. the Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards, Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism, and the National Association of Black Journalists.

The MOLLY prizes were presented at a June 9 dinner in Austin, Texas, at which Gail Collins, the author and New York Times columnist, was the keynote speaker. Texas State Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, was the emcee, and entertainment was provided by Austin jazz/blues singer/songwriter Marcia Ball and a recorded message from A Prairie Home Companion‘s Garrison Keillor. Audre and Bernard Rapoport of Waco were honorary co-chairs of the event.


Janis and Joe Pinnelli of Austin received The Bernard Rapoport Philanthropy Award.

Special guests were Sergeant Chuck Luther and his wife Nikki, among the subjects of the Kors article.

Prize presentations were made by Texas Observer editors and reporters.  The MOLLY Board of Advisors, composed of prominent journalists and scholars, reviewed the entries and selected the winners.

The MOLLY National Journalism Prize, including a $5,000 cash award, was established by The Texas Observer to recognize print or online journalism of exceptional merit that focuses on civil liberties and social justice, and embodies the intelligence, deep thinking and/or passionate wit that marked the work of the late Molly Ivins. The honorable mention prizes include $1,000 cash awards.

The prizes themselves are beer steins engraved with the name of the recipient, the publisher of the entry, and The MOLLY logo. The stein features a drawing of Molly Ivins as the Statue of Liberty holding the Bill of Rights by Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Ben Sargent of Austin, a Texas Observer contributor.


General information on The MOLLY National Journalism Prize

Previous MOLLY Winners

2011 Winners »

Jeff Sharlet, Harper’s Magazine

2010 Winners »

A.C. Thompson, ProPublica

2009 Winners »

Rick Casey, The Houston Chronicle

2008 Winners »

Diane Suchetka, The Cleveland Plain Dealer