Journalist who exposed Donald Trump charitable claims and revealed 'grab 'em by the pussy' tape wins Pulitzer

Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold honoured for his dogged investigations and three prizes for the 'failing' New York Times

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The Independent US

The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold has won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting, which included the revelation that Donald Trump had made false claims about his charitable fundraising as well as breaking the news of the tape in which the tycoon bragged about groping women.

During the US election campaign last year, the reporter investigated the President’s philanthropic works over his business career, revealing that Mr Trump had made his fundraising seem more impressive than it actually was.

Following Mr Fahrenthold's reporting, the New York Attorney General opened an inquiry into the Trump Foundation fundraising practices, and ultimately issued a “notice of violation” ordering the foundation to stop raising money in New York.

The Pulitzers, given out by Columbia University, are the most prestigious prizes in American journalism for newspaper and digital news coverage.

His work included an article disclosing that Mr Trump had made crude comments about how his celebrity allowed him to “grab women by the pussy” during an unaired portion of an interview on “Access Hollywood” in 2005.

The tape caused a howl of protest in the US and worldwide – although it wasn’t enough to prevent Mr Trump defeating Hillary Clinton in the election.

Harvard graduate Mr Fahrenthold was honoured in the category of National Reporting, having spent 16 years at the Post.

In May 2016, Mr Fahrenthold began his dogged investigation into Mr Trump’s claim that he had given away millions from his own pocket to various charities, including veterans’ organisations.

He periodically posted updates to his Twitter account of the responses he had received from the charities Mr Trump had named, with only one charity out of 400 confirming they had received any money.

Mr Fahrenthold paid tribute to his colleagues at the Post and thanked his readers and Twitter followers who he said had “helped him along the way.”

Washington Post editor Martin Baron joked from the newsroom that “Dave also won by the popular vote,” in a pointed reference to Mr Trump.

“Here’s what Dave did. He never took things at face value. Donald Trump claimed to be a generous guy. A foundation under his name was giving away money. But Dave thought to dig into whether it was really Trump’s money – and typically the answer was no.”

Mr Trump has all but declared war on a large section of the US media, consistently branding reports about his team’s alleged links to Russia as “fake news” and repeatedly calling The New York Times a “failing” organisation.

The President, who is yet to comment on the awards, has called the US media “the enemy of the people” and held an extraordinary press conference in the wake of BuzzFeed’s publication of an unverified dossier written by a British spy which alleged the existence of a Russian “sex blackmail tape” against him.

The New York Times, affectionately nicknamed the “grey lady”, won three Pulitzers at today’s ceremony for breaking news photography, feature writing and international news.

The New York Daily News and website ProPublica won the Pulitzer for public service for its joint series on the New York Police Department’s widespread abuse of a decades-old law to force people from their homes and businesses over alleged illegal activity.

The investigation looked into more than 1,100 nuisance abatement cases and found the Police Department almost exclusively targeted households and shops in ethnic minority neighbourhoods.

The hard-hitting reporting resulted in sweeping reforms in the way the city’s police handles nuisance cases.

Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal won the prize for commentary for her columns that the judges said “connected readers to the shared virtues of Americans during one of the nation’s most divisive political campaigns.”

The local reporting prize went to The Salt Lake Tribune in Utah for its reporting on the callous treatment of sexual assault victims at Brigham Young University.

The East Bay Times in California won the breaking news prize for its coverage of a “Ghost Ship” fire that killed 36 people at a warehouse party last December and probed the failings by officials that led to the tragedy.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, McClatchy, and The Miami Herald shared the prize for explanatory reporting for their coverage of millions of leaked documents known as the Panama Papers scandal.

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