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Pulitzer-Winning Columnist Can't Be Pigeon-Holed

SCOTT SIMON, Host:

Congratulations. Thanks for being with us.

SIMON: Thank you, Scott.

SIMON: And I understand that you've reappraised your assessment of the prize after winning it.

SIMON: Well, you know - yeah. All those years when other people were winning Pulitzers, I just thought - I dismissed it as, you know, it's a political game, it means nothing. And I've totally reassessed that now.

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SIMON: It's a real indication of quality, isn't it?

SIMON: It completely is, and I just have the greatest admiration for the Pulitzer board...

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SIMON: Now that they've seen fit to recognize you.

SIMON: Exactly.

SIMON: So what's it feel like?

SIMON: So when I got the call, I was completely speechless. My hands started shaking. And you know, you're a little embarrassed to be so moved by something, but it's a lot of fun.

SIMON: Do you see this as any kind of recognition for people who are considered conservative columnists?

SIMON: Well, it's pretty unprecedented, when you think about it. The Pulitzers have often gone to more left-leaning, more liberal commentators. I mean, George Will has won one, and Charles Krauthammer. I think that pretty much covers it.

SIMON: Mm-hmm.

SIMON: My entry, which I did not put together, just covered a lot of different subjects. But among them were two abortion columns. Normally, if you had the word abortion in a column that was not pro-choice - and mine is not anti anything, it's sort of pro let's think about this - that alone would, I think, suggest that conservatives may feel a little more validated as a result of this.

SIMON: What's the role of a columnist who writes a few times a week in these days, when there are bloggers who put up something new every hour?

SIMON: First of all, I come out of the newsroom. I'm an old-fashioned columnist. That means it is, in part, personality-driven. But mainly for me, it's an essay, and I try to make it as pleasant to read as I possibly I can. I really struggle with the writing part of it. And I'm, of course, making an argument but ultimately for me, it's a little gem - and not all of them are, obviously, but that's what I am really aiming for.

SIMON: But as - I don't have to tell you, we now inhabit a media landscape in which...

SIMON: Yeah, our days are numbered.

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SIMON: No question about it. I'm glad I got this before it's all over.

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SIMON: Well, there are people who will tell you that you don't get any kind of attention unless you post something 20 times a day.

SIMON: Well, I think that may be true, that you get a certain kind of attention. But I'm not sure. You know, after a while, it begins to sound like background noise. I don't have 20 interesting things to say a day, and I don't think many people do.

SIMON: There are people who believe that conservatives don't have a sense of humor.

SIMON: Oh, we're the funniest people on earth. Are you kidding?

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SIMON: Yeah, I mean, Chris Buckley? Please.

SIMON: OK.

SIMON: I'm actually...

SIMON: You and Christopher Buckley are very funny.

SIMON: Shoot, Mark Steyn is a hoot.

SIMON: You know, you're convincing me. Mark Steyn is very funny.

SIMON: Right.

SIMON: Kathleen, thanks so much.

SIMON: Thank you, Scott.

SIMON: And congratulations.

SIMON: It's wonderful to be here and see you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.