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The press closes ranks around a deception

May 24, 2009

Our times are not the first in which a compliant press has been complicit in denying vital information to the people in order to protect a movement and a leader.  In the early 1930’s, Stalin was able to starve millions of Ukrainians (The Holodoor, or genocide by starvation) and block outsiders from learning the news.  Shockingly, Walter Duranty, a Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times journalist stationed in the U.S.S.R at the time actively enabled this information blackout.  From wikipedia:

The denial of the famine was a highly successful and well orchestrated disinformation campaign by the Soviet government [56][57][58]. Stalin “had achieved the impossible: he had silenced all the talk of hunger… Millions were dying, but the nation hymned the praises of collectivization”, said historian and writer Edvard Radzinsky[58]. That was the first major instance of Soviet authorities adopting Hitler’s Big Lie propaganda technique to sway world opinion, to be followed by similar campaigns over the Moscow Trials and denial of the Gulag labor camp system, according to Robert Conquest [36]

And courtesy the Weekly Standard:

<begin Weekly Standard>

“There is no famine or actual starvation nor is there likely to be.”
–New York Times, Nov. 15, 1931, page 1

“Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda.”
–New York Times, August 23, 1933

“Enemies and foreign critics can say what they please. Weaklings and despondents at home may groan under the burden, but the youth and strength of the Russian people is essentially at one with the Kremlin’s program, believes it worthwhile and supports it, however hard be the sledding.”
–New York Times, December 9, 1932, page 6

“You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.”
–New York Times, May 14, 1933, page 18

“There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition.”
–New York Times, March 31, 1933, page 13


I would like to add another Duranty quote, not in his dispatches, which is reported in a memoir by Zara Witkin, a Los Angeles architect, who lived in the Soviet Union during the 1930s. (“An American Engineer in Stalin’s Russia: The Memoirs of Zara Witkin, 1932-1934,” University of California Press ). The memoirist describes an evening during which the Moscow correspondents were discussing how to get out the story about the Stalin-made Russian famine. To get around the censorship, the UP’s Eugene Lyons was telephoning the dire news of the famine to his New York office but the was ordered to stop because it was antagonizing the Kremlin. Ralph Barnes, the New York Herald Tribune reporter, turned to Duranty and asked him what he was going to write. Duranty replied:

Nothing. What are a few million dead Russians in a situation like this? Quite unimportant. This is just an incident in the sweeping historical changes here. I think the entire matter is exaggerated.

And this was at a time when peasants in Ukraine were dying of starvation at the rate of 25,000 a day.

In his masterwork about Stalin’s imposed famine on Ukraine, “Harvest of Sorrow,” Robert Conquest has written:

As one of the best known correspondents in the world for one of the best known newspapers in the world, Mr. Duranty’s denial that there was a famine was accepted as gospel. Thus Mr. Duranty gulled not only the readers of the New York Times but because of the newspaper’s prestige, he influenced the thinking of countless thousands of other readers about the character of Josef Stalin and the Soviet regime. And he certainly influenced the newly-elected President Roosevelt to recognize the Soviet Union.

What is so awful about Duranty is that Times top brass suspected that Duranty was writing Stalinist propaganda, but did nothing. In her exposé “Stalin’s Apologist: Walter Duranty, the New York Times’s man in Moscow,” S.J. Taylor makes it clear that Carr Van Anda, the managing editor, Frederick T. Birchall, an assistant managing editor, and Edwin L. James, the later managing editor, were troubled with Duranty’s Moscow reporting but did nothing about it. Birchall recommended that Duranty be replaced but, says Taylor, “the recommendation fell by the wayside.”

<end Weekly Standard>

We must strive to keep the information flowing around the MSM- it seems clear they are circling the wagons and abandoning the rest of us to our fate.

2010 is coming!

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