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The Whole Truth By: Lowell Ponte
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, October 31, 2003


“AS SOMEONE WHO SPENT TIME IN THE SOVIET UNION while it still existed,” said New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller in a recent interview, “the notion of airbrushing history kind of gives me the creeps.”

This is what the character Winston Smith did in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 – the re-writing of official history so that Big Brother would always appear omniscient, wise and correct.

But Keller was not arguing for truth. He was not, e.g., objecting to the November CBS miniseries the script of which dishonestly depicts former President Ronald Reagan as a demented homophobic madman who in private declares himself to be the AntiChrist.

No, Bill Keller was voicing his distaste for those who demand that the New York Times return, or at least repudiate, the Pulitzer Prize awarded in 1932 to its Soviet Union correspondent Walter Duranty. 

Duranty either through an inability to find facts or, more likely, for Leftist ideological motives deliberately dismissed rumors that Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was systematically starving uncooperative farmers in the Ukraine.  Today we know from the Soviet Union’s own records and other sources that Stalin thus murdered as many as 17 million people.

To confront this controversy, the Times hired Columbia University History Professor Mark von Hagen, an expert on early 20th Century Russian history.  Duranty’s reporting, von Hagen concluded, exhibited a “lack of balance and uncritical acceptance of the Soviet self-justification for its cruel and wasteful regime [that] was a disservice to the American readers of The New York Times.

“For the sake of The New York Times’ honor, they should take the prize away,” said this newspaper’s own expert Dr. von Hagen.

But in his letter about this to the Pulitzer board, Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., put forth arguments against rescinding Duranty’s prize.  Doing so, he wrote, would resemble the “Stalinist practice to airbrush purged figures out of official records and histories.”

These words of his boss are what Keller was parroting, despite his own admission that Duranty’s reporting was “dreadful, a parroting of propaganda.”

So what, if we parse or in the postmodern word “deconstruct” these statements, are the Publisher and Executive Editor of America’s “newspaper of record” really saying?  It is apparent that New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty wrote falsehoods. By publishing his reports, the New York Times amplified these Stalinist falsehoods and gave them credibility. 

Whether Duranty wrote as an ideological Leftist or merely as a lapdog who got favored treatment in the Soviet Union by writing articles friendly to Stalin’s regime, the effect was to turn the New York Times into a megaphone for Marxist propaganda.

But rather than apologize for publishing pro-Stalinist propaganda and take steps to discredit and disown it, Sulzberger and Keller have made the surrealistic argument that to exorcise this bloody ghost haunting their house and tainting the honor of the Pulitzer Prize would itself be a Stalinistic act of historical revisionism.  To correct a lie with the truth would itself be a lie. To right a wrong is to commit a wrong.

This sick Leftist mindset able to see up as down, white as black, peace as war and freedom as slavery is what George Orwell in 1984 called “DoubleThink.”  Nowadays no knowledgeable person doubts that the New York Times is a very Orwellian newspaper.

Why is the New York Times so reluctant to acknowledge the pro-Communist reporting of one of its correspondents?  My suspicion is that to remove Duranty’s skeleton from the consecrated burial ground of honest journalism would disturb and reveal other red skeletons.

As the old joke goes, does the name “Pavlov” ring a bell?  How about the name Herbert Matthews?  This was the New York Times correspondent who in 1959 sent back glowing reports from Cuba reassuring America that the rebel in the hills Fidel Castro was not a Communist. Fidel, reported Matthews again and again, was just an “agrarian reformer,” freedom fighter and noble idealist.

Castro, of course, was a Communist who turned Cuba into a Marxist dictatorship and colony of the Soviet Union. Democratic President John F. Kennedy agreed not to overthrow Castro in exchange for no Soviet missiles stationed on Cuban soil – a pledge the Soviets technically kept. Moscow kept this pledge by providing Castro with nuclear-capable MiG-23 aircraft and by docking Soviet submarines at Cienfuegos, where their nuclear missiles could be zeroed in on U.S. cities with the same targeting accuracy as land-based missiles.

It later would turn out that Herbert Matthews himself was a member of as many as 12 “Communist Front” organizations, a far-Left political orientation not unusual among Times reporters.)

The grim joke William F. Buckley, Jr., made of this was that Fidel could boast, like so many others, that “I got my job through the New York Times.”

In February 2001, the year of his 75th birthday, the world’s longest-surviving dictator  Fidel Castro entertained Hollywood guests in Havana. The CEO of MTV Tom Freston was there, as perhaps to kiss Fidel’s ring was Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter as well as the head of the William Morris talent agency Jim Wiatt.  One of the attendees described this tropical prison with 11 million inmate slaves as “the most romantic, soulful and sexy country I’ve ever been to in my life.”

The other superstar at Fidel’s intimate gathering was Les Moonves, the President and CEO of CBS Television, a division of Viacom (and its controlling Viacommies).  This is the man who greenlighted “The Reagans,” with its vile revisionist depiction of the great President now dying of Alzheimer’s Disease, due to air in November 2003.  Playing Ronald Reagan in this propagandistic smear is the husband of hyperLeftist Barbra Streisand James Brolin.

Moonves returned from Havana clutching a cigar box signed by Fidel with the same hand that has murdered tens of thousands of people. Moonves seemed both comfortable and proud to have shared intimacies with a Marxist dictator who not only violates all other human rights but is also notorious for systematically imprisoning, torturing and executing gays just because he dislikes homosexuality.

CBS, lest we forget, is also known as the Clinton BS network. The Executive Producer of “60 Minutes” on CBS, Don Hewitt, has boasted that he personally elected Bill Clinton with that entirely phony interview aired just after the 1992 Superbowl. 

Viewers of this interview were never told that Bill and Hillary were given the questions they would be asked prior to this interview, or that they were given control of the “final cut” – i.e., that they could re-take anything they said until they were satisfied with it.  In the end the videotaped interview that aired was, in effect, a free $20+ million campaign ad for the Clintons shaped exactly to their specifications.

Moonves is also a huge Democratic Party supporter and Clinton acolyte. He sat in the place of honor next to Hillary Clinton at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. 

CBS Evening News is home to anchorman Dan Rather, who nearly wore his tongue down to a stub from licking Hillary Clinton’s shoes so hard in what must be the most sycophantic interview ever done on network television.  This column has done its own proposed interview with Dan Rather, but he has never taken me up on the offer.  To see why, click here.  Rather, appropriately enough, was born on Halloween Day, 1931.  Happy 72nd birthday, Dan. 

Or should I paraphrase the way Dan Rather once ended an interview of his own with Fidel Castro, waving in supplication as the Marxist dictator’s limousine sped off and calling out: “Goodbye, Mr. President, take care!” 

Rather has never been this friendly with any Republican. “Goodbye, Mr. Anchorman, take care!”

The good news is that people need no longer depend on Leftists such as Dan Rather or the reporters of the New York Times as their sole source of news and information. Internet sources such as FrontPageMagazine.com, talk radio, and television alternatives such as the FoxNewsChannel have punched huge holes in what once was an iron curtain media monopoly keeping truth out.  Light now floods through those holes.

The fading Leftist media now feels the heat, and sometimes sees the light, when it tries to repeat its old time lies. Nowadays when a fine writer such as Peggy Noonan calls for boycotting sponsors of the upcoming CBS smear against Ronald Reagan, sponsors listen. Lefty Les Moonves now says that statements in this miniseries that “go too far” might be cut out in the final edit.

Attempts to rebuild the Leftist media monolith are also falling short. America breathed a sigh of relief days ago at the news that New York Times Chairman Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.’s offer to buy the Wall Street Journal (and, we can infer, soon thereafter shut down its pro-capitalist editorial pages, which you can read seven days a week at OpinionJournal.com) was refused. 

Nearly half the public, a recent Gallup Poll confirms, continues to see the establishment media as “too liberal” (while only 14 percent see it as “too conservative”), and therefore the public ought to distrust the news and entertainment images this biased media delivers. Given how it has been awarded through backstage rigging in the past, the Pulitzer Prize itself is a tainted honor worthy of only limited respect.

Former Vice President and aspiring media mogul Al Gore has reportedly been told by advertising executives that if his new network is identified as “liberal” in the public perception, it will be “dead on arrival” as a commercial entity.

Fox News, by contrast, has succeeded overwhelmingly by including the balance long missing from establishment Leftist media. But with the forthcoming move by its Sunday anchor Tony Snow to the new Fox talk radio network, the newly named anchor of “Fox News Sunday” is Chris Wallace, son of CBS “60 Minutes” star Mike Wallace, a veteran of the established networks.

As reported by Howard Kurtz in the October 28th Washington Post, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes “said the hiring of Wallace ‘makes it more difficult for our critics’ who say the network tilts to the right. ‘They want to pigeonhole us into something that their imagination tells them,’ Ailes said.”

A cynic might be tempted to believe that Leftist criticism of Fox, at least in some small measure, has therefore been successful in this hiring of a moderate. For his part, veteran Emmy-winning reporter Chris Wallace, 56, comes like Brit Hume before him from ABC.

For critics [e.g., James Wolcott of, you guessed it, Vanity Fair] to call Fox a right-wing network, says Wallace, is “an unfair rap. Its reporting is serious, thoughtful and evenhanded…. If they wanted someone to push a political agenda, they wouldn’t have hired me.”

Getting access to the whole truth requires not only diversity of sources but also an ever-expanding frontier of new media. This coming week, as Stephen Moore of the Club For Growth and Cato Institute explains, the Federal Communications Commission can expand or contract the horizon for the future of internet television. We need these channels of communication. They could become yet more holes in the iron curtain through which the un-airbrushed light of whole truth can shine.

Mr. Ponte co-hosts a national radio talk show Monday through Friday 6-8 PM Eastern Time (3-5 PM Pacific Time) on the Genesis Communications Network. Internet Audio worldwide is at GCNlive .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-800-259-9231. A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.

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