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Stalin's Apologist: Walter Duranty: The New York Times's Man in Moscow

Stalin's Apologist: Walter Duranty: The New York Times's Man in Moscow - S.J. Taylor Portrait of the world's least-investigative journalist. "...Must all of them and their families be physically abolished? Of course not. They must be 'liquidated' or melted in the hot fire of exile and labor into the proletarian masses."That's a reporter's commentary on recently-convicted political prisoners in Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. He made these observations without sarcasm as the prisoners, convicted on the basis of hearsay evidence, were forced aboard a train which would take them to labor camps, where they would serve sentences generally ranging from twenty years to life. Which newspaper do you think that reporter wrote for? Pravda? No. The New York Times.The man's name was Walter Duranty, and he spent twenty years in Russia as a NYT correspondent, feeding the American public with apologist articles about Stalin and the Soviet system. Why'd he do it? The Russians treated him pretty well for his services. Come to think of it, Americans did too; he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for journalism in 1932. By whoring himself to Joseph Stalin for creature comforts in the Soviet Union, the New York Times' reporter Walter Duranty essentially became Russia's top propagandist to America, and a traitor to his profession. These past ten years have been something like a Golden Age for asleep-at-the-wheel journalism, but Duranty makes today's newsprint prostitutes look like pilars of integrity! Stalin with kids propaganda poster Apparently, it only took a little bit of wining and dining by ├╝berthug Joseph Stalin to get Duranty to abandon his professional ethics. For nearly twenty years, the reporter lived in Moscow and traveled throughout the Soviet Union, witnessing a near-constant stream of newsworthy atrocities... with narry a discouraging word to report to the Times' subscribers back home. His tenure spanned wave after bloody wave of political purges. Neighbors on his own street- people he knew - were hauled off for NKVD interrogation, torture, and liquidation, while Duranty posted bland missives about production goals, inconsequential human interest blurbs, and fawning anecdotes about Uncle Joe. If he mentioned the showtrials at all, it was merely to parrot back the official Pravda line. There was never an attempt to verify the validity of the charges, or the justice of the verdicts. Map of the Soviet network of forced labor camps, to which literally millions of political prisoners were sent during the Stalin era.In 1933, Duranty stood face-to-face with Holodomor victims... a direct and avoidable result of Stalin's ill-conceived collectivization program. Instead of seizing the opportunity to call the world's attention to a mass starvation, Duranty meekly recorded a "disappointing" harvest. Over the years, growing comfortable with a high society life few in Russia could even dream of, the correspondent fashioned himself into a PR man for a Soviet "worker's paradise" that never came to pass. Compounding the injustice, Duranty accumulated a Pulitzer Prize, a Russian mistress, and a chauffer-driven limousine. I can't help but imagine that Stalin, on assessing the situation, must have thought to himself: "Gee, that was easy!" Walter Duranty in Moscow, 1930's, in front of the personal chauffeur-driven limousine Stalin placed at his disposal