March 7, 2010


Pulitzer-Winning Lies: Pro-Stalinist Walter Duranty's yellow journalism whitewashed the Reds. (Arnold Beichman, June 13, 2003, The Weekly Standard)_

AT LONG LAST a Pulitzer Prize committee is looking into the possibility that the Pulitzer awarded to Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow correspondent whose dispatches covered up Stalin's infamies, might be revoked.

In order to assist in their researches, I am downloading here some of the lies contained in those dispatches, lies which the New York Times has never repudiated with the same splash as it accorded Jayson Blair's comparatively trivial lies:

"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 he 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.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 7, 2010 10:46 AM
blog comments powered by Disqus