Changing minds is what Leninism and the Soviet empire were all about, and there is good reason to believe that The Nation became one of Leninism’s main tools for changing minds in the United States. In 1936, the Soviet espionage service was able to recruit one of the most important collaborators of The Nation, I.F. Stone, who was later eulogized as being on par with H.L. Mencken, Seymour Hersh, and William F. Buckley. According to recently revealed KGB documents in the Vassiliev Archive, Soviet espionage recruited Stone on ideological grounds and gave him the codename “Blin” (Russian for “pancake”).
In 1940, Soviet intelligence agent I.F. Stone became The Nation‘s Washington editor. Venona intercepts of Soviet espionage traffic in 1944 show that Stone was then given a new Soviet handler, Vladimir Pravdin, and that Stone told Pravdin that he would not be averse to having a “supplementary income.” Another top-secret NKVD cable to Moscow shows that Pravdin recommended to NKVD headquarters that if this “business” relationship were agreed upon, then Stone would have do his part and really produce.
Subsequent Venona intercepts show that by December 1944 the business relationship had worked out, and Stone was producing on subjects recommended to him by Moscow. Among those were condemning U.S. efforts to prevent communist expansion in Vietnam; belittling the FBI and embarrassing J. Edgar Hoover in the process; maligning Pope Pius XII and faulting the Catholic Church—the Kremlin’s archenemy—for the Nazi persecution of Jews; supporting the Kremlin’s efforts to persuade the world that there was no Soviet involvement in the JFK assassination; demonizing the Korean policies of John Foster Dulles, General MacArthur, and President Truman; and many, many similar issues. Even some of the issues Stone addressed for which he might today be hailed—including opposition to racial discrimination and McCarthyism—were at the time strictly in line with the Soviet position.
There exists compelling evidence showing that I.F. Stone’s efforts to transform The Nation into a Moscow mouthpiece were not only successful but also long-lasting. In a 1946 article published in The Nation, Walter Duranty (a former New York Times correspondent in Moscow, who in 1933 denied even the infamous famine in Russia that killed millions) “explained” to American readers that Stalin’s bloody purges of the 1930s, which had killed over seven million people, were just “a general cleaning out of the cobwebs [emphasis as in original] and mess which accumulate in any house.” The Nation represented Duranty’s laudatory view of Stalin mass assassinations as “the most enlightened, dispassionate dispatches from a great nation in the making which appeared in any newspaper in the world.”[vi]
During the Vietnam War, The Nation strongly supported U.S. enemies. For example The Nation‘s June 14, 1975, editorial read: ”The evidence is that in Cambodia the much-heralded blood bath that was supposed to follow the fall of Phnom Penh had not taken place. As for Vietnam, reports from Saigon indicate exemplary behavior. … There has been no evidence of a blood bath.”[vii]