Walter Duranty ought to be one of the most reviled figures in Western history. His newspaper should share in his shame. Yet most Americans have never heard of him, and probably never will.
Duranty worked for the New York Times during the years of Joseph Stalin’s Ukrainian famine. Stalin literally starved millions of people in 1932 and 1933 so that they would not seek independence from the tyrannical Soviet Union. More than seven million died in Stalin’s genocide.
The British-born Walter Duranty was there. His behavior as he witnessed mass murder on a then unprecedented scale was ghastly and despicable.
Duranty was a correspondent in Moscow while the famine raged and he knew it was happening. He not only turned a blind eye, but vilified the few Western journalists who did report on it, branding their dispatches as anti-Soviet lies.
When stories about the famine began to surface in Moscow, Duranty dismissed them as ‘exaggerated or malignant propaganda’, and in one report employed the phrase ‘you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs’. However, British Foreign Office documents show that Duranty confided to a diplomat at the British Embassy in Moscow that he believed around 10 million people had perished.
Malcolm Muggeridge, then the Manchester Guardian ‘s Moscow correspondent, travelled secretly and at great risk to Ukraine. He was appalled at the scenes of mass starvation and heaps of dead bodies that he witnessed and described them in his reports. Duranty attacked Muggeridge and debunked his reports. Duranty was ‘the greatest liar of any journalist I have ever met’, retorted Muggeridge.
Duranty and his New York Times can never be exposed too much. They aided a monster and attacked those who tried to tell the truth. Duranty was an accessory to mass murder.
PJ boss Roger Simon and his wife Sheryl Longin have written a play that exposes Duranty, called The Party Line. No surprise, as Jennifer Rubin reports at the Post, that the bulk of the mainstream media is ignoring the play. Duranty’s life story isn’t a narrative that they want to touch. It hits too close to home.
The “Party Line” is, on one hand, a historical piece, one that also looks at Pim Fortuyn, the Dutch politician who focused on the threat of radical jihadist and was assassinated by a radical environmentalist in 2002. The play mixes these historic figures with fictional ones. I talked to Simon and Longin about their play (which, unsurprisingly, the mainstream media have ignored):
Why a play about Walter Duranty?
We were struck by the similarities between what happens in the media now vis a vis world events — for example, the cover-up of Saddam Hussein’s crimes against his people so that reporters could remain in Iraq — the quid pro quo arrangement — and Duranty’s cover-up of Stalin’s genocide against the Ukrainian people. It seemed to us as though Duranty was a prototype of the modern correspondent and we wanted to explore the origins of that behavior.
Indeed he was. Just look at PolitiFact today, rating a garden-variety campaign trail falsehood as a greater lie than the serial lies told by President Obama and his lieutenants in the wake of the terrorist attack in Benghazi that left four Americans dead. Duranty would have fit right in with today’s left-wing blogosphere, probably starting out at Talking Points Memo or Firedoglake before moving on to the Times or the Washington Post. Duranty was rewarded similarly in his own day, with a Pulitzer Prize that still stands today.