Tucker Carlson promoted his upcoming interview with Stephen F. Cohen, a contributing editor at the Marxist magazine The Nation, by hyping that he “actually speaks Russian!” It reminded me of an old saw often used against conservatives.
It seems like anytime the Left doesn’t like a speech, from Trump to Reagan and countless others, some “clever” left wing pundit pulls out the line, “I liked it better in the original German.”
My first thought when Tucker gushed over Cohen’s linguistic proclivities was, “Well doesn’t everyone at The Nation speak Russian?”
Not once, but twice, Tucker pointed out that “unlike Senators,” Cohen actually “speaks Russian!” so that makes him an expert. But he added, as a quiet aside, that Cohen is an editor at The Nation. That might not be playing fair with Carlson’s predominantly conservative audience, many of whom are not familiar with The Nation.
For nearly a century, The Nation has been America’s leading pro-communist apologist weekly organ. They loved Gorbachev, but were not happy with the complete collapse of communism—and neither was Cohen (and not merely because of the fear of anarchy in a country with 10,000 nukes).
For both Professor Cohen and The Nation (including Cohen’s wife, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, the Marxist activist who is co-owner, editor, and publisher of The Nation) Ronald Reagan was Public Enemy Number One when it came to world peace. Throughout the 1980s, Cohen was a constant presence on American talking head shows, ripping Reagan’s “aggression” toward the Soviet Union.
Later, as democracy foundered in Russia, Cohen blamed “American triumphalism” by George H. W. Bush and others who declared that the United States defeated the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Cohen said it was “strengthening the hand of neo-Stalinists”.
Of course, for decades, The Nation was itself, pro-Stalinist.
Founded in 1865 as an abolitionist magazine, The Nation was purchased in 1918 by Leftists during the Russian Revolution. They were the first publication in the United States to publish the Soviet Constitution. They stayed with Stalin both during and after the Hitler/Stalin Pact.
As David Horowitz, himself once the editor of a Marxist publication, summarized, The Nation:
…supported every Communist dictator in their heyday — Stalin, Mao, Fidel, Ho, even Pol Pot – and on every issue involving conflict between the United States and any of its sworn enemies during the Cold War, invariably tilted towards (and often actively sided with) the enemy side.
Throughout the 1950s, The Nation was, unsurprisingly, the intellectual voice of anti-anticommunism. Of course, they defended Alger Hiss from spying charges and made a martyr of executed atom bomb spy Ethel Rosenberg. Most of the Left did.
But even after respectable liberals like The New York Times’ Sam Tanenhaus and historian Allen Weinstein came down on the side of conservative icon Whittaker Chambers that Alger Hiss was indeed a Soviet spy, The Nation was defending him well into the 2000s.
As for Ethel Rosenberg? Well… please.
So I was more than a little surprised to see PJ Media—home to Ron Radosh, who has written many an expose of The Nation’s love for the Soviets, communist guerillas, and pretty much all things anti-American—publish a series of articles gushing over Tucker’s series of interviews with Cohen.
If Stephen Cohen really wants to use the language skills that impressed Tucker Carlson so much, perhaps he could use them to read the declassified Venona transcripts, U.S. Army intercepts of Soviet spies, which confirmed Hiss’s treason. But wait, The Nation has conspiracy theories about that, too! (Which even Slate had to decry.)
Cohen also tried to brush off declassified Soviet documents showing that Ted Kennedy tried to work with the Soviets to defeat Ronald Reagan in 1984.
So much for Cohen making good use of being able to “speak Russian!”
Stephen Cohen has languished in obscurity since the fall of the Soviet Union. Even his defense of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine didn’t get him much notoriety.
Now, Cohen thinks he’s found his ticket back to the limelight—being the one Leftist in the United States to poo-poo the fantasy that Trump and Putin colluded to defeat Hillary Clinton. It’s not a bad PR strategy, but there is no reason for Tucker Carlson—or PJ Media—to help him.
In fact, a quick look at The Nation online shows a roster of the kind of left wing kookfest that usually gets roasted on “Tucker Carlson Tonight”: a call for a “people’s filibuster of Neil Gorsuch” (whatever that means); an “analysis” showing that fear of diversity drove the Trump vote; and an assertion that the repeal of the North Carolina bathroom bill was really a Trojan horse to oppress transgenders.
After decades of proclaiming Russia and the Soviet Union (and their surrogates) innocent of aggression and atrocity—at least in comparison to the capitalist West—Stephen Cohen may finally be correct that a Russian dictator is innocent of the charges against him, and that they are based in politically motivated hysteria.
But once in 40 years is far less accuracy than even the proverbial stopped clock. Sooner or later Cohen was bound to be right on this count. That’s hardly authoritative, and Tucker Carlson is too smart not to know better—I think.