Roger L. Simon

How Duranty Happened

It is through Wretchard, whom I have come to trust greatly, that I found confirmation for what I already suspected – that the New York Times report of 380 tons of escaped explosives published this morning was so much progandistic drivel timed to encourage the defeat of a sitting president in favor of a candidate, I am almost certain, the paper’s publisher and editors do not even care for in the first place. How pathetic is that! How deeply reactionary! This kind of distortion during an election is a worse disgrace than the Jayson Blair affair.

The Belmont Club informs us that NBC reporters (no neocon stooges they!) embedded with troops at the beginning of the war found no evidence of those explosives when they arrived at the now ironically named Al Qaqaa. As Wretchard points out:

The account above shows that the RDX explosive was already gone by the time US forces arrived. Although one may retrospectively find some fault with OIF order of battle, most of the damage had already been inflicted by the dilatory tactics of America’s allies which allowed Saddam the time and space — nearly half a year and undisturbed access to Syria — necessary to prepare his resistance, transfer money abroad and disperse explosives (as confirmed first hand by reporters). Although it is both desirable and necessary to criticize the mistakes attendant to OIF, much of the really “criminal” neglect may be laid on the diplomatic failure which gave the wily enemy this invaluable opportunity. The price of passing the “Global Test” was very high; and having been gypped once, we now show ourselves eager to be taken to the cleaners again.

This seems self-evident. But will the Times report that? Of course not, because it is not part of their narrative, not part of the way they see “the truth.”

Fade out: Okay, now we get personal. The demise of The New York Times has been an extraordinary shock to me and a kind of benchmark for my own political migration. Like most New York Jewish boys from liberal homes the paper was a replacement religion for me. Many decades ago, when I was twenty-three and published my first novel, finding a short positive review in the Book Review validated me as a writer, enabling me to go on with my risky career. I was published by them several times in the eighties when I was an officer of the left-leaning International Association of Crime Writers. I owe a lot to the Times. I also fear them because they review my books and movies. But I cannot shut up. This kind of biased behavior is unconscionable. Although it is nowhere near as drastic, of course, it makes me think of the days of Walter Duranty, that Timesman who won a Pultizer while white-washing Stalin. How could such things happen, I always wondered. Now I know. They happen when people think they are doing the right thing for the right cause and in their zeal don’t stop to consider the reality of what they are saying and writing. Yes, this is worse than Jayson Blair.