Tuesday, June 06, 2023
View Blog
Jun 7

Written by: Diana West
Saturday, June 07, 2014 7:04 AM 

1933 article by Gareth Jones, the Ukraine Terror Famine truth-teller who was thrown down" not only by Walter Duranty but by a conspiracy of his journalist-peers.


PJ Media and The New Criterion recently teamed up to bestow the 2013 Walter Duranty Prize for mendacious journalism. Presenters once again included Roger Simon, Roger Kimball, Claudia Rosett ... and Ronald Radosh.

How could they? Seriously, the only word for this is cruel. How could SImon and KImball and Rosett not have been the least bit aware of the ordeal they were undoubtedly subjecting Radosh to? Have they no feelngs? You've heard the old adage, Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. That's nothing. How about Always a presenter, and never a recipient? In short, this Duranty Prize dinner, soigne, chi-chi, and officiated over by the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto, was nothing less than a crime. Radosh, as so many readers well know, is the author of last year's "McCarthy on Steroids," which, tipping the scales at 7,000 words, includes more lies, distortions, smears and fabrications than the entries of all of the official prize-wnners put together. In plain Brooklynese: Radosh wuz robbed. The question is not only, Is there no justice? It is also, Have his peers no judgment? 

Apparently not. Watch the videos of the event, and you can see it on their faces -- heartless  insensitivity to the suffering, the pain of their peer. Grinning, preening, dropping bon mots a la mode, they stand oblivious to this heir to Duranty beside them. But shoulder to shoulder, he carries on, gamely, bravely -- just as if he had never written "McCarthy on Steroids" and many other worthy entries such as "Why I Wrote a Take-Down of Diana West's Awful Book." We know, though, even if they don't, which is something. For shame. "Have they left no sense of decency?" No recognition, no peace.


Rather than dwell on the sordidness of journalism today, I would like to harken back to the sordidness of journalism yesterday -- to the time of Walter Duranty, the lying, fabricating NYT Pulitzer Prize winner best known for failing on purpose to report the state-engineered Ukraine terror famine by which Stalin killed some five or six or more million people by starving them to death, now immortalized in this rather dubious annual dinner in Manhattan.

Duranty's perfidy is also covered in American Betrayal, but it's worth noting that this perfidy was not Duranty's alone. He had journalist-peers who put out similar lies, and who cooperated in a scheme to suppress the truth about the famine as told by one remarkable truth-teller, Gareth Jones.

This is a story that reeks morally, but it is important to come to grips with it for what it tells us about the way media work in the modern age -- the modern age that began in the 1930s with the election  of FDR: Ideology and/or expedience over all. Maybe it all began one spring night in 1993 in a Moscow hotel room in an incident we only know of because it is recorded in a chapter in Assignment in Utopia, the memoir of the ex-Socialist journalist Eugene Lyons, another truth-teller. The chapter is called: "The Press Corps Conceals a Famine."

From American Betrayal, pp. 101-103:

By 1936, after civil war broke out in Spain, George Orwell could sense a sea change in the writing of history, of news, of information, of the handling of what he called “neutral fact,” which heretofore all sides had accepted. “What is peculiar to our age,” he wrote, “is the abandonment of the idea that history could be truthfully written.” Or even that it should be, I would add. For example, he wrote, in the Encyclopedia Britannica’s entry on World War I, not even twenty years past, “a respectable amount of material is drawn from German sources.” This reflected a common understanding—assumption—that “the facts” existed and were ascertainable. As Orwell personally witnessed in Spain, this notion that there existed “a considerable body of fact that would have been agreed to by almost everyone” had disappeared. “I remember saying once to Arthur Koestler, ‘History ended in 1936,’ at which he nodded in immediate understanding. We were both thinking of totalitarianism generally, but more specifically of the Spanish Civil War.” He continued, “I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed . . . I saw newspapers in London retailing these lies and eager intellectuals building emotional superstructures over events that had never happened.”

Then he hits it precisely: “I saw, in fact, history being written not in terms of what happened but of what ought to have happened according to various ‘party lines’ ” (emphasis added). Ideology over all.

That had to start somewhere, too. The confession-minded Eugene Lyons seems to know where. In fact, he was present at the creation. Chapter 15 in Lyons’s book Assignment in Utopia is called “The Press Corps Conceals a Famine.” It lays out the basics about what he called in 1937 “the whole shabby episode of our failure to report honestly the gruesome Russian famine of 1932– 1933.” This group failure is best but by no means exclusively characterized by the eye-rolling bunk Pulitzer Prize–winning Walter Duranty would cable home as news to The New York Times, which was in fact Soviet-sanctioned propaganda designed to justify a brutal and unprecedented war to destroy millions of peasants. To familiarize ourselves with Duranty’s techinque, here from March 1, 1933, is how he rationalized the forced, violent uprooting of one million peasant families to all but certain death in penal colonies in the north:

The Russian masses may and do grumble about shortages and other difficulties, but there is no sign they are horrified, alarmed or even disapproving at the sight of “removals” of recalcitrant peasants . . .

They accept the Bolshevist explanation that “class enemies” must be defeated and made powerless, and, as far as this writer can see, they accept it readily as a natural and indeed excellent thing.

Thus, Westerners, free men as defined by the Magna Carta, the Rights of Man, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the American Way (even though Duranty himself was English), capitulated to the totalitarian machine. They listened to and amplified the agitprop of the “Bolsheviki” and the nomenklatura (priviledged bureaucracy). When it came time to face the Terror Famine, they preferred to construct their own, pre-Orwell memory hole to rid themselves of the truth.

It is an extraordinarily wide press conspiracy that Lyons goes on to describe, all of it designed to undermine the veracity of one man, one outlier, a lone truth teller who came, who saw, who reported—and, most important, made headlines. This singular person was twenty-seven-year-old Gareth Jones, a brilliant, Russian-speaking, Welsh journalist who had served as David Lloyd George’s secretary, and whose initial, attention-grabbing statements to the press on reaching Germany, after extensively debriefing his journalistic colleagues in Moscow and completing a secret trek through the starving areas of the USSR, brought the famine into the light. Exposure. His sensational report was carried in many newspapers including The New York Evening Post, The London Evening Standard, and The Manchester Guardian, where another, ultimately more enduringly famous truth teller, Malcolm Muggeridge, had just published several mainly overlooked articles about the state-organized mass starvation in progress.

“Everywhere was the cry, There is no bread. We are dying,” Jones told the world, which drove frantic editors back home to send a flurry of cables asking their Moscow correspondents why they couldn’t hear that same cry. “But the inquiries coincided with preparations under way for the trial of the British engineers,” Lyons explains, referring to the now-forgotten Metro-Vickers show trial that would see six British engineers convicted of espionage and ejected from the country. This, according to Lyons, became the correspondents’ over-riding concern because there was a “compelling professional necessity,” he writes, to remain on “friendly” terms with the censors, at least for the duration of the trial.

A paper-thin excuse, it would seem, but the cover-up organized to discredit Gareth Jones was airtight. Lyons writes, “Throwing down Jones was as unpleasant a chore as fell to any of us in years of juggling facts to please dictatorial regimes—but throw him down we did, unanimously and in almost identical formulas of equivocation.”

Like a scene out of Comrade X—a classic romantic comedy starring Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr set amid the Moscow press corps (which, believe it or not, packs grim elements of truth about the Soviet regime, no doubt to Dalton Trumbo’s consternation)—the real-life correspondents gathered in one reporter’s Moscow hotel room one evening in the spring of 1933. There, chief censor Comrade Umansky, “the soul of graciousness,” Lyons writes ironically, joined them. Due to the upcoming British engineers’ trial, incredibly, Umansky had leverage over the correspondents’ famine coverage, or so the men believed—or so they wanted to believe. Indeed, in Lyons’s eyes, “it would have been professional suicide to make an issue of the famine at this particular point.” So, he writes, through “much bargaining in a spirit of gentlemanly give-and-take . . . a formula of denial” was worked out among them.

“We admitted enough to soothe our consciences, but in roundabout phrases that dismissed Jones as a liar. The filthy business having been disposed of, someone ordered vodka and zakuski [hors d’oeuvres], Umansky joined the celebration, and the party did not break up until the early morning hours.”


We remember Duranty as a singular liar. But he had plenty of company without which he couldn't have survived.

Privacy Statement  |  Terms Of Use
Copyright 2012 by Diana West