Townhall.com Bruce Bartlett July 4, 2006
The New York Times is very upset that it has been singled out for revealing a government program that tracks terrorists through financial transactions. The Times notes that the same story was simultaneously broken by the Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times, but so far they have not come in for the same criticism.
One reason for this disparate treatment is that the New York Times has no reservoir of goodwill to fall back on. Because of its past actions, people are disinclined to give it the benefit of the doubt when its judgment and patriotism are questioned.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Herbert L. Matthews, a Times reporter who virtually put Fidel Castro in power by excusing and covering up his crimes, and making him seem like the second coming of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln combined. But even more serious charges have long been leveled at another Times reporter: Walter Duranty, who covered the Soviet Union for the paper for many critical years in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
The charge against Duranty is that he knew about Josef Stalin’s policy of deliberately starving the people of Ukraine to punish them for defiance, and intentionally kept this news out of the Times. It is likely that the glare of publicity on this monstrous crime in a paper as important as the Times probably would have caused Stalin to back off, potentially saving millions of lives. Adding insult to injury, in the view of many critics, is that Duranty received a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting in 1932, which the Times still proudly lists among those the paper has won.
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