was a reporter for the New York Times
who won a Pulitzer prize
in 1932 for his "scholarship, profundity, impartiality, sound judgment and exceptional clarity in reporting Russian events
". In fact, Duranty was the first NYT
reporter to win the Pulitzer
. Was there a leftist bias
in the media even in the days of the Depression
? One has to ask that, because Walter Duranty
was Stalin's personal apologist, whose false reporting fooled the world and hid Stalin's brutal suppression of the Ukrainian peasantry
during the Famine of 1932-33
Duranty thought that Stalin was "the greatest living statesman" who represented a chance of progress for the Russian masses. Here's a snippet from his Pulitzer quality reporting:
"Stalin and his associates have carried with them the strongest and most intelligent elements of the Russian people, and have created a national unity and enthusiasm which the Tsarist Empire never knew. They have learnt by their own errors and pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps, and the nation has followed them. It was a heroic chapter in the life of humanity."
Duranty was actually one of the few reporters who were allowed into the Ukraine during that deadly famine. He saw, with his own eyes, Stalin's killing fields, dead bodies everywhere as far as the eye can see. And yet, in the New York Times, he claimed that there were only "occasional shortages", and referred to the disaster as "the alleged 'man-made' famine of 1933." A few brave reporters, such as William Henry Chamberlin and Thomas Walker, ignored Stalin's press ban and sneaked into Ukraine at the risk of their lives to report the famine. But who could argue with the reporting of a Pulitzer prize winning journalist? Duranty set the tone of the international press, accurate coverage of the famine was rare.
As the tales of horror slowly leaked out of Stalinist Russia, Duranty retracted his claims of "reactionist propaganda" and admitted that the death rate "might have been higher than normal", but he blamed it on "manifold disease". That can be compared to Nazi revisionists blaming the six million dead on the flu. He claimed that it was just a "natural disaster" and no one was actually responsible. His coverage silenced criticism of Stalin and gained diplomatic recognition of the Stalinist regime. This was critical because the world could have done something to stop Stalin's murderous regime. Duranty chose to keep his Pulitzer. Within a few years Stalin launched the Great Terror.
To this day the New York Times refuses to retract Duranty's Pulitzer. Every year Walter Duranty sits on the very top of the New York Times' honor roll.