Durham, The Times, A Pulitzer And Walter Duranty

May 20th, 2023 4:00 PM

In theory, the Durham Report and the testimony of FBI whistle blowers was to be about the internal conduct of the FBI.

It was that, to be sure. But without doubt the combination of the two was a decided fusillade that hit the once impenetrable fortress that was the credibility of the American mainstream media. And specifically the credibility of The New York TimesThe Washington Post and the Pulitzer Prize.

Here is but one headline, this one from The Washington Times

Durham report puts spotlight on ‘utter garbage’ of Pulitzer Prizes for Trump-Russia stories 

The story says this: 

The Durham report has revived criticism of the Pulitzer Prizes awarded in 2018 to The New York Times and The Washington Post for their coverage of alleged Trump-Russia links, discredited allegations that have been put to rest by the special counsel’s findings.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said the Durham report has shown ‘that The New York Times and Washington Post were given a Pulitzer Prize for writing a bunch of politically motivated crap.’

‘When it comes to reporting on Donald Trump, the mainstream media is dead,’ he said.

Graham has gotten it exactly if graphically correct. The Times and the Post printed - repeatedly - stories that were “a bunch of politically motivated crap” about so-called Trump-Russia collusion. Or as former President Trump would say, it was fake news.

Hmmm. A Pulitzer Prize awarded the New York Times for “a bunch of politically motivated crap”?  For those who came in late, let’s hop in the time travel capsule and travel back to visit the case of The New York Times, a Pulitzer - and a Pulitzer Prize-winning Times reporter named Walter Duranty. 

Who was Walter Duranty, you asked?

The Times itself has supplied the answer - decades later. The Times headlined: 

New York Times Statement About 1932 Pulitzer Prize Awarded to Walter Duranty 

Duranty, one of the most famous correspondents of his day, won the prize for 13 articles written in 1931 analyzing the Soviet Union under Stalin. Times correspondents and others have since largely discredited his coverage.

Amazingly, in 2022, even NPR took a moment to look back in history at the Times and the Pulitzer episode with Duranty, writing this: 

 'The New York Times' can't shake the cloud over a 90-year-old Pulitzer Prize

NPR’s David Folkenflik reported this: 

The New York Times is looking to add to its list of 132 Pulitzer Prizes — by far the most of any news organization — when the 2022 recipients for journalism are announced on Monday.

Yet the war in Ukraine has renewed questions of whether the Times should return a Pulitzer awarded 90 years ago for work by Walter Duranty, its charismatic chief correspondent in the Soviet Union.

‘He is the personification of evil in journalism,’ says Oksana Piaseckyj, a Ukrainian-American activist who came to the U.S. as a child refugee in 1950. She is among the advocates for the return of the award. ‘We think he was like the originator of fake news.’

Duranty’s seriously major sin was standing up for Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, flatly denying that Stalin’s collectivist policies and Communism had produced millions of deaths by starvation in a massive famine. Writes Folkenflik: 

Duranty was The New York Times' man in Moscow, as the line went, with a cushy apartment in which to entertain expatriates and a reputation as a leading authority on the Soviet Union. Duranty had staked his name on the idea that Josef Stalin was the strong leader the communist country needed. He is often credited with coining the term ‘Stalinism.’ 

In return, Duranty won rare interviews with Stalin and wrote glowingly about Stalin and his plans. The Pulitzer board cited his ‘dispassionate interpretive reporting’ in awarding him a prize in 1932 for a series of reports the previous year. The first was a front-page article that started with the line: ‘Russia today cannot be judged by Western standards or interpreted in Western terms.’

It is worth being clear on what Stalin's plans, called ‘collectivization,’ led to: the deaths of millions of Ukrainians and more than a million Russians, according to credible estimates.

In other words? As with the fairy tale of Trump-Russia collusion that rewarded the Times and the Post with Pulitzers, “mainstream journalism” has been here before. Producing the same results.

The hard-core fact in the Duranty episode is that Duranty was ideologically committed not to “just the facts” journalism - but instead he was passionately committed to Stalin and Communism. And the Pulitzer board endorsed it.

In today’s world, as the Durham report shows plainly and as Senator Graham says “The New York Times and Washington Post were given a Pulitzer Prize for writing a bunch of politically motivated crap.” They aren’t committed to fact and truth, they are motivated by Trump Derangement Syndrome.

That is exactly the identical reason Walter Duranty and The Times won that Pulitzer in 1932 - a full 91 years ago. Neither Duranty nor The Times were committed not to truth and facts about Stalin and Communism in the Soviet Union, but fairy tales. And the Pulitzer board loved it - and still refuses to take its ward to Duranty and the Times back. 

In other words? The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Waiting for the Pulitzer board to take back their award to the Times for its false coverage of Trump/Russia collusion? Or for The Times to give back their latest Pulitzer? Don’t wait up.