Nick Kristof Channels Walter Duranty in Instagrams From North Korea

September 29th, 2017 6:38 PM

On Wednesday, I criticized Helen Gao at the New York Times for praising the "emancipation of women" in China under communist tyrant Mao Ze Dong. I also noted that in 2005, Times columnist Nicholas Kristof had engaged in similar "Mao was not all that bad" argumentation while reviewing a book conclusively showing that the death toll under Mao was over 70 million.

Little did I know that Kristof was about to embark on a trip to North Korea, where he would channel his paper's Pulitzer-winning Walter Duranty, who told the world in the 1930s that Josef Stalin's starvation of millions of Ukrainians wasn't happening.

Kristof will surely deny that he's trying to normalize perhaps the most backward Communist country on earth — the two strongest competitors are Cuba and Venezuela, the latter of which has fallen into communist chaos from relatively decent capitalist prosperity in the space of less than two decades. But how else is one supposed to take roughly a dozen admittedly self-censored tweets, many accompanied by pleasant Instagram photos, originating from a country that is a living hell for most of its people?

North Korea can't feed its people, most of whom live lives of horrid subsistence that are impossible for Westerners to imagine surviving. The country's infrastructure and production of energy are so weak that the nation is seen from satellite photos as virtually pitch black at night. Its definition of a luxury car is a 1976 Lincoln Continental like the one which carried Kim Jong Un's father to his final resting place when he died in 2011.

In the midst of all of this, here are some of Kristof's tweeted observations, many accompanied by Instagram photos (which can be seen by clicking on each related link, except for two particularly odious ones seen below), including a critical one indicating that his communist minders really don't need to worry about him, because he knows his limits:


  • "Every kid at this North Korea high school supposedly signed up to join the army after the Trump speech to the UN."
  • "A garment factory in Pyongyang, North Korea; the red sign says that the Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Un, visited that spot."
  • "... But I have a longstanding policy that as long as I'm in a place like North Korea, I think of my family before I tweet."
  • And finally (see below), "Lunch in Pyongyang, North Korea, at a pizza restaurant with live music."

Not satisfied with relaying propaganda all by himself, Kristof also amplified the North Korean government's megaphone by retweeting the following nonsense from Times opinion video producer Adam B. Ellick:

A senior North Korean official told us millions have joined the army since Trump's UN comments.

Really now?

In mid-August, the country's military headcount in a nation of 25 million was "in the one million ballpark," and that "another 7.5 million" are "on stand-by or serve in paramilitary units ready for deployment." Another 32 percent of the population, i.e., about 8 million, are either under 15 or over 64. And millions more "joined the army"? (And even if they did, the chances that more than a tiny percentage were genuine volunteers is extremely low.)

The last Kristof item above was too much for T. Becket Adams, who tweeted the following (HT Ed Driscoll at Instapundit):


Answer: Someone who's apparently trying to outdo Walter Duranty, about 85 years later.

Cross-posted at