By Phil Brennan
Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2002
The New York Times likes to be known as "the newspaper of record." And what
a record it has.
I am reminded of that record, which I'll get to shortly, by the latest
example of the Times' peculiar form of journalism, the revelation that its
star economics expert, Paul Krugman - a vehement critic of President Bush
and an advocate of the provably false accusation that the Bush
administration was in the pay of the Enron Corporation - was himself in the
pay of that company.
Moreover, while it has been shown that no matter how much money Enron and
its boss, Ken Lay, shoveled into the Bush campaign coffers, they got
absolutely nothing - nada - in return. The same cannot be said for Krugman.
Last week, in a display of unmitigated chutzpah, Professor Krugman dared to
ask in his Times op-ed column, "Why did the Administration dissemble so long
about its contacts with Enron?"
He should have been explaining why he had never revealed his own "contacts
In the words of National Post columnist Mark Steyn, one of the most elegant
writers around today, Krugman "has been one of the media's most ferocious
Bush bashers and, since Enron went belly up, a tireless peddler of
Bush-Enron linkage. Indeed, he has written about little else in recent
weeks, always interpreting the scandal in line with his long-held beliefs
about greedy plutocrats, slavering Republicans on the teats of their big
donors, and helpless little guys getting stiffed by both."
The Times now admits that in 1999 Krugman pocketed a cool $50,000 for
serving on something called Enron's "advisory board."
"What did this board do?" asked Steyn.
Said Krugman, "This was an advisory panel that had no function that I was
aware of. My later interpretation is that it was all part of the way they
built an image. All in all, I was just another brick in the wall."
In other words, they gave him all that money for doing nothing. As he put in
a fit of modesty and humility: "I was not an unknown college professor. On
the contrary, I was a hot property, very much in demand as a speaker to
business audiences: I was routinely offered as much as $50,000 to speak to
investment banks and consulting firms. They thought I might tell them
That is to say, he got that nice piece of change for his celebrity value -
something like having a shapely Hollywood starlet draped over the hood in an
auto commercial - she's paid for being pretty, not for her knowledge of
He was paid solely for being "a hot property."
How does Krugman explain that little piece of puffery cited by columnist
Andrew Sullivan when, as Steyn put it, "Krugman gleefully mocked Business
Week for hailing Enron as "more akin to Goldman Sachs than to Consolidated
Edison" - the quintessential old-economy electric company.
But, in fact, it was Krugman himself who'd made this preposterous
comparison, in an article for Fortune in May 1999 written while on the
Enroll payroll and stopping just short of the full Monica:
Enron does own gas fields, pipelines, and utilities. But it is not, and does
not try to be, vertically integrated: It buys and sells gas both at the
wellhead and the destination, leases pipeline (and electrical-transmission)
capacity both to and from other companies, buys and sells electricity, and
in general acts more like a broker and market maker than a traditional
corporation. It's sort of like the difference between your father's bank,
which took money from its regular depositors and lent it out to its regular
customers, and Goldman Sachs. ... The biggest force has been a change in
ideology, the shift to pro-market policies ... a combination of deregulation
that lets new competitors enter and 'common carrier' regulation that
prevents middlemen from playing favorites, making freewheeling markets
"Which is nothing like anything he's said in the last two months," Steyn
Let's be clear about this: If the Times had one shred of journalistic
integrity, it would fire Krugman out of hand. But then, if it had that shred
of journalistic integrity, it would have fired Walter Duranty and Herbert
Matthews when these two scoundrels were busy promoting the likes of Joseph
Stalin and Fidel Castro.
Instead, the Times nominated Duranty for a Pulitzer Prize and kept his
portrait in a place of honor while refusing to send the prize back to the
Wrote Ronald Radosh in Front Page Magazine:
The New York Times has for decades revealed somewhat of a soft spot for
Communists and the governments they created. In the 1930s, it won the first
Pulitzer Prize for foreign reporting from its Moscow correspondent Walter
Duranty, a man known fondly as "Stalin's journalist" for his
propaganda-filled reports denying the Soviet created-famine in the Ukraine
and praising the success of collectivization.
Then in 1959, Times reporter Herbert Matthews fell hook, line and sinker for
Fidel Castro's exaggerated claims about the number of guerrilla fighters he
had in his ranks, and his reports cemented Castro's following and
reputation. After Castro's victory, National Review ran its now famous cover
of Castro, with the Times' then-advertising slogan superimposed over his
face, 'I got my job through The New York Times.' And in the 1960s the paper
ran Harrison Salisbury's much-praised reports about the effects of American
bombing on North Vietnam, stories that depended in part on false data given
to him by the Communist journalist Wilfred Burchett.
In awarding the Pulitzer Prize to Duranty, the Pulitzer committee said his
stories on dictator Joseph Stalin's economic plans were "marked by
scholarship, profundity, impartiality, sound judgment and exceptional
They were also outright falsehoods.
Duranty, wrote columnist Joseph Alsop, "covered up the horrors and deluded
an entire generation by prettifying Soviet realities. ..."
In the book "Stalin's Apologist," the sordid Duranty story was told by
historian S.J. Taylor and published by the prestigious Oxford University
Press. As Accuracy in Media has reported, Taylor "demolishes the reputation
of a premier New York Times reporter of the 1920s and '30s."
"As a main source of information for the leftists of the 1930s," Taylor
wrote, "Duranty told them what they wanted to hear, fanning the flames of
Western Communism. Everybody quoted Duranty - Edmund Wilson, Beatrice Webb,
the entire group of intellectuals who admired the Soviet experiment. ... His
stubborn chronicle of Soviet achievements made him the doyen of left-leaning
Westerners who believed that what happened inside Soviet Russia held the key
to the future for the rest of the world."
"Duranty was not a pleasant man. British by birth, as a young journalist he
was a devotee of Satanism, opium, and sexual kinkiness (specifically, a
liking for a menage a trois with his notorious mentor Aleister Crowley),"
Taylor reported. "As a World War I reporter Duranty earned a reputation as a
brain picker who hung around press bars rather than doing his own work. He
enhanced his unsavory personal reputation in Moscow. Despite the loss of a
foot in a train accident causing him to clump about on a heavy wooden limb,
he was a chronic womanizer who abandoned both his wife and a Russian
mistress (the latter with a child)."
Many Times editors mistrusted him thoroughly, but they kept him in Moscow,
where his dishonest reporting misled an entire generation about the
realities of Soviet communism.
Accuracy in Media says that Duranty claimed the Times went along with his
decision to ignore negative news.
According to AIM, "The Washington Inquirer on Nov. 17, 1987, reported that
at a conference on the Ukraine starvation at the City University of New
York, Dr. James E. Mace revealed a cabled report of an interview Duranty had
in June 1931 with A.W. Kliefoth of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. It read:
'Duranty pointed out that an agreement with the New York Times and the
Soviet authorities, his official dispatches always reflect the official
opinion of the Soviet regime and not his own.' "
Dr. Mace, staff director of the U.S. Commission on the Ukraine Famine, found
the document in the National Archives and offered it to the New York Times,
which did not publish the information. Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger
told Reed Irvine and AIM president Murray Baron in 1988 that he had reviewed
Times archives and "there is nothing in our files to indicate anything like
But Duranty didn't always cover up the deadly facts - he told British
Embassy officials in Moscow an entirely different story, according to
"As a British citizen, Duranty kept in close contact with his country's
embassy in Moscow. After his trips he talked with diplomats there, and he
relayed information starkly different from what he had reported for the
Times. Academic researchers have known these reports for some time." But
Taylor revealed them to the public, and the material damns Duranty.
"The Ukraine has been bled white," he told the embassy. He thought it "quite
possible that as many as 10 million people may have died directly or
indirectly from lack of food in the Soviet Union during the past year."
The entire farm system seemed in collapse. In one conversation he told
British diplomat William Strang why he didn't think starving peasants all
that important. "There are millions of people in Russia," he said, "whom it
is fairly safe to leave in want. But the industrial proletariat, about 10
percent of the population, must be at all costs fed if the revolution is to
Duranty's major lie involved Stalin's Five-Year Plan of 1931, which decreed
seizure of private farms and their collectivization under state ownership.
Stalin's hidden purpose was to destroy nationalism among the Ukrainians, the
largest non-Russian ethnic group in the USSR, fearing they were dangerous to
To Duranty, Soviet economic "reform" and "Stalinism" (a word he claims to
have coined) were synonymous. Under "Stalinism" the Soviets enjoyed "joint
effort, communal effort; and communal life is as acceptable to them as it is
repugnant to a Westerner," he told Times readers - a claim as false in the
1930s as it is today.
As Taylor writes, Duranty chose to "portray Stalin for his Western readers
as a wise and perceptive leader capable of great powers of understanding, a
quiet, unobtrusive man ... who saw much but said little ... [who] began to
train and discipline and give self-respect to a nation of liberated slaves.
The New York Times has never sought to return the Pulitzer Prize awarded to
this dishonest reporter whose lies helped promote the advancement of Soviet
communism, which over the years would kill tens of millions more.
On Sunday, Feb. 24, 1957, the Times published an interview between Times
reporter Herbert Matthews and Cuban rebel Fidel Castro on page 1 of the
Castro, Matthews wrote, "... has strong ideas of liberty, democracy, social
justice, the need to restore the Constitution, to hold elections. ... The
26th of July Movement talks of nationalism, anti-colonialism,
anti-imperialism. I asked Señor Castro about that. He answered, 'You can be
sure we have no animosity toward the United States and the American people.
... Above all,' he said, 'we are fighting for a democratic Cuba and an end
to the dictatorship,' said the future dictator."
Matthews and the Times helped Castro deceive the world concerning his
program for Cuba. He told them that he was out to restore constitutional
government and democracy to Cuba, and they passed it on. They ignored the
evidence that Castro was a Marxist and a participant in the violent,
communist-led riots in Bogota, Columbia, in 1948.
Six days after Castro overthrew Batista, with considerable American help,
his regime was recognized by our government. Herbert Matthews promptly wrote
an editorial for the New York Times praising the action. It said that the
Castro regime had "pledged itself to honor all international obligations, to
hold new elections within a maximum of two years, and to protect foreign
property and investments." It added, "Finally refuting allegations of
Communist infiltration, it proposes to shun diplomatic relations with
Matthews' sympathies for communists should have been more than obvious to
his editors at the Times. While covering the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s,
he allied himself with the Soviet-dominated Republican forces and earned a
reputation as their stalwart supporter even in the face of their atrocities,
which included the murder of many of their own people.
Years after the war, Matthews wrote that a widely reported incident had
never occurred. It concerned a Franco commander under siege who received a
phone call from the the communist commanding the forces arrayed against him.
The commander was told that his son had been captured and would be executed
if the commander did not surrender. The young man was then put on the phone
to prove he was in the enemy's custody.
The commander told his son to be brave, to pray and to face death bravely.
Moments later, the young man was killed as his father listened to the
gunshots over the phone.
Mathews denied that this touching incident had ever occurred. He was forced
to backtrack when the father's family got another Times correspondent to
"I know it was true," the late Frank Kluckhohn, the other Times reporter and
my friend and colleague, told me at the time. "I was there, standing beside
the father. Matthews lied."
The "newspaper of record." Some record.
Phil Brennan is a veteran journalist who writes for NewsMax.com. He is
editor & publisher of Wednesday on the Web (http://www.pvbr.com) and was
Washington columnist for National Review magazine in the 1960s. He also
served as a staff aide for the House Republican Policy Committee and helped
handle the Washington public relations operation for the Alaska Statehood
Committee which won statehood for Alaska. He is also a trustee of the
Lincoln Heritage Institute. He can be reached at email@example.com
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