Media Parroting of Official Propaganda: Then and Now

A matter of journalistic ethics with direct relevance to current Mideast coverage:

The New York Times has been told that the Pulitzer prize awarded to one of its correspondents in the Soviet Union 70 years ago should be rescinded because the journalist was not critical enough of Stalinism.
The recommendation came from the history professor hired by the paper in response to calls from Ukrainian-Americans for the prize to be revoked. Prof. Mark von Hagen said of the reporter, Walter Duranty: “He really was a kind of disgrace.” (The Guardian)

[Here's the Times article on the development, and some excerpts from Duranty's writings from Stalinist Russia.]

Duranty, due to his uncritical repetition of the Soviet regime’s specious official statements, failed to report a famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in 1932-33, the infamous purge trials, and the Stalinist terror of 1936-39. “It’s absolutely true that the work Duranty did, at least as much of it as I’ve read, was credulous, uncritical parroting of propaganda,” says one present-day Times editor. According to Professor von Hagen’s report: “The lack of balance and uncritical acceptance of the Soviet self-justification for its cruel and wasteful regime was a disservice to the American readers of the New York Times and the liberal values they subscribe to and to the historical experience of the peoples of the Russian and Soviet empires and their struggle for a better life.”

Hmmmm….“Credulous, uncritical parroting of propaganda”?
Let’s recall Jenin, April 2002, widely reported as “a brutal massacre of hundreds” (consistent with Palestinian propagada) before it emerged that no more than 52 died there, the majority armed. Or the ongoing parroting by the media of the official PA line that the present three-year terror campaign began because Ariel Sharon step foot on the Temple Mount. Or the media parroting of terrorist claims to be fighting a mere “uprising for independence.” Or the Hamas claim that a hudna (ceasefire) still held while they blew up a Jerusalem bus, but a subsequent IDF action “broke it” — a claim swallowed whole by the media.

“Uncritical acceptance of…self-justification for its cruel and wasteful regime”?
How about continuous media acceptance of Yassir Arafat’s claim to be the “democratically elected leader of the Palestinian people,” despite the fact that Arafat has never allowed a real democratic opposition to form, and his term of “election” (from 1996) has long expired? And what about PA financial corruption — the skimming-off of hundreds of millions of foreign “aid” dollars to personal PA bank accounts, and personal monopolies on Palestinian industry to the detriment of an impoverished Palestinian populace?

“A disservice…to the peoples of the Soviet empires and their struggle for a better life.”
Don’t Palestinian children deserve better than to be treated as guinea pigs, encouraged to become suicide bombers, and taken to summer camps that promote genocide?

We’ve made this point in a number of recent communiques — the parroting of official PA statements in news reports is not sufficient to achieve media “objectivity.” A tragedy of historic proportions — irresponsible Palestinian leadership — is occurring under our very eyes, and the media are by and large ignoring it. Hopefully, it won’t take 70 years for the Times and others to recognize their error this time around.

UPDATE: New article from JPost: Palestinians Demand Missing PA Money. Contact your local editor to encourage reprinting of this article.

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