As Russian President Vladimir Putin wages war on his western neighbor, Ukraine, he is rightly seen as the world’s premier malign actor – even by the New York Times.
That’s surprising because for much of the paper’s 20th-century history, its editors and correspondents embraced one left-wing murdering thug tyrant after another.
For his entire term, President Donald Trump was accused of having a soft spot for despots and dictators including Putin, but a new book by Ashley Rindsberg, “The Gray Lady Winked,” which was published under his own imprint, reveals how the Times has actually backed and feted authoritarians.
As reported by Newsbusters, Rindsberg honed in on the “newspaper of record’s” misguided, often negative coverage of historical events, wars and the rise of authoritarian thug leaders – from Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party in Germany to Joseph Stalin in the former Soviet Union. The book also examined the Times’ coverage of the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, all under the guise of the Ochs-Sulzberger family, which has run the paper since 1896.
“It’s a deep dive into the fascinating, often appalling history of the paper’s coverage of historical tragedies like the rise of Nazism in Germany and Soviet Communism,” Newsbusters reported.
For instance, the book noted that “reporter Frederick Birchall downplayed Jewish repression and racist violence at the infamous 1936 Berlin Olympics. Besides headlines like ‘Greatest Athletic Show in History,’ some woefully bad predictions about Nazi Germany were made by the paper in the run-up to the Olympics, including that it would be the ‘last chance for racial intolerance’ in Germany.”
In addition to the extensive research and powerful content, “Winked” also provided valuable insights that point readers to some stunning pieces published through the years, like this pathetic prediction from March 1933: Frederick T. Birchall, chief European correspondent of THE NEW YORK TIMES, told a nation-wide radio audience, in an address rebroadcast yesterday from Berlin, that there was no cause for general alarm in the ascendency to power of Adolf Hitler and his brown-shirted Nazis.
The lead-in to that story read:
F.T. Birchall, New York Times Correspondent, Heard Here in Address From Berlin.
COUNSELS AGAINST ALARM
He Says World May Dismiss Fear Hitlerites Wish to Slay Foes or Plunge Germany Into War.
Rindsberg wrote: “The New York Times‘ post-Olympics reporting was in lockstep with Nazi propaganda efforts, even if the paper’s motives were not the same as the Reich’s.”
Newsbusters added: “Berlin bureau chief Guido Enderis also treated Hitler and the Nazi regime very carefully. Rival journalist William Shirer, who authored ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,’ described Enderis as ‘minding the Nazis less than most.’ Walter Duranty penned this gross metaphor about the appalling deaths resulting from Soviet collectivization, writing in a dispatch from Moscow in 1933. But – to put it brutally – you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.”
The fact that Times journalists had to treat Hitler with kid gloves should have been a tip-off, but when you’re political views are authoritarian anyway, you wouldn’t notice something like that.
There are more bad takes from the Times documented in the book.
For instance, “journalistic superstar” Duranty missed the Stalin-caused Ukrainian famine on purpose, which was known as the Holodomor, that led to the loss of four million lives, most by starvation and rebellion. He actually won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting, “a blood-stained prize the paper still refuses to concede,” Newsbusters reported.
The paper’s correspondent in Havana, Cuba – Herbert Matthews – famously met with then-renegade Fidel Castro in the mountains of that country in 1957. He went on to welcome Castro’s 1959 revolution under this headline: “Cuba: First Step to a New Era.” An era ultimately marred by mass poverty, death and dictatorial rule.
But in glowing prose, Matthews claimed that the revolutionary Castro embodied the will of the Cuban people and even said that his agenda “amounts to a new deal for Cuba – radical democratic, and therefore anti-Communist.”
Though it was being run by a Jewish family, the Times also largely whiffed on coverage of the Holocaust – Hitler’s “final solution” involving the mass slaughter of Jews with the goal of eliminating all of them from the planet, the book pointed out.