Sunday, November 6, 2016

Nicholas Kristof, the Walter Duranty of the 21st Century

The 2016 election is over and, against all odds and expectations, the candidate all time most loathed by the New York Times columnists won. Worth a parting comment on the corruption of the NYT hacks who slobber about the endless virtue of their favorite Democrats is a pre-election column, with its typical smarmy condescension, from the ever self-promoting columnist, Nicholas Kristof.  I'm with her: the Strengths of Hillary Clinton.”  So in this last column before the election I want to pitch you the reasons to vote for Clinton and not just against Donald Trump. I’ve known Clinton a bit for many years, and I have to say: The public perception of her seems to me a gross and inaccurate caricature. I don’t understand the venom, the “lock her up” chants, the assumption that she is a Lady Macbeth; it’s an echo of the animus a lifetime ago some felt for Eleanor Roosevelt.” l

Ok, reader, all of this Hillary negativity nonsense over the years you’ve been exposed to is not real. Right at the start Kristof wants you to be aware of and bow to his privileged, insider-club status – unlike you, he knows her (a bit”), just a bit of understatement for fake modesty purposes.
He wants to make sure you understand how connected he is, and for many years, no less. If I may, this is epistemological superiority by physical proximity – ‘What I know from socializing with her, trumps (no pun intended) what you know from observing her for 25 years from afar.’ The nonstop grifting, the scandals, the self-enrichment from influence peddling, as Kristof sees it, are overblown. We are talking venal, not mortal sins here. 

The invocation of Eleanor Roosevelt is quite the slick maneuver – poof goes Hillary’s many documented iniquities – beatitude by association.  Long bequeathed with liberal sainthood, that “animus a lifetime ago that some felt” for Mrs. Roosevelt way back when has just somehow annoyingly echoed its way up to 2016.  Stuff like this normally happens. Not every one out there is as enlightened as they should be.  Kristof doesn’t even have to spell out who that “some” is that felt this animus -- in Lady Roosevelt’s time it was the reactionaries who opposed the New Deal and objected to Eleanor’s favorite philo-communist, Henry Wallace; today, it is that “vast right wing conspiracy” and Obama’s “bitter clingers” who never tire of defaming this woman who, as he says, “is a morally serious person whose passion for four decades has been to use politics to create a more just society.”  She is also an avariciously serious person who along with her husband has accumulated a vast fortune selling government influence to high rollers, many of them from foreign countries.  She is also a seriously hypocritical person who slanders and bullies female victims of her husband while championing herself as an advocate for women. See:
It is also worth noting here that Kristof has a certain blindness for fakers.  In 2014, Newsweek revealed that Somaly Mam—the Cambodian anti-trafficking crusader endorsed by Nicholas Kristof, Sheryl Sandberg, and Susan Sarandon—lied about being sold into sexual slavery as a child, the story that underpins her wrenching memoir, The Road to Lost Innocence.”  Kristof also continued to defend Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea after he was exposed as a fraud.  “‘One of the people I’ve enormously admired in recent years is Greg Mortenson,’Kristof wrote in his April 20, 2011 column. While conceding that the accusations against Mortenson ‘raised serious questions,’ Kristof countered that ‘it’s indisputable that Greg has educated many thousands of children, and he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.’”  Being a fraud and a liar, for Kristof it seems, doesn’t seem count  too much against you.  In light of this, how seriously should we take his endorsement of Hillary Clinton, widely distrusted by the American people as a liar and a fraud?

Since Kristof likes to find “echos” of long ago, raise your ears and catch this echo:  Nicholas Kristof as the Walter Duranty of the 21st century. Walter Duranty, a British born journalist served as the Moscow bureau chief for the New York Times from 1922 through 1936.  Like Kristof, he was a Pulitzer Prize winner. Duranty’s was bestowed for 13 articles written in 1931 and published in the New York Times analyzing the Soviet Union under Stalin’s leadership.  Unfortunately, these articles were devoted to the crafting of a false image of Joseph Stalin as someone whose obvious crudeness and brutality could be excused as the darker side of of a great and determined man whose better instincts were focused on the advancing the well being of toiling working class whose interests he claimed to represent. 

Duranty, like Kristof, was an insider with the power people.  He knew Stalin "a bit" for many years.  He witnessed Stalin’s show trials up close in the mid-1930s in Moscow and confidently declared to The New Republic after observing the 1937 trial that he found the confessions of the defendants to be credible.  [S.J. Taylor, Stalin’s Apologist: Walter Duranty, the New York Times’s Man in Moscow, Oxford, 1990, 267]

Like Kristof, Duranty was an apologist for a dishonest, ruthless politician and served him (in Kristof's case, her) well.  He was rewarded for his loyalty with what he craved the most, proximity to a powerful man, the prestige and attention that this proximity brings.  His gratitude was displayed by his eagerness to promulgate to the outside world a softened and idealized image of Stalin. Duranty helped Stalin conceal from the outside world a famine of his creation in Ukraine that plunged three to seven million people into starvation, depending on varying accounts. “There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition, especially in the Ukraine, North Caucasus and Lower Volga” Duranty had written in 1933 at the time when people were starving by the millions. [Taylor, Stalin’s Apologist, 207]  The late Robert Conquest has written Harvest of Sorrow,  the definitive account of Holomodor, Stalin’s Ukrainian holocaust.  And by the way, in the New York Times executive offices hallway where over 80 portraits of Pulitzer Prize winners hang, Duranty’s still resides with the inscription that the award recognized “a profound and intimate comprehension of conditions in Russia [consistent with] the best type of foreign correspondence.”  [Douglas McCollam, CJR, November/December, 2003, 43]

Back, however, to Duranty’s power-sucking echo in Kristof: here, the court weasel does a bit of his own sycophantic softening: Clinton has made thousands of compromises and innumerable mistakes, her pursuit of wealth has been unseemly and politically foolish, and it’s fair to question her judgment on everything from emails to Iraq. But understand this, too: At the core she is not a calculating crook but a smart, hard-working woman who  is profoundly concerned with getting things done for those left behind.  Again, a very skillful touch. Hillary is not perfect (he has to make some nod to the empirical world), and here comes the imperative: “But understand this” – Kristof now is pulling rank on us.  He has the deep insight into her “core”, an interesting choice of words given that she is widely perceived to lack one. Perhaps the proximity she has afforded him over the years has enabled him to peek into her soul – the cocktail parties, the interviews, the hobnobbing. But, understand this: if Kristof was not an effusive bum-kisser, how close would he have ever been able to get to this seriously moral" woman and observe her core?

Kristof’s airbrushing of Hillary (who just like Stalin is all about bettering the toiling masses, the left behind) would be incomplete without an obligatory final thrashing for The Donald. “[Trump] simply falls outside the norms: A fraudster who seems a racist, who has cheated people not only at Trump University but regularly through his career, who boasts of sexual assaults and whom 17 women have publicly accused of improper behavior, who has flip-flopped 138 times by one count, who lies every five minutes by another, and who has less public service experience than any incoming president in history.”  This could be a cut-and-paste from any of the hundreds of NYT and Washington Post editorial pieces over the last months.  Every Republican candidate since Richard Nixon has been routinely labeled by the Democrats and their shills who mascaraed as independent journalists with the "old reliables" -- Nazi, KKK-er, Fascist, ad infinitum.   

Kristof recently wrote a NYT column, “Is Everyone a Little Bit Racist?”
What is to made of this? So, Kristof himself must be a little bit racist? How then do Republicans and Trump differ from Democrats? What happens to the handy-dandy, old-reliable racist smears of NYT scribblers? 

Don't waste your time trying to decipher Kristof's silly meanderings. His columns are a just reflection and verification of his status as a court lackey who recycles the prescribed PC bilge, a stooge who loves to hang out with important people and then brag about it to his credulous readers.

Kristof’s “racism” charge has become a word largely empty of specific meaning, used to condemn a critic as, well … a very bad person.  “Racism” is a broad brush assault, perhaps unique in its smearing capacity in that, unlike with other kinds of allegations of moral or legal culpability, once charged, there is no way to demonstrate that you are not a racist. It is possible to prove that you are not a liar, a fool, a rapist, a robber, and a plagiarist; you can never effectively dispute the claim that you are a racist.  No protest or evidence counts. Name one person who has ever been successful in doing it?  Being a racist now is sort of like it was to have “cooties” back when you were in fifth grade.  There was no remedy for the mysterious virus of cooties and you were deemed infected because someone decided that they didn’t like you.  

Kristof is the complete NYT columnist package – self-promoting, condescending and a tool for the rich and powerful.  No thoughtful person should take him seriously.

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