I. F. Stone

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I. F. Stone
I. F. Stone in April 1972
Born Isidor Feinstein Stone
24 December 1907
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died 18 June 1989 (aged 81)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Resting place Mount Auburn Cemetery
Middlesex County
Massachusetts, U.S.
Occupation Investigative journalist
Spouse(s) Esther Roisman
Website www.ifstone.org

I. F. Stone (Isidor Feinstein Stone, 24 December 1907 – 18 June 1989) was an American investigative journalist and writer known as a man of great integrity (personal and political) who was an inspiration to other writers, and an intellectual annoyance to the American right wing.[1][2]

He is best remembered for the newsletter, I. F. Stone's Weekly (1953–71), which was ranked in 16th place among “The Top 100 Works of Journalism in the United States in the 20th Century”, and was ranked in second place among print-journalism publications.[3]

Early life[edit]

Birth and schooling[edit]

Isidor Feinstein Stone was born in Philadelphia, to Jewish Russian immigrants who owned a shop in Haddonfield, New Jersey. The journalist and film critic Judy Stone is his sister.[4] When he was a student, I. F. Stone studied philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, and also worked as a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer.[2]

Stone attended Haddonfield Memorial High School, from which he was ranked 49th in his graduating class of 52 students.[5] His career as a journalist began in his second year at high school, when he established The Progress newspaper; later, he worked for the Haddonfield Press and for the Camden Courier-Post. After dropping out of the University of Pennsylvania, where he had studied philosophy, Stone joined the Philadelphia Inquirer, then known as the “Republican Bible of Pennsylvania”.[2]


Influenced by the socially aware work of Jack London, Stone became a politically radical journalist, and joined the Philadelphia Record (the morning-edition rival of The Philadelphia Inquirer) that was owned by J. David Stern, a Democrat, and later worked for the New York Post newspaper after Stern bought it during the Great Depression (1929).[6] In late adolescence, I.F. Stone joined the Socialist Party of America, a political decision influenced by his reading of the works of Karl Marx, Jack London, Peter Kropotkin, and Herbert Spencer. Later, he quit the Socialist Party consequent to the intractable, sectarian divisions, ideologic and political, that existed among the organizations that constituted the American left-wing.[7]

During the 1930s, Stone was an active member of the Communist-dominated Popular Front, who opposed Adolf Hitler and Nazism, but, in late 1939, consequent to the Hitler-Stalin pact (Nazi–Soviet Non-Aggression Treaty, 23 August 1939), he wrote to a friend that he would do “no more fellow traveling” for the U.S.S.R., and used his opinion column in The Nation news magazine to denounce Josef Stalin as “the Moscow Machiavelli who suddenly found peace as divisible as the Polish plains and marshes”.[8]


In 1929, Izzy Stone married Esther Roisman, who later worked as his assistant at I. F. Stone’s Weekly; their marriage produced three children (Celia, Jeremy, and Christopher) and after sixty years, ended at his death in 1989.[2]

Style of journalism[edit]

The editor of The Nation magazine, Victor Navasky, said that plain, solid work characterized the investigative journalism of I.F. Stone; that he was an old-school reporter who did his homework, and perused public-domain records (official government and private-industry documents) for the facts and figures, data and quotations that would substantiate his reportage about the matters of the day.

That, as a liberal, politically outspoken reporter from the American Left wing, he often had to work in ideologically hostile environments (military, diplomatic, business) where information was controlled; therefore, verifiability was the essence of Stone’s journalism, substantiated with facts in the public domain, which the reader can verify. About his style of work as an investigative journalist, Stone said:

I made no claims to “inside stuff”. I tried to give information which could be documented, so [that] the reader could check it for himself . . . Reporters tend to be absorbed by the bureaucracies they cover; they take on the habits, attitudes, and even accents of the military or the diplomatic corps. Should a reporter resist the pressure, there are many ways to get rid of him . . . But a reporter covering the whole capital on his own — particularly if he is his own employer — is immune from these [political] pressures.

The journalistic professionalism and integrity of I. F. Stone derived from his intellectual willingness to scour and devour public documents, to bury himself in The Congressional Record, to study the transcripts of obscure Congressional-committee hearings, of debates, and reports. Yet he always prospected for news nuggets — published as boxed paragraphs in his weekly newsletter — such as contradictions in the line of official policy, examples of bureaucratic mendacity and political obscurantism. Moreover, Stone especially sought documentary evidence of the U.S. government’s legalistic incursions against the civil liberties and the civil and political rights of American society.[9]

Change of name

In 1937, advised by a newspaper editor — who told him that his political reportage would be better received if he minimized his Jewishness — the journalist Stone changed his professional byline, from Isidore Feinstein Stone to I. F. Stone; however, years later, Stone acknowledged being remorseful about having changed his professional name, thereby, yielding to the systemic anti-Semitism then prevalent in American society. Personally, Stone spoke of himself as Izzy, throughout his life and career.


The New York Post[edit]

In 1933, I. F. Stone worked as a reporter for the New York Post newspaper, during which period he supported the politics of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933–45), especially the progressive reforms of the New Deal (1935–38) programs he was instituting in order to rescue the U.S. economy from the poverty imposed by the Great Economic Depression begun in 1929. In his first book, The Court Disposes (1937), Stone criticized the politically reactionary role of the U.S. Supreme Court in blocking the realization of the socio-economic reform programs of the New Deal.

In the course of working as publisher and reporter, Stern and Stone quarreled about journalism, its practice, and its practices, especially about the content and tone of Stone’s New York Post editorials concerning a business plan to refinance the public-transit system of New York City. After an acrimonious bout of quarreling, Stern became worried about Stone’s juvenile attitude, and he sent a note to Izzy and to the managing editor, informing them that, henceforth, the reporter I. F. Stone was part of the news-department staff.

In response to his publisher's personnel-management decision — subordinating a reporter to the newsroom managing-editor — Stone complained to the Newspaper Guild, and presented his case against the managers of the newspaper, for unfair labor practices. The newspaper contested the case, which then went to a labor-law arbitrator, who ruled against the reporter I. F. Stone, who then resigned his editorial job with the New York Post.[10]

The Nation[edit]

In 1939, after the New York Post , Stone went to work for The Nation, first as the associate editor, and then as the magazine’s editor in Washington, D.C.[2] Two years later, he published the book Business as Usual: The First Year of Defense (1941), which reported on the inefficient planning and execution common to the business-as-usual attitude of the industrial and business monopolies — and its toleration by the U.S. military — that resulted in the tardy production of matériel for the Arsenal of Democracy, with which President F. D. Roosevelt said the U.S. would help Europeans and Asians combat the totalitarianism of Nazi Germany, of Fascist Italy, and of Imperial Japan, in the Second World War (1939–45).

Moreover, in the matter of war-production employment, Stone’s exposé of the institutional racism and anti–Semitism of the FBI’s process for vetting job-applicants is evident in the semantics of questions meant to discover, identify, and exclude political subversives from civil service in the U.S. government. The questions the FBI asked about the job-applicant were not political, but ideological, such as: “Does he mix with Negroes?”, “Does he . . . have too many Jewish friends”, “Does he think the colored races are as good as the white?”, “Why do you suppose he has hired so many Jews?”; and “Is he always criticizing Vichy France?”, a poor question to ask during an anti-fascist war, in which collaborationist Vichy France (1940–44) actively participated as a Nazi puppet régime.

To the mainstream American reader, concerned with the affairs of daily life, Stone reported that: “Questions like these are being used as a sieve to strain anti-fascists and liberals out of the government. They serve no other purpose.”[11] Consequent to Stone’s reporting, readers thanked The Nation magazine for informing the public of the FBI’s un–American activities against American workers during the Second World War, a global war against fascism. Analogously, the right-wing criticized the reporter Stone for maintaining the anonymity of his human sources in the FBI proper.

In 1946, Freda Kirchwey, the editor (1933–55) of The Nation magazine, fired Stone from the magazine for his having taken employment with the newspaper PM (Picture magazine), as a foreign correspondent covering the anti–British Jewish Resistance Movement in Mandatory Palestine (1920–48), where the State of Israel awaited foundation.[citation needed]

PM (Picture Magazine)[edit]

The Sykes–Picot Agreement (1916) facilitated the transformation of the British Mandate of Palestine (1920–48) into the State of Israel (1948), which was meant to be a bi-national country of Arabs and Jews.

Stone was the Washington, D.C., correspondent for PM, and published a series of feature articles about the Jewish European refugees who ran the British blockade to reach Palestine; afterwards, Stone developed that reportage and wrote the book Underground to Palestine.[12][13] In 1948, Picture Magazine closed, and was replaced in Stone's career, first, by the New York Star, and then by The Daily Compass, which published until 1952.

Zionism and the State of Israel[edit]

In 1945, at War's end, Stone went to Mandatory Palestine (1920–48) to report on the mass immigrations of East-European Jews to the British Middle East; peoples whom the Nazis had displaced from the countries of Eastern Europe. In Underground to Palestine (1948), Stone reported that the efforts (political. financial, personal) of those displaced Jews would have better served them in emigrating to the U.S., rather than to the Zionist Homeland for the Jewish people promised in the Sykes–Picot Agreement (Asia Minor Agreement, 1916) that established British, French, and Russian spheres of influence; nonetheless, they preferred the promise of Israel because:

They have been kicked around, as Jews, and now they want to live as Jews. Over and over I heard it said: “We want to build a Jewish country . . . We are tired of putting our sweat and blood into places where we are not welcome”. . . .
These Jews want the right to live as a people, to build as a people, to make their contribution to the world as a people. Are their national aspirations any less worthy of respect, than those of any other oppressed people? [14]

As a secular Jew, I. F. Stone agreed with the nationalist aspirations of Zionism, and publicly supported the State of Israel (1948), before the U.S. government granted official recognition. As a politically moderate Zionist, and like the politician Abba Eban, Stone supported the One-state solution, of Israel as a bi-national state that Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs would cohabit as equal citizens. Yet, in observing the military conquest that established Zionist rule in Mandatory Palestine, as an American, the reporter I. F. Stone became sympathetic to the Arabs’ resistance to the physical dispossession (job, house, land) and the political disenfranchisement (voided civil and political rights), which were the rules of social inferiority imposed upon the Palestinian Arab inhabitants of Israel.

Stone's reportage of the Israeli expulsion of the Arabs from Palestine angered Minister Eban, for embarrassing him (a politically moderate Zionist) and his government, and for dimming the international public-image of the State of Israel, as a refuge for oppressed peoples.[2]

In 1974, in speaking of differences of opinion among Jews about the philosophy and practice of Zionism, Noam Chomsky quoted Abba Eban: “I do not believe that any argument . . . can probably change the convictions of Noam Chomsky or of I. F. Stone, whose basic complex is one of guilt about Jewish survival”.[15]

The Arab–Israeli Conflict[edit]

The Sykes–Picot Agreement (1916) established the imperial spheres of influence of France (blue), Britain (red), and Russia (green) in the former Ottoman Empire (1299–1922). After WWII (1939–45), that partitioning of the Middle East led to the establishment of the State of Israel (1948) within the Mandate of Palestine (purple).
The geopolitics of the Russo–American Cold War (1945–90) extended the Arab–Israeli Conflict (1948 to date) beyond Palestine.

The practical and professional consequences of being an openly left-wing intellectual in the U. S. continued for I. F. Stone, when the U.S. State Department refused to issue a passport for him to travel overseas, as a journalist. Stone filed a lawsuit against the State Department. In court, his brother-in-law, the attorney Leonard Boudin, established the right of a journalist to freely travel in the course of practicing his profession, and so thwarted the federal government's political interference with a journalist; afterwards, Stone travelled to Israel in 1956 — before the Suez War (29 Oct. – 7 Nov. 1956) — and reported that:

Israel is a transformed country. What was once a struggling country is now a thriving country. Economically, it’s booming. It will win — it’s prepared for war and will win, you know, the next war, or the next war after that, militarily” . . . “But there will be wars and wars and wars until Israel comes to terms with the Palestinians . . . [because] the road to peace lies through the Palestinian refugee camp.”[16]

Consequent to the establishment of British, French, and Russian imperial spheres of influence in Asia Minor, by way of the Sykes–Picot Agreement (1916), the internal politics of the State of Israel became the Arab–Israeli conflict (1948 to date), which the West conflated to the geopolitics of the Cold War (1945–90) with each belligerent party — the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. — claiming hegemony upon the Middle East.[17]

In the book-review article “Holy War” (Les Temps Modernes, June 1967), Stone said that superpower-geopolitics are of secondary importance to the discontents of the Arabs and the Jews in the Levant:

Stripped of propaganda and sentiment, the Palestine problem is, simply, the struggle of two different peoples for the same strip of land. For the Jews, the establishment of Israel was a Return, with all the mystical significance the capital R implies. For the Arabs it was another invasion. This has led to three wars between them in twenty years. Each has been a victory for the Jews. With each victory the size of Israel has grown. So has the number of Arab homeless.

Now, to find a solution which will satisfy both peoples is like trying to square a circle. In the language of mathematics, the aspirations of the Jews and the Arabs are incommensurable. Their conflicting ambitions cannot be fitted into the confines of any ethical system which transcends the tribalistic. This is what frustrates the benevolent outsider, anxious to satisfy both peoples. For two years Jean-Paul Sartre has been trying to draw Israelis and Arabs into a confrontation in a special number of his review, Les Temps Modernes. The third war between them broke out while it was on the press. . . .[18]

How we act toward the Arabs will determine what kind of people we become — either oppressors and racists, in our turn, like those from whom we have suffered, or a nobler race able to transcend the tribal xenophobias that afflict mankind.[19]

The Korean War[edit]

As a political liberal who was very critical of the Russo–American Cold War, and its consequent reductions of the civil liberties and the civil and political rights of American citizens — totalitarianism effected with the moral panic of loyalty oaths and the Second Red Scare (1947–57) of the McCarthy Era — the journalist I. F. Stone investigated the originating circumstances of the anti–Communist Korean War (1950–52). In effort to convince the American people to support and fight in a war between two undemocratic Asian countries, U.S. government propaganda — in the style of WWII propaganda — misrepresented the Korean War as necessary to the rollback fight against the International Communist Conspiracy for world domination; and that Josef Stalin controlled the conspiracy from Moscow, a city in the U.S.S.R. (see: Domino theory)

In the Author's Preface to The Hidden History of the Korean War, 1950–51 (1952), about an anti–Communist war for world security that occurred only five years since the end of the similar, anti-fascist Second World War (1939–45), Stone said:

I have tried to write this story as if I were writing a novel, with suspense and with three-dimensionality. In a good novel one does not know all the answers, and I do not know all the answers here. Much about the Korean War is still hidden, and much will long remain hidden. I believe I have succeeded in throwing new light on its origins, on the operations of MacArthur and Dulles, on the weaknesses of Truman and Acheson, on the way the Chinese were provoked to intervene, and on the way the truce talks have been dragged out, and the issues muddied, by American military men, hostile from the first, to negotiations. I have tried to bring as much of the hidden story to light as I could in order to put the people of the United States and the United Nations on guard. . . .

I believe this book serves a threefold purpose. It is a case-study in the cold war. It is also a study in war propaganda, in how to read newspaper and official documents in wartime. Emphasis, omission, and distortion, rather than outright lying are the tools of the war propagandists, and this book may help the reader to learn how to examine their output — and sift out the facts — for himself. Finally, this book is what it purports to be, not “inside stuff” or keyhole revelations, but the hidden history of the Korean War, the facts to be found in the official accounts, themselves, if [the] texts are carefully examined and reports collated.[20]

In The Hidden History of the Korean War, 1950–51, Stone reported that South Korea had provoked North Korea to war; that, by way of continual guerrilla attacks across the border (38th parallel) into the north of Korea, the Communists, eventually, would counter-attack into the south — and so provide the official casus belli (25 June 1950) required for Korean reunification. That such cross-border attacks, authorized by the South Korean government, were part of the U.S. foreign policy for the worldwide Containment of Communism, advocated in government by the politician John Foster Dulles, realized in the field by General Douglas MacArthur, U.S. commander in the Pacific Ocean military theatre, and countenanced by Syngman Rhee, the strongman President of South Korea.

I. F. Stone’s Weekly[edit]

Although Stone had been a mainstream journalist in the 1930s, appearing on shows like Meet the Press[21] (then a radio show), in 1950 he found himself blacklisted and unable to get work possibly because Stone publicly admitted to his "fellow traveler" tendencies.[22] In 1953, inspired by the example of the muckraking journalist George Seldes and his political weekly, In Fact, Stone decided to start his own independent newsletter, I. F. Stone's Weekly. Over the next few years, Stone's newsletter campaigned against McCarthyism and racial discrimination in the United States.

In 1964, using evidence drawn from a close reading and analysis of published accounts, Stone was the only American journalist to challenge President Lyndon B. Johnson's account of the Gulf of Tonkin incident. During the 1960s, Stone continued to criticize the Vietnam War. At its peak in the 1960s, the Weekly only had a circulation of 70,000, but it was regarded as very influential.[23]

Articles originally published in I. F. Stone’s Weekly later were compiled and published in The I. F. Stone’s Weekly Reader (1973), and in three of six volumes of A Noncomformist History of Our Times (1989), a compendium of Stone's writing.

Allegations of espionage[edit]

During the 1930s, as a Left-wing journalist, I. F. Stone criticized Josef Stalin’s brutal consolidation of power in the U.S.S.R. in an editorial-opinion for the New York Post (7 December 1934), that denounced and likened Stalin’s purging and execution of Soviet citizens to the political purges and executions occurring in Nazi Germany (1933–45). That Stalin’s régime in Russia had adopted the tactics of “Fascist thugs and racketeers”.[24] As the sham-justice of the Moscow Trials (1936–38) proceeded, Stone attacked Stalin's action as heralding a new Thermidor, which was the time of counter-revolution and reaction against the French Revolution (1789–99).[25] Stone also criticized Lenin and Trotsky for their “cruel and bloody ruthlessness” in deposing Tsarist autocracy in Russia; he scolded the U.S. Trotskyists for believing that Trotsky would have been less repressive than Stalin.[26] Personally, as a man of the political Left, I. F. Stone bitterly denounced the Nazi–Soviet Pact (1939), in public and in private, as a betrayal of Leftist political principles.[27] Nonetheless, his American patriotism and professional integrity were doubted, and I. F. Stone was suspected of being a secret agent for the U.S.S.R.


In The New Independent newspaper, Andrew Brown reported that the Soviet Embassy attaché, KGB Major General Oleg Kalugin, said that: “We had an agent — a well-known American journalist — with a good reputation, who severed his ties with us after 1956. I, myself, convinced him to resume them. But, in 1968, after the invasion of Czechoslovakia . . . he said he would never again take any money from us.”[28]

In “How Many I. F. Stones Were There?”, Herbert Romerstein, formerly of USIA and of the HUAC, and Ray Kerrison reported that Gen. Kalugin had identified I. F. Stone as the secret agent of whom he [Kalugin] had spoken with the journalist Andrew Brown.[29] Eight years later, in The Venona Secrets (2000), Romerstein and Eric Breindel (editorial-page editor of the New York Post) developed Kalugin's allegations about I. F. Stone being a secret agent for the U.S.S.R.[30]

In “The Attack on I. F. Stone”, Andrew Brown said that when he “used the phrase an agent, to describe someone who turned out to be I. F. Stone”, he understood the term metaphorically, meaning someone who was a “useful contact”, and that the expression “take any money” referred to the fact that the journalist I. F. Stone would not permit a Soviet embassy employee to pay for a luncheon meal, neither then nor in the future, despite earlier lunch times, in the 1930s and 1940s. That, in September 1992, at the Moscow Journalists’ Club, General Kalugin had explained to the lawyer Martin Garbus that: “I have no proof that Stone was an agent. I have no proof that Stone ever received any money from the KGB, or the Russian government, I never gave Stone any money and was never involved with him as an agent.”[31]

In “Who’s Out to Lunch Here?: I. F. Stone and the KGB”, Cassandra Tate said that the alleged evidence of Stone’s secret-agent-involvement with the KGB is based upon a few lines of text at the end of a speech by a KGB officer. She concluded that I. F. Stone was neither a Soviet agent, nor an American collaborator of the KGB in the U.S.[32]

In “Izzy an Agent”, D. D. Guttenplan said that the available evidence indicates that the American journalist I. F. never was a witting collaborationist of the KGB, yet left open the ambiguous, semantic matter of the KGB’s definition of the espionage-term “agent of influence”.[33]

In other interviews, Kalugin contradicted Romerstein’s allegation that I. F. Stone was a Soviet secret agent; and two biographers of I. F. Stone reported General Kalugin’s third-party denials that Stone was a Soviet secret agent. Myra MacPherson (All Governments Lie! The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone, 2006) reported that Kalugin said: “We had no clandestine relationship. We had no secret arrangement. I was the press officer [of the Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C.] . . . I never paid him anything. I sometimes bought lunch.”;[34] and D. D. Guttenplan (American Radical: The Life and Times of I. F. Stone, 2009) reported Kalugin’s denials in The Nation news magazine and in the New York Post.


In his KGB memoirs, The First Directorate: My 32 Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West (1994), about working as a press attaché in the Soviet embassy, in Washington, D.C., Kalugin said that, besides I. F. Stone, he often met with journalists such as Walter Lippmann, Joseph Kraft, Drew Pearson, Chalmers Johnson, and Murray Marder.[35] That Stone occasionally had a working-lunch the Soviet press-attaché on shift, but ended that luncheon relationship after his first visit to the U.S.S.R. in 1956, and after hearing On the Personality Cult and its Consequences (26 February 1956), the secret speech with which Nikita Khrushchev denounced the tyranny of Josef Stalin. That when he returned from the Soviet Union, in his weekly newsletter, Stone said that:

“Whatever the consequences, I have to say what I really feel, after seeing the Soviet Union, and carefully studying the statements of its leading officials. This is not a good society and it is not led by honest men”. . . “Nothing has happened in Russia to justify cooperation abroad, between the independent Left and the Communists”.[36]

Stone’s published statements, about the U.S.S.R., its regimented society, and its totalitarian government, by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), provoked hundreds of subscribers to cancel their subscriptions to I.F. Stone’s Weekly newsletter.[36] Kalugin said that he persuaded Stone to continue having working-luncheons with him, but that, after the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia (Operation Danube, August – September 1968), Stone refused to let Kalugin pay for the lunch, and consequently ceased meeting with him.

Allegations revisited[edit]

The Venona Project

In 1995, the National Security Agency published documents from the Venona project (1943–80), a counter-intelligence program for the collection and decryption of KGB and GRU telegraph messages, collected from 1943 until 1980. On 13 September 1944, the KGB station in New York City transmitted a message to Moscow that Vladimir Pravdin, an NKVD officer working undercover as a reporter for TASS (Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union), had sought to communicate with a Soviet agent code-named BLIN, in Washington, D.C., but that BLIN had been avoiding a meeting with Pravdin, claiming that his work schedule disallowed the requested meeting. He reported that Samuel Krafsur, an American NKVD agent code-named IDE, who worked for TASS in the building that housed Stone’s office, had tried to “sound him out, but BLIN did not react”.[37]

The Venona project transcript No. 1506 (23 October 1944), indicated that Pravdin had succeeded in meeting with secret agent BLIN, and that he was “not refusing his aid”, but explained that had “three children, and did not want to attract the attention of the FBI” and that BLIN’s reluctance to meet Pravdin derived from “his unwillingness to spoil his career”, because he “earned $1,500.00 per month but . . . would not be averse to having a supplemental income”.[38]

In the article “Cables Coming in From the Cold”, about the Venona project transcripts, Walter Schneir and Miriam Schneir said that interpreting the transcriptions is difficult, because of the hearsay nature of the messages; the many steps between a conversation and the sending of a cable; language-translation difficulties; the possibility of an imperfect decryption; and concluded that “the Venona messages are not like the old TV show 'You Are There [1953–57], in which history was re‑enacted before our eyes. They are history seen through a glass, darkly.”[39]

Circumstantial evidence

In the Cold War history, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (2000), John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr said that I. F. Stone was the Soviet secret agent BLIN. They cited four Venona cables that mentioned the American journalist I. F. Stone, and that two of the cables contained evidence of Stone’s pro–Soviet espionage. That the files of the KGB, from 1936 to 1939, indicate that Stone was a Soviet secret agent, who worked as a talent spotter, as a courier to other secret agents, and that he provided private and journalistic information to KGB. That Stone collaborated with the Communist Victor Perlo group, who gave him materials for use in journalistic exposés.[37][40]

Moreover, in The Venona Secrets: The Definitive Exposé of Soviet Espionage in America (2000), Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel re-published the allegation that the American journalist I. F. Stone was the Soviet secret agent BLIN. As evidence, they cited Stone’s statement, in a column (11 November 1951) that responded to New York Herald Tribune reportage about his Left-wing sympathies, and that he would be unsurprised to read in that newspaper: “that I was smuggled in from Pinsk, in a carton of blintzes”. That Stone’s use of the word blintzes (pancakes) betrayed his knowledge of the word BLIN, his code-name as a Soviet secret agent.[41]

The wrong man

In the event, the biographer Myra MacPherson said that the FBI never identified BLIN as being I. F. Stone, and, instead, suspected Ernest K. Lindley, who also was father to three children.[42] The FBI claimed that secret agent BLIN must have been someone “whose true. pro–Soviet sympathies were not known to the public. . . .”, hence, could not have been the journalist Stone,[42] who, on the contrary, far from being “fearful”, did not hide his Left-wing beliefs. Indeed, rather than wishing to avoid FBI attention, as BLIN reportedly did, I. F. Stone made a point of suggesting to the Soviet press attaché Oleg Kalugin that they have lunch at Harvey's, a favorite haunt of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, in order to “tweak his nose”.[42]


In Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (2009), Klehr, Haynes, and Alexander Vassiliev, formerly of KGB, cite a KGB file [which Vassiliev saw in the Soviet Union] that named “Isidor Feinstein, a commentator for the New York Post” in the 1930s, as being secret agen BLIN, who “entered the channel of normal operational work” in 1936. That a note listed BLIN as an agent of the KGB station in New York City, in 1938. Klehr, Haynes, and Vassiliev said that Stone “assisted Soviet intelligence on a number of tasks, ranging from doing some talent spotting, acting as a courier, by relaying information to other agents, and providing private journalist tidbits and data [that] the KGB found interesting”.

That BLIN was to help recruit and support the German resistance to Nazism in Berlin, from 1936 to 1938. Yet the authors admitted that Stone broke with the KGB after the Nazi–Soviet Pact of 1939, and speculate that later Soviet communications with Stone were meant to reactivate their previous relationship. As such, Klehr, Haynes, and Vassiliev conclude that: “The documentary record shows that I. F. Stone consciously cooperated with Soviet intelligence, from 1936 through 1938, [Stone’s Popular Front period]. An effort was made, by Soviet intelligence, to reestablish that relationship in 1944–45; we do not know whether that effort succeeded. To put it plainly, from 1936 to 1939 I. F. Stone was a Soviet spy”.[37]

In the article “Commentary’s Trumped-up Case Against I. F. Stone”, Jim Naureckas, counters that the allegations of Klehr, Haynes, and Vassiliev, if true, merely indicate that I. F. Stone was “just gossiping”, and criticizes them their “nefarious” and “tendentious” magnification of “relatively innocuous behavior” on the basis of one anti–Nazi activity. As for Stone being listed as an “agent” of the KGB, Naureckas said that Walter Lippmann also is listed as a Soviet secret agent.[43]

In the article “I.F. Stone: Encounters with Soviet Intelligence”, Max Holland said there is no question that I. F. Stone was a “fully recruited and witting agent” for the Soviet Union, from 1936 to 1938; yet, admits that Stone “was not a ‘spy’ in that he did not engage in espionage, and had no access to classified material”.[44]

In the book review of Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (25 May 2009), D. D. Guttenplan said that “Spies never explains why we should believe KGB officers, pushed to justify their existence (and expense accounts), when they claim information comes from an elaborately recruited ‘agent’ rather than merely a source or contact”. That the authors of Spies distort the report in Venona transcript No. 1506 (October 1944) and never prove that, in 1936, Soviet secret agent BLIN was I. F. Stone. That their allegations merely demonstrate that Stone “was a good reporter”, and notes that Walter Lippmann is quoted in Spies as having professional contacts with “a Soviet journalist with whom he traded insights and information.” This is the same man [Pravdin] whom Stone is said to have avoided.[45] Nontheless, the Vassilev notebook shows that Lippman was meeting Pravdin, not to pass the intelligence to him, but rather to find out what the true intentions of the Soviet government were. One of the KGB reports said: “He [Lippmann] is attempting to use his acquaintance with him [Pravdin] to determine our viewpoint on various issues of international politics. He is doing this, of course, very subtly, with the utmost tact. It should be recognized that by attempting to draw ‘Sergei’ into making candid comments, Imperialist [Lippmann] is sharing his own information with him”.[46]


In the book-review article of Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (2010), Myra MacPherson said that the American co-author of the book, the journalist Max Holland, had persistently repeated discredited allegations that the American journalist I. F. Stone had accepted money from the Soviet Union, despite Holland's having acknowledged the unreliability of his source, KGB Gen. Oleg Kalugin:

As for the conflicting tales, woven by former KGB agent Kalugin, about his relationship with Stone, from 1966 to 1968, Holland correctly notes that “Kalugin seemed incapable of telling the same story more than once”. Still, this did not keep Holland from repeating the damaging and long-refuted lie that Herbert Romerstein, former HUAC sleuth, developed after talking with Kalugin, that Moscow Gold [sic] subsidized Stone’s weekly. Nowhere is there any evidence that Stone took money for anything, except a possible lunch or two. Nor is there any evidence, as Holland points out, that Kalugin was able to plant [news] stories with Stone.[47]

Retirement, Classical scholarship, and death[edit]

In 1971, angina pectoris forced Stone to cease publication of the Weekly. After his retirement, he decided to return to the University of Pennsylvania, whence he had dropped out years before and earned a bachelor's degree in Classical Languages. Stone successfully learned ancient Greek and wrote a book about the prosecution and death of Socrates, The Trial of Socrates, in which he argued that Socrates wanted to be sentenced to death in order to shame Athenian democracy, which he despised. The Trial of Socrates was a New York Times bestseller and was translated into 18 languages.

In 1970 Stone received the George Polk Award, and in 1976 he received the Conscience-in-Media Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

In 1989, I. F. Stone died of a heart attack in Boston.[2]


Composer Scott Johnson makes extensive use of Stone's voice taken from a recorded 1981 lecture in his large-scale musical work, How It Happens, completed in 1991 on commission for the Kronos Quartet.

The 2008 Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards lists Stone's The Trial of Socrates as one of his three favorite books.[48]

On March 5, 2008, Harvard's Nieman Foundation for Journalism announced plans to award an annual I. F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence and an associated I. F. Stone Workshop on Strengthening Journalistic Independence.[49]

In 2008 the Park Center for Independent Media at the Roy H. Park School of Communications created the Izzy Award. The award goes to "an independent outlet, journalist, or producer for contributions to our culture, politics, or journalism created outside traditional corporate structures" for "special achievement in independent media".[50]

On 6 May 2015, the non-profit peace organization Catalytic Diplomacy released The Legacy of I.F. Stone, Part One and Part Two, a pair of documentary videos exploring the legacy and influence of I. F. Stone and I.F. Stone's Weekly.

The entire run of I.F. Stone's Weekly from 17 January 1953 through 1 December 1971, can be accessed through the ifstone.org website, along with many of Stone’s speeches and other writings, and the documentary videos The Legacy of I.F. Stone, Part One and Part Two.




  1. ^ "I. F. Stone Dies; 'Conscience of Investigative Journalism'". Los Angeles Times. 19 June 1989. Retrieved 14 April 2008. [He] published his first newspaper as a New Jersey schoolboy of 14 and proceeded to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted for the rest of his life. He worked for seven newspapers, was Washington, D.C. correspondent for The Nation and wrote 13 books. Although his politics were well to the left of center, Stone was best known for a conservative-looking four-page paper, I. F. Stone's Weekly, which he published with his wife, Esther, for 18  years. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Flint, Peter B. (June 19, 1989). "I. F. Stone, Iconoclast of Journalism, Is Dead at 81; His integrity was inspiration and annoyance for decades.". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-21. I. F. Stone, the independent, radical pamphleteer of American journalism hailed by admirers for scholarship, wit and lucidity and denounced by critics for wrongheadedness and stubbornness, died of a heart attack yesterday in a Boston hospital. He was 81 years old and lived for many years in Washington. 
  3. ^ Stephens, Mitchell (1 March 1999). "Journalism's Greatest Hits: Two Lists of a Century's Top Stories" (in American English). New York Times. p. C1. Retrieved 27 May 2009. 
  4. ^ Muckraker, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 20 June 1989. Accessed 28 October 2007. "Born in Philadelphia and raised in Haddonfield, New Jersey, Mr Stone worked many years on newspapers in South Jersey, Philadelphia (including a brief period for The Inquirer) and New York. . . .”
  5. ^ Klaidman, Stephen (15 April 1977). "I. F. Stone Returns to College at 68: Stone Starts A New Career As a Scholar.". Washington Post. Retrieved 13 April 2008. I. F. Stone, a college dropout turned publisher of an incisive Washington newsletter bearing his name, began his academic career rather inauspiciously; he graduated 49th in a class of 52 from Haddonfield High School in New Jersey. 
  6. ^ "ketupa.net media profiles: curtis". Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  7. ^ I.F. Stone, July 1963 “I had become a radical in the ’20s, while in my teens, mostly through reading Jack London, Herbert Spencer, Kropotkin, and Marx. I became a member of the Socialist Party and was elected to the New Jersey State Committee of the Socialist Party, before I was old enough to vote. I did publicity for Norman Thomas in the 1928 campaign while a reporter on a small city daily, but soon drifted away from left-wing politics because of the sectarianism of the left."
  8. ^ D. D. Guttenplan, American Radical: The Life and Times of I. F. Stone, pág 149. Northwestern University Press.
  9. ^ Navasky, Victor. I. F. Stone, The Nation, posted 2 July 2003, 21 July 2003 issues. Retrieved 9 September 2006.
  10. ^ All Governments Lie, pp. 171–72
  11. ^ MacPherson, Myra. All Governments Lie!: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone. pp. 192–193.
  12. ^ Roger Starr, PM: New York's Highbrow Tabloid, City Journal, Summer 1993. Accessed online March 5, 2007.
  13. ^ Nel, Philip. "About the Newspaper PM". The Crockett Johnson Homepage. Retrieved June 21, 2005.
  14. ^ John R. MacArthur (2009). "The First Draft of Israeli History". Globe Books. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 12 June 2011. 
  15. ^ Voniati, Christiana (16 February 2009). "Chomsky on Gaza". Countercurrents. Retrieved 27 May 2009. Chomsky, Noam (2004). Middle East Illusions: Including Peace in the Middle East? Reflections on Justice and Nationhood. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 130–31. ISBN 978-0-7425-2977-9. 
  16. ^ "American Radical: The Life and Times of I.F. Stone". Democracy Now!. 18 June 2009. Archived from the original on 14 April 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  17. ^ Stone, I. F. “Holy War”, New York Review of Books, 3 August 1969, pp. 15–16.
  18. ^ Stone, I. F. “Holy War”, New York Review of Books, 3 August 1969, p. 1.
  19. ^ Stone, I. F. “Holy War”, New York Review of Books, 3 August 1969, p. 14.
  20. ^ Stone, I.F. Author's Preface, The Hidden History of the Korean War, 1950–51 (1952) pp. xxi–xxii.
  21. ^ FrontPage Magazine – Praising the “Fairness” of an Old Fellow Traveler
  22. ^ According to Guttenplan, "They liked him on Meet the Press, the original producer of Meet the Press told me, because he was a good needler. He was very good at getting under the skin of sort of pompous guests." One of the people he needled was Dr. Morris Fishbein, the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, who accused those supporting national health insurance of being Communists. Stone asked, “Dr. Fishbein, given that President Truman has already spoken out in favor of national health insurance, do you think that that makes him a dangerous communist or just a deluded fellow traveler?” (See transcript of D. D. Guttenplan interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now. [1]).
  23. ^ I. F. Stone Weekly (sic), Spartacus Schoolnet. Retrieved 21 December 2006.
  24. ^ Cottrell, Robert. "Izzy" (Rutgers University Press, 1992), p. 65.
  25. ^ Cottrell, Robert. "Izzy" (Rutgers University Press, 1992), p. 66.
  26. ^ Cottrell, Robert. "Izzy" (Rutgers University Press, 1992), pp. 65–66.
  27. ^ Cottrell, Robert. "Izzy" (Rutgers University Press, 1992), pp. 78–79.
  28. ^ Andrew Brown, The New Independent, 12 March 1992.
  29. ^ "How Many I. F. Stones were there?". New York Post. 20 July 1992. 
  30. ^ Romerstein, Herbert; Eric Breindel (2000). Venona Secrets, The. Regnery Press. ISBN 0-89526-225-8. 
  31. ^ Brown, Andrew. “The Attack on I. F. Stone”, New York Review of Books, 8 October 1992.
  32. ^ Tate, Cassandra. Who's out to lunch here? I. F. Stone and the KGB, Columbia Journalism Review, November/December 1992. Retrieved 9 September 2006.
  33. ^ Guttenplan, D. D. “Izzy an Agent?”, The Nation, 3–10 August 1992; Romerstein's letter in response and Guttenplan's "Stone Unturned," 28 September 1992.
  34. ^ MacPherson, Myra, All Governments Lie! The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone. 2006, p. 326
  35. ^ Kalugin, Oleg. The First Directorate: My 32 Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West (1994).
  36. ^ a b Cottrell, Robert C. IZZY: A Biography of I.F. Stone. 1993 pp. 189–190.
  37. ^ a b c Klehr, Harvey; Haynes, John; Vassiliev, Alexander (May 2009). "I. F. Stone, Soviet Agent: Case Closed". Commentary magazine. Retrieved 11 June 2009. 
  38. ^ In The Nation article, “Red Harvest” (6 May 2009), Guttenplan said that “the VENONA messages are real, albeit problematic: the National Security Agency long resisted releasing the Russian texts, and the English versions, in the public domain, include a great deal of tendentious annotation, much of it, apparently, the work of Robert Lamphere, the FBI's liaison to the project. They are also ambiguous — not least about the apparently simple matter of Blin’s identity.”
  39. ^ "Cables Coming in From the Cold", The Nation, 5 July 1999.
  40. ^ Venona: Soviet Espionage and the American Response 1939–1957, Part II: Selected Venona Messages on the CIA’s website. Table of Contents. Retrieved: 9 September 2006.
  41. ^ Romerstein, Herbert, and Breindel Eric, The Venona Secrets: The Definitive Exposé of Soviet Espionage in America (2014). Regnery Publishing, November 2000, p. 435.
  42. ^ a b c MacPherson, Myra.. All Governments Lie! (2006).
  43. ^ "FAIR Blog » Blog Archive » Commentary's Trumped-Up Case Against I. F. Stone". Fair.org. 2009-04-22. Retrieved 25 June 2009. 
  44. ^ Max Holland, "I. F. Stone: Encounters with Soviet Intelligence", Journal of Cold War Studies, Volume 11, Number 3, Summer 2009.
  45. ^ "Red Harvest: The KGB in America". Thenation.com. Retrieved 25 June 2009. 
  46. ^ Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, p. 177.
  47. ^ Myra MacPherson "Review: Spies: the Rise and Fall of the KGB in America", The Huffington Post, 28 May 2009.
  48. ^ "John Edwards' favorite books". Johnedwards.com. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  49. ^ See nieman.harvard.edu, or the "Release notes". On the same day, ifstone.org went public, containing further information on the Harvard project.
  50. ^ The Izzy Award, Izzy Award Home Page, Park Center for Independent Media. Retrieved 19-03-2009.

Further reading[edit]


  • Robert C. Cottrell. (1992). Izzy: A Biography of I. F. Stone, New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0813520088. 388 pages. 18 chapters. Notes. Selected Bibliography. Index.
  • D. D. Guttenplan. 2009. American Radical: The Life and Times of I. F. Stone. Farrar, Straus and Giroux ISBN 978-0-374-18393-6
  • Myra MacPherson. (2006). All Governments Lie!: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone, Scribner. ISBN 1-4165-5679-6
  • Andrew Patner. (1988). I. F. Stone: A Portrait, Pantheon. ISBN 0-385-41382-3


External links[edit]