Talk:Walter Duranty

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject Biography (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Biography, a collaborative effort to create, develop and organize Wikipedia's articles about people. All interested editors are invited to join the project and contribute to the discussion. For instructions on how to use this banner, please refer to the documentation.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
WikiProject Journalism  
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Journalism, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Journalism on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Soviet Union  
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Soviet Union, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject United States  
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject United States, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of topics relating to the United States of America on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the ongoing discussions.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.

NPOV dispute[edit]

Duranty apologists are claiming that the article is too POV, fine. In an effort to add a little rigor to the much deserved bitch slapping of this odious historical figure, I'm editing the article list heading in order to make clear that these were pulitzer prize articles. I've compared the list of pulitzer articles from here ( and reconciling it with the already existing external list of Duranty articles. It's the same set of articles. 18:21, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Woops, I hadn't realized I wasn't logged in. The above commentary from is mine TMLutas 18:22, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Much of this article is POV, unsourced and so forth. The introduction says such things as he "is widely seen as an apologist for Joseph Stalin". On the contrary, he was a New York Times reporter and won a Pulitzer Prize, and all of this nonsense about him did not come about until a half century or so after Mr. Duranty's death. As far as Von Hagen's review of Duranty's work, he did criticize some aspects of it, but not as much as was stated. Ruy Lopez 23:17, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

what the hell are you talking about?

" We will never know whether Walter Duranty, the principal New York Times correspondent in the U.S.S.R., ever visited Fediivka. Almost certainly not. What we do know is that, in March 1933, while telling his readers that there had indeed been "serious food shortages" in the Ukraine, he was quick to reassure them that "there [was] no actual starvation." There had been no "deaths from starvation," he soothed, merely "widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition." So that was all right then.

But, unlike Khrushchev, Duranty, a Pulitzer Prize winner, no less, was keeping count — in the autumn of 1933 he is recorded as having told the British Embassy that ten million had died. ** "The Ukraine," he said, "had been bled white," remarkable words from the journalist who had, only days earlier, described talk of a famine as "a sheer absurdity," remarkable words from the journalist who, in a 1935 memoir had dismayingly little to say about one of history's greatest crimes. Writing about his two visits to the Ukraine in 1933, Duranty was content to describe how "the people looked healthier and more cheerful than [he] had expected, although they told grim tales of their sufferings in the past two years." As Duranty had explained (writing about his trip to the Ukraine in April that year), he "had no doubt that the solution to the agrarian problem had been found". "

Really? these are "lies"? If these really are Duranty's quotes I think there should be no question about rescinding the Pulitzer, and regardless of that the NYT should finally issue an apology instead of boasting about it's precious prize. Just some thoughts, obviously not meant to be unbiased.

One of the problems with recinding the Pulitzer is that Duranty won it for what he wrote before 1933. While his actions in 1933 were reprehensible, taking away a prize he won for writings in 1931 doesn't directly follow. There is also a bigger problem in that it isn't just Duranty and the Times that are gulity over the famine, its almost *every* regular reporter in the Soviet Union during the famine. I very specifically include Malcolm Muggeridge who didn't write accounts of the famine under his name, didn't challenge Duranty in public and has in the years since tried to spin his cowardly and dishonest actions into something they were not.
It wasn't JUST Walter Duranty and the Times. Every reporter and paper covering the Soviet Union in those years compromised itself. The reason why Duranty survived as a reporter in 1933 was that nobody was willing to speak up in public against him. If Malcolm Muggeridge and a couple others who knew the truth had come forward. Or if the governments who knew (UK, US, France

...etc) had come forward with the truth, Duranty would have been finished.

In my opinion, the whole movement to take the prize away is mostly an overly political cause aimed at attacking the modern New York Times. If people want to do whats right, stop focusing on Duranty and start trying to get an after the fact Pulitzer for Garth Jones. He was a true hero as a journalist but has been left an unrecognized unknown. Giving him an award now would mean much more than taking away the given to Duranty. 14:29, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Currently, the vast majority of the article and its links are to websites highly critical of Duranty. I do not think that this is a balanced view. Remember, Duranty was a highly respected journalist for decades. The article needs to reflect this, rather than simply dwelling on Duranty's failure in reporting Soviet atrocities. Crotalus horridus 15:13, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

Shame, Crotalus! The fact that this liar was respected at his times (especially by 'freedom-loving' Western 'progressives' never seen the life in Stalinist USSR), does not conclude that we are not allowed to call him a monstrous liar now. The toll of Holodomor victims is comparable to Holocaust -- and you probably agree that it's hard to deal a Holocaust denier (of the time those crimes were committed or of present days) neutrally. Constanz - Talk 13:25, 11 February 2006 (UTC)
    • Perhaps, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. I mean, come on, practically the ENTIRE article is the section "Criticisms". Name one other article on wikipedia like that.- 16:23, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Walter Duranty knew of starvation, reported it privately, and misled the western public that there was no starvation. This was not an isolated incident but the culmination of a pro-soviet slant. What, specifically should be noted as praiseworthy about the man? I guess some details of his family life couldn't hurt but I'm just not interested in spending my time on the project. Perhaps you are? TMLutas 18:05, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

I would have to agree with TMLutas. Duranty's contribution to History has been the role played by him as "the expert" on the Soviet Union, as the middle man between the Western public (specifically Roosevelt) and Stalin's "grand experiment." Duranty fed his editors and readers just what they wanted to hear. In return, Duranty was materially reciprocated. Hence, what makes Duranty historically special is not his mediocre life prior to the assignment in Moscow, but the role played as a Western journalist of "a reputable and credible newspaper" describing "accurately" the events taking place in the Soviet Union at the time. Duranty fully meets the definition of a lier and an apologist, and the article about him explains this with reliance on emperical research.--Riurik 17:48, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
The article has been reworked to fix the POV problems but still preserve the spirit of what was there before. To avoid POV, the article has to be about the person as a whole rather than a specific controversy. Its also not really necessary to go after Duranty with strong POV because his own words and ideas are the most damaging thing that can be presented.

Link repair[edit]

I arrived on the scene in response to the "Link Rot" listing of 404 pages at the Community Portal, so I am not approaching this with any personal POV. The link itself was absolutely missing on this visit, but since I could reconstruct an (apparently) similar link with the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Union website, I did re-enter and restore it. I will leave the verifiability or the POV-ness of the link or the article to those of you who know the subject better. --KJPurscell 20:29, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Character Assassination[edit]

In his New York Times articles (including one published on March 31, 1933), Duranty repeatedly denied the existence of a Ukrainian famine in 1932–33.

In an article in NYT, August 24 1933, he claimed "any report of a famine is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda",

This is a pure distortion of his reporting. For one, the quotation is selective. This is what Duranty really wrote on 23 August 1933:

The excellent harvest about to be gathered shows that any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda

Duranty was entirely correct on this. Demographic reports from the archives show that by September, death rates in Ukraine had largely returned to normal. In June, the crude death rate in Ukraine was 196/1000. By September, however, it dropped to 23/1000. Duranty was therefore correct with his assertion that at the time of his writing, famine in USSR had ceased. As Duranty wrote, the splendid harvest of 1933 had ended by the start of autumn.

Duranty, in the very same article, wrote the following:

The food shortage which has affected almost the whole population in the last year, and particularly in the grain-producing provinces--that is, the Ukraine, North Caucasus, the Lower Volga region--has, however, caused heavy loss of life. Although it is pure guesswork to attempt any estimate of the loss of life so far, not so much from actual starvation as from manifold diseases due to lowered resistance and to general disease in the last year, approximations are now possible. Among peasants and others receiving bread rations conditions were certainly not better. So with a total population in the Ukraine, North Caucasus and Lower Volga of upward of 40,000,000 the normal death rate would have been about 1,000,000. Lacking official figures, it is a conservative to suppose that this was at least trebled last year in those provinces and considerably increased for the Soviet Union as a whole.

Above, Duranty acknowledged severe economic hardships among the population. Duranty was correct in saying that deaths resulted from manifold diseases rather than actual starvation. Soviet data showed 800,000 cases of typhus in 1933. In the famine-stricken regions of Ukraine, North Caucasus, and Lower Volga, Duranty estimated that there were perhaps 2 million excess deaths. Guess what--Duranty was correct nearly 60 years before the exposure of declassified Soviet data. For 1933 declassified Soviet data showed a total of 1.73 million excess deaths in Ukraine, Lower Volga, and North Caucasus.

Therefore, not only did Duranty acknowledge the occurrence of famine which he correctly called a food shortage, he also proved remarkably accurate in his estimations of the demographic consequences.

Your case isn't very convincing. You are parsing words and looking at information in a selective manner in a way similar to Duranty himself. Rather than looking at words written only in August, it would be helpful to include earlier statements he made in March. He called the famine at that time a "big scare story". He then goes on (as you do) to somehow make a distinction between deaths due to outright starvation in a famine and deaths due to disease based malnutration. I personally don't understand the distinction. In most any famine, disease and malnutition will inevitably be a larger cause of death than outright starvation. If people have so little food that they die of disease, that is a famine.
Duranty does tell the truth in a way and his attitude in doing so is very revealing. He uses the phrase "you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs" to describe their attitude and then compares the famine deaths to a baseless claim that generals in the first world war ordered costly attacks to show "spirit" to superiors.
Duranty engaged in endless doubletalk. He admitted "serious shortage food shortage throughout the country", "widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition" and said "conditions are definitely bad in certain sections- the Ukraine, North Caucasus and Lower Volga" but to him all this added up to "there is no famine". Even after he knew of close to two million dead in those regions, he still insisted there was no famine. If not famine, what is the word to describe a situation where 1.73 million or more people die due to a lack of proper food? 22:18, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Please read works by scholars such as Taylor, Crowl, von Hagen and others. Their in-depth research ought to answer lots of questions. Details are listed under the reference section. --Riurik (discuss) 21:08, 5 November 2006 (UTC)


Someone removed the following from the article based on lack of citation:

"Around the same time, six British citizens were arrested on charges of industrial espionage."

No citation was provided because the Walter Duranty quote in the same paragraph references the same incident and serves effectively as a citation. But if anyone needs more information, the incident referred to in the paragraph is known as the Metro-Vickers affair.

Six British Engineers were arrested in March 1933 along with a number of Soviet Citizens. They were accused of economic sabotage against the soviet union. Specifically they were accused of sabotaging power stations. 22:12, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

I have restored and expanded this reference because the famine and the show trials of those who "sabotaged" forced industrialisation were two sides of the same coin.

John Crowfoot (talk) 13:17, 6 September 2015 (UTC)

comments on recent attempts to change the article[edit]

Someone is making repeated attempts to change the article. Since they seem unwilling to engage in discussion, I'm going to make the case against their edits.

The first change involves subtituting "insulted" for "called".

This is unacceptable because insulted is specifically inserting a POV evaluation of the comment.

The second change involves the statement: Duranty "according to his critics "denied" famine in 1932–33"

It is not according to his critics. His own article cited and sourced says that reports of famine in the soviet union are wrong. See for example the words: "that any report of a famine is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda.

The third change involves the word-games played in his column. While Duranty denies famine in the Ukraine, he backhandedly says that "ordinary" deaths in Ukraine may have tripled. While he never says a number, the implication is that 2 million people would be dead.

By the end of the column, Duranty has effectively called Jones a liar and denied the existance of a famine in the Ukraine while admitting himself that 2 million people had died. How is the death of 2 million people out of a population of 40 million due to food related issues not a famine? Duranty himself mentions the 1921 famine in the USSR and in that famine the usual estimate for deaths in the entire country is 5 million. I can't explain how it is that Duranty accepts a 1921 famine and denies one in the 1930s. It makes no sense.
Duranty has also in the column a) suggested that the story has something to do with the Metro-Vickers "spy" case b) implied that Jones is a political operative (mentioning Lloyd-George) c) called the famine a "scare story" d) claimed that Jones and others were suggesting that the soviet union would entirely collapse because of the famine e) accepting as true the stalinist show-trials for economic sabotage and attributing the lack of food in part to sabotage by foreign agents in the agricultural minister. Duranty also includes a classic comment about making soviet omlets by breaking "eggs".
Your citation "proving duranty's numbers" is not valid. You cannot point to a spreadsheet without any analysis presented and claim that it proves anything. You need to at least cite a source that says what you are claiming rather than raw data. But even if you do that, you cannot get around the basic fact that duranty called the famine a scare story and denied that there was a famine.

Change four involves the removal of sources and quotes that you seem to disagree with.

You need to give justification why well-documented events such as the controversy involving the Pulitzer Board should be removed. As well, your removal of Strang's account of the 26 September 1933 conversation with duranty needs substantial justification. 16:25, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

The important Strang reference has not been restored.

John Crowfoot (talk) 13:20, 6 September 2015 (UTC)

As a followup, the changes to the article discussed above were made by Backdash who turned out to be the sockpuppet of a banned vandal. See the link above for more information. 22:04, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

Undue weight[edit]

This article is almost a textbook example of undue weight. Duranty wrote at least nine books plus countless articles, yet the overwhelming majority of this Wikipedia entry consists of nitpicking that occurred long after he was dead. This article isn't a biography of Duranty. It's a coat rack. The real subject of the article is "Criticisms of Walter Duranty's Soviet reporting". There's also a large dose of original research and uncited statements. Yes, this material deserves some room, but it shouldn't overwhelm the article as it does now. Nor should we give in to the presentist bias that this reflects. I would prefer more academic sources and less from political axe-grinders. *** Crotalus *** 05:07, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

Well, maybe so much is said about his reporting from the Soviet Union (compared to the other books or "countless" other articles is because that's what he's famous for, for better or worse? After all, Duranty didn't get the Pulitzer Prize for writing articles about dog-catching or whatever, but for his reporting from the Soviet Union (see the list of 13 prize-winning articles in the corresponding section). I haven't read his books, but most sound the same theme, from their titles (Red Economics, Duranty reports Russia, etc). It may be worth looking into that, but I kinda doubt they have much more than what's already known from his NYT articles. (I don't have the foggiest idea what Babies without tails, stories by Walter Duranty is about, but do we really want to know?) Now, about the second point: " There's also a large dose of original research" -- where exactly is that? This is an extremely well researched subject, with dozens, if not hundreds of books, articles, etc written about it. Hard to do any "original research" on such well-trodden ground, if you ask me, but I'm listening, if you have something concrete in mind. Thirdly, "uncited statements": yes, that's a real problem, as anyone can see. I don't know why that's the case (I didn't write the article), but it can certainly be remedied. See eg Holodomor denial#Walter Duranty and The New York Times, which is chock-full-of inline quotations -- I plan to port some of those here, and further develop this article, when I get a chance -- but having tags slapped on it doesn't help much. Four -- I don't know what's "presentist" about this article -- the Pulitzer Prize controversy? I don't get it. Finally, sure, let's have more academic sources (will do that, no problemo) -- but note that all 5 books listed in the present article are all already from well-established writers, such as Robert Conquest and Malcolm Muggeridge. Or are these writers to be viewed as "political axe-grinders", as opposed to who? Perhaps, Walter Duranty? Turgidson (talk) 05:31, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
Change the "criticism" section to "legacy of reporting on the Soviet Union"; unfortunately, there are more and more recent articles in the press that focus on Duranty's lack of concern over the deaths of millions or that such deaths are part of a strategy where the end justifies the means. That's the way it works. I don't see this as undue weight. After all, if you go on about Hitler and the Holocaust no one complains there's not enough information about building the autobahn, or if you go on about Mussolini and fascism no one complains there's not enough information about trains running on time. Admittedly the comparison is overdone, but you should get the point. —PētersV (talk) 19:48, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
I've read through the article a couple of more times. I don't agree with Crotalus' {{coatrack}} tag, however, perhaps the article might be better organized, it doesn't need two sections on Duranty's reporting of the famine, perhaps "Career" (including recounting his reporting of the famine) followed by "Legacy" (being seen as an apologist for Stalin, controversy over Pulitzers, impact on American journalism regarding the Soviet Union,...). It's unfortunate that his legacy re: the famine overshadows everything else, but that was the result of choices he made in his lifetime. —PētersV (talk) 21:37, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
Agreed -- the article needs a thorough overhaul (and inline quotations, of course). I'll be happy to work on this, in the next few weeks, provided one can do that with some degree of peace and quiet, not constant barrages of slings and arrows. Alternatively, if anyone is willing to give it a shot, I'll be glad to help out. Turgidson (talk) 21:45, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
I'd suggest not worrying about the tags for now and just deal with the revamp. Personally, I'm quite interested in what he did in his time in Riga, but there's not much on it. I did find tidbit at the U of Wash site (where they specialize in Baltic studies), it fills in the gap before the "reports from Moscow" years and talks about Duranty positively. —PētersV (talk) 00:24, 5 January 2008 (UTC)
The University of Washington article does not fill any gap. Its an amaturish book report on Duranty's "I write as I please" which was written by Durranty around 15 years after the events in question. If anyone wants to improve the article, you have to get Durranty's own books, read them and then cross-check them with other sources because he often gets things wrong. I did the last major revamp of this article a while ago and my opinion at the time was that there was little in his pre-1929 career that merited much attention beyond the basics that showed up in the article. There is a big misunderstanding here about his career. He was a minor reporter of no significance until those few years in which he did the reporting he won the prize for and also did the writing which subsequently got him into trouble. His early 1930s career is the only reason anyone published his years-old baltic memories. And after he left the soviet union, he gradually become obscure again. The other problem anyone who tries a major revamp is going to run into is the problems of writing about any journalist. You typically have their account in their own words and the account of their critics with nothing inbetween. I think given all the problems associated with any change to the article that I did a good job with it compared to what I started with. (talk) 09:43, 27 January 2008 (UTC)


Tidbit from the Gregorovich site


"In the first fortnight of January (1933) ... Stalin made a speech 'What is wrong,' Stalin asked in effect, 'on the agrarian front? We are wrong, my comrades -- we, not the peasants nor the weather, nor class enemies, but we Communists, who have the greatest power and authority the world ever saw, yet have made a series of blunders ... We miscalculated the new tactics of hostile forces of boring from within, instead of engaging in open warfare.'"

"In April, 1933, I travelled through Ukraine to Odessa, and ... a Red Army brigade commander (General) told me: 'We had a communal farm in Ukraine attached to my regiment ... Everything went well until a year ago (1932). Then the whole set-up changed. We began to get letters asking for food. Can you imagine that, that they asked food from us? We sent what we could, but I didn't know what had happened until I went to the farm only a month ago (March 1933). My God, you wouldn't beleive it. The people were almost starving. Their animals were dead. I'll tell you more, there wasn't a cat or dog in the whole village, and that is no good sign ... Instead of two hundred and fifty families there were only seventy-three, and all of them were half-starved. I asked them what happened. They said 'Our seed grain was taken away last spring.' They said to me, 'Comrade Commander, we are soldiers and most of us are Communists. When the order came that our farm must deliver five hundred tons of grain, we held a meeting. Five hundred tons of grain! We needed four hundred tons to sow our fields, and we only had six hundred tons. But we gave the grain as ordered."

What was the result? I asked the brigade commander.

"Barren fields," he told me. "Do you know that they ate their horses and oxen, such as was left of them? They were starving, do you know that? Their tractors were rusty and useless; and remember, these folks weren't kulaks, weren't class enemies. They were our own people, our soldiers. I was horrified ..."

USSR: The Story of Soviet Russia, by Walter Duranty, New York, 1944, pages 194-5 —Preceding unsigned comment added by Vecrumba (talkcontribs) 02:16, 5 January 2008 (UTC)


I support the tag remaining until we remove some of the repetitive rehashing of the Holodomor and reorganize it and add more information about Duranty's career outside the area of controversy. His Times report ostensibly filed from Paris of the Red Army being poised to invade the Baltics was certainly not apologetic. We need to insure we fairly represent his career and reporting both before (Baltic independence) and after (WWII including the Baltics) the Holodomor. Contemporary perceptions I think are best dealt with in a separate "Legacy" section so "what Duranty did/wrote" and "what others say then or today about what Duranty did/wrote" are dealt with as separate topics. —PētersV (talk) 19:55, 5 January 2008 (UTC)

I think the tag is totally invalid. There are around 20 lines in the article about the Holodomor. His career prior to those events is already covered in detail including his time in the Baltics and in Paris. As is his interview in 1929 with Stalin. His publications over his entire life are also covered in the article. The significant portion of his career was his reporting in the Soviet Union from the 1929 interview with Stalin until his eventual move to the US and the associated journalistic prize. The controversies with the prize over the years also cannot be ignored. For you to sustain your argument, your going to have to make a better case as to what is missing and why it is of greater significance than what is presently in the article. The tone of your comments raises concerns because if your objective is to use his world war one reporting from the baltics to make a case about his "fairness" overall in reporting the soviet union, that would seem to be moving in the direction of serious POV problems. (talk) 09:11, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
I was only looking to build a bit more of the continuum. I don't have any preconceptions about whether that makes any difference positive or negative (though indications are some positives--which may or may not be significant), only that "more complete" leaves the article less open to criticism. I agree that the significant portion of his career is also the one over which people take the most issue with Duranty. I thought that the article would have more balance if rearranged to separate career and legacy, and it really could do with a few more words on the more benign, earlier, parts of his career so the reader can get to know something about Duranty--right now, what is said about Duranty before the big mess is a mere afterthought in the intro. The main body of the article launches right into a whole section on Duranty's prejudices, which is what gives rise to the appearance of coat-racking. —PētersV (talk) 21:37, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
P.S. Editors can pillory Duranty deservedly, but if that's all the article does because the only significant thing he did was that for which he is being deservedly pilloried, then the article is a coatrack. Even a biography of Stalin can cover childhood and schooling and early career before getting to the ruthless genocidal despot part. If there's not a whole lot of information out there on Duranty prior to Stalin/Ukraine/famine, than we should state that and simply cover what bits we know. —PētersV (talk) 21:42, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Just a note that I'm slowly piecing together some narrative based on Duranty's autobiography. I expect that will take care of the coat-racking issue. Frankly, his earlier reporting makes his later (the famine controversy) all the more puzzling. Nor is Duranty uniformly the Bolshevik sycophant. —PētersV (talk) 00:32, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
Still, supporting the worst Western regime in history does rather discredit you. (talk) 07:37, 17 February 2008 (UTC)
I must say I am completely confused by's comment. I'm not supporting anything. What "regime" are we discussing? I would think that someone interested in history and its participants would welcome something beyond the same denial phrases already quoted everywhere--and which no one is defending or disputing (aside from those who have noted that if one pillories Duranty, one should at least quote him in full while doing so). —PētersV (talk) 16:14, 18 February 2008 (UTC)
IP was talking about Duranty, I believe, not you. Ostap 20:28, 18 February 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, working on a double espresso to make up for my apparent caffeine deficiency. :-) —PētersV (talk) 20:51, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

Pulitzer what and when[edit]

Just a note, correct, the effort is to strip Duranty posthumously out of righteousness, not to do with the reporting that actually garnered the Pulitzer. —PētersV (talk) 18:42, 4 July 2008 (UTC) PELECH RESPONDS: Some have ignored the Pulitzer Admin's, Sig Gissler's, statement that the prize was only for the articles of 1931. I have taken that at face value and shown deception in those articles. When presented with my article on the HNN site, Gissler, without ever proving his case, pointed back to the unsubstantiated assertion of 2003. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:34, 1 January 2009 (UTC)


Please (several editors) stop reinserting Pelech as conclusive proof of Duranty's heinous conduct and deception in apparently everything he ever wrote. Pelech is (a) an anti-Duranty activist (letter writing), (b) it is a self published work, and (c) Pelech's document is already referenced in an appropriate manner in the article lead. Thanks! —PētersV (talk) 00:12, 11 July 2008 (UTC) Pelech responds: My proof of deliberate deception may be self-published, but it contains citations of materials which can be referenced. The Pulitzer Board gave no substantiation for the claim that there was "no clear or convincing evidence of deliberate deception" in Duranty's Pulitzer winning articles. I make no claim of "deception in apparently everything he ever wrote." That would require a much longer study. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:13, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

Disappeared reference[edit]

No longer valid for article, reference and commentary removed. If a copy exists elsewhere, we ca re-reference...

  • Richard Oppel, "How the Pulitzer Prizes are Chosen." This item has disappeared from the Austin American-Statesman website. Perhaps the uncomfortable questions about Oppel's participation in the Duranty Hoax 'embarassed' the management of the newspaper and the Cox newspaper organization.

Thanks, PētersV (talk) 18:55, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Intro, including Pelech redux[edit]

I am no Duranty fan, however, I have taken the time to actually read some of what he wrote. His monograph on the state of European politics before the war is quite insightful. A couple of things with regard to recent changes to the intro and including our anonymous IP friend(s):

  1. Pelech is an anti-Duranty activist, nothing is "proven"; also what Duranty wrote that received the Pulitzer had nothing to do with the Holodomor; please stop giving Pelech undue weight in the intro. There is also no scholarly evidence that has been provided who if anyone in particular on the Pulitzer Board did or did not make a decision. If you wish to add, then please provide appropriate evidence. Pelech's self-published correspondence with the Board is not the proper source.

PELECH RESPONDS: I do not claim that anything that Duranty wrote about the famine invalidated his Pulitzer prize. If you read my study, you would see that it deals with his prize-winning articles only. The board declared deception the relevant standard for revocation of the prize. Deception in the articles has been proven. The prize is invalidated. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:25, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

  1. As for Stalin's reputation, it was quite good as no one really knew what he was doing domestically and it was good into WWII, culminating with Stalin being TIME magazine's Man of the Year in 1939 and 1942. Today we look on U.S. ambassador Davies as naive for thinking so highly of Stalin, but that's our 20:20, it was typical at the time. I'm removing the dubious tag.

Please discuss changes to the intro before making them. —PētersV (talk) 22:19, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

HELLO anon IP. The place for discussion is HERE! NOT insisting on edit-warring. —PētersV (talk) 15:42, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

In response to (2), you are completely wrong. First, you are mixing up the early 1930s with the period of the second world war. In the early 1930s, views on stalinism were strong either one way or the other. The left had strong views in favor of Stalin and of Soviet Union. The right had equally strong views against the soviet union. Duranty's rise and eventual prize was tied up in the politics of US recognition of the soviet union at the time. As far as Time in 1939, you would have done well to read the material about why he was man of the year. In particular "History may not like him but history cannot forget him." He was man of the year in 1939 because of the pact with the germans, his attack on Poland and his attack on Finland. Time magazine was not positive toward any of the things he was doing in 1939. He was man of the year for the change he had brought to the world, not because he was seen as a good man. We have no basis to say anything about Davies. You can no more excuse him as ignorant as explain why Vice President Wallace visited and praised the Stalinist Siberian Gulag in 1944. (talk) 06:43, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Fixes today to the article[edit]

I made major fixes to the article today. There were several major problems:

1) Its is highly inappropriate for the article to argue with itself or to make political arguments. It is appropriate to say what the review effort found. It is completely inappropriate to repeatedly claim in the article that the board was "wrong" or "incorrect" in its decision.

2) The introduction is not an appropriate place for a long paragraph arguing the merits of the pulitizer prize. The placement in the article is not appropriate. The length of the material is inappropriate for an introduction as is the multiple attempts to draw POV conclusions about the matter.

3) Conspiracy garbage has no place in the article. Claims that source to deranged or irrational materials with no credibility have no place in the article. That specifically means all the Crowly occult conspiracy stories have no place in the article.

4) The article is not an appropriate place to debate issues related to the soviet union. The article has to be about Duranty and cannot present unsubstantiated conclusions about how the soviet union was viewed or original research as regards views of the soviet union.

5) This article is not a forum for avocating for Duranty's prize to be taken away. Its also not a forum for the defense of the soviet union in the 1930s. (talk) 06:29, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Apologies for my oversimplification to make a point on Stalin. However, Davies was not the only 20:20 hindsight useful idiot--and I'm more than well aware of (later) a U.S. VP visiting Siberia and complimenting the Soviets on their accomplishments while Lend-lease tractors buried Stalin's victims in mass graves over the hill. (Only slight exaggeration for rhetorical effect.) I've cut down the Pulitzer Prize controversy numerous times in the intro only to have it reappear, including having what people contend being represented as fact. I've requested semi-protection for the article as the result of the latest round of edits. Thanks for your comments and changes (already reverted, unfortunately). —PētersV (talk) 15:52, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Marriage to Jane Cheron?[edit]

I've run across a couple of disreputable sources that claim Duranty was married to Jane Cheron. Does anyone know if this was true or more importantly know the years of the marriage? (talk) 18:28, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Definitely garbage. Duranty's wife was Russian, they had a son, and the family lived in the USSR while Duranty was stationed there. —PētersV (talk) 06:16, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

PELECH RESPONDS: Duranty's major biographer, S.J. Taylor, states that Jane Cheron was Duranty's wife. Katya was Duranty's mistress. They had a son, Michael. After leaving the Soviet Union, Duranty abandoned them to their own devices and had nothing more to do with them. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:40, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

Taylor appears to be the original source. Taylor bases herself on an interview with George Seldes, who claims that Cheron lived with Duranty in Moscow in the mid-1920's and was considered his wife. But its all tied up in various weakly supported claims by Taylor that Duranty was involved with Alaster Crowley. A non-Taylor source for the marriage would be extremely interesting because it would establish the ties between Crowley and Duranty in a much more credible way. (talk) 17:09, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

In her autobiographical The Laughing Torso, Nina Hamnett includes a graphic of a portrait called "Madame Walter Duranty."

While it's right to be very cautious about anything to do with Aleister Crowley (someone actively involved all his life in promoting himself and creating a smokescreen of mystic nonsense around his person, his acolytes and activities), if S.J. Taylor has evidence of a link and of a form of marriage between Duranty and Cheron then it cannot be dismissed. Nor can the suggestion that their way of life in the Soviet capital was unconventional.

In the 1920s Moscow was a very different city where the avant-garde, the proletarian and a bohemian lifestyle were all considered compatible. By the mid-1930s Stalin and the puritan Komsomol had put an end to that existence.

That leaves me curious: what did Duranty write about in the 1920s?

John Crowfoot (talk) 13:33, 6 September 2015 (UTC)

Anon IPs[edit]

If you want to seriously discuss and contribute to the article, please register as a WP user so we can have some continuity of discussion. Is there some reason everyone is hiding in anonymity? This is hardly the most controversial topic on WP. —PētersV (talk) 06:16, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Its one person (me) using different IPs and I'm about done with the topic for now. I check in about once every six months or so on the state of the article. In its current state the article is more in need of constant protection than improvement in my opinion. I know the anon IPs are annoying, but I have my reasons for using them. (talk) 15:32, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Requested Citations[edit]

The citation for Zara Witkin should be: "An American Engineer in Stalin's Russia: The Memoirs of Zara Witkin, 1932-1934," University of California Press.

A citation for UK intelligence would be "The Foreign Office and the famine: British documents on Ukraine and the Great Famine of 1932-1933 (Studies in East European nationalisms)". (talk) 02:57, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

No page is referenced from this book and a search on the google books snippet preview doesn't show any mention of Witkin in this book. A more exact reference and/or a partial citation is needed regarding Witkin's supposed involvement with the UK intelligence. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:48, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

This sentence: "The kulaksa were a fiction invented in the fevered mind of Lenin and exploited by Stalin, who needed scapegoats and 'class enemies' to keep the rest of the population in control." is neither attributed nor explained in context. The paragraph could well do without it, if it's not attributed. (talk) 03:13, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

Proof that the Liberal Media Lacks Objectivity[edit]

The New York Times has called the articles slovenly, and it is admitted that Duranty's reports, denying the famine, were false. Yet, the Pulitzer Board refuses to revoke the prize "there was not clear and convincing evidence of deliberate deception." Several million dead bodies from the famine, and the Pulitzer Board does not think there is clear and convincing evidence. If Duranty was there, and was in a position to see what was going on, he had to know, and therefore fabricated the articles. If he did not know what was going on, he had no basis upon which to write what he did, and therefore fabricated the articles. See? It comes out the same either way. Thus, the only conclusion which we can reach is that the Pulitzer Board (which, after all, is named for the Yellow Journalism king, Joseph Pulitzer, likes liars and frauds like Duranty.

John Paul Parks (talk) 09:49, 25 December 2008 (UTC)

Among the many problems is that the prize was not given for his writing on the famine exclusively and specifically. Therefore, it is not an easy manner to revoke the prize. (talk) 22:10, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

Lifetime achievement award? Then all the articles he wrote in his lifetime can be considered when deciding to revoke the prize. Have a look at his claim that Trotsky was conspiring with Hitler, and that Stalin's show trials were an exposure of a Fascist trojan horse. (talk) 17:37, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

No, he did not write that Trotsky and Hitler were personally conspiring together. You're reading what you want to read because you don't care for Duranty (by your tone), not what Duranty wrote.  PЄTЄRS VЄСRUМВАtalk  22:35, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

Jane Cheron and Crowley claims[edit]

The claims of marriage to Jane Cheron and ties to Alestar Crowley have been removed. There is no credible source for any of those claims. S.J. Taylor makes the claims in his book, but provides no supporting evidence or confirming primary documentation. (talk) 19:25, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

Lawrence Sutin also links Jane Cheron and Crowley to Duranty in his book.[1] Ekem (talk) 21:35, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
He does so with no references to primary sources. He doesn't explain, for example, why a reference to "A.B." should be taken as being a reference to Duranty. The marriage to Jane Cheron is even more problematical because there is simply no documentation anywhere for it that I've seen. (talk) 16:36, 11 June 2010 (UTC)
The most direct association between Crowley and Duranty is in Crowley's letters collected in "MAGICK WITHOUT TEARS". Crowley calls him an "old friend" and quotes from Duranty's book "I write as I please" twice. I added a new section covering this. (talk) 16:53, 11 June 2010 (UTC)

Deletion of Blackmail claims[edit]

I have deleted the claims made about black mail since the reference provided is blank and has been purposely adjusted to give the impression that there is a source for these claims. I've had a brief look around the internet and cannot find any such claims. If someone can provide a source that's fine, but until then it should remain of the article as misinformation. Peter (talk) 02:14, 21 October 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Psmith43 (talkcontribs) 02:05, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

Here is a source: Reflections on a Ravaged Century, by Robert Conquest, page 123 [2] Ekem (talk) 03:43, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

Could you please specify the page. Thanks. (talk) 04:53, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

Page 123, end of first paragraph. Ekem (talk) 13:18, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

Move/return to the United States[edit]

Article says "... returning to the United States in 1934", but that is the first mention of the United States in the body of the article. We start with him being born in Liverpool, then moving to Paris, then Latvia, then the Soviet Union. Open4D (talk) 04:46, 12 April 2012 (UTC)

Reporting the famine[edit]

The first 2 paragraphs in the "Reporting the famine" section are not in chronological order, making the section confusing. (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 19:01, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

Gaps in the story[edit]

This article offers a good introduction to Walter Duranty and the mystery that surrounds him. At the same time there are a couple of gaps that need filling.

If he really went to Harrow and then to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, those two educational institutions will have a record of his attendance. Did Sally Taylor look into that curious and unsubstantiated claim? The interesting description by Muggeridge in his memoirs suggests that Duranty invented much of his own biography.

Two, there is an interesting hiatus in his biography between completing his education (at Cambridge University or "in the school of life") and starting to work as a journalist. Eight of these years were spent in the USSR before, in 1929, he somehow got an exclusive interview with the Leader at the very moment that the latter turned 50 and began to establish his cult.

When did the New York Times start publishing him? When did he become their regular Moscow correspondent? How did he earn a living before then?

John Crowfoot (talk) 20:08, 5 September 2015 (UTC)

Neutrality tag[edit]

Wondering why there is a neutrality tag in this article, dated November 2015, as I see no related discussion. Unless there is a bona fide neutrality dispute on this talk page the neutrality tag should come off.

Also I see edit-warring over the word "man made" in relation to the famine. I do not believe that is necessary. Coretheapple (talk) 13:12, 29 September 2016 (UTC)

@Coretheapple: The revert was my mistake. I didn't look at the structure of the sentence properly, and the editor who reverted me was correct (although, for the sake of the reader, I'd consider that the lead needs a bit of a spruce up as it doesn't adequately address the highest-profile issue for which he is notable: "...again later for his denial of widespread deaths by the (1932–33) famine in the USSR, most particularly the Holodomor, the mass death by starvation of Ukrainians, Tartars, Kazakhs, and other ethnic groups in the Ukraine, the south, and Siberia." doesn't make sense in that it sounds as if it were all about a conventional famine).
As regards the neutrality tag, it was placed here by an IP using a spurious ES. As you say, there's no discussion anywhere on the talk page about this bio not being neutral. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 05:14, 30 September 2016 (UTC)
I've found the long-standing, terse lead prior the POV refactoring here and have restored it. I'm also about to remove the disputed neutrality tag. If any editors have concerns about the neutrality of this article, they should bring them here to discuss them rather than engage in drive-by tagging. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 05:38, 30 September 2016 (UTC)