The Walter Duranty Prize

The following post was written on October 11, 2012:

While I was at the Federalist Society event last night (topic: National Security Challenges Facing the United States), James Taranto, who usually comes to our events, was at something even more important:  The dinner awarding the annual Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity.

Who was Walter Duranty, you ask?  He was the New York Times Moscow correspondent during the 1930s, the time of the worst crimes of Stalin, from the Ukrainian mass starvation known as the holodomor through the staged purge trials.  Duranty made it his job to cover for Stalin’s crimes, and write lies and propaganda that he knew to be completely false.  For this he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932.

Here is a report of John Hinderaker from last night’s Duranty Prize dinner, including a number of pictures.  You can see that James Taranto was the master of ceremonies.

The dinner was sponsored by the New Criterion magazine and PJ Media.   Roger L. Simon of PJ Media has the full text of the remarks at his web site:

That one is rather long, but really deserves to be read in full.  I’ll give you a few snippets.  This year’s winners were Anna Wintour and Joan Juliet Buck of Vogue Magazine for the story “Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert.”  It’s a story on how chic and stylish is the first lady of Syria.  The story came out just before the dictator/husband started slaughtering his own people (now up to about 30,000 killed).  Wintour and Buck wrote that Asma was “glamorous, young, and very chic,” "the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies . . . breezy, conspiratorial, and fun . . . a thin long-limbed beauty with a trained analytic mind who dresses with cunning understatement,” etc., etc., etc.  The magazine is still in business.  Oh, wait, Anna Wintour was co-hostess with Sarah Jessica Parker of the big Barack Obama fundraiser that took place at Sarah’s house around the corner from us just a few weeks ago.

One of the runners up for the prize was Andrew Sullivan, a fairly prominent blogger who blogs at the Atlantic site.  Sullivan got his award for  his endless pursuit of Trig Palin birtherism, that is, the idea that Sarah Palin is not the mother.  How’s that one going?  Like OJ, still looking for the real killer.

Here’s the Wikipedia article on Duranty.  Example:  From the New York Times of March 31, 1933:  “Russians Hungry, But Not Starving”  “In the middle of the diplomatic duel between Great Britain and the Soviet Union over the accused British engineers, there appears from a British source a big scare story in the American press about famine in the Soviet Union . . .”  From the New York Times of August 23, 1933: “Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda.”  The truth:  at least 10 million dead.  OK, I guess Anna Wintour isn’t quite that bad.