The following article is from my colleague Paul Roderick Gregory in The Hill
Walter Duranty, the New York Times’s Moscow correspondent from 1922 to 1936, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his Russian reporting in the early 1930s. Stalin showered him with amenities — cars, luxury apartments, and mistresses — as well as access. In return, Duranty treated Stalin’s Russia with velvet gloves.
In the midst of the 1931-1932 famine that killed millions in Ukraine, one of Duranty’s dispatches declared that “Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda.” And, he wrote further: “Weaklings and despondents at home may groan under the burden, but the youth and strength of the Russian people is essentially at one with the Kremlin’s program.”
(Decades later, in 1990, the New York Times acknowledged in a signed editorial that Duranty’s famine coverage was “some of the worst reporting to appear in this newspaper.” The Pulitzer board declined to revoke the award, however.)
This year, an international delegation of the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) visited China from Feb. 16 to Feb. 24 to report on the coronavirus that, by that time, had spread beyond China. Only three weeks earlier, the WHO had finally conceded human-to-human transmission of the virus.