Fake News on Russia in the New York Times, 1917-2017
Herman, Edward S.http://dissidentvoice.org/2017/07/fake-news-on-russia-in-the-new-york-times-1917-2017/
Publisher: Dissident Voice
Date Written: 08/07/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21056
Fake news on Russia is a Times tradition that can be traced back at least as far as the 1917 revolution.
In a classic study of the paper's coverage of the Russian revolution from February 1917 to March 1920, Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz found that "From the point of view of professional journalism the reporting of the Russian Revolution is nothing short of a disaster. On the essential questions the net effect was almost always misleading, and misleading news is worse than none at all .They can fairly be charged with boundless credulity, and an untiring readiness to be gulled, and on many occasions with a downright lack of common sense." Lippmann and Merz found that strong editorial bias clearly fed into news reporting. The editors very much wanted the communists to lose, and serving this end caused the paper to report atrocities that didn't happen and the imminent fall of the Bolshevik regime on a regular basis (at least 91 times). There was a heavy and uncritical acceptance of official handouts and reliance on statements from unidentified "high authority." This was standard Times practice.
This fake news performance of 1917-1920 was repeated often in the years that followed. The Soviet Union was an enemy target up to World War II, and Times coverage was consistently hostile. With the end of World War II and the Soviet Union at that point a major military power, and soon a rival nuclear power, the Cold War was on. Anti-communism became a major U.S. religion, and the Soviet Union was quickly found to be trying to conquer the world and needing containment. With this ideology in place and U.S. plans for its own real global expansion of power well established, the communist threat would now help sustain the steady growth of the military-industrial complex and repeated interventions to deal with purported Soviet aggressions.