It's time journalism's 'greatest liar' lost his prize (Courtesy of E-Poshta)
ACTION ITEM: Opinion piece on Duranty in The Gazette (Montreal)
From: Marta D. Olynyk

Blow is Prof. Lubomyr Luciuk's article published the
Opinion Section of The Gazette (Montreal), p. A21.
Readers are urged to send a letter to the editor to:
or fax it to: (514) 987-2639
For more information on the campaign to revoke
Walter Duranty's Pulitzer Prize, go to:
To contact Dr. L. Luciuk, UCCLA's director of research:
Tel: (613) 546-8364

The Gazette, Montreal
Thursday, May 1, 2003
By Lubomyr Luciuk
It's time journalism's 'greatest liar' lost his prize

Clever in crafting words, a bon vivant, ever-engaging as a dinner companion, he was much in demand in certain circles. He satiated other needs as a novice necromancer, pervert and drunkard. His name was Walter Duranty, The New York Times's man in Moscow in the early 1930s. For supposedly objective reporting about conditions there, Duranty was distinguished with the 1932 Pulitzer Prize for Correspondence. What he was really was Stalin's apologist, a libertine prepared to prostitute accuracy for access, ever-ready to write whatever was necessary to secure him in his various cravings.

Much of this was known at the time, hence the deprecating references to him as "Walter Obscuranty." More tellingly, Malcolm Muggeridge, a contemporary, said that Duranty was "the greatest liar of any journalist I have ever met." Despite being one of the few eyewitnesses to the politically engineered Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Soviet Ukraine, Duranty nevertheless spun stories for The New York Times dismissing all accounts of that horror as nothing more than bunk or malicious anti-Soviet propaganda.

He knew otherwise. On 26 September 1933, at the British Embassy in Moscow, Duranty privately confided to William Strang that as many as 10 million people had died directly or indirectly of famine conditions in the USSR during the past year. Meanwhile, publicly, Duranty orchestrated a vicious ostracizing of those journalists who risked much by reporting on the brutalities of forced collectivization and the ensuing demographic catastrophe, Muggeridge among them. Even as the fertile Ukraine, once the breadbasket of Europe, became a modern-day Golgotha, a place of skulls, Duranty plowed the truth under. Occasionally pressed on the human costs of the Soviet experiment he did, however, evolve a dismissive dodge, canting "you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs." Not his eggs, of course.

To hallow the memory of the many millions of victims of this Communist crime against humanity, good men and women are, on this very day, May Day 2003, calling for the posthumous revocation of Walter Duranty's Pulitzer Prize. From around the world tens of thousands of postcards are being mailed to the Pulitzer Prize Committee in New York, recalling the 70th anniversary of the Terror-Famine, underscoring Duranty's perfidiousness and how his duplicitous reports, as published in The New York Times, helped cover up one of the greatest acts of genocide in 20th century Europe.

There are, I'm told, sophists who shall reply that Duranty's Prize was awarded for what he wrote before he bore false witness about this man-made famine. Those willing to be so indulgent with Duranty seem oddly comfortable with ignoring how he betrayed that most fundamental principle of journalism, the obligation of reporting truthfully on what is observed. However good a scribbler Duranty may have been, the man was a teller of lies, not a reporter of reality. He willingly served as a shill for the Soviets, as millions died. By one calculation the death rate during the Great Famine reached 25,000 souls per day. My home town of Kingston would, at that rate, have been emptied of all life in under a week.

The men and women whose principled labours have earned them the honour and distinction of a Pulitzer Prize should be revolted at knowing that within their ranks there remains a blackguard who, Janus-like, turned a blind eye to one of history's greatest atrocities while casting the other about in wrath against any journalists who reported that truth. Quite simply put, Duranty's continuing grasp on a Pulitzer Prize soils all Pulitzer Prizes.

Dr Lubomyr Luciuk is director of research for the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (see and author of Searching For Place: Ukrainian Displaced Persons, Canada, and the Migration of Memory (University of Toronto Press, 2000).

The Pulitzer Prize Committee can be reached at

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