Nicholas Kristof: The Walter Duranty of the Twenty-First CenturyStephen Paul Foster
Guess who is going to be running for Governor of Oregon? Current Governor-sociopath, Kate Brown, is term limited. Who best to replace the state’s pretend Governor? Why not Nicholas Kristof, a pretend journalist who, until recently, wrote for a pretend newspaper?
After 37 years at The New York Times as a reporter, high-level editor and opinion columnist, Nicholas Kristof is leaving the newspaper as he considers running for governor of Oregon, a top Times editor said in a note to the staff on Thursday. . . . [A] a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, [Kristof] joined The Times in 1984 as a reporter and later became an associate managing editor, responsible for the Sunday editions. He started his column in 2001.
Kristof belonged to an exclusive troupe of professional pontificators known as New York Times columnists in service, Pravda-like, to the Democrat party as sycophant scribblers. They parrot its officially-sanctioned propaganda talking points and relentlessly hector and smear any and all outliers who might resist the iron-fisted orthodoxy peddled by the “progressives.” For the shills who man the loudspeakers of progressive politics, the only obstacle to the complete institutionalization of the progress they envision for all the lesser lights under their tutelage is the moral malignancy of the political opposition immersed, as it always is, in the evil of racism and its progeny: sexism, homophobia, and on to infinity. There can be no good-faith opposition to progressive policies which embody everything that is good; just mean, selfish people who discriminate and hate. Boiled down to its essence, progressive politics is about hyper-moral posturing by “really good” people (them) demanding to be put in charge over very bad ones (us).
Of these NYT regular pulpiteers, the best known is likely the blowhard Thomas Friedman, a prolific but mediocre wordsmith unsurpassed in being able to say too much about things of which he knows so little. A close second might be the supremely arrogant and condescending Paul Krugman, a master of vitriol who at some point abandoned economics to become a party hack who preaches only to his own little choir. Oh yes, and there is the NYT-designated resident “conservative” in the claque, David Brooks, who in 2008 swooned over the “crease” in Obama’s slacks and later slobbered with approval for Ta-Nehisi-Coates’s deranged mau-mauing for slavery reparations. Brooks should forsake his lame opinions and open a really good delicatessen.
But my favorite is Nicholas Kristof, who is the complete New York Times columnist package — political correctness incarnate. He is more akin to the “good cop” of the NYT enforcers and goes busily about, hither and yon, proclaiming himself to be the “voice” of the oppressed; specifically, those “victims” exclusively chosen by the Democrats. Kristof is Mr. Earnest, oozing with compassion, his sensitive moral antennas ever alert to pick up the faintest signals of any of the “isms” or “obias” wafting up from and infesting those vast regions of the country outside of the DC Beltway, Manhattan, Boston, Hollywood, and our staunch bastions of free speech and moral courage, the universities.
You have to experience the globe-trotting, testosterone-light Kristof in person — his irritating, prissy sounding voice — to appreciate what a smarmy, self-promoting snake oil salesman he is. He comes off like one of those goody-two-shoes, suck-up-to-administration nerds from tenth-grade student council.
Some years ago, I sat through a slide show he gave at a university in Ohio while collecting his hefty speaker’s fee. As I vaguely remember it, he was providing the tear-jerking details of one of his many sojourns through a Third World hellhole. All in all, however, the talk was about Kristof and the compassion that moves him. He is a master of “virtue-signaling”: following the proper grievance-mongering protocols, crocodile tears for the oppressed being the highlight of his dog and pony show. A university audience was the perfect venue for him. He hit all of the right notes, namely the ones that demonstrated his compassion for the right kinds of people — who are, of course, victimized by the worst sorts of people. We all know who those people are.
Kristof’s columns are also basically tributes to his virtue and the puffing up of his bloated ego. He’s always the guy with the insider scoop who does you a favor by letting you in on it. By “insider” I mean sucking up to the power-brokers. Kristof was very close to the most loathsome, corrupt politicians of our era, Our Lady of Chappaqua. His “I’m with Her: The Strengths of Hillary Clinton” was his last column before the 2016 election. It is a masterpiece of fawning and lapdog power-worship:
I want to pitch you the reasons to vote for Clinton and not just against Donald Trump. I’ve known Clinton a bit for many years, and I have to say: The public perception of her seems to me a gross and inaccurate caricature. I don’t understand the venom, the “lock her up” chants, the assumption that she is a Lady Macbeth; it’s an echo of the animus a lifetime ago some felt for Eleanor Roosevelt.
Okay, reader, all of this Hillary negativity nonsense you were exposed to over the years was not real. It takes a clear-eyed NYT columnist to put “public perception” in a proper perspective. Right at the start Kristof wants everyone to be aware of and bow to his privileged, insider-club status; unlike his readers, he “knows” her (“a bit”), with a dash of understatement for a fake modesty effect.
He always wants his readers to understand how “connected” he is, and with Clinton for many years, no less, just to remind you that he’s moved in high circles for a long time. This “I’ve known Clinton” was a boast of epistemological superiority acquired from the direct, repeated kissing of her fat ass. His socializing with her trumped (no pun intended) what we knew from observing her for 25 years from afar: non-stop grifting, the endless scandals, and the self-enrichment from influence-peddling.
The invocation of Eleanor Roosevelt was quite the slick maneuver — poof goes Hillary’s many documented iniquities, leading to beatitude by association. Long bequeathed with liberal sainthood, that “animus a lifetime ago that some felt” for Mrs. Roosevelt way back when had just somehow “echoed” its way up to the present day, mainly to annoy the NYT readers. You see, not everyone out there was or is as enlightened as they could be if they paid closer attention to Nicky. Kristof didn’t even have to spell out who that “someone” was who felt this animus. In Lady Roosevelt’s time it was the reactionaries who opposed the New Deal and objected to Eleanor’s favorite philo-Communist, Henry Wallace. In 2016 it was that “vast Right-wing conspiracy” and Obama’s “bitter clingers” who never tired of defaming this woman who, as Kristof opined, “is a morally serious person whose passion for four decades has been to use politics to create a more just society.” Okay, but she was also an avariciously serious person who, along with her husband, has accumulated a vast fortune selling government influence to the highest bidders, many of them autocrats from foreign countries. She was also a seriously hypocritical person who slandered and bullied her husband’s female victims while championing herself as an advocate for women.
Kristof, the savvy insider with the special scoop, is usually that last guy to spot the fakers:
In 2014, Newsweek revealed that Somaly Mam — the Cambodian anti-trafficking crusader endorsed by Nicholas Kristof, Sheryl Sandberg, and Susan Sarandon — lied about being sold into sexual slavery as a child, the story that underpins her wrenching memoir, The Road to Lost Innocence.
Kristof also continued to defend Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea after he was exposed as a fraud. From “The Conman and his Pet Columnist: Why does Nicholas Kristof continue to defend Greg Mortenson?”:
“One of the people I’ve enormously admired in recent years is Greg Mortenson,” Kristof wrote in his April 20, 2011 column. While conceding that the accusations against Mortenson “raised serious questions,” Kristof countered that “it’s indisputable that Greg has educated many thousands of children, and he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.”
Being a fraud and a liar didn’t seem to dampen Kristof’s enormous admiration for Mortenson. In light of this, we can now appreciate the man’s bewildering admiration for Hillary Clinton, widely distrusted by the American people as a liar and a fraud, and his inability to “understand the venom.”
This brings us to what is, I believe, the most fitting description of Kristof’s journalist career: Nicholas Kristof as the Walter Duranty of the twenty-first century. Walter Duranty, a British-born journalist, served as the Moscow bureau chief for the New York Times from 1922 through 1936. Like Kristof, he was a Pulitzer prizewinner. Duranty’s was bestowed for 13 articles written in 1931 and published in the New York Times analyzing the Soviet Union under Stalin’s leadership.
These articles were unfortunately devoted to the crafting of a false image of Joseph Stalin as someone whose obvious crudeness and brutality were excused as the darker side of a great and determined man whose better instincts were focused on advancing the well-being of the toiling working class whose interests he claimed to represent. For Duranty, he was as Kristof said of Hillary, “a morally serious person whose passion for decades [had] been to use politics to create a more just society.”
Duranty, like Kristof, was an insider with the power people. He “knew” Stalin “a bit” for many years and benefited from his largesse. He witnessed Stalin’s show trials up close in the mid-1930s in Moscow and confidently declared to The New Republic after observing the 1937 trial that he found the confessions of the defendants to be credible.
Like Kristof, Duranty was an apologist for a dishonest, ruthless politician and served him (in Kristof’s case, her) well. Like Kristof, he was rewarded for his loyalty with what he craved the most: proximity to a powerful person, and the prestige and attention that this proximity brings. Duranty’s gratitude was displayed by his eagerness to promulgate to the outside world a softened and idealized image of Stalin. Duranty helped Stalin conceal from the outside world a famine of his creation in Ukraine that plunged three to seven million people into starvation, depending on varying accounts. “There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition, especially in the Ukraine, North Caucasus and Lower Volga,” Duranty wrote in 1933 at the time when people were starving by the millions. Duranty, no doubt, at times could “not understand the venom” that some Americans felt for Stalin.
The late Robert Conquest’s Harvest of Sorrow remains the definitive account of the Holodomor, Stalin’s Ukrainian holocaust. In the New York Times executive offices hallway where over 80 portraits of Pulitzer Prize winners hang, Duranty’s still resides with the inscription that the award recognized “a profound and intimate comprehension of conditions in Russia [consistent with] the best type of foreign correspondence.”
Back, however, to Duranty’s power-sucking echo in Kristof’s promotion of Hillary Clinton. The court weasel in this piece continued with sycophantic softening:
Clinton has made thousands of compromises and innumerable mistakes, her pursuit of wealth has been unseemly and politically foolish, and it’s fair to question her judgment [condescension alert] on everything from emails to Iraq. But understand this, too: At the core she is not a calculating crook [like Nixon, presumably] but a smart, hard-working woman who is profoundly concerned with getting things done for those left behind [just like me with stress on ‘profoundly concerned’].
Again, a very skillful touch. Hillary is not perfect — he has to make some nod to empirical reality –, and here comes the imperative: “But understand this” — Kristof, the insider, is now pulling rank on us. He has the deep insight into her “core,” a curious choice of words given that she is widely and long perceived to lack one. Perhaps the proximity she has afforded him over the years has enabled him to peek into her soul — the cocktail parties, the interviews, the hobnobbing. But, understand this: If Kristof was not an effusive bum-kisser, how close would he have ever been able to get to this “seriously moral” woman and observe that “core” no one else could see?
That opus of sycophancy was delivered just before the 2016 Presidential Election. Just after came, perhaps, one of the most ludicrous columns to soil the pages of the NYT. Nicky’s world had come a-tumblin’ down. Thus: “A Twelve Step Program for Responding to President-Elect Trump.”
Here Kristof would feign to pull himself together and elevate to play the therapist for the traumatized millions who, unfortunately, believed the New York Times pundits as they confidently proclaimed that Hillary would follow Obama into the White House. It was a cloying “I feel your pain” mess written to bolster his snowflake followers reeling from the rampant bigotry of the millions of “deplorable” voters who for some inexplicable reason could not stomach the prospect of a professional grifter and her sexual predator consort once again filling the bedrooms of the White House with Chinese campaign contributors.
Since things didn’t quite work out the way the wise men thought they were supposed to, and the surprise election of the “racist,” “sexist,” “xenophobic,” “you name it” Trump was not simply an electoral defeat for the progressives. Adolf Benito Grand Kleagle Trump was soon going to be resting his jack-booted hooves on the White House coffee tables. When you make every possible effort to paint your opponent as Hitler, Mussolini, the voice of the Klan and as too vicious, stupid, and incompetent to win — and he wins, yikes! — well, “it’s your party and you can cry if you want to.” But the grief counselors were running out of Kleenex. Kristof sensed it was time to rally the crybabies.
“A Twelve Step Program” does not read well on a queasy stomach, but it does capture the essence of Kristof’s phony, “therapeutic” shtick.
“I will accept that my side lost, but I won’t acquiesce in injustice and I will gird for battle on issues I care about.” Yeah, “gird for battle” –wouldn’t you like to see Nicky in a YouTube video girding himself up? With what? Well, certainly not a gun. Maybe with a Prozac prescription and some reruns of Sex in the City. No, it was just Kristof blowing out verbal smog that passes for serious thought: What exactly would he be doing if he “acquiesced in injustice”? No clue — more virtue-signaling bilge.
“I will avoid demonizing people who don’t agree with me about this election, recognizing that it’s as wrong to stereotype Trump supporters as anybody else.” This was a head fake, as is obvious in the next sentence: “I’ll call a local mosque to offer support, or join an interfaith event. I will sign up for an ‘accompany my neighbor’ list if one exists for my area, to be an escort for anyone who is now in fear.” The horror, the fear, yes, indeed. The Trump terror came and went, and nobody noticed. Those Trump supporters itching to punch a Muslim must have forgotten where the mosques were.
“I will avoid Hitler metaphors, recognizing that they stop conversations and rarely persuade.” This one is really worth parsing. The “Nazi” name-calling tactic didn’t work so well for the election. “Nazi” and “Republican” were interchangeable for long time, so maybe a different approach was needed. Kristof counseled his readers to eschew Hitler metaphors not because he believed they were wrong, but because those rubes inclined to vote for the Klansman with the Jewish son-in-law weren’t buying it.
“I’ll do my part to support the society I’d like to see. I’ll eat Chobani yogurt because its owner has been subjected to racist attacks for his willingness to hire and promote refugees. Likewise, I will give blood and — for at least they’ll make me feel better. As will a tub of Chobani.” Oprah-style, this might be the soppiest one of all, a thoroughly feminized male among the postmenopausal cat ladies and the campus snowflakes, (I’m guessing Kristof’s following is overwhelmingly female) “feeling good about himself.” “[S]upport the society [you’d] like to see”? And, what kind of society might that be? One without racists. Kristof is a one-trick pony, and yet once more, the de rigueur “racist” smear. Of what race are refugees?
“I may not be able to prevent a sexual predator from reaching the White House, but at events I attend, I may be able to prevent a sexual predator from assaulting a drunken partygoer.” Whoa, where did this come from? Kristof must have been lying awake nights in anguish that President Trump was going to be lounging in the Oval Office commandeering blowjobs from the twentysomething interns he was keeping in tow and ejaculating on their dresses. With Hillary and Bill back in the White House, this of course would never have been a concern. We never did hear back about Kristof’s heroic efforts at stopping sexual predators from assaulting drunks at parties. Perhaps there were a lot of them in the parties he was going to at the time — maybe Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, and Jeffrey Epstein with their teenaged dates were regulars where Kristof hung out. Imagine: Nicky and Bill Vaccinate the World, Gates going mano-a-mano.
“I will not lose hope. I will keep reminding myself that politics zigs and zags, and that I can do more than shout in the wind. I can fight for my values even between elections, and even at the micro level I can mitigate the damage to my neighbors and attempt to heal a social fabric that has been rent.” This was step 12, the last chirp in this particular installment of lame psycho-babble oozing out of the cocoon Kristof lives in. What was he hoping for? What was the “social fabric that was rent”, and how does one “heal a social fabric”? What was the “damage” that has been done to his neighbors? The person they voted for lost the election, in an election someone has to lose. “What was the “mitigation” involved? None of these questions are answerable in language that connects with anything other than the abstract, sappy pieties that Kristof constantly employs to bolster his delusions of moral heroism and perfection.
“Nick is one of the finest journalists of his generation,” A.G. Sulzberger, The Times’s publisher, said in a statement. “As a reporter and columnist, he has long embodied the best values of our profession. He is as empathetic as he is fearless. He is as open-minded as he is principled. He didn’t just bear witness, he forced attention to issues and people that others were all too comfortable ignoring.”
“Fearless,” “open-minded,” and “principled” — very much like an earlier fantasist and Pulitzer prizewinner from the New York Times. That’s Nicholas Kristof as our American Pravda has invented him: a confabulated creature of the alternative reality it traffics in and the consummation of a corrupted American journalist who has perfected the art of mutual backscratching with the ruling class.
Nicky now wants to step up and be a boss. His court-lackey career has taken him a long way, but in Oregon these days there seems to be a lot of “damage” to mitigate. And the “social fabric” in Portland appears to be in tatters. No doubt, his years of bloviating for the New York Times have prepared him well for the role he yearns to play.
Onward and upward ever,
Forward and on, and on;
Hail to thee, Land of Heroes,
“My Oregon,” the state anthem, will need to go.
I propose The Kingston Trio’s “Zombie Jamboree”:
Back to back, belly to belly
Well I don’t give a damn
‘Cause it doesn’t matter really
Back to back, belly to belly
At the Zombie Jamboree
Let’s just say of Nicholas Kristof what Taki columnist Theodore Dalrymple said of another fraudster: A “man himself, who . . . [is] clearly a mediocrity in everything except the scale of his ambition.”
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 S. J. Taylor, Stalin’s Apologist: Walter Duranty, the New York Times’s Man in Moscow (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 267.
 Ibid., p. 207.
 Douglas McCollam, Columbia Journalism Review, November/December 2003, p. 43.
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