So there is a documentary somewhere Black Eye: Dan Rather and the Birth of Fake News. I won’t see it, because I remember it all too well. The hatchet job with a faked document. The media’s surprise that the narrative started falling apart before the broadcast was off the air. The attempts “prove” it was correct. The characterization as “Fake but accurate.” The best part is that Dan Rather today is an announcer for a game show on NPR. I don’t know if his web-based news channel ever took off.
But that wasn’t the first instance of fake news. His wasn’t even the first generation to color news coverage based on their political leanings. But the first really fake news of the 20th Century was probably New York Times reporter Walter Duranty’s coverage of the Holodomor. I should say his lack-of-coverage, continual-denial, and generally acting as a mouthpiece for Stalin’s Russia. Not even the New York Times will defend him.
Duranty, one of the most famous correspondents of his day, won the prize for 13 articles written in 1931 analyzing the Soviet Union under Stalin. Times correspondents and others have since largely discredited his coverage. [Emphasis added.]
The Holodomor – The Starvation – or the Ukrainian Genocide of 1932-1933, was a systematic effort by the Soviet Union to kill millions of Ukrainians. Duranty, the NY Time’s correspondent in Moscow, did everything in his power to cover it up, and attack anyone who tried to report on it.
There are many sources on Duranty today, but the Wiki is surprisingly well documented. Lots of footnotes.
Muggeridge characterised Duranty as “the greatest liar of any journalist I have met in 50 years of journalism.”
I’m sure Duranty wasn’t the first journalist to tell outright lies for his own benefit. (Duranty lived very well in Moscow.) But he told lies about the deaths of millions of people. (The Wiki lists the death toll as between 3.3 and 7.5 million people. I’ve seen higher estimates, and one source that says “At least 7 million people.”) For a collection of articles on the Holodomor, see this link.
But fake news is the topic of the day.
Dan Rather tried to sabotage a Presidential election because he thought his political bias was more important than the truth. And the rest of that ilk are still not come to terms with it. But he didn’t “aid and abet” the killing of millions of people by starvation. So he’s an a-hole, not a monster.