Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

May 11, 2006

A.M. Rosenthal

Filed under: media — louisproyect @ 5:33 pm

Posted to www.marxmail.org on May 11, 2006

Former NY Timesman A.M. Rosenthal died yesterday at the age of 84. Not surprisingly, the paper's obituary said virtually nothing about his role in pushing the paper to the right under his tenure as Executive Editor from 1977 to 1988.

A.M. Rosenthal


During the time I was involved with Central America solidarity in the 1980s, the Times was a key element in Reagan's foreign policy.

In the most pronounced example of Rosenthal collaboration with the White House, reporter Raymond Bonner was replaced as correspondent in El Salvador in 1982 after reporting on the El Mozote massacre. Rosenthal was reported to have said that Bonner "was too willing to accept the Communist side of the story." According to Mark Danner, an author of a book on El Mozote, Rosenthal "was very vocal that Bonner was sympathetic to the Communist side in Central America." Danner also reports on "a scene in a Georgetown restaurant a few weeks after the El Mozote story ran — it was the evening of the annual Gridiron dinner — in which Rosenthal criticized Bonner and angrily described the sufferings that Communist regimes inflict on their people."

Rosenthal replaced Bonner with Shirley Christian, a rightwing ideologue whose previous job was with the Miami Herald. Many of her articles consist simply of stenographer-like reports from the contra leaders. For example, in a September 13, 1985 item, she shamelessly quotes the monstrous contra military commander Enrique Bermudez: "I won't say that sometimes an isolated patrol might not commit an abuse. But this has not been a practice." You might as well have quoted Idi Amin saying that he was committed to human rights.

As bad as Christian was, nobody could top Claire Sterling for awfulness except perhaps for Judy Miller. Sterling used the pages of the NY Times to promote a wacky theory that the USSR was the mastermind of a plot to kill the pope as a means to countering the growth of Solidarity in Poland. The conspiracy supposedly involved the KGB, the Bulgarian government acting on its behest and Mehmet Ali Agca, who was supposedly paid $400,000 to carry out the hit.

Rosenthal decided to hire Sterling on the basis of her book "The Terror Network," written in 1980. She got much of her data from Robert Moss, who co-authored the lurid spy novel "The Spike" with Arnaud de Borchgrave, who would become the editor of the Moonie Washington Times. Edward Herman noted that "Sterling's fanaticism can be inferred from her statement (in Human Events, April 21, 1984), at the height of the Reagan era anti-Soviet frenzy, that the Reagan administration was 'covering up' Soviet guilt in the assassination attempt against the Pope in 1981 because of the Reaganite devotion to détente."

Full: http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Herman%20/AllNewsFit_Herman2.html

To this day, the NY Times never issued one of its famous corrections to the story about the KGB/Bulgarian plot to kill the pope. Even after a Roman court cleared 3 Bulgarians who had been arrested for involvement in the alleged conspiracy to kill the pope, the NY Times failed to accept the verdict. Herman notes, "When CIA officer Melvin Goodman testified during the Gates confirmation hearing in 1990 that the CIA professionals knew the Bulgarian Connection was a fraud because they had penetrated the Bulgarian secret services, the Times failed to reprint this part of Goodman's testimony."

Eventually, after Rosenthal was retired from his post, the NY Times edged a bit more toward the center and away from his excesses. Even though the disease went into temporary remission under a new editorial team, it never went away as the Judith Miller affair reveals. It can safely be assumed that as long as the U.S. government needs an "official" voice to explain the wisdom of its decisions to the public, there will always be a need for the NY Times as it is currently constituted.

Rosenthal continued to work for the NY Times, turning out the flatulent op-ed column "On My Mind" until 1999. Then he went to work for the Daily News, a trashy tabloid published by rightwing billionaire Mort Zuckerman, where he adopted the persona of the windbag uncle everybody has to put up with at the Thanksgiving Dinner table. His very last column, written on February 6th of this year is proof positive of how detached from reality he was:

But the Bush haters should hold their applause. This story is far from over. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was absolutely right in telling a Senate committee on Wednesday, "We may eventually find it [the WMD stockpile] in the months ahead." As the secretary pointed out, those weapons may be buried in a still unexplored area, they may have been smuggled into another country [think Syria] or they may have been destroyed just before the invasion.

CIA Director George Tenet smartly reinforced Rumsfeld's argument yesterday, stressing in his congressional testimony that the search for WMDs is "nowhere near 85% finished."

May he rot in hell.


  1. Re “May he rot in hell”: Bingo. All the rest is commentary.

    Comment by Carl R — May 12, 2006 @ 2:53 am

  2. nobody should rot in hell, no matter how goofy. please take those words back!

    Comment by davee bee — June 19, 2006 @ 12:23 pm

  3. I am a leftest, but the left will never be good if you condemn people to hell. get over your anger, sir. be rational, soemthing the left has forogtten how to be

    Comment by davee bee — June 19, 2006 @ 12:24 pm

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