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MRC Editorial Report: Whitewashing the Communist Record on Human Rights

In her 2003 book Useful Idiots, conservative writer Mona Charen described the communist state as a “comprehensive tyranny. The Soviet Union was not so much a state as a vast criminal conspiracy. Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn, Vladimir Bukovsky, Natan Sharansky, and others are the great chroniclers of the grotesque inhumanity of the Gulag and Communist rule....[The record shows] mass murders, deportations, political persecutions, abuse of psychiatry, and other depredations committed by the Communists.”

Yet during the Cold War, the harsh repression that invariably accompanied communism was often given short shrift in favor of stories about the need for detente or peaceful coexistence. Some correspondents working in the Soviet Union were not eager to shine their spotlight on the plight of anti-communist dissidents. Nicholas Daniloff, the Moscow correspondent for U.S. News & World Report, told the Washington Journalism Review in June 1985: “I don’t consort with dissidents. The magazine considers them a passing phenomenon of little interest.” Ironically, Daniloff himself was imprisoned by Soviet authorities in September 1986 as a supposed “spy,” in retaliation after the U.S. arrested a Soviet spy working in Washington, D.C. The Reagan administration secured his release after three weeks of confinement.

In spite of communism’s appalling human rights record, journalists perversely suggested that the repressive totalitarian system was somehow superior — better for women’s “rights,” for example, or better than the “conservative” Catholic Church.

“Yes, somehow, Soviet citizens are freer these days — freer to kill one another, freer to hate Jews....Doing away with totalitarianism and adding a dash of democracy seems an unlikely cure for all that ails the Soviet system.”
— Co-host Harry Smith on CBS This Morning, February 9, 1990.

“One year after crowds swept through the streets of Eastern Europe toppling communist dictators with demands for more freedom, the region’s women have found democracy a less than liberating experience....Part of the reason many women feel let down by their revolutions is the emergence of conservative forces, including the Catholic Church, following the toppling of communist regimes.”
— Boston Globe reporter Jonathan Kaufman in a December 27, 1990 front-page news story....
Read entire article at Media Research Center (conservative media watchdog)