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The Media Research Center (MRC) has compiled a massive amount of evidence demonstrating that before, during, and after the fall of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, many in the liberal / left American media consistently whitewashed the evils of communism, or suggested that free-market capitalism was somehow worse. Among the many noteworthy items in MRC’s archives are the following:

* Before communism collapsed, many journalists insisted that those who were enslaved by communism actually feared capitalism more. “Despite what many Americans think, most Soviets do not yearn for capitalism or Western-style democracy,” CBS anchor Dan Rather asserted in 1987.

* As the Soviet system began to totter, a few journalists cited that situation as proof that the threat of totalitarian communism had never existed. “Gorbachev is helping the West by showing that the Soviet threat isn’t what it used to be, and what’s more, that it never was,” Strobe Talbott argued in a January 1, 1990 piece in Time magazine.

* After Eastern Europe was liberated, many leftist journalists attacked capitalism for “exploiting” the newly-freed workers. A Los Angeles Times reporter touted “communism’s ‘good old days,’ when the hand of the state crushed personal freedom but ensured that people were housed, employed and had enough to eat.”

* Some journalists refused to connect the economic misery caused by communism with communism itself. As the Soviet coup unraveled in 1991, NBC’s John Chancellor lectured how “the problem isn’t communism; nobody even talked about communism this week. The problem is shortages.”

* Viewers were told that the end of communism was a setback for human rights. “Yes, somehow, Soviet citizens are freer these days — freer to kill one another, freer to hate Jews,” CBS’s Harry Smith stated in 1990. “Doing away with totalitarianism and adding a dash of democracy seems an unlikely cure for all that ails the Soviet system.”

* The Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev was treated with more respect than the dissidents and freedom fighters who had opposed communism all along. CNN founder Ted Turner said Gorbachev was “moving faster than Jesus Christ did,” while Time magazine fawningly described him as both “the communist Pope and the Soviet Martin Luther.”

* Even after communism’s failure in Europe, liberal journalists continued to shower Cuba’s communist dictatorship with good press. “For all its flaws, life in Cuba has its comforts,” the Associated Press insisted in 2006: “Many Cubans take pride in their free education system, high literacy rates and top-notch doctors. Ardent Castro supporters say life in the United States, in contrast, seems selfish, superficial, and — despite its riches — ultimately unsatisfying.”

* The one-party dictatorship that still rules China seems to bother many reporters less than the regime’s move away from a communist economic system. “Workers’ Rights Suffering as China Goes Capitalist,” claimed a 2001 New York Times headline. In 2009, Times columnist Thomas Friedman admitted that “one-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages.”

Excerpted and adapted from "Better Off Red?" (by Rich Noyes and Scott Whitlock, November 2009).

Better Off Red?
By Rich Noyes and Scott Whitlock
November 2009
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