♫ ♬ “Springtime, for Hassan, and Brotherhood …”
Times Cairo bureau chief David Kirkpatrick: the Muslim Brotherhood is just a moderate political organization.
“They are not violent by nature, and they have over the last couple of decades evolved more and more into a moderate — conservative but religious, but moderate — regular old political force”, he just reassured his radio audience. How nice of him to do so.
The Duranty Award is named after the New York Times reporter who for fourteen years whitewashed the murderous events transpiring in the new Soviet Union, including Stalin’s show trials, purges, gulags and most famously, the deliberate starvation of 12 million peasants in Ukraine. The Times readers ate that up, the paper won a Pulitzer and the kulaks died. The Times refuses to this date to return the prize although it has conceded that Duranty’s work comprised “some of the worst reporting in the 20th Century”.
This year’s inaugural Duranty Award was given to Vogue’s editor Ana Wintour for her magazine’s glowing portrait of Assad and his clever, cultural wife. Here’s a snippet from the awards ceremony:
“[The choice for the top prize was perhaps a predictable one, but no less superb for it. Claudia Rosett described the ‘combined feats of on-site reporting, headline packaging, impeccable timing, and fearless dismissal of the truth in Vogue magazine’s astounding March 2011 cover story, “Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert,’” the joint responsibility of editor Anna Wintour and writer Joan Juliet Buck.’
Rosett regaled the audience with Buck’s mendacious and mellifluous account of “the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies . . . breezy, conspiratorial, and fun . . . a thin long-limbed beauty with a trained analytic mind who dresses with cunning understatement.” Rosett explained:
In the Duranty tradition, Ms. Buck did not completely ignore the troubling aspects of Assad’s regime. Much as Duranty in his day reported that Ukrainians, then starving to death under communist rule, had “shortages,” Ms. Buck noted that in modern Syria, the “shadow zones” were “dark and deep.” Observing that Syria, when she went there in late 2010, had a reputation as the safest country in the Middle East, Ms. Buck speculated this was “possibly” due to the pervasive state surveillance. The Assad regime’s resident terrorists she stitched into her story as a dash of color: there were Hezbollah souvenir ashtrays in the souk, and you could “spot the Hamas leadership racing through the bar of the Four Seasons.”
But all that, implied Ms. Buck, might be changing under the rule of the vibrant, open, glamorous, caring, wildly democratic, and ever-so-chic Assads.
And so it goes. Ms. Wintour is rumored to be Barack Husein Obama’s choice for U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain and Kirpatrick and his employer are obviously miffed: “Anything she can do we can do better”, Arthur Pinch Sulzberger fumed at a recent press conference denouncing Wintour’s award: ‘it was our goddamned idea in the first place!”. David Kirpatrick has been assigned the task to reclaim the Time’s glory and he’s off to a rousing start although, typical of the Times, he’s cheating by leaving the blocks before the starting gun has fired.