I’ve got a new Think Again called “The Mainstream Media Opens the DoortoHate” here.
For those of you who’ve been following the Izzy Stone imbroglio, youwill have noted that Messrs Klehr and Haynes, along with Ronald Radoshand Max Holland, have, at various points in recent months, takenconsiderable offense at the criticisms I have published of their work asit relates to what I consider to be a rash of unproven accusationsagainst I. F. Stone. I therefore think it would be worthwhile for thelist to take note of the lengthy review essay of Spies, among otherworks, by Nicholas Lemann, Dean of the Columbia University School ofJournalism, recently published in The New Yorker. It is not availableonline, but personally, I found it to be an extremely valuablecontribution to the historical debate, particularly with regard to Stone, as they, to my mind, nearly perfectly echo many of the points raised about the book by myself, Don Guttenplan, Kai Bird, Myra McPherson, and many others.
Nicholas Lemann, Books, “Spy Wars,” The New Yorker, July 27, 2009, p.70-75
“Since the release of the Verona material, the controversy in Stone’scase, as in Hiss’s, has been mainly about whom a K.G.B. alias–in thiscase “Blin” (Russian for “pancake”)–refers to. Here Spies presents asmoking gun: a 1936 reference identifying Blin as the Post journalistIsadore Feinstein, which was Stone’s name before he changed it, thefollowing year.
The problem is that the book sets the bar for being a “spy” or an “agent” awfully low. It doesn’t establish that Stone was paid or had more than occasional contact with the K.G.B. In some of its examples, Stone is using K.G.B. personnel as sources for his own work; in another, Stone is passing on what must have been widely known journalistic gossip about a Hearst correspondent’s dissatisfaction with his boss with his boss; in the most damning, Stone is conveying messages to and from another of the K.G.B.’s American contacts. By this standard, Chapman Pincher, given all those conversations with Anatoli Strelnikov, might have qualified as a Soviet agent. So might Walter Lippmann, the arch-establishment Washington columnist, who, Spies tells us, had regular, chatty, information-sharing meetings with Vladimir Pravdin, a K.G.B. agent thinly disguised as a correspondent for the Sovient news agency TASS. But Spies assures us that “there was no chance that the K.G.B. could recruit Walter Lippmann as a source” (though it did recruit Lippmann’s secretary). Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev seem to have letStone’s softness toward the Soviet Union–and the ardor of his defenders–enter the courtroom….”