Accuracy in Media

Publisher Peter Osnos, who admits to personally working with former Bush White House press secretary Scott McClellan on his new book, What Happened, began his career as an assistant to I.F. Stone, the pro-communist “journalist” named as a Soviet agent of influence who was the uncle of Weather Underground communist terrorist Kathy Boudin.

But the connections don’t end there. Boudin’s son Chesa was raised by Barack Obama associates Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, who were Boudin’s comrades in the communist terrorist group, after Kathy Boudin went to prison for her involvement in an armed robbery and assault that took the lives of two policemen and a security guard. Dohrn later served jail time for refusing to cooperate in an official investigation of the crime. 

Obama stands to benefit from the McClellan book because it was obviously crafted, under the guidance of Osnos, to inflict maximum damage on President Bush and, by extension, fellow Republican and Iraq War supporter Senator John McCain. None of this can be called an accident.

One question that has been raised by critics is whether McClellan is in it for the money. But that’s less important than the fact that the network that has made this book into a reality incorporates many elements of the far left. Some of these links have been commented on already. For example, the Osnos firm, PublicAffairs Books, has also published books by George Soros, John Kerry, and Vladimir Putin. But Osnos’s ties to I.F. Stone and the media constitute the story behind the story.

The network that included Stone, who died in 1989, was the subject of Susan Braudy’s 2003 book, Family Circle, about the Boudin family’s communist and socialist ties. Page 185 shows Kathy Boudin and Bernardine Dohrn together, “after Bernardine’s return from Cuba,” where she had “a warm meeting with members of the Viet Cong.” That was before she and Ayers finished their bombing campaign, which included a blast that killed a San Francisco policeman, and helped launch Barack Obama’s political career.

None of this background, of course, is being mentioned by those anxious and eager to interview McClellan, even though virtually all of his former friends say that what he is writing and saying now doesn’t sound like him at all. The obvious explanation is that, for whatever reason or motivation, he is reading from a script prepared by Osnos & Company and the far left.

The ploy is working. So far, according to the firm’s website, McClellan’s interviews are scheduled to include:

  •    NBC-TV “Today” – 5/29/08
  •    CNN “The Situation Room” – 5/30
  •    CNN “American Morning” – 6/2
  •    Comedy Central “Daily Show” – 6/2
  •    NPR “Fresh Air” – 6/3
  •    NPR “Talk of the Nation” (Live from the Newseum in DC) – 6/11

Favorable stories about the book have already appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, and USA Today.

This is quite impressive until you realize that Osnos says that every book he publishes includes a dedication to Benjamin C. Bradlee, I.F.Stone and Robert Bernstein, former head of Random House. The first two are worth mentioning. Bradlee was the executive editor of the Washington Post, famous for once remarking that, during coverage of the Iran-Contra affair under President Reagan, he was having “the most fun since Watergate.” Bradlee was hoping to bring down Reagan, as they had brought down President Nixon in the paper’s coverage of the Watergate scandal.

Nixon had developed a national reputation as a Congressman and had laid the basis for his runs for national office by helping expose Soviet spy Alger Hiss in the State Department and a communist network inside the U.S. Government. Interestingly, one of Bradlee’s reporters on the Watergate story was Carl Bernstein, whose parents were members of the Soviet-controlled Communist Party.

Iran-Contra did not bring down Reagan, but the far-left apparently hopes the McClellan book will help bring down or further damage President George W. Bush. It can also, in their view, do some collateral damage to McCain. 

It is a tactic that has been employed time and time again. Pegging their coverage to a book, the media create the appearance of a “scandal,” this time with a former “insider,” and try to inflict political damage that benefits the Democrats. The problem for McClellan is that he appears transparently foolish, reciting charges about the Iraq War and so forth that have mostly been raised before by the President’s political enemies. McClellan, who never objected to the policies when he promoted and defended them, is acting like a puppet.     

Osnos is the key to understanding the network that is working behind-the-scenes. A former national news editor of the Post, Osnos was an assistant to I.F. Stone in the 1960s. Stone postured as an independent radical writer but was exposed as a Soviet agent in the transcripts of Soviet messages known as the Venona intercepts and by other sources.

Former Soviet KGB Major General Oleg Kalugin had identified Stone as a Soviet agent, but under pressure from Stone’s friends in the media later backed away from that precise description. However, in his book, The First Directorate: My 32 Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West, Kalugin still identified Stone as a “fellow traveler” of the Soviet Union who “made no secret of his admiration for the Soviet system” over a period of many years and had regular contacts and lunches with him.

Osnos is still one among many far-left journalists who do not want to accept the terrible facts about their hero and icon. But as AIM founder Reed Irvine told the New York Times back in 1992, “The charge that I.F. Stone was a Soviet agent does not surprise those who knew that as a fellow traveler, if not a [Communist] party member, Stone remained a faithful Stalinist through the purges, the Hitler-Stalin pact and the absorption of Eastern Europe…”

Braudy’s book about the Boudins, Family Circle, has a lot to say about Kathy Boudin and her uncle, I.F. Stone, also known as Izzy. Before turning to a life of crime as a communist terrorist, she had wanted to work for her uncle’s newsletter, which is also where Osnos worked. On page 72 of the book, which tends to avoid harsh judgments, she tells us that Stone tried to organize opposition to U.S. involvement in the Korean War, in order to make South Korea safe for communism, and that he would later work to remove U.S. forces from South Vietnam, in order to pave the way for a communist military victory there. Stone and his comrades were successful in the case of Vietnam. His pro-communist record was clear for all to see, except to Osnos and his ilk.

According to Braudy, Stone had “achieved fame in the 1950s for fighting for the rights of people who were accused of having been members of the American Communist Party.”

But none of this apparently bothered Osnos, who went to work for Stone in the 1960s. And Osnos’s tie to Stone didn’t bother the Post. “After working for I.F. Stone, Peter Osnos became a correspondent around the world for The Washington Post and the newspaper’s foreign and national editor,” the official I.F. Stone website proclaims.

I first came across Osnos back in 1980, just a year or so after coming to Washington, D.C., when he was guest-lecturing at the pro-Marxist Institute for Policy Studies (IPS.) I signed up and covered the Karen DeYoung class on “foreign reporting.”

DeYoung, then a foreign reporter for the Post, is now an associate editor at the paper. The IPS class was being held during a time when the old Soviet Union and its surrogate, Communist Cuba, were destabilizing Central America and hoping to install a series of communist governments. Reagan had stopped the Soviet takeover at a critical juncture when he ordered the military liberation of communist-controlled Grenada. However, Reagan was also supporting the democratic government of El Salvador, which faced a communist terrorist movement, and freedom fighters in Nicaragua. It was the latter that led to the “Iran-Contra affair” when National Security Council staffer Oliver North arranged for unofficial assistance to the Nicaraguan resistance when the liberal Congress was attempting to cut off their aid. 

To Karen DeYoung, as she told the class, “most journalists now, most Western journalists at least, are very eager to seek out guerrilla groups, leftist groups, because you assume they must be the good guys.” This betrayed the left-wing media bias that continues to this day and is reflected in the publication of the McClellan book. Any Republican president who dares to take on America’s enemies is targeted for destruction.

For his part, as I noted in an April 1983 Human Events article, “The IPS and the Media: Unholy Alliance,” Osnos exhibited a strange view of communism. He claimed not to know why the Soviets behaved as they did. But he had visited Cuba, where he found no evidence of Soviet control, and came away convinced that there was “’apparently genuine rapport” between Castro and the Cuban people.

On March 12, 2008, as he was preparing publication of McClellan’s book, Osnos found enough time to pay tribute to I.F. Stone on the anniversary of Stone’s birthday. Others paying tribute were Robert Kaiser, associate editor and former managing editor of the Washington Post, and Myra MacPherson, author of a book about Stone and former reporter for the Washington Post.

This is the milieu that has spawned the McClellan book. Whatever you may think of Bush, McCain or the Iraq War, there can be no doubt that Bush’s former press secretary has fulfilled the function of “useful idiot.”

Once again, the media are having their fun.


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