Accuracy in Media

The good news is that the Washington Post has finally told the truth about the Workers World Party, which staged several anti-war rallies in Washington. An April 17 story by Michael Powell, the paper’s New York bureau chief, said that International ANSWER, the Workers World front group, was a “Marxist-Leninist grouping that glorifies North Korea?” But the bad news is that he then concealed the communist connections of the head of a rival anti-war group, Leslie Cagan of United For Peace and Justice.

He wrote a flattering portrait of a woman said to be responsible for helping the antiwar movement “spread into every corner of the United States.” Powell said that, “She came of age as a radical protesting the Vietnam War, before doing graduate agitating on issues including the nuclear freeze, gay rights, El Salvador and the trade embargo on Cuba.” But Powell failed to note her current leadership role in a splinter group from the Communist Party called the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. The closest he came to acknowledging her red roots was when he reported that, “Insight Magazine called Cagan a Marxist agitator who has ‘roots in old Soviet . . . agitprop.’ Others denounced her for letting various flavors of Trotskyites and Maoists join the antiwar marches.”

We contacted Herbert Romerstein, an expert on communist activities in America who investigated them in various capacities for the federal government and Congress. He said the Committees of Correspondence is an off-shoot of the old Communist Party and that most of its members came out of the party, where they functioned as stooges of the Soviet Union until the fall of that dictatorship. He said it has “a close working relationship with the Stalinist remnants in the former East Germany, now called the Party of Democratic Socialism?” He said these forces were the people who until 1989 ran the concentration camps and the Communist Party apparatus in East Germany.

What’s more, Romerstein said that Cagan organized the first rallies after 9/11, opposing the United States launching a military action in self-defense. “So it’s not unusual that she should be in the leadership of the pseudo anti-war movement,” he said.

While Michael Powell of the Post alluded to Leslie Cagan’s involvement on the matter of Cuba, he neglected to mention that she is listed as a member of the Venceremos Brigades, who went to the communist island in the early 1970s. These were groups of young people who went to Cuba and returned as supporters of the Castro regime. Cagan’s bio at the web site of the Committees of Correspondence says she served as director of the Cuba Information Project and coordinated the largest U.S. delegation to Cuba for the World Festival of Youth and Students in 1997.

So while exposing the Workers World Party as a communist group, Post reporter Michael Powell conveys the false impression that a rival anti-war group led by Leslie Cagan is respectable and above-board. This was dishonest journalism by the Washington Post.

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