Ruth Conniff is an attractive young journalist who serves as the Washington editor of The Progressive magazine. The Progressive is far left-of-center but we were still surprised when she appeared on a recent edition of C-SPAN?s Washington journal program and declared that I.F. Stone had been one of her journalistic heroes. In fact, she said he was one of her “huge” heroes.
To put it charitably, we hope that Miss Coniff is unfamiliar with the evidence that I.F. Stone was a KGB agent. Ignorance is no excuse, but we hope she didn?t make those statements knowing of Stone?s communist past. We also hope that Conniff is not representative of other young journalists coming out of America?s journalism schools. If she is, it means that the problem Accuracy in Media has been combating for 29 years may get worse in the years ahead.
I.F. Stone postured as an independent writer whose mission was to expose corruption in U.S. policies and the U.S. Government. When North Korea attacked South Korea in 1950, he tried to bolster the false Communist allegation that the United States and South Korea had started the war. During the Vietnam War, he became an icon of the anti-war movement. His writings mirrored the Communist propaganda line, but there was never any proof that he was a communist agent.
After his death, the evidence came out. Decoded cables from the National Security Agency, known as the Venona intercepts, conclusively demonstrate that Stone was taking money from the KGB during many of the years he was publishing his newsletter, I.F. Stone?s Weekly. One of the documents describes his recruitment by the KGB. In addition, FBI files released to Accuracy in Media through a Freedom of Information Act request state that an informant within the Communist Party USA had identified Stone as a member in the 1930s.
The Progressive magazine in January celebrated its own 90th anniversary. Conniff, a speaker, was hailed in a press release as a “progressive” journalist who is making her mark in the mainstream media as a “regular contributor” to Fox TV news. Our listeners should keep in mind that Fox is supposed to be the “conservative” network. Another speaker at the anniversary was Representative Tammy Baldwin, the first open lesbian to be elected to the U.S. Congress.
The Progressive claims to have played a role in the discrediting of Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, a time when the facts show that, if anything, he understated the degree of Communist penetration of our government. Now, the magazine?s Washington editor, Ruth Conniff, declares that one of her heroes is someone that McCarthy had every right to expose. A journalist today would not be able to praise Joe McCarthy on C-SPAN or any other TV network without being portrayed as a kook or a radical right-winger. Yet Ruth Conniff heaps praise on a Soviet agent and the chances are that she?ll be getting even more appearances on Fox and other networks. This is why the work of Accuracy in Media is never done.