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Friday, May 30, 2008
Kincaid Works Commies Into Anti-McClellan Conspiracy
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Like that kid in "The Sixth Sense" who sees dead people, Accuracy in Media sees communists. So it's no surprise that Kincaid works up a commie angle as his contribution to the conservative war against Scott McClellan.

In his May 29 AIM column, Kincaid claims that because the publisher of McClellan's book, Peter Osnos, once worked for liberal journalist I.F. Stone, McClellan is obviously "reading from a script prepared by Osnos & Company and the far left." Kincaid adds:

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.

But Kincaid fails to acknowledge that the alleged evidence linking Stone to work as a Soviet agent is dubious at best.

Kincaid's claim that the Venona transcripts "exposed" Stone as a Soviet agent apparently comes from his buddy Herbert Romerstein, which whom Kincaid penned an article purporting to link Barack Obama to various commies (which WorldNetDaily's Jerome Corsi ate up without bothering with journalistic niceities like fact-checking). As the New York Times points out:

Charges against Stone, who died in 1989, first surfaced seven years ago, when Oleg Kalugin, a retired K.G.B. general, implicated Stone as having been a Soviet agent. The allegation was received skeptically, and Kalugin subsequently denied it, saying that Stone was merely a friendly "contact" of the K.G.B.'s. But Romerstein -- drawing on the Venona documents -- argues that Stone had a relationship during the Second World War with a K.G.B. agent named Vladimir Pravdin who served as a TASS correspondent in Washington. In 1944, according to Romerstein, Pravdin cabled his superiors in Moscow that Stone, whose code name was "Blin" -- the Russian word for pancake -- would continue to talk to him only if he were paid. Stone and Pravdin continued to meet, which proves to Romerstein's satisfaction that Stone must have been paid.

Stone, who had no access to classified information, can't have been an important agent, if he was indeed a Soviet agent of any kind. But he is a crucial figure to Romerstein precisely because he remains an icon to those Romerstein sees as the legatees of the Popular Front. To show that a hero of left-wing journalists, prized for his incorruptibility and "independence," was in fact a paid Soviet informant is to strike close to the heart of the enemy.

Romerstein is decidedly politially motivated to smear Stone, as well as obviously an obsessive anti-Communist, which arguably taints his claims.

Meanwile, Eric Alterman adds: "Despite continuous FBI surveillance of Stone's daily activities and a dogged desire by J. Edgar Hoover to nail him for something, not a single shred of evidence ever emerged to support any spy allegations against him." Alterman further states:

If ex-post facto anonymous FBI conclusions are correct, Stone, a working journalist, had lunch with the Tass correspondent in 1945, back when the United States was still nominally allied with the Soviet Union, having no way of knowing the man's secret identity as a KGB agent. Later, during the 1960s, he had occasional lunches with the Soviet press attaché, who, also unbeknownst to him, turned out to work for the KGB. Remember, it's a journalist's job to seek information and trade opinions with representatives of foreign governments. Remember, Izzy had no access to classified information whatever. Remember, the FBI hounded him for decades seeking to find something to pin on him and found nothing. They could not even connect him in any way to the Communist Party of either the United States or the Soviet Union, though they tried mightily. 

[...]

What's more, in order to make it appear as if [Myra] MacPherson [author of a biography of Stone] has “hanged” Stone, [reviewer Paul] Berman ignores the following, which appears in exactly the same paragraph in the book that he finds so damning: "Did he [Kalugin] have actual information that Stone had ever cooperated with Soviet intelligence? 'No.'" Kalugin said Stone “was just useful like dozens of other [journalistic] contacts.” When Paul writes that Stone would "perform tasks" -- that is, "find out what the views of someone in the government were or some senator on such and such an issue" -- he does not note that Kalugin cannot remember a single thing of importance that Stone might have said. Stone, said Kalugin, was merely "on the fringe" and "just useful, like dozens of other [media] contacts I had." In contrast, he averred to MacPherson, "I knew one guy from Time magazine, for instance. That was a big thing." Kalugin also offers up his opinion that Stone "was a true liberal and not a Communist ... He would not hurt or damage the United States." 

For Kincaid to continue to insist that Stone was unambiguously a Soviet agent is to repeat a false claim. Perhaps Kincaid needs to adjust his meds so he's not seeing commies where they don't really exist.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:40 AM EDT

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