Kennedy, The KGB And The Media

September 3, 2009

Kennedy, The KGB And The Media

IBD – 1 Sept. 2009

Media Malpractice: Among the many encomiums that the mainstream media showered on the late senator from Massachusetts, something was curiously missing: the link between Sen. Ted Kennedy and the KGB.

Shortly after the Soviet archives were opened up following the collapse of communism in 1991, Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across a strange memo.

It purported to detail how in the 1984 political season Kennedy tried to enlist the aid of the Soviet regime, then headed by former KGB chief Yuri Andropov, to get President Reagan defeated.

When we first heard of this, we thought it must be a mistake. Or a hoax. But it appears to be neither. Indeed, to our knowledge, the memo written by then-KGB chief Victor Chebrikov to Andropov has never been challenged as a fake.

And what it says is simply shocking.

The memo describes a visit by former Sen. John Tunney of California to Moscow in 1983. Tunney was sent at Kennedy’s behest to sound out the Soviet leadership about helping out the Democrats with the upcoming ’84 general election.

As Chebrikov’s memo notes, Kennedy thought Reagan had trumped the Democrats on national security — especially their push for a nuclear freeze, which faltered after Reagan successfully got European leaders to deploy Pershing II missiles in Europe.

To counter this, the memo says, Kennedy even offered to come to Russia to tutor them. “The main purpose of the meeting, according to the senator, would be to arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA.”

And why do all this? Politics. Kennedy thought the Democrats might actually turn to him in ’84, if they got desperate enough. If not, Tunney told Chebrikov, Kennedy might run in ’88.

As we said, we’re not the first to report this. First came the London Times’ Sebastian, way back in 1992. And just three years ago, historian Paul Kengor repeated the story in his book “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism.”

Yet this blockbuster revelation was all but ignored by the big media. Actually, “ignored” is too kind a word. The story was, for all intents and purposes, smothered by the media.

The whole shameful episode reflects poorly on the honesty and integrity of America’s major news outlets. It seems Kennedy read the media right — he was quite confident the Fourth Estate’s reflexive defenders of Camelot could be counted on to help.

As Chebrikov’s memo notes: “Kennedy and his friends will bring about suitable steps to have representatives of the largest television companies in the USA contact Y.V. Andropov for an invitation to Moscow for the interviews. … The senator underlined the importance that this initiative should be seen as coming from the American side.”

In short, Kennedy was offering to provide PR cover for the KGB.

Chebrikov’s memo mentioned specifically Walter Cronkite and Barbara Walters as media “friends” of Kennedy who might be enlisted to help out.

Let’s be clear about this: As far as we know, neither Cronkite nor Walters ever did anything on behalf of the KGB. But why would this be relayed to a senior Soviet official if Kennedy and Tunney didn’t think the U.S. media giants would go along?

Again, in the end, there’s no evidence Kennedy or Tunney ever actually helped the KGB. Just that they offered to. Yet this raises many troubling questions that, sadly, may never be answered.

Did Kennedy not understand that the Soviet Union was, indeed, a murderous evil empire? Did he really think that, between Reagan and Andropov, the Russian was the lesser of two evils?

Still more troubling, perhaps, is the question asked recently by James Kirchick at Commentary Magazine: Did a sitting senator violate the Logan Act, the 1799 law that prohibits “any citizen” of the U.S. from meddling in American foreign policy on behalf of a foreign power?  [ANSWER?  YES!!!!]

The mainstream media could have at least asked these questions. That they didn’t only adds to a long, shameful history of partisanship that has skewed the news for more than a generation — and left the nation worse off for it.


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