If someone told you today that East Germans were better off before the Berlin Wall fell, would you believe them? Of course not! But over 20 years ago, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, some journalists in the liberal news media did oppose the fall of the Berlin Wall and communism.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which, along with the fall of the Soviet Union two years later, marked the end of Communism in the West. Today, the news media is celebrating this victory of freedom from oppression; more than 20 years ago, it deplored such an idea.
Sounds hard to believe?
The Media Research Center recently released a report Better Off Red which reveals how the liberal news media inaccurately portrayed East Germany, the Soviet Union, and communism prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Here’s a sample from the Executive Summary:
- Before it collapsed, these journalists insisted those enslaved by communism actually feared capitalism more. "Despite what many Americans think, most Soviets do not yearn for capitalism or Western-style democracy," CBS anchor Dan Rather asserted in 1987.
- As the Soviet system began to totter, a few journalists claimed it as proof that the threat of totalitarian communism had never existed. "Gorbachev is helping the West by showing that the Soviet threat isn’t what it used to be, and what’s more, that it never was," Time’s Strobe Talbott argued in a January 1, 1990 piece.
- After Eastern Europe was liberated, these leftist journalists attacked capitalism for "exploiting" the newly-freed workers. A Los Angeles Times reporter touted "communism’s ‘good old days,’ when the hand of the state crushed personal freedom but ensured that people were housed, employed and had enough to eat."
- Some journalists refused to connect the economic misery caused by communism with communism itself. As the Soviet coup unraveled in 1991, NBC’s John Chancellor lectured how "the problem isn’t communism; nobody even talked about communism this week. The problem is shortages."
- Viewers heard perverse arguments that the end of communism was a setback for human rights. "Yes, somehow, Soviet citizens are freer these days — freer to kill one another, freer to hate Jews," CBS’s Harry Smith deplored in 1990: "Doing away with totalitarianism and adding a dash of democracy seems an unlikely cure for all that ails the Soviet system."