It’s an old New York Times labeling trick: Stamp the “conservative” label on the bad actors in any situation -- even if they are Soviet Communists, the enemy of U.S. conservatives during the Cold War. Sunday’s front page of the National edition included an obituary written by Raymond H. Anderson, former Moscow correspondent for the paper, for the dissident Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko.
First, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was portrayed as a liberal struggling against Communist “conservatives":
“Stalin’s Heirs,” published in 1962, also stirred Russians, appearing at a time when they feared that Stalinist-style repression might return to the country. It was published only after Nikita S. Khrushchev, the semi-liberal party leader who was then involved in a power struggle with conservatives, intervened as he pushed his cultural “thaw.”....
Then the ideological loop-de-loop goes off the rails again, as the Times used the term “hard-line conservative” to describe a cadre of loyal, hard-core Communists who tried and failed to overthrow newly elected President Boris Yeltsin, who famously rallied supporters from on top of tank outside of the Russian Parliament. That is the same label it uses on present-day U.S. Republicans, among the world’s toughest foes of Communism!
[Yevtushenko] went on to publicly defy the hard-line conservative plotters of an attempt to seize power in 1991. The coup attempt, which temporarily deposed Mr. Gorbachev, sent a shock wave across Russia and around the world. Mr. Yevtushenko was later given a medal as a “Defender of Free Russia.” The upheaval became the backdrop for “Don’t Die Before You’re Dead,” one of two novels he wrote.
It’s a long pattern dating back to the Cold War. Moscow reporter Bill Keller, who would eventually rise to the editor-in-chief slot, wrote in a December 1990 story: “One reason Mr. Gorbachev has kept his post as General Secretary of the Communist Party along with the presidency, aides say, is to retain control of the party’s network in the military. But part of the implicit bargain is that he pay close attention to conservative Communist opinion.”
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Aren’t “conservatives” the ones the left always accuse of being over-zealous against Communism?
Newsbusters parent the Media Research Center documented in 1991 how the media has a habit of magically making the bad actors “right-wing” or “conservative” faction, despite the ideological inanity.
The Soviet coup caused a surge in the adjective "right-wing" to describe hard-line communists. Formerly reserved for conservative Americans and Latin military dictators, the reporters and columnists at The Washington Post picked the term "right wing" to describe the coup plotters 11 times in the first five days of the coup. On August 22, reporter Fred Hiatt called them a "right-wing junta." But when reformers like Boris Yeltsin quit the Communist Party to form a new party last July 13, reporter Michael Dobbs dubbed it "left-wing."
Why? In her last-page Newsweek column on May 12, 1989, Post Editorial Page Editor Meg Greenfield suggested: "Every time there is a confrontation in the world, we manage to dub the good guys liberals and the bad guys conservatives and pretty soon that is the common currency."
An NYT article from October 2009, "At 86, a Liberal-Minded Party Elder Is Still Jousting With China's Censors,” made anti-Communist dissenters in China the "liberals" and the left-wing Chinese Communists "conservatives," terms that make no sense in American politics, where liberal professors and students wear Chairman Mao T-shirts.