If you wanted to see the perfect example of the ethical and moral collapse of the Mainstream Media, you could not do better than a long article in the New Yorker of May 23, 2005. The article is entitled, “The Spy Who Loved Us.” Written by a teacher at the University of Albany, named Thomas Bass, it’s about a man named Pham Xuan An. Now very old, An was — among many other things — a correspondent in Saigon during the Vietnam War for Time magazine. He was apparently considered a particularly brilliant and well-informed correspondent and very well liked by his colleagues in the Western press corps during the war.
He was also a Communist spy, working for the North Vietnamese, informing them of what he knew about American military plans, troop movements, political agendas.
He even helped the Communists win large battles by directing Vietcong and North Vietnamese troops against American and South Vietnamese forces. He helped plan the Tet Offensive of 1968, including helping the man who planned the attack on the U.S. Embassy. This was the offensive where thousands of innocent civilians were massacred by the Communists.
When the war ended, An offered to go to the U.S. and continue spying for the Communists there. The offer was denied and he lives quietly in Ho Chi Minh City, where, among other pets, he keeps fighting cocks — a practice generally considered barbaric in the circles of New Yorker readers, but another sign of his cuteness to Professor Bass. In fact, the whole article is about how cute and smart and clever and brave a guy An is. A lovable, brilliant, brave man who sent Americans and innocent civilians to their deaths. Bass even explains that almost all of An’s former colleagues in the Western press still love the guy after learning he was a spy for America’s enemy in the Vietnam War. They even gave money to bring him here for an auld lang syne visit not long ago.
In this article, which I would guess to be about 8,000 words or more, there is not one hint, not one whisper, of sympathy for the American soldiers who fought and died or were maimed in Vietnam. Not one sliver of anger at a man who took American money and helped kill Americans. Not a word about the mass murder of civilians during Tet.
Prof. Bass, the perfect modern academic, obviously greatly admires this man, spent days with him, and has not one bad word to say about An’s bosses, who, again, killed civilians without remorse by the thousands, who even sent An to be “re-educated” after the war because he had so much contact with Western ideas.
I am not sure how many mothers or fathers or children or widows of Vietnam war casualties read the New Yorker. I am not sure if anyone who edited the piece — and it is edited well, although utterly without moral input — had friends or family who fought there (such as my late father in law, Col. Dale Denman, Jr.). But how insulting, how insulting must an article like this be to them. How insulting it is to us all: to lavish praise on a man who helped kill our fellow Americans, to describe him in endearing terms, to try to make him seem like a kindly uncle.
If the New Yorker is one of the flagships of the Mainstream Media fleet, they are sailing in maddeningly disloyal, contemptuous waters and obviously have been for a while. Small wonder the media gloried in Mark Felt and Watergate last week. In those days, Americans actually trusted the Mainstream Media. The New Yorker piece by Prof. Bass makes it clear how wrong we were. He’s a fine writer but a man whose piece lacks any moral compass at all. And what of the fellow journalists in Saigon cheering him on? Now we know a bit more about why the war turned out as it did.
Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer in Beverly Hills and Malibu, and author of “Ben Stein’s Diary” each month in The American Spectator. Click here to subscribe.