Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Exposes Lies on Kampuchea

Call Editor Speaks on TV

First Published: The Call, Vol. 7, No. 24, June 19, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Following a month-long blackout by the U.S. media on The Call delegation’s recent visit to Kampuchea, Call editor Dan Burstein appeared on two national television shows last week to talk about the trip. Burstein and three other Call journalists were the first Americans to visit Kampuchea since its liberation in 1975.

During the few minutes Burstein was allowed to speak on each program, he told the American public for the first time the truth about Kampuchea’s revolution. Burstein described the “tremendous energy and enthusiasm everywhere you go in the country. Really for the first time,” he pointed out, “people have enough to eat. Everywhere there’s this kind of spirit, the cooperative efforts of a people to solve the problems left over from a very oppressive old society.”


Aside from Burstein’s remarks, the TV shows continued to promote the imperialists’ slander campaign against Kampuchea. Both programs–the McNeil-Lehrer Report June 6 on educational TV, and the more widely-watched CBS “documentary” June 7–pitted The Call editor against a cast of reactionary “experts”.

The “experts,” some calmly, some dramatically, some with claims of impartiality–upheld the barrage of lies about mass murder in Kampuchea. They did their best to drown out Burstein’s description of the thousands of people he saw with his own eyes “working very voluntarily, very joyously, very glad to have a chance to build up a new society.”

Who are these “experts” and how credible are their stories?

Tim Carney, an official of the State Department who appeared on the Mc-Neil-Lehrer Report, served three years in the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh during the war and was one of the last Americans to leave in 1975. This “humanitarian” who charges “genocide” in today’s Kampuchea, does so only to cover up what Burstein exposed the real genocide to be–800,000 Kampucheans slaughtered by U.S. bombs, napalm and other firepower. As a representative of the U.S. in Kampuchea, Tim Carney played a key role in that mass murder machine.

CBS newsman Ed Bradley appeared on both shows, a guest on McNeil-Lehrer and the moderator of the June 7 program. Bradley, who was based in Kampuchea as a correspondent during the war in Indochina, tried to look two-sided. But his credibility is seriously weakened by the record of CBS, which deliberately concealed evidence of the U.S. bombings in Kampuchea and helped lay the basis of U.S. aggression in Vietnam in 1965 by falsely reporting that north Vietnam had attacked American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Anthony Paul, one of several persons interviewed on CBS, is the co-author of Murder of a Gentle Land, the source of many of the most outrageous stories of brutality in Kampuchea. Even journalists sympathetic to his point of view discredit Paul’s methodology, by which he relies exclusively on interviews with refugees, none of whom were peasants or workers.

Paul was led around the refugee camps by Thai government officials. Typical of the refugees he interviewed were gem dealers, bankers, and fighter pilots who bombed their own people. As Burstein remarked, many of these refugees were high officials or troops of the fascist Lon Nol regime. Lon Nol seized power in a U.S.-backed coup d’etat in March 1970.

Paul’s book virtually ignores the role of the U.S. in Kampuchea, whose ugly stamp Burstein described all over the country. “There’s hardly a road you can go 100 meters on.” he pointed out. “without coming across craters from U.S. bombs.”

CBS attempted to exploit the refugee stories by showing a tearful scene of a 16-year-old boy recounting the death of his parents. But The Call editor exposed the source of the vast majority of the refugee accounts–“a network of misinformation in which several of Lon Nol’s former officials are involved, a network that’s organized in Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand and backed heavily by the CIA.”

Ed Bradley, who was a correspondent in Southeast Asia for two years during the war, had to acknowledge the basis of Burstein’s statement. ”I don’t have any doubts that there is some element of truth in it,” he remarked, noting the long involvement of the American government and CIA in Indochina.

Burstein did not deny that any violence had taken place in Kampuchea since 1975. But he showed that it was revolutionary violence directed at the old Lon Nol reactionaries who frantically tried to sabotage the revolution.

Many of the panelists complained that journalists cannot enter Kampuchea. Yet they refused to listen to the reports of those who have visited in the last three years, including a delegation of Yugoslavians and three Scandinavian ambassadors to China. Not one of them came back with stories of mass executions.

One panelist on McNeil-Lehrer, Leo Cherne, tried to cite the Scandinavian diplomats in support of his charges against the Kampuchean government. But Burstein quickly refuted this as being “completely off base.” He showed that, in fact, the Swedish ambassador Oberg “came back with many favorable impressions.” The Swedish government, Burstein added, even jumped to dissociate itself from Oberg’s story, claiming he did not make the trip in any official capacity.

The Call editor’s comments, which reached millions of viewers, at least let the American people know that there is another side to this story. “It showed me how defensive they are,” one worker commented, “that they have to stack the cards so much against The Call’s position. I understood why they’re trying so hard to cover up the things Burstein saw.”

But the capitalist media, which was used to conceal the U.S. bombing and invasion of Kampuchea during the war, will never allow this truth to be fully told. For that, U.S. workers will have to rely on the exclusive reports in The Call.