Best daily news of Soviet Russia is cabled by Walter Duranty of the New York Times residing in Moscow. Best news raids into Russia have been made by Miss Dorothy Thompson (now Mrs. Sinclair Lewis) and H. R. Knickerbocker, both for the New York Evening Post.* But the most spectacular recent bit of U. S. newswork in Red Russia was the extraction from Soviet "Dictator" Josef Stalin of the first interview he has ever granted to the Occidental Press (TIME, Dec. 1). Hero of this scoop was Correspondent Eugene Lyons of the United Press. Last week the United Press proudly relayed Correspondent Lyons' story of his story, harking back more than a year when he began his siege of Stalin's stubborn silence.
Correspondent Lyons started with a letter to Comrade Stalin, delicately suggesting that "The world has come to regard you as hiding behind the Kremlin walls, unapproachable and scarcely human." Undismayed by that spectacle, the Communist leader replied, also by letter, that "interviews with the bourgeois press spread more misconception than they ever rectified."
Correspondent Lyons bided his time, watched for his opportunity, saw it in last fortnight's report of Stalin's "assassination." Again he wrote a letter, this time was rewarded by a telephoned summons to the office of the Communist Central Committee. With him he took as interpreter Charles Malamuth of the Slavic department, University of California, a Moscow visitor. For more than an hour the two talked with Stalin, joined for a time by Commissar of War Voroshilov.
"At the conclusion of the interview," said Reporter Lyons, "Stalin asked whether I had any objection to his reading the story before it was sent, explaining that he did not desire in any way to limit me and would gladly waive the request if I considered it improper. . . . I suggested that if he could find a Latin script typewriter I would write the cable immediately in his office. . . . There followed the extraordinary procedure of Stalin personally conducting a search for the typewriter (and waiting) after . . . employes had departed for their suppers, for a reporter to finish his story."
Then Reporter Lyons won a trophy which he will long treasure. The Secretary-General after reading, smiled and wrote on the manuscript: "In general more or less correct, JOSEF STALIN."
As if to challenge Dictator Stalin's ability to kill false rumors, day after the Lyons story appeared, the New York Jewish Morning Journal received from its London correspondent this dispatch: "Radio station Moscow announced Voroshilov, now Dictator of Russia."
On the congratulations that came to the United Press for Reporter Lyons' scoop, least expected perhaps were those from the New York Daily News, lusty younger brother of the Chicago Tribune, whose correspondents have long been barred from Soviet Russia for their truculence. Said the News in a lengthy editorial, "We're glad to have the United Press' help in gathering the news which is printed in this paper."