MediaWatch: April 1997

Vol. Eleven No. 4

Rosenberg's Guilt

A former Soviet KGB agent, with firsthand knowledge of the events, has come forward to confirm what the right has always maintained and the left has always denied: Julius Rosenberg was a Soviet spy. Rosenberg's old handler said the man he considered a "hero" passed along information on military electronics, including components of the atomic bomb. Two networks conceded that Julius Rosenberg was a spy, but instead of treating this as confirmation that the left was wrong, they re-spun the story to emphasize how the agent's revelation showed the Rosenbergs were wrongly executed.

On the March 16 World News Sunday, ABC reporter Jim Wooten maintained that "There's no longer much debate over whether Julius Rosenberg was a Soviet spy. But after all these years, a few questions still remain. Did he pass on atomic secrets? Was his wife Ethel involved? Was their execution justified? No to all three answers, says Alexander Feklisov, a former KGB agent, in a documentary to be broadcast on the Discovery Channel next Sunday."

After a soundbite from Feklisov, Wooten added: "Fifty years ago Feklisov was the Soviet contact for Rosenberg and a network of other agents in New York City. He says Rosenberg did hand over important military material, but not atomic secrets."

On the next day's CBS This Morning, anchor Jose Diaz-Balart reported "A retired KGB agent who worked with Julius Rosenberg says Rosenberg and his wife Ethel were not the top spies they've been made out to be. The Rosenbergs were executed in 1953 for giving the Soviets blueprints for the atomic bomb. The former KGB agent says Julius Rosenberg did pass some secrets to Moscow, but nothing useful for building the bomb."

A March 16 Cox News Service story by Joseph Albright and Marcia Kunstel showed Rosenberg did pass useful items along to the Soviets. Rosenberg gave Feklisov "a hand-drawn diagram of a lens mold used in making the U.S. atomic bomb." Rosenberg also passed along a proximity fuse, an item a scientific historian called "one of the four most important" American breakthroughs during World War II. This type of fuse was later used in the bomb that shot down Gary Powers' U2 spy plane over the Soviet Union in 1960.