Editor’s Note: In August 2015 MHB published, “The CIA and the Media: 50 Historical Facts The World Needs to Know.” The present series seeks to augment this initial article with several dozen additional facts and observations on the relationship between the US intelligence community, the mass media, and public opinion. One historical fact will be released each day over the next month and beyond.
From its formation in 1948 the CIA sought to influence not only the pedestrian informational landscape via news, but also academe’s intellectual topography. Through propaganda programs the Agency cultivated fierce anti-communist sentiment on a transnational basis to help propel the Cold War and its attendant military industrial complex. This involved, for example, a “campaign against ‘neutralism’” according to communications historian Christopher Simpson. “Beginning in 1950,” Simpson notes,
the CIA sponsored and financed the Congress for Cultural Freedom and a series of politically liberal, strongly anticommunist publications including Encounter (England), Der Monat (Germany), Forum (Austria), Preuves (France), and Cuadernos (Latin America) as a means of combating the perceived neutrality of intellectuals in the face of purported communist expansion. Sidney Hook, Melvin Lasky, Edward Shils, Daniel Bell, and Daniel Lerner, among others, emerged as prominent public spokesmen for this campaign, though they have insisted in later years that they were unaware of the CIA’s sponsorship for their work.
Christopher Simpson, Science of Coercion: Communication Research and Psychological Warfare 1945-1960, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994, 100-101.