The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #57

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.

Image Credit: Reuters

Following his successful 1998 campaign to be elected Minnesota’s 38th governor former professional wrestler, media personality and Mayor of Brooklyn Park Minnesota Jesse Ventura explains how he was interrogated at length by over twenty CIA agents seeking to assess the ins and outs of his populist political platform.

“The first inkling that certain people inside the federal government were out to keep an eye on me came not long after I took office,” Ventura recalls.

I was “asked” to attend a meeting in the basement of the Capitol building at a time when the State Legislature was not in session. I was informed that the Central Intelligence Agency was conducting a training exercise that they hoped I’d be willing to participate in … I was placed in the middle of a big circle of chairs, and they all sat there staring at me with notebooks on their laps … They all focused on how we campaigned, how we achieved what we did, and did I think we truly could win when we went into the campaign. Basically, how had the independent wrestler candidate pulled this off?”

Jesse Ventura and Dick Russell, American Conspiracies: Lies, Lies and More Dirty Lies the Government Tells Us, New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2010, xi, xii.

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  1. My late Mother and Father were both born at Minnesota. Their parents were from Germany, Norway and Denmark. Many people from Sweden also populated this great State. My Father often told of how farmers there were very suspicious of politicians. They didn’t need to bring guns to meetings because the sight of a few pitchforks scared the daylights out of most politicians. Farmers then were not the smiling happy faces of millionaires today. These were hard working folks who struggled and worked all day every day of their lives 24/7. They did not like to be lied to by smiling politicians seeking their votes. And they had good, long memories and the politicians then knew it.

    People today have no concept of just how hard life was in those days. Citizens in Minnesota have been among the most intelligent of the country. They created the University of Minnesota one of the top public institutions of the world. The State abounds with numerous public and private colleges and universities. Both of my parents graduated from there he in mechanical engineering, she in English. Many kids had to return to the farm every quarter when the grades were posted. My Father said he worked his way through the “U” as it was called, because he didn’t want to pick potatoes in the hot Sun every day all his life, almost as bad as picking cotton. One of my great grandfathers was an officer in the Minnesota Volunteers during the Civil War. Their service was not very flattering as it was written up in a book commissioned by the Minnesota Legislature describing every battle. They got the H beat out of them by the rebels in Tennessee! No one fights as hard as one defending their own homeland from criminal invaders.
    Winfield J. Abbe, Ph.D., Physics

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