The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #83

Newspaper publisher and venture capitalist John Hay Whitney. Image Credit: Alchetron.com

Among the most extensively distributed of CIA‐owned or subsidized news services within the United States was Forum World Features, established in 1958 as Forum Information Service, with headquarters in London. Through most of its existence Forum was apparently owned by New York Herald Tribune publisher and pioneer venture capitalist John Hay Whitney.

“According to several C.I.A. sources, Mr. Whitney was ‘witting’ of the agency’s true role,” a 1977 New York Times article series documents. “Though the C.I.A. has insisted that it never attempted directly to place its propaganda in the American press, at one time Forum World Features had 30 domestic newspapers among its clients, including The Washington Post.”

The selling of Forum content to The Post “and other American newspapers, one C.I.A. official said, ‘put us in a hell of a dilemma,’ The sales, he went on, were considered necessary to preserve the organization’s cover, and they occasioned a continuing and somewhat frantic effort to insure that the domestic clients were given only legitimate news stories.”

Worldwide Propaganda Network Built By the CIA,” New York Times, December 26, 1977.

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