Category Archives: The CIA and the Media

The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #78

Chief executive of CBS broadcasting network, William Paley, was a close acquaintance of CIA director Allen Dulles. Much like New York Times publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger, Paley made arrangements with the Agency for the network to provide cover for CIA officers. Paley’s chosen contact for the Agency was none other than Sig Mickelson—president of CBS News throughout the mid-to-late 1950s.

Sig Mickelson. Image Credit: AP

On one occasion, Mickelson protested to CBS President Frank Stanton “about having to use a pay telephone to call the CIA, and Stanton suggested he install a private line, bypassing the CBS switchboard, for the purpose. According to Mickelson, he did so.” Mickelson went on to become president of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, both well-documented CIA-backed propaganda organs.

Fun Fact: As with other CIA-media operatives, Mickelson’s 2000 New York Times obituary makes no mention of his indisputable Agency affiliation.

Carl Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media,” Rolling Stone, October 20, 1977.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #77

Among the most admired and telegenic US presidents in recent history, William J. Clinton was also “a CIA asset” within the Agency’s infamous Operation CHAOS, according to CIA insiders. The CHAOS program violated the organization’s own charter by surveilling thousands of American political dissidents from 1959 to 1974 on US soil. This fact was largely ignored by former DCI and incumbent George H. W. Bush as he ran against Clinton in the 1992 US presidential election, as well as by US news media throughout Clinton’s eight years in the executive branch, and to this day.

“The time that Clinton was supposed to have gone to Moscow was the time when the CIA was very active recruiting American students and other students to go to Moscow,” former CIA officer Victor Marchetti observes. “Without revealing any secrets as to how I came to this conclusion, I would not be surprised to find out that Clinton was actually kind of working for the CIA.”

While successfully evading conscription during the Vietnam War, author Roger Morris argues that Clinton was a CIA informant operating within the peace movement both in the US and abroad. According to Morris, one former CIA officer recalls

going through archives of Operation CHAOS at Langley headquarters—part of an agency purge amid the looming congressional investigations of the mid-1970s—and seeing Bill Clinton listed, along with others, as a former informant who had gone on to run for or be elected to political office of some import, in Clinton’s case, attorney general of Arkansas. “He was there on the records,” the former agent said, “with a special designation.” Still another CIA source contended that part of Clinton’s arrangement as an informer had been further insurance against the draft. “He knew he was safe, you see, even if he got a lottery number not high enough and even if the ROTC thing fell through for some reason,” the source said, because the Company could get him a deferment if it had to, and it was done all the time.

Roger Morris, Partners in Power: The Clintons and Their America, New York: Henry Holt, 1996, 102-104, 234, 235.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #76

Phillip and Katharine Graham, circa 1953

In 1988 Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, the central character in Steven Spielberg’s 2017 film, The Post, declared to CIA staffers during a speech at the organization’s Langley Virginia headquarters that government agencies should employ the doctrine of prior restraint whenever they deem it necessary and appropriate.

We live in a dirty and dangerous world. There are some things the general public does not need to know. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows.

Steven L. Vaughn, Encyclopedia of American Journalism, New York: Routledge, 2008, 201. Cited in Janney, Mary’s Mosaic, New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2013, 269.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #75

Abetting the CIA’s efforts to subvert the only criminal investigation ever conducted on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, US news media gave defendant, OSS veteran and CIA asset Clay Shaw overwhelmingly positive coverage while pillorying Garrison at every turn. This included the marshaling of the country’s major television networks to produce programs targeting the Garrison inquiry.

As the district attorney explained in an address to the New Orleans Academy of Trial Lawyers several months after Shaw’s trial ended, “The news media have attacked me for what they consider improper methods and accused me of trying Shaw in the newspaper. They have done this in spite of the fact that since the day Shaw was charged I have consistently refused to mention his name publicly. On the other hand,” Garrison continued,

in their zeal to help the defendant, I have been personally attacked by every newspaper from the New York Times to the Nairobi Express. N.B.C. put an hour nationwide television show to criticize me and my investigation using prisoners that I convicted and sent to the Penitentiary. It’s really not hard to figure out why I am not the most popular man at the Angola State Penitentiary or the Parish Prison. Every charge that was raised on [NBC’s] program has been investigated and proven to be false.

William Davy, Let Justice Be Done: New Light on the Jim Garrison Investigation, Jordan Publishing, 1999.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #74

CIA influence over news media likely plays a crucial role in “sourcing” news stories in an effort to establish narratives favorable to Agency interests. One such story involves the unusual circumstances surrounding the death of former Phoenix Program director and DCI William Colby.

In the years before his death Colby became increasingly critical of certain deep state maneuvers. He encouraged his friend, for example, Nebraska lawyer John DeCamp, to write The Franklin Coverup, centering on the child sex scandal in that state. DeCamp was one of Colby’s confidantes, and as DeCamp explains in the video below he has immense reason to question the official narrative of Colby’s death.

Author Christopher Ruddy, who conducted important research on the alleged suicide of Clinton aide and White House counsel Vince Foster, examined Colby’s 1996 drowning death that mainstream news media incorrectly attributed to a heart attack or stroke. Ruddy unearthed an early Associated Press story detailing Colby’s demise, claiming the spy was “missing and presumed drowned.” The article quotes an assumed source close to Colby’s wife “as saying he’d told her that day he wasn’t feeling well ‘but was going canoeing anyway.’”

Former DCI William Colby. Image Credit: New York Times

One week later, however, “Colby’s wife assured the Washington Times that her husband had been well and had not mentioned canoeing.” Police who surveyed the spymaster’s home found dishes at the table and appliances left on, as if no canoeing excursion was even in the offing. And, in contrast to the coroner and media’s conclusion attributing Colby’s death to drowning caused by a heart attack or stroke, the autopsy found no evidence of either.

Donald Jeffries, Hidden History: An Exposé of Modern Crimes, Conspiracies, and Cover-ups in American Politics, New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2014, 300.

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