Tag Archives: Allen Dulles

The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #68

The failed Bay of Pigs invasion began just before midnight on April 16, 1961, when a group of roughly 1,500 Cuban exiles trained and supported by the CIA landed on Cuba’s south-central shore at the Bay of Pigs.

As author Vitaly Petrussenko chronicles, following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion the CIA sustained significant negative impact. To help restore its luster “and his own image at the top of the Establishment” then-CIA Director “Allen Dulles authorized a big article in Fortune magazine, written by his friend Charles J.V. Murphy.” Classified documents intended to place CIA officials in a positive light and relieve them of responsibility of the failed invasion were turned over to Murphy “with Dulles’s consent.”

Shortly thereafter Dulles became the standard public spokesman for the Agency when he “began cultivating relations with television companies as suggested by Attorney General Robert Kennedy who himself was instructed by his President-brother to re-organize the Agency.” For example, “NBC television was offered the unique opportunity of producing a film about the CIA narrated by David Brinkley, NBC’s star commentator. Naturally, the film vindicated the CIA, and praised its cloak-and-dagger agents.

Vitaly Petrusenko, Trans. By Nocolai Kozelsky and Vladimir Leonov, A Dangerous Game: CIA and the Mass Media, Prague: Interpress, 1977, 23.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #67

In 1967 public opinion polls indicated that two-thirds of the American public rejected the Warren Commission Report’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole assassin of President Kennedy. Nevertheless top CIA officials were assured they could depend on US news media to assuage such widespread public skepticism.

According to historian David Talbot, “An exchange of letters between CBS news director William Small and (CIA founder Allen) Dulles in July 1967 summed up the media’s lockstep allegiance to the officials story, no matter how many holes were punched in it by new research.” ’I hope you had a chance to view the four-part series on the Warren Commission,’ wrote Small, referring to his TV network’s massive apologia for the Warren Report. ‘We are very proud of them and I hope you found them a proper display of what television journalism can do.’ … After reviewing transcripts of the entire series that Small had obligingly provided him, Dulles assured the CBS news executive, ‘ If I have any nitpicking to pass on to you, I shall do so as soon as I have read them.’ The spymaster,” Talbot concludes, “was always happy to offer guidance to his media friends, down to the smallest details.”

David Talbot, The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government, New York: Harper Perennial, 2015, 597-598.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #66

In the mid-to-late 1960s the CIA initiated concerted efforts to defame independent researchers of the Kennedy assassination that contested the Warren Commission’s findings, seeking to suppress their message at every turn. By 1966 the most prominent of these researchers was New York-based attorney Mark Lane. “As part of the campaign to smear Warren Report critics,” writes historian David Talbot, former CIA Director Allen Dulles “compiled dirt on Mark Lane, whom he considered a particularly ‘terrible nuisance’ because of his growing media visibility and his influence overseas, where he was often invited to speak.” One of Dulles’ moles claimed to have located photos of Lane engaging in “’obscene acts’” with minors. “’He is supposedly Jewish,’” the informant wrote, “’but there are those who claim he is half Negro or at least has Negro blood. He is very dark complexioned, wears horn-rimmed glasses and he’s always in a hurry. My own personal opinion is that he’s deranged.’”

As Lane’s popularity developed the CIA “pressured TV and Radio programs to cancel interviews with him. When he traveled to foreign countries to speak about the Kennedy assassination, the agency sent bulletins to the U.S. embassies there announcing that Lane’s local appearances had been cancelled.”

David Talbot, The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government, New York: Harper Perennial, 2015, 594, 595.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #52

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.


The CIA’s integration with mass media is especially insidious because it operates as a secret organization with its own rules and is answerable to no one. “’The National Security Act of 1947,’” in the words of Allen W. Dulles, “’…has given Intelligence a more influential position in our government than Intelligence enjoys in any other government of the world.’” As journalists David Wise and Thomas B. Ross wrote over a half-century ago,

The American people have not been in a position to assess these changes. They know virtually nothing about the Invisible Government. Its employment rolls are classified. Its activities are top secret. Its budget is concealed in other appropriations. Congress provides money for the Invisible Government without knowing how much it has appropriated or how it will be spent. A handful of congressmen are supposed to be kept informed by the Invisible Government, but they know relatively little about how it works.

Overseas, in foreign capitals, American ambassadors … are told they have control over the agents of the Invisible Government. But do they? The agents maintain communications and codes of their own. And the ambassador’s authority has been judged by a committee of the United States Senate to be a “polite fiction.”

At home, the intelligence men are directed by law to leave matters to the FBI. But the CIA maintains more than a score of offices in major cities throughout the United States; it is deeply involved in many domestic activities, from broadcasting stations and a steamship company to the university campus. The Invisible Government is also generally thought to be under the direct control of the National Security Council. But, in fact, many of its major decisions are never discussed in the Council. These decisions are handled by a small directorate, the name of which is only whispered. How many Americans have heard of the ‘Special Group’? The name of this group, even its existence, is unknown outside the innermost circle of the Invisible Government.

David Wise and Thomas B. Ross, The Invisible Government, New York: Random House, 1964, 4, 5.

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