Tag Archives: CIA

The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #59

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.

The Central Intelligence Agency often acts to serve the strategic financial interests of transnational corporations as spycraft and corporate largess act symbiotically to conceal each other’s misdeeds. In 1979 the McGraw-Hill publishing house released Kermit Roosevelt’s, Countercoup: The Struggle for the Control of Iran. In the book former CIA officer told his exclusive story of “how intelligence agencies overthrew a left-leaning Iranian premier, Mohammad Mossadegh, in 1953 and reinstated the Shah,” former Washington Post editor and college journalism educator Ben Bagdikian explains.

“The issue was control of oil. The plot was called ‘Ajax,’ of which Roosevelt wrote: ‘The original proposal for Ajax came from the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) after its expulsion from Iran nine months earlier.’” Copies of Countercoup “were on sale in bookstores and reviewer copies were already in the mails when British Petroleum, successor corporation to AIOC, persuaded McGraw-Hill to recall all the books—from the stores and from reviewers.”

Ben H. Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly, Fourth Edition, Boston: Beacon Press, 1992, 39.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #58

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.

The conventional logic concerning the violent suicide of Washington Post publisher Philip Graham in August 1963 is that Graham’s manic depression and alcoholism figured centrally in his death. In fact, Graham’s tragic death is only hinted at in the 2017 film, The Post. Yet as author Deborah Davis suggests, Graham’s death was immediately preceded by his increasingly public criticism of the CIA’s involvement with news media. “’He had begun to talk, after his second breakdown, about the CIA’s manipulation of journalists,” Davis observes. “He said it disturbed him. He said it to the CIA.’” His fellow journalists practiced the unspoken code of “keep[ing] Phil’s insanity ‘out of the papers’ as he had kept stories ‘out of the papers’ for his friends; but now the word was that Phil Graham could not be trusted, and his friends began to see very little of him.”

In the early 1990s Davis claims, “she ‘got a call from a woman who claimed that she knew for a fact that [Phil’s death] was murder.’” Subsequent research by clinical psychologist and author Peter Janney suggests how there are several conflicting accounts of Phil’s supposed “suicide.” Already a loose cannon, Phil Graham died just three months prior to President Kennedy’s assassination. Mr. Graham would have likely been reluctant to cooperate with the CIA by turning a journalistic blind eye toward the President’s murder and, even worse, being compelled to publicly promote the Warren Commission’s cover-up of the assassination.

Peter Janney, Mary’s Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace, New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2013, 265-270; Deborah Davis, Katherine the Great: Katherine Graham and the Washington Post, Bethesda MD: National Press, 1987 (1979), 161.

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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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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #56

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.


Irwin Knoll, Image Credit: Wisconsin Historical Society

Washington Post editorial page editor Bob Estabrook claims that one-time Post publisher Philip Graham “was in daily touch with people in the intelligence community and that he knew more about the Bay of Pigs, for example, than he would tell his own reporters,” writes Katharine Graham biographer Carol Felsenthal. Veteran journalist and former Progressive magazine editor Erwin Knoll recalls how Post editor Al Friendly “’had some CIA involvement. I know there was a pipeline to the CIA that provided occasional guidance on stories.’”

Knoll recollects the controversy that erupted in 1960 when a United States U-2 reconnaissance plane was shot down by the Soviets in 1960. “’I found myself riding in the elevator with Bob Estabrook, and I said to him, ‘That’s a hell of a story out of the Soviet Union today, isn’t it?’ And he said, ‘Oh yeah, we’ve known about those flights for several years, but we were asked not to say anything.’ Now that just astonished me, that the paper knew about things it was asked not to report on, and it complied with those wishes.’” Shortly thereafter, when a US pilot in the employ of Indonesian rebels was grounded, “the Post’s foreign editor warned Knoll to be careful about reporting on the pilot, who, he said, was CIA. Knoll thinks the Post ‘was definitely on the team as far as fighting to cold war was concerned.’”

Carol Felsenthal, Power, Privilege and The Post: The Katharine Graham Story, New York: Putnam, 1993, 372, 373.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #55

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.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #54

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.


A historical episode along the lines of the US Democratic Party and corporate media’s feigned concern over “Russian meddling in US elections” arose in 1964 when then-CIA Director John McCone sought to suppress publication of journalists Wise and Ross’ The Invisible Government, an exposé of the CIA’s influence corrupting influence. McCone and his second-in-command, Lieutenant General Marshall Carter, placed phone calls to Random House, the book’s publisher, objecting to its publication. Another CIA official approached Random House with an offer to buy up the book’s entire first printing—15,000 copies. “Calling this action ‘laughable,’ Random House’s president, Bennet Cerf, agreed to sell the agency as many books as it wanted, but stated that additional printings would be made for the public,” former CIA officer Victor Marchetti notes.

“The final chapter in the agency attack against The Invisible Government came in 1965 when the CIA circulated an unattributed document on ‘The Soviet and Communist Bloc Defamation Campaign” to various members of Congress and the press. This long study detailed the many ways used by the KGB to discredit the CIA, including the ‘development and milking of Western journalists. Americans figure prominently among these.’ The study singled out as an example of KGB disinformation a Soviet radio broadcast that quoted directly from The Invisible Government. The agency’s message was not too subtle,” Marchetti concludes, “but then the CIA never put its name on the document.”

Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974, 359-360.

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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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The CIA and the Media: 50 *More* Historical Facts the World Needs to Know

By James F. Tracy

Editor’s Note: In August 2015 MHB published, “The CIA and the Media: 50 Historical Facts The World Needs to Know.” The following series seeks to augment this initial post 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.

Since the late 1940s the Central Intelligence Agency and its military intelligence counterparts have successfully manipulated American public opinion on an array of issues via its direct influence over corporate mass media. Understanding the historical facts substantiating this claim is particularly essential in an age of so-called “fake news”, alleged “Russian meddling” in US elections, and overt censorship of alternative voices by Google and YouTube proceed as a thinly-veiled psychological warfare operation against the domestic US population.

In theory the CIA and its military intelligence counterparts are restricted from carrying out maneuvers on US soil, including propaganda efforts. Yet the historical record is unambiguous: Psychological operations know no boundaries whether in terms of national borders or the fabled editorial firewall between the newsroom and objects of reportage. The intelligence community’s permeation of the film-making, book publishing, and social media industries only bolsters the influence it exerts over the institution that write the first drafts of history—the news media themselves.

Continue reading The CIA and the Media: 50 *More* Historical Facts the World Needs to Know

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Through The Post Darkly: The Ghost of Phillip Graham

By James F. Tracy

“We live in a dirty and dangerous world. There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn’t. 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.” Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, Langley Virginia, 1988.[1]

Steven Spielberg’s tribute to Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham and modern American journalism is a major Hollywood endeavor marshaling the industry’s premier talent. A s of this writing The Post has been nominated for dozens of awards throughout the film community.[2] The movie itself, however, comprises a sort of tortured historical confirmation on exactly how the news media would like to view themselves and their industry. It does so by mixing verifiable truths alongside careful omissions to reinforce a deeper set of myths concerning notions of American press freedom and the Vietnam War era.

On a more immediate level, The Post was produced in under six months, and was at least partly motivated by the political allegiances of its creators, who seek to analogize the Richard Nixon administration’s pursuit of a court injunction against the US press’ publication of the Pentagon Papers to President Donald Trump’s bellicose attitude toward a corporate news media that has arguably become an increasingly partisan political force following Trump’s defeat of his Democratic Party rival.

Spielberg renders Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) as a somewhat awkward and isolated widow and among the first female publishers in the predominantly male-dominated business of newspaper publishing. Left unmentioned is the fact that Graham was the daughter of Eugene Meyer, one of the country’s most powerful bankers, who bought the Washington Post in 1933 while serving as head of the Federal Reserve.

Continue reading Through The Post Darkly: The Ghost of Phillip Graham

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CIA and the Corporate Media: The Case of Kurt Eichenwald

Known For Partisan Attacks,
“Deeply wired into the intelligence community”

By James F. Tracy

Yet another harbinger of corporate news media’s continued demise is evident when a familiar mainstream journalist with admitted ties to US intelligence agencies plays covert roles in the issues and events he claims to report objectively on. The case of Kurt Eichenwald suggests how the CIA’s famous Operation Mockingbird is alive and well in the twenty-first century.

On December 16, 2015 FAU administrators terminated this author on pretextual grounds. Less than 24 hours beforehand the same school officials received an inflammatory email from Newsweek‘s Kurt Eichenwald, among the internet’s most avid gun control advocates and anti-Trump crusaders who boasts of being “deeply wired into the intelligence community.”

In the query, one of thousands of emails produced by FAU during discovery, the fiercely partisan Eichenberg more than subtly pressures the FAU administration on Tracy’s public speech concerning the Sandy Hook massacre event, further suggesting that Tracy is mentally ill, guilty of criminal harassment, and may pose a legal liability to the university.

Newsweek Reporter Kurt Eichenwald. Image Credit: YouTube

Eichenwald’s email was received by the university’s chief public affairs officer and immediately forwarded to FAU President John Kelly, General Counsel David Kian, and Provost Gary Perry. Perry forwarded the email to Associate General Counsel Lawrence Glick and Vice Provost Diane Alperin. Less than 24 hours thereafter Alperin informed this author he would be fired.

Continue reading CIA and the Corporate Media: The Case of Kurt Eichenwald

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