Tag Archives: Cold War

The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #82

During President Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress in Latin America “[t]he CIA used an entire news organization, Copley News Service, as a cover for its agents,” according to investigative journalists Joseph Trento and David Roman.

“’The Agency’s involvement with the Copley organization is so extensive that it’s almost impossible to sort out,’” one CIA official said of the Agency’s relationship with entity. Other CIA officials confirmed that James S. Copley, the news chain’s owner, was directly involved in making cover arrangements for Copley journalists to serve as CIA assets.

In the 1950s, Trento and Roman explain, Copley personally offered his news organization to President Eisenhower to perform as “the eyes and ears” against “the Communist threat in Latin and Central America” for “our intelligence services.” James Copley was also intimately involved in the InterAmerican Press Association, a CIA-backed entity with close relations to rightwing owners of South American newspapers.

Trento and Roman were among the first journalists to elaborate on CIA infiltration of news media in a 1977 article published in Penthouse magazine, “The Spies Who Came In From the Newsroom.”

Joseph J. Trento, A Secret History of the CIA, New York: Prima Publishing/Random House, 2001.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #72

Overseas CIA outreach activities aimed at influencing foreign press personnel in the Cold War years and was aided by using the foremost labor organization for practicing journalists in the US, the American Newspaper Guild (ANG). “The ANG was a founder member of the International Federation of Journalists, a society of anticommunist newspapermen established in Brussels in 1952 in opposition to the Prague-based, communist-dominated International Organization of Journalists,” notes historian Hugh Wilford.

“Following a major expansion of the ANG’s international program in 1960, funded by seed money from the AFL-CIO and a grant from ‘a private philanthropy,’ an ANG staffer … was dispatched to Brussels to oversee free trade unionism and ‘professional journalism’ in Africa and, with occasional assistance from the Asia Foundation, the Far East. Meanwhile,” Wilford chronicles, “another ANG international affairs representative took up residence in Panama City to run the Inter-American Federation of Working Newspapermen’s Organization, a hemispheric trade union secretariat with close links to the CIA’s South American labor front, the American Institute of Free Labor Development.” Such endeavors were funded by “ANG’s International Affairs Fund, which in turn was subsidized by an assortment of foundations all later identified as CIA pass-throughs: The Graanary Fund, the Andrew Hamilton Fund, the Broad High Foundation, the Chesapeake Foundation, and the Warden Trust.”

Hugh Wilford, The Might Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America, Cambridge MA and London: Harvard University Press, 2008, 227-228.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #62

As the documented remarks of numerous established American journalists suggest, throughout the Cold War the news media’s relationships with the CIA were frequently often symbiotic in nature, if not friendly and intimate. For instance, famous Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus notes that in 1960 he was “offered a full-time overseas job with the CIA” while serving as “Washington correspondent for three North Carolina newspapers. I turned down the job,” he continues, “but that year did take two trips overseas to international youth conferences. The CIA arranged and paid the expenses for both trips. In 1967, I wrote of this CIA association in the Washington Post.”

Along these lines one-time Chicago Sun-Times Associate Editor Stuart H. Loory warmly recalls how “[d]uring the ten years of covering foreign relations and national security affairs I have traded information with CIA people and I have eaten at the excellent table in the CIA director’s private dining room (after taking a drink from a black-coated waiter in the director’s private sitting room). Has such access hurt or helped the pursuit of information? Naturally, I think it has helped. Not all of my colleagues agree.”

Vitaly Petrusenko, Trans. By Nocolai Kozelsky and Vladimir Leonov, A Dangerous Game: CIA and the Mass Media, Prague: Interpress, 1977, 7, 7-8.

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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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