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.
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.’”
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.
The research of former US State Department officer John Marks that would become his seminal work on the CIA’s MKULTRA program was preceded by President Gerald Ford’s establishment of a commission led by then-Vice President Nelson Rockefeller to examine reports of CIA exploits that included spying on domestic political dissidents. “Included in the final Rockefeller report, “Marks observes, “was a section on how an unnamed Department of the Army employee had jumped out of a New York hotel window after Agency men had slipped him LSD.
That revelation made headlines around the country. The press seized upon the sensational details and virtually ignored two even more revealing sentences buried in the Rockefeller text: ‘The drug program was part of a much larger CIA program to study possible means for controlling human behavior. Other studies explored the effects of radiation, electric-shock, psychology, psychiatry, sociology, and harassment substances.’”
John Marks, The Search For the “Manchurian Candidate:”: The CIA and Mind Control, New York: W. W. Norton, 1979, 220.
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.
In a controversial set of exchanges with former Sputnik editor Bill Moran, longtime author and journalist Kurt Eichenwald described himself as being “deeply wired into the intelligence community,” further counseling Moran that writing for the Russian outlet was not helpful for his career. The two were drawn together when Moran accidentally published an email released by Wikileaks between Sidney Blumenthal and Hillary Clinton wherein Blumenthal quotes an Eichenwald piece concerning Benghazi. Although Moran retracted the post in short order, Eichenwald shouted Moran’s error from the rooftops, citing the mistake as proof of broader Russian intrigue.
In late 2016 when Eichenwald was questioned by FoxNews’ Tucker Carlson on his numerous outbursts targeting President Donald Trump and Trump supporters, Eichenwald told the broadcast journalist he wanted to relay “a message I’ve got from the CIA.”
“I know a lot of officers. I know a lot of agents,” Eichenwald continued, “I’ve been in their homes, and I’m really delivering this to you and Donald Trump. These are people who’ve sacrificed a lot for this country … “ Despite Carlson’s request for Eichenwald to explain the dispatch on air no specific message was ever actually related.
“‘I don’t believe that whom I was or wasn’t friends with interfered with our reporting at any of our publications,” wrote former Washington Post and Newsweek publisher Katharine Graham in her 1998 autobiography Personal History. Veteran investigative journalist Robert Parry disagrees. A Washington correspondent for Newsweek during the late 1980s, Parry claims to have witnessed “self-censorship because of the coziness between Post-Newsweek executives and senior national security figures.”
“On one occasion in 1987,” Parry explains, “I was told that my story about the CIA funneling anti-Sandinista money through Nicaragua’s Catholic Church had been watered down because the story needed to be run past Mrs. Graham, and Henry Kissinger was her house guest that weekend. Apparently, there was fear among the top editors that the story as written might cause some consternation.” According to media critic Norman Solomon, former CIA Director Robert Gates’ 1996 memoir “confirmed that Parry had the story right all along.”
Among the first major CIA clandestine operators and propagandists functioning abroad was OSS veteran and US Air Force Colonel Edward Lansdale. An early confidante of Allen and John Foster Dulles, Lansdale was an advertising executive-turned-spy and counterinsurgency expert, all the while projecting “a squeaky-clean, Boy Scout Image, behind which he masked his own perverse delight in atrocity,” writes historian Douglas Valentine.
In the prelude to America’s full-scale involvement in Southeast Asia Landsdale fulfilled a special role in the formation of the CIA’s infamous counterterror assassination program dubbed Phoenix, having successfully organized an anti-Communist movement in the Philippines. Acting in the 1950s as the Dulles’ emissary in Vietnam, Landsdale played an important role as US advisor to the South Vietnamese regime of Ngo Dinh Diem. And the slogan-savvy Lansdale coined the term “Vietcong”, forever denigrating Vietminh patriots in the Western mind.
Lansdale’s activities in the Philippines earned him the nickname the “Ugly American.” He brought those tactics to Saigon along with a team of dedicated Filipino anti-Communists who, in the words of one veteran CIA officer, ‘would slit their grandmother’s throat for a dollar eighty-five.’”
In one psychological warfare operation Landsdale sought to motivate Vietnamese government troops to vacate a village and engage Communist guerrilla fighters on the outskirts. The problem was that village’s leaders feared assassination by the same guerrillas if the troops left. As ad exec Landsdale recalls,
“A combat psywar [psychological warfare] team was brought in. It planted stories among town residents of a vampire living on the hill where the Huks were based. Two nights later, after giving the stories time to circulate among Huk sympathizers in the town and make their way up the hill to the camp, the psywar squad set up an ambush along a trail used by the Huks. When a Huk patrol came along the trail, the ambushers silently snatched the last man of the patrol, their move unseen in the dark night. They punctured his neck with two holes, vampire fashion, held the body up by the heels, drained it of blood, and put the corpse back on the trail. When the Huks returned to look for the missing man and found their bloodless comrade, every member of the patrol believed that the vampire had got him and that one of them would be next if they remained on the hill. When daylight came the whole Huk squadron moved out of the vicinity.”
Lansdale deemed the operation “’low humor’ and ‘ an appropriate response … to the glum and deadly practices of communists and other authoritarians,'” notes Valentine. “And by doing so, former advertising executive Lansdale–the merry prankster whom author Graham Greene dubbed the Quiet America–came to represent the hypocrisy of American policy in South Vietnam.
Douglas Valentine, The Phoenix Program, New York: William Morrow and Company, 1990, 25-26.