Tag Archives: The CIA and the Media

The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #65

Udo Ulfkotte [Image Credit: blastingnews picture archive]
In 2017 publication of the English translation of German journalist and intelligence asset Udo Ulfkotte’s best-selling book, Gekaufte Journalisten (Bought Journalists) ceased when its publisher suddenly took down the book’s online promotional material without explanation or comment.  A best-seller in Europe, the work is a powerful first-hand account by a mainstream journalist of how the CIA alongside other intelligence agencies influence the output of Western news media. In early 2017 Next Revelation Press, an imprint of US-Canadian-based publisher Tayen Lane, tentatively released the English version of Bought Journalists, under the title, Journalists for Hire: How the CIA Buys the New. Shortly thereafter Tayen Lane removed any reference to the title from its website.

When this author contacted Ulfkotte in early December 2015 to inquire on the book’s pending translation, he responded,  “Please find the link to the English edition here. http://www.tayenlane.com/bought-journalists . The above address once providing Bought Journalist’s description and anticipated publication date now leads to an empty page. Tayen Lane would not respond to requests for an explanation of the title’s disappearance.  As of April 13, 2018 the English translation of Bought Journalists sells for retail price of $997 at Amazon. As is suggested by previous posts in this series addressing CIA ties to the book publishing industry, Bought Journalists‘ subject matter and unexplained disappearance from the marketplace are cause for serious concern.

James F. Tracy, “English Translation of Udo Ulfkotte’s Bought Journalists Suppressed?” GlobalResearch.ca, July 31. 2017.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #64

Daniele Ganser, the sole academic author thus far to have conducted comprehensive research on the NATO and CIA-supported Operation Gladio that terrorized Europe’s citizenry for two decades, describes how his pathbreaking work was stymied by the CIA’s unresponsiveness to numerous Freedom of Information Act requests. On December 14, 2000 Ganser “placed a FOIA request with the CIA, whereupon two weeks later the CIA replied to the author’s request “pertaining to ‘Operation Gladio’ in an evasive manner by stating that ‘The CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence of records responsive to your request,'” Ganser explains. “By raising FOIA exemptions B1 and B3 the CIA Information and Privacy Coordinator, Kathryn I. Dyer, with her letter declined all information on Operation Gladio.”

Shortly thereafter Ganser appealed, maintaining, “’The documents that were withheld must be disclosed under the FOIA, because the secrecy exemptions (b)(1) and (b)(3) can only reasonably refer to CIA operations which re still secret today.’” In February 2001 the CIA responded:

“Your appeal has been accepted and arrangements will be made for its consideration by the appropriate members of the Agency Release Panel. You will be advised of the determination made.”

In 2004, just before Ganser’s book manuscript went to press, “the CIA Agency Release Panel had still not answered the author’s request for information.” Dr. Ganser confirmed to this author in early 2018 that close to 20 years later the CIA has still not turned over the responsive documents or even provided him with a response.

Daniele Ganser, NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe, London and New YorK: Frank Cass, 2005, 35.

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James Tracy Returns to FAU

Plants Flag on Boca Raton Campus

The two articles linked below discuss former FAU Professor James Tracy’s lecture in FAU Political Science Professor Marshall DeRosa’s April 5, 2018 Issues in American Politics class. Tracy presented a roughly 75-minute presentation on “The CIA and the Media.” The discussion was based on information from 1970s Congressional hearings and subsequent historical treatments of the phenomenon, which Tracy argued continues to this day. The presentation was followed by about 50 minutes of addressing questions from students.

Continue reading James Tracy Returns to FAU

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #63

The venerable New York Times. long a self-proclaimed bastion of truth and moderation, established its reputation in this way at the turn-of-the century by contrasting the Times brand with William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer-style sensationalism and what was often genuinely embellished or contrived “fake” news. Given its standing in this regard the Times has vigorously supported and benefited from Agency prerogatives since the 1950s . As Carl Bernstein explains in his largely ignored yet seminal investigative piece, “The CIA and the Media,” the CIA’s “relationship with the Times was by far its most valuable among newspapers, according to CIA officials.”

Between 1950 and 1966 around ten CIA personnel were given cover as Times employees under plans endorsed by the newspaper’s then-publisher, Arthur Hays Sulzberger. “The cover arrangements were part of a general Times policy—set by Sulzberger—to provide assistance to the CIA whenever possible,” observes Bernstein. “Sulzberger was especially close to Allen Dulles. ‘At that level of contact it was the mighty talking to the mighty,’ said a high‑level CIA official who was present at some of the discussions. ‘There was an agreement in principle that, yes indeed, we would help each other. The question of cover came up on several occasions.  It was agreed that the actual arrangements would be handled by subordinates…. The mighty didn’t want to know the specifics; they wanted plausible deniability.’”

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

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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 #61

Airbrushed History: Unsurprisingly, the New York Times 1994 obituary of publisher Frederick A. Praeger makes no reference of the publishing house’s documented ties to the Central Intelligence Agency.

Despite the CIA’s charter forbidding it to operate within the United States, the Agency’s symbiotic relationship with virtually every facet of the media industries suggests how almost since its inception the organization allowed itself to run out of control with little-if-any suggestion of remorse. In fact, when it came to propaganda the CIA effectively “acted as its own State Department,” author Darrell Garwood argues, by allowing Agency-sponsored books to circulate in the US because they might qualify as propaganda abroad, thereby violating diplomatic agreements. One of the CIA’s most favored book publishers in the 1950s-1960s was Frederick A. Praeger Inc. Praeger, president of the company, attests that in the late 1950s the Agency financially backed “’fifteen or sixteen’” Praeger titles.

When knowledge of this arrangement became public Mr. Praeger met with the press to “’put the matter in perspective,’” arguing that the number of books published under CIA auspices was less than one percent of the overall catalog of titles published during the specified time. Although Praeger maintained that the CIA-sponsored books “’were developed according to the standards that we apply to all our books,’” he left unmentioned whether less obvious selection methods might be in play.

In the 1970s E. Howard Hunt informed the Senate Intelligence Committee “that CIA-sponsored books directed at Communist China ‘had to circulate in the United States because Praeger was a commercial US publisher … and we had a bilateral agreement with the British that we wouldn’t propagandize their people.’ This seemed to be showing a lot of admirable consideration for the British,” author Garwood notes, “but none at all for Americans.”

Darrell Garwood, Under Cover: Thirty-Five Years of CIA Deception, New York: Grove Press, 1985, 259, 260.

 

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #60

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.

Since the 1950s the CIA has exerted a powerful influence over the book publishing industry, sometimes petitioning the heads of major publishing houses to submit manuscripts to Agency officers for review or requesting that titles be withheld from circulation altogether. When a book publisher so compromised acquires a politically volatile or otherwise “troublesome” title it may embark on a process recognized in the industry as “privishing.”

Because of certain publishing houses spurning Agency concerns on, for example, Wise and Ross’ The Invisible Government (1964) and Alfred McCoy’s The Politics of Heroin (1972), these books saw the light of day. On the other hand, the much more recent English translation of German journalist Udo Ulkotte’s 2014 Gekaufte Journalisten (Bought Journalists), appears to have been “privished” by publishing house Taylen Lane. To date there is no accurate estimate of exactly how many such works in the US and overseas may have been subject to CIA interference.

“Privishing is a portmanteau meaning to privately publish, as opposed to true publishing that is open to the public,” writes investigative journalist Gerard Colby. It is usually employed in the following context: “We privished the book so that it sank without a trace.” The mechanism used is simple: cut off the book’s life-support system by reducing the initial print run so that the book “cannot price profitably according to any conceivable formula,” refuse to do reprints, drastically slash the book’s advertising budget, and all but cancel the promotional tour.” The publisher’s goal is to eliminate a book that has the potential to attract controversy. “This widespread activity,” Colby continues, “must be done secretly because it constitutes a breach of contract which, if revealed, could subject the publisher to legal liability.” This is because the publisher’s typical obligation for exclusive rights to a title involves printing and successfully promoting the work in its anticipated market.

Gerard Colby, “The Price of Liberty,” in Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press, Kristina Borjesson, ed., Amherst NY: Prometheus Books, 2002, 15-16.

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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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