In 1988 Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, the central character in Steven Spielberg’s 2017 film, The Post, declared to CIA staffers during a speech at the organization’s Langley Virginia headquarters that government agencies should employ the doctrine of prior restraint whenever they deem it necessary and appropriate.
We live in a dirty and dangerous world. There are some things the general public does not need to know. 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.
Steven L. Vaughn, Encyclopedia of American Journalism, New York: Routledge, 2008, 201. Cited in Janney, Mary’s Mosaic, New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2013, 269.
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.”