Tag Archives: Washington Post

Bob Woodward: The Story He Won’t Tell

Editor’s Note: Tis the preseason of the 2018 midterms. This past week saw the release of Bob Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House to much fanfare from the corporate “news” media. Unsurprisingly, Trump administration officials argued that Woodward’s work included made up quotes wrongly attributed to them.

Long ago Woodward and his Washington Post cohort Carl Bernstein’s “breaking” of Watergate reached mythic status in US journalism and political history. Yet myth is usually divorced from fact, and for a reason. When one of the principal figures in this storied saga has long-established ties to the political establishment and intelligence community, as the article below by investigative writer Russ Baker demonstrates, the myth is intended to reinforce a specific agenda, in this case the taken-for-granted suggestion that Woodward is a disinterested writer and the paragon of integrity. 

Is America’s favorite investigative reporter a government operative? Political commentator Russ Baker offers intriguing evidence!

By Russ Baker
(HUSTLER MAGAZINE July 2011)

Woodward at the LBJ Library in 2016. Image Credit: Wikipedia

In June 2009,Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward traveled to Afghanistan with General Jim Jones, then President Obama’s National Security Advisor, to meet with General Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of forces there. Why did Jones allow this journalist to accompany him? Because he knew that Woodward could be counted on to deliver the company line—the military line. In fact, Jones was essentially Woodward’s patron.

The New Republic’s Gabriel Sherman pointed out that when Sally Quinn and Ben Bradlee hosted a 50th-birthday party for Woodward’s wife, reporter Elsa Walsh,“Jones was a guest of Woodward. ”According to Sherman, one attendee told him, “Woodward and Elsa were glued to Jones at the cocktail party before the dinner started.”

In September 2009, McChrystal (or someone close to him) leaked a document to Woodward that essentially forced Obama’s hand. The President wanted time to consider all options on what to do about Afghanistan. But the leak, publicizing the military’s “confidential” assertion that a troop increase was essential, cast the die, and Obama had to go along. Nobody was happier than the Pentagon—and, it should be said, its allies in the vast military-contracting establishment.

Continue reading Bob Woodward: The Story He Won’t Tell

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #90

An early edition of the December 22, 1963  Washington Post carried an editorial by former US President Harry S. Truman, titled, “U.S. Should Hold CIA to Intelligence Role.” Echoing President Kennedy’s ambivalence toward the CIA, Truman cautioned the American people that the Agency needed to be confined to its intelligence-gathering role and restricted from wanton forms of espionage.

President Harry S. Truman. Image Credit: WIkipedia

“For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment,” Truman wrote.

It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and many have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas. We have grown up as a nation, respected for our free institutions and for our ability to maintain a free and open society. There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel we need to correct it.

JFK assassination researcher Ray Marcus recognized the publication’s significance and questioned why Truman’s observations, appearing exactly one month after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, failed to reverberate through the US body politic.

“According to my information,” Marcus explains, “it was not carried in later [Washington Post] editions that day, nor commented on editorially, nor picked up by any other major newspaper, nor mentioned on any national radio or TV broadcast.”

Truman’s observations are likewise entirely omitted from several critically acclaimed presidential biographies. “I have no reason to believe the authors were aware of it,” notes Marcus.

Can this be accidental? Can editors of all major newspapers, magazines, and news broadcasts have really been unaware of its existence? Can such individuals looking at the Truman article really have thought, no, this is of insufficient importance or interest to reprint, editorialize on, or even mention? Such an idea seems preposterously naïve. It is much more probable that the article was consciously suppressed by deliberate inattention, at decisive points of intervention. The pertinent question is—why?

“The Work of Ray Marcus,” Appendix VIII, in E. Martin Schotz, History Will Not Absolve Us: Orwellian Control, Public Denial, and the Murder of President Kennedy, Brookline MA: Kurtz, Ulmer and DeLucia Book Publishers, 1996, 237-238.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #84

Months after investigative journalist Gary Webb’s exposé “Dark Alliance” on CIA involvement in the illicit drug trade was published online by the San Jose Mercury News (August 1996) Webb’s work was judged as “’irresponsible’” by an array of newspapers, including the CIA-linked Washington Post.

“The series was now described frequently as ‘discredited,’” Webb wrote in the early 2000s, “even though nothing had surfaced showing that any of the facts were incorrect.” In fact, a two-year internal investigation into the allegations encompassed in “Dark Alliance” by the CIA and Justice Department found that Webb’s reporting was fittingly circumspect. “The CIA’s knowledge and involvement had been far greater than I’d ever imagined,” notes Webb.

The drug ring was even bigger than I had portrayed. The involvement between the CIA agents running the Contras and the drug traffickers was closer than I had written … The CIA also admitted having direct involvement with about four dozen other drug traffickers or their companies, and that this too had been known and effectively condoned by the CIA’s top brass.

Notwithstanding the magnitude of these admissions that might have resulted in Webb’s exoneration, they were downplayed by major news outlets as “having uncovered no formal evidence of CIA involvement in drug trafficking and no evidence of a conspiracy to send crack to black neighborhoods.” These were claims Webb had never made in the first place.

Gary Webb, “The Mighty Wurlitzer Plays On,” in Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press, Kristina Borjesson (ed.) Amherst NY: Prometheus, 2002, 305-308.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #83

Newspaper publisher and venture capitalist John Hay Whitney. Image Credit: Alchetron.com

Among the most extensively distributed of CIA‐owned or subsidized news services within the United States was Forum World Features, established in 1958 as Forum Information Service, with headquarters in London. Through most of its existence Forum was apparently owned by New York Herald Tribune publisher and pioneer venture capitalist John Hay Whitney.

“According to several C.I.A. sources, Mr. Whitney was ‘witting’ of the agency’s true role,” a 1977 New York Times article series documents. “Though the C.I.A. has insisted that it never attempted directly to place its propaganda in the American press, at one time Forum World Features had 30 domestic newspapers among its clients, including The Washington Post.”

The selling of Forum content to The Post “and other American newspapers, one C.I.A. official said, ‘put us in a hell of a dilemma,’ The sales, he went on, were considered necessary to preserve the organization’s cover, and they occasioned a continuing and somewhat frantic effort to insure that the domestic clients were given only legitimate news stories.”

Worldwide Propaganda Network Built By the CIA,” New York Times, December 26, 1977.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #76

Phillip and Katharine Graham, circa 1953

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.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #70

Katharine Graham. Image Credit: Wikipedia

“‘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.”

Norman Solomon, “The Real Story Behind Katharine Graham and The Post,Free Press, December 20, 2017.

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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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