Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mocking America

McTell News
Regular readers know that Dredd Blog has expressed many concerns about government propaganda in various posts (e.g. The Ways of Bernays, Exceptional American Propaganda Inspired NAZI Goebbels, Propagandizing For Our Lords, This Is Your Brain On Propaganda - 4).

We have also recently discussed some of the results of propaganda.

For one example, consider the many years of the public believing myths about various U.S. wars (On The Origin of The Bully Religion - 2).

In the more distant past we began a series that looked into the mental damage propaganda-deceit has had upon the citizenry (Etiology of Social Dementia, Sept. 2009, through Etiology of Social Dementia - 8, Dec. 2012).

In today's post we will take a look at how it happens, beginning with a CIA project called Operation Mockingbird:
Later that year [1948] Wisner established Mockingbird, a program to influence the domestic American media. Wisner recruited Philip Graham (Washington Post) to run the project within the industry. Graham himself recruited others who had worked for military intelligence during the war. This included James Truitt, Russell Wiggins, Phil Geyelin, John Hayes and Alan Barth. Others like Stewart Alsop, Joseph Alsop and James Reston, were recruited from within the Georgetown Set. According to Deborah Davis (Katharine the Great): "By the early 1950s, Wisner 'owned' respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and other communications vehicles."

In 1951 Allen W. Dulles persuaded Cord Meyer to join the CIA. However, there is evidence that he was recruited several years earlier and had been spying on the liberal organizations he had been a member of in the later 1940s. According to Deborah Davis, Meyer became Mockingbird's "principal operative".

One of the most important journalists under the control of Operation Mockingbird was Joseph Alsop, whose articles appeared in over 300 different newspapers. Other journalists willing to promote the views of the CIA included Stewart Alsop (New York Herald Tribune), Ben Bradlee (Newsweek), James Reston (New York Times), C. D. Jackson (Time Magazine), Walter Pincus (Washington Post), Walter Winchell (New York Daily Mirror), Drew Pearson, Walter Lippmann, William Allen White, Edgar Ansel Mowrer (Chicago Daily News), Hal Hendrix (Miami News), Whitelaw Reid (New York Herald Tribune), Jerry O'Leary (Washington Star), William C. Baggs (Miami News), Herb Gold (Miami News) and Charles L. Bartlett (Chattanooga Times). According to Nina Burleigh (A Very Private Woman) these journalists sometimes wrote articles that were commissioned by Frank Wisner. The CIA also provided them with classified information to help them with their work.

After 1953 the network was overseen by Allen W. Dulles, director of the Central Intelligence Agency. By this time Operation Mockingbird had a major influence over 25 newspapers and wire agencies. These organizations were run by people such as William Paley (CBS), Henry Luce (Time Magazine and Life Magazine), Arthur Hays Sulzberger (New York Times), Helen Rogers Reid (New York Herald Tribune), Dorothy Schiff (New York Post), Alfred Friendly (managing editor of the Washington Post), Barry Bingham (Louisville Courier-Journal) and James S. Copley (Copley News Services).
(Operation Mockingbird, emphasis added). The "free press" became a tool for government propaganda, and that situation continues down to the present time:
The Bush administration turned the U.S. military into a global propaganda machine while imposing tough restrictions on journalists seeking to give the public truthful reports about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Associated Press chief executive Tom Curley said Friday.

Curley, speaking to journalists at the University of Kansas, said the news industry must immediately negotiate a new set of rules for covering war because "we are the only force out there to keep the government in check and to hold it accountable."
(Warrior's Press For Propaganda). But the propaganda engine did not end with the military, that is just who paid for it:
But far from being the heartfelt opinion of an Iraqi writer, as its language implied, the article was prepared by the United States military as part of a multimillion-dollar covert campaign to plant paid propaganda in the Iraqi news media and pay friendly Iraqi journalists monthly stipends, military contractors and officials said.

The article was one of several in a storyboard, the military's term for a list of articles, that was delivered Tuesday to the Lincoln Group, a Washington-based public relations firm paid by the Pentagon, documents from the Pentagon show. The contractor's job is to translate the articles into Arabic and submit them to Iraqi newspapers or advertising agencies without revealing the Pentagon's role. 
(NY Times, emphasis added). The embedded journalism was not limited to the Iraqi press, it affected U.S. news reporting as well.

The govenment still actively tries to control journalism directly and/or indirectly:
US news organisations are facing accusations of complicity after it emerged that they bowed to pressure from the Obama administration not to disclose the existence of a secret drone base in Saudi Arabia despite knowing about it for a year.
(US newspapers accused, complicity with government, drone base). This is just the tip of the iceberg of government propaganda efforts that are ongoing constantly in the U.S. and around the world.

The next post in this series is here.

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