CIA & the Media
Here's just a snippet from Carl Bernstein's famous 1977 article entitled
"The CIA & The Media" from Rolling Stone, 10/20/77. Anyone with access to
a library should try to find this - it's a truly breakthrough piece - 16
pages long in the reprint!
In 1953, Joseph Alsop, then one of America's leading syndicated
columnists, went to the Philippines to cover an election. He did not go
because he was asked to do so by his syndicate. He did not go because he
was asked to do so by the newspapers that printed his column. He went at
the request of the CIA.
Alsop is one of more than 400 American journalists who in the past 25
years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence
Agency according to documents on file at CIA headquarters. Some of these
journalists' relationships with the Agency were tacit; some were
explicit. There was cooperation, accommodation and overlap. Journalists
provided a full range of clandestine services -- from simple
intelligence-gathering to serving as go-betweens with spies in Communist
countries. Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared
their staffs. Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners,
distinguished reporters who considered themselves ambassadors without
portfolio for their country. Most were less exalted: foreign
correspondents who found that their association with the Agency helped
their work; stringers and freelancers who were as interested in the
derring-do of the spy business as in filing articles; and, the smallest
category, full-time CIA employees masquerading as journalists abroad. In
many instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to perform
tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America's
leading news organizations.
The history of the CIA's involvement with the American press continues to
be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception for the
following principal reasons:
- The use of journalists has been among the most productive means
of intelligence-gathering employed by the CIA. Although the agency has
cut back sharply on the use of reporters since 1973 (primarily as a
result of pressure from the media), some journalists are still posted abroad.
- Further investigation into the matter, CIA officials say, would
inevitably reveal a series of embarrassing relationships in the 1950's
and 1960's with some of the most powerful organizations and individuals
in American journalism.
Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were William
Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Henry Luce of Time Inc.,
Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the
Louisville Courier-Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Services.
Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American
Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated
Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers,
Scripps-Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the
Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald-Tribune.
By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA
officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc.
Appropriately, the CIA uses the term 'reporting' to describe much of what
cooperating journalists did for the Agency. "We would ask them, 'Will you
do us a favor?'" said a senior CIA official. "'We understand you're going
to be in Yugoslavia. Have they paved all the streets? Where did you see
planes? Were there any signs of military presence? How many Soviets did
you see? If you happen to meet a Soviet, get his name and spell it
right....Can you set up a meeting for us? Or arrange a message?'" Many
CIA officials regarded these helpful journalists as operatives: the
journalists tended to see themselves as trusted friends of the Agency who
performed occasional favors -- usually without pay -- in the national
Two of the Agency's most valuable relationships in the 1960's, according
to CIA officials, were with reporters who covered Latin America -- Jerry
O'Leary of the Washington Star and Hal Hendrix of Miami News, a Pulitzer
Prize winner who became a high official of the International Telephone and
Telegraph Corporation. Hendrix was extremely helpful to the Agency in
providing information about individuals in Miami's Cuban exile community.
Like I said - a great article!
A note about Hendrix - he was the one who Seth Kantor, reporting on the
JFK assassination, was told to call for 'background' on Oswald after
Oswald's arrest. Hendrix, from Miami, had all the info on Oswald's
pro-Castro leafleting activities in New Orleans, details about Oswald's
defection to the Soviet Union, etc.
Only years later did Kantor realize the significance of a guy like
Hendrix, CIA, having so much info on Oswald so soon after the assassination.