PERSONAL HARASSMENT AND ADMINISTRATION CENSORSHIP
TOP UNDER-REPORTED NEWS STORIES OF 1986
ROHNERT PARK -- The official harassment of U.S. citizens
opposed to the Reagan administration's Central America policies topped
the list of 25 overlooked news stories of 1986 according to a national
panel of media experts.
The second most undercovered story of the year, cited by
Project Censored, warned of the growth of information control in the
United States including censorship, disinformation, and a new, broader
Now in its 11th year, Project Censored, a national media
research effort conducted annually at Sonoma State University,
California, locates stories about significant issues which are not
widely publicized by the national news media.
Following are the top ten under-reported news stories of 1986
as announced by project director Carl Jensen, professor of
communication studies at Sonoma State University:
1. Criticizing Central America Policies Can Be Dangerous.
Political opponents of the Reagan administration's Central America
policies were the targets of mysterious break-ins, Internal Revenue
Service audits, and FBI surveillance and interrogation. Congressman
Don Edwards (D-CA), a former FBI
agent, warned that the administration may be "using the various
independent agencies of the United States government for their
2. Official Information Control . The American Library
Association documented Reagan administration efforts to eliminate,
restrict, and privatize government documents; in 1986 the government
officially launched a new "disinformation" program which permits it to
release deliberately false, incomplete, and misleading information; it
also developed a new category of "sensitive information" which
restricts public access to a broad range of previously unclassified
3. Personal Privacy Lost. In 1986 the FBI was given
extra- ordinary powers to look into private financial and telephonic
files of American citizens "suspected of being in the employ of a
foreign power." The Intelligence Authorization Bill also permits the
FBI to share such information with any other government agency, such
as the IRS, which has a relevant interest in it.
4. CIA Paid for Pro Contra Media Coverage. Edgar
Chamorro, former head of contra communications in Central America,
testified that "approximately 15 Honduran journalists and broadcasters
were on the CIA payroll" and that contra influence extended to every
major Honduran newspaper and television station. Carlos Morales, a
Costa Rican professor of journalism, reported that at least eight
Costa Rican journalists, including three "top editors," received
monthly payments from the CIA.
5. President Reagan and the World Anti-Communist League.
According to investigators, the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), an
international right-wing group, is so extreme that the John Birch
Society has shunned it and advises its members to do likewise. Yet
President Reagan sent its U.S. leader, retired U.S. Major General John
Singlaub, a letter congratulating the WACL on its "leadership role"
and "best wishes for every future success."
6. Nerve Gas Production in Residential Areas. Although
the military has been under orders from Congress since 1984 to dispose
of nerve gases by 1994, nerve gases are currently being manufactured
and tested in 46 U.S. communities, in 26 states across the country,
usually without the knowledge of the local residents.
7. Contragate: The Untold Story. Affidavits submitted in
a $17 million lawsuit filed last year by the Christic Institute reveal
that for a quarter of a century, a secret team of official and retired
U.S. military and CIA officials has trafficked in drugs, assassinated
political enemies, stolen from the U.S. government, armed terrorists,
and subverted the will of Congress and the public with hundreds of
millions of drug dollars at their disposal. Defendants in the suit
include retired Major Generals Richard Secord and John Singlaub, and
businessman Albert Hakim.
8. Federal Radiation Tests on Americans. Human radiation
tests, reminiscent of the heinous experiments conducted by the Nazis
and Japanese during World War II, were conducted from the mid-1940's
until the 1970's by official U.S. federal agencies and prestigious
academic and medical institutions; they were revealed last October.
9. Veterans' Administration Destroys Evidence. In August,
1986, the Veterans' Administration was caught shredding thousands of
case records of contested radiation injury claims filed by military
personnel who had been exposed to nuclear radiation since the 1940's.
10. The Lethal Shuttle: Plutonium Payload Scheduled. The
space shuttle scheduled to follow the tragic Challenger launch last
year would have carried 46.7 pounds of toxic plutonium-238. A leading
scientist warned that the plutonium, if dispersed in fine pieces by an
exlosion, would release more plutonium radioactivity than the combined
fallout from all nuclear weapons tests of the U.S., the Soviet Union,
and the United Kingdom. Despite the global risks involved, NASA plans
to go ahead with plutonium-fueled space probes when shuttle missions
The other 15 under-reported stories of 1986 were: The Unknown
War in West Papua, The Forgotten War in El Salvador, Senator Jesse
Helms' Military Coup in Argentina, US Air Force Toxic Waste Scandal In
Oklahoma City, Leonard Peltier: America's Unknown Political Prisoner,
Marion Prison: The Longest Continual Lockdown in U.S. Prison History,
The Mighty Oak Nuclear Test Accident Cover-up, The Unheralded
Breakthrough in Animal Cloning, Feldene: The Deadly Anti-inflammatory
Drug, The State of California and Bank of America Conspiracy to Hide a
Discrimination Suit Settlement, The Ku Klux Klan Connection in the
Murders of Black Children In Atlanta, The Plowshares Movement:
Americans Jailed for Obeying International Law, CIA Corrupts Academic
Community Again, An Immigration Law to Prevent Foreign Performers from
Playing in the U.S., George Bush Applies Political Pressure for
Friend's Hydroelectric Project.
PROJECT CENSORED JUDGES
The panel of jurors who selected the top ten stories were:
Dr. Donna Allen, editor and publisher of MEDIA REPORT TO WOMEN; Ben
Bagdikian, Dean, Graduate School of Journalism, University of
California, Berkeley; Noam Chomsky, professor, Linguistics and
Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and writer on
contemporary affairs; Dr. Everette E. Dennis, Executive Director,
Gannett Center for Media Studies, Columbia University; Dr. George
Gerbner, Dean, Annenberg School of Communications, University of
Pennsylvania; Charlayne Hunter-Gault, national correspondent,
MacNEIL/LEHRER NEWSHOUR; Nicholas Johnson, public lecturer, nationally
syndicated columnist and professor of law; Charles L. Klotzer, editor
and publisher, THE ST. LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW; Brad Knickerbocker,
national news editor, THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR; Jessica Mitford,
writer and lecturer; Dr. Jack L. Nelson, Dean, School of Education,
San Jose State University, California; Dr. Herbert I. Schiller,
Professor of Communication, University of California, San Diego.
Sonoma State University student researchers participating in
the nationwide research effort were Peggy Sue Alberhasky, Sarah
Alcorn, Larry Crowell, Daren Decker, Dave Hoffman, Mike Jasper, Karen
Kitchens, Tom Montan, Laura Moore, Nancy Neilson, Bebe O'Brien, and
Bruce Schwank. Kathy Wolff, a project researcher in 1986, was
assistant project director.
Dr. Jensen, who originated the media research project in 1976,
said "The most serious warning in this year's results is the
administration's systematic assault on our free flow of information.
The American Library Association has published a 33-page document
which lists page after page of specific efforts by the Reagan
administration to restrict government information. Recently, the
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press issued a summary of
actions by the Reagan administration to restrict public and media
access to government information which includes 135 such actions. The
Reagan administration's efforts at information control are serious and
deserve as least as much media attention as that given the peccadillos
of Gary Hart and Jim Bakker."
Anyone interested in nominating a 1987 story for next year's project
can send a copy of the story to Carl Jensen, Project Censored, Sonoma
State University, Rohnert Park, CA 94928.
-- SSU --
(EDITOR'S NOTE: SIDEBAR STORY FOLLOWS)
INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS AND MEDIA
CITED FOR EXPOSING "CENSORED" STORIES
Following are the investigative journalists and media cited by
Project Censored for exploring the top ten issues overlooked or under-
reported by the national news media in 1986:
1. Criticizing Central America Policies -- KRON-TV Target
4, San Francisco, 2/18-20/87, Sylvia Chase, Jonathan Dann; Center for
Investigative Reporting, Angus Mackenzie.
2. Official Information Control -- American Library
Association, Washington Office, "Less Access to Less Information By
and About the U.S. Government: 2," 12/86, by Anne A. Heanue.
3. Personal Privacy Lost -- THE NATIONAL REPORTER,
Fall/Winter 1986, "News Not In The News: Reach Out and Crush Someone,"
by Don Goldberg.
4. CIA Paid For Pro Contra Media Coverage -- COLUMBIA
JOURNALISM REVIEW, March/April 1987, "Contra coverage -- paid for by
the CIA," by Martha Honey.
5. The World Anti-Communist League -- INSIDE THE LEAGUE,
Dodd, Mead, 1986, by Scott and Jon Lee Anderson, reprinted in ST.
LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW; BRIARPATCH, November, 1986, "In League with
The Devil: The World Anti-Communist League," by George Martin Manz;
UTNE READER, August 1986, "Moonies, Loonies, and Ronnie," by Eric
6. Nerve Gas Production in Residential Areas -- RECON,
Winter 1987, "Nerve Gas in Residential Areas," by Chris Robinson.
7. Contragate: The Untold Story -- THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY
GUARDIAN, 12/3/86+, "Contragate: The Costa Rica Connection," by
8. Radiation Tests -- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 10/24/86,
"Volunteers Around U.S. Submitted to Radiation," p A20.
9. Veterans' Administration Destroys Evidence -- VVA
VETERAN, November 1986, "Scandal Hints Plague VA," and January 1987,
"The Scandal Deepens," by Mark Perry.
10. The Lethal Shuttle -- Plutonium Payload -- THE NATION,
2/22/86, "The Lethal Shuttle," and 3/15/86, "Plutonium Cover-up?;"
COMMON CAUSE, July/August 1986, "Red Tape and Radioactivity," all by
-- SSU --