“AStudent Group Concedes It Took Funds from C.I.A.”
That was the front page headline of the Feb. 14, 1967, edition of the New York Times. The article was one in a slew of articles published at the time in relation to something called Operation Mockingbird.
What was Operation Mockingbird?
It was an alleged large-scale project undertaken by the CIA beginning in the 1950s in which they recruited American journalists into a propaganda network. The recruited journalists were put on a payroll by the CIA and instructed to write fake stories that promoted the views of the intelligence agency. Student cultural organizations and magazines were allegedly funded as fronts for this operation.
Operation Mockingbird expanded later on in order to influence foreign media as well.
Frank Wisner, the director of the espionage and counter-intelligence branch, spearheaded the organization and was told to concentrate on “propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world.”
Journalists were reportedly blackmailed and threatened into this network.