“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.
“If you go and Google, and I hope your viewers do, Operation Mockingbird, what you will find is that during the Cold War these agencies used to plot how to clandestinely manipulate the news media to disseminate propaganda to the American population,” Greenwald said. “They used to try to do it secretly. They don’t even do it secretly anymore. They don’t need Operation Mockingbird. They literally put John Brennan who works for NBC and James Clapper who works for CNN and tons of FBI agents right on the payroll of these news organizations. They now shape the news openly to manipulate and to deceive the American population.”
In 1977 Carl Bernstein published an article titled “The CIA and the Media” reporting that the CIA had covertly infiltrated America’s most influential news outlets and had over 400 reporters who it considered assets in a program known as Operation Mockingbird. It was a major scandal, and rightly so. The news media are meant to report truthfully about what happens in the world, not manipulate public perception to suit the agendas of spooks and warmongers.
Nowadays the CIA collaboration happens right out in the open, and the public is too brainwashed and gaslit to even recognize this as scandalous. Immensely influential outlets like The New York Times uncritically pass on CIA disinfo which is then spun as fact by cable news pundits. The sole owner of The Washington Post is a CIA contractor, and WaPo has never once disclosed this conflict of interest when reporting on US intelligence agencies per standard journalistic protocol. Mass media outlets now openly employ intelligence agency veterans like John Brennan, James Clapper, Chuck Rosenberg, Michael Hayden, Frank Figliuzzi, Fran Townsend, Stephen Hall, Samantha Vinograd, Andrew McCabe, Josh Campbell, Asha Rangappa, Phil Mudd, James Gagliano, Jeremy Bash, Susan Hennessey, Ned Price and Rick Francona, as are known CIA assets like NBC’s Ken Dilanian, as are CIA interns like Anderson Cooper and CIA applicants like Tucker Carlson.
They’re just rubbing it in our faces now. Like they’re showing off.
Reporters joke that the easiest job in Washington is CIA spokesman. You need only listen carefully to questions, say, “No comment,” and head to happy hour. The joke, however, is on us. The reporters pretend to see only one side of the CIA, the passive hiding of information. They meanwhile profit from the other side of the equation, active information operations designed to influence events in America. It is 2021 and the CIA is running an op against the American people.
Leon Panetta, once director of CIA, explained bluntly that the agency influenced foreign media outlets ahead of elections in order to “change attitudes within the country.” The method was to “acquire media within a country or within a region that could very well be used for being able to deliver a specific message or work to influence those that may own elements of the media to be able to cooperate, work with you in delivering that message.” The CIA has been running such ops to influence foreign elections continuously since the end of WWII.
A more effective strategy is to become a source for legitimate media such that your (dis)information inherits their credibility. Most effective is when one CIA plant is the initial source while a second CIA plant acts seemingly independently as a confirming source. You can push information to the mainstream media, who can then “independently” confirm it, sometimes unknowingly, through your secondary agents. You can basically write tomorrow’s headlines.
Other techniques include exclusive true information mixed with disinformation to establish credibility, using official sources like embassy spokesmen “inadvertently” confirm sub details, and covert funding of research and side gigs to promote academics and experts who can discredit counter-narratives.
From the end of WWII to the Church Committee in 1976, this was all dismissed as a conspiracy theory. Of course the U.S. would not use the CIA to influence elections, especially in fellow democracies. Except it did. Real-time reporting on intelligence is by nature based on limited information, albeit marked with the unambiguous fingerprints of established tradecraft. Always give time a chance to explain.
Through Operation Mockingbird the CIA ran over 400 American journalists as direct assets. Almost none have ever discussed their work publicly. Journalists performed these tasks for the CIA with the consent of America’s leading news organizations. The New York Times alone willingly provided cover for ten CIA officers over decades and kept quiet about it.
While information warfare and psychological operations are nothing new, they have become much more noticeable in recent years, especially as hordes of “wrongthinking” individuals, groups and independent news outlets are aggressively silenced on social and other forms of media.
Even licensed medical doctors and scientists are being silenced by the CIA
Kennedy himself has incurred a barrage of censorship and harassment over the years, as has his family – all for saying and doing things of which the CIA disapproves.
Telling the truth is simply not an option when the CIA requires total obedience and congruency to the narrative at all times. The only way the propaganda works, after all, is if it is the only thing people hear with no contradictions.
Back in the good old days, when things were more innocent and simple, the psychopathic Central Intelligence Agency had to covertly infiltrate the news media to manipulate the information Americans were consuming about their nation and the world. Nowadays, there is no meaningful separation between the news media and the CIA at all.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald just highlighted an interesting point about the reporting by The New York Times on the so-called “Bountygate” story the outlet broke in June of last year about the Russian government trying to pay Taliban-linked fighters to attack US soldiers in Afghanistan.
“One of the NYT reporters who originally broke the Russia bounty story (originally attributed to unnamed ‘intelligence officials’) say today that it was a CIA claim,” Greenwald tweeted. “So media outlets – again – repeated CIA stories with no questioning: congrats to all.”
Indeed, NYT’s original story made no mention of CIA involvement in the narrative, citing only “officials,” yet this latest article speaks as though it had been informing its readers of the story’s roots in the lying, torturing, drug-running, warmongering Central Intelligence Agency from the very beginning. The author even writes “The New York Times first reported last summer the existence of the C.I.A.’s assessment,” with the hyperlink leading to the initial article which made no mention of the CIA. It wasn’t until later that The New York Times began reporting that the CIA was looking into the Russian bounties allegations at all.