So I'm sitting with friends yesterday, sipping coffee and eating breakfast, at a local cafe. It's a Saturday morning ritual attended by a select few from the neighborhood who form our inner circle. Coincidentally, they had all just finished reading my book, and the questions flew at me fast and furious. I took them one at a time and wound up going on at length about the CIA's subversion of the free press in America after World War II. My friends could not grasp the concept of mainstream media spouting CIA/military-industrial propaganda. They could not wrap their heads around the fact that the press, TV, publishers, and radio airwaves have been complicit in covering up the truth about the real history of this country, circa 1945 until...well...even today. Like children who had just been told there was no Santa, these friends scoffed at the notion. I laughed heartily, and then I figuratively held their hands and took them on a truncated journey through the labyrinth. I began with a quote from Jim Garrison, the brave soul who was reviled and character-assassinated for daring to take the CIA into court for the JFK murder: "In a very real and terrifying sense, our Government is the CIA and the Pentagon, with Congress reduced to a debating society. Of course, you can't spot this trend to fascism by casually looking around. You can't look for such familiar signs as the swastika, because they won't be there. We won't build Dachaus and Auschwitzes; the clever manipulation of the mass media is creating a concentration camp of the mind that promises to be far more effective in keeping the populace in line."
Then I gave them a history lesson. James Forrestal, Defense Secretary under Truman in 1948, implored the president to grant the CIA unlimited power to control or suppress freedoms in foreign lands. Truman, against his better judgment, relented because he was promised that this would reduce the possbility of communist takeovers and, thus, help avoid another world war. The CIA, of course, had no intention of only controlling information abroad. It created Operation Mockingbird to control the media at home. It was dreamed up by Allen Dulles and Frank Wisner, whose intention was to influence, through coercion, threat, blackmail, recruitment, or any other means, all branches of the American media. Wisner recruited Phillip Graham of the Washington Post to be his point man inside the newspaper industry. Graham, proud to do his patriotic duty, recruited journalists who had worked for military intelligence during the war--Russell Wiggins, C.D. Jackson, John Hayes, Alan Barth, and James Tritt. Eventually, Stewart and Joseph Alsop, the Luces (Henry and Clare Boothe) of Time/Life/Newsweek, Bill Paley of CBS, and A.H. Sulzberger of the New York Times joined the operation. Under no circumstances would these people investigate, print, or broadcast negative stories connected with the CIA. This despite the fact that the CIA was overthrowing duly elected leaders, both foreign and domestic; was drugging, brainwashing, and torturing its own unsuspecting citizens (MK-ULTRA); importing, protecting, and providing jobs to ex-Nazis (Operation Paperclip) who should have been tried and hanged at Nuremberg for war crimes; acting as procurement agents for large Wall Street interests; funding and training secret militias for right-wing paramilitary operations; and many more secret atrocities. The press and TV, instead, ran cute, fluffy stories about Ike's golf scores and LBJ's hounds. The only reason they turned on Joe McCarthy is because McCarthy tried to bring down one of their own--Cord Meyer. Meyer posed as a leftist so that he could infiltrate left-wing organizations and report on them to the CIA. McCarthy, a drunken, bilious mouthpiece for the right, was unaware of the line he had crossed...and so he became dispensable.
At this point my audience looked dazed and incredulous. So I wrapped it up with Wisner's own words: "I can play America like a grand Wurlitzer organ. The people will follow along with any tune I wish to play"; and I gave them a list of books to do their own research.
Next Saturday? More questions, I'm sure.