May 21, 2021
Key Facts & Summary
Operation Mockingbird is the CIA’s involvement in the manipulation of the news published in the United States and around the world. Today, one can identify such manipulation in mainstream ’fake news’
Operation Mockingbird commonly refers to the CIA’s involvement in journalism during the 1970s
To gain journalistic loyalty, the CIA relied on greed and extortion.
They bribed students and established journalists to report manipulated versions of current events
Senator Frank Church established the Church Committee in order to investigate ‘government operations and potential abuses’
The CIA admitted their manipulation of mainstream media in order to change the American people’s mind and published the Family Jewels.
Documents declassified in 2007, however the program was never ’officially’ ended
The idea of a large organisation controlling the minds and thoughts of individuals is nothing new. Such tactics have been employed by governments across the globe for ventures.
For most Americans today, the notion of the “Deep State” pushing them towards a specific ideology and certain life choices, might seem like science fiction or an absurd conspiracy theory. But the reality is that the digitalization of mass media has centralized newspapers and magazines online and made it even easier for rogue officials to control the narrative. With Google controlling (more on that in the coming days) 91% of the US search engine market, it is the ultimate gateway to media dominance.
For many insiders, it is certainly not a surprising revelation that government, large corporations and politicians STILL manipulate public opinion in order to fit certain agendas. These, are in their turn manipulated by even bigger and more powerful organisations, such as the government itself.
What was originally known as Project Mockingbird in the 1950’s is still in operation today, but it is no longer on paper where it can be discovered through the freedom of information act (FOIA). The project’s intent was to infiltrate and control all media that every American consumes. Today, it reaches beyond the CIA and now involves rogue factions within multiple agencies whom some call the “Deep State;” A black-hat collective with tentacles that reach into every media, financial, tech, and government institution worldwide. Some historical context is provided by the following 1977 NY Times article.
“…I want to live over here in a country that I like without having to worry about getting a bomb through my window,” said one man, a former correspondent for ABC News who worked for the C.I.A. in the 1950’s.”
“…Carl Bernstein, the freelance investigative reporter, wrote in Rolling Stone magazine that some 400 American journalists had ‘secretly carried out assignments’ for the C.I.A. since the agency’s founding in 1947, in many cases with the knowledge and approval of top news executives.”
“…Several former intelligence officers pointed out that the C.I.A. itself does not know precisely, and probably can never know, how many American journalists have been on its payroll over the years. Agency files are widely scattered and incomplete, they say, and some of the arrangements made abroad may never have been recorded at C.I.A. headquarters.”
“…the three-month investigation by The Times found that at least 22 American news organizations had employed, though sometimes only on a casual basis, American journalists who were also working for the C.I.A….which range from some of the most influential in the nation to some of the most obscure, include ABC and CBS News, Time, Life and Newsweek magazines. The New York Times, The New York Herald Tribune, The Associated Press and United Press International…Also included were the Scripps-Howard chain of newspapers. The Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, The Louisville Courier-Journal and Fodor’s, a publisher of travel guides… College Press Service, Business International, the McLendon Broadcasting Organization, Film Daily” Let’s break this down.
Black Hat operatives dig whatever dirt they can find, sometimes within classified-sourced docs. Raw intelligence is then passed via secure channels to other Black Hat operatives for dissemination to clearing agencies. Data is then distributed to think tanks to be assembled into strategic products for specific purposes, then fed out for further distribution as necessary. Black Hats in the media receive the narratives from the think tanks and create action plans. Then these narratives are offered to designated media outlets/agents/journalists for publishing. They may also be offered to Hollywood voices such as late night talk show hosts to be pre-scripted for delivery once the story is ‘scooped’. Black Hat narratives are then delivered at a predetermined time and place.
The idea of the CIA controlling and manipulating civilians’ minds is not fiction: it is a conspiracy theory that turned out to be true during the 1970’s.
Following the Second World War, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was able to gain control over what was being published not only in the USA but more in general across the globe. It exerted much influence over what the public should be allowed to see, and what should be concealed. In essence, it ruled what ‘the public saw, heard and read on a regular basis’ (Tracy 2018).
Operation Mockingbird is a United States CIA campaign that aimed not only to influence the media but also infiltrate it.
Since the 1950s, the CIA started recruiting journalists, editors, and students in order to write and promulgate false stories. The CIA’s stories were entirely propaganda and their employees were paid huge salaries in order to promote such fake news. Essentially, the CIA managed to control both national and international newspapers through a bribe.
During the ‘50s, Cord Meyer and Allen W. Dulles devised and organised a propaganda outreach program. They recruited leading American journalists into a network in order to promulgate the CIA’s views.
The CIA went to the extremes of funding students, cultural organisations, and magazines that would spread the CIA’s views of events.
However, the suspicion that the CIA could manipulate public opinion arose between 1972-1974 due to the Watergate Scandal, which exposed President Nixon’s involvement in the war in Vietnam.
In fact, Nixon had adopted two strategies: whereas on the one side he was employing aggressive strategies in order to try and appease North Vietnam, on the other, he was trying to appease the protests in the U.S. by demonstrating through the press and the news that he was aiming to achieve a peace agreement and bring home the American troops. When the truth about Nixon’s Vietnamization was revealed, many started to question up to which point was the CIA enmeshed in the publishing of news and information (Slate 2018).
Moreover, during the Cold War, the CIA supported many prominent writers and artists such as Arthur Schlesinger and Jackson Pollock in their ‘propaganda war against the Soviet Union’ (Washington 2017).
In 1977, Carl Bernstein published The CIA and the Media in Rolling Stone. The article exposed much of the CIA’s attitude towards the spreading of fake news and it’s tacit’ as well as ‘explicit’ collaboration with journalists. Bernstein explains how journalists did not limit themselves to write what the CIA suggested: their relationship was much more complicated and intimate. In fact, reporters ‘shared their notebooks with the CIA’, some of the journalists were also award-winning writers, and others became spies in Communist countries (Bernstein 1977).
According to Dice (2016), more than a billion dollars were being invested each year in such propaganda programs. The CIA’s writers were generously retributed, and there were no limits on how much they could receive: sometimes they were paid more than half a million dollars to spread the information required by the CIA.
When the CIA was caught out in their wrongdoings, they did not reveal the newspapers and the names of the journalists with whom they had collaborated in the past (Harrock 1976).
However, in 1973, the Washington Star published the names of around three dozens of American journalists. According to the CIA, revealing the names of those who had worked with them, meant ‘endangering’ the writers’ and reporters’ lives, as well as making them appear in a ‘ridicule’ light (Harrock 1976).
Church Committee and actions to prevent the CIA’s involvement in the news
During the 1970s, the Church Committee was created by Senator Frank Church in order to investigate any ‘government operations and potential abuses’ carried out by the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, and the IRS (Goldfarb 2018). During an interview, Senator Church publicly claimed: ‘we have quite a lot of detailed information and we will evaluate it and we will include any evidence of wrongdoing or any evidence of impropriety in our final report, and we will make recommendation’.
In 1973, the CIA published Family Jewels, a book which exposes all the information that had been hidden and/or manipulated through the years. The book is around seven-hundred pages long.
Moreover, in the same year the Director of the CIA, William E. Colby stated that ‘CIA will undertake no activity in which there is a risk of influencing domestic public opinion, either directly or indirectly. The Agency will continue its prohibition against the placement of material in the American media. In certain instances, usually, where the initiative is on the part of the media, CIA will occasionally provide factual non-attributable briefings to various elements of the media, but only in cases where we are sure that the senior editorial staff is aware of the source of the information provided’ (Slate 2018; citing Colby).
In 1975, the CIA admitted their manipulation of mainstream media in order to forge and redirect the opinions of American citizens. They admitted that information was distorted in order to fit specific agendas.
Following a report published by the U.S. Congress in 1976: ‘The CIA currently maintains a network of several hundred foreign individuals around the world who provide intelligence for the CIA and at times attempt to influence opinion through the use of covert propaganda. These individuals provide the CIA with direct access to a large number of newspapers and periodicals, scores of press services and news agencies, radio and television stations, commercial book publishers, and other foreign media outlets’.
Although in 1975 George H.W. Bush publicly ended the CIA relations with the U.S. media, the CIA is still actively involved with foreign news organisations, which in turn, feed the United States media with information.
Bush established that ‘the CIA will not enter into any paid or contractual relationships with any full-time or part-time news correspondent accredited by any United States news service, newspaper, periodical, radio or television network or station’ (Slate 2018).
Although in 1976, Colby claimed that Central Intelligence had broken all relations and ties with journalists in 1973, this is hard to believe (Harrock 1976). Moreover, he also stated that he did not see any harm in purchasing information from ‘part-time correspondents who sell their information to news organisations in the country’ (Harrock 1976).
However, a general suspicion took over the Capitol City: all conservative journalists and former CIA employees that had rapidly achieved recognition within the news world were now regarded with mistrust (Harrock 1976).
The same year, Senator Church published in his report that the CIA had a strong network composed of ‘several hundred foreign individuals around the world’ that were dedicated to providing the Central Intelligence with misleading news (Slate 2018).
In fact, American journalist Scott Shane gives an account of his experience with the CIA: in 1979, he received their recruitment letter in which they ‘expressed “tentative interest” in [his] qualifications’ (Shane 2018). Shane declined the offer of collaborating with the CIA, and his file was placed in the ‘inactive section’ (Shane 201).
According to Bernstein (1977), the people that worked undercover for the CIA often were employed by the ‘CBS, Time, the New York Times, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Copley News Service, ABC, NBC, Reuters’, and so on. Moreover, throughout the 1950s, the CIA invested much money in training their agents as journalists:
according to members of the CIA, they ‘were taught to make noises like reporters’ before being placed in powerful organisations (Bernstein 1977).
In essence, mass media is able to implement manipulative strategies in order to alter ‘global perception’ about events, people, and situations (Washington 2017; citing Davis 2008). Certainly, it would be naive to believe that the government has stopped paying journalists ‘to spread disinformation’ (Washington 2017). The United States are often the first to spread information in order to serve their own objectives: as Washington (2017) points out, ‘the government plants disinformation in American media in order to mislead foreigners’.
[1.] Bernstein, C. (1977).The CIA and the Media. Rolling Stone. [online] Available from: http://www.carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php
[2.] Dice, M. (2016). Operation Mockingbird: CIA Control of Mainstream Media. The Full Story. [Youtube] Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KZjxjlI4x8
[3.] Goldfarb, K. (2018). Inside Operation Mockingbird – The CIA’s Plan to Infiltrate the Media. ATI. [online] Available from: https://allthatsinteresting.com/operation-mockingbird
[4.] Harrock, M. N. (1976). CIA ties to Journalists. The New York Times. [online] Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/1976/01/28/archives/cia-ties-to-journalists-wide-concern-is-voiced-in-press-corps-over.html
[5.] Shane, S. (2018). The time the CIA tried to recruit me: our National Security Reporter on Covering Spies. The New York Times. [online] Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/14/insider/are-spies-like-us-a-national-security-reporter-says-yes-and-no.html
[6.] Slate, J. (2018). What was Operation Mockingbird? Medium. [online] Available from: https://medium.com/@JSlate__/what-was-operation-mockingbird-9fe3fbfe1720
[7.] Tracy, J. F. (2018). The CIA and the Media: 50 Facts the World Needs to know. Global Research. [online] Available from: https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-cia-and-the-media-50-facts-the-world-needs-to-know/5471956
[8.] Washington, G. (2017). Newly Declassified documents show that CIA worked closely with owners and Journalists with many of the largest media outlets. Arrêt sur Info. [online] Available from: https://arretsurinfo.ch/newly-declassified-documents-show-that-cia-worked-closely-with-owners-and-journalists-with-many-of-the-largest-media-outlets/
These reporters and networks have been named in the WikiLeaks to have colluded with the DNC or Hillary campaign during the 2016 election cycle:
ABC – Cecilia Vega
ABC - David Muir
ABC – Diane Sawyer
ABC – George Stephanoplous
ABC – Jon Karl
ABC – Liz Kreutz
AP – Julie Pace
AP – Ken Thomas
AP – Lisa Lerer
AURN – April Ryan
Bloomberg – Jennifer Epstein
Bloomberg – John Heillman
Bloomberg/MSNBC – Jonathan Alter
Bloomberg – Mark Halperin
Buzzfeed – Ben Smith
Buzzfeed – Ruby Cramer
CBS – Gayle King
CBS – John Dickerson
CBS – Norah O'Donnell
CBS – Steve Chagaris
CBS – Vicki Gordon
CNBC – John Harwood
CNN – Brianna Keilar
CNN – Dan Merica
CNN – David Chailan
CNN – Erin Burnett
CNN – Gloria Borger
CNN – Jake Tapper
CNN – Jeff Zeleny
CNN - Jeff Zucker
CNN – John Berman
CNN – Kate Bouldan
CNN – Maria Cardona
CNN – Mark Preston
CNN – Sam Feist
Daily Beast – Jackie Kucinich
GPG – Mike Feldman
HuffPo – Amanda Terkel
HuffPo – Arianna Huffington
HuffPo – Sam Stein
HuffPo – Whitney Snyder
LAT – Evan Handler
LAT – Mike Memoli
McClatchy – Anita Kumar
MORE – Betsy Fisher Martin
MSNBC – Alex Seitz-Wald
MSNBC – Alex Wagner
MSNBC – Andrea Mitchell
MSNBC - Beth Fouhy
MSNBC – Ed Schultz
MSNBC – Joe Scarborough
MSNBC – Mika Brzezinski
MSNBC – Phil Griffin
MSNBC – Rachel Maddow
MSNBC – Rachel Racusen
MSNBC – Thomas Roberts
National Journal – Emily Schultheis
NBC – Chuck Todd
NBC – Mark Murray
NBC – Savannah Gutherie
New Yorker – David Remnick
New Yorker – Ryan Liza
NPR – Mike Oreskes
NPR – Tamara Keith
NY Post – Geofe Earl
NYT – Amy Chozik
NYT – Carolyn Ryan
NYT – Gail Collins
NYT – John Harwoodje
NYT – Jonathan Martin
NYT – Maggie Haberman
NYT – Pat Healey
PBS – Charlie Rose
People – Sandra Sobieraj Westfall
Politico – Annie Karni
Politico – Gabe Debenedetti
Politico – Glenn Thrush
Politico – Kenneth Vogel
Politico – Mike Allen
Reuters – Amanda Becker
Tina Brown – Tina Brown
The Hill – Amie Parnes
Univision – Maria-Elena Salinas
Vice – Alyssa Mastramonoco
Vox – Jon Allen
WaPo – Anne Gearan
WaPo – Greg Sargent
WSJ – Laura Meckler
WSJ – Peter Nicholas
WSJ – Colleen McCain Nelson
Yahoo – Matt Bai
THE BRIDGE: PODESTA GROUP
Bridge between media, FBI/DOJ, HRC+
Why did the Podesta Group close?
When did Huber start?
JP/ Huma NOV.
Do they know?
Why did the Podesta group close?
Why no leaks?
Who else knows?
HRC deal request?
Can IG disclose evidence in pending criminal cases in public disclosures/reports?
Grand jury TAINT/BIAS?
Everyone has an opinion.