Mark Dice shares information on the Congressional hearing that exposed the fact that the CIA controlled the media under a covert program named Operation Mockingbird.
“About a third of the whole CIA budget went to media propaganda operations. …We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars a year just for that…..close to a billion dollars are being spent every year by the United States on secret propaganda.” – Testimony of William Schapp in 1999, referencing revelations from the Church Committee in 1975
Details of Operation Mockingbird were revealed as a result of the Senator Frank Church investigations (Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities) in 1975. According to the Congress report published 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.”
Church argued that misinforming the world cost American taxpayers an estimated $265 million a year. The primary documents for the Church Committee can be found here.
In 1948, the CIA decided to siphon funds to create the Office of Policy Coordination, which would would become the covert action branch of the CIA. It was under this program that Operation Mockingbird, a domestic propaganda campaign aimed at promoting the views of the CIA within the media, began.
The director of the CIA at the time was Allen Dulles. From the onset, Operation Mockingbird was one of the most sensitive of the CIA’s undertakings, with recruitment of journalists and training of intelligence officers for propaganda purposes usually undertaken by Dulles himself, or his direct peers.
It is a false belief that the CIA ‘infiltrated’ journalism organizations. The recruitment of journalists was usually done with complicity from top management and ownership of news institutions. William Colby, famous CIA operative, claimed during the Church committee, “Lets go to the managements. They were witting.” Among the organizations that would lend their help to the propaganda efforts was the New York Times, Newsweek, Associated Press, and the Miami Herald.
All in all, 25 major publications would provide cover for CIA operatives, with 400 operatives being a low estimate to the number of people employed by the operation. Journalists would plant fabricated stories, and cover international events with a purpose of casting the CIA’s agenda in a positive light.
The CIA would also set up international ‘front organizations’ that would produce propaganda without being publicly tied to the agency. An example of this is the Rome Daily American, which was 40% owned by the CIA for three decades.
There is no certainty about how long Mockingbird lasted, or if it is still in effect today, perhaps under a different name. Much of what we know of the first 25 years of the program came from revelations of the Church Committee in 1975. The operations of Mockingbird were secretive before the exposure from the committee and became even more so afterwords.
Unfortunately, it is still possible to see frequent evidence of CIA in the media in modern times. We are left to connect the dots ourselves. Phil Donahue was fired from MSNBC in 2003 for opposing the Iraq war, the only news anchor at the time to do so. More recently, Amber Lyon was fired from CNN for providing accurate reporting on Bahrain, a US puppet state, which was abusing its citizens during Arab Spring.