Certainly the relationship between the American media and the increasingly tiny elite, a 'ruling oligopoly' is entirely too convenient to have come about by chance. The CIA has always recruited the nation’s elite: millionaire businessmen, Wall Street brokers, members of the national news media, and Ivy League scholars. During World War II, General "Wild Bill" Donovan became chief of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA. Donovan recruited so exclusively from the nation’s rich and powerful that members eventually came to joke that "OSS" stood for "Oh, so social!"
Another early elite was Allen Dulles, who served as Director of the CIA from 1953 to 1961. Dulles was a senior partner at the Wall Street firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, which represented the Rockefeller empire and other mammoth trusts, corporations and cartels. He was also a board member of the J. Henry Schroeder Bank, with offices in Wall Street, London, Zurich and Hamburg. His financial interests across the world would become a conflict of interest when he became head of the CIA. Like Donavan, he would recruit exclusively from society’s elite.
By the 1950s, the CIA had riddled the nation’s businesses, media and universities with tens of thousands of part-time, on-call operatives. Their employment with the agency took a variety of forms, which included:
- Leaving one's profession to work for the CIA in a formal, official capacity.
- Staying in one's profession, using the job as cover for CIA activity. This undercover activity could be full-time, part-time, or on-call.
- Staying in one's profession, occasionally passing along information useful to the CIA.
- Passing through the revolving door that has always existed between the agency and the business world.
Journalism is a perfect cover for CIA agents. People talk freely to journalists, and few think suspiciously of a journalist aggressively searching for information. Journalists also have power, influence and clout. Not surprisingly, the CIA began a mission in the late 1940s to recruit American journalists on a wide scale, a mission it dubbed Operation MOCKINGBIRD. The agency wanted these journalists not only to relay any sensitive information they discovered, but also to write anti-communist, pro-capitalist propaganda when needed.
The instigators of MOCKINGBIRD were Frank Wisner, Allan Dulles, Richard Helms and Philip Graham. Graham was the husband of Katherine Graham, today’s publisher of the Washington Post. In fact, it was the Post’s ties to the CIA that allowed it to grow so quickly after the war, both in readership and influence. (8)MOCKINGBIRD was extraordinarily successful. In no time, the agency had recruited at least 25 media organizations to disseminate CIA propaganda. At least 400 journalists would eventually join the CIA payroll, according to the CIA’s testimony before a stunned Church Committee in 1975. (The committee felt the true number was considerably higher.) The names of those recruited reads like a Who's Who of journalism:
- Philip and Katharine Graham (Publishers, Washington Post)
- William Paley (President, CBS)
- Henry Luce (Publisher, Time and Life magazine)
- Arthur Hays Sulzberger (Publisher, N.Y. Times)
- Jerry O'Leary (Washington Star)
- Hal Hendrix (Pulitzer Prize winner, Miami News)
- Barry Bingham Sr., (Louisville Courier-Journal)
- James Copley (Copley News Services)
- Joseph Harrison (Editor, Christian Science Monitor)
- C.D. Jackson (Fortune)
- Walter Pincus (Reporter, Washington Post)
- Associated Press
- United Press International
- Hearst Newspapers
- Newsweek magazine
- Mutual Broadcasting System
- Miami Herald
- Old Saturday Evening Post
- New York Herald-Tribune
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