Operation Mockingbird

Most people know not to take conspiracy theorists too seriously; most of their ideas are just downright crazy. Every once in a while, however, they get it right. It is interesting to examine how soon those conspiracies are forgotten by the public.

In the 1950s a CIA operation called Operation Mockingbird (OM) was launched by the CIA. The objective of OM was to influence the media. The method was to recruit or plant journalists into leading American media outlets to express CIA points of view as well as fund some smaller cultural groups and magazines.

Operation-Mockingbird

In the beginning the program focused on anti-communist rhetoric, public opinion about subversive groups, and general anger against countries that threatened the free world. Soon the program grew to influence international media. In just a few years, the CIA controlled prominent members of The New York PostThe New York Times, Newsweek, CBS, Time  and more. At its height, 25 media outlets were under CIA control.

Some of the funding was siphoned from The Marshal Plan, which included an attempt to get Walt Disney to make a version of Animal Farm. Walt hated Commies but insisted that he could not make Animal Farm because of the depressing ending.

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As the OM gained influence and power, J Edgar Hoover, jealous of the CIA’s power, orchestrated some infighting between the agencies. The CIA retaliated with OM directly against public opinion of J Edgar.

In Europe, OM discouraged countries from dealing with the USSR in any way. They swayed public opinion against trade deals and stoked antitrust of the Soviets.

South America OM was used against the rise of Communism and other 3rd world liberationist groups, especially in Guatemala.

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By 1975 continued leaks in the press forced Congress to examine the program’s continued existence.  A 1976 report by the special committee exposed the existence of the program, and CIA director George Bush was forced to denounce the program. In 2007, under The Freedom of Information Act, the reports were made public.

Today we know our press gives us nothing but uncensored information that we should trust without question. That’s the way it was then, but it could never happen today.

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