The Mighty Wurlitzer
(the CIA's propaganda machine)
from the book
The CIAs Greatest Hits
by Mark Zepezauer
Deputy Director Frank Wisner proudly referred
to the CIA's worldwide propaganda machine as "the mighty
Wurlitzer." And indeed, the agency's skill at murdering people
is matched only by its ability to murder the truth.
The CIA has published literally hundreds
of books that spread its party line on the Cold War. It was particularly
proud of The Penikovsky Papers, supposedly the memoirs of a KGB
defector but actually completely ghostwritten by CIA scribes.
A bit more embarrassing was Claire Sterling's book which advanced
the now-discredited theory that the Russians were behind the 1981
attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II. Even the popular Fodor's
Travel Guides started as a CIA front.
The CIA also owns dozens of newspapers
and magazines the world over. These not only provide cover for
their agents but allow them to plant misinformation that regularly
makes it back to the US through the wire services. The CIA has
even placed agents on guard at the wire services, to prevent inconvenient
facts from being disseminated.
In 1977, famed Watergate journalist Carl
Bernstein revealed that over 400 US journalists had been employed
by the CIA. These ranged from freelancers who were paid for regular
debriefings, to actual CIA officers who worked under deep cover.
Nearly every major US news organization has had spooks on the
payroll, usually with the cooperation of top management.
The three most valuable media assets the
CIA could count on were William Paley's CBS, Arthur Sulzberger's
New York Times and Henry Luce's Time/Life empire. All three bent
over backwards promoting the picture of Oswald as a lone nut in
the JFK assassination.
Among prominent journalists who've worked
knowingly with the CIA are National Review founder William F.
Buckley, PBS interviewer Bill Moyers, the late columnist Stewart
Alsop, former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and Ms. magazine
founder Gloria Steinem.
Bernstein's landmark article on the CIA
and the media told of the agency's frantic efforts to limit Congressional
inquiry into the matter, with claims that "some of the biggest
names in journalism could get smeared." And while the CIA
director at the time, George Bush, made a not-too-convincing show
of discontinuing the agency's manipulation of the media, it's
clear that the CIA regards the space between your ears as one
of its most important battlefields.