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.

CIAs Greatest Hits

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