Government has repeatedly been caught paying for pro-government journalism

4 minutes, 12 seconds Read

obey_dees

Most observers are aware that news reporters at major media outlets tend to favor the government. Many are not aware, however, that government agencies have been caught secretly paying for pro-government news coverage and commentary. In 2005, the George W. Bush Administration was caught paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to columnists to get those columnists to write favorable opinion pieces about government policies. In some cases such government payments have been concealed or channeled through public relations firms or other difficult-to-track channels. Government agencies have at times been caught creating fake news stories and even secretly paying newspapers large amounts of money to publish such stories. Almost every inquiry into such matter reveals them to be widespread.

In a string of scandals sometimes grouped together under the name ‘Operation Mockingbird,’ the CIA was found to have spent many millions of dollars to influence news coverage throughout the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s. The CIA recruited leading American journalists to present news in accordance with the government’s views on international affairs. The CIA even interfered with foreign election campaigns and funded student and cultural groups.

News leaders at the Washington Post, the New York Times, Newsweek and CBS have been described as “owned” by this large-scale CIA operation. (The Graham family, which owned the Washington Post, were in charge of this immense network). Some 3,000 individuals were paid by this program during the 1950s alone. A 1976 U.S. Senate investigation revealed that government payments designed to control news coverage and commentary were costing taxpayers around $265 million per year at that time. Today, the true depths of the government’s control and “ownership” of major news outlets by such payments remains unknown. It is safe to say, however, that investigations into it have merely scratched the surface, and that such government payments to control “the news” is ongoing.

SOURCES:

See Suzanne Goldenberg, Bush payola scandal deepens as third columnist admits being paid, The Guardian, Jan. 28, 2005, http://www.theguardian.com/media/2005/jan/29/pressandpublishing.usnews (accessed 4/26/2015) (revealing that the “Bush administration was confronted with fresh evidence of a far-reaching clandestine campaign to influence public opinion yesterday after a third conservative commentator admitted receiving payments for championing its policies.” “Michael McManus, a newspaper columnist, was paid up to $10,000 to praise the administration’s marriage initiative,” Maggie Gallagher “received $21,500 from the department of health and human services, and $20,000 from the justice department for championing the initiative in her syndicated newspaper columns,” and “Armstrong Williams, a conservative African-American columnist, had been paid $240,000 by the education department to champion the administration’s controversial policies in his print, radio and television outlets.”).
See id Goldenberg (noting that columnist McManus’ “fees were approved by a branch of the department of health and human services, and were funnelled through the Lewin Group, a consultancy firm,” and columnist Armstrong Williams “was paid through Ketchum PR, the public relations firm also involved in producing fake “news pieces” last year that touted the administration’s prescription drug bill. Some US television stations put the clips straight on the air.” )
See, e.g., Robert Perrucci & Earl Wysong, New Class Society: Goodbye American Dream? 234 (2008) (recounting that the U.S. Department of Education paid Ketchum PR $700,000 to promote the government’s No-Child-Left-Behind policy).
See Suzanne Goldenberg, Bush payola scandal deepens as third columnist admits being paid, The Guardian, Jan. 28, 2005, http://www.theguardian.com/media/2005/jan/29/pressandpublishing.usnews (accessed 4/26/2015) (reporting that the G.W. Bush Administration “claimed that its use of a fake reporter, Karen Ryan, to sell its programmes, was an isolated incident . . . [but that it] now appears that such covert campaigns were widespread”).
See Suzanne Goldenberg, Bush payola scandal deepens as third columnist admits being paid, The Guardian, Jan. 28, 2005, http://www.theguardian.com/media/2005/jan/29/pressandpublishing.usnews (accessed 4/26/2015) (reporting that the G.W. Bush Administration “spent more than $88m on public relations contracts last year – more than double the $37m it spent during Mr Bush’s first year in office. That brought the administration’s first-term spending on PR to $250m”).
in 1966, Ramparts magazine published an article revealing that the National Student Association was funded by the CIA. The United States Congress investigated the allegations and published a report in 1976.
Deborah Davis, Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and her Washington Post Empire 137-38 (1979).
Deborah Davis, Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and her Washington Post Empire (1979).
See Alex Constantine, Mockingbird: The Subversion of the Free Press by the CIA, first chapter of Virtual Government: CIA Mind Control Operations in America 42. See also Hugh Wilford, The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America (2008).
Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Government Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities. April 1976. pp. 191–201.
Writing in The Rolling Stone in 2007, Carl Bernstein wrote “[t]he CIA’s use of the American news media has been much more extensive than Agency officials have acknowledged publicly or in closed sessions with members of Congress.” THE CIA AND THE MEDIA: How Americas Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up http://carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php (accessed 5/12/2015).

Similar Posts