How the CIA Plants News Stories in the Media

03/22/201716 Comments

[NOTE: This video was produced for on September 30, 2011. It is being made available in its entirety here for the first time.]

James Corbett
30 September, 2011

A recent article in Wired has once again brought attention to the issue of the CIA’s relationship to mainstream media in the United States.

The article, entitled “The CIA Pitches Scripts to Hollywood,” highlights the CIA’s Public Affairs Office’s “Entertainment Industry Liaison,” an office that works with writers, producers and showbiz execs to develop scripts and stories, provide tours of CIA Headquarters, and arrange interviews with agents about their background. As the Wired article points out, the office also provides ideas for stories about the Agency and its assets for those who are looking for the material for a spy thriller.

Although the thought of the CIA working hand-in-hand with Hollywood and the publishing industry to provide officially sanctioned agency yarns is unsettling to many, the entertainment liaison position has been around for years and the topic of how the CIA has worked to furnish the creators of Hollywood films like Charlie Wilson’s War with their (inaccurate) take on the agency’s history has been explored in depth.

What is even more disturbing than the agency’s whitewashing of its own history and methods in works of fiction, however, is the less closely examined relationship of the CIA to the news media. It is uncontested fact that the CIA has enjoyed a long and intimate relationship with some of the largest news organizations in the world, and has used this relationship to manipulate, censor, and even fabricate news stories in support of its own covert agenda.

The story of that relationship was told most famously and most comprehensively by Carl Bernstein in Rolling Stone magazine in 1977. In his landmark article, entitled “The CIA and the Media,” Bernstein outlined the history of the agency’s use of assets in the news media from the 1950s through the 1970s.

The ties between the intelligence community and the news organizations were formalized at the highest levels of management and ownership, and included, according to Bernstein, cooperation with media tycoons like Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Henry Luce of Time Inc. and William Paley of CBS. Towards the end of his career, Sig Mickelson, the head of CBS News in the 1950s and the man credited with launching the career of “the most trusted man in America”, Walter Cronkite, admitted that CBS News worked closely with the CIA.

The Bernstein article drew heavily on the findings of the Church Committee of 1975 and 1976—a Congressional investigation into the actions of the intelligence community—to identify the various types of associations between the CIA and the media, from legitimate, accredited reporters who worked with the agency or carried out tasks on its behalf, often on a volunatary basis, to stringers and freelancers directly on the agency payroll, to columnists and commentators like C.L. Sulzberger of the New York Times and the Alsop Brothers of the Saturday Evening Post and Newsweek, who could be counted on to insert agency friendly comments and editorials into leading news outlets, thus effectively setting the agenda for the national media.

The Church committee exposed some of the dirt of the CIA’s interference in domestic media, officially established as Operation Mockingbird by Frank Wisner, the director of the agency’s covert intelligence branch, the Office of Special Projects in 1948. However, when the committee began asking more specific, and more potentially damaging questions, the CIA, then under the leadership of George H.W. Bush, issued a blanket statement that it would stop directly employing journalists, and quietly directed the committee to change the focus of its inquiry.

Over the years, numerous specific examples of the agency’s manipulation of the news media have surfaced, including multiple instances where stories that had been outright fabricated by CIA assets had resulted in the justification for military intervention.

In the 1980s, for instance, a story about Russian MIGs being delivered to Nicaragua appeared on the front page of the New York Times. As CIA analyst turned whistleblower, David Macmichael, later revealed, this had been completely made up, but was reported as fact as a way of manipulating public opinion to support US intervention in the region.

In an infamous story from the 1970s revealed by CIA whistleblower John Stockwell, a story about rapes committed by Cuban soldiers in Angola which was widely reported around the world had in fact been completely made up by CIA assets in the press.

Similarly in Libya this year, shortly after Obama admitted the presence of covert operatives on the ground in Libya—identified as CIA agents by the New York Times—with the admitted goal of destabilizing the Gadhafi government, a story surfaced about Gadhafi’s troops that was immediately picked up and reported unquestioningly by nearly every news outlet in the world: that Gadhafi supplied his troops with Viagra to encourage them to rape their fellow Libyans.

It was later admitted that there was in fact no evidence whatsoever to back up these assertions, but that news was not heralded with anything near the same attention that the original accusations had garnered.

It is universally understood that such operations still take place, but without whistleblowers and insiders exposing the truth it is impossible to tell exactly what stories in our own day and age have been completely fabricated by intelligence agencies with a vested interest in manipulating public opinion.

We can see the tentacles of the CIA when it steps in to attempt to stop the publication of certain stories, however, as when the agency threatened independent documentary filmmakers John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski from publishing the names of two recently identified CIA agents, Alfreda Frances Bikowsky and Michael Anne Casey. The two were threatened with legal action should they publish the names of Bikowsky and Casey under a law preventing the naming of CIA analysts that has never in history been applied to journalists who discovered such information in the public record, as Duffy and Nowosielski did.

Earlier this week, Washington Post national security correspondent Joby Warrick confirmed on the Peter B. Collins podcast that the Post knew about the identity of Bikowski for years, but had held off on publishing the story at the behest of the CIA.

It is no longer disputed that the CIA has maintained an extensive and ongoing relationship with news organizations and journalists, and multiple, specific acts of media manipulation have now been documented. But as long as the public continues to ignore the influence of intelligence agencies in shaping or even fabricating news stories, the agency will continue to be able to set the policy that drives the American war machine at will.

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  1. candlesnstones says:

    This is what I heard also. It started in the 50s and almost everything goes through a CIA vetting, even ‘Lassie’. I don’t know about you but when I was a kid I loved lassie. That dog was the epitome of loyalty. I don’t know if I should tell you this but lassie would only communicate with us white people, never with those bad other people…. shhhhh

    • HomeRemedySupply says:

      ha!! yea, you are right about the targeted audience. Timmy and Ruth Martin. Lassie was pretty smart…saved Ruth from the cougar until she gets the gun!
      When Ruth gets a flat tire during a shortcut route to a Grange dinner, she accidentally steps in a jaw trap set for a local mountain lion. The best part of the episode is when she sends Lassie to get a C-clamp, and Lassie returns with what looks to be a hacksaw but Ruth identifies as a cheese cutter and instructs our smart girl Lassie to go back home and get the correct tool. Of course, our remarkable collie gets it right the second time!

  2. candlesnstones says:

    I also heard that all the shows today have a torture scene. Is this true? I haven’t watched television for about 15 years or so

    • mkey says:

      It isn’t true. Even though, it may depend on how you define “torture”.

    • karl.h says:

      There’s a movie called London Has Fallen. The plot is that all the world leaders are gathering in London to go to the funeral of a deceased politician, at which point they are all mostly assassinated by a huge group of people working in a coordinated fashion (think Turkey Coup style), using bombs, guns, in a variety of ways, while donning military and police uniforms.

      There’s one politician who survived and is being protected by a secret service agent, who is the ‘protagonist’ of the story. I believe he’s played by Gerard Butler.

      There’s one scene where he defeats a bunch of assassins. One of them is still alive and has a walkie talkie. Gerard basically talks on the walkie talkie, to the brother of the injured assassin, and lets him listen as he slowly runs a knife through the torso of his brother, quipping ‘this is the sound of your brother dying’, followed by the tortured screams of the man. When asked by the politician if that was necessary, he responds ‘no’ in a manner that shows that he doesn’t care if it was, in a ‘comical’ way.

      This isn’t even anti-hero behavior. It’s pure villain behavior, inserted into the context of the hero. Defeating your enemies isn’t enough. You need to torture them to death to be a cool hero now. This is the attitude that’s being normalized for the next generation. It’s dehumanizing and desensitizing at an entirely new level. It’s almost as if people are being prepared to commit atrocities. No ‘normal’ film in the 80s or 90s or 00s was this depraved. Sure, they glorified war, combat and victory, but not suffering, torture and pure hatred as demonstrated by the ‘hero’ of this film.

      Gee, I wonder where throughout history this type of thing has also occurred.

      And gee, I wonder who was behind this film.

  3. mkey says:

    Orwellian Colleges Socially Engineering Students with Fake Pronouns

    These “schools” need to go.

  4. david b says:

    News just came out over the wire yesterday. the US and Britain are banning laptops in the cabin on many carriers out of the Middle East.
    I think the US Gov is trying to scare everyone. IF any terrorist really wanted to get an exploding laptop on, it could be done from another country. Are we being bamboozled again? Did all the bomb sniffing dogs die?

  5. VoiceOfArabi says:

    Since this is turning into the “London attack” post, allow me to add my two cents worth.

    Countries that are effected by the US and British ban on laptops are “Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.”

    Question: What do they all have in common??

    Answer: they all have heavy Muslim Brotherhood concentration! Especially Turkey and Egypt!

    So, conclusion. The US and UK has just started a war against Muslim Brotherhood (which i think is about “effing time”), and the London attack is a warning across the bow from Muslim Brotherhood towards the UK. We should see something similar in US pretty soon.

    BBC website: US and UK ban cabin laptops on some inbound flights

  6. HomeRemedySupply says:

    This re-release Corbett Extra ( ) is timely with all the recent news stories about government spying on Trump, etc.

    Showtime’s “Homeland” more recent Season highlights a covert government army of Sock-puppets and Trolls.
    (90 seconds)
    Alex Jones shows clips from the episode showing the “Government Troll boiler room”. Alex is talking during the clip to prevent YouTube censorship.
    I want to mention that “Homeland” often has official government propaganda, such as the official 9/11 story.

    Showtime’s “Billions” portrays the evil likes of Wall Street players like Goldman Sachs and tainted prosecutors. The main character, a hedge fund owner, was the sole survivor of the company during the September 11 attacks during which he profited millions.
    Clips and story –

    • HomeRemedySupply says:

      Tom SeckerTV and Movies and “Spyculture”
      Corbett has repeatedly had discussions with Tom Secker who often studies the entertainment industry and its ties to government or its hidden messages. – See these Corbett Episodes with Tom Secker –

      My FAVORITE Tom Secker clip is this X-Files “Conspiracy” Alien Invasion – WORTH WATCHING –

      More on Tom Secker –

    • HomeRemedySupply says:

      CIA and Federal Court testimony on its Media influence. – The 1999 Trial which proved that the government conspired to assassinate Martin Luther King, Jr.
      Reprehensor of 911blogger had first uploaded parts of the trial to YouTube years ago. Here is court testimony about the CIA’s influence on the media by William Schaap.

      Anyone can search “William F Pepper” to find videos about the MLK trial. has some links on “William F Pepper” –
      The “Guns & Butter” Interview gives the May-June 2016 “final revelations” about King’s assassination.

      …That trial (of course) was not covered, with very few exceptions. …They (“The Court TV Show”) never came in and they certainly didn’t cover it live. All the other media people came and stayed in the hallway and came in at selected points and came and went. None of this (trial) was ever reported.
      There was one ABC local anchorman [Wendell Stacey] who came in, very cynical in his outlook, and he started to film for his local station. As he started to listen to the evidence he was fascinated and intrigued. He decided he was going to stay and he was going to film this thing. He was told by his producer, ‘Don’t do that. Get yourself out of there.’ He ignored that, under threat of being fired and eventually he was fired. But he tried — and he did film it…..
      – pdf –

      • josh.s says:

        That’s for the note about Wendell Stacey – the one reporter who tried to cover the MLK Civil Trial for the Press – getting fired from his job and becoming a Targeted Individual thereafter. Udo Ulfkotte is a related case: from Germany. The English translation of his book is supposed to be out soon. A few months back, I read a media article about MLK speaking against the Vietnam War towards the end of his life. The piece, written by an African-American woman, did not even mention the civil trial/verdict. I messaged the author on Twitter to ask about that and she just said something to the effect “her editor didn’t agree with it”. IMO, these cases show the number one form of CIA control – CIA partners own the MSM media outlets and hire exec editors who refuse to run some types of stories. The odd piece of extreme propaganda happens here and there, as in the video examples. But the most common form of propaganda take the form of Herman & Chomsky’s filter (secretly CIA rather than advertiser directed): don’t run or feature stories or opinion the CIA doesn’t like. Run or feature stories and opinion that the CIA does like.

    • HomeRemedySupply says:

      Showtime’s HOMELAND showing the government Troll boiler room
      (90 seconds)

  7. hellofriend says:

    Looks like ‘they’ are up to their old tricks again. Operation Mockingbird inserting fear mongering lies saying “Russia is going to invade on this exact date”. Never happens. Just like the Mig aircraft lies.

    An amazing leap of logic that Russia is going to invade. The same old CIA playbook used exactly as it was in the 1980s.

    “The charge makes the headlines, the retraction makes the inside pages”.

    Is it considered a free press if the stories released are all lies and deceptions concocted bye the CIA ? What did the founders truly mean by free press? Did they mean a press free enough to be used as an inverted mocking of your existence to enslave your mind?

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