Here's just a snippet from Carl Bernstein's famous 1977 article entitled
"The CIA & The Media" from Rolling Stone, 10/20/77. Anyone with
access to a library should try to find this - it's a truly breakthrough piece - 16 pages
long in the reprint!
In 1953, Joseph Alsop, then one of America's
leading syndicated columnists, went to the Philippines to
cover an election. He did not go because he was asked to do so by his syndicate. He did
not go because he was asked to do so by the newspapers that printed his column. He went at the request of the CIA.
Alsop is one of more than 400 American
journalists who in the past 25 years have
secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency according to
documents on file at CIA headquarters. Some of these journalists' relationships with the
Agency were tacit; some were explicit. There was cooperation, accommodation and overlap. Journalists provided a full range of clandestine services -- from simple
intelligence-gathering to serving as go-betweens with spies in Communist countries.
Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared their staffs. Some of the
journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners, distinguished reporters who considered themselves
ambassadors without portfolio for their country. Most were less exalted: foreign
correspondents who found that their association with the Agency helped their work;
stringers and freelancers who were as interested in the derring-do of the spy business as
in filing articles; and, the smallest category, full-time CIA employees masquerading as
journalists abroad. In many instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to
perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America's leading news
The history of the CIA's involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded
by an official policy of obfuscation and deception for the following principal reasons:
- The use of journalists has been among the most productive means of
intelligence-gathering employed by the CIA. Although the agency has cut back sharply on
the use of reporters since 1973 (primarily as a result of pressure from the media), some
journalists are still posted abroad.
- Further investigation into the matter,
CIA officials say, would inevitably reveal a series of embarrassing relationships in the
1950's and 1960's with some of the most powerful organizations and individuals in American
Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were William Paley of the
Columbia Broadcasting System, Henry Luce of Time Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New
York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the Louisville Courier-Journal, and James
Copley of the Copley News Services. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA
include the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the
Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Newsweek
magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday
Evening Post and New York Herald-Tribune.
By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA
officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc.
Appropriately, the CIA uses the term 'reporting' to describe much of what cooperating
journalists did for the Agency. "We would ask them, 'Will you do us a favor?'"
said a senior CIA official. "'We understand you're going to be in Yugoslavia. Have
they paved all the streets? Where did you see planes? Were there any signs of military
presence? How many Soviets did you see? If you happen to meet a Soviet, get his name and
spell it right....Can you set up a meeting for us? Or arrange a message?'" Many CIA
officials regarded these helpful journalists as operatives: the journalists tended to see
themselves as trusted friends of the Agency who performed occasional favors -- usually
without pay -- in the national interest.
Two of the Agency's most valuable relationships in the 1960's,
according to CIA officials, were with reporters who covered Latin America -- Jerry O'Leary of the Washington Star and Hal Hendrix of Miami News, a Pulitzer Prize winner who
became a high official of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation. Hendrix was extremely helpful to the Agency in providing
information about individuals in Miami's Cuban exile community.
A note about Hendrix - he was the one who Seth Kantor, reporting on the JFK
assassination, was told to call for 'background' on Oswald after Oswald's arrest. Hendrix,
from Miami, had all the info on Oswald's pro-Castro leafleting activities in New Orleans,
details about Oswald's defection to the Soviet Union, etc.
Only years later did Kantor realize the significance of a guy like Hendrix, CIA, having
so much info on Oswald so soon after the assassination.