Part 1 of a two-part series takes a deep dive into the history of the CIA’s central role in orchestrating news and editorial coverage in America’s most influential liberal national media outlets — and its continued hold today.
As a longtime investigative journalist and author, I have spent a good portion of my career researching corruption within U.S. intelligence agencies. I was nevertheless surprised to learn about the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) central role in crafting the militarized governmental response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. documents in the final chapters of his new runaway best-seller, “The Real Anthony Fauci.”
I’ve known Kennedy for more than two decades. I have interviewed him and collaborated with him on environmental articles and several books, including “Climate In Crisis.” I have great respect for his legal work and the accomplishments of his ongoing Waterkeeper Alliance. And I appreciate his dedication to alerting the public about alternative narratives related to the pandemic.
I am fully vaccinated and a believer in the efficacy of the vaccines. However, as a bedrock liberal with a deep reverence for the First Amendment and time-honored right to freedom of speech, I became alarmed that social media sites, including Instagram and YouTube, have banned Kennedy from pointing out flaws in the dominant narratives surrounding the COVID crisis.
In my view, Kennedy has been falsely vilified as an anti-vaccination disinformation “conspiracy theorist.” Blanket censorship by mainstream media seems to prohibit him from responding to such attacks.
And it disturbs me that once-idealistic liberal media outlets have devolved into apologists for the pharmaceutical industry (including its captured public health technocrats), as well as their stifling of any dissent. Why the vitriol against Kennedy, I wondered, from leading liberal news websites such as Daily Kos, The Daily Beast, and more recently, Rolling Stone?
A The Daily Beast headline appearing one year before the pandemic set the tone (Feb. 8, 2019): “Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. spouts his insane anti-vaxxer conspiracy theory in measles hot zone.”
Seeming to borrow a page from the CIA’s propaganda manuals, the liberal blogs have employed the signature trope of portraying opposition to official theology as the dangerous product of right-wing extremism.
After Kennedy gave a speech in Berlin in August 2020, The Daily Beast falsely claimed the event organizers were a “Weird Pro-QAnon German Group Behind RFK Jr.’s Latest Anti-Vaxx Stunt.”
In lockstep, Daily Kos headlined a story by one of its regular contributors, DowneastDem, “Anti-Vaxxer RFK JR. joins neo-Nazis in massive Berlin ‘Anti-Corona’ Protest.” Kennedy fought back by filing a defamation lawsuit against Daily Kos and its pseudonymous author. In fact, the Berlin “Peace and Justice Rally” had been attended by a million peaceful Europeans of every ethnicity protesting what they saw as the global imposition of totalitarian controls and seeking restoration of democracy, tolerance (the stage banner was a giant mural of Mahatma Gandhi and the MC was a Black Ghanaian), constitutional guarantees and civil rights — the opposite of Nazism.
The enmity against Kennedy has only escalated as his prominence in the resistance has grown.
“His quackery has likely killed people,” Daily Kos went so far as to assert. Another posting read: “He’s a twisted, sick individual who has made a mockery of his family’s legacy. His own family has distanced itself, calling him ‘dangerous,’ as if he has the plague, because he likely does. Maybe even more than one plague. He is, indeed, against all vaccinations.”
Anyone who has followed Kennedy’s nuanced, measured and well-informed views on the science might recognize such sophomoric characterizations as “disinformation propaganda.”
Yet the liberal metamorphosis appears so complete that Public Citizen, an advocacy group that once served as a scourge to Big Pharma, is using its tax-deductible legal assets to defend Daily Kos pro bono against Kennedy’s lawsuit. Daily Kos’ support of censoring debate about the government’s COVID countermeasures belies Public Citizen’s rationale that its passion for defending the First Amendment prompted its decision to defend Daily Kos.
So how did the Pharma cartel capture the liberal media? The abduction has been multifaceted.
In his new book, Kennedy shows how Pharma’s deployment of $9.6 billion in annual advertising expenditures allows it to dictate content in electronic and print outlets, transforming the traditionally liberal networks ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN into marketing and propaganda vehicles.
With $319 million in strategic donations, Bill Gates simultaneously gained control of so-called “independent” media outlets like NPR, public television, The Guardian and dozens of other “advertising-free” liberal news outlets that can now be used to promote a bio-security agenda generally and Gates’ vaccines in particular. This has been well-documented in publications ranging from the Los Angeles Times in 2007 to The Nation in 2020-21.
My investigation suggests that Pharma and Gates have a powerful clandestine partner that has made the medical-industrial complex’s media hegemony airtight through their apparent penetration of leading liberal online news sites. It is also well-documented, though often forgotten, that since its inception more than 70 years ago, the CIA has orchestrated news and editorial coverage in America’s most influential liberal national news organs — Washington Post, New York Times and TIME.
These outlets continue to hew faithfully to CIA theology on globalism, biosecurity, coerced vaccinations, Russiagate, a militarized foreign policy, censorship, lockdowns, vaccine passports, digitized currencies and other issues. My investigation for The Defender indicates that Kennedy’s most vitriolic critics among the liberal online journals may themselves have also fallen under the sway of the intelligence apparatus.
In “The Real Anthony Fauci,” Kennedy exposes Pharma’s alarming entanglements with the CIA, bioweapons developers, medical technocrats and the Silicon Valley robber barons. My own research has revealed that military and intelligence agencies enjoy disturbing links to the leading editors of Daily Kos, The Daily Beast and Rolling Stone that may explain why these journals have lately devolved into ideological commissars for the pharmaceutical cartel’s official orthodoxies, champions of the biosecurity paradigm and censors against critics of the biosecurity state.
‘Here’s a little secret I don’t think I’ve ever written about’
Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga, the founder and public face of Daily Kos for two decades, was born in Chicago in 1971 to a Greek father and a Salvadoran mother. At the age of four, Markos’ father moved with his family to El Salvador during the brutal CIA-sponsored civil war.
The country’s feudal and homicidal oligarchy — with U.S. government assistance — was ferociously suppressing a civil rights movement by its oppressed peasantry.
The CIA’s Salvadoran project was the inaugural conflict in the agency’s notorious “War on the Poor’’ across Central America. CIA-controlled death squads and U.S.-trained Salvadoran military battalions devastated some 90,000 peasants, intellectuals, Catholic priests and nuns, students and labor leaders to fortify the positions of feudal oligarchs allied with U.S. multinationals. U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, a contemporary critic of the CIA’s murderous role in Salvador, dismissed the Salvadoran government’s self-serving claims that it was battling Communists.
“Only a tiny, tiny fraction of the murdered poor were Communists,” Dodd told Kennedy. “Virtually all of the casualties were unarmed civilians — mostly peasants seeking escape from a barbaric feudal serfdom.” Dodd continued, “It wasn’t a civil war — it was a massacre.” Dodd is currently the director of the Dodd Center for Human Rights at the University of Connecticut.
Moulitsas’ father evidently took the side of the oligarchs and the Agency. The younger Markos later reflected on his experience:
“I actually grew up in a war zone. I witnessed communist guerillas execute students accused of being government collaborators. I was 8 years old, and I remember stepping over a dead body, warm blood flowing from a fresh wound. Dodging bullets while at market. I lived in the midst of hate, the likes of which most of you will never understand. There’s no way I could ever describe the ways this experience colors my worldview.”
When rebel fighters appropriated the Moulitsas home for their headquarters, Markos says, his parents received an envelope containing his photograph and that of his younger brother boarding a bus. That thinly veiled threat prompted his family’s return to the Chicago suburbs.
Moulitsas enlisted in the U.S. Army at 17, spending his service as an artillery scout for a missile unit in a small German town and dodging deployment to the Gulf War “by a hair.” He later reflected that “I would not be the person I am today without my military service.”
During a confessional moment at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club in 2006, Moulitsas acknowledged that at some point following his discharge, he enlisted in the CIA, entering the agency’s rigorous training program, hoping to become an undercover spy: “So, I applied to the CIA and I went all the way to the end, I mean it was to the point where I was going to sign papers to become [part of] Clandestine Services.” This and other remarks by Moulitsas were captured on audiotape, a transcript of which now appears online.
Like many journalists who began their careers working for the CIA, Moulitsas claims to have left the agency before turning to journalism. (Anderson Cooper makes the same claim.) It’s nearly always impossible to ascertain the truth, but Moulitsas’ story has some internal inconsistencies.
Moulitsas contends that he abandoned his CIA dreams because the job would have required him to live, at least briefly, in Washington, D.C., a locale he says he detested. (Nota bene: The CIA does, of course, send most of its undercover operatives to locales outside Washington, D.C.)
“And it was at that point [in 2001] that the Howard Dean campaign took off and I had to make a decision whether I was gonna kinda join the Howard Dean campaign… or was I going to become a spy. (Laughter in the audience.)”
At some point prior to the Dean campaign, Moulitsas suddenly metamorphosed from right-wing conservative Republican to straight-ticket Democrat.
“It was going to be a tough decision at first, but then the CIA insisted that, if I joined that, they’d want me to do the first duty assignment in Washington, D.C., and I hate Washington, D.C.”
There is an obvious flaw in Moulitsas’ story: Had Dean won, Moulitsas would of course have ended up back in his despised Washington, D.C.
Before Dean’s political nosedive early in 2004, Moulitsas moved west to Silicon Valley at a time when the CIA was storming the Internet. There, as project manager in a web development start-up, he met and married Elisa Batista, a reporter for Wired.
As Kennedy shows in his book, Wired served as an external newsletter for the U.S. intelligence community, which had taken a strong interest in infiltrating Silicon Valley since before the Internet’s inception. U.S. military and intelligence agencies first launched the Internet by building the ARPANET grid in 1969. The CIA established a vast investment fund called In-Q-Tel, which it used to fuel the eruption of Silicon Valley’s tech industry by funding a vast array of tech startups with intelligence potential.
In May 2002, Markos Moulitsas had founded his blog, calling it “Daily Kos” after his military nickname. Within two years, Moulitsas attracted a large readership and made blogging his full-time occupation. A gifted organizer, Moulitsas ensconced himself deep into the Democratic Party power structure. He promised to deploy armies of cyber warriors to hijack the Democratic Party away from its bedrock constituents — Big Labor, trial lawyers, and civil rights leaders — “[the] ineffective, incompetent, and antiquated Democratic Party establishment” — and transform it into the party of Big Data/Big Tech.
“We cannot wait any longer for the Democratic Party to reform itself and lead us into a new era of electoral success… [T]he netroots, the grassroots, the progressive base of America — must act now to take back our party and our country… Technology has opened up the previously closed realm of activist politics to riffraff like us.”
Crashing the gate
Using his blog to mount fundraising drives for Democratic candidates around the country, Moulitsas gave high-ranking politicians “diary space,” established a Yearly Kos convention for bloggers, and became an acerbic and polarizing voice of a new tech-based version of left-wing liberalism.
By mid-2018, Daily Kos had mushroomed into the largest liberal community blog in the country, with some 8 million unique viewers per month and 2.3 million registered users. The “liberal” mass media lionized its founder in dozens of fawning profiles which he cultivated.
For years, Moulitsas managed to conceal a key biographical fact despite myriad articles and detailed hagiographies praising his recreation of liberalism.
Moulitsas only publicly acknowledged his brush with the CIA during an unguarded moment when the circumstance summoned him to defend the agency against the harsh assessments of a moderator during his June 2, 2006, Commonwealth Club appearance.
The CIA’s role in some 73 known coups d’état against mainly democratic governments between 1947 and 2000 — one-third of the world’s governments — had earned the agency condemnation from liberals for decades.
In his opening question to Moulitsas, the Commonwealth Club moderator wondered why liberal media outlets were suddenly going sweet on the CIA:
“[N]ot long ago, liberals loathed the Central Intelligence Agency as the enemy of democratic governments and they installed dictators around the world, and these days you read the papers, and people on the Left are rallying to the defense of the CIA and are indignant when the CIA is politicized. How did this come about, that suddenly liberals are championing the CIA?”
At first, Moulitsas stammered in response:
“I don’t know.” The questioner persisted: “Do you find it strange or ironic, this sudden love for the CIA?”
Under this pressure, Moulitsas blurted out the truth:
“Here’s a little secret I don’t think I’ve ever written about.”
Moulitsas described his tenure at the agency as a brief flirtation interrupted only by his sudden passion for Howard Dean.
Moulitsas coughed as he launched into his enthusiastic defense of the agency with, unsurprisingly, falsehoods:
“I think a lot of the people that did have problems with the CIA, I mean it was a very vocal minority. I think most people really didn’t think about it all that much, right? It wasn’t really on their radar screens, in the way that now it is, because now we are in this huge [Iraq] war, and it was the CIA that was warning the [Bush] Administration against invading because there were no weapons of mass destruction.”
This, of course, was classic disinformation. In fact, the CIA in 2003 was, as usual, aggressively pushing for war. The agency played a direct and reprehensible role in fabricating intelligence to grease the skids for President Bush’s Iraq invasion. During the run-up to the attack, CIA Director George Tenet famously assured President Bush that Saddam had a secret arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. He said, “Don’t worry, it’s a slam dunk.”
George W. Bush later said his worst mistake during his White House years was swallowing the CIA’s guarantees. He said:
“The biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq. A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein.”
Apparently assuming the illiteracy of his Commonwealth Club audience, Moulitsas went on to describe the CIA as “a very liberal institution.” He said:
“And in a lot of ways, it really does attract people who… want to make the world a better place… Of course, they’ve got their Dirty Ops and this and that, but as an institution itself the CIA is really interested in a stable world … And stable worlds aren’t created by destabilizing regimes and creating wars.
“Their [sic] done so by other means. Assassination [of] labor leaders … I’m kidding! I don’t think it’s a very partisan thing to want a stable world. And even if you’re protecting American interests, I mean that can get ugly at times, but generally speaking I think their heart’s in the right place. As an organization, their heart is in the right place. I’ve never had any problem with the CIA. I’d have no problem working for them.”
In 1948, the year after its founding, the CIA created a top-secret program — Operation Mockingbird — to wield influence over the American media. From its inception, this clandestine project was yet another of the CIA’s outlaw enterprises.
The 1948 Smith-Mundt Act had illegalized the use of CIA funding to broadcast propaganda to Americans. When a congressional investigation in the mid-1970s first revealed Operation Mockingbird’s existence, shocked Americans learned that the agency’s key CIA collaborators included Washington Post owner Philip Graham; CBS owner William Paley; Time-Life publisher Henry Luce; top editors at the New York Times, and Joseph Alsop, whose influential column appeared in more than 300 newspapers.
CIA Director Allen Dulles oversaw Mockingbird’s illegal network until RFK Jr.’s uncle, President John Kennedy, fired him at the end of 1961. By then, Mockingbird was employing “some 3,000 salaried and contract CIA employees… engaged in propaganda efforts.”
The agency commissioned its journalists to write articles promoting the expansion of the military-industrial complex and the national security state, and rewarded them with classified information to spice up their “scoops.”
The CIA also established formal journalism training for its spies, embedding them in key journals and nurturing their careers. The agency promoted propaganda narratives, including portraying murdered Salvadoran farmers as Communists under Soviet control, and discouraged newspapers from delving into CIA atrocities such as the agency’s mass murders of tens of thousands of Vietnamese peasants, Buddhist leaders and intellectuals (Operation Phoenix); its orchestration of the butchering of a million Indonesian civilians; its political assassination, torture training and regime-change projects across Latin America (Operation Condor), Africa, and Asia; its crack dealing and drug smuggling operations; and its role in the overthrow of the Democratic governments in Chile, Guatemala, Iran, Iraq and elsewhere.
CIA-affiliated journalists were instrumental in suppressing questions about the CIA’s role in the Kennedy assassination — even as the agency’s former chief, Allen Dulles (who remarked with satisfaction of JFK’s murder: “That little Kennedy … He thought he was a god”), crafted and defended the official “lone shooter” narrative from his chair running the Warren Commission.
In November 1963, Life Magazine’s Executive Editor C.D. Jackson — a longtime CIA asset — purchased the original Zapruder film, published select frames upholding the lone-gunman theory, then locked the original in a vault to preserve it from public view.
Jackson also negotiated exclusive rights to Marina Oswald’s story and enlisted a CIA ghostwriter to fortify the official Warren Commission orthodoxy.
The CIA coined the term “conspiracy theory” to discredit those who questioned the Warren Report. A Jan. 4, 1967, CIA document released under the Freedom of Information Act describes the agency’s strategizing how to combat critics of the Warren Report.
The report said:
“To employ propaganda assets to [negate] and refute the attacks of the critics. Book reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose. The unclassified attachments to this guidance should provide useful background material for passing to assets. Our ploy should point out, as applicable, that the critics are (I) wedded to theories adopted before the evidence was in, (II) politically interested, (III) financially interested, (IV) hasty and inaccurate in their research, or (V) infatuated with their own theories.”
It’s noteworthy that this was the same propaganda playbook that media outlets — including The Daily Beast, Daily Kos and Rolling Stone — applied during the COVID-19 crisis to marginalize, gaslight, discredit and vilify dissenters.
When the first exposé of the CIA’s dark deeds (The Invisible Government) appeared in 1964, the agency secretly obtained the galleys and formed a special group to arrange negative reviews. When the left-wing Ramparts Magazine planned to break a story of the CIA’s clandestine and illegal funding of the National Student Association, the agency organized a campaign that the orchestrator later said “had all sorts of dirty tricks to hurt their circulation and financing… We had awful things in mind, some of which we carried out.”
Despite the CIA’s best efforts to deny and stonewall a Senate investigation into its many illegal media activities, the Church Committee warned in 1976:
“In examining the CIA’s past and present use of the U.S. media, the Committee finds two reasons for concern. The first is the potential, inherent in covert media operations, for manipulating or incidentally misleading the American public. The second is the damage to the credibility and independence of a free press which may be caused by covert relationships with U.S. journalists and media organizations.”
In response to public and congressional outrage, then-CIA Director George Bush issued new guidelines regarding the cozy relationship.
The guidelines said:
“Effective immediately, CIA will not enter into any paid or contractual relationship with any full-time or part-time news correspondent accredited by any U.S. news agency, U.S. news service, newspaper, periodical, radio or television network or station.”
Despite President Bush’s assurances, Operation Mockingbird never really closed up shop. The CIA continued to expand its media tentacles around the globe and across the decades.
A year and a half after Bush’s proclamation, Carl Bernstein, who partnered with Bob Woodward to expose the Watergate scandal, revealed in Rolling Stone that over a 25-year period more than 400 American journalists had carried out assignments for the CIA. Bernstein expressed his skepticism toward the agency’s avowal that it had ended its crusade to corrupt reporters and control the media.
The CIA continued to act to punish media criticism of its activities and even to swallow an entire network that refused to buckle under. As far back as 1954, several cronies of Allen Dulles, including lawyer and Wall Street speculator William Casey, created Capital Cities Communications, which over the next quarter-century became a global media conglomerate. Casey remained on the company’s board until 1981, when he became — wait for it — director of the CIA.
Several years into Casey’s CIA tenure, an ABC News report implicated the CIA in an assassination attempt against an American citizen. Casey retaliated by asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to revoke all of ABC’s TV and radio licenses.
The CIA next asked the FCC to levy Fairness Doctrine penalties against the disobedient network.
The New York Times described the CIA’s attacks against ABC: “This amounts to a government plot to commit intimidation.”
The Times, which in that epoch was still a champion of freedom of speech, warned that:
“William Casey, the CIA director, seems to think he and his agency were libeled, but to sue for libel he’d have to prove reckless disregard of the truth and open his files on the case. Unwilling or unable to do that, he’s using the FCC as a shortcut to punishment. […] This is a chilling assault on a network and the Constitution. It needs to be thrown out fast.”
A month later, in March 1985, Casey’s Capital Cities (in which he secretly retained considerable stock) appears to have found another solution to the ABC News problem — The company paid $3.4 billion to take over ABC, a company four times its size. Board members came to include billionaire investor Warren Buffet and Robert P. Bauman, chair of the SmithKline Beecham pharmaceutical company.
In his 2019 best-selling book, Presstitutes: Embedded in the Pay of the CIA, Udo Ulfkotte, a former editor for Germany’s mass daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), reveals how the CIA and the German Federal Intelligence Agency (BND) continued to use pervasive infiltration of the global media to spread propaganda to shape public opinion.
Ulfkotte recounted that the BND and CIA recruited him while he was in university and placed him at FAZ. An idealistic young man, he was thrilled to work for his country’s intelligence agency. He later said, “However, looking back, I was corrupt, I was manipulative and dealt in disinformation.”
CIA and BND handlers instructed Ulfkotte what stories to write — supplying him with information that he accepted without fact-checking. On one occasion in 2005, to cover up rampant industrial espionage against German companies, then-CIA Director James Woolsey ordered Ulfkotte to write articles saying the U.S. did not carry out industrial espionage.
Ulfkotte quotes a CIA agent who told the Washington Post, “You can get a journalist for less than a good whore, for a few hundred dollars.”
While on assignment in the Middle East, Ulfkotte regularly reported to the local CIA and BND outposts. While working abroad as a foreign correspondent, he discovered that “every foreign reporter for the American and British press was also active for their intelligence services.”
He describes how the CIA houses its captured journalists in sinecures at U.S. and German think tanks that have close ties to the CIA and NATO, where they manufacture pro-U.S. opinion and push for war with Russia. The State Department, Ulfkotte says, provides grant money to think tanks that house journalists/spies and that promote CIA propaganda.
Today, leading liberal press organs routinely print unvetted CIA disinformation as verified news stories.
In April 2021, Glenn Greenwald revealed that the blockbuster New York Times story “Bountygate” was actually a CIA-generated propaganda fiction. The Times reported that the Russian government tried to pay Taliban-linked fighters to attack U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. The Times reporters got this tall tale from the CIA and neither verified or fact-checked it. The Times reporters did not disclose that the CIA had provided the unverified story.
Only later — after the top U.S. military official in Afghanistan said there was no evidence to support the allegations — did one of the New York Times reporters who originally broke the Russia bounty story admit that he was publishing a clandestine disinformation press release from the CIA.
Greenwald tweeted, “So media outlets — again — repeated CIA stories with no questioning: congrats to all.”
One of the NYT reporters who originally broke the Russia bounty story (originally attributed to unnamed “intelligence officials”) say today that it was a CIA claim. So media outlets – again – repeated CIA stories with no questioning: congrats to all.https://t.co/4GbUXBCOpI
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 15, 2021
Following the exposure of CIA’s role in fabricating the Bountygate whopper, The Daily Beast belatedly condemned the deception, even though it had previously uncritically published many articles promoting the CIA “Bountygate” narrative.
Now it tried to distance itself from the scam. Ben Norton tweeted on April 15, 2021:
D’oh! US spy agencies basically admitted they lied about Russia supposedly paying militants in Afghanistan to kill American occupation forces.
Of course the entire Western media spread this lie for weeks, but don’t expect them to issue any corrections https://t.co/itOniutu0D
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) April 15, 2021
In an April 2021 article, “The CIA Used to Infiltrate the Media. Now the CIA Is the Media,” Caitlin Johnstone writes:
“So the mass media aggressively promoted a CIA narrative that none of them ever saw proof of, because there was no proof, because it was an entirely unfounded claim from the very beginning. They quite literally ran a CIA press release and disguised it as a news story.”
Johnstone says that the CIA’s Bountygate story was part of a larger propaganda effort to arouse Americans against Trump’s proposed troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Germany, and to incite anti-Russia propaganda. The agency’s disinformation campaign, according to Johnstone, succeeded in winning the CIA an exemption from Biden’s Afghanistan “withdrawal.”
The New York Times’ role as a promoter of CIA propaganda is an old story: Following the 2001 Operation Iraqi Freedom, both the New York Times and Washington Post were forced to apologize for their fabricated weapons of mass destruction stories that drove the U.S. invasion.
As it turns out, the much-respected journalists who penned these articles were acting as glorified stenographers for the CIA.
“Nowadays the CIA collaboration happens right out in the open, and people are too propagandized to even recognize this as scandalous. Immensely influential outlets like the New York Times uncritically pass on CIA disinfo, which is then spun as fact by cable news pundits. The sole owner of the Washington Post [Jeff Bezos] is a CIA contractor [Amazon Web Services signed a $600 million cloud computing agreement with the CIA in 2013] and WaPo has never once disclosed this conflict of interest when reporting on U.S. intelligence agencies per standard journalistic protocol. Mass media outlets now openly employ intelligence agency veterans like John Brennan, James Clapper, Chuck Rosenberg, Michael Hayden, Frank Figliuzzi, Fran Townsend, Stephen Hall, Samantha Vinograd, Andrew McCabe, Josh Campbell, Asha Rangappa, Phil Mudd, James Gagliano, Jeremy Bash, Susan Hennessey, Ned Price and Rick Francona, as are known CIA assets like NBC’s Ken Dilanian, as are CIA applicants like Tucker Carlson.”
“This isn’t Operation Mockingbird. It’s so much worse. Operation Mockingbird was the CIA doing something to the media. What we are seeing now is the CIA openly acting as the media. Any separation between the CIA and the news media, indeed even any pretense of separation, has been dropped.”
Part 2 explores the history of the CIA’s central role in orchestrating news and editorial coverage in America’s most influential liberal national media outlets — and its continued hold today.
On Oct. 14, 2016, The Daily Beast published a surprisingly candid retrospective on the CIA’s historic recruitment of media assets.
“Other journalists were threatened and blackmailed into cooperating with Mockingbird,” the article noted, “and many were given falsified or fabricated information about their actions in order to engender their support for the CIA’s mission. The program has never been officially discontinued.”
At the time, the editor-in-chief and managing director of The Daily Beast was John Phillips Avlon. Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown had launched the popular online news site in 2008. By the time she exited five years later, a soured merger with Newsweek had left The Daily Beast whimpering rather than roaring. Avlon’s arrival changed all that.
Avlon has all the credentials of the CIA’s iconic gentleman spy, including an old moneyed family with military pedigrees, a Yale education, and a missionary globalist zeal toward foreign policy and international affairs.
John Avlon, Sr. was chairman of a New York real estate company and a trustee of the George S. Patton Museum Foundation. Born in 1973, young John attended Milton Academy prep school in Massachusetts before earning his B.A. from Yale and an MBA from Columbia.
Curiously, both Avlon’s Wikipedia page and that of his best friend, the aristocratic spook Matthew Pottinger, note that the two are childhood best friends and Milton schoolmates, as if this lifelong partnership is an essential fact in evaluating both men’s lives.
Writing for the New York Sun in 2005, Avlon describes Pottinger — one of America’s top spies — as “like a brother to me.” Pottinger made his bones as a journalist — and, probably, as an espionage operative and propagandist — while working as a lead reporter for Reuters and the Wall Street Journal in China before serving as a U.S. Marines intelligence officer in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2010, Pottinger co-authored an intelligence analysis with Michael Flynn — “Fixing Intel: a Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan” — published through the Center for a New American Security, a front group for Pentagon and intelligence agencies and military contractors that critics have branded “the military-industrial think tank complex.”
Rising through the ranks, Pottinger by 2017 became a member of the National Security Council under Donald Trump. Flynn, by then Trump’s National Security Advisor, appointed Pottinger as NSC’s Asia director.