Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

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FTR #57 The CIA and The News Media

Lis­ten now: Side 1 | Side 2

Amer­i­cans are accus­tomed to deceiv­ing them­selves with the notion that they enjoy a “free press.” In fact, the Amer­i­can media have always pre­sent­ed a dis­tort­ed view of the world and, since the begin­ning of the Cold War, have been active­ly involved with the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty in dis­tort­ing the truth. From the end of the Sec­ond World War to the present, the U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty estab­lish­ment has active­ly struc­tured the Amer­i­can media, in order elim­i­nate view­points it con­sid­ers trou­ble­some. One of the chief ele­ments in this ongo­ing decep­tion of the Amer­i­can peo­ple is the CIA. This broad­cast details the his­to­ry of the Agen­cy’s involve­ment with, and manip­u­la­tion of major jour­nal­is­tic organs. Begin­ning with the craft­ing of what for­mer Deputy Direc­tor of Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Frank Wis­ner called “the Mighty Wurl­itzer” (his nick­name for the CIA’s media com­po­nent), the pro­gram doc­u­ments the CIA’s fun­da­men­tal and ongo­ing dis­tor­tion of polit­i­cal real­i­ty. Fea­tur­ing the char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly excel­lent research of Daniel Brandt, the seg­ments also set forth the pro­found influ­ence on both the CIA and the media of the influ­en­tial Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions.


8 comments for “FTR #57 The CIA and The News Media”

  1. [...] Strate­gic Ser­vices – the CIA’s pre­de­ces­sor – and was part­ly the inspi­ra­tion for the char­ac­ter Edward Wil­son in the 2006 film “The Good [...]

    Posted by cia/cfr envoy frank g. wisner sent to ‘speak to mubarak’ | ClipsNewsNetwork | February 3, 2011, 1:07 am
  2. [...] CIA’ Back­ground: Dead­line Live on Frank Wis­ner, Enron & AIG Back­ground: Dave Emory on ‘The CIA & the News Media’ Relat­ed: Mubarak, America’s Tor­ture [...]

    Posted by new world next week – feb3 | ClipsNewsNetwork | February 4, 2011, 1:13 am
  3. “The Mighty Wurl­itzer” in action...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 20, 2012, 12:29 pm
  4. And the Mighty Wurl­itzer plays on:

    Lying About Tor­ture, Hol­ly­wood Style
    Moth­er Jones
    —By Kevin Drum
    | Mon Dec. 10, 2012 10:35 AM PST

    Zero Dark Thir­ty, Kathryn Bigelow’s film about the killing of Osama bin Laden, has got­ten almost unan­i­mous­ly rave reviews. How­ev­er, it turns out that the movie claims, in grue­some­ly dra­mat­ic fash­ion, that CIA-approved tor­ture of cap­tured al-Qae­da oper­a­tives pro­vid­ed the infor­ma­tion that allowed us to find bin Laden in the first place. Glenn Green­wald is prop­er­ly appalled:

    The claim that water­board­ing and oth­er tor­ture tech­niques were nec­es­sary in find­ing bin Laden was first made ear­li­er this year by Jose Rodriguez, the CIA agent who ille­gal­ly destroyed the agen­cy’s tor­ture tapes, got pro­tect­ed from pros­e­cu­tion by the DOJ, and then prof­it­ed off this behav­ior by writ­ing a book. He made the same claim as “Zero Dark Thir­ty” regard­ing the role played by tor­ture in find­ing bin Laden.

    That caused two Sen­a­tors who are stead­fast loy­al­ists of the CIA — Sen­ate Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Chair Dianne Fein­stein and Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee Chair Carl Levin — to issue state­ments defin­i­tive­ly debunk­ing this asser­tion. Even the CIA’s then-Direc­tor, Leon Panet­ta, made clear that those tech­niques played no role in find­ing bin Laden. An FBI agent cen­tral to the bin Laden hunt said the same.

    What this film does, then, is uncrit­i­cal­ly presents as fact the high­ly self-serv­ing, and fac­tu­al­ly false, claims by the CIA that its tor­ture tech­niques were cru­cial in find­ing bin Laden. Put anoth­er way, it pro­pa­gan­dizes the pub­lic to favor­ably view clear war crimes by the US gov­ern­ment, based on pure false­hoods.

    ....If Bigelow had mere­ly depict­ed episodes that actu­al­ly hap­pened, then her defense that she is not judg­ing and has no respon­si­bil­i­ty to do so would be more debat­able. But the fact that she’s pre­sent­ing lies as fact on an issue as vital as these war crimes, all while pat­ting her­self on the back for her “jour­nal­is­tic approach” to the top­ic, makes the behav­ior inde­fen­si­ble, even rep­re­hen­si­ble. Is it real­ly pos­si­ble to say: this is a great film despite the fact that it glo­ri­fies tor­ture using patent false­hoods?

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, yes, it prob­a­bly is pos­si­ble to say this. Just ask Richard III. But that does­n’t make it any less dis­gust­ing. Adam Ser­w­er runs down the actu­al truth here.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 10, 2012, 12:29 pm
  5. If you want a Wurl­itzer of your very own you’ll just have to build it your­self, instru­ment by instru­ment. You won’t be tru­ly free with­out it:

    Think Progress
    Seri­ous Eth­i­cal Ques­tions Aris­ing From Journalist’s Par­tic­i­pa­tion In Koch Event

    by Josh Israel Post­ed on Jan­u­ary 23, 2015 at 9:48 am
    Updat­ed: Jan­u­ary 23, 2015 at 11:17 am

    ABC News Chief White House Cor­re­spon­dent Jonathan Karl will mod­er­ate a forum fea­tur­ing three promi­nent GOP Sen­a­tors on Sun­day at an event host­ed by a con­ser­v­a­tive polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion that has been called “the Koch Broth­ers’ secret bankWhile the event will be closed to media and the pub­lic — though streamed online — ThinkProgress has learned that ABC News will be pay­ing for Karl’s trav­el and lodg­ing for the Palm Springs, CA event.

    Politi­co report­ed on Thurs­day that Karl will ask ques­tions of Sen­a­tors Ted Cruz (R‑TX), Rand Paul (R‑KY), and Mar­co Rubio (R‑FL) at the “Amer­i­can Recov­ery Pol­i­cy Forum,” host­ed by the Kochs’ Free­dom Part­ners Cham­ber of Com­merce. An ABC tweet boast­ed that the pan­el would fea­ture “three of the most talked-about GOP 2016 hope­fuls.”

    But some jour­nal­ism ethics experts told ThinkProgress that this might cross the line from neu­tral report­ing to aid­ing a polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion, as Karl’s pres­ence lends a mea­sure of cred­i­bil­i­ty to bil­lion­aire oil mag­nates David and Charles Koch and their anti-gov­ern­ment polit­i­cal net­work.

    Marc Coop­er, direc­tor of Annen­berg Dig­i­tal News and an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of pro­fes­sion­al prac­tice at the Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern California’s School for Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Jour­nal­ism, said that Karl’s involve­ment amounts to “an in-kind con­tri­bu­tion to a par­ti­san group that is clear­ly aimed at posi­tion­ing for the 2016 race,” not­ing, “The pub­lic has no input or access and no pub­lic ser­vice is being per­formed. Karl has no busi­ness being there.”

    Todd Gitlin, who chairs the Ph.D pro­gram in com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty Grad­u­ate School of Jour­nal­ism, agreed, argu­ing that it is inap­pro­pri­ate for a news reporter to “pro­mote a sec­tar­i­an polit­i­cal show,” par­tic­u­lar­ly one that is spon­sored by cli­mate change-deniers like the Kochs.

    Jane Kirt­ley, a pro­fes­sor of media ethics and law at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Minnesota’s School of Jour­nal­ism and Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, took a more nuanced posi­tion. “It appears that Karl has nego­ti­at­ed an arrange­ment that should allow him to act rea­son­ably inde­pen­dent­ly. He’s not being paid, he’s giv­en free rein on the ques­tions he can ask, and ABC news doesn’t get any more access than any oth­er media,” she said, there­fore she does not con­sid­er Karl’s par­tic­i­pa­tion or ABC’s finan­cial involve­ment a con­tri­bu­tion to the Kochs’ group. But, even she had qualms about Karl’s par­tic­i­pa­tion: “I do think it is prob­lem­at­ic when work­ing jour­nal­ists ‘mod­er­ate’ gath­er­ings of polit­i­cal groups, indus­try groups, etc. — espe­cial­ly when those groups or top­ics relate to the beats they cov­er.” She added that she sees “a huge dif­fer­ence between doing this kind of par­ti­san event as opposed to, for exam­ple, mod­er­at­ing a gath­er­ing of the League of Women Vot­ers,” and that when jour­nal­ists par­tic­i­pate in “closed” events, it can under­mine the fight for access and the public’s right to know.

    The Soci­ety of Pro­fes­sion­al Jour­nal­ists’ Code of Ethics states that jour­nal­ists should “avoid con­flicts of inter­est, real or per­ceived,” and “avoid polit­i­cal and oth­er out­side activ­i­ties that may com­pro­mise integri­ty or impar­tial­i­ty, or may dam­age cred­i­bil­i­ty.”

    This is not the first time Karl’s jour­nal­is­tic bias­es and ethics have been under scruti­ny. In 2011, Fair­ness & Accu­ra­cy In Report­ing not­ed that Karl was an alum of a media train­ing pro­gram aimed at pro­mot­ing con­ser­v­a­tive media on col­lege cam­pus­es (it high­lights Karl as a promi­nent alum, along with con­ser­v­a­tive stal­warts Ann Coul­ter, Dinesh D’Souza, Mag­gie Gal­lagher, and Lau­ra Ingra­ham). The group high­light­ed numer­ous cas­es in which he’d made com­ments that appeared to favor a right-wing posi­tion, includ­ing praise for Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R‑WI) con­tro­ver­sial bud­get plans.

    In 2013, Karl had to apol­o­gize for an incor­rect report in which he mis­char­ac­ter­ized White House emails relat­ed to the 2012 attacks at U.S. facil­i­ties in Beng­hazi, Libya and false­ly sug­gest­ed ABC News had reviewed them, when he was rely­ing on an anony­mous source. Media experts called the botched report “slop­py” and “inac­cu­rate.”


    Maybe some­day the Kochs will final­ly have a media orches­tra to con­duct. Some­day.

    Today is some­day.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 24, 2015, 10:09 pm
  6. In cel­e­bra­tion of the upcom­ing 10 year anniver­sary of the Bush-era mini-scan­dal over the cre­ation of pre-pack­aged news reports (gen­er­at­ed by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and ped­dled to news agen­cies to push the admin­is­tra­tion’s line on key issues), let’s take a walk down mem­o­ry lane:

    The New York Times
    Under Bush, a New Age of Prepack­aged TV News

    Pub­lished: March 13, 2005

    It is the kind of TV news cov­er­age every pres­i­dent cov­ets.

    “Thank you, Bush. Thank you, U.S.A.,” a jubi­lant Iraqi-Amer­i­can told a cam­era crew in Kansas City for a seg­ment about reac­tion to the fall of Bagh­dad. A sec­ond report told of “anoth­er suc­cess” in the Bush admin­is­tra­tion’s “dri­ve to strength­en avi­a­tion secu­ri­ty”; the reporter called it “one of the most remark­able cam­paigns in avi­a­tion his­to­ry.” A third seg­ment, broad­cast in Jan­u­ary, described the admin­is­tra­tion’s deter­mi­na­tion to open mar­kets for Amer­i­can farm­ers.

    To a view­er, each report looked like any oth­er 90-sec­ond seg­ment on the local news. In fact, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment pro­duced all three. The report from Kansas City was made by the State Depart­ment. The “reporter” cov­er­ing air­port safe­ty was actu­al­ly a pub­lic rela­tions pro­fes­sion­al work­ing under a false name for the Trans­porta­tion Secu­ri­ty Admin­is­tra­tion. The farm­ing seg­ment was done by the Agri­cul­ture Depart­men­t’s office of com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

    Under the Bush admin­is­tra­tion, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has aggres­sive­ly used a well-estab­lished tool of pub­lic rela­tions: the prepack­aged, ready-to-serve news report that major cor­po­ra­tions have long dis­trib­uted to TV sta­tions to pitch every­thing from headache reme­dies to auto insur­ance. In all, at least 20 fed­er­al agen­cies, includ­ing the Defense Depart­ment and the Cen­sus Bureau, have made and dis­trib­uted hun­dreds of tele­vi­sion news seg­ments in the past four years, records and inter­views show. Many were sub­se­quent­ly broad­cast on local sta­tions across the coun­try with­out any acknowl­edge­ment of the gov­ern­men­t’s role in their pro­duc­tion.

    This win­ter, Wash­ing­ton has been roiled by rev­e­la­tions that a hand­ful of colum­nists wrote in sup­port of admin­is­tra­tion poli­cies with­out dis­clos­ing they had accept­ed pay­ments from the gov­ern­ment. But the admin­is­tra­tion’s efforts to gen­er­ate pos­i­tive news cov­er­age have been con­sid­er­ably more per­va­sive than pre­vi­ous­ly known. At the same time, records and inter­views sug­gest wide­spread com­plic­i­ty or neg­li­gence by tele­vi­sion sta­tions, giv­en indus­try ethics stan­dards that dis­cour­age the broad­cast of prepack­aged news seg­ments from any out­side group with­out reveal­ing the source.

    Fed­er­al agen­cies are forth­right with broad­cast­ers about the ori­gin of the news seg­ments they dis­trib­ute. The reports them­selves, though, are designed to fit seam­less­ly into the typ­i­cal local news broad­cast. In most cas­es, the “reporters” are care­ful not to state in the seg­ment that they work for the gov­ern­ment. Their reports gen­er­al­ly avoid overt ide­o­log­i­cal appeals. Instead, the gov­ern­men­t’s news-mak­ing appa­ra­tus has pro­duced a qui­et drum­beat of broad­casts describ­ing a vig­i­lant and com­pas­sion­ate admin­is­tra­tion.

    Some reports were pro­duced to sup­port the admin­is­tra­tion’s most cher­ished pol­i­cy objec­tives, like regime change in Iraq or Medicare reform. Oth­ers focused on less promi­nent mat­ters, like the admin­is­tra­tion’s efforts to offer free after-school tutor­ing, its cam­paign to curb child­hood obe­si­ty, its ini­tia­tives to pre­serve forests and wet­lands, its plans to fight com­put­er virus­es, even its attempts to fight hol­i­day drunk­en dri­ving. They often fea­ture “inter­views” with senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials in which ques­tions are script­ed and answers rehearsed. Crit­ics, though, are exclud­ed, as are any hints of mis­man­age­ment, waste or con­tro­ver­sy.

    Some of the seg­ments were broad­cast in some of nation’s largest tele­vi­sion mar­kets, includ­ing New York, Los Ange­les, Chica­go, Dal­las and Atlanta.


    Inspired? If not, read it again. It’s clear­ly an inspi­ra­tional sto­ry:

    Gov. Mike Pence’s state-run news out­let will com­pete with media
    Tom LoBian­co, 6:49 a.m. EST Jan­u­ary 27, 2015

    Gov. Mike Pence is start­ing a state-run tax­pay­er-fund­ed news out­let that will make pre-writ­ten news sto­ries avail­able to Indi­ana media, as well as some­times break news about his admin­is­tra­tion, accord­ing to doc­u­ments obtained by The Indi­anapo­lis Star.

    Pence is plan­ning in late Feb­ru­ary to launch “Just IN,” a web­site and news out­let that will fea­ture sto­ries and news releas­es writ­ten by state press sec­re­taries and is being over­seen by a for­mer Indi­anapo­lis Star reporter, Bill McCleery.

    “At times, Just IN will break news — pub­lish­ing infor­ma­tion ahead of any oth­er news out­let. Strate­gies for deter­min­ing how and when to give pri­or­i­ty to such ‘exclu­sive’ cov­er­age remain under dis­cus­sion,” accord­ing to a ques­tion-and-answer sheet dis­trib­uted last week to com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tors for state agen­cies.

    The Pence news out­let will take sto­ries writ­ten by state com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tors and pub­lish them on its web­site. Sto­ries will “range from straight­for­ward news to lighter fea­tures, includ­ing per­son­al­i­ty pro­files.”

    The endeav­or will come at some tax­pay­er cost, but pre­cise­ly how much is unclear. The news ser­vice has two ded­i­cat­ed employ­ees, whose com­bined salary is near­ly $100,000, accord­ing to a search of state employ­ee salary data.

    A Pence spokes­woman on Mon­day down­played the move, describ­ing it as sim­i­lar to the state’s cur­rent online cal­en­dar of news releas­es, but with a new design. She declined to imme­di­ate­ly answer oth­er ques­tions but said the admin­is­tra­tion would release more details soon.

    The news agency is being over­seen by a gov­er­nance board of com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tors and an edi­to­r­i­al board of McCleery and the gov­er­nor’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions staff.

    One tar­get audi­ence for the gov­er­nor’s sto­ries would be small­er news­pa­pers that have only a few staffers. But not every­one thinks the approach best serves the pub­lic inter­est.


    The start­ing of Pence’s news out­let comes as he con­sid­ers a run for the White House. He has also gained nation­al atten­tion for his efforts to win an expan­sion of Med­ic­aid using a state-run alter­na­tive. He is expect­ed to deliv­er news on the pro­posed health care expan­sion Tues­day morn­ing.

    Gov­ern­ment-run media exists else­where in the U.S. Illi­nois runs the Illi­nois Gov­ern­ment News Net­work, which dis­trib­utes press releas­es in a more newsy for­mat and the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment runs Voice of Amer­i­ca, even though VOA is broad­cast only out­side the U.S.


    The Just IN doc­u­ments show that the new out­let plans to pitch sto­ries to both reporters and direct­ly to the pub­lic.

    “We expect reporters to find the site use­ful, and some fea­tures are designed specif­i­cal­ly for media pro­fes­sion­als. Just IN, how­ev­er, will func­tion as a news out­let in its own right for thou­sands of Hoosiers — trans­par­ent in func­tion­ing as a voice of the State of Indi­ana’s exec­u­tive branch,” accord­ing to one doc­u­ment.

    A draft sto­ry cir­cu­lat­ed was writ­ten by McCleery, with the byline “Man­ag­ing Edi­tor, Just IN News Ser­vice.” It focus­es on a Pur­due Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor who is design­ing torch­es for the state’s bicen­ten­ni­al and has the feel of a typ­i­cal fea­tures sto­ry.

    One ques­tion that can’t be answered until after the news ser­vice begins oper­a­tion is whether it will be used to pro­vide addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion to the pub­lic and media or used to cir­cum­vent the press, said Steve Key, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Hoosier State Press Asso­ci­a­tion, which lob­bies for news­pa­pers at the State­house.

    “It’s not uncom­mon through­out his­to­ry for gov­ern­ments to do what they can to con­trol the mes­sage,” Key said. “Is that done in a benign way because they’re try­ing to get more info out to the pub­lic, or is it done with hid­den moti­va­tions in mak­ing sure their mes­sage is seen in the best light pos­si­ble?”

    Well that was a fun peak into the future of jour­nal­ism in Indi­ana: Big exclu­sive (and pre­sum­ably pos­i­tive) sto­ries to be bro­ken by a small out­lets:

    “At times, Just IN will break news — pub­lish­ing infor­ma­tion ahead of any oth­er news out­let. Strate­gies for deter­min­ing how and when to give pri­or­i­ty to such ‘exclu­sive’ cov­er­age remain under dis­cus­sion,” accord­ing to a ques­tion-and-answer sheet dis­trib­uted last week to com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tors for state agen­cies.


    One tar­get audi­ence for the gov­er­nor’s sto­ries would be small­er news­pa­pers that have only a few staffers. But not every­one thinks the approach best serves the pub­lic inter­est.”

    So will Indi­ana new gov­ern­ment news ser­vice include an inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism divi­sion? It seems unlike­ly.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 27, 2015, 9:11 am
  7. News about manip­u­la­tion of the news is noth­ing new, but also one of most news­wor­thy cat­e­gories of news around, whether its cur­rent manip­u­la­tion or pre­vi­ous­ly unknown past manip­u­la­tion. And it’s basi­cal­ly nev­er good news, except for that fact that the manip­u­la­tion was exposed. So here’s some good news: Some extreme­ly bad old news report­ing by the Asso­ci­at­ed Press was just dis­cov­ered by a Ger­man researcher. How bad with this news report­ing? How about “enter­ing into an agree­ment with Hitler to embed SS pro­pa­gan­da offi­cers into your work­force and agree to nev­er pub­lish news that might weak­en the Reich”-levels of bad­ness. So, as far as news about news manip­u­la­tion news, this one is par­tic­u­lar­ly news­wor­thy:

    The Guardian

    Revealed: how Asso­ci­at­ed Press coop­er­at­ed with the Nazis

    Ger­man his­to­ri­an shows how news agency retained access in 1930s by promis­ing not to under­mine strength of Hitler regime

    Philip Olter­mann in Berlin

    Wednes­day 30 March 2016 07.18 EDT

    The Asso­ci­at­ed Press news agency entered a for­mal coop­er­a­tion with the Hitler regime in the 1930s, sup­ply­ing Amer­i­can news­pa­pers with mate­r­i­al direct­ly pro­duced and select­ed by the Nazi pro­pa­gan­da min­istry, archive mate­r­i­al unearthed by a Ger­man his­to­ri­an has revealed.

    When the Nazi par­ty seized pow­er in Ger­many in 1933, one of its first objec­tives was to bring into line not just the nation­al press, but inter­na­tion­al media too. The Guardian was banned with­in a year, and by 1935 even big­ger British-Amer­i­can agen­cies such as Key­stone and Wide World Pho­tos were forced to close their bureaus after com­ing under attack for employ­ing Jew­ish jour­nal­ists.

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press, which has described itself as the “marine corps of jour­nal­ism” (“always the first in and the last out”) was the only west­ern news agency able to stay open in Hitler’s Ger­many, con­tin­u­ing to oper­ate until the US entered the war in 1941. It thus found itself in the pre­sum­ably prof­itable sit­u­a­tion of being the prime chan­nel for news reports and pic­tures out of the total­i­tar­i­an state.

    In an arti­cle pub­lished in aca­d­e­m­ic jour­nal Stud­ies in Con­tem­po­rary His­to­ry , his­to­ri­an Har­ri­et Scharn­berg shows that AP was only able to retain its access by enter­ing into a mutu­al­ly ben­e­fi­cial two-way coop­er­a­tion with the Nazi regime.

    The New York-based agency ced­ed con­trol of its out­put by sign­ing up to the so-called Schriftleit­erge­setz (editor’s law), promis­ing not to pub­lish any mate­r­i­al “cal­cu­lat­ed to weak­en the strength of the Reich abroad or at home”.

    This law required AP to hire reporters who also worked for the Nazi party’s pro­pa­gan­da divi­sion. One of the four pho­tog­ra­phers employed by the Asso­ci­at­ed Press in the 1930s, Franz Roth, was a mem­ber of the SS para­mil­i­tary unit’s pro­pa­gan­da divi­sion, whose pho­tographs were per­son­al­ly cho­sen by Hitler. AP has removed Roth’s pic­tures from its web­site since Scharn­berg pub­lished her find­ings, though thumb­nails remain view­able due to “soft­ware issues”.

    AP also allowed the Nazi regime to use its pho­to archives for its vir­u­lent­ly anti­se­mit­ic pro­pa­gan­da lit­er­a­ture. Pub­li­ca­tions illus­trat­ed with AP pho­tographs include the best­selling SS brochure “Der Unter­men­sch” (“The Sub-Human”) and the book­let “The Jews in the USA”, which aimed to demon­strate the deca­dence of Jew­ish Amer­i­cans with a pic­ture of New York may­or Fiorel­lo LaGuardia eat­ing from a buf­fet with his hands.

    Com­ing just before Asso­ci­at­ed Press’s 170th anniver­sary in May, the new­ly dis­cov­ered infor­ma­tion rais­es not just dif­fi­cult ques­tions about the role AP played in allow­ing Nazi Ger­many to con­ceal its true face dur­ing Hitler’s first years in pow­er, but also about the agency’s rela­tion­ship with con­tem­po­rary total­i­tar­i­an regimes.

    While the AP deal enabled the west to peek into a repres­sive soci­ety that may oth­er­wise have been entire­ly hid­den from view – for which Berlin cor­re­spon­dent Louis P Lochn­er won a Pulitzer in 1939 – the arrange­ment also enabled the Nazis to cov­er up some of its crimes. Scharn­berg, a his­to­ri­an at Halle’s Mar­tin Luther Uni­ver­si­ty, argued that AP’s coop­er­a­tion with the Hitler regime allowed the Nazis to “por­tray a war of exter­mi­na­tion as a con­ven­tion­al war”.

    In June 1941, Nazi troops invad­ed the town of Lviv in west­ern Ukraine. Upon dis­cov­er­ing evi­dence of mass killings car­ried out by Sovi­et troops, Ger­man occu­py­ing forces had organ­ised “revenge” pogroms against the city’s Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion.

    Franz Roth’s pho­tographs of the dead bod­ies inside Lviv pris­ons were select­ed upon Hitler’s per­son­al orders and dis­trib­uted to the Amer­i­can press via AP.

    “Instead of print­ing pic­tures of the days-long Lviv pogroms with its thou­sands of Jew­ish vic­tims, the Amer­i­can press was only sup­plied with pho­tographs show­ing the vic­tims of the Sovi­et police and ‘brute’ Red Army war crim­i­nals,” Scharn­berg told the Guardian.

    “To that extent it is fair to say that these pic­tures played their part in dis­guis­ing the true char­ac­ter of the war led by the Ger­mans,” said the his­to­ri­an. “Which events were made vis­i­ble and which remained invis­i­ble in AP’s sup­ply of pic­tures fol­lowed Ger­man inter­ests and the Ger­man nar­ra­tive of the war.”

    Approached with these alle­ga­tions, AP said in a state­ment that Scharnberg’s report “describes both indi­vid­u­als and their activ­i­ties before and dur­ing the war that were unknown to AP”, and that it is cur­rent­ly review­ing doc­u­ments in and beyond its archives to “fur­ther our under­stand­ing of the peri­od”.

    An AP spokesper­son told the Guardian: “As we con­tin­ue to research this mat­ter, AP rejects any notion that it delib­er­ate­ly ‘col­lab­o­rat­ed’ with the Nazi regime. An accu­rate char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion is that the AP and oth­er for­eign news organ­i­sa­tions were sub­ject­ed to intense pres­sure from the Nazi regime from the year of Hitler’s com­ing to pow­er in 1932 until the AP’s expul­sion from Ger­many in 1941. AP man­age­ment resist­ed the pres­sure while work­ing to gath­er accu­rate, vital and objec­tive news in a dark and dan­ger­ous time.”

    The new find­ings may only have been of inter­est to com­pa­ny his­to­ri­ans, were it not for the fact that AP’s rela­tion­ship with total­i­tar­i­an regimes has once again come under scruti­ny. Since Jan­u­ary 2012, when AP became the first west­ern news agency to open a bureau in North Korea, ques­tions have repeat­ed­ly been raised about the neu­tral­i­ty of its Pyongyang bureau’s out­put.

    In 2014, Wash­ing­ton-based web­site NK News alleged that top exec­u­tives at AP had in 2011 “agreed to dis­trib­ute state-pro­duced North Kore­an pro­pa­gan­da through the AP name” in order to gain access to the high­ly prof­itable mar­ket of dis­trib­ut­ing pic­ture mate­r­i­al out of the total­i­tar­i­an state. The Demo­c­ra­t­ic People’s Repub­lic of Korea comes sec­ond from bot­tom in the cur­rent World Press Free­dom Index.

    A leaked draft agree­ment showed that AP was appar­ent­ly will­ing to let the Kore­an Cen­tral News Agency (KCNA) hand­pick one text and one pho­to jour­nal­ist from its agi­ta­tion and pro­pa­gan­da unit to work in its bureau. AP told the Guardian that “it would be pre­sump­tu­ous to assume ‘the draft’ has any sig­nif­i­cance”, but declined to dis­close fur­ther infor­ma­tion on the final agree­ment.


    Nate Thay­er, a for­mer AP cor­re­spon­dent in Cam­bo­dia who pub­lished the leaked draft agree­ment, told the Guardian: “It looks like AP have learned very lit­tle from their own his­to­ry. To claim, as the agency does, that North Korea does not con­trol their out­put, is ludi­crous. There is nat­u­ral­ly an argu­ment that any access to secre­tive states is impor­tant. But at the end of the day it mat­ters whether you tell your read­ers that what you are report­ing is based on inde­pen­dent and neu­tral sources”.

    “The New York-based agency ced­ed con­trol of its out­put by sign­ing up to the so-called Schriftleit­erge­setz (editor’s law), promis­ing not to pub­lish any mate­r­i­al “cal­cu­lat­ed to weak­en the strength of the Reich abroad or at home”.”
    That’s def­i­nite­ly some bad news. Good to know, but wow is that bad.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 30, 2016, 3:19 pm
  8. @Pterrafractyl–

    Great find! Inter­est­ing to con­tem­plate against the back­ground of “Ser­pen­t’s Walk.”

    Bear in mind the the Lviv (Lvov) pogrom was con­duct­ed by the Ein­satz­gruppe Nachti­gall (Nachti­gall Bat­tal­ion) led by Roman Shukhevych, named as a Hero of Ukraine by Vik­tor Yuschenko.

    A street in the Lvov dis­trict was named in hon­or of the Nachti­gall Bat­tal­ion.

    Shukhevy­ch’s son Yuri is a key Maid­an leader and had much to do with the for­ma­tion of Pravy Sek­tor.

    Writ­ing what I just wrote would be a crime in Ukraine, pur­suant to their pas­sage of a law last year.

    Also: the dev­as­tat­ing arti­cle you uncov­ered is about the Asso­ci­at­ed Press.

    The Unit­ed Press Inter­na­tion­al (the oth­er for­mer­ly cred­i­ble U.S. wire ser­vice) was bought by the Uni­fi­ca­tion Church some time ago.

    “Newsweek” is now owned by a Japan­ese who has a back­ground in the Uni­fi­ca­tion Church.

    Looks like we have a North Kore­an total­i­tar­i­an col­lab­o­ra­tionist news wire ser­vice in the AP and a South Kore­an total­i­tar­i­an col­lab­o­ra­tionist wire ser­vice in UPI.

    As you might say “Yikes.”

    Keep up the Mar­velous Work!


    Posted by Dave Emory | March 30, 2016, 4:09 pm

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