Wednesday, April 30, 2008

F.A.I.R.'s 1990 Study Of The `NewsHour'--Part 2

After F.A.I.R. issued its critical report about the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour in June 1990, F.A.I.R.’s then-executive director, Jeff Cohen, was invited to debate [the PBS evening news show’s then co-anchor Robert] MacNeil on Channel 13’s then-local New York City show, The 11th Hour. But within a year the show that had aired this debate, The 11th Hour, had “gone off the air,”observed Cohen.

Asked by Downtown in the Spring of 1991 whether MacNeil then seemed willing to invite a F.A.I.R. representative to debate him on his own show, Cohen replied:

“There was no willingness to have a F.A.I.R. representative on MacNeil’s show. Just as Nightline ended up cancelling a previously scheduled appearance by me on its show to discuss F.A.I.R.’s study of Nightline. It seems like F.A.I.R. may be `blacklisted’ from these shows.”

Asked to respond to a June 17, 1990 charge by then-New York Times TV critic Walter Goodman that F.A.I.R.’s report on the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour was just an expression of its own political bias, Cohen said:

“The reaction to our report was, at first, very defensive. They said `F.A.I.R. is biased’ and that it `wants a MacNeil/Lehrer show composed of guests who are just critics.’ But what we want is a balanced show, where advocates for consumer groups, minorities, women and labor have an opportunity to appear on the show as well. That’s what public broadcasting should be all about.

MacNeil/Lehrer hails itself as `independent.’ But that’s not the case.”

Asked by Downtown whether the release of F.A.I.R.’s study in June 1990 had any effect on the show, Cohen said he felt it did, but that the “changes only lasted a few months.”

“One week they actually interviewed Noam Chomsky—alone. And the next night they interviewed [the now-deceased] Edward Said—alone. And for a few days there was a period in which it seemed like a balance of policy-makers and policy-critics appeared. But then it was business-as-usual after the war broke out. Lately, it’s like it was before the study was released.”

In 1991, F.A.I.R. then-shared a Friday morning radio show on Pacifica’s WBAI, with then-Undercurrents radio show producer Laura Flanders, which monitored the media. Downtown asked F.A.I.R.’s executive director in 1991 whether Channel 13’s management had ever approached him about having a media monitoring show televised on Channel 13?

“No. But I’m sure it’s been discussed.”

Asked if there were any other recent changes [in 1991] at WNET in response to F.A.I.R.’s study,” Cohen noted that the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour now “sometimes includes an editor of Progressive magazine on its panel of five journalists” who appear on the show from time to time.

“I think Channel 13 is feeling community pressure to reflect the community’s diversity. We put a lot of heat on it when it allowed The 11th Hour to die. But Big Business is still calling the shots. Our theory is that corporations weren’t interested in diversity. And so we did campaigning on The 11th Hour issue—but MacNeil/Lehrer has all the money. So they let The 11th Hour show die for some cheaper show—though the cheaper show has had some very decent community segments.”

Cohen noted that Channel 13’s new “cheaper” show—not the plush NewsHour was even planning in 1991 to let the F.A.I.R. spokesperson get on the TV screen the following night.

(Downtown 5/8/91)

Next: Discrimination At PBS Historically

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

F.A.I.R.'s 1990 Study Of The `NewsHour'--Part 1

In June 1990, the Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting [F.A.I.R.] liberal media watchdog group, which then had an office at 130 W. 25th St. in Manhattan, released the results of its study of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. In the spring of 1991, Downtown spoke with F.A.I.R.’s then-Executive Director Jeff Cohen to learn what were the major conclusions of F.A.I.R.’s 1990 study.

“We had already done a study of [ABC News’] Nightline. We decided to study the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour to see if public broadcasting was giving `a voice for the voiceless’ and `reflecting an America on the air in all of its diversity,’ in the words of the Carnegie Commission on Public Broadcasting.

“We found that the guest-list on PBS’s MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour was more narrow than it was on Nightline. There were more government officials and less critics than on Nightline. And a greater percentage of the MacNeil/Lehrer guests were men and white.

“We did a case study of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour’s coverage of environmental issues for six months, during the period of the Valdez oil spill. And we found that not one environmental activist had been invited to appear on the show. The show’s guest-list had pro-corporation people, but no representatives from public-interest groups,” Cohen recalled in 1991.

(Downtown 5/8/91)

Next: F.A.I.R.’s 1990 Study Of The NewsHour—Part 2

Monday, April 28, 2008

British Influence On U.S. Public Broadcasting Historically

The Carnegie Commission report of 1979, A Public Trust, also discussed PBS’s anglophilic tendency to employ former BBC correspondents and broadcast programs produced by English producers for BBC on PBS, rather than programs produced by noncommercial, unemployed, native-born U.S. producers:

“It is often easier, cheaper, and less risky to acquire programs produced by other broadcasters, particularly those in Great Britain…The effect on American viewers is the impression that public television prefers actors and commentators with British accents.

“…Such problems give rise to accusations of `elitism’ and anglophilia. For the professionals involved in the domestic production industry the problem is more serious. The vast resources of the American creative community are presently underused. Except at the very pinnacle of the field, unemployment is rampant.”

(Downtown 5/8/91)

Next: F.A.I.R.’s 1990 Study Of The NewsHour

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Protest Columbia University's Complicity With U.S. Imperialism: April 24-27, 2008

To mark the 40th anniversary of the 1968 Columbia Anti-War Student Revolt against Columbia University’s complicity with U.S. imperialism,veterans of the 1968 Columbia Student Strike will be converging at Columbia’s School of Journalism between April 24 and April 27, 2008. See the following link for the schedule of commemoration events:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

`Bloody Minds'

Come, you Bloody Minds
Look what I done find
I done did research
IDA exists.
Laugh between your walls
And sit behind your desks
And watch your missiles fall
IDA exists.

The value-free school
Your mask we see right through
The weapons of the Pentagon
Their brains procured by you.

Godly Grayson Kirk
On the board he knits
Smokes upon his pipe
While his bombers bite.
Problems he assigns:
“How to make men die?”
Professors they plan
Death for Viet Nam.

In ’56 to serve Defense
Five schools they did combine
Four years later
It joined the Bloody Minds.

City slums they rot
Homeless live in lots
Atoms to destroy
They’re your little toys.
Oh, they pay you well
To create a hell
Did you see the news?
Twelve children they slew.

A division
Its name Jason
In summer they study
They meet, they talk
They plan, they plot

Lovers they must part
Lamps they now are dark
Knowledge turned to swords
Kirk sits on the board.
Schools changed into guns
For the Pentagon
Students now they learn:
How to make kids burn.

You stand in class
You spout your facts
A” noble scientist.”
But then at night
You join the fight
You do secret research.

Murder poor peasants
With the tools you sent
Orphan thin children
Help the Junta win.
Kill them with your mind
Paralyze their spines
Someday you will die
And in slime you’ll lie.

To listen to this protest folk song about Columbia University’s complicity with the U.S. war machine during the Vietnam War Era, you can check out the “Columbia Songs for a Democratic Society” site at the following link:

The Bloody Minds protest folk song was written in a Furnald Hall dormitory room on Columbia University’s campus in March of 1967, after I discovered that Columbia University was an institutional member of the Pentagon’s Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA] weapons research think-tank and that Columbia University President Grayson Kirk was a member of both IDA’s board of trustees and IDA’s executive committee. The Bloody Minds protest folk song was lyrically patterned somewhat after Dylan’s Masters of War protest folk song of the 1960s (which was sung to the melody of the traditional folk song Nottamun Town that Jean Ritchie used to sing in the late 1950s and early 1960s).

IDA continues to exist in 2008, continues to perform weapons research for the U.S. war machine and continues to include representatives from U.S. universities like M.I.T., Harvard, the University of South Carolina and the University of Texas on IDA’s board of trustees. For more information about IDA’s most recent war research in this current 21st-century “era of permanent war”, you can check out IDA’s website at

Next: Protest Columbia University’s Complicity With U.S. Imperialism: April 24-27, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Corporate Influence On Public Broadcasting Historically--Part 3

Lies Of Our Times was a now-defunct monthly Downtown Manhattan magazine, with offices at 145 West 4th Street in the early 1990's, which focused on misinformation and disinformation in the New York Times and other Establishment media. In 1991, Downtown asked its then-managaing editor, Bill Schaap, what was his opinion of PBS’s NewsHour, in terms of the issues that Lies Of Our Times was then raising?

“It’s a little hard to generalize. But, generally, it’s not quite as independent and unbiased and impartial as it purports to be. I think PBS is subject to the same pressures as the commercial networks,” Schaap answered.

Did the NewsHour ever invite any editor of Lies Of Our Times to discuss the issues that Lies Of Our Times raised?

“No,” said Schaap. “But they’ve certainly dealt with some of the issues, occasionally.”

Schaap noted that the Institute for Media Analysis, which then published the Lies Of Our Times magazine, also published a book, The Rise and Fall Of The Bulgarian Connection which documented that the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour “did exactly the same thing as the commercial networks for four years” in spreading misinformation about the alleged involvement of Bulgarian secret police in the attempted assassination of the now-deceased Pope John.

"It’s hard to see where they’re much different than the other networks. They’re definitely pretty bad on their UNESCO coverage. Only in minor ways does their coverage differ from private networks,” Schaap said.


“They’re very much dependent on the good will of the Establishment and the government. You don’t suppose Mobil Oil would fund PBS if it exposed Mobil too much? Or that the government would provide it with funds if it was too anti-government?"

Downtown asked Schaap in 1991 how he would respond to the NewsHour’s then-spokesperson who maintained that a “line in the sand” existed between the show’s corporate funding sources and its editorial decision-making.

“I would disagree. It’s probably not blatant. The president of a corporation doesn’t go around the studio with a blue pencil. But there’s self-censorship.”

The Institute for Media Analysis was started by Schaap in the late 1980s, before it started to publish the now-defunct Lies Of Our Times.

“We really decided that there was a need for a major magazine devoted to this kind of media analysis in a magazine format,” recalled Schaap in 1991.

Had the media gotten better or worse since the Institute for Media Analysis was started?

“It continues to get worse. What happened is that the dependence on government keeps growing in the news media. They’re becoming dependent on sources of information in the government for their news. There’s also been greater pressure on the media from the Reagan and Bush [I] administrations in recent years [in the early 1990s],” observed Schaap.

Although Schaap agreed that “having anybody else tell them what to say” might raise freedom of the press issues if public participation in PBS editorial policy-formation increased, he dismissed the notion that more public accountability of PBS represented a greater threat to freedom of the journalists in the media than corporate control. “The fact is that the corporations have vast power over the media,” said Schaap.

Despite NewsHour spokesperson Ramsey’s 1991 contention that editorial independence of his publicly-funded show was not threatened by the acceptance of corporate funding, the Carnegie Commission also observed in its 1979 report that:

“An examination of the national television program service distributed by PBS reveals that outsider funder control is a very real issue in the present system…Corporations have become particularly visible in public broadcasting…Corporate underwriting has undoubtedly skewed the total schedule in the direction of cultural programs which are popular among the `upscale’ audience that corporations prefer. Controversial drama, documentaries, public affairs, and programs for minorities and other special audience must then compete for remaining discretionary money. Too often they have become casualties in a neo-Darwinian competition for scarce funds…

“Other funders have shown a similar interest in specifying the terms under which they will provide financial support…

“The fact is that public television, so dependent upon outside funding for its basic national schedule, has repeatedly forfeited its autonomy in programming. In one instance, rather than lose vitally necessary funding, programs were accepted by PBS and a large East Coast station even though PBS and the offering station did not agree with the program selected by the major corporate funder…The fact that underwriters can choose the programs they wish to fund or not to fund considerably reduces the system’s discretion.”

(Downtown 5/8/91)

Next: Bloody Minds protest folk song lyrics

Monday, April 21, 2008

Corporate Influence On Public Broadcasting Historically--Part 2

Asked by Downtown in 1991 what was the relationship between MacNeil-Lehrer Productions and PBS’s NewsHour, MacNeil-Lehrer Productions’ then-spokesperson, Christopher Ramsey, said that “MacNeil-Lehrer Productions produces the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour and WNET co-produces it.” Ramsey also noted in 1991 that his MacNeil-Lehrer Productions company produced other programs besides the PBS evening news, such as a PBS series on the English language and a series featuring the Surgeon General which NBC broadcasted.

Asked by Downtown in 1991 if the NewsHour was then involved in a relationship with Time-Warner, Ramsey answered affirmatively and noted that the relationship with Time magazine involved photo access and purely journalistic concerns.

Asked by Downtown how he would respond to critics who felt that there was a conflict-of-interest involved in the publicly-funded MacNeil-Lehrer Productions operating as a commercial venture, Ramsey questioned whether any such critics exist and said:

“All of the producers on PBS are independent contractors. And all the programs are contracted. There’s nothing wrong with a production company for public television making some small profit like any other business. Otherwise, you become dependent on just one funding source.”

Asked how he would respond to those critics of public broadcasting who worry about the dangers of “clandestine commercialism” within the public broadcasting system, Ramsey replied:

“That’s part of a much broader issue. We don’t have any kind of pure public broadcasting system in the United States. Maybe some commercialism can be avoided elsewhere. But even in the BBC they pay a salary or contract out on the basis of a production fee that insures a fair and reasonable profit to program producers.”

Downtown then asked Ramsey how he’d respond to critics of public broadcasting who argue that commercial funding of the NewsHour leads to commercial editorial control.

“We have a line in the sand drawn between our corporate funders and our editorial decisions. Corporate funders like AT&T have never tried to influence our program,” Ramsey said.

When Downtown noted that some people felt that the NewsHour doesn’t report on issues involving AT&T because AT&T funds the program, Ramsey replied in 1991:

“We’ve done quite a lot on AT&T. I can show you the transcripts of many programs on AT&T.”

Downtown then asked Ramsey whether he could recall if the NewsHour had ever done a show about the Gannett Company?

“I can’t off the top of my head. But Gannett is a low-profile company. And we tend to focus on issues of public policy and are less involved with issues related to companies like Gannett.”

(Downtown 5/8/91)

Next: Corporate Influence On Public Broadcasting Historically—Part 3

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Corporate Influence On Public Broadcasting Historically--Part 1

Asked by Downtown in 1991 if there was any connection between WNET and MacNeil-Lehrer Gannett Productions, a WNET spokesperson replied:

“We are one of the presenting stations of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. We don’t have any input in MacNeil-Lehrer Productions. MacNeil-Lehrer is an independent satellite, not a part of WNET.”

Asked by Downtown in 1991 whether WNET thought there might be a conflict-of-interest in its NewsHour also operating MacNeil-Lehrer Productions, the spokesperson answered:

“Not at all. The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour is a program funded separately, funded by public television and there is a station editorial board which helps run the program.”

But in 1979, the Carnegie Commission on the Future of Public Broadcasting published a report, titled A Public Trust, in which it noted that as early as the 1970s:

“Many public groups, once staunch supporters of public broadcasting against the blandness and vulgarities of commercial broadcasting, began to express disappointment about the record of public broadcasting on programming for minorities and women, public participation in station governance, equal employment opportunity, clandestine commercialism via corporate underwriting and the use of so many British imports.”

Asked by Downtown in 1991 if she felt that the presence of somebody from a commercial network like former CBS Evening News Anchor Walter Cronkite on WNET’s board in 1991 seemed to back-up the concern expressed by the Carnegie Commission’s A Public Trust report about “clandestine commercialism” in public television, the WNET spokesperson insisted:

“We are noncommercial and nonprofit. There are no commercials on public television. We are chartered as a nonprofit corporation.”

She then expressed suspicion about Downtown’s line of questioning, wanted more information about exactly what Downtown was going to write about “her” public broadcasting station and requested that she not be publicly identified in this article. Instead, she suggested that Downtown speak with Christopher Ramsey at MacNeil-Lehrer Productions if it had any more questions about possible conflict-of-interests or clandestine commercialism at Channel 13.

(Downtown 5/8/91)

Next: Corporate Influence On Public Broadcasting Historically—Part 2

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Discrimination At Gannett Historically

As might be expected, 91 percent of the general managers at Gannett-owned television stations during the early 1990s were male and 82 percent were white. At Gannett-owned radio stations during the early 1990s, 80 percent of the general managers were white and 70 percent were male. Of the local publishers who supervise the operations of Gannett’s 81 daily newspapers in the early 1990s, only five were African-American, only two were Latino-American and only two were Asian-American. In 1978, according to The Media Monopoly, an African-American media group had protested that Gannett’s history of hiring women and minorities was “worse than the industry average” and that in Rochester, New York the Gannett media conglomerate’s newspapers “had refused to print Urban League reports of supermarket price discrimination” in African-American neighborhoods “for fear of offending advertisers.”

Twenty-two percent of Gannett’s local newspaper publishers were women in the early 1990s (as was the then-publisher of USA Today). But, according to the book Press Concentration and Monopoly by Robert Picard, “the mean circulation of the Gannett dailies headed by women” in the early 1990s was “25,000, compared to 56,000 for Gannett papers headed by men.” In other words, in the early 1990s Gannett apparently tracked its female “local publishers” into the management of its least influential local newspapers. In his Confessions Of An S.O.B., former Gannett Chairman of the Board Neuharth did not indicate what percentage of Gannett’s managers were gay men, lesbians, people with disabilities or people who were under 30 years of age.

(Downtown 5/8/91)

Next: Corporate Influence On Public Broadcasting Historically—Part 1

Friday, April 18, 2008

Gannett's Historic Brokaw And Carter Connection

Former NBC Evening News Anchor Tom Brokaw also had a historic Gannett connection. His wife, Meredith Brokaw, sat on the board of directors of the Gannett Company media conglomerate during the late 1980s. Tom Brokaw, himself, was a good friend of Gannett’s former board chairman, Al Neuharth. In his Confessions Of An S.O.B. book, Neuharth noted that Brokaw is “a South Dakota buddy, and his wife, Meredith, is on the Gannett board.” The book The Making of McPaper also revealed that on at least one occasion “Neuharth had given Tom Brokaw a lift back from South Dakota on the Gannett jet, and Brokaw had mentioned he couldn’t find the paper (USA Today) in Missoula.”

During the late 1980s, the wife of former Democratic President Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn Carter, was also a director of the Gannett Company media conglomerate.

(Downtown 5/8/91)

Next: Discrimination At Gannett Historically

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Gannett's UK Media Subsidiary & Post-1999 Media Monopolization Activity

Since 1999, the McLean, Virginia-based Gannett Company media conglomerate also has begun to exercise a more powerful special interest in the world of UK newspaper publishing across the Atlantic Ocean. Its wholly-owned subsidiary in the Britain, Gannett U.K. Limited, acquired 11 daily newspapers in England with a combined circulation of approximately 460,000, for example, after Gannett purchased one of the largest regional newspaper publishers in England, Newsquest plc., in 1999. Then in the following year, the eighth-largest regional newspaper publisher in the UK, Newscom, was purchased by Gannett, giving the U.S. media conglomerate control over another four daily UK newspapers.

After Gannett U.K. Limited turned Newscom into a division of Newsquest, Gannett’s Newsquest became the second largest regional newspaper company in the United Kingdom. And when Gannett’s Newsquest division purchased SMG Publishing in March of 2003, three Scottish regional newspapers, The Herald, The Sunday Herald and the Evening Times were also added to the Gannett media conglomerate’s stable of UK newspapers.

Within the United States, the Gannet media conglomerate continued to purchase more U.S. daily newspapers after 1999. In 2000, for example, Gannett acquired 19 daily newspapers in Wisconsin, Ohio, Louisiana, Maryland and Utah from the Thomson Newspapers Inc. chain, as well as the Arizona Republic and the Indianapolis Star from Central Newspapers Inc., at a cost of $4.5 billion.

Yet (although you’d never know it from watching the PBS news program of Gannett’s old business associates) there are many people in the United States and the UK who, historically, have not thought that USA Today was worth losing a half-billion dollars over—or that the cause of economic and political democratization in the United States and the UK was helped by the Gannett media conglomerate monopolizing so much newspaper publishing power around the United States and in the United Kingdom.

In his 1980s book The Media Monopoly, Ben Bagdikian, for example, observed:

“Gannett Company, Inc. is an outstanding contemporary performer of the ancient rite of creating self-serving myths, of committing acts of greed and exploitation but describing them through its own machinery as heroic epics. In real life Gannett has violated laws, doctrines of free enterprise and journalistic ideals of truthfulness”.

Bagdikian also noted that chains like Gannett are able to control the editorial policy of their various newspapers by hiring and firing their local editors and local publishers, controlling their newspapers’ budgets and transferring the bank deposits of local papers, beyond daily operational needs, to the parent company’s home office bank account.

The Media Monopoly book also observed that “as the chain mushroomed in the 1970s, complaints of monopolistic arrogance threatened Gannett’s image.”

Next: Gannett’s Historic Brokaw And Carter Connection

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Gannett Media Conglomerate's Hidden History--Part 4

(The following (slightly updated) article originally appeared in the May 8, 1991 issue of the Lower East Side alternative newsweekly, Downtown).

The Gannett Company has long been interested in the promotion of conservative politics around the United States. It was started in 1906 by a politically conservative, anti-liquor prohibitionist named Frank Gannett after Gannett purchased a daily newspaper in Elmira, New York for $3,000 in cash and $17,000 in borrowed money. Secretly financed by the International Paper and Power Company, a private power utility company in the first third of the 20th Century, Frank Gannett then purchased additional U.S. newspapers until he controlled a chain of newspapers that “were inflexibly conservative,” according to The Media Monopoly by Ben Bagdikian. Given the special influence that the International Paper & Power Company obtained by financing the growth of Frank Gannett’s media operation, it is not difficult to understand why “the Gannett papers were enthusiastic supporters of the power trust and scathing attackers of public ownership of generating plants,” according to The Media Monopoly book.

In the 1930s, the Gannett Company founder decided to form the anti-New Deal “Committee To Uphold Constitutional Government,” which successfully lobbied for the defeat of several proposed New Deal liberal reforms and attacked such New Deal liberal reforms as social security and increased taxation of the Ultra-Rich. According to the 1945 edition of Current Biography, Frank Gannett’s anti-New Deal lobbying in the 1930s “earned for him from New Deal Supporters the label of economic royalist.” Prior to his death in 1957, Frank Gannett was also a Cornell University trustee, as well as a lord of the press. Frank Gannett also used much of his Gannett newspaper chain wealth to finance an unsuccessful 1940 campaign for the U.S. presidency on an anti-liquor, Prohibitionist platform.

Consistent with the Gannett Company’s history of promoting political conservatism, it chose to feature then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan at the Sept. 15, 1982 Washington, D.C. launching of its USA Today national newspaper. And in 1985, Gannett chose to let USA Today be an official sponsor of President Reagan’s second-term inauguration festivities. According to The Making of McPaper, Reagan’s “inaugural planners were given $336,000 worth” of free advertising space in USA Today by the Gannett Company. The Jan. 22, 1985 issue of the Wall Street Journal also noted that one of the free USA Today ads printed to celebrate Reagan’s second term inauguration was a testimonial to Reagan from the former U.S. Senator and Republican Party Majority Leader Howard Baker—who had become a Gannett Company director in October, 1984.

In 1986, the Reagan Administration was able to grant a special favor to Gannett for Gannett Director Baker’s testimonial and for the media conglomerate’s providing of free ad space to inauguration planners. After Gannett purchased the Detroit News, Fortune magazine noted in its September 11, 1986 issue that:

“In Detroit a lot hinges on whether the News gets approval from Attorney General Edwin Meese III to enter a joint-operating agreement with its competitor and fellow money loser, the Free Press owned by Knight-Ridder. If it does, Detroit should turn out to be a big winner for Gannett.”

Needless to say, the Reagan Administration approved the joint-operating agreement between Gannett’s Detroit News and Knight-Ridder’s Detroit Free Press, despite local community opposition in Detroit to the joint-operating agreement.

(Downtown 5/8/91)

Next: Gannett’s UK Subsidiary & Post-1999 Media Monopolization Activity

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Gannett Media Conglomerate's Hidden History--Part 3

(The following (slightly updated) article originally appeared in the May 8, 1991 issue of the Lower East Side alternative newsweekly, Downtown).

Around the same time Gannett decided to go into the television production business with PBS’ MacNeil and Lehrer, it also decided to use its windfall newspaper chain profits and Wall Street money to launch a national newspaper, USA Today, in the early 1980s.

Gannett began publishing USA Today in September 1982. The newspaper was primarily sold in 135,000 USA Today vending machines around the United States. Despite the opposition of some urban environmentalists, Gannett “stormed the city and bolted three thousand vending machines to the sidewalks of New York,” according to Neuharth’s Confessions Of An S.O.B. book.

Since the journalistic quality of its new national newspaper was not considered too great by most literate news junkies, Gannett was forced to spend huge sums of money promoting USA Today before it could be converted from an annual money-loser into a profitable media operation. It was also necessary to offer potential advertisers six-and-a-half months of free advertising in USA Today to induce them to advertise in the new national newspaper. And wherever it could, the multi-billion dollar conglomerate always sought to hire cheaper non-unionized workers to distribute USA Today to its vending machines and to newsstands.

According to The Making of McPaper: The Inside Story of `USA Today’ by Peter Prichard, USA Today’s managing editor in the 1980s, when Gannett started to distribute the newspaper in New York City in April 1983, USA Today spent $100,000 on its launch party—including $70,000 for food and liquor—and “saturated local television, radio, billboards and newspapers” with a USA Today ad campaign. Gannett also worked out a deal in 1985 with General Mills in which consumers who sent in proof-of-purchase seals for eight of 12 General Mills products could receive USA Today free for six months—at a cost of $12 million to Gannett. Only 93,000 of the 512,000 people who chose to sample USA Today for free, however, chose to take out paid subscriptions after six months of evaluating the Gannett national newspaper.

Despite the huge sums of excess profits that Gannett spent to push USA Today on people in the United States, as late as 1986 it was still a big money-loser for Gannett. Between 1980 and 1986 (including pre-publishing years), Gannett’s total pretax operating losses from its USA Today national newspaper operation exceeded $458 million, which was “by far the greatest deficit any newspaper had ever run up,” according to The Making of McPaper book.

Yet despite the initial unprofitability of its new national newspaper, Gannett found it politically useful to continue to circulate millions of copies of USA Today during the politically conservative Reagan Era of the 1980s. And by 2008, USA Today’s current daily circulation was around 2.3 million, making it the largest-selling daily newspaper in the United States.

(Downtown 5/8/91)

Next: The Gannett Media Conglomerate’s Hidden History—Part 4

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Gannett Media Conglomerate's Hidden History--Part 2

(The following (slightly updated) article originally appeared in the May 8, 1991 issue of the Lower East Side alternative newsweekly, Downtown).

Much of Gannett’s mass media empire was purchased via $1.5 billion in Wall Street money in the 1970s and 1980s—after many of the antiwar underground newspapers of the late 1960s, like the Lower East Side’s East Village Other (EVO) and RAT, had folded due to a combination of economic and political pressures. In 1967, only 28 U.S. newspapers had been controlled by Gannett. In the 1970s, 46 additional daily newspapers were bought by Gannett. As its former chairman of the board, Al Neuharth, noted in his Confessions Of An S.O.B. book: “In a single decade—1970 to 1980—Gannett went from number seven to number one, the nation’s biggest newspaper company.”

In the 1980s, another 23 more daily newspapers were added to Gannett’s stable. Many of the newspapers Gannett gobbled up in the 1970s and 1980s had previously been family-owned media operations. Between 1970 and 1989, all of Gannett’s radio and television stations were also acquired.

Among the largest mass media purchases made by Gannett during its $1.5 billion buying spree were the following:

1. In 1979, Gannett spent $362 million to acquire the seven television stations, three radio stations and Cincinnati and Oakland newspapers of Combined Communications—as well as Combined Communications’ 38,000 outdoor billboards, and 2. In 1985 and 1986, Gannett spent $1.2 billion to gobble up the Des Moines Register & Tribune, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Detroit News and the Detroit News’ Washington, D.C. television station.

Gannett’s 1970s and 1980s drive to control more newspapers in single-newspaper U.S. cities and towns proved to be enormously profitable—as did its preference for utilizing non-unionized employees to operate newly-purchased local newspaper monopolies. According to the book The Media Monopoly by Ben Bagdikian, “The profit margin on some Gannett papers was astonishing—70 to 50 percent a year.” And these net earnings, according to former Gannett Chairman Neuharth’s Confessions Of An S.O.B. book, “made Gannett a darling of Wall Street.” According to Neuharth (who despite “retiring” as Gannett’s head in 1989—still received $200,000 a year in 1991 from its USA Today national newspaper for being a “consultant” and a columnist), between 1967 and 1987 Gannett’s annual gross income jumped from $186 million to $3.1 billion and its annual net income jumped from $14 million to $319 million. Yet despite Gannett’s profitability, 80 percent of Gannett’s newspaper employees were still non-unionized in 1991.

(Downtown 5/8/91)

Next: The Gannett Media Conglomerate’s Hidden History—Part 3

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Gannett Media Conglomerate's Hidden History--Part 1

(The following (slightly updated) article originally appeared in the May 8, 1991 issue of the Lower East Side alternative newsweekly, Downtown).

The Gannett Company mass media conglomerate was the world’s largest newspaper publishing chain in the early 1990s. At that time, Gannett controlled the USA Today national newspaper, 81 other daily newspapers in the United States and U.S. territories, and 35 other non-daily newspapers. The daily circulation of Gannett-owned newspapers around the United States exceeded 6,000,000 in the early 1990s. Gannett also operated 16 commercial radio stations and 10 commercial television broadcasting stations at that time. Currently, Gannett operates 85 daily newspapers with a circulation of over 7.2 million and 23 commercial television broadcasting stations.

Among the mass media properties controlled by the Gannett Company in suburban New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and elsewhere, in addition to its USA Today national newspaper, in 1991 were:

New York: Yonkers Herald Statesman; White Plain Reporter; New Rochelle Standard-Star; Port Chester Daily Item; Mount Vernon Daily Argus; Mamaroneck Daily-Times; Peekskill Star; Ossining Citizen-Register; Tarrytown Daily News; West Nyack Rockland Journal News; Poughkeepsie Journal; Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin; Elmira Star Gazette; Ithaca Journal; Niagara Falls Niagara Gazette; Saratoga Springs Saratogian; Rochester Democrat and Chronicle Times-Union; and Utica Observer-Dispatch.

New Jersey: Camden Courier-Post; Bridgewater Courier –News; Mullville Daily; and Vineland Times-Journal.

Connecticut: Norwich Bulletin.

Washington, D.C.: WUSA-TV.

Arizona: Phoenix’s KPNX-TV; Tucson Citizen.

Arkansas: Little Rock Arkansas-Gazette.

California: Los Angeles’ KHS-Radio; San Diego’s KSDO-Radio; Marin County Marin Independent Journal; Palm Springs Desert Sun.

Colorado: Denver’s KUSA-TV.

Florida: Jacksonville’s WTLV-TV; Tampa’s WDAE and WUSA-Radio; Pensacola News-Journal; Fort Myers News-Press.

Georgia: Atlanta’s WXIA-TV.

Hawaii: Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Idaho: Boise Idaho Statesman.

Illinois: Chicago’s WGCI-Radio; Rockford Register-Star; Danville Commercial News.

Iowa: Des Moines Register; Iowa City Press-Citizen.

Kentucky: Louisville Courier-Journal.

Massachusetts: Boston’s WLVI-TV.

Michigan: Detroit News; Lansing State-Journal; Battle Creek Enquirer; Port Huron Times-Herald.

Minnesota: Minneapolis-St. Paul’s KARE-TV.

Mississippi: Jackson Clarion-Ledger and Daily News.

Missouri: St. Louis’s KUSA and KSD-Radio; Kansas City’s KCMO-Radio; and Springfield News-Leader.

Nevada: Reno Gazette-Journal.

New Mexico: Santa Fe New Mexican.

Ohio: Cincinnati Enquirer.

Oklahoma: Oklahoma City’s KOCO-TV.

South Dakota: Sioux Falls Argus-Leader.

Tennessee: Nashville Tennessean.

Texas: Austin’s KVUE-TV; Houston’s KKBQ Radio; and El Paso Times.

Vermont: Burlington Free Press.

Wisconsin: Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Virgin Islands: Virgin Island Daily News. and

Guam: Pacific Daily News.

Then in 1995, Gannett purchased the Multimedia, Inc. media corporation and temporarily added 10 additional daily newspapers to its chain of newspapers, 5 additional television stations, and two additional radio stations. But by 1998, the Gannett media conglomerate had decided to reduce its involvement in radio broadcasting and had sold off the 16 radio stations it had owned in 1991 and the two additional radio stations it had acquired from Multimedia, Inc. in 1995.

(Downtown 5/8/91)

Next: The Gannett Media Conglomerate’s Hidden History—Part 2

Saturday, April 12, 2008

PBS's Historic Gannett Connection--Part 2

(The following (slightly updated) article originally appeared in the May 8, 1991 issue of the Lower East Side alternative newsweekly, Downtown).

In addition to receiving funds from the Gannett Company media conglomerate in the 1980s to establish the private, commercial MacNeil-Lehrer Productions joint-venture, MacNeil and Lehrer’s commercial venture also received public funds from PBS as payment for producing and hosting programs like the 1986 My Heart, Your Heart one-hour special on heart disease and a 12-part series on life in China, The Heart of the Dragon, as well as for the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour show. And in its Oct. 6, 1989 issue, the New York Times reported that the Entertainment Division of the commercial NBC network had “commissioned five hour-long health specials from MacNeil/Lehrer Productions which” were “to feature Dr. C. Everett Koop, former Surgeon General of the United States.”

According to the 1990-1991 NYNEX Business to Business Yellow Pages, the commercial offices of “MacNeil Lehrer Gannett Productions” were located at 1775 Broadway, on the corner of 57th St. in Suite 612—just around the corner from the publicly-funded, “nonprofit” Channel 13 studio offices of PBS’s MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour show. The 1990-1991 Business to Business Yellow Pages also then listed 560-3169 as the MacNeil-Lehrer-Gannett Productions telephone number.

In the spring of 1991, Downtown telephoned this phone number, which was listed in the 1990-1991 directory under a bold-faced “MacNeil-Lehrer-Gannett Productions” listing, and was greeted by an answering machine. Downtown then telephoned the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour office at WNET-Channel 13 and asked what was then the nature of the Gannett Company’s relationship to MacNeil-Lehrer-Gannett Productions and/or the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.

According to the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour and MacNeil-Lehrer Productions’ then-spokesperson, Christoopher Ramsey, MacNeil-Lehrer’s partnership with the Gannett Company had been terminated in 1987. Downtown then asked Ramsey why MacNeil-Lehrer-Gannett Productions was still listed in the 1990-1991 telephone Business-to-Business Yellow Pages if MacNeil-Lehrer Productions’ relationship to Gannett had ended in 1987?

“That’s a mistake made by the phone company. I’ll have to notify them,” Ramsey then answered.

But a customer service representative at Donnelly Directory, which published the 1990-1991 Business-to-Business Yellow Pages told Downtown that “within a year” after a business notifies the phone company that its phone number listing is to be changed, the listing is changed in the Business-to-Business Yellow Pages; and, if the listing is in bold face in the Business-to-Business directory, this fact is noted on the current monthly billing statement that the business customer receives each month.

By the mid-1990s, however, the NewsHour’s historic partnership with the Gannett Company media conglomerate had finally ended, after a controlling interest in MacNeil-Lehrer Productions was sold to AT & T, one of the NewsHour’s then-major donors. A 67 percent controlling-interest of MacNeil-Lehrer Productions was, subsequently, purchased by Liberty Media, another media conglomerate. Until 2006, the Liberty Media conglomerate that owns MacNeil-Lehrer Productions, was also the owner of a large chunk of stock of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation/Fox News global media conglomerate.

Today, the Liberty Media conglomerate (which also now owns the Atlanta Braves baseball team and television stations in Wisconsin) still controls 67 percent of the production company that produces PBS’s evening television news show. But one of the NewsHour’s correspondents (who was the wife of Wall Street Journal Washington Bureau Chief Albert Hunt in the early 1990s), Judy Woodruff, sits on the Freedom Forum foundation that used to operate under the name of the Gannett Foundation. (During the 1990s, Woodruff apparently also sat next to Bush Administration Secretary of State Condi Rice on the board of the Carnegie Corporation of New York foundation).

(Downtown 5/8/91)

And the current president of the PBS evening news show’s New York City outlet, WNET/Educational Broadcasting Corporation/Channel 13 President & CEO Neal Shapiro, also sits on the Gannett Company board of directors as a member of the Gannett media conglomerate board’s “Nominating” and “Public Responsibility” committees.

Next: The Gannett Media Conglomerate’s Hidden History--Part 1

Friday, April 11, 2008

PBS's Historic Gannett Connection--Part 1

(The following (slightly updated) article originally appeared in the May 8, 1991 issue of the Lower East Side alternative newsweekly, Downtown).

“Public television’s programming has become subject to external interests, especially the interests of the corporations, foundations and government agencies that fund much of the national schedule…”

The Report of the Carnegie Commission on the Future of Public Broadcasting in 1979

“…On public television, Jim Lehrer and I have been trying an innovative approach to televised news. The partnership with Gannett will let us build on that experience.”

Former PBS NewsHour Anchor Robert MacNeil in September 1981

In September 1981, the Public Broadcasting Service’s evening news anchormen, Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer, formed a partnership with the Gannett Company to produce television news, specials, documentaries and cable programs.

Fifty percent of the partnership, MacNeil-Lehrer Productions, was to be owned by the Gannett Company, 25 percent by MacNeil and 25 percent by Lehrer. According to MacNeil, under his and Lehrer’s agreement with the Gannett Company, Gannett would “fund program ideas we three collectively agree should be produced.”

The Gannett Company’s chairman of the board and president in 1981, Al Neuharth, characterized Gannett’s decision to form a commercial partnership with the publicly-funded PBS news anchormen as “a marvelous opportunity to add a significant dimension to our development of electronic news and information capability,” according to the Sept. 12, 1981 issue of the New York Times. At the same time, MacNeil explained one of his reasons for then becoming a partner with one of the biggest commercial mass media conglomerates in the world: “Since we didn’t take a vow of poverty and chastity when we joined public television, it would be nice if we could also make some money.”

Yet in 1969, former PBS evening news anchor MacNeil had complained in a WRVR-FM radio discussion that “Television is in the hands of people who want to use it to sell things. It’s a market place.” And in his 1982 memoir, The Right Place At The Right Time, the Canadian-born and bred MacNeil would later claim that he and Lehrer “have turned down a number of attractive job offers in commercial television,” “the pleasure of working together on what we want to do outweighs the higher salaries we have been offered outside” and “freedom from frustration and tension is worth a lot of money.”

Although PBS’ Channel 13 often pleaded poverty in the early 1990s during its annual WBAI-imitation television marathons to help finance the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, neither Gannett nor the MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour was then in special need of money. The Gannett Company’s gross annual income exceeded $3 billion and its net income per year approached $400 million in the early 1990s. And in its Aug. 4, 1988 issue, the New York Times noted that the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour also received a “financial commitment of $57 million through corporate support of AT&T, Pepsico and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation” in the late 1980s.

(Downtown 5/8/91)

Next: PBS’s Historic Gannett Connection—Part 2

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Shareholders Sue Columbia Trustee-Linked PMI For Securities Exchange Act Violations

Columbia University Trustee Ann Kaplan is also a Professor of Finance at Columbia’s School of Business and both a member of Smith College’s board of trustees and the chair of the Smith College board’s investment committee in Massachusetts. In addition, Columbia University Trustee Kaplan sits on the board of directors of the Financial Guaranty Insurance Company [FGIC] next to certain officers and directors of the PMI Group Inc. (PMI), which has owned 42 percent of the stock of FGIC in recent years.

After PMI announced on March 3, 2008 that its U.S. Mortgage Insurance Operations had reported a net loss of $236 million in the fourth quarter, the value of a share of PMI stock dropped to $6.43, although its value during the Nov. 2, 2006 and March 3, 2008 period had once been as high as $50.07. So on April 3, 2008, the law firm of Schriffin Barroway Topaz & Kessler, LLP announced that a class action lawsuit against PMI on behalf of its shareholders was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

According to the April 3, 2008 statement of Schriffin, Barroway, Topaz & Kessler, the Complaint “charges PMI and certain of its officers and directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934” and alleges that the defendants “failed to disclose material adverse facts about” PMI’s “financial well-being, business relationships and prospects.” The lawsuit’s complaint also accuses PMI CEO and Chairman L. Stephen Smith, PMI Executive Vice-President David Katkov and PMI Chief Financial Officer Executive Officer and Executive Vice-President Donald Lofe Jr. of engaging in profitable insider trading in which they made millions by selling their own PMI stock at the same time they “materially misled the investing public, thereby inflating the price of PMI securities, by publicly issued false and misleading statements” about PMI’s actual financial condition.

Coincidentally, sitting next to Columbia University Trustee Kaplan on the FGIC board of directors are the defendants in this civil lawsuit: PMI CEO and Chairman L. Stephen Smith and PMI Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice-President Donald Lofe Jr.. In addition, PMI Senior Vice President Patrick Mathis, PMI Group President Bradley Shuster and PMI Executive Vice President Arthur Slepian also sit on the FGIC board next to Columbia University Trustee Kaplan.

Next: PBS’s Historic Gannett Connection—Part 1

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Columbia University's Pulitzer Prize Board/`Washington Post' Connections

The Pulitzer Prize Board of Columbia University’s School of Journalism recently gave a Pulitzer Prize to the Washington Post newspaper. Coincidentally, Pulitzer Prize Board Member Donald Graham and Columbia University President Lee Bollinger both sit on the board of directors of the Washington Post Company/Newsweek media conglomerate parent company of the Washington Post newspaper which Columbia University decided to honor with a Pulitzer Prize. In addition, Pulitzer Prize Board Member and Washington Post Company CEO Donald Graham is also a trustee of the Philip L. Graham Fund that owned over $35.4 million worth of Washington Post Company/Newsweek stock (46,339 shares) in 2005.

Not surprisingly, between 2006 and 2008, the Columbia University School of Journalism was also given three grants, totaling $75,000, by the Philip L. Graham Fund on whose board Washington Post Company/Newsweek media conglomerate CEO and Pulitzer Prize Board Member Graham sits, prior to Columbia University’s Pulitzer Prize Board giving Graham’s Washington Post newspaper a Pulitzer Prize.

Next: Shareholders Sue Columbia Trustee-Linked PMI For Securities Exchange Act Violations

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Columbia University's Historic Gannett Media Conglomerate Connection

For many years, 10 percent of the Gannet Company media conglomerate’s stock, worth about $547 million in 1989, was, historically, controlled by the Gannett Foundation [n/k/a Freedom Forum]. In the late 1980s, the former chairman of Gannett and founder of USA Today, Al Neuharth, was also the chairman of the board of trustees of the “nonprofit” Gannett Foundation [n/k/a Freedom Forum], which spent $33 million per year of its Gannett Company dividends in the early 1990s on grants to such “needy” recipients as Columbia University. In exchange for its grant from Neuharth’s Gannett Foundation, Columbia set up “the Gannet Center for Media Study” in its School of Journalism building to study the same mass communications industry that the Gannett Company and Neuharth historically attempted to dominate. A former president of the Public Broadcasting Service [PBS], Lawrence Grossman was a Senior Fellow at the Gannett Foundation-funded Gannett Center for Media Study in the early 1990s [a few years before Columbia University eventually severed its historic ties to the Gannett Foundation/n/k/a Freedom Forum in 1996).

But according to the associate director of the then-Columbia University-affiliated Gannett Center for Media Study in 1991, Shirley Gazsi, the center then had “no relation” to the Gannett Company and “the Gannett Foundation has no relation to the Gannett Company.”

“We are an operating academic institution,” Gazsi told Downtown in 1991.

Asked by Downtown in early 1991 if she could estimate how much funding the Gannett Foundation then granted to Columbia’s plushily-furnished Center for Media Study, its then-associate director stated that the Gannett Foundation then granted the center $3 million per year and indicated that the Gannett Foundation had by 1991 already made $30 million worth of grants to Columbia’s Center for Media Study over a 10-year period.

According to Gazsi, The Gannett Foundation was set up with Frank Gannett’s ‘private assets,” and “sponsors conferences, grants fellowships and promotes journalism education.” The Gannett Foundation also “makes local community grants,” according to Gazsi, in some cities in which Gannett newspapers operate.

The Gannet Center for Media Study associate director told Downtown in 1991 that neither the Gannett Foundation nor the Gannett Company exercised any control or influence over center activity. But she did indicate in 1991 that “We do get calls from Gannett newspapers and TV stations to respond to certain journalism issues.”

Asked by Downtown in 1991 whether newspaper chains like the Gannett chain are studied by her center, Gazsi replied: “We usually don’t study media chains.”

Asked by Downtown in 1991 if she could recall any Center for Media Study which studied Gannett’s activities, Gazsi replied in the negative. But she assured Downtown that the center would not be reluctant to study Gannett because “in actuality, we are nonpartisan.”

The Gannett Foundation also spent its Gannett Company dividends in the early 1990s on purchasing books. After the then-chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Gannett Foundation, Al Neuharth, had his book, Confessions Of An S.O.B., published, the nonprofit Gannett Foundation told The New York Times on Sept. 7, 1990 that foundation money was used to “buy some 2,000 copies” of Neuharth’s autobiography, but it denied charges that it had “tried to influence best-seller lists” with its foundation money.

(Downtown 5/8/91)

Next: Columbia University’s Pulitzer Prize Board/Washington Post Connections

Monday, April 7, 2008

Is Your Professor A CIA Asset?

In addition to having a special interest in U.S. presidential elections, the U.S. mass media and Indonesia’s domestic political situation, the CIA has also always had a special interest in the U.S. university world. According to a chapter titled “Cloaks and Gowns: The CIA In The Groves of Academe” by University of Georgia Professor Loch Johnson, which appeared in Intelligence And Intelligence Policy In A Democratic Society, in 1986 “the number of campus people working with the CIA…still figured in the hundreds at over 100 American colleges and affiliated research centers.” University of California at Berkeley Administration Vice-President Earl Bolton, for instance, “reportedly carried out covert contract work for the CIA (which consisted largely of advice on how to obtain services from the campuses more effectively without having the relationship revealed),” according to the same book.

Professor Johnson also recalled that in 1976 the U.S. Senate’s Church Committee reported that “academics (including administrators, faculty members, and students) researched and wrote books and articles for the CIA, spotted and assessed individuals for agency use, served as `access agents’ to make introductions between the CIA and potential agents or employees (foreign and American), provided information (with or without prior instructions), and performed an assortment of other intelligence-related activities.”

Professor Johnson provided more specific examples of the nature of relationships between U.S. university professors and the CIA’s National Collection Division (NCD) or other divisions of the CIA:

“…They can be as limited as asking a professor just returned from a trip abroad to drop by the local NCD office to share his impressions (a `debriefing’)…Or they may involve a formal, paid association in which the professor counts for the CIA the number of deep-water ships he sees in Luanda while doing research on African migratory butterflies. The work done by academics for the CIA, then, may be voluntary or paid, and may include occasional or systematic collection and recruitment tasks, or even covert action and counterintelligence.

“A professor may be asked by the agency through the NCD (or some other entity) to attend an international conference of scholars (say, physicists). At the conference and under CIA instructions, he will seek out a foreign scientist…and as subtly as possible weave into their conversation a set of questions (`By the way, just how well is the Becker jet-nozzle, uranium-enrichment process really working out, old chap?’). If the scientist were also a state minister or a well-placed government aide, the American professor could easily enter the realm of covert action or counterintelligence. He may pass a CIA propaganda theme along to the minister, thereby serving as an agent-of-influence (covert action). He may also be used…to plant the false notion that he himself might like to work secretly for the minister’s government to spy on the United States. He could thus become a double agent who, in this guise, might be able to glean modus operandi and other information about the foreign government—including what its own agents may be after (counterintelligence). These are only a few examples of the numerous ways in which the agency might wish to employ an academic overseas in covert action or Central Intelligence operations.”

Intelligence And Intelligence Policy In A Democratic Society also notes that “The CIA believes strongly in the importance of recruiting foreign students within the borders of the United States” and “to accomplish this task effectively the agency also believes it requires covert contacts to focus the recruitment effort.” The same book also describes how U.S. academics go about secretly helping the CIA recruit foreign students on U.S. campuses:

“In the course of these secret efforts to spot, assess, and recruit on behalf of the CIA, academics may involve themselves in a number of activities…Taking advantage of a student’s sense of trust toward faculty, for example, a professor may gather information for the CIA about his ideological views, his attitudes toward American foreign policy objectives in general and the intelligence mission in particular, his financial situation, and the like. Seminar discussions, office counseling, social gatherings, term-paper grading, and other contacts between faculty and their students provide several opportunities for agent spotting.”

Ironically, at the same time it secretly recruited foreign-born students on U.S. campuses to serve its special interests, the CIA illegally spied on native-born U.S. students between 1967 and 1973, as part of its "Project Reisistance" U.S. campus operation. According to Intelligence And Intelligence Policy In A Democratic Society:

"At the request of the director of Personnel, the CIA director approved a policy (Project RESISTANCE) in 1967 ordering the Office of Security to protect the well-being of CIA recruiters...The primary impetus for the stepped-up security was an episode at Columbia University, where a CIA recruiter was held hostage for several hours by student radicals...''

"Documents released by the CIA under a Freedom of Information Act request indicated that the Office of Security pursued this mission with zeal. From 1967 to 1973, files were developed on various universities and colleges; meetings of protestors were attended; new informants were recruited; advance visits were made to campuses `to determine attitude of dissidents'; black student activities were monitored and reported; and, a close working relationship was established between the CIA and the local police."

(Downtown 7/8/92)

Next: Columbia University’s Historic Gannett Media Conglomerate Connection

Sunday, April 6, 2008

`Bobby Sands' Last Cry'


Belfast explodes, Derry erupts
Responding to the love contained in Bobby’s heart.


If you fight for Ireland, you might be locked up
And jailed without a jury vote inside of the H-Block
Bobby Sands, he starved himself, and England let him die
“Prisoners of War we are!” was Bobby Sands’ last cry.

Elected to the Parliament with less than a month to live
Giving his life for the Blanketmen and for all of Ireland
Bobby Sands, he starved himself, and England let him die
“Prisoners of War we are!” was Bobby Sands’ last cry.

Exposing to all of the world the heartless cruelty
Sixty-six days on hunger strike without a bite to eat
Bobby Sands, he starved himself, and England let him die
“Prisoners of War we are!” was Bobby Sands’ last cry.

Not yet even 30 years old, why did he have to die?
All the British rulers commit so many crimes
Bobby Sands, he starved himself, and England let him die
“Prisoners of War we are!” was Bobby Sands’ last cry.

Backed by U.S. companies, using U.S. guns
British troops shoot at children, all in the name of “freedom”
Bobby Sands, he starved himself, and England let him die
“Prisoners of War we are!” was Bobby Sands’ last cry.

How many more must starve to death before Ireland can be free?
How many more years of pain before the British leave?
Bobby Sands, he starved himself, and England let him die
“Prisoners of War we are!” was Bobby Sands’ last cry.

The Bobby Sands’ Last Cry protest folk song was written in May 1981 during the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike, shortly after Irish freedom fighter Bobby Sands died on May 5, 1981. During the nine years he spent in prison because of his political activism in the North of Ireland, he also wrote the lyrics to folk songs like Back Home In Derry, poetry, essays, stories and a diary.

To hear the Bobby Sands' Last Cry protest folk song, you can click on either of the following links: or

To hear some other protest folk songs, you can check out the “Columbia Songs for a Democratic Society” site at the following link:

Next: Is Your Professor A CIA Asset?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

5,000 U.S. Professors on CIA Payroll in 1970s?

One reason your college professor may not be very eager to discuss in class the CIA’s role in the 1965 Indonesian coup (a few years before Barack Obama’s now-deceased mother began working at the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia) may be that your college professor is secretly working for the CIA. As CIA Off Campus: Building The Movement Against Agency Recruitment And Research by Ami Chen Mills noted:

"CIA spokesperson Sharon Foster said in 1988 that the CIA has enough professors under Agency contract `to staff a large university.’ Our universities are crawling with covert scholars-turned-agents and our independent academic foundations are being seriously undermined…”

The same book also observed:

“As of the late 1970s, approximately 5,000 professors were doing CIA work in some capacity, either `spotting’’ U.S. or foreign recruitment candidates, participating in research and grant work or carrying out more active programs like foreign police training. It is estimated that about 60 percent of these academics were aware of the nature of their employment, while another 40 percent did the CIA’s bidding in the dark—through front companies or foundations. In the 1990s, the number of academics on the CIA payroll has undoubtedly increased…”

(Downtown 4/27/94)

Next: Bobby Sands’ Last Cry lyrics

Friday, April 4, 2008

Who Killed Martin Luther King?

In the preface to the now-deceased James Earl Ray’s 1992 book, Who Killed Martin Luther King?, Attorney Mark Lane wrote the following:

“I join in James Earl Ray’s call for the appointment of an independent federal special prosecutor to investigate the FBI’s involvement in the plot to kill Martin Luther King. The facts are clear that former FBI officials removed King’s defenses just before he was killed, transferred potential witnesses the day before the murder and tampered, `lost’ and destroyed key evidence. FBI written memos provide undisputed evidence that the bureau targeted King for harassment and `removal’ from the scene. This documentary evidence alone is enough to establish probable cause that the bureau, Director J. Edgar Hoover and his underlings conspired to assassinate the civil rights leader. Together with the testimony of former agents and Memphis police officers I am convinced that a federal grand jury presented with relevant evidence by an honest special prosecutor would conclude that Hoover and other FBI officials were responsible for the assassination of Dr. King.”

Next: 5,000 U.S. Professors On CIA Payroll In 1970s?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Protest Columbia University's Complicity With U.S. Imperialism: April 24-27,2008

To mark the 40th anniversary of the 1968 Columbia Anti-War Student Revolt against Columbia University’s complicity with U.S. imperialism,

veterans of the 1968 Columbia Student Strike will be converging at Columbia’s School of Journalism between April 24 and April 27, 2008. See the following link for the schedule of commemoration events:

Next: Who Killed Martin Luther King?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Civilian Casualties and Columbia's IDA Jason Project 1960s Work

Thousands of Indochinese civilians may have been killed as a direct result of the weapons technology development war research work that was done by IDA and its Jason Division during the period when Columbia University was an institutional member of IDA. As the book The Air War In Indochina by Cornell University’s Air War Study Group revealed in 1972:

“The figures show that during the intense phase of the North Vietnam bombing, 100,000 to 200,000 tons of munitions per year were dropped. This bombing inflicted 25,000 to 50,000 casualties per year, 80 percent of whom were civilians…

“Indochina…has…become the laboratory for the evolution of the electronic battlefield…

“For the period from 1965 to April 1971, the estimate of civilian casualties in South Vietnam is 1,050,000 including 325,000 deaths…

“…Special electronic techniques for improving nighttime interdiction has been under development by the U.S. Air Force through a project named IGLOO WHITE. Initial operation of some of the components began in December 1967, and since that time a whole family of electronic devices has come into being…Sensors are implanted on the ground or suspended in the foliage by air drop…Aircraft overhead receive electronic messages from them and relay the information to a central computer control station. Strike aircraft are then directed to the designated area.

“…American scientists and engineers—civilians as well as those working for the Department of Defense—have been deeply involved in the development of the electronic battlefield.”

Neither the Columbia University Administration nor the Pentagon has ever released much information on the number of Indochinese civilians who were killed or wounded as a direct result of the IDA and Jason Division weapons research work that Columbia University institutionally-sponsored in the 1960s. But at least 250,000 Indochinese civilians apparently lived near the “Ho Chi Minh Trail” area that the electronic battlefield developed by the Jason Division of Columbia’s IDA initially targeted in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Next: Protest Columbia University’s Complicity With U.S. Imperialism: April 24-27, 2008

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Columbia University's IDA Jason Project 1960s Work--Part 15

By 1968, the electronic battlefield technology that Columbia’s IDA Jason Division had developed was being used in South Vietnam in the Battle of Khe Sanh. And, on Sat. Feb. 3, 1968, Columbia University Professor and Director of Columbia’s Watson IBM Labs Richard Garwin “traveled to Vietnam” with Henry Kendall and several other scientists “to check on the operation of the electronic barrier,” according to The Jasons by Ann Finkbeiner. The same book also observed:

“The sensors allowed such accurate detection of the enemy at night, in fog, behind hills, and in the jungle, that attacks on the enemy could be remote—that is, only artillery or air strikes—and would need no soldiers.

“…The electronic barrier turned into the electronic battlefield, the modern method for carrying out nonnuclear warfare, in particular on the urban battlefield…The relay to which the sensor talks is now a UAV, an unmanned aerial vehicle like the Predator or the Global Hawk, used in both Gulf wars and in Afghanistan…The responders are now bombs that are guided by lasers…”

Next: Civilian Casualties and Columbia’s IDA Jason Project 1960s Work