Wednesday, August 19, 2009

`Reader's Digest''s Hidden History--Part 1

(The following article originally appeared in the October 27, 1993 issue of the now-defunct alternative Lower East Side weekly, Downtown. Between 2007 and  2009 bankruptcy, Reader’s Digest was owned by Citigroup board member Tim Collins’ Ripplewood Holdings’ private investment/leveraged buy-out firm.)

“…The Atlantic Journal, in a series on CIA infiltration of the media, noted that in the fifties and sixties Time-Life Inc. had enjoyed an extremely close relationship with the intelligence agency. But now some CIA watchers saw the Reader’s Digest `as gradually achieving that “most favored’ status granted by the CIA’—John Heidenry in Theirs Was The Kingdom: Lila and DeWitt Wallace and The Story of the `Reader’s Digest’ in 1993


“Perhaps the most important fact about the Digest is that it isn’t a digest. It buys and `plants’ articles to suit the views of its owner, in other publications, thus spreading bias and prejudice—and I believe I proved, native fascism and even pro-Nazi propaganda—throughout the magazine press of America…Being the largest circulating publication in the world, it manipulates the minds of many millions of people.

“In the course of decades all these charges have been proved and documented…”—George Seldes in Never Tire Of Protesting in 1968


In his 1957 book Of Lasting Interest, James Wood noted that “There is evidence that the Digest has more than once helped implement United States foreign policy in various parts of the world.” One way Reader’s Digest has apparently helped to “implement United States foreign policy" has been to secretly collaborate with the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA]. According to the Theirs Was The Kingdom: Lila and DeWitt Wallace and The Story of the `Reader’s Digest’ book by John Heidenry, “The Reader’s Digest Association [RDA] enjoyed an intimate relationship with the agency perhaps unmatched by any other major American communications giant, with the exception of Time-Life” and “as the country and the world entered the Cold War era, the Digest was to become…a highly valuable propaganda outlet for both the CIA and, to a lesser extent, the Federal Bureau of Investigation…” The same book also noted that Reader’s Digest’s Washington bureau “has been serving as a primary conduit for CIA and FBI propaganda, self-promotion, and disinformation since the days of Allen Dulles and J. Edgar Hoover” and that its roving editor in the Washington bureau—John Barron—had “close ties to the FBI and CIA.”

Barron was “the man who usually handled Soviet defectors in the media once they had been thoroughly debriefed by the CIA and were good only for propaganda purposes,” according to Theirs Was The Kingdom. The same book also recalled that “over the years the Digest’s bylines on espionage-related activities amounted to a veritable Who’s Who of CIA upper management and fellow-traveling journalists…” (end of part 1)

(Downtown 10/27/93)

1 comment:

Renegade Eye said...

The CIA had Praeger Publishing.

I thought they prefer liberal outlets.