Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The FBI's Mass Media Program Historically--Conclusion

(The following article first appeared in the April 14, 1993 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative weekly, Downtown. See below for Parts 1, 2 and 3 of article).

Among the historical results of the FBI’s public relations operation and mass media program, according to Arthur Schlesinger, was that “It became impossible to write pieces about J. Edgar Hoover as Washington’s No. 1 snoop” and “By the ‘40s and ‘50s…the press had stopped saying anything at all” that was negative about Hoover. Schlesinger also noted at an October 1971 Princeton University conference that “I think you can search the New York Times for years and find nothing critical of J. Edgar Hoover.” In an essay, titled “The FBI As A Political Police,” which appeared in the 1973 book, Investigating The FBI, Yale University Law Professor Thomas Emerson observed that “Much of the Bureau’s publicity seems intended to arouse fears and anxieties about national security,” but “events have not borne out the dire predictions, and skeptics have suggested that the main purpose has been to assure an increase in appropriations.”

Hoover’s historical personal friends in the world of U.S. White Corporate Journalism who helped the FBI manipulate U.S. public opinion, included “Walter Trohan, the venerable chief of the Chicago Tribune’s Washington Bureau, columnist and TV personality Ed Sullivan, and, of course, Walter Winchell,” according to Hoover’s FBI: The Men And The Myth by former FBI agent William Turner. Another book, Alien Ink: The FBI’s War On Freedom Of Expression by Natalie Robins, recalled that “Hoover liked to leak items to friendly gossip columns like Winchell, [Louella] Parsons, and Hedda Hopper, but he also liked to leak them to political columnists as well” and “these leaks enabled him to control the depiction of the FBI in the media.”

Hoover apparently also became quite wealthy, personally, as a result of the FBI’s mass media program operation. Under Hoover’s by-line, the anti-communist book Masters of Deceit was published in 1958. Alien Ink noted that “according to former assistant director William Sullivan, who was one of six Bureau employees who `put together’ Masters of Deceit, the book made” Hoover “very rich, though most people thought he had given away his royalties to charity.”

Hoover’s Masters of Deceit was published by Henry Holt & Company, a firm which was then owned by Hoover’s close friend—Texas oil millionaire Clint Murchison—and the FBI helped make Masters of Deceit “an instant hit—by exerting pressure and buying up copies,” according to Alien Ink. Hoover’s Masters of Deceit is estimated to have sold about 250,000 copies, including 25,000 copies which were bought by former Schenley Industries Chairman of the Board Lewis Rosentiel’s “charitable foundation” for “distribution to educational institutions, an underwriting worth over $100,000 [in 1950s money],” according to Hoover’s FBI: The Men and The Myth. (end of article)

(Downtown 4/14/93)