On March 9th, 1954, Edward Murrow’s See It Now broadcast portrayed Sen. McCarthy as a nose picking buffoon and helped turn the nation against him. It ended with this nice call for political freedom and for Americans to reject fear-mongering. How could Americans resist a call to free speech in 1954? The moment is celebrated as a dignified journalist taking on the aggressive, uncouth Red-baiting Republican. A recent Hollywood film was made about the Murrow-McCarthy duel and won multiple Oscars. Missing from it and from most reporting on Murrow’s attack on McCarthy was the little fact that the CIA was using Murrow and journalists through Operation Mockingbird to stop McCarthy.
Operation Mockingbird was not a specific operation against Sen. McCarthy. It was a much bigger and longer lasting mechanism set in place by the CIA right after World War Two. Per one of the men who ran it, Cord Meyer, it was never named it was so secret. Its funding was from the Marshall Plan initially. The Church Committee on the CIA in the mid-1970s gave it scant attention thanks to CIA Director George H.W. Bush asking them to go light on that aspect. After leaving the Washington Post, Carl Bernstein published an epic report in The Rolling Stone on the CIA and the media. He did not name it. It was not until Deborah Davis in 1979 published Katherine the Great: Katherine Graham and Her Washington Post Empire that the project was named. How hot was Davis’ book? Graham, Ben Bradlee and countless reviews slagged her book for typographical errors and forced the publisher to pull the book after it had been printed and pulped the already printed pages. Davis took the publisher to court and won a lawsuit. Her book saw publication years later.
The man behind Mockingbird was Frank Wisner. Wisner was an educated young man recruited into the OSS during the war. He discovered Stalin’s plans to take over most of Eastern Europe after the war, and was saddened to see the US not move to prevent it. He was not in on the Hopkins-White “same team” secret handshake. Wisner was placed in charge of the Office of Policy Coordination, which later merged with the CIA. His goal was to fight Soviet communism using media assets at home and abroad to push American opinion along the CIA line as well as disrupt Soviet work in foreign nations. Wisner’s chief private side contact was Phil Graham, publisher of the Washington Post. Odd coincidence is that both men (Wisner and Graham) killed themselves with shotguns. It did not matter the paper or publication, Wisner had access with Henry Luce of the Time-Life empire, the Sulzbergers and other high level editors and publishers cooperating. Per Davis, “each journalist was a separate ‘operation’, requiring a code name, a field supervisors and a field office”. The joke was that a journalist was cheaper than a good call girl. There is no specific information on how much money was spent on this program. The CIA was never held accountable for that with their black box budgeting.
Wisner’s main private side man was Graham, connecting media assets to Wisner’s system. Wisner’s foreign man was Cord Meyer. Cord Meyer, and his wife Mary Pinchot Meyer, had spent the ’40s linked with one world government and other left wing organizations. Mary Meyer’s father was a big wig in the Progressive movement who started a socialist magazine, and her mother was a writer for the Stalin friendly The New Republic. Cord handled the foreign end of Mockingbird, eventually divorced Mary, and Mary eventually found herself in a passionate affair with JFK. JFK would be dead in ’63, and Mary would be shot dead on a walk in ’64. Her brother in law, Ben Bradlee, broke into her place and stole her diary to hand it over to James Angleton at CIA. Meyer was just pink enough for system approval, and was committed to pushing the American democratic message on potential allies and clients around the globe in the Anglo-Soviet battle.
Even if directed at a foreign audience or concerned with American foreign policy, it is easy to see how this could shape domestic politics. Not just control progressive allies but the useful, false opposition. William F. Buckley was a CIA man before he started the National Review in 1955. This was a publication that constantly lost money. Buckley worked for the Agency as a young man. The Reviewwas most likely a Mockingbird front (this is not anything new), which would help explain the purging of anyone right of the neocon movement to keep that false conservative opposition the only game in town. The progressives were oh so worried about that radical right in 1961 despite vanquishing McCarthy and defeating Nixon in ’60. Buckley’s Review could help push the replacement of isolationist Republicans and the old guard with men forced to commit to fighting communism in every third world country and be approved by the Georgetown crowd.
An added twist, which makes things so difficult to explain to people how America has been run by communists since FDR, is the informal networks along with formal infrastructure of shred ideology. This crowd was a Georgetown crowd, and the Grahams hosted many salons that were social meetings that mixes the business of the world in as well. These salons had CIA men, Drew Pearson, Joseph Alsop, Clark Clifford, high level civil officials, Ben Bradlee, reporters, and even congressmen like Harry Byrd and Lyndon Johnson (the congressional overseers of the new CIA) in attendance. Bradlee himself was a young man who worked for the US Information and Educational Exchange that was the parent organization over the Voice of America and United States Information Agency (USIA). He was used to drum up support for the prosecution and execution of the Rosenbergs. Bradlee was a firm fighter for the right side in the Anglo-Soviet split, and would be a useful asset for decades despite denying it to Davis when she first wrote her book. Bradlee’s decades long connection and usefulness to the CIA is something the public is ignorant of when discussing Watergate. Young reporter Bradlee and others mixed at the Graham residence with extremely powerful figures. Talk could involve anything, but probably focused on how they could convince the peasants to support their plans.
The informal becomes a separate channel for power because of the shared ideology. Lyndon Johnson’s participation in the Graham salons created his Vice Presidency. LBJ was going to run for President in 1960 but did not contest the primaries. He stayed out of the race until Congress was in recess, and then attacked Kennedy relentlessly starting in early July. He was the Graham crowd’s pick. When it appeared Kennedy had it locked up, the VP nod was the only avenue to help LBJ out. The Kennedys, Bobby and Jack, were deliberating between Sen. Scoop Jackson and Sen. Symington. There was supposedly even a “deal” made between the Kennedy crowd and Symington, yet LBJ became the man. How? Graham. In Ted White’s “Making of the President 1960”, White writes, “Kennedy, seemingly idly, remarked to Washington publisher Philip Graham that if he thought Johnson would accept the Vice Presidency he might offer it”. Graham brokered that deal, and the rest is history.
Back to fall of 1953, Murrow, McCarthy and Mockingbird. Sixty years later, we know McCarthy was right about nearly everything. Sadly, he was up against a system he did not understand. Neither did J. Edgar Hoover, who researched the CIA figures and could not understand how these CIA weirdos were one world government crazies or left wing pinkos if not outright reds. Hoover did not understand that with America winning World War Two, destroying rivals and watching the British recede, America would need an organization like the CIA to help manage foreign affairs. They had to have something like the FBI but for the global empire. He also did not understand just how communist those men at FDR’s elbows were. Hoover’s right leaning FBI and old law firm atmosphere of the Justice Department could not grasp the left leaning, CIA full of Ivy Leaguers. One can only imagine Hoover’s reaction if he knew the Yale boys in the CIA loved modern art.
Hoover fed McCarthy information on the CIA boys, which put the CIA under threat in fall of 1953. Sen. McCarthy’s favorability was still in a positive situation, and the CIA was not a sacred cow to the American public then, nor now. McCarthy went after the CIA, and Cord Meyer in particular due to his past. The FBI was willing to play tough with Meyer and the CIA. The CIA realized that they did have pinkish hues to worry about, and they would protect their own. Applying Mockingbird in an “explosive offense is the best defense” method, Wisner used domestic reporters as a weapon against McCarthy. The CIA used multiple reporters to smear McCarthy, taking a steady line of attack on McCarthy. This was capped off with Murrow’s special See It Now broadcast in March of ’54 that went after McCarthy. This was in concert with other reporters spread throughout the American media network. In early April, McCarthy appeared on See It Now to push back, but the damage was done. Helping him was for the first time live hearings between Sen. McCarthy and the Army. Amazing coincidence that the live television coverage began after Murrow’s broadcast. America was primed to think of McCarthy as a fool, and then they saw him live on television for the first time.
This is never in the movies. Because the movies are run by the children of the communists from Murrow and McCarthy’s time, Murrow is always a courageous, righteous voice. He is taking the chance and risking his career to fight powerful, mean Senator McCarthy. Untold to the 21st century viewing public, Murrow was a CIA asset. The CIA was nervous and wanted to use all weapons to stop Tail Gunner Joe. Murrow eventually ended up as director of the USIA; Davis considered him the inside man who replaced Graham for the CIA’s “mighty Wurlitzer”. Murrow’s last effort was to sell the American people in the early years of the Kennedy administration on the war in Vietnam. Courageous hero. McCarthy ended up dead before the end of the ’50s, and is forever a black mark in American history per America’s educators and media mandarins. They are now tacking on his persecution of gays to remind everyone he is evil since now we know he was right about the communists. Pay no attention to two of the Cambridge Five being homosexuals.
Like most modern progressive crusades, the roles are, in reality, reversed. McCarthy was the underdog who fought nearly alone to take on a corrupt system run by communists and sympathizers at the helm of every institution. Murrow the brave underdog was Murrow the weapon, fully backed and supported by America’s CIA. Seven decades later, the lie is continued for the next generation to learn.