Operation Mockingbird was a campaign by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to influence media in the US and internationally. It was reportedly organized as an independent office by Frank Wisner in 1948. After 1953, when Allen Dulles was appointed as head of the CIA, he took a strong role in overseeing the operation, which already had influence with 25 newspapers and wire agencies. The operation has been documented as operating at least during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.
The unit recruited leading American journalists into a propaganda network to help present the CIA's views. It funded some student and cultural organizations and magazines as fronts. As it developed, it also worked to influence foreign media and political campaigns, in addition to activities conducted by other operating units of the CIA. The CIA's use of journalists continued unabated until 1973, when the program was scaled back. When George H.W. Bush was appointed as director of the CIA in 1976, the program of paying journalists for cooperation was announced to have ended. Their voluntary cooperation was encouraged.
In 1966 Ramparts magazine published an article revealing that the National Student Association was funded by the CIA. It was the first time the agency was revealed to have interfered with US domestic activities. The United States Congress investigated the allegations and published a report in 1976.
Other accounts of these activities have also been published. The media operation was first called Mockingbird in Deborah Davis's 1979 book, Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and The Washington Post.
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