Talk:Operation Mockingbird

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Checking and NPOVing[edit]

This article is to lick my ring. I can't imagine why Wikipedia would want to delete it. All one has to do is read the sources. I've read and written much on this subject, and this is all documented, on the record, credible information. I can only guess this pisses off the agency and they are obviously active here on Wikipedia, as evidenced by other entries that touch on Agency business. But this article should stay. If this goes, be certain that I and others will raise holy hell.

The original claim seems to come from Alex Constantine, who has written a couple books and has an essay that's been widely reprinted on the Internet. I can't find any skeptical treatment at all, but all the sites that carry it seem to be of the conspiracy-theorist bent. This article needs either serious NPOV, or some fact confirmation. --Isomorphic 07:06, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Well the CIA was established in 1948, and i find it hard to believe that Harry Truman hatched a plot to influence the American media. It is impossible to prove a negative, but this is very weak indeed. Propose deletion. --[[PaulinSaudi 11:47, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)]]
The wikipedia article on Allen Welsh Dulles says...

"Dulles also promoted Operation Mockingbird, a program with a goal to influence American media companies." [unsigned]

That article probably needs the comment removed, or else the word "allegedly" needs to go in. --Quadell 14:37, Apr 30, 2004 (UTC)

There is a considerable amount of documentary evidence that Operation Mockingbird existed. However, it is possible that the operation to manipulate the mass media was not actually given this name by the CIA. The first time "Operation Mockingbird" was used was in Deborah Davis's book, Katharine the Great (1979). The original edition was shredded as a result of CIA pressure. After a legal battle the book was republished in 1983. This included information about Ben Bradlee's role in Mockingbird that had been removed in the 1979 edition.

Published evidence of Mockingbird first appeared in Ramparts in March, 1967. The article, written by Sol Stern, was entitled NSA and the CIA. As well as reporting CIA funding of the National Student Association it exposed the whole system of anti-Communist front organizations in Europe, Asia, and South America. It named Cord Meyer as a key figure in this campaign. This included the funding of the literary journal Encounter.

In May 1967 Thomas Braden, former head of head of the of the CIA's International Organizations Division, responded to this by publishing an article entitled, I'm Glad the CIA is Immoral, in the Saturday Evening Post. In the article he defended the activities of the International Organizations Division unit of the CIA. Braden also confessed that the activities of the CIA had to be kept secret from Congress. As he pointed out in the article: "In the early 1950s, when the cold war was really hot, the idea that Congress would have approved many of our projects was about as likely as the John Birch Society's approving Medicare."

Cord Meyer's role in Operation Mockingbird was further exposed in 1972 when he was accused of interfering with the publication of a book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia by Alfred W. McCoy. The book was highly critical of the CIA's dealings with the drug traffic in Southeast Asia. The publisher, who leaked the story, had been a former colleague of Meyer's when he was a liberal activist after the war.

Further details of Operation Mockingbird was revealed as a result of the Frank Church investigations (Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities) in 1975. According to the Congress report published in 1976: "The CIA currently maintains a network of several hundred foreign individuals around the world who provide intelligence for the CIA and at times attempt to influence opinion through the use of covert propaganda. These individuals provide the CIA with direct access to a large number of newspapers and periodicals, scores of press services and news agencies, radio and television stations, commercial book publishers, and other foreign media outlets." Church argued that the cost of misinforming the world cost American taxpayers an estimated $265 million a year.

In February, 1976, George Bush, the recently appointed Director of the CIA announced a new policy: "Effective immediately, the CIA will not enter into any paid or contract relationship with any full-time or part-time news correspondent accredited by any U.S. news service, newspaper, periodical, radio or television network or station." However, he added that the CIA would continue to "welcome" the voluntary, unpaid cooperation of journalists.

Tom Braden gave an interview interview to the Granada Television program, World in Action: The Rise and Fall of the CIA (UK, June, 1975)where he provided more details of how journalists were bribed to write pro-establishment articles.

Carl Bernstein, who had worked with Bob Woodward in the investigation of Watergate, provided further information about Operation Mockingbird in an article in Rolling Stone in October, 1977. Bernstein claimed that over a 25 year period over 400 American journalists secretly carried out assignments for the CIA: "Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners, distinguished reporters who considered themselves ambassadors-without-portfolio for their country. Most were less exalted: foreign correspondents who found that their association with the Agency helped their work; stringers and freelancers who were as interested it the derring-do of the spy business as in filing articles, and, the smallest category, full-time CIA employees masquerading as journalists abroad."

It is almost certain that Bernstein had encountered Operation Mockingbird while working on his Watergate investigation. For example, Deborah Davis (Katharine the Great) has argued that Deep Throat was senior CIA official, Richard Ober, who was running Operation Chaos for Richard Nixon during this period.

According to researchers such as Steve Kangas, Angus Mackenzie and Alex Constantine, Operation Mockingbird was not closed down by the CIA in 1976. For example, in 1998 Kangas argued that CIA asset Richard Mellon Scaife ran "Forum World Features, a foreign news service used as a front to disseminate CIA propaganda around the world."

For a detailed account of this story see:

John Simkin (Spartacus Educational)

John Stockwell alludes to the use of journalists for propaganda purposes in his book "In Search of Enemies." Stockwell, who was in charge of the CIA's Angola operation in the 1970s, says friendly/corruptible foreign journalists were used to feed stories via Europe back to the US wire services. Captqrunch (talk) 15:12, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

This thing was written by a Trotskyite[edit]

So, William Paley, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, etc. are "known for right-wing views"? I think not! It might seem that way however to somebody that writes for Spartacus Educational. Trotskyites are to the left of everybody. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:26, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

VfD Archived Debate[edit]

Article listed on Wikipedia:Votes for deletion Apr 26 to May 3 2004, consensus was to keep. Discussion:

No evidence this thing ever happened. --[[PaulinSaudi 02:50, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)]]

  • A google search for Operation Mockingbird takes one deep into the echo chamber of conspiracy theory. I think ideally this should be kept and NPOVed, but I can't find any skeptical treatment, or any confirmation from a reliable source. The original claims seem to stem from a guy named Alex Constantine, who has written several books and an essay that's been widely reprinted on the internet. --Isomorphic 07:01, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  • "Echo Chamber" is exactly the right imagery. I only heard about this as someone on the Straight Dope asked about it. This story has a life of its own, but I know of no basis in fact. The CIA was established in 1948. Does anyone think that one of their earliest programs (under Harry Truman no less) was to influence American newspapers? Exceptional claims demand exceptional proof. I would like to see it.

--[[PaulinSaudi 11:54, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)]]

  • It's true that a distressing number of articles about Operation Mockingbird (OM) also mention alien abductions and such. But despite this, the op may well have been legitimate. (It's verifiable that the CIA does have, and did have, at least some journalists on its payroll.) So did OM exist? Remember that we're deciding the legitimacy of the article itself (which, please note, does not mention Harry Truman}. Here's the evidence I can find:
  1. The Alex Constantine Article (ACA) is a meandering, paranoid, POV text. It alleges a lot of CIA manipulation of the media, which is outside the scope of this specific decision about OM. All of the info it gives on OM, it gets from two sources:
    1. The book "Katherine the Great" by Deborah Davis, a former Village Voice reporter. I haven't read it. Davis says that by the 1950s, OM had arrangements with "respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and other communications vehicles, plus stringers, four to six hundred in all, according to a former CIA analyst." Aparently, Davis found this out through researching FOIA requests. Has anyone here read the book?
    2. John Loftus, a former attorney for the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations. According to ACA, John Loftus makes some sensational claims. "In 1952, at MCA, Actors' Guild president Ronald Reagan - a screen idol recruited by MOCKINGBIRD's Crusade for Freedom to raise funds for the resettlement of Nazis in the U.S., according to Loftus - signed a secret waiver of the conflict-of-interest rule with the mob-controlled studio, in effect granting it a labor monopoly on early television programming. In exchange, MCA made Reagan a part owner." This doesn't sound even remotely credible.
  2. Google doesn't find any Straight Dope articles or Straight Dope Message Board posts on Operation Mockingbird.
  3. There's a separate essay by Steve Kangas that claims "the CIA began a mission in the late 1940s to recruit American journalists on a wide scale, a mission it dubbed Operation MOCKINGBIRD. The agency wanted these journalists not only to relay any sensitive information they discovered, but also to write anti-communist, pro-capitalist propaganda when needed." He names Frank Wisner, Allan Dulles, Richard Helms and Philip Graham as the designers. He cites as his sources the above-mentioned book by Deborah Davis, and a web site that no longer exists.
    • Kangas also claims that "at least 400 journalists would eventually join the CIA payroll, according to the CIA's testimony before a stunned Church Committee in 1975." This doesn't refer to OM specifically, but if true it at least shows there must have been a similar widespread operation in the 60s and 70s. That's all I can find. Does anyone else have any information about it? Quadell 14:20, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)
      • This may have come from Carl Bernstein's Oct 1977 piece in Rolling Stone. --Kwantus 03:50, 2004 Dec 16 (UTC)
  • Keep. The amount that can be said about it just above proves it's encyclopedic. Even if there never was such a thing as Operation Mockingbird, clearly there's a sufficient body of belief about it to make documenting THAT worthwhile. --—Morven 21:01, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)
    • I agree that we should have an article on this, except that I don't know how we can make an NPOV article without a lot of research. If it's an unsubstantiated claim, that should be made clear in the article – but how can we call it unsubstantiated if we haven't read the sources of the claim, or seen any critical evaluation of them? If there's substantiation, it should be cited, but we can't find any. The origin of the name "Operation Mockingbird" isn't even clear from what I found. --Isomorphic 21:11, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  • Keep if can be made NPOV. --RickK 23:12, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)
    • OK. I added a bunch of modifiers and weasel words. No matter how many conditionals I add, I still think we ought to delete it. [[PaulinSaudi 02:21, 27 Apr 2004 (UTC)]]
  • Keep. I just overhauled the article to make it NPOV. --Quadell 14:25, 28 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  • Keep. The statements in the article are not altogether implausible, and it appears that it has a following which makes the article worthwhile.

End discussion

Encyclopedic value?[edit]

Just a question at the very beginning here. During the introduction it is stated,

"In 1948 Frank Wisner was appointed director of the Office of Special Projects (OSP). Soon afterwards OSP was renamed the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). This became the espionage and counter-intelligence branch of the Central Intelligence Agency. Wisner was told to create an organization that concentrated on "propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world." (1) (reference, Weise and Ross, Invisible Government)

However, how accurate is this? Did a single branch of the CIA, named the Office of Policy Corodination, control espionage and counter-intelligence? My general impression was that the whole mandate of the CIA and a permeating agenda is espionage (okay, foreign espionage is probably in a separate department) and counter-intelligence. Did CIA really decide to create a form of 'super-branch', "the espionage and counter-intelligence branch"? While the remainder of the organisation transferred its espionage and intelligence operations to them? Mostly a factual question - I don't have access to the source here, but it sounds implausible. Confirm?

Even if Operation Mockingbird is just an urban legend the fact that it has gained so much interest makes this worthy of noting. Sources may need to be cited, but Operation Mockingbird is definitely worth keeping tabs on. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:51, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

I came upon this issue through the fact that artists I was involved with in Germany had reason to believe they were blacklisted after one of them fell into the trap of an agent provocateur. I have always suspected that something like this existed, but the program might have had very little formality and an ad hoc organisational structure. There is a docu by the German TV station ZDF 'Benutzt und gesteuert' (Used and steered). It starts with archival footage and is from 2006. You need to find a German speaker to understand it, sorry. It is here: (talk) 01:21, 5 June 2015 (UTC)

World Tribunal on Iraq -- WTF?[edit]

pmj: Is it just me, or does User:Dr Debug's addition to this article seem out of place? Instead of facts or at best reports, it contains vague "findings". These many claims have only one reference -- a page on, which itself has no references. Hey, I appreciate Dr Debug's other input, but this just smells like propaganda. I suggest it be removed. --pmj 05:07, 3 November 2005 (UTC)

I think needs improvement. The reference is to Chalabi who received a million for faulty intelligence with regards to the WMDs. He was also the source for Judith Miller. worldtribunal is a very reliable source. Just check the names behind it. But they could have made the statement clearer. --Dr Debug 20:59, 20 November 2005 (UTC)

to kill a mockingbird[edit]

does the book/movie 'to kill a mockingbird' have anything to do with this operation? if so, what parallels are there?

- interested & lazy, bluepill

No. (talk) 18:52, 4 April 2012 (UTC)


I've added a OR tag. I might file for AFD. CIA already came under scrutiny for its propaganda in 1967, long before the conclusiosn were published of the Church report. The problem with this article, is, that no one, except for one author (Davis it seems), has described these efforts under "Operation Mockingbird." This is a synthesis not allowed under Wikipedia policy. Intangible2.0 21:56, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

See [1] for a link describing her book's worries. In her book, she repeats the assertion that Richard Ober (some CIA operative), was deepthroat.[2] Sigh. Intangible2.0 04:55, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
The Davis book itself has been notable though, so I started an article on it, Katharine the Great. Intangible2.0 01:56, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Copyright information[edit]

Note: This entry has been written by the same person who wrote the article on the Spartacus Education website (John Simkin). It is therefore not a violation of copyright.

Wikipedia will lose much respect if they delete this article. The CIA wants this down. Maybe they should go round up some more retarded kids to frame terrorist activity in Miami. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:52, 5 October 2007 (UTC)


Wikipedia has no credibility whatsoever anyhow. we know who edits it info and why, so go ahead and delete it. Only someone who is very uninformed would refer to wiki for information, especially of this nature. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:29, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Propose deletion of this obvious troll of a comment. (talk) 00:44, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
Agree (worthless comment) Historian932 (talk) 17:00, 30 December 2016 (UTC)


Please add your name and location if you would like Wikipedia to keep this entry.

Why do we have to add OUR name when the CIA controls the sensitive pages, such as 911, (and, undoubtedly, this one) and they do so with complete anonymity?! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:50, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Mike Hobgood in Annapolis, MD USA —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:04, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
Eddie Lopez in St. Louis, Missouri, USA Scott in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:31, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Please see Wikipedia:Deletion policy on how the process works. Intangible2.0 23:26, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Request for Comment: Notability of Operation Mockingbird[edit]

  • The article lacks reliable sources asserting the notability of Operation Mockingbird (and I can't find any) Intangible2.0 01:43, 8 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Added some new external links, one directly from Carl Bernstein's site-which is obviously from a professional journalist. Also-if you read the Family Jewels file, you will find a sliver of evidence of Mockingbird. It should be noted that although the release of these documents was pursued for years, the actual release was heavily redacted-in some cases, more so than what had already been released. Much fanfare over little. more info here: kc —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:13, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Please cite the source of this quote with a link (if possible): "Cord Meyer said that when he joined the operation in 1951 it was so secret that it did not have a name." thanks —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:30, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Added some more links -Invisible Government and a book review on E. Howard Hunt's American Spy, which details the Project Mockingbird disclosure. Also- I removed the Cord Meyer quote because no one responded and the only place I could find the quote was referencing this site as their source. If someone can find the originating source for the quote, please add it back in. kc —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)
Okay, the Hunt book helps a little bit to establish the subject's notability. However I should add some caution here. As Hunt seems to say: "Most interestingly, however, while employed by the CIA, I have to say I never heard about a specific Operation Mockingbird, although my projects would certainly have come under its umbrella. But even if there was no official project by that name, we did carry out the basic operations, and I cannot contradict the findings." Hunt only quotes the Church Committee report and the Bernstein article with Rolling Stone. The 2007 book adds nothing to what was already known 30 years ago. Intangible2.0 02:00, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
  • First off you complain about outside sourcing not being reputable-then when external links are added (the actual book online that is in the page "Invisible Government" and the source for the Hunt book, along with an interview that supports your assertion that she was the first to name the Op Mockingbird) All of these links have direct correlation with this page. I know you must have some issue with Spartacus, and that is not my battle, but I think if you want to complain about the lack of sourcing and then you remove links, something is wrong here.

As far as the Hunt issue is concerned, you are correct- in part. Hunt begins by explaining how Operation Mockingbird was first exposed by Carl Bernstein in 1977. Nowhere does Hunt name Davis-probably didn't want to give her name any attention. Then Hunt proceeds to discuss how the Church Committee exposed the op and his role in it. He gives details of what they discovered he had done-which is obviously no longer classified. The quote you have used is then asserted-which is understandable-not every person involved in an op knows the name of the op-and neither did the Church committee. He actually didn't reveal any information not already known, probably for a reason- you think? But- he never denied anything; he supported it all in one way or another. He could have simply discussed the Church Committee findings-without ever naming the op. Anyway- he closes his "disclosure" describling how proud he was to have done it and Hunt continues on about how if CIA still had the ability to do this we wouldn't be in Iraq! HA! what a joke-- for many reasons. Number one reason is that the CIA has, for many years now, been able to contine along with this subterfuge:

In any case, I would ask that you to return the links or we can ask Wiki to decide for us. Thanks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:03, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

By Notability, I presume you mean noteworthy as an encyclopedia article. In my opinion it is, provided that Operation Mockingbird is verified by reliable sources. Such an operation illustrates the mindset of the CIA and of American presidential administrations at the given period in time, as well as illustrating why members of the United States Congress were so taken aback by the legal and ethical questionability of such operations. Things like Mockingbird eventually led to Congress passing laws prohibiting the operation of the CIA and other intelligence organizations within the United States. In turn, after 9/11, this led to accusations that such laws hobbled the intelligence gathering community and needed to be loosened or completely repealed.

To me, the article is, on its face, both noteworthy and timely. My only concern is that care should be taken to ensure accuracy. There are so many "fake facts" out there that sources should be surveyed very carefully and only that information that can be confirmed (preferably by multiple sources and by official sources, such as the Congressional Record) should be used. Also, in my opinion, preference should be given to sources that appear at the time the facts were revealed rather than years later. This is because such events are fodder for conspiracy theorists, etc., and factual errors become compounded over time.

Anyway, I hope this helps.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by Lsisson (talkcontribs) 22:54, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

The word Mockingbird was first used by Deborah Davis in Katharine the Great (1979). ... huh?[edit]

"The word Mockingbird was first used by Deborah Davis in Katharine the Great (1979)." This statement doesn't work. I'm not sure what is meant, but I know the word mockingbird was used at least 100 years prior. Could someone who knows what this is supposed to mean fix it so that it means what it should? User:Pedant (talk) 13:51, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Answer: Mockingbird is a method discovered by studying how psychopaths mimic, and mirror the truth to cover their covert operations to steer the society. Frequently, the mirror image of the truth appears in a psychopath’s lies. Most notably, they will accuse you of being guilty of their own transgressions, and they will slander others by accusing them of their own crimes. In psychological terms, it’s called “superimposing”. Psychopaths make their victims think that they are just like them, and that they have so much in common. They are experts at flattery and covert pretentiousness. The victims feel that they have found their savior.

Psychopaths seem to mirror our very souls. By mirroring you, psychopaths appeal to your narcissism while paradoxically negating your uniqueness. It is self-esteem that psychopaths envy. They bask in your admiration of their façade.

Public schools have even engaged in this programing which you see displayed by a bumper sticker on every narcissistic mother’s car! Destroying uniqueness and individual reward for specific accomplishment is the main objective of this program in order to make Communism possible. -Kevin Hancock- — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:15, 5 August 2016 (UTC)

________________________________________________________________________________________________ —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tracy Mapes (talkcontribs) 05:21, 20 July 2008 (UTC) Please Review This Information.

Tracy Mapes (talk) 05:18, 20 July 2008 (UTC)

Original Research[edit]

I looked over this article for some research I'm performing for a client. I see lots of claims of extensive documentation, but I really can't find anything that directly connects a "project Mockingbird" to the US government other than opinion pieces and 3rd party books that don't list direct sources.

I grew up on the edge of Long island, NY and I had to endure silly questions from people asking if I saw the "Tesla force field tower", and where the Native American pyramid was. I lived there all my life & never saw any of that, but people that have never been there claimed they were there because they read it in a "In Search Of..." paperback that made lots of money.

I don't doubt that the CIA tried to use reporters for intelligence means, I simply doubt that Mockingbird was the project or is even an accurate description of how it operated.

I've found nothing on .gov websites, and nothing in the US Archives. Can someone here, now, post a direct reference to something that ties project Mockingbird in with the government? Thanks! Corwin8 (talk) 21:05, 22 February 2009 (UTC)


So Operation Mockingbird goes right up to 1962, then goes completely inactive in 1963, the year Kennedy was murdered, and then picks up again in 1964. We are to believe that Mockingbird not only played no part in the Kennedy coverup, but actually literally skipped the year of 1963 altogether! Ha-ha, hilarious! You guys are very lousy storytellers but somehow very effective at it - the CIA is the Michael Bay of historical narratives! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:24, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

Was, or is?[edit]

On note of the opening sentence "Operation Mockingbird was..."

Shouldn't that be "is"? There's no note of the operation ending, and media is still being manipulated. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:49, 18 June 2013 (UTC)

"Ramparts, another CIA-backed left-wing publication"?[edit]

I cannot find any verification that Ramparts was a CIA-backed left-wing publication as is claimed in the "First exposure" section. Kezza1947 (talk) 00:09, 14 September 2015 (UTC)

I agree. I've tracked that change to this edit. I will remove it. A similar concern was raised in Talk:Thomas Braden back in 2012. - Location (talk) 00:36, 14 September 2015 (UTC)

A black eye for Wikipedia[edit]

This is one of the worst articles in Wikipedia: a lengthy entry often viewed over 1000 times a day that is almost entirely baseless. Almost everything in this article that is not total nonsense should go in CIA influence on public opinion. I have been looking for several weeks now, and the claim that there was an "Operation Mockingbird" appears to trace back to only ONE source: Deborah Davis's biography of Katherine Graham, a book which was withdrawn by the publishers after Graham complained. As an example of how bad the article is, forget about the phrase Operation Mockingbird, the WORD Mockingbird does not seem to appear even once in the entire Church Committee report, yet there is a whole section devoted to the Church Committee report in the article. I will get back to the article when I have finished my search of the Church Committee report and the lengthy supplemental volumes. Rgr09 (talk) 16:04, 9 October 2016 (UTC)

I erred. There are other sources besides Davis, there is Alex Constantine's Virtual Government. Wikipedia used to have an article on Constantine, but it has been deleted (twice). Nonetheless, his writings live on in Wikipedia through this page. Rgr09 (talk) 12:37, 12 October 2016 (UTC)

Constantine claims deleted[edit]

Alex Constantine's Virtual Government: CIA Mind Control Operations in the United States was cited in the article for various claims. All these go. VG is the antithesis of a reliable source; it is a veritable font of EMF mind control nonsense. Reliable sources are needed for any claims found in this book. Rgr09 (talk) 03:04, 23 October 2016 (UTC)

Citations needed[edit]

I have added a number of notes for citations needed. Except for the Davis book, none of the references cited support what is claimed in the article about Mockingbird. These sources include:

  • the 1976 Carl Bernstein article in Rolling Stone. This article, while dealing extensively with the CIA connections of various reporters, never once mentions Operations Mockingbird.
  • Evan Thomas's book about the early history of the CIA. This book never once mentions Operation Mockingbird.
  • John Ranelagh's history of the CIA. This book never once mentions Operation Mockingbird.
  • Jack Anderson's autobiographical book Confessions of a Muckraker. This book does not once mention Operation Mockingbird.
  • The Church Committee Report on the CIA. This very extensive report is available with a full-text index at It never once mentions Operation Mockingbird.

Given the failure of the article's major sources to mention the subject of the article, a major rewrite is needed. I'll leave this up for a week or so for any comments, then start revising. Rgr09 (talk) 23:07, 30 October 2016 (UTC)

Thanks for your comments; they explain much of the failure of this article. I started reading it and couldn't make sense even of what was on the page, before getting to the Talk page. Discussions above show huge problems; it seemed as if some editors were doing OR to reach the conclusions they wanted. If the sources don't support what is said, the content needs to be altered to reflect the sources.Parkwells (talk) 15:19, 19 December 2016 (UTC)

Removed Guatemala section[edit]

This section is quite baffling; it mentions Guatemala in only the first two sentences, and for the rest of the entire section not at all. The only relation of the Guatemala coup to Mockingbird is given in the first sentence. "Mockingbird was very active during the overthrow of President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán in Guatemala during Operation PBSUCCESS." For this, no source is given. The rest of the section also has little to do with any claims about Mockingbird, except for two places: David K. E. Bruce "was also highly critical of Mockingbird," and after Richard Bissell was fired as DDP, " Tracy Barnes took over the running of Mockingbird." Neither of these gives any source for these claims. As noted above, Evan Thomas in "The Very Best Men" never once mentions Mockingbird. Given the total lack of sources and even relevance for any of these claims about a supposed "Operation Mockingbird", I've deleted the entire section. Comments here before restoring, please. Rgr09 (talk) 13:41, 17 November 2016 (UTC)

Removed Directorate for Plans section[edit]

This section is connected with Operation Mockingbird in three places: In the first paragraph it states that following Allen Dulles's appointment as DCI, and the appointment of Wisner and Helms in the Directorate of Plans, "Mockingbird became the responsibility of the DDP." The reference cited, Ranelagh's "The Agency", mentions the personnel assignments, but says nothing about responsibility for any "Operation Mockingbird." The third paragraph then states that Cord Meyer "was still working for Operation Mockingbird", again without any source. The fourth paragraph then states that, apparently in order to protect Meyer from Joseph McCarthy's attacks, "Wisner was directed to unleash Mockingbird on McCarthy." Yet again there is not source for this claim. Without sources to support these claims, this paragraph is nothing more than fiction, which is not what Wikipedia is for. I have therefore deleted the whole section. Rgr09 (talk) 13:43, 22 November 2016 (UTC)

Problems with First Exposure section[edit]

The description of the Ramparts story that exposed CIA funding for the National Student Association is mostly in error. (Hugh Wilford's book "The Mighty Wurlitzer" gives a detailed and reliable description of this event.) The Wikipedia article on Desmond Fitzgerald says that Fitzgerald became DDP in 1966, not 1965. There is no source for the claim that says he took over an "Operation Mockingbird." The claim that Fitzgerald knew about the story at the end of 1966 is wrong; according to Wilford and others, the leak did not occur until January 1967. There is no source for the bizarre claim that the magazine told Fitzgerald it had "lost control of the information." There is no source for the claim that Fitzgerald "ordered a plan to either neutralize the campaign and/or wind-down Mockingbird." The article exposed only the National Student Association funding, it did not expose "the wide system of anti-Communist front organizations in Europe, Asia, and South America." The article did not mention Cord Meyer, it did not mention Commentary magazine. There is no source for Edward Applewhite steering references away from leftist organizations or toward conservative organizations. I have left what little is not clearly wrong in the section, but another look is needed at whether this description belongs in this article at all. Rgr09 (talk) 11:40, 23 November 2016 (UTC)

Revised version of the article[edit]

I have put up a completely revised version of the article. Please leave comments here if you find major problems or think large revisions are necessary. Rgr09 (talk) 01:46, 15 December 2016 (UTC)

Unfortunately an editor reverted the revised version without comment. I'll try partial revisions and see if I can at least get some comments. Rgr09 (talk) 00:19, 19 December 2016 (UTC)


The lead now includes the statement that Mockingbird, "Begun in the 1950s, it was initially organized by Cord Meyer and Allen W. Dulles, and was later led by Frank Wisner after Dulles became the head of the CIA." This contradicts the claim in the body of the article that "Wisner established Mockingbird, a program to influence foreign media." It also leaves the date of Mockingbird even more confused. Was it established before OPC was part of the CIA or after? Was it late 1940s or early 1950s? Davis is not precise on this. If the article attempts to be more precise, it must have a source. None is given. Rgr09 (talk) 00:27, 19 December 2016 (UTC)

I agree that this article needs to be backed up by sources. I changed the Lead to reflect what is in the body of the article currently, after the above changes. It seemed all wrong based on the body of the articleParkwells (talk) 15:38, 19 December 2016 (UTC).

Yet another overview[edit]

I've spent two more weeks looking at the article and have done some major reading, including Deborah Davis's book, Carl Bernstein's Rolling Stone article, and Evan Thomas's The Very Best Men. I've also tried to read the introductory material to the State Department history, "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1945–1950, Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment" where at least one quote in the article came from, and which gives a clear overview of where OSP/OPC came from, who was involved, and what it was supposed to do.

This article suffers from a basic flaw: it says that there was a CIA program called Operation Mockingbird, but the ONLY basis I have found for this is Davis's book, where it is described only in the vaguest terms and for which her ONLY source mentioned in the book is an anonymous "former CIA analyst". Davis mentions Frank Wisner, Philip Graham, and Cord Meyer as participants in the program, and that's it. She mentions Allen Dulles as being in charge of CIA operations overall, but never attributes any specific actions to Dulles, either in Mockingbird or elsewhere. She gives no beginning date for Mockingbird, no ending date, and no specific actions. Mockingbird is mentioned fewer than seven times in Davis, and the descriptions given take up no more than two or three pages.

Starting from this extremely vague and poorly documented basis, the article attempts to graft a number of people and events onto the Mockingbird program, mostly using information from Evan Thomas's book. Thomas's book DOES NOT MENTION MOCKINGBIRD. NO OTHER WORKS MENTION OPERATION MOCKINGBIRD. (I except the book by Alex Constantine mentioned above, which is non-RS. I except the PROJECT MOCKINGBIRD which is mentioned in the Family Secrets report, because it is not related to Davis's claims.)

This total lack of support, other than Davis, for the existence of Operation Mockingbird is semi-acknowledged at the end of the lead section, which says "The media operation was first called Mockingbird in Deborah Davis's 1979 book, Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and The Washington Post."

In fact, this is a bizarre statement. First called? Where did Davis get the name? Davis claims that WISNER (and later Cord Meyer) set up something called Operation Mockingbird. She does not say that she made up the name. She says that Wisner was responsible for Mockingbird, and that recruiting reporters was done by the personnel who ran Mockingbird. Is this the subject of the article or not? If so, it needs to be addressed in the article.

Instead, other events are dragged in. CIA cultural fronts, CIA publishing fronts, CIA funding for cultural activities and propaganda such as filming Animal Farm are real. Most of the material on these in the article is drawn from Thomas's book or from Bernstein's article. Just because they are real, this does not allow us to attribute them to Operation Mockingbird. There is no source for this claim. If they cannot be attributed to an Operation Mockingbird, why are they here?? These activities belong in another article, which can address how they were undertaken, when and by whom.

Having done the required reading, I will undertake to rewrite the article, as I did earlier. I expect the courtesy of comments before being reverted. Rgr09 (talk) 05:22, 4 January 2017 (UTC)

Rgr09, is the book Katharine the Great written by Davis a reliable source? Based on its Wikipedia page, I suspect not. And if not, wouldn't this subject fail WP:GNG? I see there was an AfD back in 2007 that resulted in keep, but maybe it's time to revisit? --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 00:08, 2 February 2017 (UTC)
I'll also add that the 2007 AfD was clearly distorted by sockpuppets, meatpuppets, or recruited editors. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 00:24, 2 February 2017 (UTC)
DrFleischman I thoroughly agree that Davis 1979 is not RS. A classic case of 'no there there'; no sources, no details, just hand-waving. I see this article as basically a bloated footnote to a REAL article on cold war propaganda, describing Western and Soviet efforts in this area. Unfortunately, there is no such article now. The closest I've found is CIA influence on public opinion. THAT article is in a horrific state, however; no way I have time to mess with it. Just tracking down the real sources of THIS article took a couple of weeks. If there's consensus to get rid of this article, I have no objections, but I kind of doubt that consensus exists yet. The article gets plenty of hits, simply because the subject pops up on so many fringe internet sites. Until a real article is available, I think it's okay to leave this up. Just make clear how anemic the basis of the claim is. Rgr09 (talk) 22:18, 2 February 2017 (UTC)
How about moving this article to CIA infiltration of the United States media or somesuch and reframing the content accordingly? --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 22:23, 2 February 2017 (UTC)

Removed First Exposure section[edit]

Tracked down reference to CIA considering buying up entire printing of Invisible Government, this is from Evan Thomas's book. Ditto for McCone attempt to stop NBC documentary. These plus Fitzgerald against Ramparts, and Braden in Saturday Evening Post made up the whole section. None of these sources mention Mockingbird, nor is the claim that these sources somehow exposed Mockingbird documented. Deleted section. Rgr09 (talk) 00:32, 16 January 2017 (UTC)

A conflict about the lead and history section[edit]

Most of the changes over the last few weeks, both mine and others, were reverted by DJNicke. I have reverted them back. I'll try and set up here the main changes under dispute. New users are often not aware of Wikipedia polices such as WP:NPOV, WP:V or WP:RS. Please make sure you understand these ideas. Please comment here before reverting again , or I'll take this directly to the edit wars page.

Change 1: Removes hat note to article on CIA influence on public opinion. This is a more general article on this subject, very hard to find because of its title. What's the problem here?

Change 2: Mockingbird "known for a fact to have operated at least during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s": POV wording "known for a fact", not backed up in the body of article. Who states it as a fact? Where does the article back up the claim that Operation Mockingbrid operated during 1960s and 1970s, or even existed at all?

Change 3: Statement "However this cannot be proven for a fact as the majority of documents pertaining to this operation were destroyed by the CIA while the Church Committee investigations were underway, undernining the credibility of the extent of the CIA's cooperation with investigators." is totally unsourced and POV.

Change 4: Statement "Begun in the 1950s, it was initially organized by Cord Meyer and Allen W. Dulles, and was later led by Frank Wisner after Dulles became the head of the CIA" This claims is flatly contradicted in material below which says it was initially organized by Wisner. This was discussed previously on the talk page and changed by another user!

Change 5: Statement "The media operation was first called Mockingbird in Deborah Davis's 1979 book, Katharine the Great." Deleted after discussion above. No response to the problems of this claim, just unilaterally reinstated.

Change 6: Reinstates the quote "economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world" and credits it to Wise's book "Invisible Government." This statement does not appear in this book, you cannot source like this!

Change 7: Reinstates the claim that "there is evidence that [Cord Meyer] was recruited several years earlier and had been spying on the liberal internationalist organizations he had been a member of in the late 1940s." and sources it to Meyer's own book! Meyer does not say this! What is your evidence.

Change 8: Deletes most corrected information about the real Project Mockingbird, leaving a confused mess.

There is more, but I'll stop here. Please understand that you cannot simply keep reverting the article back to its previous condition. Rgr09 (talk) 21:50, 26 January 2017 (UTC)

There is an information war going on on this entry, so there should be an edit war. Get it out in the open. (talk) 14:19, 7 February 2017 (UTC), edit warring is a violation of Wikipedia policy. Please do not edit war. You ability to edit could be blocked by administrators if you do. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 17:14, 7 February 2017 (UTC)

Defend Wikipedia[edit]

The attack on this subject is part of an emerging trend of deep state influence being applied to shape Wikipedia. (talk) 14:18, 7 February 2017 (UTC), if you disagree with the recent edits then you should explain why and seek consensus for your preferred version, rather than personally attacking your fellow contributors. That's how it works here. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 17:16, 7 February 2017 (UTC)
L'etat profond c'est moi! Rgr09 (talk) 23:32, 7 February 2017 (UTC)


We need to keep the language saying that Operation Mockingbird was an "alleged" program since there are no reliable sources indicating that that a program of this name actually existed. The Davis book isn't reliable, and the reliable sources that are cited (e.g. the Hersh article) make no mention of "Operation Mockingbird" and could be about something else. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 17:25, 2 March 2017 (UTC)

Family Jewels, a report from the CIA, refers to a Project Mockingbird and describes it. It is not alleged. However, perhaps anything beyond what was in that report could be presented as "alleged". It would depend on the source. What parts of the article do you thing are merely alleged? Richard-of-Earth (talk) 08:33, 3 March 2017 (UTC)
The article distinguishes between Project Mockingbird and Operation Mockingbird, or at least I intended that it would distinguish between them when I revised it. Perhaps I did a poor job. Project Mockingbird was a 3 month wire-tap on two reporters. It was one of the subjects of the Family Jewels report, and was first made public in a 1985 book. If this were all there were to it, in my opinion this falls far below the criteria for a separate article and could easily be discussed in the Family Jewels article, where it is already mentioned. It is mentioned here because earlier versions of the article lumped it in with Operation Mockingbird. Operation Mockingbird, as described in a single source, a book by reporter Deborah Davis, is in fact a totally different thing. Davis seems to claim that ALL of the United States efforts in Cold War propaganda were part of a single monolithic program. The details for this in Davis's book are so sparse as to render a full length article very difficult to write. There are NO other sources which make this claim, except internet articles and a bizarre book by Alexander Constantine, which should not even be mentioned in the article. NO one else mentions an Operation Mockingbird AT ALL, and Davis's book suffers from serious credibility issues. It was retracted by its publisher under circumstances described in the article on the book. 'Alleged' is by no means an improper term.
I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to track down the sources originally cited in this article and it was a very frustrating experience. They do not support most of the claims made in the article, as my notes above show. That the US, through the CIA and other government organs, engaged in a serious propaganda effort during the 1950s 60s is absolutely true, and deserves a real article. I suggested that this could go in the article CIA influence on public opinion, though this is already somewhat misleading, since it suggests that the CIA was the sole, or even leading, government agency in this area, a suggestion which is probably not true. If someone ever has the time and energy to try produce or revise an article on this subject, this article should be promptly merged into it, and a dab page left here in its place Rgr09 (talk) 15:48, 3 March 2017 (UTC)
Rgr09, it occurred to me in reading your response that instead of moving this content into a broader article about CIA influence, we should instead by merging it into Katharine the Great. After all, this article is nothing more than a summary of the book's allegations and the distinctions between those allegations and other programs. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 17:04, 3 March 2017 (UTC)
@DrFleischman, Richard-of-Earth, and Rgr09: I am in agreement with all of you. As you know, it is common in these types of articles to see a WP:REDFLAG claim - often a primary source claim like this one - followed by other cherry-picked material intended to support it without direct mention of the original claim or person making the claim. (I see it so often that I wish there was a term for it!) There are reliable secondary sources that confirming that PROJECT Mockingbird was a real thing (e.g. The Washington Post, The New York Times), so my !vote would be to reverse how PROJECT Mockingbird and OPERATION Mockingbird are addressed in the article. I suggest re-titling the article Project Mockingbird, write whatever we can about that using reliable secondary sources, then near the bottom mention the allegations of Operation Mockingbird to the extent they are discussed in reliable secondary sources. I know it is a popular belief among conspiracy believers, but Davis' WP:REDFLAG claim should not even be mentioned if it is not discussed in those types of sources. Those are the rules of WP:REDFLAG. -Location (talk) 16:06, 27 April 2017 (UTC)
For future reference, this biography of John McCone by chief CIA historian David Robarge refers to Project Mockingbird on pages 328-329. There are not many more details than what we have here already. -Location (talk) 03:09, 5 September 2017 (UTC)

@Location, Rgr09, Richard-of-Earth, and DrFleischman: I've just added a reference from Routledge's Encyclopedia of Intelligence and Counterintelligence. The encyclopedia has a full-page, two-column entry on the program and does describes it as real, not merely "alleged." -Darouet (talk) 18:44, 14 May 2018 (UTC)

There are a lot of evidence for it. It has obviously existed, so its not an "alleged" program. It is a program, and if anyone feels like like it isn't, then go ahead edit it back, but I'm gonna go edit it away. In my opinion having spent a while on this, I do not think it is alleged. It may be alleged to do some things which it didn't, or something of the sort, but the program existed, and I think its fair to say we have enough evidence. (talk) 13:59, 10 June 2018 (UTC)

We need reliable sources, not unspecified "evidence." --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 00:27, 11 June 2018 (UTC)
So you need reliable sources that some people call an operation a project? Do you need a thesaurus Dr. Fleischman? Volunteer Mockingbird (talk) 21:40, 6 July 2018 (UTC)
Please try to keep the discussion civil and constructive. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 22:17, 6 July 2018 (UTC)

Origin of the term "Operation Mockingbird[edit]

References to "Operation Mockingbird" are mentioned in various sources, many of which might otherwise be considered "reliable secondary source". Unfortunately, almost none of them cite where that term originated. Our article circularly cites Davis to credit Davis with coming up with that term. For future reference, here is a Politico article that states: "The pushback followed Deborah Davis’ 1979 book 'Katharine the Great,' which targeted the Post, The New York Times and other prominent publications for their involvement in what Davis dubbed Operation Mockingbird, a secret CIA effort to influence the media." [emphasis mine]. If Wikipedia is even going to mention Operation Mockingbird, it would be nice to show that this term originated from Davis and was not slapped on some CIA document to be discovered by some Congressional investigation. -Location (talk) 16:25, 27 April 2017 (UTC)

How to prove that Davis's book was the first place to mention 'Operation Mockingbird' is a difficult question. Davis does not make this claim in Katharine the Great. She does, however, state this in a 1992 interview with Kenn Thomas, which appeared in the magazine Steamshovel Press, issue 6. The complete interview is not online, but there are quotes from it here and here. A partial quote from the second source above: "So he (Philip Graham) helped to develop this operation and it subsequently spread to other newspapers and magazines. And it was called Operation Mockingbird. This operation, I believe, was revealed for the first time in my book...."
At least we can say then that the claim of intellectual priority is made by Davis herself. The interview, parenthetically, contradicts the book, which unambiguously attributes MOCKINGBIRD to Frank Wisner. In the interview, however, Davis says it was created by Dulles. This confusion has appeared repeatedly in edits to the article. Apparently it originates with Davis herself. Rgr09 (talk) 00:52, 28 April 2017 (UTC)
Normally I would write up the contradiction (i.e. Wisner v Dulles), however, I don't like to insert what would typically be viewed as unreliable sources into articles. -Location (talk) 00:25, 29 April 2017 (UTC)

Udo Ulfkotte[edit]

To the editor using various IP addresses to add content about Udo Ulfkotte, please review our verifiability policy and stop adding content without citing a reliable source. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 20:36, 15 April 2018 (UTC)

General notability[edit]

I've added a reference to Routledge's 2004 Encyclopedia of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, which has a reference on this program, and removed the GNG tag.

I've also quoted from the first paragraph of that entry to provide the encyclopedia's summary of the program. Note that the encyclopedia doesn't treat this program as "alleged."

Lastly, please note that when this article was nominated for deletion in 2007, the result of the discussion was 19 in favor of keeping, 2 in favor of deleting. This article clearly meets WP:GNG requirements. -Darouet (talk) 18:41, 14 May 2018 (UTC)

There aren't many folks watching this page, and I don't think of us has an axe to grind. The AfD may have been valid at the time, but at least up until you added this new source it was inconsistent with current notability guidelines. There were no reliable sources. Now there might be. Rgr09, what do you think of this source?
  • Armonk, NY (2004). "MOCKINGBIRD, Project". Encyclopedia of intelligence and counterintelligence (First ed.). Routledge. p. 432. ISBN 0765680688. A Cold War-era CIA propaganda campaign, Project MOCKINGBIRD was begun in the late 1940s under Frank Wisner, director of the Office of Policy Coordination. Project MOCKINGBIRD sought to manipulate media coverage of the Cold War by recruiting foreign and domestic journalists to serve as clandestine propaganda agents for the United States. Enjoying mixed success in the late 1950s and 1960s, the program was ended in the 1970s due to mounting popular opposition to the CIA's cover operations and domestic activities. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
Personally I'm on the fence. This is a reputable publisher but I don't understand how a program whose existence has literally no reliable sources as far as I've seen (exclusive of this one) could end up in an encyclopedia. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 21:57, 14 May 2018 (UTC)
@DrFleischman: OK - just to be clear, I didn't feel like you had an axe to grind in adding the tag and hope I didn't give that impression. The article does seem poorly sourced. In my view that warrants a sources tag, not a GNG tag. I did a brief look on my U's library today and a few things popped up, first and foremost the Routledge source, that I added. I'm quite busy the next few days but I'm pretty interested in this issue and hope we can find and discuss more sources. -Darouet (talk) 22:02, 14 May 2018 (UTC)
It is indeed an interesting and important issue provided it can be reliably sourced. The notability tag, along with "alleged," was added back early 2017 (I believe it was me?) because we couldn't find any reliable sources that referenced the program. See the "Yet another overview" and "Alledged" discussions above. If we accept that the Routledge source is reliable then I agree that the notability tag should be switched to a sources tag, and we should remove "alleged." (The content would still need to be cut way down as most of the content is not reliably linked to Project Mockingbird.) However I'd like to see what Rgr09 has to say about this before we remove "alleged." --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 22:23, 14 May 2018 (UTC)
@DrFleischman and Darouet:Thanks to Darouet for the reference, which I'll abbreviate EIC. There is a review of EIC here by Hayden Peake and also a useful preview, including the Mockingbird article, on Amazon. The EIC MB article cites three sources: Davis's Katharine the Great (KTG), Bernstein's Rolling Stone article (RS), and Marchetti and Marks Cult of Intelligence (COI). The latter two do not mention Mockingbird once, thus the entire article, including the totally bogus claims about Frank Wisner, is based on KTG. The EIC article on John F. Kennedy references the real "Project Mockingbird" (a wiretap on reporters Paul Scott and Robert Allen in 1963), and even includes a see also to Mockingbird, Project. This is probably what editor Carlisle expected the Mockingbird article to be, but then he went ahead and accepted an article that doesn't even mention the wiretap MB, so it's on him.
Davis remains the SOLE source for the existence of an 'Operation Mockingbird' that employed hundreds of US journalists to make propaganda for the US, and she is nowhere close to a reliable source. Just because EIC has carelessly repeated her claims, falsely attributing them also to Bernstein and Marchetti, does not make them reliable, or justify removing the 'alleged' label.
Stripped of all this nonsense, however, there is real content in this article that should be in Wikipedia, just not labeled Operation Mockingbird. As I've argued before, it belongs in a hypothetical article called Cold War propaganda. This would cover the US government's covert sponsorship of civil groups such as Congress of Freedom, and use of foreign media in propaganda efforts. This was a broad US and UK policy effort lasting decades, not just one single project, program, or operation (see Information Research Department for some of the UK side). Was US domestic media used, or even indirectly influenced, by this propaganda effort? This is the real subject of the chapter on CIA use of US civilian groups in the Church Committee's report. I note AGAIN that the Church committee report does not ONCE mention the word Mockingbird.
Lacking the hypothetical Cold War propaganda page, I don't know where to put this real information. I tried to clean up the CIA influence on public opinion article to put it there, but this is still not an ideal solution, implying that the CIA was the main, even the sole US tool for Cold War propaganda. That is quite untrue. I'll give some further thought to possible solutions to handling the Mockingbird article. Rgr09 (talk) 01:29, 15 May 2018 (UTC)
Thanks. Can you please link to the Amazon preview that includes the Mockingbird article? --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 05:48, 15 May 2018 (UTC)
Amazon previews difficult to link to, here is a link to the Amazon book page, the Mockingbird article is on page 432. There is also a Google books preview, which has the Kennedy article mentioning Project Mockingbird on p. 336, but not the Mockingbird article on p. 432. The articles in EIC are all signed and there are references at the end of every article. This is very professional, and shows us where the article's content came from. Rgr09 (talk) 08:39, 15 May 2018 (UTC)
Both: I see I'm not quite up to speed on this. I'll go back through the discussion and try to replicate Rgr09's research. Suffice to say for now that the word alleged does seem justified? -Darouet (talk) 11:53, 15 May 2018 (UTC)
For whatever reason Amazon isn't giving me access to page 432, even when I login. In any case I have no reason to doubt Rgr09's account of what it says. If the source is citing Davis for its information about Project Mockingbird then it's not reliable. (Darouet - to save you time in your research - read the last paragraph of this source.) --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 17:49, 15 May 2018 (UTC)
@DrFleischman and Darouet:Try searching the Amazon preview for 'mockingbird', that should give you a way to get to the page. I wish there were a better solution than just leaving the article in its current state; if you run into reliable references on the more general subject of the use of media in Cold War propaganda, let me know, I'm still interested in starting an article on the subject, I just don't want to do OR. Rgr09 (talk) 23:31, 16 May 2018 (UTC)

Glenn Hastedt Source, "Mockingbird, Operation"[edit]

Found another source in the library: a 2011 entry by Glenn Hastedt in the two-part ABC-CLIO encyclopedia "Spies wiretaps and secret operations." The entry is titled "Mockingbird, Operation." Hastedt chairs the Justice Studies Dept at James Madison University; I see he published a textbook with Pearson in 2011 called "American Foreign Policy." I don't think what Hastedt writes is going to resolve issues raised above, but I'm trying to find relevant sources when I can and collate them here for current and future efforts. Some relevant text:

"Beginning in the 1950s the Central Intelligence Agency sought to control and shape both the extent to which the existence of intelligence activities and organizations were reported on in the media and the manner in which they were depicted when discussed. Operation MOCKINGBIRD was the code name given to this set of activities. Attention was given to periodic film and book accounts as well as day-to-day reporting and commentary in major U.S. newspapers and weekly magazines. Operation MOCKINGBIRD was set in motion in 1948 by Frank Wisner when he was placed in charge of the CIA's Office of Special Programs was tasked with engaging in propaganda efforts, among other activities. Cord Meyer would join the CIA in 1951 and become Operation MOCKINGBIRD's principal guiding force. The scale of Operation MOCKINGBIRD's undertakings remains debated. Published accounts place the number of American journalists participating in it reaching as high as 400. Reportedly 25 newspapers and wire agencies were under its influence in the early 1950s. Among those journalists linked to it are Joseph Alsop, Ben Bradlee, James Reston, and Walter Pincus. Executives similarly identified are Henry Luce of Time and Newsweek, Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, and Phillip Graham of the Washington Post... According to the Church Committee's 1976 investigation of CIA activities, it maintained a network of several hundred foreign contacts in press services, publishing houses, periodicals, newspapers, television, and radio who would use their positions to author and propagate support of stories about the CIA and U.S. foreign policy. That same year Director of Central Intelligence George H. W. Bush announced that the CIA would no longer enter into any paid or contractual relationship with full-time or part-time news correspondents accredited by any U.S. news service, newspaper, periodical, radio, or television network or station. He did, however, indicate that the CIA would continue to enter into a voluntary, unpaid relationship with journalists. Beyond influencing journalist's accounts of the CIA, the agency also sought to stop the publication of periodical articles and books that portrayed the CIA in a negative light. Particularly notable in this regard was a 1966 article in Ramparts and a 1963 book, The Invisible Government, by David Wise and Thomas Ross. The CIA entered into a failed covert campaign aimed at undermining its financial stability to block Ramparts from publishing the article. Failing to get Wise and Ross to agree not to publish the book, the CIA reportedly considered buying the entire production run..."

The entry lists four "References and further reading:"

  • Mackenzie, Angus. Secrets: The CIA War at Home. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997.
  • Saunders, Frank Stonor. The Cultural Cold War. New York: Norton, 2000.
  • Thomas, Evan. The Very Best Men: Four Who Dared: The Early Years of the CIA. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
  • Wilford, Hugh. The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

Will try to follow up, but I hope this is of some use. -Darouet (talk) 18:18, 17 May 2018 (UTC)

The entry can also be found here. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 19:02, 17 May 2018 (UTC)
I can't speak to this but I suspect Rgr09 will be able to. I noticed that this Hastedt source relies in part on the Evan Thomas source, which was heavily cited in our article until it was culled by Rgr09 in late 2016. Rgr09 commented here in October 2016: "This book never once mentions Operation Mockingbird." Rgr09 appears to have read Wilford as well. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 19:14, 17 May 2018 (UTC)
Haydon Peake reviews Spies wiretaps and secret operations (SWSO) here. The review concludes, "There is no excuse for an encyclopedia—a basic reference work—to be so unhampered by scholarship or quality control. No other profession would tolerate it, nor should ours. For these reasons and its $180 price, caveat lector!" I would underline this by noting that one of the sources listed for the SWSO entry on Operation Chaos was an article in Covert Action Information Bulletin. This is very bad. Also, the author of the entry on the Doolittle Report apparently got his copy of the report from the Cryptome website. With these sorts of sources, it is not surprising that misinformation has crept in.
I have read three of the four books listed as references: Saunders, Thomas, and Wilford. In fact, I have read Thomas twice and Wilford (an excellent book) three times. There is absolutely nothing in these books on Mockingbird. That these are listed as sources for an entry on Mockingbird is a travesty. I have not read Mackenzie, by all accounts a polemical book, but a google books search of Mackenzie produced not one hit for the word mockingbird. So all this material on Wisner, and McCord too, must have come from elsewhere. Dollars to donuts it came from KTG, either directly or indirectly. Rgr09 (talk) 21:56, 17 May 2018 (UTC)
Your expertise is greatly appreciated. I'll add that the Peake review isn't substance-less slamming. It says, "More than 600 factual errors of various types appear among the approximately 700 entries," and the review consists mostly of a laundry list of examples. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 22:10, 17 May 2018 (UTC)
@DrFleischman and Rgr09: Spent some time going back through the whole talk page today, and it's fascinating. First, I have to say thanks to you both (and above all Rgr09) for your long work on this. My impression (which could be wrong: I have a lot of reading to do) is that there's plenty of real information on CIA manipulation of media / information, but whether most of this really occurred under the aegis of a program called Operation Mockingbird is highly uncertain. There are otherwise reliable sources which have described CIA media efforts as within the umbrella of Mockingbird, but they may be mistaken. My sense then, overall, is that we should have an article for "Operation Mockingbird" (as we do now), include a subsection on "Project Mockingbird" (as we do now), and we should also describe the putative scope of Mockingbird, according to what would ordinarily be considered reliable sources. We should simultaneously find ways of noting editorially, sometimes in passing and somewhere in the article with a dedicated section, the problems and uncertainties — including the fact that the operation may never have existed (e.g. that some authors / scholars may have mistakenly lumped many activities into the Mockingbird category).
Something that would be VERY helpful, to describe uncertainty around Mockingbird, is finding a reliable source that describes these difficulties. Perhaps there already is one and I just haven't read it yet? Rgr09 it would be frustrating if you'd done all this work tracking down sources, but that same work hadn't been done elsewhere, and published in a source we can cite. If that turns out to be the case, we'll have to figure out how to use your work, while being mindful of OR. I agree it would be absurd to blindly regurgitate material that is demonstrably dubious or uncertain.
This also relates to the difficulty of reporting / writing on clandestine programs. In a past life I did some research on US clandestine activities during the late 1940s, using declassified documents. In that case, of course many related documents remained classified. They always seemed to be those that were most important: the documentary lynchpins adjacent to action. As a result, while I learned a lot, figuring out for sure what US agents did or didn't do wasn't possible. I'm curious about finding a copy of KTG to get a sense of it. For better or worse the book seems to have had a substantial impact on scholarship. -Darouet (talk) 01:19, 18 May 2018 (UTC)
It's interesting to watch you progress through the same logical progression as I did. The difference between your proposal (keep the article where it is but broaden the scope and move the Mockingbird content into a dedicated section) and Rgr09's and mine (move the article to a broader title and move the Mockingbird content into a dedicated section) is quite small. In fact, it might just boil down to what we call this thing. I prefer moving to a broader title for several reasons. First, from a policy/guideline perspective, Project Mockingbird technically fails GNG since we still haven't found a reliable source that covers it. Second, there's a lot of useful, verifiable content here on related programs. Third, if we broadened the scope of this article we'd be better able to explain Mockingbird and Davis in context, and we could restore a whole lot of content that was previously deleted for being out of scope. This might have the added benefit of reducing a lot of the drive-by editing we've seen over the last year. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 16:25, 18 May 2018 (UTC)
What can you do? You can't find a CIA-approved sourced to source that the CIA writes all the approved sources. What a catch 22! Volunteer Mockingbird (talk) 22:33, 6 July 2018 (UTC)
We have no choice but to take what the reliable sources give us. Before 2013, for instance, there was little to no public information about the U.S. government conducting mass digital surveillance, even though we now know about it because of Snowden. Fortunately there are investigative journalists who focus on national security issues, and sometimes secret programs do come to light. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 23:26, 6 July 2018 (UTC)
Mockingbird, there are reliable sources that state Operation Mockingbird was real (I don't think DrF agrees with me on this). However, careful review of those sources suggests that there has been some scholarly confusion conflating a lot of CIA activities generally with a more targeted CIA operation called Mockingbird. In the long term the goal is to write an article that reports what ordinarily reliable sources have stated, while also alerting readers to the difficulty of getting information on this and other clandestine programs. No we are not waiting for a CIA-approved source. I spent some time reading through the whole talk page here and my attitude shifted: from one similar to yours, towards appreciating DrF's perspective. -Darouet (talk) 23:13, 7 July 2018 (UTC)
It's Edgar not Edward Applewhite, responding to a talking point above. I'm not fixing anything on this page. Kirbyurner (talk) 00:00, 8 January 2019 (UTC)