Operation Mockingbird is a supposed large-scale spy program of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, which started during the early years of the cold war and attempted to subvert the news reporting for propaganda purposes. It was originally intended to undermine the effectiveness of organizations opposed to the Vietnam War. In some cases, it actually was able to influence the outcome of some political campaigns.
Source Of Controversy
Operation Mockingbird has long been a source of controversy and concern among civil rights groups and human rights advocates around the world. Many people regard the CIA as an evil organization which should not be involved in activities which affect individuals within the society. There are other critics who maintain that the agency was merely trying to protect the lives and interests of the U.S. by providing information to allied intelligence agencies.
There are a number of controversial allegations surrounding the activities of Operation Mockingbird. Some examples include:
One alleged example is the CIA’s funding of prominent liberal publications and organizations that were opposed to the war in Vietnam. The most famous example is the Chicago Defender, which had been established in 1920 with the intention of promoting anti-Vietnam War sentiment among Americans.
Involvment In Publishing Stories
Another alleged operation of Operation Mockingbird is its involvement in publishing stories favorable to United States intelligence and military efforts. These stories were published in such prominent journals as the Washington Post, New York Times and the magazine CounterSpy.
The newspaper itself, according to many critics, was merely a vehicle for CIA propaganda in order to sway public opinion and influence news articles in favor of U.S. policy. The paper routinely published stories which were in line with CIA propaganda while completely ignoring stories that were contrary to U.S. policy. The result was a significant imbalance in the news coverage, which in turn influenced the decisions made by U.S. officials regarding the Vietnam War.
Some claim that Operation Mockingbird was also involved in encouraging newspapers to run negative reports about the opposing political party. In other words, these stories were published in order to paint the opposition party as unpatriotic, corrupt or disloyal.
Claims From Critics
Critics of this program claim that certain events and incidents in the press served no purpose other than to cast a negative light on the opposing political party and their policies. For example, some critics charge that some prominent news reports against the Democrats and Republicans were deliberately meant to undermine the political campaign of John Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election. In another instance, there are allegations that the coverage of the Iran-Contra Affair was deliberately written to paint the Democrats in a bad light.
Critics of Operation Mockingbird have charged that it has been used as a way of stifling free speech and limiting debate. There have also been accusations that the CIA has censored its own publications for fear that such publications would provide too much information. Additionally, it is alleged that some of the journalists involved in the program received CIA funding in return for their coverage.
Such cases of interference in media coverage often come from the fear that a media outlet might publish information which is considered to be embarrassing to the U.S. government. However, such accusations cannot be proven or disproved.