[The following is an excerpt from my book, JFK and the End of America: Inside the Allen Dulles/LBJ Plot That Killed Kennedy.]
Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite co-anchored a CBS special in 1967 called “CBS News Extra: November 22 and The Warren Report.” (It pre-empted “Mr. Ed,” the show about a talking horse; in retrospect, a talking horse was more credible than the information Cronkite and Rather provided.) CBS compromised any honest investigation when it consulted with Allen Dulles before and after the program. Dulles was allowed to inspect the transcripts and was said to have had some minor objections to the content. This was Dulles’s shrewd way of letting CBS think it actually had some independence while still controlling what was broadcast. In the end, the CIA had nothing to fear. The network’s news director at the time, William Small, exchanged a series of letters with Dulles in which Dulles “…commended Small for a job well done.”66 Such was the broadcast media’s obsequious subservience to Dulles and the CIA. Fact finding lost out to the secret state’s official version of the assassination. As a result, a false history of America was created; one that is still deeply embedded in the mythology of this country’s past.
Rather and Cronkite, and their ilk, were willing accomplices in this fraud. Why did they do it? Were they just blissfully unaware of the genuine truth? Did they gullibly swallow whole what was fed to them by the plotters? Or were they just ambitious men, consumed with the prestige and influence their mere faces and voices transmitted, and unwilling to surrender their lofty positions by actually challenging the men who really ran the country? Whatever their motives, it is hard to believe that they did not recognize the Warren Report for what it really was—an implausible fairy tale concocted by flawed men to cover up the ugliest political crime in American history. But instead of summoning the courage to face that ugly truth, CBS and all the other Mockingbird assets chose the path of least resistance. The CIA’s Frank Wisner once bragged that Operation Mockingbird was like his own personal Wurlitzer: he could play any tune on it he wanted, and America would follow along. And consider these chilling declarations from Dulles’s successors—William Colby (CIA Director from 1973-76): “The CIA owns everyone of any significance in the major media”67; William Casey (DCIA from 1981-87): “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”68
Even that giant of the television medium, Walter Cronkite, was not immune to corruptive influences. As a fellow Texan (Cronkite spent his youth in Houston), Cronkite had an affinity for Lyndon Johnson. Johnson “treated him more like a second cousin than a fourth-estate adversary.”69 Cronkite’s boss at CBS, Frank Stanton, was a close friend of Johnson’s. According to Cronkite’s biographer Douglas Brinkley, “[LBJ] hoping to exert control over CBS…would routinely call Stanton to grouse about on-air content…[and] whenever LBJ went to New York, Stanton would fete him with limousines, cocktails, and coffee…to keep him happy.”70
Cronkite was also linked to Allen Dulles. In 1976 an ABC News reporter named Sam Jaffe claimed that he had seen Cronkite’s name at the top of the list of journalists who worked for the CIA. Jaffe also confirmed that Cronkite had received a briefing from Dulles as part of his normal duties. When Cronkite learned of Jaffe’s allegations, “…the anchorman sprang into damage control mode, traveling from New York City to Langley, Virginia, to confront George H.W. Bush [then CIA Director]…Cronkite demanded the list of news people who had actually been CIA agents.”71 Bush refused to release it, but later the CIA “confirmed that…CBS correspondents had worked for the agency.”72 Beyond Cronkite’s understandable consternation at having his journalistic reputation compromised, it is revelatory to note here that a list of CIA journalist assets apparently DID exist. And George Bush, head of the CIA, kept it secret. Cronkite did not deny being a CIA asset, nor did he seek a disavowal of his collaboration with the agency from George Bush. Instead, Cronkite sought to verify that he was only one of many newsmen who had worked for the CIA, as if public knowledge of such common practice would legitimize it. It speaks to the power of Operation Mockingbird. If the CIA had ensnared Cronkite, the number one television journalist of the 1960s, what newsman was immune to the agency’s perfidious influence?
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