Monday, February 10, 2014

Is The New York Times An Agent of the Government?

I note some commentary following the Walter Block post, Walter Block: The Case for Suing the New York Times for Libel,in which it is suggested that whether NYT is an agent of government is a subjective matter and not an objective fact. I vehemently disagree and suggest the following thought experiments and examination of facts to understand the nature of NYT as a government agent.

Let us think about a town, The Town of Lost Liberty, where there is a parking garage and two parking attendants, Lew and Paul, who valet park all the cars. Let us also assume that in this town the reading of Murray Rothbard is banned and that even the possession of a Rothbard book is considered a crime.

Let us go on to theorize that Lew is a live and let live kind of guy and that if he occasionally sees a Rothbard book in someone's car that he parks, he says nothing about  it to anyone. However, Paul reports the owner of the car  to the authorities every time he sees a Rothbard book in a car.

Clearly, Paul is an agent of the state, while Lew is not. This is an objective fact. They are both parking cars but, while at his job, Paul is also an informant for the state.

Now, let us imagine a court trial that goes on in this town, where an innocent man is accused of murder. Lew testifies truthfully and reports that the man was clear across town at the time of the murder and, thus, couldn't possibly have committed the murder. But Paul, who wants to get in good with the mayor, and knows the mayor wants this innocent man in jail, lies and testifies that he saw the innocent man pull the trigger. Thus, again, we see that Paul is acting, in objective fashion, as an agent of the state, while Lew is not.

Let us also assume that the town has 2 newspapers. Lew's News and Paul's News. Lew's News reports all the local goings on , the weddings, the crime blotter, the next parade and reports on the local sports teams.

Let us say that Paul's News reports all this, but also plants bogus stories that will panic the community for the benefit of the mayor and that Paul hires "reporters," who are cronies of the mayor and who are less interested in reporting facts, and more interested in planting slanted or outright phony stories that will boost the agenda of the mayor and "reporters" who are willing to spy for the mayor under the cover of being a Paul's News reporter.

Clearly, Lew's News is a straight shooting newspaper and Paul's News serves, objectively, as an agent of the government.

So which category does the New York Times fall into?

Here's wikipedia on Operation Mockingbird:
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 covert action 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."[2] Later that year Wisner established Mockingbird, a program to influence foreign media. Wisner recruited Philip Graham from The Washington Post to run the project within the industry. According to Deborah Davis in Katharine the Great; "By the early 1950s, Wisner 'owned' respected members of The New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and other communications vehicles."[3] Wisner called this propaganda network the "Mighty Wurlitzer"
Here's Carl Bernstein on the CIA and the New York Times (my highlights):
The history of the CIA’s involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception[...]Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were Williarn Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Henry Luce of Tirne Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the LouisviIle Courier‑Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps‑Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald‑Tribune.
By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc.[...]During the 1976 investigation of the CIA by the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Senator Frank Church, the dimensions of the Agency’s involvement with the press became apparent to several members of the panel, as well as to two or three investigators on the staff. But top officials of the CIA, including former directors William Colby and George Bush, persuaded the committee to restrict its inquiry into the matter and to deliberately misrepresent the actual scope of the activities in its final report. The multivolurne report contains nine pages in which the use of journalists is discussed in deliberately vague and sometimes misleading terms. It makes no mention of the actual number of journalists who undertook covert tasks for the CIA. Nor does it adequately describe the role played by newspaper and broadcast executives in cooperating with the Agency[...]American publishers, like so many other corporate and institutional leaders at the time, were willing to commit the resources of their companies to the struggle against “global Communism.” Accordingly, the traditional line separating the American press corps and government was often indistinguishable: rarely was a news agency used to provide cover for CIA operatives abroad without the knowledge and consent of either its principal owner, publisher or senior editor. Thus, contrary to the notion that the CIA insidiously infiltrated the journalistic community, there is ample evidence that America’s leading publishers and news executives allowed themselves and their organizations to become handmaidens to the intelligence services. “Let’s not pick on some poor reporters, for God’s sake,” William Colby exclaimed at one point to the Church committee’s investigators. “Let’s go to the managements. They were witting.”[...]The CIAs relationship with most news executives differed fundamentally from those with working reporters and stringers, who were much more subject to direction from the Agency. A few executives—Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times among them—signed secrecy agreements.[...]Three of the most widely read columnists who maintained such ties with the Agency are C.L. Sulzberger of the New York Times, Joseph Alsop, and the late Stewart Alsop, whose column appeared in the New York Herald‑Tribune, the Saturday Evening Post and Newsweek[...]On one occasion, according to several CIA officials, Sulzberger was given a briefing paper by the Agency which ran almost verbatim under the columnist’s byline in the Times. “Cycame out and said, ‘I’m thinking of doing a piece, can you give me some background?’” a CIA officer said. “We gave it to Cy as a background piece and Cy gave it to the printers and put his name on it.”[...]
In November 1973, after many such shifts had been made, Colby told reporters and editors from the New York Times and the Washington Star that the Agency had “some three dozen” American newsmen “on the CIA payroll,” including five who worked for “general‑circulation news organizations.”
Bernstein is discussing, mostly, the NYT allowing CIA agents to work as reporters as cover, but this still counts as government agency work.

The historian Ralph Raico has commented on reporters at NYT and their outrageous lies which have provided cover for US government overseas aggressions:
I recall their D. C. correspondent Judith Miller’s role in promoting the lie of Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. What’s your guess on how much blood she, and the Times, have on their hands for that? But this tradition for our Newspaper of Record goes back to the 1930s. Then its Moscow correspondent, Walter Duranty, did a good comrade’s job denying the very existence of the Stalinist terror famine in the Ukraine and the North Caucasus that led to the death of many millions. The Old Gray State Whore would be a better name for that paper.
Can there really be any question that NYT is an agent of the state, taking part in far more obscene assignments for the US government, than our fictional parking attendant snitch, Paul, and that this cooperation with the government is sanctioned by NYT controlling ownership,the Sulzberger family? It is difficult to see how NYT can be seen any other way than as an agent for the government. One may dispute the above facts, but if one accepts the facts, as I do, then it is clear that The Old Gray State Whore has been putting out for the government for a very long time.


  1. Remember the final scene from " Three Days of the Condor "
    Turner: They'll print it.
    CIA dude: How do you know ?

  2. I would think it would be common knowledge by now that all the MSM are government boot lickers in one way or another.

  3. Among other perspectives, this line of argument supports some critical / out-of-the-box thinking about our official employment statistics. Depending on how you define 'government,' how many 'private sector' employees are effectively 'government' workers? Consider our banking system, among other places.

    1. Bill,

      I agree with you completely. I just submitted a brief to Robert that if he decides to post, asks similar questions to yours and suggests one possible tool, but obviously there are many.

  4. Any major propagandistic outlet that gives financial or/and moral support to the state is an agent. For the state relies on such propagandistic outlets for (endured) legitimacy among the population without which it could not possibly last for this long. I am surprised this is not obvious to some and is considered "subjective".

    In my opinion, libertarian moral rules do not apply to violators/aggressors. Only to the innocent and peaceful. And if they would apply to aggressors it would only be after restitution for the crimes they've committed.

  5. "Which it is suggested that whether NYT is an agent of government is a subjective matter and not an objective fact. "

    That was me, guilty as charged.

    I appreciate you taking the time to write all everything above. I retract my statement only with the caveat that at times I don't think it will always be clear who/what is or isn't an agent of the state and it may be subjective determination.

    But you are completely correct, the NYT's is clearly an agent of the state and further, one would have to logically move to consider them as having violated the NAP as a result.

  6. Jesse trentadue uncovered FBI informants working for abc according to FBI docs, and that their own internal playbook mentions the need to have informants in every news org as a part of PATCON.