Date: Mon May 27 2002
[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]* From: "David D. Piney" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The modern history of the right-wing machinery dates back at least to the first years of Richard Nixon's presidency. Beset by growing public outrage over the Vietnam War, Nixon determined that Republicans needed a more compliant media to promote their points of view -- and to make his hardball political strategies work.
First; "to infiltrate the John Gardner 'Common Cause' deal and needle them, and try to push them [to a publicly distressing] left. Next; form a front group named to sound like their "SDS" to support the Democratic candidates and [offer public] praise for their liberal efforts, etc., [but actually] spin their 'bad' elements in guise of praise."
But Nixon always returned to his pet plan. "Nixon was pushing again on [his] project of building Our Establishment in [the] press, business, education, etc., Haldeman wrote. "In the months that followed, Nixon kept pushing for an infrastructure that would help him to destroy his political enemies.
His anger reached a boiling point when Daniel Ellsberg leaked the secret Pentagon Papers' history of the Vietnam War. The president demanded counter-leaks in friendly publications to discredit Ellsberg and others involved. "We're up against an enemy, a conspiracy", Nixon said in a tape-recorded White House conversation on July 1, 1971. "They're using any means. We are going to use any means. Is that clear? ... Now, how do you fight this [Ellsberg case]? You can't fight this with gentlemanly gloves. ... We'll kill these sons of bitches."[See Stanley I. Kutler's Abuse of Power]
But Nixon soon found the press corps harder to manipulate than it was during the early years of the Cold War. He lectured his staff on the need to bully journalists into line. Nixon believed that "the press and TV don't change their attitude and approach unless you hurt them", Haldeman recounted on April 21, 1972. "The only way we can fight the whole press problem, he [Nixon] feels, is through the [Charles] Colson operation, the nutcutters, forcing our news in a brutal vicious attack on the opposition."
Two months later, Nixon's pugnacious politics would become a cropper in the Watergate scandal. As the scope of Nixon's criminality slowly emerged, The Washington Post and other major news outlets led the way in exposing the evidence and ultimately forcing Nixon's resignation on Aug. 9, 1974.
The disgraced president retreated to his estate in San Clemente, Calif. But Nixon's followers blamed the "liberal" news media for hounding Nixon from office and for "losing" the Vietnam War. They concluded that a more conservative press was vital to their success.
Taking the lead in this major endeavor was Nixon's treasury secretary, William Simon, who was president of the John M. Olin Foundation. In the late 1970s, Simon began pulling together executives of other conservative foundations with the goal of further building "Our Establishment."
In 1979, Simon argued in his book, "A Time for Truth", that only a strong conservative ideological movement could break the back of the dominant Liberal Establishment. Simon accused them of enforcing misguided concepts of "equality" and of being "possessed of delusions of moral grandeur".
To build the Right's counter-intelligence and to transform the Republican Party into a conservative weapon would require multi-millions from business, Simon said. Simon's Olin Foundation allied itself with other like-minded foundations to advance this cause, giving rise to the nucleus of the Right's national infrastructure of think tanks, media, and pressure groups.
In 1980, Simon published "A Time for Action", which demanded that the "death grip" of the Liberal Establishment and its "New Despotism" be broken. Simon saw the news media of the day as part of the enemy camp. He especially targeted journalists who, Simon charged, "had been working overtime to deny liberty to others".
Through his writing and his actions, Simon emerged as the principal architect of the right-wing machine's financial structure, while others provided more of its intellectual framework. As then-journalist Sidney Blumenthal wrote, "by controlling the wellsprings of funding, Simon makes this movement green". [See The Rise of the Counter Establishment, published in 1986. Blumenthal is now a special assistant in the White House.
The Reagan Era
With Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, the conservative movement gained a powerful new momentum. The fledgling conservative magazines and expanding think tanks also had a new clear-cut goal to further advance the hard right interests now made possible with the Reagan presidency.
The fledgling conservative infrastructure now supplied an important intellectual veneer to many of Reagan's radical policies. The daring anti Keynesianism, and unabashed self-serving-ness of supply-side economics -gleaned wholly at the public's expense-, a brutal military foreign policy (and a corresponding rise in domestic military ascension) were important elements of Reagan's neo-conservative movement wholly supported by the media.
In early 1982 for example, when the New York Times' Raymond Bonner reviled the Salvadoran army's massacre of nearly 1,000 men, women and children at El Mozote, both Irvine's Accuracy in Media and the Wall Street Journal's editorial page led a harsh personal counterattack against Bonner in response.
The Reagan administration continually nourished a raw expediency ethos and growth of the hard-right infrastructure. Inside the National Security Council, former CIA propagandist Walter Raymond Jr. coordinated plans for enlisting private organizations into wide-ranging "public diplomacy" operations. Raymond's plan -- initially called Project Truth, and later "Project Democracy" -- enlisted foundations in a novel public/private strategy.
Perry discovered a typical planning paper prepared for Raymond in his declassified files at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, Calif. dated June 14, 1982, entitled "Project Democracy: Proposals for Action". A draft proposal spelled out his plans for drawing non-governmental organizations into the process. The plan also called for harnessing financial resources from a coalition of wealthy individuals; U.S. defense contractors; and private foundations, such as the Twentieth Century Fund.
He planned to hold "White House meetings of top U.S. business and philanthropic figures to elucidate need and stimulate the will to give urgently" stated the proposal. The paper recommended reaching out beyond the base of conservative funders to include more moderate and even liberal foundations, such as the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, MacArthur Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
The administration also earmarked $200 million in federal money for political action proposals, ranging from expanded broadcasting to the development of new magazines and the sponsoring of international conferences.
A chart, marked Appendix A and also dated June 14, 1982, identified Freedom House and the Atlantic Institute as important instruments for gaining research and contacts with universities. The chart also included segments for "elite groups" that would be drawn into the operation, including the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group and the Chamber of Commerce.
The Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group are secretive organizations that sponsor closed-door policy discussions involving leading international businessmen, bankers, politicians and media moguls.
The Project Democracy proposal enjoyed the discreet support, too, of CIA director William J. Casey, who wrote an undated letter to then-White House counsel Edwin Meese III. Casey stated that the plan "has significant merit" and offered to make "suggestions" about who might serve on a working group "to refine the proposal".
Casey added, however, that "obviously, we here should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor do we wish to appear to be a sponsor or advocate. Nevertheless, the needs appear real and I believe our national fabric for dealing with many issues and problems would be well served by such an institute."
Like several other documents in Raymond's file, the Casey letter had been torn in half as if Raymond were planning to discard it but later changed his mind. An archivist at the library said she pieced a number of Raymond's torn letters back together and put them in plastic casing for their protection.
On other occasions, the Reagan administration directly solicited support for its political allies. According to one National Security Council memo dated May 20, 1983, U.S. Information Agency director Charles Z. Wick brought private donors to the White House Situation Room for a fund-raiser. The event collected $400,000 for Accuracy in Media, Freedom House and other groups assisting the "public diplomacy" operations.
As the domestic side of the program moved forward, one of Raymond's recurring concerns was Casey's insistence that he keep his oar in the water. Given its clear goal of influencing U.S. politics and policies, Raymond fretted about the legality of Casey's continued involvement in what amounted to domestic propaganda. Raymond confided in one memo that it was important "to get [Casey] out of the loop." But Casey would not back off.
During this same period, another major source of conservative media money came on line. In 1982, drawing on his shadowy resources in Asia and apparently South America, Rev. Moon launched a daily newspaper, The Washington Times. The right-wing paper soon became President Reagan's favorite as it promoted his policies and denounced his opponents.
the years wore on, Raymond sought more resources for "public diplomacy." On
"I have attempted to proceed forward with a whole range of political and information activities," Raymond wrote. "There are a raft of ties to private organizations which are working in tandem with the government in a number of areas ranging from the American Security Council to the Atlantic Council, to the nascent idea of a 'Peace Institute.'
Among the examples of his "specific activities", Raymond listed "significant expansion of our ability to utilize book publication and distribution as a public diplomacy tool. (This is based on an integrated public/private strategy). ... The development of an active PSYC-OPS strategy... Regular meetings with the German political foundations concerning programming. ... Meetings (ad hoc) with selected CIA operational people to coordinate and clarify lines between overt/covert political operations on key areas. Examples: Afghanistan, Central America, USSR-EE [Eastern Europe] and Grenada."
To reinforce Reagan's "war of ideas", the administration even assigned real-time warriors. The Pentagon transferred a half dozen psychological warfare experts from U.S. Special Forces. One, Lt. Col. Daniel Jake Jacobowitz, served as executive officer inside the chief "public diplomacy" office located at the State Department. Later, the White House transferred in another five psychological warfare specialists from the 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, N.C.
The main job
of the psyc-ops specialists was to pick out provocative incidents in
public diplomacy teams also exacted a high price from those mainstream reporters
whose work challenged the administration's assertions about Central America and
other international hot spots. By 1986, a much-chastened
In March 1986, Otto Reich, a senior public diplomacy official, reported that his office was taking a very aggressive posture vis-Ó-vis a sometimes-hostile press and did not give the critics of the policy any quarter in the debate.
To unsubscribe from this list simply reply with "unsubscribe" in the subject header, or "re-subscribe" if you wish to resume.