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FBI COINTELPRO Media Operations

 

The Corporate Press

Journalists were not only unwittingly fed disruptive information by the FBI during its COINTELPRO operation, but in many cases, journalists also willingly cooperated with the FBI knowing they were participating in counterintelligence programs.

An analysis of COINTELPRO documents showed the FBI's use of news­papers, radio stations, and television stations was much greater than previously suspected. A separate COINTELPRO media program was in operation from at least 1956 to 1971; and documents reveal FBI offices in 16 cities were requested to compile lists of cooperative and reliable reporters for COINTELPRO use. The New Haven, Connecticut office alone submitted a list of 28 media contacts. Media operations were carried out by agents in an additional seven cities. The FBI media program was especially active in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Milwaukee.

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The Alternative Press

The FBI in the 1960s and 1970s carried out a large-scale campaign of intelligence gathering and disruption specifically aimed at crippling the alternative and underground press. The FBI targeted what they called “New Left” publications along with old-line Communist periodicals and underground newspapers as part of its COINTELPRO program. These publications were seen by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover as a threat to democracy, so he ordered his agents to violate the First Amendment rights of alternative journalists to suppress their newspapers.

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