A C-SPAN Talk About Gloria Steinem and Other CIA Anomalies

The Secret CIA Campaign to Influence Culture: Covert Cultural Operations

C-SPAN (2000)

This video is a C-SPAN presentation by British author Frances Stoner Saunders on her 1999 book Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War (published in the US as The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters).  See The History of CIA Funded Foundations.

According to Saunders, her book was inspired by a 1974 essay Abstract Expressionism: Weapon of the Cold War by Eva Cockcroft. The essay discusses the CIA role in the global promotion of abstract art. Saunders found the notion of a US intelligence agency promoting modern art so bizarre she spent the next two years pouring through congressional archives and interviewing former CIA officers – including Tom Braden* and William Colby (right before he mysteriously fell into the Potomac in 1996).

In the process, she learned the CIA front Congress for Cultural Freedom (started in 1950) funded the publication of literally hundreds of books and magazines, art exhibits and overseas cultural organizations.

In her talk, she also mentions the large number of ex-communists and liberals (eg Arthur Scheslinger) who joined the Congress for Cultural Freedom (even though most of them knew it was CIA-funded).

For me the best parts are at 23 minutes, where she describes feminist Gloria Steinem’s work for a CIA front called the Independent Research Services**  and the Q&As. The latter start at 34 minutes. At least three of the four questioners are obvious CIA plants, and she utterly demolishes them.

The CIA posted a review of Saunders’ book on their website


*Braden was a CIA officer from 1947 to 1954 who went on to co-host (as the “voice from the left”) the CNN program Crossfire.

** Steinem even had her own CIA case officer – see Did the CIA Use Gloria Steinem to Subvert the Feminist Movement?

11 thoughts on “A C-SPAN Talk About Gloria Steinem and Other CIA Anomalies

  1. Interesting interview from 2000 about CIA activities in the 60’s and 70’s. One could argue that a certain amount of this creation of an ersatz culture could have been rationalized because communism was an existential threat to the West. A question left unanswered is what will we know 50 years from now about today? Is the popularity of reality TV a sponsored CIA event? It seems that the tendency of the intelligence community is to react to threats both real and imagined. Are we being further atomized and deliberately desensitized by reality TV? Is America being groomed as a Mobocracy?Are the media events surrounding shootings of unarmed blacks, and the creation of Black Lives Matter, a tool for federalization of law enforcement? Is reality TV (Mob Wives, Warlocks,Amish mafia, Mob confessions) a tool of counterintelligence to penetrate federal targets lured by their 15 minutes of fame?

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      • There are a growing number of police and espionage themed shows of late. Social engineering comes to mind when the Netflix, prime time TV, and basic cable service carry dozens of these series.

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  2. Thanks Stuart; she’s quite the scholar. It is always a treat to watch and listen to someone who knows her subject matter cold, especially when so many try to keep the cover-up going.

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