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Matt Novak Matt Novak Aug 16, 2018. 5 comments

7 Fake Journalist Names the U.S. Government Used to Spread Propaganda During the 1950s

7 Fake Journalist Names the U.S. Government Used to Spread Propaganda During the 1950s

Back in the 1950s and 60s, the American government’s foreign propaganda arm, the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), invented fake names for journalists to plant stories in newspapers. In 2016, I wrote about Guy Sims Fitch , just one of the pseudonyms that was used globally. But I recently stumbled upon a few more names that might be helpful for people interested in Cold War history.

The names...

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Matt Novak Matt Novak Aug 21, 2017. 12 comments

House of Cards Is Airing in Iran, But What About Those Sanctions?

<i>House of Cards</i> Is Airing in Iran, But What About Those Sanctions?

The Iranian people are really enjoying the Netflix show House of Cards right now. Yesterday, the New Yorker reported that the first season of the show has aired on state-run TV, despite bans on virtually all American cultural products. But it got me thinking: Does Netflix have a licensing deal in Iran or is the country airing pirated copies of the show? And what about all those sanctions?

I...

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Matt Novak Matt Novak Aug 19, 2017. 15 comments

Chair of US Propaganda Arm Booted From Russia

Chair of US Propaganda Arm Booted From Russia

Jeff Shell, an executive with NBCUniversal, was detained in Moscow last night when he tried to enter Russia. After hours of confusion, he was ultimately told that he couldn’t enter the country. Was the Kremlin still angry about Evan Almighty? Probably not. The New York Times mentions that Mr. Shell is also the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The part they kind of gloss over?...

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Matt Novak Matt Novak Aug 18, 2017. 21 comments

James Clapper Says That America Needs a New Propaganda Agency to Fight Russia

James Clapper Says That America Needs a New Propaganda Agency to Fight Russia

During the Cold War, the United States fought a war of information (and disinformation ) against Communism. The lead agency of that war was the United States Information Agency (USIA), the propaganda arm of the US government, which was dissolved in 1999. But now James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, says we need that group again. Actually, he just told Congress that we need a...

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Matt Novak Matt Novak Aug 17, 2017. 13 comments

Meet Guy Sims Fitch, a Fake Writer Invented by the US Government

Meet Guy Sims Fitch, a Fake Writer Invented by the US Government

Guy Sims Fitch had a lot to say about the world economy in the 1950s and 60s. He wrote articles in newspapers around the globe as an authoritative voice on economic issues during the Cold War. Fitch was a big believer in private American investment and advocated for it as a liberating force internationally. But no matter what you thought of Guy Sims Fitch’s ideas, he had one big problem. He...

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Matt Novak Matt Novak May 25, 2016. 2 comments

New Book Reveals Edward R. Murrow's Years As a Government Propagandist

New Book Reveals Edward R. Murrow's Years As a Government Propagandist

“I don’t mind being called a propagandist,” Edward R. Murrow told a reporter at the Miami Herald in April of 1962. “So long as that propaganda is based on the truth.”

Today, Edward R. Murrow’s name is synonymous with integrity in journalism. He reported from the frontlines during World War II and took on Joe McCarthy’s communist witchhunt in the 1950s. But what’s less well known to Americans...

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