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.
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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 US Director of National Intelligence, says the US needs that group again. Actually, he just told Congress that they need a "USIA on steroids".
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?
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 didn't exist.
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? The BBG is the propaganda arm of the United States.