Gloria Steinem and the CIA

I know that many of the readers of this blog also follow Marcus Ranum’s blog stderr but for the few who don’t, I would strongly urge you to read today’s post. It is truly disturbing about the relationship that feminist icon and founder of Ms. Magazine Gloria Steinem had with the CIA and a program called MOCKINGBIRD which was, like COINTELPRO, one of the many covert projects of the US government to infiltrate, subvert, disrupt, and destroy progressive movements using a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy by fomenting schisms and conflicts along sectarian lines and thus prevent broader unity emerging among the many disenfranchised and disadvantaged groups.

It is a long and detailed post about events from a long time ago. But a key element is the CIA’s role in using Steinem to steer the emerging feminist movement into directions away from broader social justice concerns.

The accusation is that Steinem’s initial funding for Ms. Magazine came through a CIA cut-out who dropped $1.5 million in start-up cash on pretty ex-model Gloria whose opinions on feminism were aligned with a “divide and conquer” strategy that peeled white feminist women away from the broader social justice movement and student movements. What today we’d call “soccer moms” were lured off into a different set of issues, where they were less likely to be radicalized if they were arguing about whether proper feminists get face lifts, or whatever.

The most damning bit (for me at least) was that when Steinem was asked about her role with the CIA, “Steinem defended the CIA relationship, saying: “In my experience The Agency was completely different from its image; it was liberal, nonviolent and honorable.”” I totally agree with Marcus when he says, “In my experience, nobody is stupid enough to think the CIA is liberal, nonviolent, and honorable and I would not want to presume that a famous feminist is stupid.”

Marcus says that he grew increasingly uncomfortable as he went deeper into this and started peeling back the layers.

Suddenly the taste got worse and worse; I was expecting to find a bunch of hair-on-fire conspiracy theory stuff but as soon as I saw MOCKINGBIRD my heart skipped a beat because I knew things were going to get ugly. Look at what the CIA managed to accomplish with their useful idiot, Steinem, and multiply that 50-fold or 100-fold, then ask yourself, “why does shit like FOX and Friends exist?” You’ll realize, slowly as a glacier melts, that Noam Chomsky was not fucking kidding one bit when he wrote about Manufacturing Consent.

The piece is very sobering and disturbing but also utterly gripping. Head over and read it in full.


  1. bmiller says

    I do need to read that book (Manufacturing Consent). I know nothing about the arcane theories of linguistics, where I understand Chomsky is…controversial. But his take on politics seems pretty spot on. (I have read mixed descriptions of the whole Khmer Rouge thing. Maybe like all human beings he had a serious blind spot? But then, those who attack him for that were perfectly OK with the U.S. dropping more bombs on Cambodia than on Germany during WWII, so…)

  2. says

    @bmiller -- there’s a really cool animated summary of Chomsky’s argument:

    Chomsky’s linguistic theory is probably not completely correct but it’s good and important. Don’t confuse that work with his generally being a dissident since forever. One thing about Chomsky’s dissidence is that he has been consistent for a very long time. I think his views are well thought-out but no matter if you agree, they are tenaciously held.

  3. says

    All of which does shed an interesting light on the Wellesley College freshman Hillary Diane Rodham in 1965.

    Hillary Clinton as the CIA’s manchurian candidate? You do realize that the reason they worry about things is because that’s what they’re doing…?

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