The sordid tale of how the CIA buys journalists and the manner in which their newspapers facilitate such activities. Is there any such thing as ‘objective’ media? Read and ponder.
2014-12-22, 18:09 EST
Exclusively for RI, Dutch journalist Eric van de Beek interviews the senior German editor who is causing a sensation with his allegations that the CIA pays German media professionals to spin stories to follow US government goals.
We wrote about this two weeks ago, and the article shot up in views, becoming one of the most read articles on our site. Udo Ulfkotte reveals in his bestseller Bought Journalists, how he was "taught to lie, to betray and not to tell the truth to the public."
The former editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which is one of Germany’s largest newspapers, was secretly on the payroll of the CIA and German secret service, spinning the news in a way that was positive for the United States and bad for its opponents. In his latest interview, Ulfkotte alleges that some media are nothing more than propaganda outlets of political parties, secret services, international think tanks and high finance entities. Repenting for collaborating with various agencies and organisations to manipulate the news, Ulkotte laments, "I'm ashamed I was part of it. Unfortunately I cannot reverse this."
Some highlights from the interview:
"We’re talking about puppets on a string, journalists who write or say whatever their masters tell them to say or write. If you see how the mainstream media is reporting about the Ukraine conflict and if you know what's really going on, you get the picture. The masters in the background are pushing for war with Russia and western journalists are putting on their helmets."
And you were one of them, and now you are the first to blow the whistle.
"I'm ashamed I was part of it. Unfortunately I cannot reverse this. Although my superiors at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung approved of what I did, I'm still to blame. But yes, to my knowledge I am the first to accuse myself and to prove many others are to blame."
"It started very soon after I started working at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. I learned to regard luxury invitations as quite acceptable and to write positive articles in return. Later on I was invited by the German Marshall Fund of The United States to travel to the United States. They paid for all my expenses and put me in contact with Americans they'd like me to meet. In fact, most journalists from respected and big media organisations are closely connected to the German Marshall Fund, the Atlantik-Brücke or other so-called transatlantic organisations. Many of them are even members or 'fellows'. I am a fellow of the German Marshall Fund. The thing is, once you're connected, you make friends with selected Americans. You think they are your friends and you start cooperating. They work on your ego, make you feel like you're important. And one day one of them will ask you 'Will you do me this favor' and then another will ask you 'Will you do me that favor'. Bye and bye you get completely brainwashed. I ended up publishing articles under my own name written by agents of the CIA and other intelligence services, especially the Bundesnachrichtendienst."
"They did. From my private point of view, in retrospective, they even sent me to spy. For instance in 1988 they put me on a plane to Iraq, where I traveled to the border with Iran. In those days Saddam Hussein was still seen as a good guy, a close ally to the US. The Americans supported him in his war against Iran. About 35 kilometers from the border, in an Iranian place called Zubaidad, I witnessed the Iraqis killing and injuring thousands of Iranians by throwing poison gas at them. I did exactly what my superiors had asked me to do. I made photos of the gas attacks. Back in Frankfurt it appeared my superiors didn't show much interest in the atrocities I had witnessed. They allowed me to write an article about it, but they severely limited the size of it as if it wasn't of much importance. At the same time they asked me to hand over the photos that I had made to the German association of chemical companies in Frankfurt, Verband der Chemischen Industrie. This poison gas that had killed so many Iranians was made in Germany."
"I’ve been on a thousand press trips and never reported bad about those who paid all the expenses. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. That’s where corruption starts. And that’s the reason why magazines like Der Spiegel don’t allow their journalists to accept invitations to press trips unless they pay for their own expenses."
The consequences of becoming a whistleblower can be serious. Do you have any indications people tried to prevent the publication of your book?
"When I told the Frankfurter Allgemeine that I would publish the book, their lawyers sent me a letter threatening with all legal consequences if I would publish any names or secrets – but I don’t mind. You see, I don’t have children to take care of. And you must know I was severely injured during the gas attack I witnessed in Iran in 1988. I'm the sole German survivor from a German poison gas attack. I’m still suffering from this. I’ve had three heart attacks. I don’t expect to live for more than a few years."
"No German mainstream journalist is allowed to report about the book. Otherwise he or she will be sacked. So we have a bestseller now that no German journalist is allowed to write or talk about. More shocking: We have respected journalists who seem to have gone deep sea diving for a long time. It’s an interesting situation. I expected and hoped that they would sue me and bring me to court. But they have no idea what to do. The respected Frankfurter Allgemeine just announced they will fire 200 employees, because they’re losing subscribers very rapidly and in high numbers. But they don’t sue me. They know that I have evidence on everything."
(Courtesy RI, October 17, 2014)