Mark Crispin Miller on Election Theft, 9/11, and the Silence of the Left

A talk given by Mark Crispin Miller, Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU, at the Left Forum at John Jay College in New York City, May 31, 2015.

In this talk, Miller speaks about the collaboration of supposedly 'left' media and activists in the placing of tremendous obstacles around the discussion of topics such as election theft and 9/11, and their great reluctance even to investigate such topics for themselves. 'They don't want to go there,' says Miller. It's as though these issues are, 'in a bad part of town, and they would never go there.'

Miller further argues that the widespread employment of the term 'conspiracy theory' to thwart the questioning of just about any official story is 'probably the most effective propaganda drive in American history, maybe even world history.'

(Introduced by Les Jamieson.)

More on Moulitsas

Near the end of the above video, starting at about 53 minutes, Miller talks about DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas, and how he’d trained with the CIA. This was something that came out when Moulitsas responded to a question while speaking at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco back in June 2006. Someone used the relevant segment from the talk to make the following video:

Even if it was a matter of ignorance rather than knowingly lying about the CIA's role and record, that too would raise the question of how someone so lacking in knowledge about the actual history of such an institution (and about the dissent against it) could have such an easy time riding to the forefront of the political blogosphere (of course, that question could apply to others in fake 'alternative' media as well).

Great post

Great post and comment, rm. Thanks.

Very relevant to Miller's talk

The following blog posts and comment threads (where I first found the MC Miller video posted above) should be of great interest to readers here at 911blogger. The blog's host makes it clear that his site is not the place for debating about conspiracies--i.e., for posting facts and arguments for whatever version of the truth on this or that event-- though he does acknowledge that there are events for which the official stories are not true. And more significantly, he and the commenters who visit the site increasingly are appreciating the extent to which the weaponized use of the term 'conspiracy theory' is used to prevent a more general analysis of the workings of class and power--which is a prime concern of theirs, particularly the role played in this suppression by supposedly 'alternative' media. In effect, while there are those in this discussion who may not accept every point made by the 9/11 truth movement, or agree with the priority we give to the issue, they are opposed to the way we, and others who adopt controversial positions, are reflexively marginalized:

Also this:

About CIA document 1035-960

Between about 14:53 and 17:40 in the video, Miller talks about the 1967 CIA memo (1035-960) on countering critics of the Warren Report. More discussion of this document may be found here:

I've heard it said, or at least implied, that this document included the instruction to the CIA's 'propaganda assets' and 'friendly elite contacts' in the press to start using the term 'conspiracy theorist' in a derogatory sense against the Warren Commission critics, thereby originating the practice that we've observed up to the present day.

However, I think it's important to note that nowhere in the memo is there any explicit instruction to this effect. Which is not to underestimate its significance: It does attest to the CIA's concern about skepticism towards the conclusions of the Warren Report; and its ability and readiness to set its media assets to work in countering that skepticism. And it is not unreasonable to surmise that this memo does, in fact, lie at the origins of the practice of the pervasively pejorative use of the term 'conspiracy theorist' in the media that we've observed over the years since. The term did, after all, start
popping up in the press--in the negative sense with which we're all familiar--with notably greater frequency at some point after the memo appeared, compared with before.

But while it does use the term in a few places to refer to the Warren Commission critics; and refers, in a derogatory-sounding way, to a 'love of theorizing' in a couple of other places; nowhere does such an explicit instruction to start using the term 'conspiracy theorist' in a pejorative sense appear in the memo itself.

In fact, Lance de Haven Smith has addressed this very point on pages 116 and 117 of his 'Conspiracy Theory in America' (2013)--a book to which Miller refers in his talk--without at all minimizing the document's significance in this regard:

'The dispatch says little directly about labeling the critics as conspiracy theorists, but it models the communication necessary to construct this identity without explaining how the verbal manipulation works, which would raise the listeners' defenses....Giving the group a single name and conveying its characteristics indirectly rather than frontally reflected the best social science available, then and now, on how mass publics think about politics and political issues....The CIA propaganda program was designed to interject a new group into the pantheon of political groups Americans employ to pigeonhole political candidates, issues, movements, and so on.'

So I hope that helps lend some clarity, in case any was needed, to what is and is not in this document.

Text of document

For the actual text of CIA document 1035-960, a scanned copy may be viewed here:

Oddly, this scan on Merry Ferrell's website is missing a page, between 6 and 7 on their Document Page counter.

The full text is reproduced in an attachment accessed on this website:

Here I'll copy and paste the section that includes what's missing from the scanned document on Mary Ferrell's site:

'6. It should be recognized, however, that another kind of criticism has recently
emerged, represented by Edward Jay Epstein's Inquest. Epstein adopts a schol-
arly tone, and to the casual reader, he presents what appears to be a more coherent,
reasoned case than the writers described above.

Epstein has caused people like Richard Rovere and Lord Devlin, previously
backers of the Commission's Report, to change their minds. The New York Times'
daily book reviewer has said that Epstein's work is a "watershed book" which
has made it respectable to doubt the Commission's findings. This respectability
effect has been enhanced by Life magazine's 25 November 1966 issue, which
contains an assertion that there is a "reasonable doubt," as well as a republication
of frames from the Zapruder film (owned by Life), and an interview with Gover-
nor Connally, who repeats his belief that he was not struck by the same bullet
that struck President Kennedy. (Connally does not, however, agree that there
should be another investigation.) Epstein himself has published a new article in
the December 1966 issue of Esquire, in which he explains away objections to his
book. A copy of an early critique of Epstein's views by Fletcher Knebel, published
in Look, 12 July 1966, and an unclassified, unofficial analysis (by "Spectator")
are attached to this dispatch, dealing with specific questions raised by Epstein.

7. Here it should be pointed out that Epstein's competence in research has been
greatly exaggerated. Some illustrations are given in the Fletcher Knebel article.
As a further specimen, Epstein's book refers (pp. 93-5) to a cropped-down picture
of a heavy-set man taken in Mexico City, saying that the Central Intelligence
Agency gave it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on 18 November 1963, and
that the Bureau in turn forwarded it to its Dallas office. Actually, affidavits in the
published Warren material (vol. XI, pp. 468-70) show that CIA turned the picture
over to the FBI on 22 November 1963. (As a matter of interest, Mark Lane's Rush
to Judgment claims that the photo was furnished by CIA on the morning of 22
November; the fact is that the FBI flew the photo directly from Mexico City to
Dallas immediately after Oswald's arrest, before Oswald's picture had been
published, on the chance it might be Oswald. The reason the photo was cropped
was that the background revealed the place where it was taken.) Another example:
where Epstein reports (p. 41) that a Secret Service interview report was even
withheld from the National Archives, this is untrue: an Archives staff member
told one of our officers that Epstein came there and asked for the memorandum.
He was told that it was there, but was classified. Indeed, the Archives then
notified the Secret Service that there had been a request for the document, and
the Secret Service declassified it. But by that time, Epstein (whose preface gives
the impression of prolonged archival research) had chosen to finish his searches
in the Archives, which had only lasted two days, and had left town. Yet Epstein
charges that the Commission was over-hasty in its work.

8. Aside from such failures in research, Epstein and other intellectual critics
show symptoms of some of the love of theorizing and lack of common sense and
experience displayed by Richard H. Popkin, the author of The Second Oswald.
Because Oswald was reported to have been seen in different places at the same
time, a phenomenon not surprising in a sensational case where thousands of real
or alleged witnesses were interviewed, Popkin, a professor of philosophy, theo-
rizes that there actually were two Oswalds. At this point, theorizing becomes sort
of logico-mathematical game; an exercise in permutations and combinations; as
Commission attorney Arlen Specter remarked, "Why not make it three Oswalds?
Why stop at two?" Nevertheless, aside from his book, Popkin has been able to
publish a summary of his views in The New York Review of Books, and there has
been replay in the French Nouvel Observateur, in Moscow's New Times, and in
Baku's Vyshka. Popkin makes a sensational accusation indirectly, saying that
"Western European critics" see Kennedy's assassination as part of a subtle
conspiracy attributable to "perhaps even (in rumors I have heard) Kennedy's
successor." One Barbara Garson has made the same point in another way by her
parody of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" entitled "MacBird," with what was obviously
President Kennedy (Ken O Dune) in the role of Duncan, and President Johnson
(MacBird) in the role of Macbeth. Miss Garson makes no effort to prove her point;
she merely insinuates it. Probably the indirect form of accusation is due to fear
of a libel suit.'