Surveillance or scriptwriting? Propaganda or entertainment? Is it conflict of interest to have the CIA serve as "technical advisor" and provide direct script consultation for network programming? In the frenzy of the "war on terror" and passage of the Patriot Act, THINK AGAIN brought this question to the streets of Los Angeles. In 2002, we drove through the heart of television city, reminding the public that the CIA was entertaining us every week with Alias (ABC), 24 (FOX), andThe Agency (CBS). Although viewers might have been reassured by the heroic and exciting primetime stories, these shows premiered when our federal agencies sought permission to expand surveillance authority, increase military funding and missile defense, justify military action and withhold information.
Another aspect of CIA TV was an online resource with a public opinion section that included comments from Howard Zinn, Abigail Child and Bill Blum, to name a few.
Speaking directly to television executives, CIA.TV began by placing faux advertisements in the television trade papers, including the Hollywood Reporter and Variety. Pointing to the CIA's collaboration with Alias, 24 and The Agency, the ads asked: how does dramatic television work to glamorize covert action and sway public opinion?
Below: comments from CIA.TV Public Opinion section:
Howard Zinn, Bill Blum and Bonnie Donohue.