The CIA Infiltration of the Pacifica Radio Network: Larry Bensky’s Hang-Ups
A Veteran Pacifica programmer’s CIA “Cultural Cold War” Past, Censorious On-Air Tactics & Guests Who Fail the Smell Test
On his November 9, 2003 broadcast of “Sunday Salon,” Pacifica’s Larry Bensky (a veteran of the CIA’s Paris Review literary “culture war” propaganda front) heaped scorn on a caller who asked, innocently enough, if Operation Paperclip Nazis had any influence on the anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950s. KPFA’s Bensky ridiculed the caller, apparently unaware that McCarthy traveled with old guard Nazis and fascists in the intelligence community, that the hysteria was a group effort.
The caller irked Bensky. There followed a long silence. Then he fell into a snit — an invaluble, tried-and-true prop in the mass opinion formation business. The caller attempted to explain himself, stammered, but Bensky hung up in mid-sentence, insisting hotly, “nothing is really certain,” after all – the mention of Nazis in the U.S. suddenly led him to question the sum of human knowledge – spitting condescensions at the poor caller’s suggestion that the German and East European imports, secretly sponsored by the CIA and the military’s Operations Paperclip, Sunrise, etc., might have influenced the anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950s.
The very idea.
He went on to denounce nameless individuals who have discussed fascist conspiracies over Pacifica airwaves (Alex Constantine, for instance – I’m guilty), blamed these lunar mollusks for inventing capricious and arbitrary conspiracy theories that interfered with his own sober, responsible, balanced news reporting. …
Bensky was unaware that Joseph McCarthy, the eye of the sturm und drang, was a hands-on Nazi collaborator, having freed Germans imprisoned by the Allies at the end of the war.
The late Mae Brussell: “Senator Joe McCarthy’s two strongest supporters [in his Senate campaign] were Frank Seusenbrenner and Walter Harnisfeger. Both admired Adolf Hitler and made continuous trips to Germany…. Before he went after the Commies in the State Department, he had to release a few of Hitler’s elite nazis lingering in the Dachau prison camp…. In 1949, during congressional hearings on the Malmedy Massacre … McCarthy invited himself to take over the entire testimony. He wasn’t satisfied until the prison doors flew open. The most detestable and ugly battle of World War II, an assault upon Americans and civilians in Belgium, was ignored. Hitler’s precious Generals Fritz Kraemer and Sepp Dietrick, along with Hermann Priess and many others, were free. With that business finished, McCarthy took on Robert Morris as chief counsel for the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee. Morris’ earlier training in Navy Intelligence in charge of USSR counter-intelligence and psychological warfare could be utilized well by Senator Joe. Particularly the psychological warfare part. After McCarthy died, Morris moved to Dallas, Texas. He was a judge, and became president of Dallas University….”
One Nazi in particular, Nikolai Poppe, made a massive contribution to the right-wing furor over communism in the States. Poppe was a spy attached to Himmler’s SS, assigned to the confiscation of Jewish property, director of the Wansee Institute (a think-tank that conducted studies on the USSR for the SS). In the postwar calm, Poppe went on to become a scholar at the University of Seattle, a well-known author on Tibetan Buddhism, a CIA expert on Mongolia.
Nazi Poppe participated in the most important case in McCarthy’s alcohol-soaked career as an anti-communist. “No influence?” Bensky’s scornful refutation is met directly by Christopher Simpson in Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and its Effects on the Cold War (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1988): “An incident during Poppe’s career in the 1950s illustrates the DELICATE INFLUENCE that certain Nazi collaborators have had on domestic politics in the United States. Early in the McCarthy era, Professor Owen Lattimore, the director of the Walter Hines Page School of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University and a longtime advisor on Asian affairs to the State Department, was brought before a congressional investigation committee to face accusations of espionage and running a “communist cell” in the Institute for Pacific Relations. McCarthy, whose allegations were already drawing criticism from Democrats and even a few Republicans, had pledged that HIS ENTIRE ANTI-COMMUNIST CRUSADE WOULD “STAND OR FALL” on the supposed proof he had in the Lattimore case….
During an on-air KPFA listener conference in 1999, Joseph, a black activist, complained to Mary Berry, then Pacifica board chairperson, about Larry Bensky’s tactless approach to censorship — insulting and hanging up on callers, talking over their comments, muttering under his breath and every other conceivable means of giving them the brush-off. Bensky had been fired by the station, but Ms. Berry was considering him for re-hiring. Joseph, however, was adamant in his criticism of the talk-show host and contested Bensky’s reinstatement.
KPFA On-Air Appearance of Mary Frances Berry and Lynn Chadwick
Joseph: …You know, for all the piety that Larry Bensky has about censorship, we feel that when it comes to authentic, legitimate, responsible intellectual criticism or comment or question regarding issues — especially those issues that affect the black community — that Larry Bensky has shown an historical pattern, especially on Living Room, of dismissing, summarily preempting, censoring, cutting off, diverting, subverting ethnic points of view he doesn’t like no matter how short the question or comment, no matter how civil. And he either shields certain guests from legitimate authentic black criticism or accountability — or when the guest is even resonant to a certain question from a black perspective, especially a black guest, like Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Bensky will interpose and preempt the guest’s answer with his own and abruptly move to the next question.
MFB: Right. I understand.
Joseph: You’ve been told about this. I said an older black woman called — I certainly don’t know her at all — when you were on with Nicole Sawaya. And, you know, you unintentionally, I am sure — you unintentionally sort of plied her off with platitudes about, you know, keep on listening…Many of us Bay Area blacks have to live with these people like Larry Bensky or Michael Krasney, you know, at KQED….And apparently an intelligent, articulate white woman who called and complained about the same sort of thing — not only with regard to minorities and women — but also with regard to those views who are more progressive than Larry Bensky’s, who he censors or dismisses.
IndyMedia News Section
by Fred Sunday, Sep. 14, 2003 at 12:00 PM
… The other issue not addresed here is the level of denial in the US about what it is that we’re doing. It’s a whole mentality. The ways to maintain their denial include all sorts of bizarre arguments … like Larry Bensky’s absurd argument this morning to keep people quiet about the voting machine scandal – “Now if you have a candidate polling with a 5 point lead going into the election and he loses with a 3 point loss, he’s going to raise high hell . . . . right?” Luckily his guest corrected him….
Larry Bensky Welcomes a Peoples’ Temple Death Squad Leader to the Airwaves in “Concerned Liberal” Drag
By Alex Constantine
Media fraud, opinion formation, deliberate abuse of the public airwaves … these are highly unethical when engaged in by a corporate media outlet, unconscionable in a listener-supported radio station. Yet the officers and board of KPFK-FM allow certain talk show hosts in the station’s employ to defraud its listeners on a routine basis.
My complaints and those of other listeners and even Pacifica programmers have fallen on deaf ears, and the abuse continues.
Racial separatist Ron Karenga, promoted as an icon of the left by some KPFK program hosts, is a CIA-FBI cut-out who served time for physical assault and rape, and was involved in the disruption and assassination of Black Panthers. He was a provocateur.
Another of the CIA liars who have been welcomed with open arms at Pacifica was Hugh Fortsyn – an extortionist and collaborator in murder as a lieutenant of Jim Jones in California. How much listener support would KPFK draw if its listeners knew that a CIA death squad leader – disguised as a concerned liberal Christian – was promoted by Larry Bensky, a senior programmer based at KPFA-FM in Berkeley, over THEIR airwaves, repeated over KPFK’s transmitter?
On the November 16, 2004 broadcast of “Sunday Salon,” an admiring Larry Bensky – shills at Pacifica always seem to fawn over covert operators – shared the microphone with Reverend Hugh Fortsyn, formerly an assistant to Jim Jones at the genocidal Peoples Temple, a CIA mind control operation.
Mr. Bensky was highly sympathetic to Rev. Fortsyn’s claim that the CIA had no role in Jonestown apart from infiltration and harassment of the church – a blatantly FALSE claim first made by Jones himself to obscure the true sponsor of the Temple, distance himself from the Agency, and con progressives into supporting his activities.
Pacifica’s Larry Bensky sneers at any mention of fascism on his program, and most especially despises the “conspiracy theorists” who trace CIA connections to Jonestown, the Kennedy assassination, etc.
Most listeners, of course, have never heard of Hugh Fortsyn, and had no way to guage the disinformation planted on Bensky’s “Sunday Salon.”
THE CULT THAT DIED, a book on Jonestown penned by George Klineman, Sherman Butler and David Conn (G.P. Putnam, 1980, a book of some but limited insight into intelligence connections at the Temple), offers a graphic profile of the reverend. We find that Fortsyn participated in a murder. The victim was Chris Lewis, an ex-con, heroin addict and a Jones bodyguard who trained agents of the Temple in breaking, entering and fencing stolen goods. (The break-ins were conducted around the Bay area – largely for the purpose of gathering information useful to Jim Jones, although personal belongings were also stolen to disguise the true nature of the crimes.)
Chris Lewis was gunned down by two assailants outside a Peoples’ Temple thrift shop on December 10, 1977.
The murder was used to frighten and control Temple parishioners who refused to cooperate with Jones.
Wade and Mabel Medloc, for instance.
Two weeks after Lewis was shot and killed, Marcelline Jones, another assistant to Jim Jones, ordered the Medlocks to move to Jonestown in French Guyana. The Medlocks refused.
“What happened to Chris Lewis will happen to you,” Marcelline told her. Rev. Fortsyn repeated the death threat a few days later. “You know what happened to Chris Lewis?” Fortsyn threatened him.
The Medlocks responded by suing the Temple, accusing Jones, Fortsyn and others of attempting to extort $135,000 in real estate from them. In the lawsuit, two members of the Peoples Temple, Jim Crokes and Jim McElvane, were identified as the killers of Chris Lewis.
Police never questioned these two, known to Temple insiders as participants in the Temple death squad, the “Angels of Death.”
Rev. Fortsyn is an accomplice in the murder, legally speaking, at the very least, since he obviously had knowledge of it that he has not shared with police. The threats that Reverend Fortsyn made against the Medlocks in a failed effort to exort their wealth would suggest that he knows much more than he admits, that he was, in fact, involved in the deep corruption at Jonestown.
Bensky himself has reviled as lying fools any listeners who have called to share information on CIA involvement in fascism, a connection he finds ludicrous and rejects with extreme unction.
But then fraud is a staple of KPFK programming ….
Left-Wing Journalists Attack Those Who Question Bush’s Role in 911
September 11 Opinions
Bev Conover writes, “Gangway for the self-appointed gatekeepers of the left who are on a crusade to spin, smear, attack, and label as loony anyone who won’t accept the official line that the events leading up to and surrounding September 11 are nothing more than a series of coincidences and intelligence failures. This cabal of lily-livered leftists, ensconced in their ivory towers, have decreed we are bad kiddies for even suggesting that the Bush administration was complicit in or took advantage of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the baddest of all is Michael C. Ruppert, who publishes From the Wilderness.” Conover cites Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive, Norman Solomon of the Institute for
Public Accuracy; David Corn of The Nation, Michael Alber of Z Magazin, Steve Rendall of FAIR, Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates; Larry Bensky of Pacifica Radio, and Noam Chomsky of MIT. Why are these folks attacking those who want the truth? …
By Joseph Wanzala
Thus (see below) we have a leading KPFA/Pacifica voices (inadvertently) furthering a neo-conservative agenda. Larry Bensky recently interviewed Gerald Posner and Amy Goodman interviewed two authors (Peter Lance and Richard Miniter) whose books both pushed the ‘Saudi Arabia did it’ thesis though the emphasis was more on the supposed failure of the US intelligence agencies to do their job. These sort of developments show how problematic it is for Pacifica and progressives in general to marginalize so-called ‘conspiracy theory’ researchers and instead develop a preference for ‘safe’
journalists like Posner and Lance. What good is Pacifica if middle-of-the-road watering holes like ‘Salon’ can make more incisive contributions to one of the most critical questions facing progressives than anything one might hear on Democracy Now? I think it is clear that the overbearing concern of many leading Pacifica commentators – including Bernstein, Bensky and Goodman not to be seen as ‘marginal conspiratologist’ is having the effect of leading Pacifica into the intellectual arms of the neo-cons. There is now a community of investigative researchers who have raised critical questions about 9-11 and the criminal nature of state power in general but who have been declared ‘beyond the pale’ by the left establishment. Therefore the general thrust of their work is rejected. Since no other progressive journalists seem to be doing their own original work on this question – they turn to
establishment/mainstream journalists safe in the knowledge that they will not be attacked for putting out the wrong message. I think this is a very dangerous trend and I hope that we can begin to see a change in attitude from progressives to the extent that (they/we) recognize the dangers in the trend I have laid out above and which is discussed further below.
Shiu Hung: “Bensky will continue to shovel out his lineup of so-called experts to further marginalise the 9/11 skeptic position and needlessly continue to prop up the official story as the gospel truth. His show, Sunday Salon has recently featured Gerald Posner with his new book: Why America Slept? And Chip “John Foster” Berlet¹s ridiculous comments concerning US air defense¹s stand down on 9/11. According to Berlet, the Stand down was because the Pentagon didn¹t want to bother the East Coast Corridor suburbanite¹s with loud jet noises. Practically every expert guest Bensky had on since 9/11 repeats the official lies and disinformation….”
9-11 Coverup At Pacifica Radio!
Hear Larry Bensky of KPFA attack 9/11 skeptics with ad-hominem smears, 27
Apr 03 (audio):
Pacifica’s Larry Bensky gives airtime to RAND Corporation shill
On October 13, 2002, the day after the nightclub bombing in Bali which killed nearly 200, KPFA’s Sunday Salon hosted “international terrorism expert” Rohan Gunaratna in an hour-long interview with commentator Larry Bensky. Gunaratna expounded on themes that were consistent with his other media appearances, insisting categorically that only al Qaeda could have been behind the bombing, and — echoing a kind of pseudo-critique that has become a staple of what one might charitably call an “antiwar-lite” Left establishment — argued that Bush’s focus on Iraq is objectionable simply because it threatens to interfere with escalating the “War on Terrorism” (this “critical” viewpoint, by the way, can also be found in a number of recent publications by the Council on Foreign Relations). Another common theme typical in Gunaratna’s media appearances is his claim that the spread of terrorism can be blamed on such outmoded conceits as “tight limits on how intelligence and police officials can gather evidence against suspects, a strong civil liberties tradition and easy access to education and welfare provision”. One thing of note about Gunaratna’s appearance on Pacifica Network’s KPFA is that Bensky chose not to open up the lines for call-ins,so there was no opportunity for the KPFA audience to challenge him.
— Alex Constantine