Whitney’s new book, “Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World’s Best Writers,” explores how the CIA influenced acclaimed writers and publications during the Cold War to produce subtly anti-communist material. During the interview, Scheer and Whitney discuss these manipulations and how the CIA controlled major news agencies and respected literary publications (such as the Paris Review).
Their talk comes at a particularly tense time in American politics, as accusations of fake news and Russian propaganda fly from both sides of the aisle. But the history detailed in Whitney’s book presents a valuable lesson for writers hoping to avoid similar manipulations today.
Scheer opens the discussion with the question: “Were they really tricked?”
“It could have been ‘paid,’ it could have been ‘subsidized,’ it could have been ‘used,’ it could have been ‘collaborated with,’ ” Whitney responds. “So yeah, it might have been any other verb there besides ‘tricked.’”