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West-Bloc Dissident Book & KPFA's Hidden History
by bob feldman
Monday Jun 27th, 2005 9:31 PM
William Blum's West-Bloc Dissident book reveals some of KPFA's hidden history.
West-Bloc Dissident Book & KPFA's Hidden History

If you're a Pacifica or KPFA radio listener who wants to know more about KPFA's hidden history, you might try checking out Rogue State author William Blum's autobiographical book, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir. Published in 2002, West-Bloc Dissident includes the following references to KPFA staff people and managers of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s:

"I wound up in San Francisco, my third time in the Bay Area. It was July 1976…Before long, I was working as the business manager cum office manager for Radio Station KPFA…in Berkeley, where I once again moved to…I soon began to help write the daily newscast from wire copy and other sources…

"…Most of the…people who volunteered to help write the news--indeed, most of the people who worked at the station--were not any kind of radical, contrary to what most listeners and critics assumed. They were fuzzy-minded liberals or apolitical, even a few politically conservative, working at the station because they were in love with the idea of being in `show biz,' particularly those who went on the air; they relished being part of the station's charisma, as KPFA was a venerable institution in the Bay Area; some hoped to use the station as a stepping stone to greater media fame and fortune (a number in fact did wind up with National Public Radio and other news outlets).

"During the four years I worked at the station in a variety of off-air capacities, there were several different station managers. The last of them was David Salniker…When, on several occasions, I pointed out how Pacifica executives were wasting significant amounts of money, which we could ill afford, he was…annoyed with me. David was not a person inclined to rock the boat. When he decided to fire me, he was unable to muster the courage to tell me this directly. He simply cut back on my duties, one by one…

"Back in London I set to work on a book that I had done some preliminary work on in Berkeley. It had begun as an article, cataloguing U.S. government interventions since the Second World War and the damage they had done…Zed Books…agreed to publish it…The title…was to be The CIA, A Forgotten History: U.S. Global Interventions Since World War II…

"I wound up again in the Bay Area, the fourth time I had moved there, this time renting a…room…from a man who heard me being interviewed on KPFA…

"Another listener to my interview was Larry Bensky, former manager of the station, who had hired me ten years earlier, and was now Pacifica's chief national affairs correspondent. He phoned me at the station and asked me to leave a copy of the book for him in his box. He wanted to include it in a review of similar books he was doing for a local weekly…

"When it came out I was stunned. Bensky wrote that the book was not `worth the effort of either writing it or reading it' and that it would `be forgotten as soon as the next book comes along.' The review, as short as it was, also contained several factual inaccuracies about what I had supposedly left out, when in fact they were plainly there…It was clear to me that he had not read the book as much as he had perused the index, and even that he had not done very well, criticizing me for not touching upon the CIA and its airlines, when the index stated: `CIA: airlines' with reference to six pages. Another of his criticisms was that I had not discussed the CIA's domestic activities…I had not gone into this because the book dealt only with foreign interventions, a fact obvious from even a cursory glance…

"What had motivated an intelligent and politically aware person like Larry Bensky to trash the book in such an obviously silly manner?…"

Coincidentally, between 1964 and 1966, Bensky (a former Yale University student newspaper editor during the McCarthy Era) apparently was employed as the Paris editor of The Paris Review magazine. In an April 18, 2002 article that was posted on the website, Richard Cummings made the following interesting reference to an alleged historical link between the Central Intelligence Agency and The Paris Review magazine that used to employ the Pacifica national affairs correspondent who trashed Blum's book on the CIA's hidden history:

"Shortly before his death, the novelist John Sherry told me how Peter Matthiessen was `haunted by the CIA.' Matthiessen told Sherry that he had not `founded' The Paris Review from scratch, as legend has it, but that he had established it at the behest of the CIA while working for the Agency, so that it could serve as his cover in Paris.

"In the official history of The Paris Review, it states: `Matthiessen invited George Plimpton…to take on a position as editor. Plimpton…asked Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan to serve as first publisher of The Paris Review…He remained as publisher until 1975.'

"…According to Sherry, Matthiessen assured him that the Prince never put up a penny. His foundation was the conduit of CIA funds at all times…A lot of people got on the CIA gravy train, enjoying themselves in Paris while fighting the cultural Cold War…"

Cummings is the author of the book The Pied Piper--Allard F. Lowenstein and the Liberal Dream that revealed Lowenstein's apparent involvement with the CIA and the CIA's covert funding of National Student Association activity prior to 1967.

by Nalini Lasiewicz
(LasiewiczN [at] Monday Jul 4th, 2005 3:04 PM
Where was this originally published? I'd like to get permission to reprint or just invite you to submit this to our Files section at the

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