Wilbur Schramm, the FBI and CIA

Cleaning up my archive I came across a special issue of the Journal of Communication, Winter 1996, Vol.46, No. 1/ISSN 0021-9916 that triggered me rereading six academic peer reviewed papers under the theme: Symposium: The Net.

Within three pages of the review section I was flabbergasted to read the denunciation of the communication guru of my younger years (at the first School of Journalism in Utrecht, 1966-1969) Wilbur Schramm. First by Howard H. Frederick (then Emerson College) and second by Canada’s communication guru Dallas W. Smythe.Frederick reviewed a book Science of Coercion: Communication Research and Psychological Warfare 1945-1960 by Christopher Simpson. Frederick writes: “In the pressure cooker of the cold war and McCarthyism, communication researchers had to make choices: support federal government campaigns, be labeled a “neutralist”, or worse. Academics who challenged the “communication as domination” paradigm were shunned, fired, lost tenure or promotion, and suffered FBI and congressional inquiries”.

And: “… The Rockefeller laundered CIA money for Hadley Cantril. Some of Wilbur Schramm’s moat important research still remains classified by the CIA. Schramm’s landmark, The Process of Effects and Mass Communication (1954) was prepared under government contact as training materials for U.S. Propaganda programs”.

“… Lasswell, Pool, Lerner, Schramm and many others “scientized” the paradigm of domination during the Cold War, legitimated the science of coercion and thereby increased social misery and violence against the Third World and the Soviet Union. The founders of our our field not only supported efforts to dominate and manipulate other peoples, they took a strong stand against any variety of critical thinking, thus delegitimizing the field of critical communication studies for decades”, pp 183-184.

According to Wikipedia Schramm joined the Office of War Information during the Second World War, “to investigate the nature of propaganda, and during this time and after employed largely behaviorist methodologies.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilbur_Schramm

See also Arvind Sing’s article (PDF) from 1987 in Communicator: ‘Wilbur Schramm: Portrait of a Development. Communication Pioneer’

See for the best short intro to Schramm: http://www.bookrags.com/research/schramm-wilbur-1907-1987-eci-03/

And for many Google pictures on him and his work.

Dallas W. Smythe was one of the victims

Canada’s communication guru Dallas W. Smythe was one of the victims, can be read on page 182 in Robert E. Babe’s review essay on Smythe’s unpublished autobiography covering his years in Washington (1937-1948) and at Urbana-Champaign (1948-1963). “A “premature anti-fascist” in opposing Franco, Smythe barely escaped the McCarthy witch hunts when in Washington. While at Illinois he believed himself the subject of surveillance and surreptitious reports by a colleague, according to Smythe, FBI informer, Wilbur Schramm”. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas_Walker_Smythe

“Marcuse did not buckle”

Frederick found it remarkable “to read short sections about critical scholars such as Herbert Marcuse and Alfred McLung Lee, who did not buckle under the ideoligal fog of McCarthyism, and those previous radicals such as Leo Lowenthal, who did.”

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