an American not-for-profit co-op news agency headquartered in NYC and founded in 1846. Its members are U.S. newspapers and broadcasters. The AP is governed by an elected board of directors with Gary Pruitt as President and CEO. Britannica wrote that most news throughout the world disseminates from three major agencies: the Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse. According to German historian Harriet Scharnberg who unearthed archive material, the AP news agency entered a formal cooperation with the Hitler regime in the 1930s, supplying American newspapers with material directly produced and selected by the Nazi propaganda ministry. The AP is also responsible for counting all votes in US elections.
Five giant corporations control 90 percent of US mass media. And direct links connect all five of these media conglomerates to the political establishment and the economic and political power-elites of the United States. These five conglomerates are Time Warner, Disney, Murdochs’ News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS). Their control spans most of the newspapers, magazines, books, radio and TV stations, movie studios, and much of the web news content of the United States. These conglomerates are in large measure responsible for inculcating the social, political, economic, and moral values of both adults and children in the United States.2
It was not always like this. Immediately after World War II three out of four US newspapers were independently owned. But the media-control numbers have been shrinking ever since then due to mergers, acquisitions, and other processes. By 1983, 50 corporations controlled 90 percent of US media. But today just five giant conglomerates control 90 percent of what most Americans read, watch, and listen to.
It is notable and should be emphasized that all the five major media conglomerates are corporate members of the Council on Foreign relations. This organization is a US think-tank whose members have been instrumental in formulating US government policies resulting in sanctions, destabilization efforts, and outright military attacks on nations which have never attacked the US.
With the control of the money came the control of the news media. Kent Cooper, head of the Associated Press, wrote in his autobiography “Barriers Down“: “International bankers under the House of Rothschild acquired an interest in the three leading European agencies.” Thus the Rothschilds bought control of Reuters International News Agency, based in London, Havas of France, and Wolf in Germany, which controlled the dissemination of all news in Europe.
The iron grip of the “London Connection” on the media was exposed in the book by Ben J. Bagdikian “The Media Monopoly“, described as “A startling report on the 50 corporations that control what America sees, hears, reads“. Bagdikian, who edited the nation’s most influential magazine, the Saturday Evening Post, until the monopoly suddenly closed it down, reveals the interlocking directorates among the fifty corporations which control the news, but fails to trace them back to the five London banking houses which control them.
He mentions that CBS interlocks with the Washington Post, Allied Chemical, Wells Fargo Bank, and others, but does not tell the reader that Brown Brothers Harriman controlled CBS, or that the Eugene Meyer family (Lazard Freres) controlled Allied Chemical and the Washington Post, and Kuhn Loeb Co. (now part of Lehman Brothers) controlled the Wells Fargo Bank. He shows the New York Times interlocked with Morgan Guaranty Trust, American Express, First Boston Corporation and others, but does not show how the banking interlocks.
The AP has counted the vote in U.S. elections since 1848, including national, state and local races down to the legislative level in all 50 states, along with key ballot measures. The AP collects and verifies returns in every county, parish, city and town across the U.S., and declares winners in over 5,000 contests.
The news agency entered a formal cooperation with the Hitler regime in the 1930s, supplying American newspapers with material directly produced and selected by the Nazi propaganda ministry, archive material unearthed by a German historian has revealed. When the Nazi party seized power in Germany in 1933, one of its first objectives was to bring into line not just the national press, but international media too. The Guardian was banned within a year, and by 1935 even bigger British-American agencies such as Keystone and Wide World Photos were forced to close their bureaus after coming under attack for employing Jewish journalists.
Associated Press, which has described itself as the “marine corps of journalism” (“always the first in and the last out”) was the only western news agency able to stay open in Hitler’s Germany, continuing to operate until the US entered the war in 1941. It thus found itself in the presumably profitable situation of being the prime channel for news reports and pictures out of the totalitarian state.
In an article published in academic journal Studies in Contemporary History , historian Harriet Scharnberg shows that AP was only able to retain its access by entering into a mutually beneficial two-way cooperation with the Nazi regime. The New York-based agency ceded control of its output by signing up to the so-called Schriftleitergesetz (editor’s law), promising not to publish any material “calculated to weaken the strength of the Reich abroad or at home”.
This law required AP to hire reporters who also worked for the Nazi party’s propaganda division. One of the four photographers employed by the Associated Press in the 1930s, Franz Roth, was a member of the SS paramilitary unit’s propaganda division, whose photographs were personally chosen by Hitler. AP has removed Roth’s pictures from its website since Scharnberg published her findings, though thumbnails remain viewable due to “software issues”.
AP also allowed the Nazi regime to use its photo archives for its virulently antisemitic propaganda literature. Publications illustrated with AP photographs include the bestselling SS brochure “Der Untermensch” (“The Sub-Human”) and the booklet “The Jews in the USA”, which aimed to demonstrate the decadence of Jewish Americans with a picture of New York mayor Fiorello LaGuardia eating from a buffet with his hands.
Coming just before Associated Press’s 170th anniversary in May, the newly discovered information raises not just difficult questions about the role AP played in allowing Nazi Germany to conceal its true face during Hitler’s first years in power, but also about the agency’s relationship with contemporary totalitarian regimes.
An AP spokesperson told the Guardian: “As we continue to research this matter, AP rejects any notion that it deliberately ‘collaborated’ with the Nazi regime. An accurate characterisation is that the AP and other foreign news organisations were subjected to intense pressure from the Nazi regime from the year of Hitler’s coming to power in 1932 until the AP’s expulsion from Germany in 1941. AP management resisted the pressure while working to gather accurate, vital and objective news in a dark and dangerous time.”
The new findings may only have been of interest to company historians, were it not for the fact that AP’s relationship with totalitarian regimes has once again come under scrutiny. Since January 2012, when AP became the first western news agency to open a bureau in North Korea, questions have repeatedly been raised about the neutrality of its Pyongyang bureau’s output.
In 2014, Washington-based website NK News alleged that top executives at AP had in 2011 “agreed to distribute state-produced North Korean propaganda through the AP name” in order to gain access to the highly profitable market of distributing picture material out of the totalitarian state. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea comes second from bottom in the current World Press Freedom Index.