BBG Watch Commentary
Recent media reports about Russian propaganda efforts to target African Americans expose a practice of Russian and previously Soviet governments that has been continuing in the United States for decades.
Secret Russian interference with U.S. politics, both direct and through the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), started before World War II, but it received a big boost from no other but America’s own far Left U.S. government propagandists in the Roosevelt administration who were in charge of early “Voice of America” programs (“VOA” had different names then) in the Office of War Information (OWI). There was actual secret collusion between Roosevelt administration officials and Soviet propagandists to target both Americans and foreign radio audiences. The U.S. and Soviet Russia were then allies against Nazi Germany after Stalin’s earlier alliance with Hitler had collapsed. President Roosevelt and some of his pro-Soviet advisors thought that Russia could be a force for peace and democracy after the war.
Most of the coordinated propaganda efforts of Soviet and American officials during World War II was to cover up Stalin’s crimes and to promote his image as a strong progressive leader, democrat and peacemaker (the linked article focuses on that), but Office of War Information officials and the Soviets were also trying to help President Franklin Delano Roosevelt win wartime elections. On orders from Moscow, the Communist Party USA urged its members to vote for FDR and launched its own pro-Roosevelt electoral propaganda effort. The Office of War Information’s pro-Roosevelt electoral propaganda efforts were minor and focused mostly on U.S. soldiers overseas. When members of Congress found out about it, OWI was heavily criticized. Congress cut OWI’s domestic propaganda budget.
Jan Ciechanowski, Polish Ambassador in Washington during World War II, helped to expose Soviet propaganda and U.S. government propagandists who in domestic media and in “Voice of America” shortwave radio broadcasts for foreign audiences spread disinformation originating in Soviet Russia.
READ MORE: Polish Diplomat Who Exposed Pro-Stalin U.S. Propagandists, Cold War Radio Museum, December 16, 2018.