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The CIA Launched a Podcast and Everyone Booed at the Same Time

Tapped in, indeed.

Jon Hamm as Laramie Seymour Sullivan / Dwight Broadbeck (yes FBI and not CIA) in the movie Bad Times at the El Royale Hotel. Image: 20th Century Fox.

The 75th anniversary of the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency (a.k.a. the CIA) has come with some interesting moves by the organization. It launched a museum (not fully open to the public) and an “official” podcast targeted toward Americans. If you’re thinking, “Wait a minute, isn’t U.S. propaganda the FBI’s job?” Well, the FBI launched its first of five podcasts back in 2010. The CIA has a lot more work to do what, with over 190 countries in the world to weigh in on overthrowing democratically elected governments (often linked to contemporary news of civil unrest).

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In addition to the general announcement, the agency released a trailer on YouTube, and I’m sorry to say the comments are turned off.

The funniest thing about this trailer is the line “stories beyond those of Hollywood scripts and shadowed whispers.” Hollywood, for the most part, is highly subsidized when telling stories about the CIA, FBI, and military more broadly. To get access to specialist opinions, equipment, extras (in real uniforms), and shooting locations, the Department of Defense (which the CIA is not under)—and likely more parts of the government—gets the final say on the script.

From Marvel movies and Top Gun to movies directly about these agencies, they already have their hands in how they’re portrayed to the public. Like this podcast and more, these agencies get the final say on what is released to the public or else you’re followed, tracked (more so), or killed. The “shadowed whispers” come from people who don’t want to follow the fate of those people. Though the comments are turned off on YouTube, the CIA forgot to disallow comments on Twitter. It went great.

The ultimate ops

Regardless of where people are on the political spectrum, there’s a tendency to accuse others online of being a “psyop” or “plant” whose goal is to sow discord. When it’s not a particular person or organization, some call entire types of podcast genres special ops. One running joke (even lampooned on Adult Swim) is that the podcast subgenre is often referred to as “the gender wars.” After all, the CIA is known for pouring salt on existing areas of tension in an effort to exert control.

They are going to have to do a lot to prove this is not a PR move, but even then, there’s nearly a century of blood on their hands … so I wouldn’t bet on anything.

Many of the jokes have been aimed at other parts of the creator ecosystem, like economic stability. This comes via sponsorships and subscriptions, of course. The CIA is obviously funded by our taxpayer money, so they don’t need the money, but the jokes were appreciated regardless.

(via Twitter, featured image: 21st Century Fox)

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Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.

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