Hoover’s Hidden Wordsmiths
THE SOURCE: “Friends of the Bureau: Personal Correspondence and the Cultivation of Journalist-Adjuncts by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI” by Matthew Cecil, in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly , Summer 2011.
As the first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover faced a public-relations problem. Amid the centralization of government under FDR’s New Deal, some Americans worried that a federal law enforcement agency would develop into a secret police force. To head off such fears, the FBI under Hoover began what became a decades-long effort to court allies in the press. One of the more unusual aspects of this campaign was the creation of a five-agent ghostwriting division that cultivated journalists with ostensibly personal letters from Hoover. The correspondence unit, housed in the FBI’s crime records division, churned out thousands of these missives during Hoover’s 48-year tenure at the helm of the FBI and its predecessor, the Bureau of Investigation, writes Matthew Cecil, a journalism and communications scholar at South Dakota State University.
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