Victor Riesel was a New York journalist who covered the labor beat as a syndicated columnist from 1940 until the early 1980s. At the top of his career he was published and carried by almost 350 newspapers. This gave him a direct voice in the mainstream news in the U.S. What wasn’t known at the time was that he was working with the FBI, which is now evident and revealed in his files held at the New York University’s Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives.
For nearly 50 years J. Edgar Hoover occupied the top spot in the FBI. During this time he had a list of contacts in the press that he was in touch with when he needed to get the FBI’s position out. Riesel was one of the FBL’s “friendly news sources.” He received multiple letters from FBI directors thanking him for his columns. The files also make clear Riesel’s relationship with the FBI continued after Hoover’s death in 1972.
Riesel would serve as an auxiliary to the FBI’s legal and extra-legal efforts to go after bureau targets. First, he played a direct role in the works against the Black Panther Party, undercutting its ability to get out its newspaper.
Riesel’s second role with the FBI had remained hidden until now. Between 1968 and 1981, he wrote numerous columns about the Revolutionary Union (RU) and Revolutionary Communist Party. All the inside information that Riesel had against the RU had directly came form the FBI, in a packet of material from them which then he used in his columns.While Riesel is no longer with us, the legacy of media playing the role of auxiliary to the state remains.
Title: The Bureau and the Journalist: Victor Riesel’s Secret Relationship With the FBI
Source: Truthout – Historical Analysis—2/14/13
Author: Aaron Leonard
Student Researcher: Scott Templeton (Sonoma State)
Academic Evaluator: Mike Nackord (Sonoma State)