Howie Carr lamented that the FBI once thought of investigating him back in 1975. He provided copies of some of the FBI 302 reports about its investigation. Apparently this scared him straight since he has been a constant FBI booster since that time.
1972 was over 40 years ago and Carr was a reporter at a North Carolina newspaper, the Winston-Salem Journal. Like many young reporters he went out seeking a story and he apparently met with a group that was particularly noxious as far as the FBI is concerned, the Black Panthers.
Carr’s tale is meaningless since he got a pass from the FBI. But the memos about the investigation going on around him are telling. Carr noted in his column that he asked for these reports and the FBI denied that it had them. Finally, after some time it ‘fessed up.
Carr provided us with copies of these dated: 2/14/75, 2/27/75 and 6/13/75. Because of redactions it is difficult to tell if other dates are involved. They were all between the special agent in charge (SAC) of the Charlotte office and the director of the FBI Clarence M. Kelley.
The first memo on 2/14/75 is from Kelly to the personal attention of the SAC. It relates to an article in the Winston-Salem Journal written by Carr that states that an FBI file was recently made available to the newspaper. Kelly noted the SAC gave no recommendations about actions to be taken. He wanted those recommendations immediately. He wanted to know what they had on the newspapers publicsher, editor and Carr. he wanted an “assessment of current relations between” the newspaper and FBI. He said FBI headquarters had no references in their files to Carr other than a person with his name made a request for information on the FBI’s Top Ten fugitive program.
The next memo on 2/27/75 from the SAC to Kelly sent copies of an article “Hoover Would Have Been Proud” and a copy of a letter from Director Kelley to the managing editor DOSTER of the newspaper. It noted the local office had no record of DOSTER nor of CROWDER the general manager. It had no record on CARR who wrote the article “FBI Still Hovers Over Panthers.” It did associate Carr with a 8/25/72 letter to the FBI asking about their Top Ten Fugitive program at which time he was a student at the University of North Carolina.
Then the SAC writes “At the present time [the Charlotte FBI office] enjoys cordial relations with this newspaper and a good working relationship exists with several of the staff reporters. [It] has not had occasion to contact the management level of this newspaper and our rapport on that level is unknown.”
This is how the FBI operates. A story that may be critical of it results in an immediate check on the people who were involved in it.
The final memo on 6/13/75 from Kelly mentions other memos not available. It talks about reviewing document so the US Army Crime Records Directorate (did you know the US Army was investigating Americans) and the Defense Investigative Service. Redactions make these memos difficult to read.
It tells the SAC to complete his pending investigations; and it asks it “to consider the following prior to presentation of the possible theft of Government property matter to the United States Attorney: Although reporter Howard Carr of the Winston-Salem Journal, in order . . .” the rest is missing or redacted.
Another page is titled: “ReBulet to Charlotte dates 6/13/75” which is the same date as the final memo. It tells of its inability to develop additional data involving the theft of the FBI file. (Another page tells of information it received from informants about the FBI file which was useless.) The SAC was planning to interview CARR or DOSTER or CROWDER. It was “believed that this could result in possible embarrassment to the Bureau as well as further publication of this entire matter. . . . Further, since the [newspaper] has shown a policy of partiality in their articles dealing with the Black Panther Party (BPP) local chapter, this might well serve as an opportunity to show FBI harassment of the BPP.” Which we knew the FBI was doing.
The memo went on noting the newspaper has given the FBI some favorable publicity and no more unfavorable articles. “Attempts are continuing to cultivate this newspaper in order to develop a more advantageous position with regard to the FBI which, if successful, would preclude any further publication of FBI documents.” The Charlotte SAC recommended not contacting the newspaper.
These memos are confirmation that the FBI will investigate newspaper people who say negative things about it, that it has records of all requesting information including college kids, that its greatest fear is embarrassment and will stop an investigation to avoid it, and that it tries to manipulate the newspapers through getting “a more advantageous position” so that it can manipulate the news coverage.
We know in Boston it has our newspapers totally under its control. It no longer need to fear a young reporter like Carr making waves.