Report: Hoover's FBI Spied on 'David Frost Show'

Image: Report: Hoover's FBI Spied on 'David Frost Show'

Wednesday, 20 Nov 2013 05:15 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The FBI spied on British broadcaster David Frost's popular U.S. talk show to keep tabs on left-wing guests, and even planted an undercover agent in the audience, the New York Post reported Wednesday.

The revelation comes from Frost's 45-page FBI file, obtained by the Post, which said guests monitored during the J. Edgar Hoover era included Johnson administration Attorney General Ramsey Clark, economist John Kenneth Galbraith, black-nationalist Stokely Carmichael, folk singer Joan Baez, and Democratic Sen. Edmund Muskie, as well as Nixon administration Attorney General John Mitchell.

The Post said it obtained the dossier through a Freedom of Information Act request.

It wasn't just guest politicians and anti-war activists who came under scrutiny; also monitored was Frost interview subject Susan Hoffman, known as "Viva," an actress described in an FBI memo as an "Andy Warhol 'superstar' [who] has been the featured female performer in many of his films," the Post reported.

Viva had been "highly critical of the government's position" concerning an anti-Vietnam War activist, the FBI memo said.

"Warhol, of course, is regarded as the leading producer of so-called 'underground films,'" the FBI memo said, noting that Warhol "was once the subject" of an FBI criminal obscenity probe tied to his film Lonesome Cowboys," which starred Viva.

The memo did not recommend any follow-up action regarding Viva.

Then-FBI Director Hoover focused on Frost, who died in August at age 74,
after the host wrote Hoover on May 5, 1969, asking him to appear on "The David Frost Show," which was about to debut on U.S. television as a replacement for "The Merv Griffin Show," The Post reported.

"I am writing as a longtime admirer of yours to ask if you would consider taking part in a special conversation for television," Frost wrote.

"I would love to have the privilege of talking with you . . . and television viewers throughout the world would love to hear."

But Hoover, who had targeted dozens of celebrities for surveillance, including Frank Sinatra, Bud Abbott and Lucille Ball, turned down Frost's invitation.

"I wish I could give you a more favorable response, [but] the pressure of my official duties and the number of similar requests have made it necessary to decline all such proposals," Hoover wrote.

Instead, The Post reported, Hoover ordered a confidential FBI intelligence check on Frost while arranging to have bureau agents watch the show to monitor its left-wing celebrity guests. The check on Frost revealed nothing of consequence, the newspaper reported.

In January 1970, the FBI decided "regular monitoring of this program has proved to be entirely unproductive . . . daily monitoring should be discontinued."

Still, The Post reported, on Nov. 18, 1970, an FBI agent was sent into Frost’s audience at a taping where Clark was guest.

Frost, who finished his career hosting "Frost Over the World" on Al Jazeera English from 2006 to 2012 -- and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1993 -- conducted one of his most notable interviews with ex-president Richard Nixon in 1977.

His shows also featured the Beatles, Muhammad Ali and eight British prime ministers.

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