photography by TayebMEZAHDIA on Pixabay

The Men Who Bilked America

Masters of Razzle Dazzle Have Worked Their Sleight of Hand over the American People the Last 100 Years, Given Orders From the Top

Heather Wargo
Jun 6 · 14 min read

Little strikes a chord in me more than hearing patriotic music.

Rarely a crier, I well up with tears every time a Sousa march or any American anthem is played, the more tuba the better.

Maybe that is why the roots of this so-called opioid crisis offend me so greatly — even more than my health being caught up in the lies about the con job.

It strikes at the core of my values. My patriotism. My love of country.

I am American. This is my country.

These people want to destroy what I love.

These people want to make America into that which is anti-American and

call it better than America.


Their love of self is their undoing.


Today we have the New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA.

The Lancet. The aggregate journal — Oxford Academic, that pools over 200 publications.

However, one hundred years ago, the publication realm in medical science was a bit different than today.

Even the people representing the field then were a complete 180 from today’s distinguished letterheads.

In fact, one hundred years ago, when some respectable medical journals were published, the articles weren’t even guaranteed to be written by a physician or someone familiar with the medical field at all.

They could have been written by the son of a physician, given a journal founded by his father in a bid to spark his son into a decent profession.

They could have been written by a person who was pressed into service at the last minute, by a desperate editor looking at a blank issue.

They could have been written by a man who had a degree in agriculture science, with no experience in medicine at all.

They could have been written by Edward Bernays.

Edward Bernays left his editorial job behind to become one of the most influential people in the 20th Century that few people ever heard of.

This man, this Edward Bernays… was

a master propagandist.

Reviewer to Consultant

In 1913, Edward Bernays had arrived in New York City from a post-college graduation jaunt in Paris.

A Grand Tour.

He was torn, he didn’t know whether he should stay in NYC or return to Paris.

His father, a self made man of means, wanted his son to settle down into a respectable job. Bernays had graduated from Cornell with a degree in agriculture and had issues with his domineering father. He was not sure what he wanted to do in life.

Edward Bernays bumped into a friend, Fred Robinson, who had just been given a job by his physician father.

A journal to publish, the Medical Review of Reviews, a fledgling but respected, medical journal.

Robinson begged Bernays to help him with it.

Bernays’ father was appalled his son was going to write for a medical journal when he had zero training in medicine whatsoever.

Bernays was amused.

Why not? he thought. And he was off.


Bernays found that as “Edward Bernays” his letters published in the Journal carried little authority.

When one day he was inspired to sign his letters “The Editors”, the reaction was positive and immediate.

He gained credibility.

He started to study the way he could manipulate New York City and the surrounding area to do what he desired regionally, in regards to social justice affairs.

This culminated in Bernays and his manipulations being critical in the successful showing of a screenplay about syphilis (a taboo topic at the time) called Damaged Goods.

wiki movie poster from 1917 movie based on play

Bernays had the weight of the prominent people behind him in his “cause célèbre”- such as John D. Rockefeller and Mrs William K. Vanderbilt, Senior.

Mrs. Frank A. Vanderlip became a key person in Bernays’ early career in propaganda, helping him by opening many social doors he wouldn’t have had opened.

It whet his appetite for propaganda, and using it in large scale.

Propaganda wasn’t seen as a “negative” in those days.

Edward Bernays is the “double nephew” of Dr. Sigmund Freud. He did not tout this relationship in earnest until later in his career. His mother Anna Freud Bernays, was Freud’s sister, and his father was Ely Bernays, whose sister married Dr. Freud.


Wikimedia Commons Public Domain by Shkuru Afshar Edward Bernays and wife Doris E. Fleischman

However, after his stint at the Medical Review of Reviews, Bernays became more sought after by corporate America for crafting propaganda campaigns on an unwitting public.

Bernays successfully convinced American women to smoke in public at a time when women who smoked in public were branded a “whore” or “trash”.

This was the 1930’s, folks.

A few years earlier, Bernays had helped along the cigarette campaign in general.

This campaign is highlighted because he took on this particular battle himself.

He first went to a prominent psychiatrist (one connected to his uncle) and asked his opinion.

Dr. A.A. Brill told Bernays that women smoking cigarettes in public was fine, and, in fact, as cigarettes were generally thought for men, a woman who smoked in public should regard her cigarette as a “Torch of Freedom”.

Bernays was delighted with this turn of phrase. He took it to a prominent feminist named Ruth Hale and enlisted her eager help in encouraging women to smoke their “Torches of Freedom” anywhere and everywhere publicly.

Edward Bernays also enlisted the help of 10 debutantes making their debut on 5th Avenue that year.

He arranged for them to publicly light up their “Torch of Freedom” on the Easter Sunday parade for a “Torch of Freedom” march up 5th Avenue in New York City.

Vogue Magazine was given the list of debutantes by Bernays. It was a stroke of marketing genius.

This brilliant plan paid off. A public debate, national discussion, newspaper articles et al, followed and women began smoking openly in public —

all thanks to Edward Bernays and his skillful propaganda.

Wikimedia Commons Vintage Advertisement Public Domain

Edward Bernays became a sought after commodity himself.

He honed his talents and employed many tactics using his uncle Sigmund’s psychology behind his original thinking.

I think it is fair to say Bernays was one of the first to use subliminal advertising.

He was inspired by Freud’s ideas regarding dream symbolism, and using this, he was more successful than not in his attempts to tap into the consumer subconscious to sell products.

He racked up a list of impressive clients like General Electric, Proctor & Gamble (selling Crisco® & Ivory® soap), Dixie® Cups, even President Calvin Coolidge.

He used subliminal messages of sexual disease and vaginas to sell his hygienic Dixie® Cups, along with creation of a public committee on Hygiene (Bernays was a huge proponent of using committees to boost legitimacy of causes). The cups were promoted as a safe, clean way to drink.

He published his first book in 1923 called Crystallizing Public Opinion. In it he defined his use of propaganda by terming it “public relations counsel”. He coined the phrase and defined the field.

However, Bernays returns to his roots in his 1928 book titled simply, Propaganda.

The publication of this book and the words contained within sent shock waves throughout the country.

Propaganda along with other books written by Bernays told the world what he did, promoted, and believed.

It appears it was either so outrageous no one could take it seriously, or it was dismissed out of hand…

It is amazing that these books exist… yet, this man is regarded a cultural hero in many circles. The PR field certainly celebrates him and teaches his methods to this day.

The most quoted passage from this book:

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, and our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind…

The predominant message of Propaganda is almost everyone in public life is a mindless drone, there for the manipulative taking by a “better”.

Bernays argues that his field of “public relations” is a vital one, for the common good.

Where have we seen this attitude of late?

Corporate America may have celebrated Bernays and his public manipulation.

Some politicians may have liked his tactics.

Nevertheless, many others were diametrically opposed to what he was preaching and began to speak out.

Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter warned President FDR against allowing Bernays any role in World War II efforts, calling him a “professional poisoner of the public mind, exploiter of foolishness, fanaticism, and self interest.”

Prominent American sociologist named E.T Hiller called Bernays’ efforts to manipulate public opinion a “perversion of intellectual candor and a menace to political sanity.”

In 1933, a journalist working the foreign beat informed Bernays the Nazis were using his writings and work in Germany.

This, though Bernays was a Jew.

What did he think of this?

Edward Bernays said in his 1965 autobiography:

They were using my books as the basis for a destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany.

This shocked me, but I knew any human activity can be used for social purposes or misused for antisocial ones.


It is wholly outrageous.

Bernays shrugs off the slaughter of millions of people, because his writings are merely… there.

He confirms he has provided a template for manipulation of human behavior — with no care or consideration of whether it is used for good or evil.

“What, who… me?”

Meetings of the Minds

Of course, Edward Bernays, being the “father of modern ‘Public Relations’” would meet a few folks along his way.

Folks… of a similar mind.

His 1947 essay turned book “The Engineering of Consent” had fans amongst the outraged.

A less quoted passage here underlines Bernays’ ambivalence toward the information he provided being used for nefarious reasons:

In the United States, the profession [public relations] deals specifically with the problems of relationship between a group and its public.

Its chief function is to analyze objectively and realistically the position of its client vis-a-vis a public and to advise as to the necessary corrections in its client’s attitudes toward and approaches to that public.

It is thus an instrument for achieving adjustment if any maladjustment in relationships exists.

It must be remembered of course that good will, the basis of lasting adjustment, can be preserved in the long run only by those whose actions warrant it.

But this does not prevent those who do not deserve good will from winning it and holding onto it long enough to do a lot of damage.


The government, despite prior warnings, was interested.

In the 60’s they contracted a job, it was through Congress, top secret, called “Project Camelot”.

Here Bernays met up with Clark C. Abt, a man contracted by the government to “produce a computer simulation of monitoring war conditions in Latin America”.

The men met here, definitely.

Whether they already knew each other is unclear.

This project was shut down before it got fully developed.

The existence of Project Camelot has been wiped almost off the map.

There are very few public references to it today, few places to find information.

What I have reported is pieced together from unclassified reports written at the time of the event.

It was a scandal when it came to light.

Project Camelot was green lit by our government to be a social engineering exercise in poorer, third world countries.

From what we know regarding the public face of Abt Associates, it was right up their alley.

Edward Bernays and his directions are woven throughout every campaign I have ever seen born of Abt Associates.

Abt Associates humble brags are all about the “little guy” and helping bring “dynamic change” worldwide.

Abt Associates is all about ambitious “claims”.

However, Abt Associates also claims its founder, Clark C. Abt, was Editor in Chief of a little known quarterly periodical magazine named Audience from the years of 1958–1960.

screencapture from ABT

Provided by author

In perusing an original copy of Audience, Summer 1959 issue, there is no mention of Clark C. Abt as Editor In Chief.

Mr. Firman Houghton is listed.

A “C.C. Abt” is listed under Advisory Editors.

A Fall 1958 original copy of Audience has

no mention of Clark C. Abt in its pages.

At all.


provided by author

provided by author —

provided by author

So what, right?

Who cares about a little known periodic journal that has been out of print for decades?

Exactly.

Who cares?

Why would a billion dollar government contractor propagate a lie about something so… inconsequential?

Is it really that important or impressive?

Apparently so.

If something this minor is lied about, promoted, and publicly pushed in regards to the founder of THE “public relations” company our government (at last count) has given over $1 billion in grants and cumulative monies to…

What else could be off? Is integrity important?

What about honesty?

Could the entire company be a sham from the start?

What have they done for this country, really?

What do they really do?

The Biggest Con Ever Perpetrated

Abt Associates “mission statement” reads:

Our mission is to improve the quality of life and economic well-being of people worldwide.

We are a collaborative, global community, driven by our mission and our commitment to excellence as we strive to meet and exceed the highest professional standards. Our work with vulnerable populations makes a real impact;

we are accountable for that work and how we do it.

To ensure we’re able to bring our best to clients and colleagues, we promote a healthy balance between our personal and professional lives.


I admit, I have a real problem with faux accountability.

Don’t claim you are “accountable”… when it’s damn clear you never will be held to it.

Abt Associates supposedly based their entire national anti- opioid campaign for the gov/ CDC off this study from NIH .

The study said doctor shoppers were few.

Also a CDC report from 2014, which showed illicit fentanyl was killing people, not prescribed opioids (as Abt Associates said it did).

It is patently obvious these studies were not their true reasons.

Any person looking at this data can say, “Hey, that is not what the data said!”

Those studies were the public reason given — pure Edward Bernays.

Give the public a “reason” and tell them all the things you want them to believe about the source you are citing.

Few of them will actually investigate because they want to believe an authority.

Anyone who says other than the “authority” is to be crushed.

It matters not at all.

No one cares what a nobody writer with 700 followers on a Medium account proves.

My motivation is the truth.

Giving it to you. I will continue to do so as long as I breathe.

No one scrambled to stop the horror they unleashed on us all.

The D.E.A. doesn’t care I showed they illegally implemented the CDC Guidelines.

No one is worried about the lack of informed consent surrounding our EHRs and PDMP’s.

Does it matter that one of the groups and its physician, deeply involved in the government study, is taking credit for the CDC clarification? Especially when one pauses to note the CDC clarification has had exactly zero positive effect on any patient in real time? They count on their rhetoric blinding everyone.

The real reason they needed to stop prescribing?

There are two.

Two big reasons, the lesser reasons — disarming the public, et al… are correlated, all to lead to the ultimate reason.

The ultimate reason being complete control to install their vision of a country.

Two reasons also given in that same article referenced in my prior piece on Abt Associates.

This study, gave the inflated impression that worker’s compensation claims accounted for 25% of ALL prescriptions written in 2013.

They had to get people using worker’s compensation off their meds.

And…

They had to have a real reason to install the Prescription Drug Monitoring Systems (PDMP’s), also referenced heavily in that article.

They wanted the data, your data— warrantless access to YOUR information.

Brandeis University is the epicenter of this madness, themselves recipients of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, a tiny private Ivy League school.

A college in which (retired from Abt) Clark C. Abt has a teaching position in the same building that houses the architects of PDMP Assist, Heller Hall.

Andrew Kolodny is their carnival barker.

He is the vacuous face, the one they want to receive the pie thrown with aim and care, straight on his smirking mug.

Insurers and private contractors, companies wanted to end paying for workers compensation drugs, and hopefully the worker’s compensation itself, for people they viewed as lazy malingerers…

And the insurers, stakeholders… Hell, everyone wants your data.

They will lie, cheat, steal, and kill to get it.

And they have. Oh, how they have!


I wrote an article about Governor Wolf’s campaign to disarm citizens in PA, using the tool of legalization of recreational marijuana in the state of PA.

The “Pot Tour”, underwent by Lt. Gov. Fetterman.

Think about that tour in the eyes of Edward Bernays.

Abt Associates has been using Bernays’ framework to advise their clients for over 70 years… in their public relations branch anyway.

Abt Associates advises clients to “go out in public, make ‘them’ think you care. It is imperative to success to gain the trust of the public.”

A Lt. Governor goes on a road trip to every single county in his ruling state.

He is tattooed, he is young… he is like “them”.

The “consent engineer” to borrow from Bernays’ “The Engineering of Consent”.

What a brilliant marketing strategy. Pennsylvania stands a slim chance against this.

The manipulation of the public has been relentless.

When I saw this tour advertised in the newspaper, my mind jumped immediately to Edward Bernays and I chuckled, in spite of myself.

Syphilis plays or marijuana… it doesn’t matter what you are selling.

Using the propaganda tactics of Edward Bernays, it is almost guaranteed to be a successful campaign, and the trick?

The public believes they did it themselves.


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Heather Wargo

Written by

Writer+advocate. “Right is right when no one is right, and wrong is wrong when everyone is wrong.” Ven. Fulton Sheen. Published by The Western Journal + more.

The Startup

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