It's a non-interesting factoid retold as clickbait. A better way to put it is "Gloria Steinem was on the CIA payroll." At the time, EVERYBODY was on the CIA payroll. As per usual, they had a million front organizations, they had a deep budget, and they basically spent money wherever they thought it would give them a leg up. Can't recall the proper names but as I recall, one underground San Francisco weekly slagged another underground San Francisco weekly for being on the CIA payroll when in fact they both were. My favorite bit is that during the UFO heyday, three of the five directors on the board of the leading UFO organization were CIA plants.
CIA agents are tight-lipped
CIA affiliates are not.
“In my experience The Agency was completely different from its image; it was liberal, nonviolent and honorable.”
Yeah the magazines getting money to boost American values saw a different CIA than the one that overthrew Lumumba. But then "PR" and "Engineering" are generally very different parts of the company; how much more so are "PR" and "Ops?"
Long before the formalized concept of soft power, Steinem personified and promoted abroad the vigor and progressive nature of the U.S. youth movement.
"Long before ivy-tower academics rebranded it 'soft power', the CIA was a staunch practitioner of propaganda."
I mean, somebody wrote that with no irony whatsoever.
Perhaps, Steinem’s 1960s characterization of a “liberal, nonviolent and honorable” CIA was idealistic and self-serving, but there is no question that today’s Agency is still necessary and wildly different. The 6,700 page U.S. Senate torture report is a good place to start when seeking to understand how different.
I think this is one of the better examples I've seen of columnist doublespeak. "I have nothing to say, but 750 words to write."