The rise of fascism and World War II shifted the FBI’s focus in the 1940s from fighting midwestern outlaws to catching Communists. To Hoover and the FBI, nearly anyone on the political left was suspect, potentially part of a Soviet conspiracy to overthrow Western democracies. In reality, the American left was fragmented. But again and again, Hoover would use the threat of Communism to go after the Bureau’s enemies. He would resort to exhaustive surveillance, including wiretaps, bugging and prying into personal lives to keep in check outspoken journalists and any other critics who threatened Hoover’s ironclad control of the media.
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