Professor Medsger Goes Inside Hoover's FBI

August 4, 2014

SF STATE MAGAZINE -- In 1971, on the night of the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier heavyweight fight, eight burglars carried suitcases full of stolen files out of the FBI’s Media, Pennsylvania, office. Betty Medsger was a reporter at The Washington Post when she received the first of the files, sent to her anonymously. The documents exposed the FBI’s longterm surveillance of antiwar activists, African Americans, alleged communists and civil-rights workers. The first paper she read was among the most damning. It encouraged FBI agents to interview more dissenters “for plenty of reasons, chief of which will enhance the paranoia endemic in their circles and will further serve to get the point across there is an FBI agent behind every mailbox.” Medsger revealed the details of the break-in in her new book, “The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI.” In April, she returned to campus at the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism, which she founded at SF State.