The unsolved murder of CBS News journalist George Polk in May 1948 has all the elements of a cover-up.
The Fort Worth native’s sudden disappearance from the city of Thessaloniki, Greece, a few days before he was scheduled to return to the United States. The discovery of Polk’s body by a fisherman one week later. The coroner’s report which revealed someone shot Polk in the back of the head, bound his hands and feet with rope, and threw him into the Aegean Sea while still alive.
Seventy-five years later, CBS White House correspondent Steven Portnoy investigates the mystery behind the newsman’s murder. The three-hour documentary “Who Killed George Polk?” will air on radio stations nationwide over the Memorial Day weekend, according to a CBS news release.
— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) May 18, 2023
Polk was covering the Greek Civil War at the time of his death. The Greek Communist Party was trying to gain control of the country, and the U.S. stepped in to provide millions of dollars in economic and military aid to the right-wing Greek government.
Polk irritated both the U.S. and Greek government with his reporting — protesting the Greek government’s strong-arm tactics to silence dissension and insisting U.S. money would only serve to line the pockets of corrupt authorities.
Polk said in his last letter to CBS official Edward Murrow that he wanted to report both sides of the civil war story. He was trying to arrange an interview with the leader of the Communist guerrillas the day he died.
In “Who Killed George Polk,” Portnoy digs into CBS archives, interviews experts and talks to surviving members of Polk’s family, including a niece who still lives in Fort Worth.
The documentary also cites formerly classified documents that “detail how U.S. government officials actively sought to suppress doubts about the innocence of the only man to face trial in Polk’s killing, a Greek reporter who was tortured into making a false confession,” CBS said in the release.
Craig Swagler, the program’s executive producer, said the documentary shows the important role a free press plays in democracies.
“Steven’s incisive reporting is also timely,” Swagler said in the press release. “Never before have we seen threats with such frequency to reporters’ lives, both foreign and domestic, as they attempt to discover and report the truth.”