Search Results for: Gary Webb


Gary Webb & Kill the Messenger, Katha Pollitt on Abortion Rights


This week on CounterSpin: The new film Kill the Messenger tells the story of investigative journalist Gary Webb, whose 1996 Dark Alliance series exposed links between drug traffickers and the US-backed Contras in Nicaragua. Prestige outlets like the New York Times devoted serious resources to going after Webb in an attempt to discredit his reporting. We'll go back to the CounterSpin archives to hear from Webb himself.

Also on the show: You might think you hear enough about abortion in the press. A new book says: We need to talk about abortion differently. PRO: Reclaiming Abortion Rights is the latest from author, poet and Nation columnist Katha Pollitt. We'll talk with her about reframing that conversation.


America's Debt to Gary Webb

Punished for reporting the truth while those who covered it up thrived

Gary Webb: His Unknown Gift to America

In 1996, journalist Gary Webb wrote a series of articles that forced a long-overdue investigation of a very dark chapter of recent U.S. foreign policy—the Reagan/Bush administration’s protection of cocaine traffickers who operated under the cover of the Nicaraguan Contra war in the 1980s. For his brave reporting at the San Jose Mercury News, Webb paid a high price. He was attacked by journalistic colleagues at the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, American Journalism Review (11/96, 1-2/ 97, 6/97) and even the Nation magazine (6/2/97). Under this media pressure, his editor, Jerry Ceppos, sold out the story […]


Jeff Cohen on Gary Webb, Eileen Loh Harrist on Youngstown strike

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Award-winning investigative reporter Gary Webb died at the age of 49 on Friday, December 10, from an apparent suicide. In 1996 Webb's courageous work linked cocaine traffickers to the CIA's Contra army in Nicaragua and to the West Coast crack scourge. We'll be joined by FAIR founder Jeff Cohen to discuss Gary Webb's work and the backlash he suffered at the hands of an establishment media bent on protecting the powerful. Also on the show: Workers at the Youngstown Ohio daily the Vindicator are on strike. So what does that have to do with […]


Gary Webb Defends Gary Webb

CounterSpin Transcript

In August, 1996, the San Jose Mercury News published its "Dark Alliance" series by reporter Gary Webb, revealing the links between the CIA-backed Nicaraguan contras and crack cocaine trafficking in the U.S. The series became a national controversy after wide transmission on the Internet and in independent and black-oriented news media--followed by a savage backlash against the series by national dailies like the New York Times and Washington Post that had spent years downplaying or distorting evidence of the contra-cocaine link (See "Snow Job," Extra!, 1-2/97). On May 11, 1997, as if displaying the white flag of surrender, Mercury News […]


Still Killing the Messenger

A feature film prompts a new round of attacks on Gary Webb

Detail from 'Kill the Messenger' poster

For the Washington Post and other major newspapers, the release of the movie about Gary Webb--Kill The Messenger--was just a new opportunity to smear his reputation.


Matt Taibbi on Goldman Sachs


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Goldman Sachs, Wall Street profiteering and... vampire squids. Wait, what was that last one? Journalist Matt Taibbi wrote a long takedown of the venerable Wall Street firm in Rolling Stone. Business journalists pronounced themselves mostly unimpressed with Taibbi's analysis, and troubled by his language—like calling the company 'a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.' Subtle it is not. But what should we make of the reaction to the piece, from Wall Street and from other reporters? And does reporting like […]


FAIR & Media Justice

Fighting for inclusion and access since 1986


Back in the mid-1980s, when Jeff Cohen founded FAIR, large-scale progressive media activism was still more than a decade away, and the media justice movement lay in the even more distant future. But FAIR set out to focus attention on race/ethnicity, class and gender bias in the media from the beginning, and to draw connections between corporate control of media outlets and the persistent underrepresentation of socially disadvantaged groups. One of FAIR’s most effective approaches was to study the demographic and institutional profiles of the sources used in mainstream news reports—who gets to speak. FAIR research revealed not only the […]


Fighting Back

FAIR's media activism successes

If FAIR's work consisted entirely of quantitative studies and the well-documented criticism that appears in every issue of Extra!, the group would be akin to a conventional think tank. But throughout FAIR's history, it has had a significant emphasis on media activism—treating media giants just as one would any other powerful political or government institution, by directly confronting news outlets when they misinform readers and viewers, keep the lid on stories that should be on the front page, or bombard communities with hateful stereotypes. FAIR didn't invent media activism, but we have helped to develop and refine the techniques that […]