Sep
01
2001

Scandal? What Scandal?

Bush's Iran-Contra appointees are barely a story

Throughout the summer of 2001, the media were profligate with resources for the Chandra Levy story, excavating every corner of her and Rep. Gary Condit's past to unearth a prurient bounty of personal detail. That level of investigative vigor might have exposed far more vital information had it been applied to Bush's appointment of numerous Iran-Contra veterans to key posts. But with a few admirable exceptions, news stories about Elliot Abrams, John Negroponte and Otto Reich have largely relied on past reporting and he-said, she-said soundbites by the usual supporters and critics, rather than in-depth investigations into their complicity in […]

May
17
1999

Time Magazine Ignores KLA Drug Charges

Are editors following Contra tradition?

Time magazine's May 17 issue ran a feature on the funding of the Kosovo Liberation Army, titled "A Fighting Chance," suggesting that the KLA is sustained by donations from ethnic Albanians outside of Kosovo. The article reports that the Republic of Kosova Fund holds "more than $33 million" in a bank in Albania, yet in a graphic titled "How the KLA Gets Its Money," Time cheerfully reports that the KLA gets its money from "fund raisers, mailings and other sources." What "other sources"? Bake sales? Time doesn't say. Fortunately, there has been some investigation into the question. The London Times […]

Nov
03
1998

CIA Report Gets New Media Attention

FAIR's October 16 Action Alert criticized mainstream media silence following the October 8th release of a second CIA report detailing the agency's knowledge of Contra drug trafficking. Activists were encouraged to write directly to journalists at the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times to inquire about each paper's treatment of the new facts. At last, the Washington Post (11/3/98) has run a story on the report. While not dealing exhaustively with the many allegations contained in the report, the Post article, by Walter Pincus, does raise troubling questions--particularly concerning the Reagan administration's decision to alter federal policy […]

Oct
16
1998

CIA Admissions, Media Omissions

The recently de-classified second volume of the CIA's internal investigation of Contra-drug connections was released last week (still censored in parts), and found the CIA had knowledge of allegations linking many Contras or Contra associates with drug trafficking. But how did the major media cover the story? It's a good question to put to the New York Times, which ran a sketchy story in their Saturday, October 10 edition (the least-read paper of the week, on a holiday weekend no less) on page A7. It's also worth asking the Washington Post, which published not one word of the CIA's findings […]

Mar
01
1998

'Are You Sure You Want to Ruin Your Career?'

Gary Webb's fate a warning to gutsy reporters

Imagine this: You’re an investigative reporter with nearly 20 years experience. You publish a multi-part investigative series in a reputable daily paper. The story electrifies the public and sends the country’s premier newspapers scurrying to find fault with it. After exhaustive examination involving dozens of journalists at several major papers, the original story is found--except for a few details and overstatements--to be basically sound. Yet you find yourself ostracized. Your follow-up stories go unpublished. After being transferred and taken off the investigative beat, you leave journalism. Is this how today’s newspapers reward gutsy investigative reporting on politically sensitive topics? It […]

Jul
01
1997

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 […]

Jan
01
1997

Snow Job

The Establishment's Papers Do Damage Control for the CIA

The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt.... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies--all this is indispensably necessary. --George […]

Oct
01
1996

Exposed: The Contra-Crack Connection

The wave of crack addiction that crippled inner-city neighborhoods across the country in the '80s had its roots in the CIA's efforts to fund the secret contra war against Nicaragua, according to an investigative report by the San Jose Mercury News' Gary Webb (8/18-20/96). The story of the year? Not according to the New York Times, which has so far ignored the Mercury News' well-documented revelations. The major TV networks gave it no coverage. A few dailies prominently reprinted Webb's work (like the Seattle Times, 8/22/96), or ran an Associated Press account summarizing his findings (e.g., Chicago Tribune, 8/21/96). But […]