Mar 1 1993

Iran/Contra: Sweep It Away

Robbie Conal poster of Oliver North (Speak)

Most of the major media reacted to George Bush’s last-minute pardon of leading Iran/Contra figures with less than outrage. The conventional wisdom in media circles for years has been that the scandal is old news and it should just go away. Robert MacNeil of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour (12/24/92) spoke for many in the media when he asked Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive: Mr. Blanton, why does this issue remain important? Clearly, the public is bored with it. The polls all show that years ago they stopped being interested in it. Why not, as Mr. Bush describes in his […]

Jul 1 1988

Nicaragua’s Drug Connection Exposed as Hoax

On July 28, the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime, chaired by Congressman William Hughes (D-NJ), held the first of a series of hearings into whether Reagan administration officials condoned drug smuggling and other criminal activities to further its Central America policy. Among other things, the panel sought to determine if top leaders of the Colombian cocaine cartel escaped arrest because the much ballyhooed “war on drugs” took a back seat to a covert operation designed to discredit the Nicaraguan government-this at a time when the administration was seeking additional aid to the contras. CBS Evening News (7/28/88), the only major […]

Mar 1 1988

Media Censor CIA Ties With Medellin Drug Cartel

A key money-launderer for the Medellin cocaine cartel told Congress in February that he worked with the Central Intelligence Agency, but this information was not reported by the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the three major networks, even though all covered the hearings. In testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Narcotics, Terrorism and International Operations, Ramon Milian Rodriguez acknowledged that he laundered more than $3 million for the CIA after his indictment on drug charges in 1983. New York Times correspondent Elaine Sciolino failed to mention this in her coverage of Rodriguez’s testimony, which was broadcast live on […]

Aug 5 1987

Big Papers Give Drug Story Small Play

In These Times

In These Times: Withdrawal Symptoms

Journalists have documented, through firsthand testimony and confirmations from government officials, that Nicaraguan rebels either participate in or profit from cocaine traffic into the US. But this news did not appear in the influential media outlets that set the bounds of political debate. The New York Times, the Washington Post and even the Miami Herald have limited their coverage of the Contra-drug connection to the barest mentions of other people’s investigations. In fact, New York Times stories have consistently disparaged allegations of Contra drug-running. Three stories that ran over one week last month contained some variations on this theme from […]

Jun 1 1987

Washington’s Worst Kept Secret

The Contra Drug Connection

Since 1985, reports linking Contra arms suppliers to cocaine smuggling have run in progressive publications and a few mainstream outlets. But CBS West 57th‘s well-documented segment on the CIA-cContra-drug connection (4/6/87) was the first serious network probe. The segment featured interviews with CIA contract employees who flew weapons shipments to the contras in Honduras and back-loaded cocaine and marijuana. Mike Tolliver, convicted drug smuggler and part-time CIA pilot, told of flying 25,000 pounds of pot to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. The Contragate plot thickened in Newsday (4/17/87) with an expose on Manzer al-Kassar, a Syrian drug smuggler who […]