Mar 01 2005

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 […]

Mar 01 2005

John Hess, 1917-2005

Editor's Note

John Hess

This issue’s cover story concerns the late journalist Gary Webb, but another reporter’s recent death was just as great a loss. John Hess, a great reporter and a great friend of FAIR, died on January 21 at the age of 87. John used to say that the term “investigative reporter” was redundant, because all reporters are supposed to be investigators, rather than simply parroting what people in power were saying. On one issue he was nearly alone in showing skepticism: As far back as the 1980s, John was debunking claims of a “crisis” in Social Security, pointing out how such […]

Mar 01 2005

The Return of Deep Throat

Now he's a mainstream journalist, leaking stories to the alternative press

I remember the excitement I felt some years ago, working in Los Angeles at the L.A. Daily News or at TV station KCET, as I’d pursue a hot story—the corruption of a blatantly racist school board member, say, or the shooting of unarmed people by the LAPD. There was always the story itself, of course, but there was also the sense that if you didn’t get it in and get it right, you’d be beaten by the competition—usually the L.A. Times, in my case, or one of the local TV stations, which back in the 1970s still did a little […]