The Washington Post and Gary Webb

The 2014 movie “Kill the Messenger” is excellent in telling the true story of Gary Webb. He was an investigative reporter for the San Jose Mercury News. We need to understand that his reporting was accurate in connecting the CIA with the Contras and their drug operations. This is now official. Documents attesting to the facts can be read in The National Security Archive kept by the George Washington University. Despite Webb’s accuracy, the campaign to discredit Webb led to his losing his job and an eventual suicide, according to Robert Parry.

The following plot summary is here. “Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb, the film takes place in the mid-1990s. Webb uncovered the CIA’s alleged role in importing crack cocaine into the U.S. to secretly fund the Nicaraguan contra rebels. Despite enormous pressure to stay away, Webb chose to pursue the story and went public with his evidence, publishing the series called ‘Dark Alliance’. He then experienced a vicious smear campaign fueled by the CIA, during which he found himself defending his integrity, his family, and his life.”

Rather than following up on Webb’s revelations and delving deeper, both the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post sought to discredit Webb. This shameful behavior is depicted in the movie, and it’s an example of the same kind of media behavior going on at present to attack Trump and his associates. (Trump can be criticized on many real grounds. He is, after all, a dyed-in-the-wool statist; but the large number of attacks on him relating to Russia are based on grounds with no merit.)

Time to buy old US gold coins

At about the 56-minute mark, we see the Washington Post’s response. They have a man who has checked out some of Webb’s sources and he’s reporting back by telephone to several editors who then decide how they will play or spin the story. They decide to side with the CIA’s denials and the official government line. Another character who had similarly been smeared says “When they saw I wasn’t gonna stop, they ‘controversialized’ me.”

REPORTER ON TELEPHONE REPORTING TO EDITORS: It’s checking out, Richard. I spoke with the banker in Panama City. His name is Hans Yorg Baier. He met with Webb. He confirmed he laundered drug money for the Contras. Norwin Meneses was his client.

WASHINGTON EDITOR 1: Are these sources reliable enough? For the Post? I mean, they’re all drug dealers.

REPORTER ON TELEPHONE REPORTING TO EDITORS: The banker isn’t a drug dealer. Also, there’s this American ex-pat that had a ranch in the jungle for thirty years. And he let these two American pilots land and take off from his airstrip. And, he let them store dope on his property.

WASHINGTON EDITOR 1: You’re talking to drug dealers and money launderers. I’m talking to Langley.

REPORTER ON TELEPHONE REPORTING TO EDITORS: Well, I’m filing. You guys do whatever you want with it.

WASHINGTON EDITOR 1 (To others around the table): So what’s our point of view?

EDITOR 2: That Webb doesn’t have any legitimate sources…That the CIA would never use these low-lifes and in fact denies it, in fact denies it unequivocally. That basically, he’s a fraud and so is his story.

WASHINGTON EDITOR 1 I’ll take that upstairs and see if it’ll fly.

This is fiction, but it’s very insightful fiction, because something like this does go on every day to produce the media biases and lying spin we observe.