Saturday, August 19, 2006

Dark Anniversary

I had the good fortune to spend ten days in Mexico with Gary Webb a few years ago as part of a journalism school. He was a quiet and unassuming guy and I learned about a lot about journalism from him. I can't say I knew him well, but I cried when he died.

Today is the tenth anniversary of Gary Webb's landmark series, The Dark Alliance, that exposed the link between the CIA and Nicaragua's Contras to the crack cocaine epidemic that ripped through South Los Angeles in the 1980s. Webb lost his career and ultimately his life over that story and suffered much undeserved ridicule for something he never said but was widely attributed to him by those who apparently never read the series. He never said the CIA deliberately created the crack "epidemic" that swept the country at the time. And he never received enough credit for the claims he did make that turned out to be true. The CIA knowingly dealt with drug dealers in the course of the Iran-Contra war and allowed the crack to enter the country unfettered.

Perhaps we can take some comfort from Gary's tragic history in that it points out the MSM has always been part of the establishment and will protect their government sources over informing the people of government abuses. The lesson being, although the press has failed to protect us from the excesses of our government today, we never really could count on them to do so anyway. But for myself, it's just a sad reminder of what could have been.

You have to wonder, if the blogs and the power of the internets they harnessed had been around then, whether his story would have had a happier ending.


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