The San Jose alt-weekly Metro this week is running a 3,160-word excerpt from the new book about the career and apparent suicide of Gary Webb, whom Metro calls the Merc’s most controversial reporter.
Webb, who died Dec. 9, 2004, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter whose August 1996 three-part series “Dark Alliance” asserted that the CIA knew cocaine was being imported into the United States, and that the profits were funding the Nicaraguan contras. Webb’s story was blasted by the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. Eventually, Webb’s editors stopped defending his series and published a mea culpa May 11, 1997. Webb was later demoted to one of the Merc’s bureaus, then left the paper and held a number of jobs, his final being for a weekly in Sacramento. Author Nick Schou notes that all of Webb’s editors were promoted.
However, on July 23, 1998, the Justice Department released a report by the Inspector General that confirmed many of Webb’s most serious allegations, but the same large newspapers that attacked his work gave short shrift to the findings.
Not only was Webb’s story controversial, but so too was his death. He died of two gunshot wounds to the head, an unusual scenario for a suicide.
Click here to read the excerpt from Schou’s “Kill The Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack-Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb.”
• For another view of Webb’s work, here is a link to an article by former AP reporter Robert Parry, who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s. Parry says Webb’s allegations were correct and the national media was derelict in not investigating the story themselves.