Generations of keen journalism college students, for no less than a quick second of their budding careers—notably throughout that golden window after Watergate and earlier than Monica—needed so desperately to be Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
No one ever needed to be Robert Parry. But they need to have.
Woodward and Bernstein made their mark in a collection of Washington Post tales that ultimately introduced down President Nixon, although the typical American at the moment doesn’t actually perceive what Watergate was about. Nevertheless, the pair have been embraced and mythologized by Hollywood and the liberal political institution. Woodward has been notably profitable, carving out a distinct segment as an sanctioned gossip and chronicler of the Washington courtier class. But since “Deep Throat,” the closest he’s come to tearing the lid off something in any subversive and enduring method is a cup of espresso on the set of Meet the Press. Still, Woodward’s mates on the Weekly Standard, in an oft-repeated panegyric, name him “the most effective pure reporter of his technology, maybe ever.”
Not fairly. Parry, who died on January 27 after a latest analysis of pancreatic most cancers at age 68, was additionally a Boomer reporter who reduce his tooth on the most important scandals in latest reminiscence. As an Associated Press journalist he broke the story of Colonel Oliver North’s involvement within the Iran-Contra affair in 1985. A 12 months earlier than that, he gained a George Polk Award for exposing the CIA’s manufacturing of an assassination handbook for the suitable-wing contras the Reagan administration was supporting to overthrow the elected leftist authorities in Nicaragua.
Author and TAC contributing editor Mark Perry, who met Bob within the mid-1980s (on the top of Iran-Contra), remembers what he describes as “Bob’s absolute laser focus on a story, on getting what no one else could.”
“I think that’s what set him apart,” he added in an electronic mail. “But it was really the short attention span of the mainstream media that I think most bothered him. He was a reporting bulldog, and he would keep at it.”
Knowing how this enterprise works, the almost center-aged Parry may have taken the second to burrow in, benefit from the heat embrace of the mainstream, even indulge within the sunshine of his new celeb. But he made the choice, and it might show portentous, to stop AP when he felt his Iran Contra tales have been being watered down and delayed as a consequence of efforts on the highest ranges of the newspaper and the U.S. authorities to get launched AP correspondent Terry Anderson, who had been held hostage for almost seven years throughout the Lebanese Civil War.
A humble man by all appearances, and revered by those that knew him over time, Parry was raised in a newsroom—his father was the editor of the Middlesex Daily News in Framingham, Massachusetts. “I was taught that there were almost always two sides to a story and often more. I was expected to seek out those alternative views, not dismiss them or pretend they didn’t exist,” he wrote. That’s not simply quaint New England windage; it’s what most reporters are taught in Journalism 101. The distinction between reporters like Parry and the jaded standing seekers of his technology is that Parry by no means forgot. He by no means stopped “questioning the Official Story,” and carried a disdain for groupthink and the D.C. media hive that not solely lasted a lifetime, however outlined his identification. He was nonetheless considered by his like-minded friends all through Washington and past the Beltway as a journalist of sterling integrity.
That’s way more precious than one million bestsellers and placement on the imperial metropolis’s social registries. However, it can also imply everlasting exclusion from “the body” and all of the fabric blessings bestowed upon those that play the sport. Parry left the AP and labored on investigative items for Frontline earlier than lastly, taking benefit of the brand new, accessible promise of the Internet, beginning ConsortiumNews.com in 1995 on a shoestring finances. For the following 20 years he inspired and aided numerous writers engaged in skilled, brave journalism on points of overseas coverage, nationwide safety, and the setting. He championed tragic underdogs like Garry Webb, who was forged out of the occupation after a effectively-orchestrated authorities-media blowback marketing campaign towards his 1998 collection “Dark Alliance,” through which he tried to determine CIA complicity within the rampaging crack commerce in 1980s Los Angeles (Parry and fellow AP reporter Brian Barger had really damaged the primary story concerning the CIA-Contra-cocaine matrix in 1985). Destitute, Webb dedicated suicide in 2004.
“To this day, none of the journalists or media critics who participated in the destruction of Gary Webb has paid a price,” Parry wrote in an exhaustive post-mortem of the Webb story in October 2014, highlighting reams of new data supporting Webb that have been delivered to mild in a 1998 Justice Department investigation.
“None has faced the sort of humiliation that Webb had to endure. None had to experience that special pain of standing up for what is best in the profession of journalism, taking on a difficult story that seeks to hold powerful people accountable for serious crimes, and then being vilified by your own colleagues, the people that you expected to understand and appreciate what you had done.”
As just lately as this June, ConsortiumNews has given an annual Freedom of the Press award in Gary Webb’s title. Parry has spent the final 20 years criticizing the media’s function within the Iraq invasion, the continuing wars abroad, and “the same terrible journalism” that permits the elite—whether or not in Washington or on Wall Street—to abuse the ability and belief and pocketbooks of the American folks. Before he died he was fairly candid that these realities had solely gotten worse, drawing hearth from the left for questioning the political motives and machinations behind the Russian collusion investigation.
“The major Western news outlets now conflate the discrete difficulties from made-up ‘fake news’ and baseless ‘conspiracy theories’ with responsible dissenting analysis,” he wrote. “All get thrown into the same pot and subjected to disdain and ridicule.”
Investigative journalist and TAC contributor Gareth Porter, an extended-time pal of Parry, was, like many of Parry’s mates, thunderstruck by the information of his sickness and dying final week. “Bob was absolutely unafraid of the most powerful men and institutions in this country. He was free of any ideological agenda, but he was committed to penetrating the lies that he knew were second nature to the national security state, and nothing could stop him,” Porter wrote in an electronic mail.
“He was the one editor a journalist could count on to publish articles that challenged that assault on freedom of thought in the United States,” Porter added.
As the Washington Post pretentiously guarantees to make sure that democracy doesn’t “die in darkness,” we all know all too effectively that it’s the unsung heroes like Parry who really sacrifice every little thing for the trigger. Perhaps sometime, he and others like him will substitute Woodward and Bernstein within the hopeful heads of dreaming J-faculty college students. It could be our small contribution, as torchbearers of this occupation, for all of its faults, to endeavor forthwith to make that occur.
Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is the manager editor of The American Conservative. Follow her on Twitter @Vlahos_at_TAC.