From Editor Robert Parry: We founded Consortiumnews.com in 1995 as the first investigative news magazine on the Internet. The site was meant to be a home for important, well-reported stories and a challenge to the inept but dominant mainstream news media of the day.
As one of the reporters who helped expose the Iran-Contra scandal for the Associated Press in the mid-1980s, I was distressed by the silliness and propaganda that had come to pervade American journalism. I feared, too, that the decline of the U.S. press corps foreshadowed disasters that would come when journalists failed to alert the public about impending dangers.
Also by 1995, documents were emerging that put the history of the 1980s in a new – and more troubling – light. Yet, there were fewer and fewer media outlets interested in that history.
The memories of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were enveloped in warm-and-fuzzy myths that represented another kind of danger: false history that could lead to mistaken political judgments in the future.
Some of our early articles reexamined important chapters of the 1980s (such as the “October Surprise” controversy from Election 1980 and evidence of Nicaraguan contra-cocaine trafficking). Other stories explored more topical crises (such as NATO’s war over Kosovo and the impeachment assault on President Bill Clinton).
Author Norman Solomon and I produced a groundbreaking series on the real story behind Colin Powell’s legend. Another of my investigations examined the remarkable story of how Rev. Sun Myung Moon became an influential player in Washington.
Working with talented freelance reporters around the world, we also undertook important historical investigations, such as how the Nazis after World War II — crossing “rat lines” from Europe to South America — contributed to the region’s bloody repression.
By 1999 and early 2000, we were looking at the reemergence of the Bush family dynasty. However, as Campaign 2000 was heating up, we ran out of money.
I was forced to make Consortiumnews.com a part-time enterprise and took an editing job at Bloomberg News. One of our last stories before that break described how the news media was exaggerating Vice President Al Gore’s alleged exaggerations.
Though operating on a part-time basis, we managed to churn out a number of stories in the months before Election 2000 and kept tabs on the recount battle with stories including how Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor telegraphed her political agenda at an Election Night party and how George W. Bush dispatched thugs to Miami to intimidate vote counters.
In November 2001, we were the first to note that the big news outlets – which had conducted an unofficial recount of Florida’s ballots – had buried their own lead, the fact that Gore would have won Florida if all legal votes were counted.
In 2002, during the buildup to war in Iraq, we also picked up the pace, questioning the Bush administration’s case about weapons of mass destruction and criticizing the flag-waving coverage from the mainstream news media.
As Bush’s Iraq invasion was underway in March 2003, I consulted with some of my old military sources who warned of the disaster ahead. The article was entitled “Bay of Pigs Meets Black Hawk Down.”
Also in 2003, author Kevin Phillips cited the investigative work of Consortiumnews.com in his seminal book on the Bush family, American Dynasty. Phillips took note of our investigative series that examined the elder George Bush’s role in Republican dirty tricks during the 1980 campaign.
To flesh out more about the Bush family’s rise to power, I left Bloomberg News in April 2004 and began work on my fourth book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq. It was published in late September 2004.
In fall 2004, we also resumed more frequent publication of stories at Consortiumnews.com. One of those articles described John Kerry’s pioneering investigation of contra-drug trafficking in the late 1980s.
In recent years, we have added the insightful writings of former CIA analysts, such as Ray McGovern, Peter Dickson and Melvin Goodman, who saw a corruption of information inside the CIA’s analytical division that paralleled the perversion of journalism that was underway in the American press corps.
We have written extensively about the U.S. media imbalance, tilted by a well-funded right-wing media machine. Indeed, a founding idea of our Web site was that a major investment was needed in journalistic endeavors committed to honestly informing the American people about important events, reporting that truly operated without fear or favor.
Regrettably, the distortion of information remains a grave problem with millions of Americans brainwashed by the waves of disinformation coming from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the hordes of other right-wing media outlets – distortions often reinforced by the careerist mainstream press.
Because of this media dynamic, many average Americans have bought into a propaganda frame that seeks fewer regulations on powerful corporations, lower taxes on the wealthy, tighter restrictions on unions, and fewer programs to help working Americans with problems ranging from educating their children to caring for the elderly.
Meanwhile, Official Washington is basing international decisions on a false narrative that excludes the real history of the past several decades. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush are hailed as honorable leaders, rather than viewed as politicians who countenanced gross abuses of power.
Even in the Age of Obama, government decisions are being made with only limited knowledge of what was really done by Republican presidents who have dominated the modern era. This ignorance represents not only a threat to a meaningful democratic republic but a danger to the world, as the “last remaining superpower” lurches about, half-blinded by its own propaganda.
While we are proud of the journalistic contribution that this Web site has made over the past 15-plus years – and while we are deeply grateful to our readers whose contributions have kept us afloat – we also must admit that we have not made the case well enough that our mission is a vital one.
Despite all that’s happened, including the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan, many people still don’t understand that the fight for honest information about the past and the present is a battle for the future.
We could do much more with additional resources. If you can and wish to help, we would appreciate your donations, big or small.
You can contribute either by credit card at the Web site or by check to:
Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
2200 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington VA 22201
Or you can use PayPal (our account is named after our e-mail address “firstname.lastname@example.org“).
Or, If you know someone with the means to make a large donation or someone who is involved with a public-interest foundation, contact them and urge them to consider a grant to Consortiumnews.com. Since 1999, we have operated as a 501-c-3 non-profit, meaning that donations can be tax-deductible. [For more information, such as our recent IRS filings and the IRS approval letter, go to "What Can Be Done."]
We appreciate whatever help you can provide. Thanks.
Robert Parry, Editor
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. He founded Consortiumnews.com in 1995 as the Internet’s first investigative magazine. He saw it as a way to combine modern technology and old-fashioned journalism to counter the increasing triviality of the mainstream U.S. news media.