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 downright
creepiness that had pervaded American journalism by the mid-1990s. 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.
So, with my eldest son
Sam serving as technical adviser (he was in his early 20s so the
Internet didn't seem that strange to him), we started what we called
"the Internet's first investigative 'Zine" in November 1995.
Some of our 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 current crises (such
as the War in Kosovo and the impeachment assault on President Bill
Author Norman Solomon and
I produced a groundbreaking series on the real story behind Colin
Powell's legend. Another series examined 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" 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
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 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 the Iraq
invasion was underway in March 2003, I consulted with some of my old
military sources who recognized the disaster ahead. I entitled that
article "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 alleged Republican dirty tricks during the 1980 campaign.
To flesh out more parts
of 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
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. Since Nov. 2, we have written
about the controversies surrounding Election 2004 and the political
danger created by today’s media imbalance in the United States.
Indeed, a founding idea
of the Consortium for Independent Journalism was that a major investment
was needed in journalistic endeavors committed to honestly informing the
American people about important events, no matter what the political and
While we are proud of the
journalistic contribution that this Web site has made over the past
decade – 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 this mission is a vital one.
Despite all that’s
happened, including the ongoing disaster in Iraq, many people still
don’t understand that the fight for honest information is a battle for
the future of American democracy.