From Editor Robert Parry: Nineteen years ago this month, Consortiumnews.com came into being as the first Internet-based investigative newsmagazine, or what was then called an “e-zine.” Back then, the name was just “The Consortium” and we operated through a server that doesn’t seem to exist anymore.
Since there were no “templates” in those early days of the modern Internet, my oldest son Sam constructed the site from scratch. We weren’t all that fancy, but we produced serious investigative journalism, the sort that was dying out in the mainstream news media where I had worked for more than two decades at the Associated Press, Newsweek and PBS Frontline.
Our first story was the disclosure of a secret Russian government report that had been sent to a House task force investigating the so-called October Surprise case, whether Ronald Reagan’s campaign in 1980 had undermined President Jimmy Carter’s negotiations to free 52 American hostages then held in Iran as a way to get an edge in the election.
Though Republicans angrily rejected the evidence of this treachery, which included multiple witnesses and documents about President Reagan’s subsequent approval of arms shipments to Iran via Israel, the Russian Report corroborated the October Surprise allegations of Republican skullduggery with information from Moscow’s intelligence files.
But the report, arriving in the waning days of the investigation in January 1993, proved inconvenient because the House panel already had decided to deep-six the scandal in the name of bipartisanship. There was little stomach among Republicans or Democrats to damage the political legacies of either Ronald Reagan or the outgoing President George H.W. Bush.
So, the Russian report was never to be made public. It ended up in a box that along with other documents from the investigation was stored in an abandoned Ladies Room in a little-used warren of congressional offices tucked away inside the Rayburn House parking garage, where I was able to access it in late 1994. Yes, discovering the hidden history of the United States can be that interesting.
But there was no interest in this important chapter of modern American history in the mainstream and even liberal news outlets that I approached in 1995. Thus, at my son Sam’s suggestion, the decision was made to invent a new journalism outlet, using the then-novel idea of a Web site. We launched sometime in November 1995, but to my regret I never marked down the exact day. It didn’t seem all that consequential at the time.
Since then, Consortiumnews.com has experienced many financial ups and downs, but we have been consistent in reporting and publishing important stories that illuminate many of the dark corners of U.S. politics and world affairs. We always follow the facts, not the herd.
I’m especially thankful for the support of our contributors who take the trouble and make the sacrifice to donate to this unique project. Without you, the journalism that we’ve generated going into our 20th year would not have been possible.
If you wish to help us make it to our 20th anniversary, here are several steps you can take:
You can make a donation to our tax-exempt non-profit. You can use a credit card online (we accept Visa, Mastercard or Discover) or you can mail a check to Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ); 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 102-231; Arlington VA 22201. For readers wanting to use PayPal, you can address contributions to our account, which is named after our e-mail address: “consortnew @ aol.com”. (Since we are a 501-c-3 non-profit, donations by American taxpayers may be tax-deductible.)
For donations of $100 or more, we are offering special thank-you gifts. If you want one of the gifts, just send us an e-mail at [email protected] including your mailing address and saying whether you would like either:
A CD of the historic joint appearance of the late Gary Webb and me, speaking in December 1996 about the Contra-cocaine scandal at the Midnight Special bookstore in Santa Monica, California. Plus, an autographed copy of my book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press and Project Truth, which describes how the CIA’s inspector general finally acknowledged that the CIA did know about the Contra-cocaine smuggling and helped cover it up. (This information is featured in the new movie, “Kill the Messenger.”)
Or a DVD of the 1991 Frontline documentary, “Election Held Hostage,” which examines whether Ronald Reagan’s campaign exploited the 1980 Iran hostage crisis to win the presidency. Plus, a signed copy of my newest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, which provides the latest documentary evidence on that Republican skullduggery.
Another way to help Consortiumnews survive is to buy my three-book trilogy on the Bush dynasty Secrecy & Privilege, Neck Deep and America’s Stolen Narrative for the discount price of only $34, less than half the cover price. Just go to Consortiumnews.com’s “Donate” button and make a $34 “donation” using Visa, Mastercard or Discover. We will read a “donation” of that amount as an order for the trilogy. If your mailing address is the same as your credit card billing address, we will ship the books to that address. If your mailing address is different, just send us an e-mail at [email protected] and we will make the adjustment.
You can also take advantage of this trilogy offer by mailing a check for $34 to The Media Consortium; 2200 Wilson Blvd.; Suite 102-231; Arlington VA 22201. Or you can use our PayPal account, “consortnew @ aol.com.” Just make sure you include your mailing address in the message. (A portion of each sale will go to support our investigative journalism.)
For U.S. orders of the trilogy, we will pay for the shipping. (Regrettably, this three-book offer can only be made for the United States because of increased international postal rates.)
Other ways to help:
If you purchase items through Amazon, you can go to AmazonSmile and select Consortium for Independent Journalism as your preferred charity to receive a fraction of each purchase that you make at Amazon at no extra cost to you.
You can donate stock or other equities, which can offer a tax advantage to you if the stock has appreciated in value. If this stock-donation option appeals to you, I suggest you discuss it with your broker and then contact me at [email protected] for specific instructions on how to transfer the stock.
Again, thanks for your support and for making our 19 years of honest journalism possible.
Robert Parry is a longtime investigative reporter who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for the Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. He founded Consortiumnews.com in 1995 to create an outlet for well-reported journalism that was being squeezed out of an increasingly trivialized U.S. news media.
Congratulations not only on the anniversary of Consortiumnews, but for being in the vanguard of reader-funded websites, with no advertising. You might not realize it, but that was a game-changing business model and early on demonstrated the potential power of the Internet.
Happy Birthday for Consortium.
Hopefully, it will live on for 19 more.