Diane Duston on Her Late Husband, Robert Parry

Bob Parry worked at his job nearly every waking hour. Diane Duston asked him why he kept it up. Her husband’s answer was pretty simple. It’s what journalists are supposed to do, he said. 

Dear Readers:

It has been almost a year since the death of my husband, Consortium News founder Robert Parry. The stroke he mentioned in the final piece he wrote for Consortium News was the first of three, caused by undiagnosed pancreatic cancer. It has been a challenging year for me and our family since he passed away on Jan. 27, but one of the things that has given us comfort is the continuation of his journalism through the website he founded.

The only way this can live on is through your donations. I urge you to contribute today so Consortiumnews.com will thrive and grow.

A lot has happened in Washington since Bob wrote his last piece. But one thing that has not changed is the need for independent journalism. Bob was fond of saying, “I don’t care WHAT the truth is. I just care what the truth IS.”

Bob Parry and Diane Duston

I met Bob in the 1980s at the Associated Press where we both worked. As a member of the special assignments team, he was delving into inconsistencies about what the Reagan administration was saying and what it was doing. Eventually, his work led to revelations that became known as the Iran-Contra scandal. I never ceased in my admiration for Bob’s dogged pursuit of the truth, no matter what might happen politically. It took patience and long hours of documents research. It required source development and double-triple-quadruple fact-checking. It meant going to battle with editors who were worried about political fall-out. It wasn’t easy. I was a journalist, too, but I didn’t have the same kind of drive. Few do, really. 

In 31 years of marriage, I remained in awe of his persistent quest for truth. He worked at it nearly every waking hour. I asked him why he kept it up. His answer was pretty simple. It’s what journalists are supposed to do, he said.

It hadn’t brought him any particular financial rewards. His books never became best-sellers. He didn’t seek praise from anyone, and he was irrationally modest about the awards he received. He eschewed self-promotion. He was too busy practicing journalism.

Consortiumnews.com is home for those who are interested in truth and fearless journalism. You can help keep this important mission alive. Please send a donation today.

Please consider making a donation to Consortium News during our Winter Fund Drive.

Here is the last piece that Bob Parry wrote: 

An Apology and Explanation

From Editor Robert Parry: For readers who have come to see Consortium News as a daily news source, I would like to extend my personal apology for our spotty production in recent days. On Christmas Eve, I suffered a stroke that has affected my eyesight (especially my reading and thus my writing) although apparently not much else. The doctors have also been working to figure out exactly what happened since I have never had high blood pressure, I never smoked, and my recent physical found nothing out of the ordinary. Perhaps my personal slogan that “every day’s a work day” had something to do with this.

Perhaps, too, the unrelenting ugliness that has become Official Washington and national journalism was a factor. It seems that since I arrived in Washington in 1977 as a correspondent for The Associated Press, the nastiness of American democracy and journalism has gone from bad to worse. In some ways, the Republicans escalated the vicious propaganda warfare following Watergate, refusing to accept that Richard Nixon was guilty of some extraordinary malfeasance (including the 1968 sabotage of President Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks to gain an edge in the election and then the later political dirty tricks and cover-ups that came to include Watergate). Rather than accept the reality of Nixon’s guilt, many Republicans simply built up their capability to wage information warfare, including the creation of ideological news organizations to protect the party and its leaders from “another Watergate.”

Clinton testifying in the Lewinsky affair in 1998.

So, when Democrat Bill Clinton defeated President George H.W. Bush in the 1992 election, the Republicans used their news media and their control of the special prosecutor apparatus (through Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Appeals Court Judge David Sentelle) to unleash a wave of investigations to challenge Clinton’s legitimacy, eventually uncovering his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

The idea had developed that the way to defeat your political opponent was not just to make a better argument or rouse popular support but to dredge up some “crime” that could be pinned on him or her. The GOP success in damaging Bill Clinton made possible George W. Bush’s disputed “victory” in 2000 in which Bush took the presidency despite losing the popular vote and almost certainly losing the key state of Florida if all ballots legal under state law were counted. Increasingly, America – even at the apex of its uni-power status – was taking on the look of a banana republic except with much higher stakes for the world.

Though I don’t like the word “weaponized,” it began to apply to how “information” was used in America. The point of Consortium News, which I founded in 1995, was to use the new medium of the modern Internet to allow the old principles of journalism to have a new home, i.e., a place to pursue important facts and giving everyone a fair shake. But we were just a tiny pebble in the ocean. The trend of using journalism as just another front in no-holds-barred political warfare continued – with Democrats and liberals adapting to the successful techniques pioneered mostly by Republicans and by well-heeled conservatives.

Barack Obama’s election in 2008 was another turning point as Republicans again challenged his legitimacy with bogus claims about his “Kenyan birth,” a racist slur popularized by “reality” TV star Donald Trump. Facts and logic no longer mattered. It was a case of using whatever you had to diminish and destroy your opponent.

We saw similar patterns with the U.S. government’s propaganda agencies developing themes to demonize foreign adversaries and then to smear Americans who questioned the facts or challenged the exaggerations as “apologists.” This approach was embraced not only by Republicans (think of President George W. Bush distorting the reality in Iraq in 2003 to justify the invasion of that country under false pretenses) but also by Democrats who pushed dubious or downright false depictions of the conflict in Syria (including blaming the Syrian government for chemical weapons attacks despite strong evidence that the events were staged by Al Qaeda and other militants who had become the tip of the spear in the neocon/liberal interventionist goal of removing the Assad dynasty and installing a new regime more acceptable to the West and to Israel).

More and more I would encounter policymakers, activists and, yes, journalists who cared less about a careful evaluation of the facts and logic and more about achieving a pre-ordained geopolitical result – and this loss of objective standards reached deeply into the most prestigious halls of American media. This perversion of principles – twisting information to fit a desired conclusion – became the modus vivendi of American politics and journalism. And those of us who insisted on defending the journalistic principles of skepticism and evenhandedness were increasingly shunned by our colleagues, a hostility that first emerged on the Right and among neoconservatives but eventually sucked in the progressive world as well. Everything became “information warfare.”

The New Outcasts

Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh

That is why many of us who exposed major government wrongdoing in the past have ended up late in our careers as outcasts and pariahs. Legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, who helped expose major crimes of state from the My Lai massacre to the CIA’s abuses against American citizens, including illegal spying and LSD testing on unsuspecting subjects, has literally had to take his investigative journalism abroad because he uncovered inconvenient evidence that implicated Western-backed jihadists in staging chemical weapons attacks in Syria so the atrocities would be blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The anti-Assad group think is so intense in the West that even strong evidence of staged events, such as the first patients arriving at hospitals before government planes could have delivered the sarin, was brushed aside or ignored. The Western media and the bulk of international agencies and NGOs were committed to gin up another case for “regime change” and any skeptics were decried as “Assad apologists” or “conspiracy theorists,” the actual facts be damned.

So Hersh and weapons experts such as MIT’s Theodore Postol were shoved into the gutter in favor of hip new NATO-friendly groups like Bellingcat, whose conclusions always fit neatly with the propaganda needs of the Western powers.

The demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia is just the most dangerous feature of this propaganda process – and this is where the neocons and the liberal interventionists most significantly come together. The U.S. media’s approach to Russia is now virtually 100 percent propaganda. Does any sentient human being read the New York Times’ or the Washington Post’s coverage of Russia and think that he or she is getting a neutral or unbiased treatment of the facts? For instance, the full story of the infamous Magnitsky case cannot be told in the West, nor can the objective reality of the Ukrane coup in 2014. The American people and the West in general are carefully shielded from hearing the “other side of the story.” Indeed to even suggest that there is another side to the story makes you a “Putin apologist” or “Kremlin stooge.”

Western journalists now apparently see it as their patriotic duty to hide key facts that otherwise would undermine the demonizing of Putin and Russia. Ironically, many “liberals” who cut their teeth on skepticism about the Cold War and the bogus justifications for the Vietnam War now insist that we must all accept whatever the U.S. intelligence community feeds us, even if we’re told to accept the assertions on faith.

The Trump Crisis

Which brings us to the crisis that is Donald Trump. Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton has solidified the new paradigm of “liberals” embracing every negative claim about Russia just because elements of the CIA, FBI and the National Security Agency produced a report last Jan 6 that blamed Russia for “hacking” Democratic emails and releasing them via WikiLeaks. It didn’t seem to matter that these “hand-picked” analysts (as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called them) evinced no evidence and even admitted that they weren’t asserting any of this as fact.

The hatred of Trump and Putin was so intense that old-fashioned rules of journalism and fairness were brushed aside. On a personal note, I faced harsh criticism even from friends of many years for refusing to enlist in the anti-Trump “Resistance.” The argument was that Trump was such a unique threat to America and the world that I should join in finding any justification for his ouster. Some people saw my insistence on the same journalistic standards that I had always employed somehow a betrayal.

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Other people, including senior editors across the mainstream media, began to treat the unproven Russia-gate allegations as flat fact. No skepticism was tolerated and mentioning the obvious bias among the never-Trumpers inside the FBI, Justice Department and intelligence community was decried as an attack on the integrity of the U.S. government’s institutions. Anti-Trump “progressives” were posturing as the true patriots because of their now unquestioning acceptance of the evidence-free proclamations of the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

Hatred of Trump had become like some invasion of the body snatchers – or perhaps many of my journalistic colleagues had never believed in the principles of journalism that I had embraced throughout my adult life. To me, journalism wasn’t just a cover for political activism; it was a commitment to the American people and the world to tell important news stories as fully and fairly as I could; not to slant the “facts” to “get” some “bad” political leader or “guide” the public in some desired direction.

Trump and Clinton in third 2016 presidential debate in which Clinton called Trump Vladimir Putin’s “puppet.”

I actually believed that the point of journalism in a democracy was to give the voters unbiased information and the necessary context so the voters could make up their own minds and use their ballot – as imperfect as that is – to direct the politicians to take actions on behalf of the nation. The unpleasant reality that the past year has brought home to me is that a shockingly small number of people in Official Washington and the mainstream news media actually believe in real democracy or the goal of an informed electorate.

Whether they would admit it or not, they believe in a “guided democracy” in which “approved” opinions are elevated – regardless of their absence of factual basis – and “unapproved” evidence is brushed aside or disparaged regardless of its quality. Everything becomes “information warfare” – whether on Fox News, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, MSNBC, the New York Times or the Washington Post. Instead of information provided evenhandedly to the public, it is rationed out in morsels designed to elicit the desired emotional reactions and achieve a political outcome.

As I said earlier, much of this approach was pioneered by Republicans in their misguided desire to protect Richard Nixon, but it has now become all pervasive and has deeply corrupted Democrats, progressives and mainstream journalism. Ironically, the ugly personal characteristics of Donald Trump – his own contempt for facts and his crass personal behavior – have stripped the mask off the broader face of Official America.

What is perhaps most alarming about the past year of Donald Trump is that the mask is now gone and, in many ways, all sides of Official Washington are revealed collectively as reflections of Donald Trump, disinterested in reality, exploiting “information” for tactical purposes, eager to manipulate or con the public. While I’m sure many anti-Trumpers will be deeply offended by my comparison of esteemed Establishment figures with the grotesque Trump, there is a deeply troubling commonality between Trump’s convenient use of “facts” and what has pervaded the Russia-gate investigation.

My Christmas Eve stroke now makes it a struggle for me to read and to write. Everything takes much longer than it once did – and I don’t think that I can continue with the hectic pace that I have pursued for many years. But – as the New Year dawns – if I could change one thing about America and Western journalism, it would be that we all repudiate “information warfare” in favor of an old-fashioned respect for facts and fairness — and do whatever we can to achieve a truly informed electorate.

The late 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.

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22 comments for “Diane Duston on Her Late Husband, Robert Parry

  1. zhenry
    December 23, 2018 at 03:28

    Thank you Diane for your comments and your photo with Robert.
    I will be donating in January.
    All the best to you and your family.

  2. Kieron
    December 20, 2018 at 15:09

    Robert Parry gave us a corridor into an understanding of real journalism. A group,of peaple who report what’s happening, not what we are told is happening, bud what actually is. A real journalist.

  3. Raymond Quiachon
    December 20, 2018 at 01:53

    I for one do miss Bob as he was affectionately called by his colleagues. However I’m grateful for founding an old fashion independent news outlet as the “Consortium News”. More so that it continues with highly respected journalists. These individuals are the last of the “Mohicans” of my era and my hope is this genuine honest journalism will spun upcoming ones. Thank you Bob.

  4. December 19, 2018 at 10:57

    Thank you Diane, Neil and Joe for your capable hands working with Bob for so many years to keep true journalism alive and speaking truth to power so eloquently and with utmost integrity. Your efforts are the vanguard of the truth, with amazing humbleness and yet thoroughness for understanding reality. I just sent in a holiday pledge and wish it could be greater because the cause is the future of our country, great though increasingly blemished it may be.

  5. Brad Owen
    December 19, 2018 at 09:53

    Wish he was still here to record the current, on-going struggle. People will look back on this era as an asymetric World War between a World-wide Alliance of Nationalists vs. a Cabal of imperious Globalists, with America the main battlefield where all is lost or won. Steve Bannon is the brains behind The Movement of civic/economic Nationalist populism, as he perfectly described it in his 30 minute speech to “Black Americans for a Better Future”. The brains, such as they are, behind the globalist “New World Order” are too numerous to list. Suffice it to say they are the DS Oligarchs of a global Empire. National Emergencies will be declared, followed by mass arrests similar to what was witnessed in Turkey not too long ago, and riots by ill-informed folks mislead by propaganda on a scale that would make Soviet Pravda blush. Trump, Putin and Xi are the big guns behind The Movement.

    • Virginia
      December 22, 2018 at 10:46

      I agree with your thoughts about Bannon and our world leaders, Brad. May they carry the day so the world can look back on these times. Also, Robert Parry is greatly missed.

  6. mike k
    December 18, 2018 at 20:22

    Moderator – The comments do not show unless I submit at least “test”. Then all the comments show.

  7. Tom Kath
    December 18, 2018 at 20:22

    We have been manipulated into a culture where only one opinion or narrative is considered permissible. Even here or in our homes, we prefer a lie rather than conflict, disagreement, or debate. The pressure to conform has never been greater. – “Where everyone thinks the same, nobody thinks very much.”

    PS. I regret that I cannot afford to donate money, but I can even less afford to live a lie.

  8. John Kirsch
    December 18, 2018 at 19:52

    I miss Parry’s meticulous dissections of the latest Russiagate non-story. No one is on that beat like he was. He was one of the best and is greatly missed.

  9. December 18, 2018 at 19:44

    Thank you for bringing me back to Robert’s journalistic heroism on this anniversary. And thank you for continuing his vision.

  10. KiwiAntz
    December 18, 2018 at 18:55

    Behind any successful man is a woman! Thank you Diane for your unwavering support & love for your partner, Mr Parry. A true Journalist & Humanitarian who devoted his life to exposing the truth & seeking justice against tyranny! Robert sought to publicise actual facts over the institutional lies & Propaganda by devious Politicians in league with Corporates & Banking elites & their MIC cronies. “For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing” wrote Simon Wiesenthal. May Robert Parry’s spirit & courageous journalistic example of being that “good man” inspire us all to keep up the good fight against this Neoliberal assault & tyranny against humanity which the American Empire has subjugated on the World & it’s Citizens to! Merry Xmas & a Happy New Year to all CN contributers & commentators.

  11. December 18, 2018 at 18:21

    It is quite remarkable what was written by your husband a year ago. HOWEVER, the law,thankfully, is catching us up with the truth. SO on that note, I welcome becoming a monthly donor to Consortium News, to keep up with as much balance of reporting as possible. Your husband lived a noble life. My son started out as a reporter, but switched to the law. I respect those in both fields now, because we need as much clarity in our lives.
    My best to you and your family Diane.

  12. December 18, 2018 at 17:27

    Thanks to this pioneering internet venture which found its origin in meeting the need an evolved and timely form for a new age in communications.

  13. Rael Nidess, M.D.
    December 18, 2018 at 17:27

    I offer my continuing condolences to Ms. Duston & her family. I have been a contributor to ConsortiumNews since 2006 (monthly since 2013) and have always considered it money well spent and an ongoing downpayment for democracy. Robert’s articles were always the high-point of any week’s output and the centrality of his journalism to the conversation is only made more evident by its absence. I wish her & her family all the best and echo her call to support this critically important news site.

  14. Peter Dyer
    December 18, 2018 at 16:55

    Thank you, Diane. I can count the number of my personal heroes on the fingers of one hand. For his dogged devotion to and insistence on evidence-based journalism, as well as for his personal courage, Bob was, and remains, one of my heroes. He truly was a light in what seems to be increasing darkness. He remains an inspiration.

  15. Rick Sterling
    December 18, 2018 at 15:48

    Great post. Beautiful photo, memory and encouragement.
    Thank you Diane Dunston!

    Long live Consortiumnews.
    I am going to make my donation right now.

  16. ML
    December 18, 2018 at 13:26

    I read Mr. Parry’s beautiful last essay again just now and tears spring to my eyes- not just for the loss of this honorable, ethical, brilliant man, but also for the loss of truth, of justice, and of my innocence in once believing America was a force for good. We could be. We can be. But we must make a clear about face and began the long walk towards a reality where all of our lofty ideals can be put into practice. Enough of the scapegoating, America. Whether this toxic practice happens within a family system or within a nation, it must be extracted and exposed to the purifying light of truth. Diane, I am very sorry you lost your beloved husband. He is sorely missed by so many. Thank you for sharing him with all of us, gracious lady.

  17. December 18, 2018 at 13:26

    Lovely tribute and photo of the couple.

    • Maxine Chiu
      December 28, 2018 at 18:35

      Hi John….I recall that you used to contribute to the “Smirking Chimp” site….For years, I made comments to the articles and really praised the site….Then when Obama became President, it became a Democratic Party site and and anyone who criticized Hillary Clinton when SHE ran for President was castigated by many, accused of being a Trump fan….Also, I would say that the majority of writers and commenters have been fully taken in by this Blame Russia For Everything hoax…. In addition, SC’s owner began deleting members who were critical of the Democratic establishment…Recently, he exiled me from the site for being critical of Nancy Pelosi!….So I was just wondering, what do you think of SC these days?….I remember, you were one of the more intelligent contributors….Certainly, CN is of a far higher caliber than SC and I’m exceedingly grateful that it exists….Have a splendid 2019….Maxine

  18. mike k
    December 18, 2018 at 11:54

    Thank God for people like Robert Parry. Where would we be if there were no more like him?

  19. Bob Van Noy
    December 18, 2018 at 09:57

    It’s amazing to read this because it could have been written last night, that is how prescient Robert’s Reporting was. I thank All of you at Consortiumnews including you Diane and the other members of the Family that work so hard to keep Robert’s hope alive. It is totally necessary right now to keep the dream of a properly functioning Democracy Alive because right now it is certainly threatened… I contribute regularly to CN and I will continue to do so. Keep up the good work!

    • Bob Van Noy
      December 18, 2018 at 20:07

      “Each person bears the responsibility to pass accurate understanding of the past to future generations so that the country and humanity can successfully advance.”

      Lisa Pease in her just released, “A Lie Too Big To Fail”, The Real History of the Assassination Of Robert F. Kennedy

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