Hold the Front Page: The Reporters are Missing

So much of mainstream journalism has descended to the level of a cult-like formula of bias, hearsay and omission. Subjectivism is all; slogans and outrage are proof enough. What matters is “perception,” says John Pilger.

By John Pilger
Special to Consortium News

The death of Robert Parry earlier this year felt like a farewell to the age of the reporter. Parry was “a trailblazer for independent journalism”, wrote Seymour Hersh, with whom he shared much in common.

Hersh revealed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the secret bombing of Cambodia, Parry exposed Iran-Contra, a drugs and gun-running conspiracy that led to the White House. In 2016, they separately produced compelling evidence that the Assad government in Syria had not used chemical weapons. They were not forgiven.

Driven from the “mainstream”, Hersh must publish his work outside the United States. Parry set up his own independent news website Consortium News, where, in a final piece following a stroke, he referred to journalism’s veneration of “approved opinions” while “unapproved evidence is brushed aside or disparaged regardless of its quality.”

Although journalism was always a loose extension of establishment power, something has changed in recent years. Dissent tolerated when I joined a national newspaper in Britain in the 1960s has regressed to a metaphoric underground as liberal capitalism moves towards a form of corporate dictatorship. This is a seismic shift, with journalists policing the new “groupthink”, as Parry called it, dispensing its myths and distractions, pursuing its enemies.

Witness the witch-hunts against refugees and immigrants, the willful abandonment by the “MeToo” zealots of our oldest freedom, presumption of innocence, the anti-Russia racism and anti-Brexit hysteria, the growing anti-China campaign and the suppression of a warning of world war.

With many if not most independent journalists barred or ejected from the “mainstream”, a corner of the Internet has become a vital source of disclosure and evidence-based analysis: true journalism sites such as wikileaks.org, consortiumnews.com, wsws.org, truthdig.com, globalresearch.org, counterpunch.org and informationclearinghouse.com are required reading for those trying to make sense of a world in which science and technology advance wondrously while political and economic life in the fearful “democracies” regress behind a media facade of narcissistic spectacle.

Propaganda Blitz

In Britain, just one website offers consistently independent media criticism. This is the remarkable Media Lens — remarkable partly because its founders and editors as well as its only writers, David Edwards and David Cromwell, since 2001 have concentrated their gaze not on the usual suspects, the Tory press, but the paragons of reputable liberal journalism: the BBC, The Guardian, Channel 4 News.

Their method is simple. Meticulous in their research, they are respectful and polite when they ask why a journalist why he or she produced such a one-sided report, or failed to disclose essential facts or promoted discredited myths.

The replies they receive are often defensive, at times abusive; some are hysterical, as if they have pushed back a screen on a protected species.

I would say Media Lens has shattered a silence about corporate journalism. Like Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman in Manufacturing Consent, they represent a Fifth Estate that deconstructs and demystifies the media’s power.

What is especially interesting about them is that neither is a journalist. David Edwards is a former teacher, David Cromwell is an oceanographer. Yet, their understanding of the morality of journalism — a term rarely used; let’s call it true objectivity — is a bracing quality of their online Media Lens dispatches.

I think their work is heroic and I would place a copy of their just published book, Propaganda Blitz, in every journalism school that services the corporate system, as they all do.

Take the chapter, Dismantling the National Health Service, in which Edwards and Cromwell describe the critical part played by journalists in the crisis facing Britain’s pioneering health service.

The NHS crisis is the product of a political and media construct known as “austerity”, with its deceitful, weasel language of “efficiency savings”  (the BBC term for slashing public expenditure) and “hard choices” (the willful destruction of the premises of civilized life in modern Britain).

“Austerity” is an invention. Britain is a rich country with a debt owed by its crooked banks, not its people. The resources that would comfortably fund the National Health Service have been stolen in broad daylight by the few allowed to avoid and evade billions in taxes.

Using a vocabulary of corporate euphemisms, the publicly-funded Health Service is being deliberately run down by free market fanatics, to justify its selling-off. The Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn may appear to oppose this, but is it? The answer is very likely no. Little of any of this is alluded to in the media, let alone explained.

Edwards and Cromwell have dissected the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, whose innocuous title belies its dire consequences. Unknown to most of the population, the Act ends the legal obligation of British governments to provide universal free health care: the bedrock on which the NHS was set up following the Second World War. Private companies can now insinuate themselves into the NHS, piece by piece.

Where, asks Edwards and Cromwell, was the BBC while this momentous Bill was making its way through Parliament? With a statutory commitment to “providing a breadth of view” and to properly inform the public of “matters of public policy,” the BBC never spelt out the threat posed to one of the nation’s most cherished institutions. A BBC headline said: “Bill which gives power to GPs passes.” This was pure state propaganda.

Media and Iraq Invasion

There is a striking similarity with the BBC’s coverage of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s lawless invasion of Iraq in 2003, which left a million dead and many more dispossessed. A study by the University of Wales, Cardiff, found that the BBC reflected the government line “overwhelmingly” while relegating reports of civilian suffering. A Media Tenor study placed the BBC at the bottom of a league of western broadcasters in the time they gave to opponents of the invasion. The corporation’s much-vaunted “principle” of impartiality was never a consideration.

One of the most telling chapters in Propaganda Blitz describes the smear campaigns mounted by journalists against dissenters, political mavericks and whistleblowers. The Guardian’s campaign against the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is the most disturbing. Assange, whose epic WikiLeaks disclosures brought fame, journalism prizes and largesse to The Guardian, was abandoned when he was no longer useful. He was then subjected to a vituperative – and cowardly — onslaught of a kind I have rarely known.

With not a penny going to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie deal. The book’s authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, gratuitously described Assange as a “damaged personality” and “callous.” They also disclosed the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the U.S. embassy cables.

With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding, standing among the police outside, gloated on his blog that “Scotland Yard may get the last laugh.”

The Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore wrote, “I bet Assange is stuffing himself full of flattened guinea pigs. He really is the most massive turd.”

Moore, who describes herself as a feminist, later complained that, after attacking Assange, she had suffered “vile abuse.” Edwards and Cromwell wrote to her: “That’s a real shame, sorry to hear that. But how would you describe calling someone ‘the most massive turd’? Vile abuse?”

Moore replied that no, she would not, adding, “I would advise you to stop being so bloody patronizing.” Her former Guardian colleague James Ball wrote, “It’s difficult to imagine what Ecuador’s London embassy smells like more than five and a half years after Julian Assange moved in.”

Such slow-witted viciousness appeared in a newspaper described by its editor, Katharine Viner, as “thoughtful and progressive.” What is the root of this vindictiveness?  Is it jealousy, a perverse recognition that Assange has achieved more journalistic firsts than his snipers can claim in a lifetime? Is it that he refuses to be “one of us” and shames those who have long sold out the independence of journalism?

Journalism students should study this to understand that the source of “fake news” is not only trollism, or the likes of Fox News, or Donald Trump, but a journalism self-anointed with a false respectability: a liberal journalism that claims to challenge corrupt state power but, in reality, courts and protects it, and colludes with it. The amorality of the years of Tony Blair, whom The Guardian has failed to rehabilitate, is its echo.

“[It is] an age in which people yearn for new ideas and fresh alternatives,” wrote Katharine Viner. Her political writer Jonathan Freedland dismissed the yearning of young people who supported the modest policies of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as “a form of narcissism.”

“How did this man ….,” brayed the Guardian‘s Zoe Williams, “get on the ballot in the first place?”  A choir of the paper’s precocious windbags joined in, thereafter queuing to fall on their blunt swords when Corbyn came close to winning the 2017 general election in spite of the media.

Complex stories are reported to a cult-like formula of bias, hearsay and omission: Brexit, Venezuela, Russia, Syria. On Syria, only the investigations of a group of independent journalists have countered this, revealing the network of Anglo-American backing of jihadists in Syria, including those related to ISIS.

Supported by a “psyops” campaign funded by the British Foreign Office and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the aim is to hoodwink the Western public and speed the overthrow of the government in Damascus, regardless of the medieval alternative and the risk of war with Russia.

The Syria Campaign, set up by a New York PR agency called Purpose, funds a group known as the White Helmets, who claim falsely to be “Syria Civil Defense” and are seen uncritically on TV news and social media, apparently rescuing the victims of bombing, which they film and edit themselves, though viewers are unlikely to be told this. George Clooney is a fan.

The White Helmets are appendages to the jihadists with whom they share addresses. Their media-smart uniforms and equipment are supplied by their Western paymasters. That their exploits are not questioned by major news organizations is an indication of how deep the influence of state-backed PR now runs in the media. As Robert Fisk noted recently, no “mainstream” reporter reports Syria.

In what is known as a hatchet job, a Guardian reporter based in San Francisco, Olivia Solon, who has never visited Syria, was allowed to smear the substantiated investigative work of journalists Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett on the White Helmets as “propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government.”

This abuse was published without permitting a single correction, let alone a right-of-reply. The Guardian Comment page was blocked, as Edwards and Cromwell document.  I saw the list of questions Solon sent to Beeley, which reads like a McCarthyite charge sheet — “Have you ever been invited to North Korea?”

So much of the mainstream has descended to this level. Subjectivism is all; slogans and outrage are proof enough. What matters is the “perception.”

When he was U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus declared what he called “a war of perception… conducted continuously using the news media.” What really mattered was not the facts but the way the story played in the United States. The undeclared enemy was, as always, an informed and critical public at home.

Nothing has changed. In the 1970s, I met Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s film-maker, whose propaganda mesmerized the German public.

She told me the “messages” of her films were dependent not on “orders from above”, but on the “submissive void” of an uninformed public.

“Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie?” I asked.

“Everyone,” she said. “Propaganda always wins, if you allow it.”

Propaganda Blitz by David Edwards and David Cromwell is published by Pluto Press.

John Pilger is an Australian-British journalist based in London. Pilger’s Web site is: www.johnpilger.com. His latest film, “The Coming War on China,” is available in the U.S. from www.bullfrogfilms.com

If you enjoyed this original article please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.




Consortium News Unveils New Logo

Consortium News on Thursday unveils a new logo, the first redesign of the publication’s nameplate in seven years.

The new design changes the name of the publication in the logo from Consortiumnews.com to its more commonly used name, Consortium News. The site’s url is moved to the bottom left in white against black, joining the tribute to Consortium’s founder Robert Parry on the right.

The updated design retains the essential aspects that harken back to an earlier age in American journalism, namely the 1970s, when reporters still banged away on typewriters and when Bob Parry began his career. Hence the font is still American Typewriter and the red and black typewriter ribbon remains, though in a sleeker form.

Journalism in the 1970s in the U.S. followed anti-Establishment mass movements against the war in Vietnam, for women’s equality and civil rights for African Americans that led to an era of critical U.S. reporting that took an adversarial position towards power and held the powerful to account. It was a time of reporting on the abuses of the U.S. intelligence agencies that sparked the Church Committee hearings; of raw reporting from the ground in Vietnam that helped turn the country against the senseless slaughter and of reporting that ultimately forced a corrupt president to resign because of real crimes committed.

Today the vastly consolidating corporate media since those days largely promotes the agenda of a corporate-controlled government, particularly abroad. Rather than using the very different power of the press to hold the powerful up to scrutiny, too many journalists instead live vicariously through the powerful people they cover.

Consortium New’s mission is to revive and maintain that earlier era of non-partisan journalism that represented the public’s interest against those in power who would abuse it.

The previous logo was created by Bob Parry and his son, Sam Parry. The new one unveiled today is by Dino Zonic.

We hope you like the new look.




Support Our Commitment to Independent Journalism

Consortium News is today launching its Fall Fund Drive so it can continue its mission as a trusted source of independent news and views.

Robert Parry founded Consortium News in 1995 as a place for journalists to publish stories their editors had killed after a Newsweek editor spiked one of his investigative stories because “it wouldn’t be good for the country.”

Not much has changed in the United States. The rulers of our country still want to bury the truth.

Now more than ever, we need credible, independent journalism. Consortium News has had an unwavering commitment to principled, nonpartisan reporting since Parry started the site.

After losing Bob earlier this year, his commitment to independent journalism lives on with Consortium News. That commitment can be seen in the stories we continue to publish, such as persistent nonpartisan analysis of the so-called Russia-gate scandal.

Today, our fall fund drive begins, and we are asking for a commitment from you. We are setting our fall fund drive target at $35,000, the amount needed to continue our independent journalism, which has been challenging misguided conventional wisdom for more than two decades.

Help us take Consortium News into its next phase as a trusted source of independent news and views.

You can donate here by credit card online (we accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover), by PayPal (our PayPal account is named after our first email address, “consortnew@aol.com”), or by mailing a check to Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ) at 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 102-231, Arlington, VA 22201.

We are registered with PayPal’s Giving Fund under the name Consortium for Independent Journalism. And since we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, donations by American taxpayers may be tax-deductible.

Consortium News is not beholden to any government or corporate special interests. We are funded through small donations from readers. Every donation is important to our survival—and the survival of independent journalism.

Please donate today, so we can strengthen Consortium News and honor Bob Parry’s legacy with an unwavering commitment to credible journalism.

Thank you for your support.




NEW— Consortium News Launches Audio and Video Podcasts

Consortium News announces today that its audio and video productions will be available as podcasts on iTunes, Spotify and other popular hosts. 

Consortium News Radio and Consortium News Video productions will be archived as podcasts on a variety of hosts, such as iTunes and Spotify.  Our first host is Libsyn, which can be found by clicking here:

 

Included among the podcasts will be all episodes of Consortium News Radio, Consortium News Video, Consortium News on Flash Points with host Dennis Bernstein (originally broadcast on Pacifica Radio) and the weekly review show,  Consortium News Front Page, with host Don DeBar speaking with Joe Lauria, originally broadcast on Community Public Radio in New York.




The Berkeley Tribute to Robert Parry

A tribute to Robert Parry, the founder and editor of Consortium News, was held in Berkeley last month. Here is the video of the event and excerpts from the speakers who celebrated Bob’s life.

By Rick Sterling

Event Photos by Bill Hackwell

A celebration and salute to the investigative journalist and publisher Robert Parry took place on Saturday, May 19 in Berkeley California.

You can watch a video shot by Raj Sahei of the entire event here.

Robert Parry was born in 1949 and died of pancreatic cancer in January 2018. From 1974 until the early 1990’s he worked as investigative journalist for Associated Press, Newsweek magazine and then PBS Frontline. During that time, he played a key role breaking stories on the illegal funding of the Nicaraguan Contras, CIA collusion with drug dealers, and Ronald Reagan election team negotiating with Iran to delaying the release of American hostages until after the 1980 election. Frustrated with the increasing difficulty of getting his research and findings published, Parry founded the investigative journal Consortium News, which continues to today.

Although Bob never became a household name, many readers will recall News stories he played a key role in bringing to public consciousness. He uncovered the “Iran-Contra scandal” where the US secretly sold weapons to Iran via Israel with profits supporting mercenary “Contras” attacking the Nicaraguan government. He uncovered Lt. Col. Oliver North secretly working at the Reagan White House to supervise support for the Contras. He exposed CIA collusion with criminals sending weapons to the Contras and receiving tons of cocaine on return flights from Colombia and Central America.

In 1988, Parry co-authored an article that documented CIA and State Department activities to misinform the public to promote the desired public policy.

Next, Parry worked with PBS Frontline to uncover the “October Surprise”. That story involved Ronald Reagan’s election team secretly delaying the release of American hostages held in Iran. These stories appeared in mainstream media but were ultimately swept under the carpet.

The CIA-Contra-Cocaine Connection

The story about CIA complicity with drug-dealers was especially explosive because of the impact of drugs in poor communities across the US. There was an epidemic of cheap crack cocaine flooding poor and especially African American communities.

Robert Parry originally reported the CIA-Contra-Cocaine story in the mid 1980’s. Ten years later, in 1996, investigative journalist Gary Webb uncovered what happened after the cocaine arrived in the U.S.: crack cocaine had flooded poor and African American communities, especially in California. The negative consequences were huge. The San Jose Mercury News published Gary Webb’s investigation as an explosive front page 3-day series titled “Dark Alliance”.

The story was initially ignored by the foreign policy and media establishment. But after two months of rising attention and outrage, especially in the African American community, a counter-attack was launched in the NY Times, Washington Post and LA Times. The LA Times alone assigned 17 reporters to what one reporter dubbed the “Get Gary Webb team”. They picked apart the story, picked apart Gary Webb’s personal life and distorted what he wrote. The attack succeeded. The Mercury News editors published a partial “correction” which was taken to apply to the whole story. Gary Webb was demoted and then “let go”. His reputation was destroyed and he ultimately committed suicide. An 2014 movie titled “Kill the Messenger”, made in consultation with Gary’s family and Bob Parry, depicts the events.

When the establishment media was going after Gary Webb, with the quiet encouragement of the CIA, many journalists were silent or joined the pack attack. Later, when an internal CIA investigation confirmed the veracity of Webb’s research and writing, they mostly ignored it. Robert Parry was one of the few national journalists to defend Gary Webb and his reporting from beginning to end.

At the Berkeley tribute, journalist Dennis Bernstein recalled being with Bob Parry and Gary Webb: “I remember the power that those guys had with audiences. It was easy to understand why people would be afraid of them. They were truth tellers.”

The Birth of Consortium News

As other western journalists were being pressured into compliance or driven out of the profession, Robert Parry chose a different path. Together with his oldest son Sam Parry, he launched the first investigative magazine on the internet: Consortium News. In his last article Bob Parry explained, “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.”

For the past 23 years, Consortium News has published consistently high quality research and analysis on international issues. To give just a few examples: In March 1999, Bob Parry surveyed the dangers of the Russian economic collapse cheered on by Western neoconservatives while Mark Ames exposed the reality of Russian economic gangsters. In February 2003, Consortium News published the First Memorandum to the President by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) after Colin Powell addressed the UN Security Council. VIPS presciently warned of “catastrophic” consequences if the US attacked Iraq.

In 2005, Bob Parry exposed the bias and deception behind the rush to blame the Syrian government after Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri was assassinated. In April 2011, as the US was pushing to overthrow Qaddafi in Libya, Parry drew parallels to the disastrous consequences of overthrowing the socialist leaning Afghan government three decades earlier.

Beginning in 2014, Bob Parry exposed the dubious accusations regarding the downing of Malaysian Airlines MH-17 in Ukraine. Over the past two years, Bob Parry wrote and edited dozens of articles exposing the bias and lack of evidence behind “Russia-gate”. A few examples can be seen here.

Commitment to Facts and Objectivity

Sam and several other speakers at the Berkeley Tribute noted that Robert Parry was not ideological. He believed in following the leads and facts wherever they led. The new editor of Consortium News, Joe Lauria, said, “Bob was not a lefty radical… He didn’t start out from an ideological position or have a preconceived notion of what the story should be.”

Bob Parry’s investigations in the 1980’s revealed the U.S. administration plans and propaganda aiming to “glue black hats” on the Nicaraguan government and “white hats” on the Contra opposition. Thus he was well prepared to critically examine the disinformation campaigns accompanying “regime change” campaigns over the past decades: from Yugoslavia to Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and others.

Under Bob Parry’s leadership, Consortium News has exposed “fake News” at the highest levels. As journalist Norman Solomon said at the tribute, “It’s important to remember that the most dangerous fake News in the last few decades has come from the likes of the front page of the New York Times and Washington Post. There are a million dead Iraqis and many dead Americans to prove it.”

Challenging the New McCarthyism

In his last article, published just two weeks before his death, Parry informed Consortium News readers about his health issue. He speculated on possible contributing factors including “the unrelenting ugliness that has become Official Washington and national journalism.”

Parry described the decline in journalistic standards and objectivity.

“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 journalistic principles of skepticism and even-handedness 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…. 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 US media approach to Russia is now virtually 100 percent propaganda.”

At the Berkeley event, writer Natylie Baldwin addressed this issue,

“Robert Parry referred to the phenomena of careerism and group think. He argued that it was ruining journalism …When our most experienced academic expert on Russia, Stephen Cohen, can hardly get an interview on CNN and cannot get an op-ed published by the New York Times or the Washington Post, but a neo-con ideologue like Michael Weiss, who has no on the ground experience or educational credentials about Russia can be hired as a commentator by CNN on the subject, it’s dangerous. When someone like Rachel Maddow, who from her past investigative reporting knows better, has allowed herself to be used as a cartoonish purveyor of anti Russia propaganda, virtually ignoring coverage of more immediate issues facing average Americans and distracting them away from confronting the Democratic Party’s failures and dishonesty, it’s dangerous.”

Baldwin elaborated on the current critical situation and need for honest and objective journalism. She said,

“Our media, like our political system, is in crisis. Indeed, these two crises reinforce each other as both our media and our political system are corrupted by money and have been largely reduced to a cheap spectacle. According to polls, large majorities of millennials have contempt for these establishment institutions. They’re open to and looking for alternatives to these broken systems. This makes Robert Parry’s legacy and the space for genuine investigative journalism that he fostered at Consortium News more important than ever.”

Reflections on Bob Parry

The event began with messages of respect and appreciation by Alicia Jrapko of ResumenLatinoAmericano and Ann Garrison of Black Agenda Report. Ann Wright, former US Army Colonel and State Dept official, sent a video message hailing Bob Parry as one of the “truth-tellers”.

Following are excerpts from major presentations at the event.

Dennis Bernstein, Executive Producer of Flashpoints Radio, gave the first presentation. Dennis talked about his experience teaching journalism to high school students in the Bronx in 1984. The importance of investigative journalism was underscored as Dennis’ students investigated the police killing of a 67 year old grandmother named Eleanor Bumpers.

Bob Parry was investigating Iran Contra and we were investigating the police in the South Bronx. Because those kids were so dogged with their cameras and with their questions, their investigation led led to one of the only indictments of a police officer for manslaughter in the history of the city. It was their investigation that counteracted the big lie of the press.”

Dennis later worked as a reporter for Newsday covering the trial in Tucson Arizona of nuns in the sanctuary movement. There was a ‘crazy colonel’ from the White House, Oliver North, who was screaming the that nuns were getting in the way of national security and US foreign policy in El Salvador.“We were hearing a story about how this Oliver North was in fact part of this prosecution of these nuns and priests and church workers… they were all convicted.”

There was a meeting in Washington DC towards the end of 1985 … That’s where I met Robert Parry….I began to follow the work of Robert Parry. I began to understand what it took to be a thorough journalist.”

Robert Parry was very special and you know, he rarely rejected pieces that I did, but when he did it was because he felt something wasn’t true in the piece. He worked very hard to explain it to me or try and rewrite the piece to save the piece, but he was incredibly patient, incredibly focused..And he was very funny. One Halloween he dressed up as the ghost of William Casey. You all remember William Casey? Yeah. Well, that story. Iran Contra, the US government engaged in cocaine operations. The idea that the US government could be, at least in part, responsible for the flood of horrific drugs into communities across the country. Later on, I had an incredible chance to be with Gary Webb, Robert Parry and Pete Brewton, who broke the story about how the CIA was using S&Ls after they were deregulated to fund all kinds of illegal operations.”

I have a distinct memory of Bob trying to explain to Gary Webb who was riding high on breaking the Dark Alliance stories. He was convinced he had the full support of the leadership of the San Jose Mercury News. I remember Bob trying to caution Gary about how dangerous the story was and what could happen. Garry said he knew his editors were with him and that he had strong support. They were all cheering for Gary until the New York Times and Washington Post shredded him. Bob tried to warn him, tried to tell him.

But to be with them …. I remember the power that those guys – Bob, Gary Webb and Pete Brewton – had with audiences. It was easy to understand why people would be afraid of them. They were truth tellers. ….. They were under attack then and they’re under attack now. I am really troubled. I can’t tell you how much I miss Bob.”

We lost them. We miss them. But Consortium News because of its power and as a tribute to Bob is continuing.

Thanks to its wonderful new editor, Joe Lauria, it continues. He’s beginning to transform it. He’s making his changes. He’s expanding it. Best part, he is bringing in some wonderful new writers that really enhance the work there. So I miss Bob, I miss him every day, but Consortium News continues and continues stronger than ever.”

Sam Parry, oldest son of Robert Parry, flew in from the east coast to attend and speak at the event.

Thanks very much. I’m so honored to be here and I feel the weight of sort of this incredible crowd and the weight of my father here and the legacy that he created with Consortium News. I’m just so grateful to have you all here and to be part of this event and to do my part, to represent the family, to represent dad here. I know dad was a very humble man in many ways. He never wanted the limelight or the attention shown too brightly on him. He wanted the work to speak for itself, so I know part of him would be a little embarrassed by this great turnout, but another part of him, I know he’s smiling. I can feel the smile on his face right now as I look out onto you all. So thank you all very much for coming out and thank you.”

Dad chose a very difficult profession. Journalism is hard work. You’re fighting to get the stories. You’re fighting to get the truth. You have to write it down, you have to edit it, you have to make sure you’re correct all the time. Dad always felt that he couldn’t make a single mistake because if he did, they’d come after him even harder. So he worked really hard to get it all right. And he took a difficult path with his profession. He took on the mainstream as so many of you all have done with your careers as well, but he took on the mainstream. He was part of the mainstream and then he sort of had to confront them and fight for all the stories that he was able to bring forward.

And in doing so, he made himself sort of a target of, of retribution and attacks. And so he was attacked all the time. Every day by big, powerful institutions and big powerful people. He took it, but he took it because he had a community of supporters and like minded individuals, people who understood the importance of telling the truth and speaking truth to power and that community of people are people just like you. You were his community, you were his, in many ways, his family, like minded travelers in this world.

I especially want to thank you all for being supporters of his, of his website, Consortium News.com and for coming out today, and this is just so beautiful.”

Sam described the early years of Consortium News. It began as a print publication: hand collated, stamped and mailed. At college Sam had learned about the burgeoning new “internet”. When Bob discovered original documents proving the October surprise, Sam suggested they could scan the documents and post them for people to see online. Bob responded, “That’s an interesting idea”…. and thus was born the online Consortium News.

We didn’t know what the heck we were doing in a lot of ways! We had dad’s great journalism of course, but the rest of it we had to figure out as we went along….. Dad worked at this website for the next 23 years. Every single day he was tinkering away at it. He was gathering stories from many of you here in the room, and editing the stories, working with contributors to keep our truth alive. He felt so passionately about that….

Something I wanted to share today is that dad was a patriot. I think that he really loved America. He loved our ideals, he loved the people, he loved the idea of holding the institutions that govern us accountable. Right? And that was his passion. That was what he was all about and that’s what really drove him and propelled him through his life.

We’re going to see a video of his life and hopefully you all will enjoy this and maybe it’ll bring him to life a little bit more for you all. Thank you for being here.” [This 10 minute video can be seen at 1:03:00 of the April Memorial Service video. ]

Natylie Baldwin is a Consortium News contributor and co-author of the book “Ukraine: Zbig’s Grand Chessboard: How the West was Checkmated”. She said,

I’d like to thank everyone for coming out today. I’d like to thank the organizers for inviting me to speak at a tribute to a man who was very inspirational to me. My own interest in foreign affairs began in college not long after I graduated, 9-11 happened. I joined the local peace movement to oppose our wars and it didn’t take long for me to realize that the media is a big part of the problem.

The Myth we’re taught is that our democracy is underpinned by a media that serves as a watchdog on the government and other powerful institutions, a noble fourth estate. But when it comes to issues of war and the media, rarely if ever has the media served as a questioner of government claims, performing due diligence on a matter of life, death and destruction of societies. We saw the mainstream media’s gross negligence with Iraq, Libya, and other examples stretching much further back.

We are now seeing the same thing happened with the world’s other nuclear superpower, Russia. I grew increasingly concerned about the degree of recklessness by US political elites who supported the coup in Kiev, completely disregarding Russia’s security interests on its border.

I began to dig deeper into post-Soviet Russia and US- Russia relations. I realized just how distorted and lacking in context the narrative Americans were being given, was during this time. One of the sources I relied on among others was Robert Parry and Consortium News. I also connected up with Sharon Tennyson, an independent writer and program coordinator with over three decades of experience on the ground all over Russia, including citizen to citizen diplomacy during Cold War One. She became my mentor and we traveled to Russia in October of 2015 for two weeks where I was able to speak to a cross section of Russians in several different cities on a range of issues.

We traveled to Crimea where I interviewed a range of Crimeans about what happened in late 2013 in early 2014. At this point, I had researched and co-authored a book about the Ukraine crisis providing historical and contextual background of US-Russia relations as well as writing articles for a couple of alternative outlets.

I tried submitting articles about my on-the-ground observations and interviews in Crimea to several other alternative outlets in the hopes of getting this information out to a wider audience. After all, not many American writers had actually been to Crimea and could provide on-the-ground perspectives.

I was having little luck. Somehow I got hold of Robert Parry’s email address and submitted it to him. Within 48 hours my article was posted with many others to follow. I was even more pleasantly surprised when a couple of weeks later I received a check in the mail for my work. That is a big deal for independent writers these days.

The money I earned from my articles for Consortium helped finance a return trip to Russia in 2017 and more articles. Bob said that journalism required the acknowledgement that there were usually two sides and possibly more to every story and that Americans needed to hear both sides. It’s critical to have an informed citizenry with a reasonable understanding of issues in a democracy. This is especially true with issues that most average Americans don’t have practical experience with, such as international policies relating to other countries. In order to conduct a rational foreign policy, one must understand the other country’s point of view. It doesn’t mean one must agree with it, but we must know how the other side perceives its own interests so that we can determine what they may be willing to risk or sacrifice on behalf of those perceived interests. Further, it’s essential to determine areas of common interest in cooperation.

Our media, like our political system, is in crisis. Indeed, these two crises reinforce each other as both our media and our political system are corrupted by money and have been largely reduced to a cheap spectacle. According to polls, large majorities of millennials have contempt for these establishment institutions. They’re open to and looking for alternatives to these broken systems. This makes Robert Parry’s legacy and the space for genuine investigative journalism that he fostered at Consortium News more important than ever with strong leadership and a continued quality of long form journalism from its current and new contributors, we can make a much needed difference at this critical time. Thank you.”

Joe Lauria has been a contributing writer to Consortium News for many years. He was recently hired to become the site’s new Editor-in-Chief. He spoke about the legacy of Bob Parry and his plans to continue and expand Consortium News.

Bob was not a lefty radical…. He was just reporting the facts and where they lead. … He didn’t start off from an ideological position. He didn’t have a preconceived notion of what the story should be.”

This is an age of narcissism, not only in the White House, but across the social media landscape. Self promotion is widespread in media. But that was not what Bob Parry was about. He was obsessed, but not with himself whatsoever, but with the story and getting the facts out and holding government accountable….In one C-Span interview he says that that when you hold government to account, it’s misunderstood as anti-Americanism. I think he was very pro American as Sam pointed out… He was a patriot because he believed in the people of this country, not the government, and believed in holding them to account.

I was covering the lead up to the invasion of Iraq at the UN Security Council. I was just reporting the facts and the facts were that even US allies such as France and Germany joined with Russia and China to block the resolution that the US administration, George W Bush’s administration, was seeking. They had made up their minds to invade anyway. They were going through the motions at the Security Council, seeing if they can get this resolution and if they couldn’t, they were going to do it anyway.

So I wrote these stories for a Canadian chain which was called Southam News. They published the Montreal Gazette, Ottawa citizen, Calgary Herald and Vancouver Sun. I had been writing for them for since 1999. But I got a call one day from the foreign editor of this chain and he told me that his son was a Marine, a Canadian Marine, and that I had to support the war and that my reporting was not supporting the war. I said to him I’m sure you are proud of your son, but that’s not my job. My job is to report what’s going on about the opposition to this resolution. They never got the resolution, but they got their war.

Bob was a skeptic, but not a cynic. And there’s a big difference there. And you know, he really believed in a nonpartisan principled approach to journalism. And we’re living in such a partisan age right now, and you could feel it in the air in Washington where I’m now living, and he had no time for that.

Even if you’re an American citizen, when you become a reporter, you’re not reporting as an American citizen, you’re a reporter and all countries in a complex international crisis need to be equally reported on to let the reader know what each country’s interests are, because it is interests that  motivate governments when nations clash.

That’s tremendous drama for journalism to report on. But instead of letting the reader understand the complexities of these situations the established media say one side is right and portray all the sides as the enemy.  It became clear to me that when I worked at the Wall Street Journal that the corporate media does not have this objective view of international reporting. They’re promoting an American agenda abroad. That is not journalism. That’s not their job, and when you do that, when you suppress the voices of Iranians and Palestinians and Russians and North Koreans, you are dehumanizing these people and that makes it easier to go to war against them.

The American public doesn’t get to understand or know anything about Palestinians as people who were just slaughtered at the gates of Gaza.

Bob Parry knew that and he got slammed for that. But we’re all very thankful that he started Consortium News because he understood the power of the press is distinct from the power of government.

Too many reporters live vicariously through the power of government. They want that kind of power. So they suck up to it. They want access of course, but they sort of identify with the powerful rather than what the people. They’re supposed to be the filter between the government and the people. Bob Understood that there’s three parties here, there’s government, there’s the press and there’s the public and we’re supposed to be in the middle protecting the public from the lies of government. We are not seeing that now, but this is what I’m committed to try to continue doing at Consortium News.

I was asked to talk about the future of Consortium News. So I’ve been there six weeks now and it’s an enormous responsibility. I am extremely grateful to the board for hiring me, to have faith in me to do this job. I’m well aware that it’s impossible to try to do it as Parry did. I’m not trying to do that. I’m doing what I can do.

I’ve changed the appearance here or there to spruce it up, as Dennis said, and also to have more diverse voices in the paper. For example, Margaret Kimberly of Black Agenda Report wrote a wonderful piece for us on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. I’m looking to get correspondents in various countries around the world. We need Middle Eastern Arabs to write about their countries. I want more people from around the world writing about their own countries in their own voices. We have recently published Asad Abu Khalil – the Lebanese “Angry Arab” blogger who knows the region extremely well, better than almost any Western analyst could. So those are the kinds of voices I’m trying to bring.

I’m trying to revive a field of reporting that was very well established for decades in the United States and that has disappeared and that is labor reporting. I understand the unions have shrunk but even where unions don’t exist, workers exist. So we’re going to cover workers and the issues that they’re facing. I’m looking for more stories on the struggles of women in Africa, the Middle East and India and how they are struggling for their rights.

I just want to thank everybody for being here today. Thank you.

Norman Solomon is a well-known author and journalist. He spoke of his experience with Bob and his legacy.

Hearing the discussion a few minutes ago about fake news, it’s so important to remember that the most dangerous fake news in the last few decades resulted in a million or more dead Iraqis and many dead Americans.  The most dangerous fake news has come from the likes of the front page of The New York Times and the Washington Post. That’s just a reality. It’s not about ideology or rhetoric it is just cold, hard life and death fact.

Bob was somebody who had not only the curiosity that was constant to try to find out more, but also a tremendous work ethic. It was just part of who he was. I had the very good fortune to work with him on a series of articles about Colin Powell. Bob and I worked on a series of articles that are still archived on Consortium, about Powell. The more we looked into it, the more we saw the tremendous gap between the positive coverage and that from the beginning of his career in Vietnam, Powell always took that expedient path, the expedient way of getting along to get along with the powerful who could give him promotions. In working with Bob, a couple of aspects have always stayed with me very strongly. One is that he would frequently say as we were trying to go through material, that I have to master the information. I have to master the material….He was very insistent. You know, it’s sort of like you don’t pull it out of the oven before it’s baked. We can’t rush these stories. We’ve got to know that it’s nailed down and solid and we’ve really dug. And the other aspect I remember is how generous he was on a professional basis. In this multipart series that we did, Bob ended up doing the vast amount of the work but he insisted my name by on every article byline. Sad to say that’s not that common.

Bob was not about his name in lights. It was about, “Let’s get the work done.”

Norman described how Bob was aware of the areas that mainstream journalists shouldn’t touch, but he went there regardless.

“Almost all mainline journalists obey that unspoken directive that is accepted, internalized: Don’t go there. And Bob went there and he went there again and again. As his book “Fooling America” points out, he had to so to speak, pay a price. I remember him telling me a number of years ago when he was hammering on the Israeli role in US foreign policy and then writing about Russia, one of his colleagues, top colleagues, somebody who was in the press corps in DC who was a high editor at that point at the New York Times, said to him, ‘Bob, you’re you’re losing credibility. You keep this up. You’re going to marginalize yourself.’ But Bob had crossed that Rubicon a longtime earlier.

Norman spoke of previous fearless American journalists like George Seldes and IF Stone.

Bob Parry exemplified the attitude of: show me. I’m not going to assume that this is truthful because I might have a favorable view of this government or might assume that because other journalists are reporting it, it is received wisdom, I’m not going to take any of that on faith. If you want to go on faith, go to a house of worship.

One day toward the end of December I looked at Consortium News and saw that Bob had suffered a stroke. Then, a number of days later, there was an article by Bob. As I read it, there was a tremendous wave of feeling that it was, what’s the French word, a cri de coeur. I later learned how extremely difficult it was just physiologically for Bob to write it.

It’s one of the greatest articles about journalism I have ever read. My friend and often collaborator on articles, Jeff Cohen, said to me ‘That article by Bob Parry should be assigned and read by every journalism student in America.’ It’s about independent journalism. It’s about the herd mentality that has gotten to so many journalists in this country. Pseudo journalists, supposedly journalists, and editors run with the crowd and independent journalism is the opposite of running with the crowd. It’s about holding that lantern high and saying, we have work to do and let’s do it together. Thank you.”

At the end of the event, participants purchased copies of Robert Parry’s books “Fooling America” (1992),“Lost History: Contras, Cocaine,The Press & Project Truth” (1999), and “America’s Stolen Narrative: From Washington and Madison to Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes to Barack Obama”(2012).

.………..

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He can be contacted at rsterling1@gmail.com




Excellent Fundraising Response Leads to New $2,500 Challenge From Bob Parry’s Family

This community of truth tellers and committed advocates for peace is truly amazing. Less than a week after we launched our $5,000 Spring Fundraising Challenge Grant, we’ve exceeded that goal.

You’re making online independent journalism work in this digital age – and we can’t thank you enough. We still need a bit more in our effort to raise a total of $30,000, but we are getting closer everyday, thanks to you.

In response to last week’s success, Bob Parry’s wife Diane Duston and his four children, Sam, Nat, Liz and Jeff Parry are offering a new $2,500 challenge grant to encourage additional support for Consortiumnews.com’s spring fundraising goal.

“We’ve set a deadline of June 24, Bob’s birthday, to reach our ultimate goal. We can think of no better gift to honor his memory,” said Diane. Please donate today to our Spring Fundraising Campaign. And if you respond today, your gift will be matched $1-for-$1. A $135 donation will bring you a boxed set of three outstanding books by Robert Parry, the late founder and editor of Consortium News. (Due to increased rates for international shipping an additional postage fee for international orders is required; Please email info@consortiumnews.com to inquire about international shipping rates.) Thank you if you have already donated.

Many websites claim to be committed to the same goal we share – namely fierce, unapologetic, independent reporting you can find nowhere else. There are many worthy causes. But we believe this community is unique. We are not here to spread opinions or perceptions of reality. We are committed to facts, wherever that leads.

No compromises. No half-truths. Together, we will ensure truly independent investigative journalism always has a home online.

Please donate today to support our shared commitment to truth, justice, and unencumbered investigative journalism. Donations will be matched $1-for-$1 up to $2,500 by Bob’s family, doubling the value of your support.

This is your democracy. As Ben Franklin once said, this is a “Republic, if you can keep it.”

It’s now up to each and every one of us to defend democracy and progress.

Please donate today to support our devotion to truth and to taking on the powerful special interests and institutions who are committed to spreading false narratives and group think.

Thank you for your support,

Diane Duston, Sam, Nat, Liz and Jeff Parry 

 




Consortium News at Left Forum in New York to Honor Bob Parry

Consortium News will hold a panel discussion at the Left Forum in New York on Sunday to honor the memory of Robert Parry, the late founder and editor of this website. 

To remember Bob, the panel will discuss “The Death of Principled, Non-Partisan Journalism.”  Bob was completely non-partisan. Any political or business leader from any political party, group or nation was fair game for his incisive reporting. It was reporting based on the principle of seeking not just factual accuracy, but the meaning of those facts. He was driven to convey to the public not only information, but as close to the truth of a matter as was possible to obtain.  Bob told a C-Span interviewer in the 1980s that to criticize the U.S. government was to open oneself falsely to the charge of anti-Americanism. In fact Bob’s principled and non-partisan journalism was for him the very essence of being American. 

In an era in which just a handful of powerful corporations own virtually all of the mainstream media that dominates mass communications in America, a viewpoint such as Bob’s is crowded out of the mainstream. The internet has given a place for dissent to be heard. But in this hyper-partisan and unprincipled age of journalism, dissenters who are shut out of the corporate media are dismissed as unhinged or as propagandists. Consortium News seeks to remain in the forefront of the struggle against such repression.

On the panel to discuss the issue are Margaret Kimberley, a columnist and editor at Black Agenda Report, and a Consortium News contributor; Don DeBar, the producer and host of Community Public Radio; and Mark Crispin Miller, a professor of media at New York University. Joe Lauria, the editor-in-chief of Consortium News, will moderate the discussion.  It will take place on Sunday, June 3 from 2 pm to 3:50 pm in Room 1.99 at John Jay College, 445 W 59th St, New York, NY 10019.  Register here for the forum.   

 

 

 

 




Our Dad’s Pledge to You, the Reader

“The core responsibility of a journalist is to have an open mind toward any information you might find, to have no agenda, and to have no preferred outcome. In other words, I don’t care what the truth is. I just care what the truth is. That’s the deal you make with your readers.” – Robert Parry, accepting the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence, October 22, 2015

That was Dad’s defining philosophy as a journalist and his commitment to you, the Consortiumnews.com reader. And it remains our guiding principle as we move forward and continue to produce independent, fearless reporting that takes on the establishment’s often dangerously flawed conventional wisdom.

It is with Dad’s spirit and solemn commitment in mind that we are asking you today to donate to our Spring Fundraising Drive. And to encourage you to make a donation today, the Toledo Community Foundation is honoring our work by offering a $5,000 challenge grant through their Seed-to-the-Sower Fund, which supports several “fields of interest” including “excellence in journalism” that “raises the intellectual standard of news and information media.”

Please make a donation today and help us reach our Spring Fundraising Drive goal and unlock the $5,000 Seed-to-the-Sower Fund challenge grant.

In the months since Dad’s sudden and untimely passing, we have been blown away by the outpouring of support and appreciation so many of you have shared on the site, through social media, and with blog posts and articles of your own. It has lifted our spirits and helped us all remember Dad as the trailblazing journalist he was.

Now with a new editor, Joe Lauria, and with us serving on Consortium’s Board, we remain as committed as ever to Dad’s vision. For him, it was never about one person. It was always about creating a platform and a community that welcomed reporters of all backgrounds who are willing to challenge the dangerous group think that predominates so much of our mainstream media.

This is a community dedicated to truth and independence. This is a community guided by a rebellious, skeptical spirit and committed to reaching a deeper understanding of world events and to hold the powerful people and institutions to account. We don’t see a world in the sharp black and white, good vs. evil simplistic narrative so prevalent in our mainstream press. Truth is always found in the grey areas that a more well-rounded, balanced, skeptical point of view makes possible. That’s what this community is about.

You have made this work possible with your past support. And we ask you to step up again to help drive Consortiumnews.com forward into a new era, one that will always remain true to Dad’s pledge to provide our readers with the truth.

Please donate today to our Spring Fundraising Drive and unlock the $5,000 Seed-to-the-Sower Fund challenge grant.

Thank you,

Sam and Nat Parry




Consortium News Launches Spring Fund Drive

Consortium News is launching its Spring Fund Drive so that we can bring you expanded coverage and analysis of the most pressing international and domestic issues of the day. 

We are setting our spring fundraising goal at $30,000, so we can continue publishing this independent-minded news site, which produces journalism that demands real facts from all sides in important public debates while rejecting Washington’s conventional wisdom.

We are planning expanded coverage, to pay new writers from around the world to add even more diverse voices to Consortium News. We intend to bring you more international and domestic U.S. news analysis as well as reporting on labor, the environment, historical perspectives on the news, and news of women fighting for their rights, especially in developing nations.

A $135 donation will bring you a boxed set of three outstanding books by Robert Parry, the late founder and editor of Consortium News. (Due to increased rates for international shipping an additional postage fee for international orders is required; Please email info@consortiumnews.com to inquire about international shipping rates.)

You can support us by credit card online (we accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover), by PayPal (our PayPal account is named after our original email address, “consortnew @ aol.com”), or by mailing a check to Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ); 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 102-231; Arlington VA 22201.

We also are registered with PayPal’s Giving Fund under the name Consortium for Independent Journalism. And, since we are a 501-c-3 non-profit, donations by American taxpayers may be tax-deductible.

What makes Consortium News special is its commitment to old-fashioned journalistic principles. We try to be evenhanded and fair toward everyone regardless of popularity (or lack thereof) – and we insist on evidence before serious accusations are made.

We don’t simply run with the media pack. That can annoy some people at times when they want us to join in supporting a favored political agenda. But that is not our job. Our job is to objectively evaluate evidence and put it into a reasonable context, which is why we are often out of step with the mainstream media.

But that is also why our stories, overwhelmingly, stand the test of time. And our commitment to honest journalism is our promise to you, our readers. Thank you for your support.




Tribute to Robert Parry, Founder of Consortium News, May 19, Berkeley, CA.

REMINDER: This Saturday afternoon, May 19, at 2pm, a Tribute to Robert Parry, Founder and Editor of Consortium News will be held at Berkeley Fellowship Hall, 1924 Cedar St. in Berkeley, CA. Open to the public. Tickets at Brownpapertickets.comor at the door ($10, $15, $20 – sliding scale).

It is no exaggeration to say that Bob Parry who died last January at the age of 68 was an exemplar of journalistic independence and integrity. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting(FAIR) had this to say of him:

Journalism lost one of its most valuable investigators when Robert Parry died from pancreatic cancer on January 27, at the age of 68. He was the first reporter to reveal Oliver North’s operation in the White House basement (AP, 6/10/1985), and the co-author of the first report on Contra drug-smuggling (AP, 12/21/1985). He did some of the most important work investigating the 1980 Reagan campaign’s efforts to delay the return of US hostages held in Iran, a scandal known as the October Surprise.

After breaking his first big stories with the Associated Press, Bob moved on to Newsweek and then later PBS‘s Frontline. Frustrated with the limits and compromises of corporate media—he was once told that a story on Contra financial skullduggery had to be watered down because Newsweek owner Katharine Graham was having Henry Kissinger as a weekend guest (Media Beat, 4/23/98)—Bob launched his own online outlet, Consortium News.

“’He was a pioneer in bringing maverick journalism to the Internet,” FAIR founder Jeff Cohen wrote after Bob’s death. “Bob was a refugee from mainstream media who, like Izzy Stone, went on to build an uncensored and uncensorable outlet.’”

Robert Parry himself wrote this about present day media which led him to found Consortium News:

We looked at the underlying problems of modern democracy, particularly the insidious manipulation of citizens by government propaganda and the accomplice role played by mainstream media. Rather than encouraging diversity in analyses especially on topics of war and peace, today’s mainstream media takes a perverse pride in excluding responsible, alternative views.

It’s as if The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and the others have learned nothing from the disaster of the Iraq War when they pushed the groupthink about WMD and betrayed their responsibilities to the American people and the people of the world. Despite all the death, destruction and destabilization caused by the Iraq invasion, there was almost no accountability in the U.S. press corps, with many of the worst offenders still holding down prominent jobs and still engaging in the same terrible journalism.

When I was a young reporter, 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. I also realized that finding the truth often required digging beneath the surface and not just picking up the convenient explanation sitting out in the open.

But the major Western news outlets began to see journalism differently. It became their strange duty to shut down questioning of the Official Story, even when the Official Story had major holes and made little sense, even when the evidence went in a different direction and serious analysts were disputing the groupthink.

Looking back over the past two decades, I wish I could say that the media trend that we detected in the mid-1990s had been reversed. But, if anything, it’s grown worse. The major Western news outlets now conflate the discrete difficulties from made-up ‘fake news’ and baseless ‘conspiracy theories’ with responsible dissenting analyses. All get thrown into the same pot and subjected to disdain and ridicule.”

A detailed account of Parry’s contributions over the decades is given by his son Nat Parry here. It is well worth reading not only as a summary of Bob Parry’s work but as a chronicle of the debasement of journalism over the decades. In it Nat Parry includes the following anecdote which gives one an idea of the sort of man Bob was:

With my dad, professional work has always been deeply personal, and his career as a journalist was thoroughly intertwined with his family life. I can recall kitchen table conversations in my early childhood that focused on the U.S.-backed wars in Central America and complaints about how his editors at The Associated Press were too timid to run articles of his that – no matter how well-documented – cast the Reagan administration in a bad light.

One of my earliest memories in fact was of my dad about to leave on assignment in the early 1980s to the war zones of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala, and the heartfelt good-bye that he wished to me and my siblings. He warned us that he was going to a very dangerous place and that there was a possibility that he might not come back.

I remember asking him why he had to go, why he couldn’t just stay at home with us. He replied that it was important to go to these places and tell the truth about what was happening there. He mentioned that children my age were being killed in these wars and that somebody had to tell their stories. I remember asking, ‘Kids like me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, kids just like you.’”

The tribute to Bob Parry on Saturday, May 19, will include talks by Norman Solomon, Joe Lauria (the new editor of Consortium News), Ann Wright, Natylie Baldwin, Sam Parry and Dennis Bernstein plus comments by Eric Garris, Bruce Dixon and Alicia Jrapko. It promises to be not only a tribute to Parry the man but a stunning commentary on the state of journalism today.