Webb and Woodward: Two Journalists, Two Fates

There is a very interesting column in today's El Diario, New York's Spanish-language daily, by Vicki Pelaez.

The original in Spanish appears at this link: Dos Periodistas, Dos Destinos.

Although I quibble with some of her details (particularly the suggestion that my friend and yours Gary Webb did not commit suicide, her overly simple description of his groundbreaking CIA-cocaine reports, and I can't confirm the veracity of all the details she offers about Bob Woodward's role as "an agent" of the system, although it is undisputable that he was a man of the system) her essential point about how the simulation of "journalism" operates in the United States is an important basic truth that all journalists and citizens ought to better understand.

I'll translate some key excerpts here:

Two Journalists, Two Fates

by Vicki Pelaez
El Diario/La Prensa

“Only he who has no fear of dying for telling the truth is dignified to speak it”

- José María Vargas Vila, founder of El Diario/ La Prensa

The fate of two North American journalists, Bob Woodward and Gary Webb, shows us how things work in this country. Both denounced grave governmental sins but the one who was already part of the group in power became the most spoiled and enriched pressman in the United States, whereas the other, a reporter who pursued the truth lost his life...

More at the jump... El Diario columnist Vicki Pelaez continues:

In the 1970s, Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein published a series of articles about the misdeeds of the government in the Watergate conspiracy case. On August 9, 1974, they caused the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Since then, Woodward became the system’s favorite journalist and today, at 61 years of age, he is assistant director of the Washington Post.

But the fate of the other investigative journalist, Gary Webb, of the

San Jose Mercury News, also a Pulitzer Prize winner, went entirely the other way: Webb, in 1996, unmasked the CIA conspiracy to sell tons of crack in the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles and use this money to fund the Contra war in Nicaragua and topple the Sandinista government. The Washington Post, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, who characterized him as sensationalist and said he invented the CIA-Contra connection, attacked him ferociously. As a result, Webb lost his job and since then was never again hired by a North American daily. But that’s not all. On December 10, 2004, his corpse was found in his Carmichael home. The police report said that “he committed suicide with two shots from a .38 revolver.”

It’s no secret that the mass media companies represent the interests of the large multinational corporations whose owners try to maintain optimal relations with governments. They are part of the establishment that gives life and protection to the corporations in exchange for loyalty. However, this chain can be broken when one of the players perceives a danger to its profits and interests.

It happened that way with the Washington Post, whose board members have always been participants in projects like the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, etc. When the dictatorial ambitions of Nixon and his anti-Semitism came to be considered damaging to the process of globalization, those same United States corporate and multinational circles made a decision to remove him from power.

According to the book by British author Adrian Havill,

“The Deep Truth,” the Washington Post “acted as the platform that permitted the publication of articles by Bob Woodward who was part of the system, owing to his membership in the Secret Service, as well as the Pentagon and the CIA as an agent." That is to say, Woodward was part of the system, just like his source, the assistant FBI director of that era, Mark Felt. They were used deliberately to guarantee the functioning of that system.

Gary Webb, on the other hand, was simply a liberal journalist who believed in the North American democratic system and in journalism’s role as guarantee of survival. He didn’t understand, or he didn’t want to, that the creation of the “freedom fighters” of the Reagan era in Afghanistan, Iran, Contra-Gate and the narco-trafficking network led by the CIA and operated by personalities like Luis Posada Carriles, were not the work of just one sector of power, but, rather, of the entire system that engaged in these actions deliberately to destroy the socialist system and assure the dominance of the United States as the only superpower on the planet.

The reports by Gary Webb, in contrast with those of Bob Woodward, became dangerous for the existence of the system. That’s why Webb lived denouncing that he was constantly followed, that he was threatened with death, but nobody paid any attention nor did anyone defend him, until, in the end, he came to his own death.

I'll personally add one observation: I think there's a danger to fatalistic thinking. An unintended message of that column can have the impact of frightening good people away from the practice of Authentic Journalism. Among a fearful public, the column's message could be interpreted as: "Be corrupt like Bob, and win wealth and privilege. Be honest like Gary and die unemployed and defeated."

We, who are still here and fighting, are living proof that such fatalist thinking is wrongheaded.

Later today, via Narco News, a package of reports by Luis Gómez and I about the Authentic Journalism renaissance's latest successes will demonstrate, to the contrary, that the Webb school of journalism is kicking the ass, more and more, of the Woodward school!

In fact, in the coming days, kind readers, you will see, on these pages, that Gary Webb himself has not yet been defeated.

Gary's voice is about to thunder from the great beyond...

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About Al Giordano

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Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.