News Release

“Killing the Messenger”: CIA, Contras and Crack


webbThe movie “Kill the Messenger” opens this week. It portrays reporter Gary Webb whose “Dark Alliance” series in 1996 linked crack cocaine in Los Angeles and elsewhere to drug traffickers allied with the CIA’s Contra army in Nicaragua. See trailer and clips.

NICHOLAS SCHOU, nicholasschou at @NickSchou
Author of the book Kill the Messenger, which the film is based on along with Webb’s own book Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras and the Crack Cocaine Explosion. Schou also wrote Orange Sunshine and The Weed Runners. He is managing editor of OC Weekly.

ROBERT PARRY, consortnew at, @Consortiumnews
Parry broke the Contra-cocaine scandal while at the Associated Press in 1985 — work that Webb later built upon. Parry also broke many Iran-Contra stories. Now editor of, his books include Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth.’

He just wrote the piece “NYT’s Belated Admission on Contra-Cocaine,” which states: “Nearly three decades since the stories of Nicaraguan Contra-cocaine trafficking first appeared in 1985, the New York Times has finally, forthrightly admitted the allegations were true, although this belated acknowledgement comes in a movie review buried deep inside Sunday’s paper.

“The review addresses a new film, ‘Kill the Messenger,’ that revives the Contra-cocaine charges in the context of telling the tragic tale of journalist Gary Webb who himself revived the allegations in 1996 only to have the New York Times and other major newspapers wage a vendetta against him that destroyed his career and ultimately drove him to suicide. …

“The Times’ resistance to accepting the reality of this major national security scandal under President Ronald Reagan even predated its tag-team destruction of Webb in the mid-1990s, when he was alternately pummeled by the Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. The same Big Three newspapers also either missed or dismissed the Contra-cocaine scandal when Brian Barger and I first disclosed it in 1985 for the Associated Press — and even when an investigation led by Sen. John Kerry provided more proof in 1989.”

Parry also recently wrote “The CIA/MSM Contra-Cocaine Cover-up.

JEFF COHEN, jeffco at, @jeffcot
Cohen is an associate professor of journalism and the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College and founder of the media watch group FAIR. He just wrote the piece “The Resurrection of Gary Webb: Will Hollywood Give Journalist Last Word Against CIA’s Media Apologists?” which states: “It’s been almost a decade since once-luminous investigative journalist Gary Webb extinguished his own life.

“It’s been 18 years since Webb’s ‘Dark Alliance’ series in the San Jose Mercury News exploded across a new medium — the Internet — and definitively linked crack cocaine in Los Angeles and elsewhere to drug traffickers allied with the CIA’s rightwing Contra army in Nicaragua. Webb’s revelations sparked anger across the country, especially in black communities. …

“Beginning this Friday, the ghost of Gary Webb will haunt his tormenters from movie screens across the country, with the opening of the dramatic film ‘Kill the Messenger’…

“The movie dramatizes Webb’s investigation of Contra-allied Nicaraguan cocaine traffickers Norwin Meneses and Danilo Blandon (whose drug activities were apparently protected for reasons of U.S. ‘national security’) and their connection to L.A.’s biggest crack dealer, ‘Freeway’ Ricky Ross.

“The original ‘Dark Alliance’ series was powerful in naming names, backed by court documents. Webb added specifics and personalities to the story of Contra drug trafficking first broken by Associated Press in 1985 (ignored by major newspapers) and then expanded in 1989 by John Kerry’s Senate subcommittee report which found that Contra drug dealing was tolerated in the U.S. frenzy to overthrow Nicaragua’s leftwing Sandinista government. Kerry’s work was ignored or attacked in big media — Newsweek labeled him a ‘randy conspiracy buff.'”

Cohen’s books include Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media. He is a co-founder of the online action group,