Who’d You Rather Read, Gary Webb or Judy Miller?

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On occasion of the tenth anniversary of “Dark Alliance,” the San Jose Mercury News series on CIA-contra-crack connections that set off more major-newspaper handwringing than perhaps anything this side of the Bush-Iraq-WMD fiasco, Nick Schou of the alternative OC Weekly has an op-ed in the LA Times that’s worth reading. Doesn’t matter whether you’re still puzzling over why exactly every major paper in the country saw fit to “debunk” claims Webb had not actually made, or whether you’ve never heard of the guy; the point is that Webb (whose reporting, as Eric Umansky noted in this space, was in significant regards confirmed by the government itself) was guilty of hyperbole, but not of credulity or subservience. He had the facts, and he made more of them than he should have. But as Schou points out:

Contrary to the wholly discredited reporting on Iraq’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction by New York Times reporter Judith Miller, Webb was the only victim of his mistakes. Nobody else died because of his work, and no one, either at the CIA or the Mercury News, is known to have lost so much as a paycheck.

Webb shot himself in late 2004, his career and personal life having come unraveled in the wake of “Dark Alliance.” We could use the likes of him right now.

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