The Legacy of Investigative Journalist Robert Parry (1949-2018)

Robert Parry, editor and publisher of Consortiumnews.com, died peacefully Saturday evening. In this tribute, his son Nat Parry describes Robert’s unwavering commitment to independent journalism.

Nat Parry

Robert Parry, editor of Consortium News and a longtime investigative journalist, has died at age 68. (Photo: Provided by Diane Duston, Parry's wife, via AP)

This post first appeared at Con­sor­tium­News.

Besides this deeply held commitment to independent journalism, it should also be recalled that, ultimately, Bob was motivated by a concern over the future of life on Earth.

It is with a heavy heart that we inform Con­sor­tium­news read­ers that Edi­tor Robert Par­ry has passed away. As reg­u­lar read­ers know, Robert (or Bob, as he was known to friends and fam­i­ly) suf­fered a stroke in Decem­ber, which – despite his own spec­u­la­tion that it may have been brought on by the stress of cov­er­ing Wash­ing­ton pol­i­tics – was the result of undi­ag­nosed pan­cre­at­ic can­cer that he had been unknow­ing­ly liv­ing with for the past 4 – 5 years.

He unfor­tu­nate­ly suf­fered two more debil­i­tat­ing strokes in recent weeks and after the last one, was moved to hos­pice care on Tues­day. He passed away peace­ful­ly Sat­ur­day evening. He was 68.

Those of us close to him wish to sin­cere­ly thank read­ers for the kind com­ments and words of sup­port post­ed on recent arti­cles regard­ing Bob’s health issues. We read aloud many of these com­ments to him dur­ing his final days to let him know how much his work has meant to so many peo­ple and how much con­cern there was for his well-being.

I am sure that these kind­ness­es meant a lot to him. They also mean a lot to us as fam­i­ly mem­bers, as we all know how devot­ed he was to the mis­sion of inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ism and this web­site which has been pub­lish­ing arti­cles since the ear­li­est days of the inter­net, launch­ing all the way back in 1995.

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.”

Bob was deeply impact­ed by the dirty wars of Cen­tral Amer­i­ca in the 1980s and in many ways these con­flicts – and the U.S. involve­ment in them – came to define the rest of his life and career. With gris­ly sto­ries emerg­ing from Nicaragua (thanks part­ly to jour­nal­ists like him), Con­gress passed the Boland Amend­ments from 1982 to 1984, which placed lim­its on U.S. mil­i­tary assis­tance to the con­tras who were attempt­ing to over­throw the San­din­ista gov­ern­ment through a vari­ety of ter­ror­ist tactics.

The Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion imme­di­ate­ly began explor­ing ways to cir­cum­vent those legal restric­tions, which led to a scheme to send secret arms ship­ments to the rev­o­lu­tion­ary and vehe­ment­ly anti-Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment of Iran and divert the prof­its to the con­tras. In 1985, Bob wrote the first sto­ries describ­ing this oper­a­tion, which lat­er became known as the Iran-Con­tra Affair.

Con­tra-Cocaine and Octo­ber Surprise

Par­al­lel to the ille­gal arms ship­ments to Iran dur­ing those days was a cocaine traf­fick­ing oper­a­tion by the Nicaraguan con­tras and a will­ing­ness by the Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion and the CIA to turn a blind eye to these activ­i­ties. This, despite the fact that cocaine was flood­ing into the Unit­ed States while Ronald Rea­gan was pro­claim­ing a war on drugs,” and a crack cocaine epi­dem­ic was dev­as­tat­ing com­mu­ni­ties across the country.

Bob and his col­league Bri­an Barg­er were the first jour­nal­ists to report on this sto­ry in late 1985, which became known as the con­tra-cocaine scan­dal and became the sub­ject of a con­gres­sion­al inves­ti­ga­tion led by then-Sen­a­tor John Ker­ry (D‑Mass.) in 1986.

Con­tin­u­ing to pur­sue leads relat­ing to Iran-Con­tra dur­ing a peri­od in the late 80s when most of Wash­ing­ton was mov­ing on from the scan­dal, Bob dis­cov­ered that there was more to the sto­ry than com­mon­ly under­stood. He learned that the roots of the ille­gal arm ship­ments to Iran stretched back fur­ther than pre­vi­ous­ly known – all the way back to the 1980 pres­i­den­tial campaign.

That elec­toral con­test between incum­bent Jim­my Carter and chal­lenger Ronald Rea­gan had come to be large­ly dom­i­nat­ed by the hostage cri­sis in Iran, with 52 Amer­i­cans being held at the U.S. embassy in Tehran since the 1979 Iran­ian Rev­o­lu­tion. The Iran­ian hostage cri­sis, along with the ail­ing econ­o­my, came to define a per­cep­tion of an Amer­i­ca in decline, with for­mer Hol­ly­wood actor Ronald Rea­gan promis­ing a new start for the coun­try, a restora­tion of its sta­tus as a shin­ing city on a hill.”

The hostages were released in Tehran moments after Rea­gan was sworn in as pres­i­dent in Wash­ing­ton on Jan­u­ary 20, 1981. Despite sus­pi­cions for years that there had been some sort of quid pro quo between the Rea­gan cam­paign and the Ira­ni­ans, it wasn’t until Bob uncov­ered a trove of doc­u­ments in a House office build­ing base­ment in 1994 that the evi­dence became over­whelm­ing that the Rea­gan cam­paign had inter­fered with the Carter administration’s efforts to free the hostages pri­or to the 1980 elec­tion. Their release soon­er – what Carter hoped would be his Octo­ber Sur­prise” – could have giv­en him the boost need­ed to win.

Exam­in­ing these doc­u­ments and being already well-versed on this sto­ry – hav­ing pre­vi­ous­ly trav­elled three con­ti­nents pur­su­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion for a PBS Front­linedoc­u­men­tary – Bob became increas­ing­ly con­vinced that the Rea­gan cam­paign had in fact sab­o­taged Carter’s hostage nego­ti­a­tions, pos­si­bly com­mit­ting an act of trea­son in an effort to make sure that 52 Amer­i­can cit­i­zens con­tin­ued to be held in a har­row­ing hostage sit­u­a­tion until after Rea­gan secured the election.

Need­less to say, this was an incon­ve­nient sto­ry at a time – in the mid-1990s – when the nation­al media had long since moved on from the Rea­gan scan­dals and were obsess­ing over new scan­dals, most­ly relat­ed to Pres­i­dent Bill Clinton’s sex life and failed real estate deals. Wash­ing­ton also wasn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in chal­leng­ing the Rea­gan lega­cy, which at that time was begin­ning to solid­i­fy into a kind of mythol­o­gy, with cam­paigns under­way to name build­ings and air­ports after the for­mer president.

At times, Bob had doubts about his career deci­sions and the sto­ries he was pur­su­ing. As he wrote in Trick or Trea­son, a book out­lin­ing his inves­ti­ga­tion into the Octo­ber Sur­prise Mys­tery, this search for his­tor­i­cal truth can be painful and seem­ing­ly thankless.

Many times,” he wrote, I had regret­ted accept­ing Front­lines assign­ment in 1990. I fault­ed myself for risk­ing my future in main­stream jour­nal­ism. After all, that is where the decent-pay­ing jobs are. I had jeop­ar­dized my abil­i­ty to sup­port my four chil­dren out of an old-fash­ioned sense of duty, a regard for an unwrit­ten code that expects reporters to take almost any assignment.”

Nev­er­the­less, Bob con­tin­ued his efforts to tell the full sto­ry behind both the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal and the ori­gins of the Rea­gan-Bush era, ulti­mate­ly lead­ing to two things: him being pushed out of the main­stream media, and the launch­ing of Con​sor​tium​news​.com.

I remem­ber when he start­ed the web­site, togeth­er with my old­er broth­er Sam, back in 1995. At the time, in spite of talk we were all hear­ing about some­thing called the infor­ma­tion super­high­way” and elec­tron­ic mail,” I had nev­er vis­it­ed a web­site and didn’t even know how to get on line.” My dad called me in Rich­mond, where I was a sopho­more at Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth Uni­ver­si­ty, and told me I should check out this new Inter­net site” he and Sam had just launched.

He explained over the phone how to open a brows­er and instruct­ed me how to type in the URL, start­ing, he said, with http,” then a colon and two for­ward slash­es, then www,” then dot,” then this long address with one or two more for­ward slash­es if I recall. (It wasn’t until years lat­er that the web­site got its own domain and a sim­pler address.)

I went to the com­put­er lab at the uni­ver­si­ty and asked for some assis­tance on how to get online, duti­ful­ly typed in the URL, and opened this web­site – the first one I had ever vis­it­ed. It was inter­est­ing, but a bit hard to read on the com­put­er screen, so I print­ed out some arti­cles to read back in my dorm room.

I quick­ly became a fan of The Con­sor­tium,” as it was called back then, and con­tin­ued read­ing arti­cles on the Octo­ber Sur­prise Mys­tery as Bob and Sam post­ed them on this new and excit­ing tool called the Inter­net.” Sam had to learn HTML cod­ing from scratch to launch this online news ser­vice, billed as the Internet’s First Inves­tiga­tive Zine.” For his efforts, Sam was hon­ored with the Con­sor­tium for Inde­pen­dent Journalism’s first Gary Webb Free­dom of the Press Award in 2015.

X‑Files and Contra-Crack

At some point along the way, Bob decid­ed that in addi­tion to the web­site, where he was not only post­ing orig­i­nal arti­cles but also pro­vid­ing the source doc­u­ments that he had uncov­ered in the House office build­ing base­ment, he would also take a stab at tra­di­tion­al pub­lish­ing. He com­piled the Octo­ber Sur­prise X‑Files” into a book­let and self-pub­lished it in Jan­u­ary 1996.

He was also pub­lish­ing a newslet­ter to com­ple­ment the web­site, know­ing that at that time, there were still plen­ty of peo­ple who didn’t know how to turn a com­put­er on, much less nav­i­gate the World Wide Web. I trans­ferred from Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth Uni­ver­si­ty to George Mason Uni­ver­si­ty in the DC sub­urbs and start­ed work­ing part-time with my dad and Sam on the newslet­ter and website.

We worked togeth­er on the con­tent, edit­ing and lay­ing it out with graph­ics often culled from books at our local library. We built a sub­scriber base through net­work­ing and pur­chas­ing mail­ing lists from pro­gres­sive mag­a­zines. Every two weeks we would get a thou­sand copies print­ed from Sir Speedy and would spend Fri­day evening col­lat­ing these newslet­ters and send­ing them out to our subscribers.

The launch­ing of the web­site and newslet­ter, and lat­er an even-more ambi­tious project called I.F. Mag­a­zine, hap­pened to coin­cide with the pub­li­ca­tion in 1996 of Gary Webb’s Dark Alliance” series at the San Jose Mer­cury-News. Webb’s series reopened the con­tra-cocaine con­tro­ver­sy with a detailed exam­i­na­tion of the drug traf­fick­ing net­works in Nicaragua and Los Ange­les that had helped to spread high­ly addic­tive crack cocaine across the Unit­ed States.

The African-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty, in par­tic­u­lar, was right­ly out­raged over this sto­ry, which offered con­fir­ma­tion of many long-stand­ing sus­pi­cions that the gov­ern­ment was com­plic­it in the drug trade dev­as­tat­ing their com­mu­ni­ties. African Amer­i­cans had been deeply and dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly affect­ed by the crack epi­dem­ic, both in terms of the direct impact of the drug and the dra­con­ian drug laws and manda­to­ry min­i­mum sen­tences that came to define the government’s approach to the war on drugs.”

For a moment in the sum­mer of 1996, it appeared that the renewed inter­est in the con­tra-cocaine sto­ry might offer an oppor­tu­ni­ty to revis­it the crimes and mis­deeds of the Rea­gan-Bush era, but those hopes were dashed when the the Big Media” decid­ed to dou­ble down on its ear­li­er fail­ures to cov­er this sto­ry properly.

Big Papers Pile On

The Los Ange­les Times launched the attack on Gary Webb and his report­ing at the San Jose Mer­cury-News, fol­lowed by equal­ly dis­mis­sive sto­ries at the Wash­ing­ton Post and New York Times. The pil­ing on from these news­pa­pers even­tu­al­ly led Mer­cury-News edi­tor Jer­ry Cep­pos to denounce Webb’s report­ing and offer a mea cul­pa for pub­lish­ing the articles.

The onslaught of hos­tile report­ing from the big papers failed to address the basic premis­es of Webb’s series and did not debunk the under­ly­ing alle­ga­tions of con­tra-cocaine smug­gling or the fact that much of this cocaine end­ed up on Amer­i­can streets in the form of crack. Instead, it raised doubts by pok­ing holes in cer­tain details and cast­ing the sto­ry as a con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry.” Some of the report­ing attempt­ed to debunk claims that Webb nev­er actu­al­ly made – such as the idea that the con­tra-cocaine traf­fick­ing was part of a gov­ern­ment plot to inten­tion­al­ly dec­i­mate the African-Amer­i­can community.

Gary Webb and Bob were in close con­tact dur­ing those days. Bob offered him pro­fes­sion­al and per­son­al sup­port, hav­ing spent his time also on the receiv­ing end of attacks by jour­nal­is­tic col­leagues and edi­tors who reject­ed cer­tain sto­ries – no mat­ter how fac­tu­al – as fan­ci­ful con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries. Arti­cles at The Con­sor­tium web­site and newslet­ter, as well as I.F. Mag­a­zine, offered details on the his­tor­i­cal con­text for the Dark Alliance” series and pushed back against the main­stream media’s onslaught of hos­tile and disin­gen­u­ous reporting.

Bob also pub­lished the book Lost His­to­ry which pro­vid­ed exten­sive details on the back­ground for the Dark Alliance” series, explain­ing that far from a base­less con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry,” the facts and evi­dence strong­ly sup­port­ed the con­clu­sion that the Rea­gan-Bush admin­is­tra­tions had col­lud­ed with drug traf­fick­ers to fund their ille­gal war against Nicaragua.

But sad­ly, the dam­age to Gary Webb was done. With his pro­fes­sion­al and per­son­al life in tat­ters because of his coura­geous report­ing on the con­tra-cocaine sto­ry, he com­mit­ted sui­cide in 2004 at the age of 49. Speak­ing about this sui­cide lat­er on Democ­ra­cy Now, Bob not­ed how painful it is to be ridiculed and unfair­ly crit­i­cized by col­leagues, as his friend had experienced.

There’s a spe­cial pain when your col­leagues in your pro­fes­sion turn on you, espe­cial­ly when you’ve done some­thing that they should admire and should under­stand,” he said. To do all that work and then have the New York Times and the Wash­ing­ton Post and the Los Ange­les Times attack you and try to destroy your life, there’s a spe­cial pain in that.”

In con­sul­ta­tion with his fam­i­ly, Bob and the Board of Direc­tors for the Con­sor­tium for Inde­pen­dent Jour­nal­ism launched the Gary Webb Free­dom of the Press Award in 2015.

The Dis­as­trous Pres­i­den­cy of George W. Bush

The pres­i­den­cy of George W. Bush was sur­re­al for many of us, and no one more so than my dad.

In cov­er­ing Wash­ing­ton pol­i­tics for decades, Bob had traced many sto­ries to Dubya’s” father, George H.W. Bush, who had been impli­cat­ed in a vari­ety of ques­tion­able activ­i­ties, includ­ing the Octo­ber Sur­prise Mys­tery and Iran-Con­tra. He had also launched a war against Iraq in 1991 that seemed to be moti­vat­ed, at least in part, to help kick the Viet­nam Syn­drome,” i.e. the reluc­tance that the Amer­i­can peo­ple had felt since the Viet­nam War to sup­port mil­i­tary action abroad.

As Bob not­ed in his 1992 book Fool­ing Amer­i­ca, after U.S. forces rout­ed the Iraqi mil­i­tary in 1991, Pres­i­dent Bush’s first pub­lic com­ment about the vic­to­ry expressed his delight that it would final­ly put to rest the Amer­i­can reflex against com­mit­ting troops to far-off con­flicts. By God, we’ve kicked the Viet­nam Syn­drome once and for all,” he exulted.

The fact that Bush-41’s son could run for pres­i­dent large­ly on name recog­ni­tion con­firmed to Bob the fail­ure of the main­stream media to cov­er impor­tant sto­ries prop­er­ly and the need to con­tin­ue build­ing an inde­pen­dent media infra­struc­ture. This con­vic­tion solid­i­fied through Cam­paign 2000 and the election’s ulti­mate out­come, when Bush assumed the White House as the first pop­u­lar-vote los­er in more than a century.

Despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court had halt­ed the count­ing of votes in Flori­da, thus pre­vent­ing an accu­rate deter­mi­na­tion of the right­ful win­ner, most of the nation­al media moved on from the sto­ry after Bush was sworn in on Jan. 20, 2001. Con​sor​tium​news​.com con­tin­ued to exam­ine the doc­u­men­tary record, how­ev­er, and ulti­mate­ly con­clud­ed that Al Gore would have been declared the win­ner of that elec­tion if all the legal­ly cast bal­lots were counted.

At Con­sor­tium­news, there was an unwrit­ten edi­to­r­i­al pol­i­cy that the title Pres­i­dent” should nev­er pre­cede George W. Bush’s name, based on our view that he was not legit­i­mate­ly elect­ed. But beyond those edi­to­r­i­al deci­sions, we also under­stood the grav­i­ty of the fact that had Elec­tion 2000 been allowed to play out with all votes count­ed, many of the dis­as­ters of the Bush years – notably the 911 tragedy and the Iraq War, as well as deci­sions to with­draw from inter­na­tion­al agree­ments on arms con­trol and cli­mate change – might have been averted.

As all of us who lived through the post‑9/​11 era will recall, it was a chal­leng­ing time all around, espe­cial­ly if you were some­one crit­i­cal of George W. Bush. The atmos­phere in that peri­od did not allow for much dis­sent. Those who stood up against the jug­ger­naut for war – such as Phil Don­ahue at MSNBC, Chris Hedges at the New York Times, or even the Dix­ie Chicks – had their careers dam­aged and found them­selves on the receiv­ing end of death threats and hate mail.

While Bob’s mag­a­zine and newslet­ter projects had been dis­con­tin­ued, the web­site was still pub­lish­ing arti­cles, pro­vid­ing a home for dis­sent­ing voic­es that ques­tioned the case for invad­ing Iraq in late 2002 and ear­ly 2003. Around this time, for­mer CIA ana­lyst Ray McGov­ern and some of his col­leagues found­ed Vet­er­an Intel­li­gence Pro­fes­sion­als for San­i­ty and a long-run­ning rela­tion­ship with Con­sor­tium­news was estab­lished. Sev­er­al for­mer intel­li­gence vet­er­ans began con­tribut­ing to the web­site, moti­vat­ed by the same inde­pen­dent spir­it of truth-telling that com­pelled Bob to invest so much in this project.

At a time when almost the entire main­stream media was going along with the Bush administration’s dubi­ous case for war, this and a few oth­er like-mind­ed web­sites pushed back with well-researched arti­cles call­ing into ques­tion the ratio­nale. Although at times it might have felt as though we were just voic­es in the wilder­ness, a major groundswell of oppo­si­tion to war emerged in the coun­try, with his­toric march­es of hun­dreds of thou­sands tak­ing place to reject Bush’s push for war.

Of course, these anti­war voic­es were ulti­mate­ly vin­di­cat­ed by the fail­ure to find weapons of mass destruc­tion in Iraq and the fact that the war and occu­pa­tion proved to be a far cost­lier and dead­lier enter­prise than we had been told that it would be. Ear­li­er assur­ances that it would be a cake­walk” proved as false as the WMD claims, but as had been so often the case in Wash­ing­ton, there was lit­tle to no account­abil­i­ty from the main­stream media, the think tanks or gov­ern­ment offi­cials for being so spec­tac­u­lar­ly wrong.

In an effort to doc­u­ment the true his­to­ry of that era, Bob, Sam and I co-wrote the book Neck Deep: The Dis­as­trous Pres­i­den­cy of George W. Bush, which was pub­lished in late 2007. The book traced the work of Con­sor­tium­news, jux­ta­pos­ing it against the back­drop of main­stream media cov­er­age dur­ing the Bush era, in an effort to not only cor­rect the record, but also demon­strate that not all of us got things so wrong.

We felt it was impor­tant to remind read­ers – as well as future his­to­ri­ans – that some of us knew and report­ed in real time the mis­takes that were being made on every­thing from with­draw­ing from the Kyoto Pro­to­col to invad­ing Iraq to imple­ment­ing a pol­i­cy of tor­ture to bungling the response to Hur­ri­cane Katrina.

Oba­ma Era

By the time Barack Oba­ma was elect­ed the 44th pres­i­dent, Con​sor​tium​news​.com had become a home to a grow­ing num­ber of writ­ers who brought new per­spec­tives to the website’s con­tent. While for years, the writ­ing staff had been lim­it­ed pri­mar­i­ly to Bob, Sam and me, sud­den­ly, Con­sor­tium­news was receiv­ing con­tri­bu­tions from jour­nal­ists, activists and for­mer intel­li­gence ana­lysts who offered a wide range of exper­tise – on inter­na­tion­al law, eco­nom­ics, human rights, for­eign pol­i­cy, nation­al secu­ri­ty, and even reli­gion and philosophy.

One recur­ring theme of arti­cles at the web­site dur­ing the Oba­ma era was the endur­ing effect of unchal­lenged nar­ra­tives, how they shaped nation­al pol­i­tics and dic­tat­ed gov­ern­ment pol­i­cy. Bob observed that even a sup­pos­ed­ly left-of-cen­ter pres­i­dent like Oba­ma seemed behold­en to the false nar­ra­tives and nation­al mytholo­gies dat­ing back to the Rea­gan era. He point­ed out that this could be at least par­tial­ly attrib­uted to the fail­ure to estab­lish a strong foun­da­tion for inde­pen­dent journalism.

In a 2010 piece called Obama’s Fear of the Rea­gan Nar­ra­tive,” Bob not­ed that Oba­ma had defend­ed his deal with Repub­li­cans on tax cuts for the rich because there was such a strong lin­ger­ing effect of Reagan’s mes­sag­ing from 30 years ear­li­er. He felt hand­cuffed by the Right’s abil­i­ty to ral­ly Amer­i­cans on behalf of Reagan’s gov­ern­ment-is-the-prob­lem’ mes­sage,” Bob wrote.

He traced Obama’s com­plaints about his pow­er­less­ness in the face of this dynam­ic to the reluc­tance of Amer­i­can pro­gres­sives to invest suf­fi­cient­ly in media and think tanks, as con­ser­v­a­tives had been doing for decades in wag­ing their the war of ideas.” As he had been argu­ing since the ear­ly 1990s, Robert insist­ed that the lim­its that had been placed on Oba­ma – whether real or per­ceived – con­tin­ued to demon­strate the pow­er of pro­pa­gan­da and the need for greater invest­ment in alter­na­tive media.

He also observed that much of the nut­ti­ness sur­round­ing the so-called Tea Par­ty move­ment result­ed from fun­da­men­tal mis­un­der­stand­ings of Amer­i­can his­to­ry and con­sti­tu­tion­al prin­ci­ples. Democ­rats and pro­gres­sives should be under no illu­sion about the new flood of know-nothingism that is about to inun­date the Unit­ed States in the guise of a return to first prin­ci­ples’ and a deep respect for the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion,” Bob warned.

He point­ed out that despite the Tea Partiers’ claimed rev­er­ence for the Con­sti­tu­tion, they actu­al­ly had very lit­tle under­stand­ing of the doc­u­ment, as revealed by their ahis­tor­i­cal claims that fed­er­al tax­es are uncon­sti­tu­tion­al. In fact, as Bob observed, the Con­sti­tu­tion rep­re­sent­ed a major pow­er grab by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, when com­pared to the loose­ly drawn Arti­cles of Con­fed­er­a­tion, which lacked fed­er­al tax­ing author­i­ty and oth­er nation­al powers.”

Moti­vat­ed by a desire to cor­rect fal­si­fied his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tives span­ning more than two cen­turies, Bob pub­lished his sixth and final book, America’s Stolen Nar­ra­tive: From Wash­ing­ton and Madi­son to Nixon, Rea­gan and the Bush­es to Oba­ma, in 2012.

Along with rev­enues from book sales, grow­ing dona­tions from read­ers enabled Bob to not only pay writ­ers but also to hire an assis­tant, Chelsea Gilmour, who began work­ing for Con­sor­tium­news in 2014. In addi­tion to pro­vid­ing invalu­able admin­is­tra­tive sup­port, Chelsea also per­formed duties includ­ing research, writ­ing and fact-checking.

Polit­i­cal Realign­ment and the New McCarthyism

Although at the begin­ning of the Oba­ma era – and indeed since the 1980s – the name Robert Par­ry had been close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with expos­ing wrong­do­ing by Repub­li­cans, and hence had a strong fol­low­ing among Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty loy­al­ists, by the end of Obama’s pres­i­den­cy there seemed to be a realign­ment tak­ing place among some of Consortiumnews.com’s read­er­ship, which reflect­ed more gen­er­al­ly the shift­ing pol­i­tics of the country.

In par­tic­u­lar, the U.S. media’s approach to Rus­sia and relat­ed issues, such as the vio­lent ouster in 2014 of Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, became vir­tu­al­ly 100 per­cent pro­pa­gan­da,” Bob said.

He not­ed that the full sto­ry was nev­er told when it came to issues such as the Sergei Mag­nit­sky case, which led to the first round of U.S. sanc­tions against Rus­sia, nor the incon­ve­nient facts relat­ed to the Euro­maid­an protests that led to Yanukovych’s ouster – includ­ing the real­i­ty of strong neo-Nazi influ­ence in those protests – nor the sub­se­quent con­flict in the Don­bass region of Ukraine.

Bob’s sto­ries on Ukraine were wide­ly cit­ed and dis­sem­i­nat­ed, and he became an impor­tant voice in pre­sent­ing a fuller pic­ture of the con­flict than was pos­si­ble by read­ing and watch­ing only main­stream news out­lets. Bob was fea­tured promi­nent­ly in Oliv­er Stone’s 2016 doc­u­men­tary Ukraine on Fire,” where he explained how U.S.-funded polit­i­cal NGOs and media com­pa­nies have worked with the CIA and for­eign pol­i­cy estab­lish­ment since the 1980s to pro­mote the U.S. geopo­lit­i­cal agenda.

Bob regret­ted that, increas­ing­ly, the Amer­i­can peo­ple and the West in gen­er­al are care­ful­ly shield­ed from hear­ing the oth­er side of the sto­ry.’” Indeed, he said that to even sug­gest that there might be anoth­er side to the sto­ry is enough to get some­one brand­ed as an apol­o­gist for Vladimir Putin or a Krem­lin stooge.”

This cul­mi­nat­ed in late 2016 in the black­list­ing of Con​sor​tium​news​.com on a dubi­ous web­site called Pro­pOrNot,” which was claim­ing to serve as a watch­dog against undue Russ­ian influ­ence” in the Unit­ed States. The Pro­pOrNot black­list, includ­ing Con­sor­tium­news and about 200 oth­er web­sites deemed Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da,” was ele­vat­ed by the Wash­ing­ton Post as a cred­i­ble source, despite the fact that the neo-McCarthyites who pub­lished the list hid behind a cloak of anonymity.

The Posts arti­cle by Craig Tim­berg,” Bob wrote on Nov. 27, 2016, described Pro­pOrNot sim­ply as a non­par­ti­san col­lec­tion of researchers with for­eign pol­i­cy, mil­i­tary and tech­nol­o­gy back­grounds [who] planned to release its own find­ings Fri­day show­ing the star­tling reach and effec­tive­ness of Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da campaigns.’”

As Bob explained in an arti­cle called Wash­ing­ton Post’s Fake News Guilt,” the paper grant­ed Pro­pOrNot anonymi­ty to smear jour­nal­ists who don’t march in lock­step with offi­cial pro­nounce­ments from the State Depart­ment or some oth­er impec­ca­ble fount of nev­er-to-be-ques­tioned truth.”

The Post even pro­vid­ed an unat­trib­uted quote from the head of the shad­owy web­site. The way that this pro­pa­gan­da appa­ra­tus sup­port­ed [Don­ald] Trump was equiv­a­lent to some mas­sive amount of a media buy,” the anony­mous smear mer­chant said. The Postclaimed that the Pro­pOrNot exec­u­tive direc­tor” had spo­ken on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to avoid being tar­get­ed by Russia’s legions of skilled hackers.”

To be clear, nei­ther Con­sor­tium­news nor Robert Par­ry ever sup­port­ed Trump,” as the above anony­mous quote claims. Some­thing inter­est­ing, how­ev­er, did seem to be hap­pen­ing in terms of Con­sor­tium­news’ read­er­ship in the ear­ly days of the Trump pres­i­den­cy, as could be gleaned from some of the com­ments left on arti­cles and social media activity.

It did appear for some time at least that a good num­ber of Trump sup­port­ers were read­ing Con­sor­tium­news, which could prob­a­bly be attrib­uted to the fact that the web­site was one of the few out­lets push­ing back against both the New Cold War” with Rus­sia and the relat­ed sto­ry of Rus­si­a­gate,” which Bob didn’t even like refer­ring to as a scan­dal.” (As an edi­tor, he pre­ferred to use the word con­tro­ver­sy” on the web­site, because as far as he was con­cerned, the alle­ga­tions against Trump and his sup­posed col­lu­sion” with Rus­sia did not rise to the lev­el of actu­al scan­dals such as Water­gate or Iran-Contra.)

In his view, the per­haps under­stand­able hatred of Trump felt by many Amer­i­cans – both inside and out­side the Belt­way – had led to an aban­don­ment of old-fash­ioned rules of jour­nal­ism and stan­dards of fair­ness, which should be applied even to some­one like Don­ald Trump.

On a per­son­al note, I faced harsh crit­i­cism even from friends of many years for refus­ing to enlist in the anti-Trump Resis­tance,’” Bob wrote in his final arti­cle for Consortiumnews.

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,” he said. Some peo­ple saw my insis­tence on the same jour­nal­is­tic stan­dards that I had always employed some­how a betrayal.”

He mar­veled that even senior edi­tors in the main­stream media treat­ed the unproven Rus­si­a­gate 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,” Bob wrote. 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.”

An Untime­ly End and the Future of Consortiumnews

My dad’s untime­ly pass­ing has come as a shock to us all, espe­cial­ly since up until a month ago, there was no indi­ca­tion what­so­ev­er that he was sick in any way. He took good care of him­self, nev­er smoked, got reg­u­lar check-ups, exer­cised, and ate well. The unex­pect­ed health issues start­ing with a mild stroke Christ­mas Eve and cul­mi­nat­ing with his admis­sion into hos­pice care sev­er­al days ago offer a stark reminder that noth­ing should be tak­en for granted.

And as many Con­sor­tium­news read­ers have elo­quent­ly point­ed out in com­ments left on recent arti­cles regard­ing Bob’s health, it also reminds us that his brand of jour­nal­ism is need­ed today more than ever.

We need free will thinkers like you who val­ue the truth based on the evi­dence and look past the group think in Wash­ing­ton to report on the real rea­sons for our government’s and our media’s actions which attempt to deceive us all,” wrote, for exam­ple, Free­Thinker.”

Com­mon sense and integri­ty are the hall­marks of Robert Parry’s jour­nal­ism. May you get bet­ter soon for you are need­ed more now then ever before,” wrote T.J.”

We need a new gen­er­a­tion of reporters, jour­nal­ists, writ­ers, and some­one always being tena­cious to fol­low up on the sto­ry,” added Tina.”

As some­one who has been involved with this web­site since its incep­tion – as a writer, an edi­tor and a read­er – I con­cur with these sen­ti­ments. Read­ers should rest assured that despite my dad’s death, every effort will be made to ensure that the web­site will con­tin­ue going strong.

Indeed, I think that every­one involved with this project wants to uphold the same com­mit­ment to truth-telling with­out fear or favor that inspired Bob and his heroes like George Seldes, I.F. Stone, and Thomas Paine.

That com­mit­ment can be seen in my dad’s pur­suit of sto­ries such as those men­tioned above, but also so many oth­ers – includ­ing his inves­ti­ga­tions into the finan­cial rela­tion­ship of the influ­en­tial Wash­ing­ton Times with the Uni­fi­ca­tion Church cult of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the truth behind the Nixon campaign’s alleged efforts to sab­o­tage Pres­i­dent Lyn­don Johnson’s Paris peace talks with Viet­namese lead­ers in 1968, the real­i­ty of the chem­i­cal attack in Syr­ia in 2013, and even detailed exam­i­na­tions of the evi­dence behind the so-called Deflate­gate” con­tro­ver­sy that he felt unfair­ly brand­ed his favorite foot­ball team, the New Eng­land Patri­ots, as cheaters.

Review­ing these jour­nal­is­tic achieve­ments, it becomes clear that there are few sto­ries that have slipped under Consortiumnews.com’s radar, and that the his­tor­i­cal record is far more com­plete thanks to this web­site and Bob’s old-fash­ioned approach to journalism.

But besides this deeply held com­mit­ment to inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ism, it should also be recalled that, ulti­mate­ly, Bob was moti­vat­ed by a con­cern over the future of life on Earth. As some­one who grew up at the height of the Cold War, he under­stood the dan­gers of allow­ing ten­sions and hys­te­ria to spi­ral out of con­trol, espe­cial­ly in a world such as ours with enough nuclear weapons to wipe out all life on the plan­et many times over.

As the Unit­ed States con­tin­ues down the path of a New Cold War, my dad would be pleased to know that he has such com­mit­ted con­trib­u­tors who will enable the site to remain the indis­pens­able home for inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ism that it has become, and con­tin­ue to push back on false nar­ra­tives that threat­en our very survival.

Thank you all for your support.

In lieu of flow­ers, Bob’s fam­i­ly asks you to please con­sid­er mak­ing a tax-deductible dona­tion to the Con­sor­tium for Inde­pen­dent Journalism.

Nat Par­ry is a writer and activist based in Arling­ton, Virginia.
Limited Time:

SUBSCRIBE TO IN THESE TIMES MAGAZINE FOR JUST $1 A MONTH