This powerful film uses an “entertainment” format to assess the compelling evidence that people tied to the Nicaraguan Contras, who President Ronald Reagan called “the moral equivalent of our founding fathers,” were involved in bringing cocaine back to the United States at the dawn of the crack epidemic.
Writing for the San Jose Mercury-News, Gary Webb had traveled repeatedly to Central America and uncovered what appeared to be the story of the decade: people associated with a U.S.-backed mercenary army had become international drug traffickers. If “agents” or “assets” of the Central Intelligence Agency’s war against Nicaragua were implicated, even indirectly, in importing one gram of cocaine to America’s cities that should have set off alarm bells in the journalistic community and possibly won a Pulitzer Prize for Webb.
Instead, the mainstream press went after Webb in a coordinated smear campaign that ignored the potential abuses he had uncovered and effectively allied itself with the Contras. “Journalists” and editors from the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times, essentially toed the line of right-wing rags like the Washington Times by citing unnamed sources from the CIA and national security establishment to burnish the image of the Contras and their taskmasters.
Despite a mountain of evidence from witness accounts, law enforcement and court records, a Senate subcommittee inquiry, Oliver North’s notebooks, congressional testimony, and even the CIA’s own internal review that backs up Webb’s original reporting, these mainstream hacks found that the best way to defend the CIA was to sully their colleague Webb.