Bulletin: Some Comments on Jeff Leen’s Washington Post Review of Kill The Messenger

Jeff Leen of the Washington Post posted a scoffing review of Gary Webb’s work and the film Kill The Messenger on October 17, 2014:


Since then, the comment section appended to the article is still open, and it’s received over 600 posts, the vast majority of them defending Gary Webb and excoriating Jeff Leen for his opinions. I’m on the side of Webb’s defenders, of course, although I think that some of them should tone it down a bit. Flying off the handle just gets in the way.

I joined the conversation there some time ago, using my WaPo screen name, “Grendyl”. Since I have a fair bit of knowledge on this matter- no brag, just fact- I got involved in correcting some of the misconceptions and in debating some of those who persist in attacking Gary Webb. This led to some extended exchanges that I wasn’t able to pursue in the sort of detail required, due to the 2000 character post limit in Post comments. In particular, readers are directed to the reply threads featuring comments by myself, “Grendyl”, and “linerider”.

Among other observations, “linerider” has been attempting to impeach the credibility of two of the book sources I brought up: Cocaine Politics, 1991, by Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall; and The Underground Empire, by James Mills.

It’s going to be a little bit of a project to compose a thorough answer to “linerider”s charges, insinuations, and framings of the material found in those books. And that’s going to have to wait for a week or two, because I have much more material to post in the next few days. A lengthy unpacking of the objections that “linerider” has brought up in relation to those two books is not at the top of my agenda. I’m glad that the objections were brought up, though; I think they’re well worth addressing, and I hope to do that in a way that’s edifying, yet without unnecessary digressions or stem-winding.

I can at least begin with an introduction to this dispute: “linerider”‘s principal objection to the credibility of the book Cocaine Politics relies on this scholarly review, by Arthur Schmidt, Professor of Latin American History, found here: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=3016

“linerider” excerpted a portion of the review that included Schmidt’s observations faulting the socio-political gloss that he finds to comprise the analytical framework for the book, which leads him to take issue with some of the more pointedly dour conclusions of the authors.

Professor Schmidt does not take issue with the historical facts presented in Cocaine Politics by Scott and Marshall.

(more later)

Posted in U.S. War on Drugs History
Justice For The Messenger

Gary Webb, American News Media, and the War on Drugs

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