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Soon to be a major motion picture starring Jeremy Renner Kill the Messenger tells the story of the tragic death of Gary Webb, the controversial newspaper reporter who committed suicide in December 2004. Webb is the former San Jose Mercury News reporter whose 1996 "Dark Alliance" series on the so-called CIA-crack cocaine connection created a firestorm of controversy and led Soon to be a major motion picture starring Jeremy Renner Kill the Messenger tells the story of the tragic death of Gary Webb, the controversial newspaper reporter who committed suicide in December 2004. Webb is the former San Jose Mercury News reporter whose 1996 "Dark Alliance" series on the so-called CIA-crack cocaine connection created a firestorm of controversy and led to his resignation from the paper amid escalating attacks on his work by the mainstream media. Author and investigative journalist Nick Schou published numerous articles on the controversy and was the only reporter to significantly advance Webb's stories. Drawing on exhaustive research and highly personal interviews with Webb's family, colleagues, supporters and critics, this book argues convincingly that Webb's editors betrayed him, despite mounting evidence that his stories were correct. Kill the Messenger examines the "Dark Alliance" controversy, what it says about the current state of journalism in America, and how it led Webb to ultimately take his own life. Webb's widow, Sue Bell Stokes, remains an ardent defender of her ex-husband. By combining her story with a probing examination of the one of the most important media scandals in recent memory, this book provides a gripping view of one of the greatest tragedies in the annals of investigative journalism.


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Soon to be a major motion picture starring Jeremy Renner Kill the Messenger tells the story of the tragic death of Gary Webb, the controversial newspaper reporter who committed suicide in December 2004. Webb is the former San Jose Mercury News reporter whose 1996 "Dark Alliance" series on the so-called CIA-crack cocaine connection created a firestorm of controversy and led Soon to be a major motion picture starring Jeremy Renner Kill the Messenger tells the story of the tragic death of Gary Webb, the controversial newspaper reporter who committed suicide in December 2004. Webb is the former San Jose Mercury News reporter whose 1996 "Dark Alliance" series on the so-called CIA-crack cocaine connection created a firestorm of controversy and led to his resignation from the paper amid escalating attacks on his work by the mainstream media. Author and investigative journalist Nick Schou published numerous articles on the controversy and was the only reporter to significantly advance Webb's stories. Drawing on exhaustive research and highly personal interviews with Webb's family, colleagues, supporters and critics, this book argues convincingly that Webb's editors betrayed him, despite mounting evidence that his stories were correct. Kill the Messenger examines the "Dark Alliance" controversy, what it says about the current state of journalism in America, and how it led Webb to ultimately take his own life. Webb's widow, Sue Bell Stokes, remains an ardent defender of her ex-husband. By combining her story with a probing examination of the one of the most important media scandals in recent memory, this book provides a gripping view of one of the greatest tragedies in the annals of investigative journalism.

30 review for Kill the Messenger: How the CIA's Crack-Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    If you want to be filled with rage at the mainstream media's shameless devotion to protecting the status quo, this is the book for you. Great stuff about the New York Times, L.A. Times, and Washington Post going after Gary Webb for daring to tie the CIA to coke-smuggling contras. The downward trajectory of Webb's life after his career was destroyed by the corporate press is heartbreaking. This book is best read along with Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair's excellent Whiteout, especially t If you want to be filled with rage at the mainstream media's shameless devotion to protecting the status quo, this is the book for you. Great stuff about the New York Times, L.A. Times, and Washington Post going after Gary Webb for daring to tie the CIA to coke-smuggling contras. The downward trajectory of Webb's life after his career was destroyed by the corporate press is heartbreaking. This book is best read along with Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair's excellent Whiteout, especially the chapters on the smear campaign against Webb. Schou is a serviceable writer, but Cockburn and St. Clair are brilliant stylists and are in peak form in this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Peace

    Our government that blithely and routinely operates illegally, and worse, immorally, while wallowing in the muck of "national security," our media establishment that arrogantly and self-righteously destroys a reporter's reputation and thus his journalistic future while eating the CIA's PR vomit and throwing it back up again as truth, paving the way for its ultimate lapdog experience of the Iraq invasion and occupation, and a Manichean reporter's own tainted yet admirable doggedness- all ingredie Our government that blithely and routinely operates illegally, and worse, immorally, while wallowing in the muck of "national security," our media establishment that arrogantly and self-righteously destroys a reporter's reputation and thus his journalistic future while eating the CIA's PR vomit and throwing it back up again as truth, paving the way for its ultimate lapdog experience of the Iraq invasion and occupation, and a Manichean reporter's own tainted yet admirable doggedness- all ingredients in Gary Webb's tragic yet never inevitable death. His search for the truth was messy and imperfect and stained by his own inadequacies, but at least he tried to uncover the truth rather than perpetuate the lies and brazenly deny that truth. If you still deify Ronald Reagan, read this. If you think the media is an investigative solid rather than a mere bought shadow or corporate blown piece of dust, read this.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    I rate this about 3.5 stars. I thought the story was very interesting but there were so many players involved, some of the story was a little overwhelming/confusing. I also felt some parts were repetitive. I'm left not knowing how I feel about Webb or his reporting I rate this about 3.5 stars. I thought the story was very interesting but there were so many players involved, some of the story was a little overwhelming/confusing. I also felt some parts were repetitive. I'm left not knowing how I feel about Webb or his reporting

  4. 5 out of 5

    Curtis Miller

    Very interesting read The book opened my eyes up to specifics about investigative reporting and he CIA's involvement in the drug trade. The book also helps depict the true nature of news reporting by large papers. Very interesting read The book opened my eyes up to specifics about investigative reporting and he CIA's involvement in the drug trade. The book also helps depict the true nature of news reporting by large papers.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David

    This was part of a sale on audible and looked interesting. I hadn't followed this when it broke originally so I was kind of wondering what the deal was. Note that the book is primarily about the reporting of the story and reaction to. There is some about what was discovered, but it's not heavy with information about the CIA's activity. The book starts off a little melodramatic in its tone, but ends with some objective reflections on the events from many of the main players. Webb and his editors This was part of a sale on audible and looked interesting. I hadn't followed this when it broke originally so I was kind of wondering what the deal was. Note that the book is primarily about the reporting of the story and reaction to. There is some about what was discovered, but it's not heavy with information about the CIA's activity. The book starts off a little melodramatic in its tone, but ends with some objective reflections on the events from many of the main players. Webb and his editors definitely over-played what they had in the original story, but the irresponsible reaction of the major papers was far worse than anything web did. One of the most disgusting things is that the when the CIA finally admitted that they knew about the contras supporting themselves with drug money, it was right as the Lewinsky story was breaking and so the contra-crack thing was ignored. I know there's a movie of this now. I might watch it, but movies of this sort of book always leave out so much detail and play up the drama so much that they seem dishonest.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Roger

    This is a five-star story in a four-star book, and the primary reason I say that is grammar. Maybe I'm being too picky, but there's simply too many missing prepositions and articles. That being said, Gary Webb's story is one that deserves telling over and over in as many ways as possible -- for many reasons. This isn't the forum to talk about all those reasons. So, I'll simply say: read the book. This is a five-star story in a four-star book, and the primary reason I say that is grammar. Maybe I'm being too picky, but there's simply too many missing prepositions and articles. That being said, Gary Webb's story is one that deserves telling over and over in as many ways as possible -- for many reasons. This isn't the forum to talk about all those reasons. So, I'll simply say: read the book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Good, quick read about Gary Webb and the shameful way his story was handled by our "watchdog" press, most notably the Washington Post, LA Times, and New York Times. All three of them seemed more concerned about carrying water for the Federal Government than actually looking into a story, as it turns out, that had plenty of precedence. Good, quick read about Gary Webb and the shameful way his story was handled by our "watchdog" press, most notably the Washington Post, LA Times, and New York Times. All three of them seemed more concerned about carrying water for the Federal Government than actually looking into a story, as it turns out, that had plenty of precedence.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Justin Freeman

    Great read on journalist Gary Webb's life, career, downfall and suicide. An alarming amount of typos for a book about a journalist, written by a journalist. There were an extroridinary amount of quotes taken from Gary's own book "Dark Alliance" and I'm interested in reading that now and seeing the movie. Great read on journalist Gary Webb's life, career, downfall and suicide. An alarming amount of typos for a book about a journalist, written by a journalist. There were an extroridinary amount of quotes taken from Gary's own book "Dark Alliance" and I'm interested in reading that now and seeing the movie.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kristi Bumpus

    Interesting book, if not especially well-written. I am not sure author ever really made his case, but as someone working in journalism who well remembered the situation, l enjoyed reading more about Webb and what transpired.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Josephine Burks

    I was inspired by the movie about Gary Webb to read this book. It details how the mainstream media collectively assassinated the credibility and character of Webb after his expose piece on the CIA and various Nicaragua drug cartels. I'm definitely going to read Webb's book "Dark Alliance". I was inspired by the movie about Gary Webb to read this book. It details how the mainstream media collectively assassinated the credibility and character of Webb after his expose piece on the CIA and various Nicaragua drug cartels. I'm definitely going to read Webb's book "Dark Alliance".

  11. 5 out of 5

    A. Redact

    A very even-handed account of the assassination of Gary Webb's character by the New York Times, Washington Post, and LA Times. Schou acknowledges the shortcomings of the Dark Alliance series as it was originally published, but ultimately finds that Webb's reporting was vindicated by the two internal CIA investigations prompted by his reportage. Schou firmly believes that Webb committed suicide, despite circumstantial evidence that points to a staged murder for political retribution. Webb was fou A very even-handed account of the assassination of Gary Webb's character by the New York Times, Washington Post, and LA Times. Schou acknowledges the shortcomings of the Dark Alliance series as it was originally published, but ultimately finds that Webb's reporting was vindicated by the two internal CIA investigations prompted by his reportage. Schou firmly believes that Webb committed suicide, despite circumstantial evidence that points to a staged murder for political retribution. Webb was found shot in the head twice, a fact that, on its face, seems like one more example of the CIA staging a victim's suicide and then covering it up with cooperation from coroners, local law enforcement, etc. However, if the CIA did kill Webb, they really put in the work crafting a very compelling suicide narrative in the weeks and months leading up to Webb's death. Webb apparently prepared for his own cremation, put his house on the market, and spoke with more than one confidant about his increasingly powerful desire to kill himself. These things lead me to believe that Webb might actually be one of the only genuine cases of a suicide resulting from two gun shots to the head. One detail that does give me pause is a story that his wife recalls about Gary being threatened after the publication of his story: "'He was told he'd be killed one day,' she says. The [unidentified] man [on the phone] had darkly suggested that it wouldn't happen anytime soon, perhaps not until five or ten years in the future, and it wouldn't be anything obvious. As an example, the man explained, one day Webb might be driving down a steep slope in the mountains and his brakes would fail." Not long before Webb died, he had several motorcycle accidents that Schou doesn't seem to connect to this earlier threat. Webb may also have been offered a chance to kill himself to avoid harm to his family. Or he may have been one of the extremely rare cases of a person shooting themselves in the head, not dying, picking up the gun and having the motor skills and mental wherewithal to shoot himself again. We will likely never know. In either case, Schou clearly demonstrates that even if Webb did pull the trigger, the precipitating events that led to his death were intentional, malicious, and potentially connected to the CIA. The legacy newspapers that destroyed Webb's career and life attacked him viciously and without mercy. A likely combination of professional jealousy, gatekeeping, and undisclosed connections to the CIA lead Webb's critics to go to unusually extreme degrees to discredit his reporting and tarnish his personal and professional reputation. Their attacks on his story continues to muddy the waters of his reporting to this day. What is undeniable is that Webb was correct that the CIA was aware of drug running by their assets connected to Nicaraguan and El Salvadorian paramilitary groups, they actively protected these assets from domestic law enforcement, and these decisions contributed to the crack epidemic in South Central LA. The more extreme and speculative claims (never actually espoused by Webb himself) that the CIA was intentionally creating and/or exacerbating the crack epidemic to destroy urban black communities is possible but not proven. Really thinking about this claim though, it seems like it's not the kind of theory that can ever really be proven definitively. Did the CIA facilitate the Latin American drug trade in the US? Yes. Did that drug trade help to introduce literal tons of cocaine at exactly the right time to throw fuel on the fire of the crack epidemic? Yes. Was that one of the express purposes of the CIA coordination? Who could possibly answer this question? The CIA is a cellular organization made up of competing and sometimes contradictory sets of interests, beliefs, and long- and short-term goals. It is possible, perhaps even likely, that some elements within the CIA were happy with the bonus of further salting the earth that the Black Panthers and radical black nationalism sprung from. If elements within our government actively conspired to destroy these movements, would it help that goal to accelerate the Black Panther movement's splintering into increasingly violent street gangs organized around the sale of crack? Yes. Would it make it easier to arrest and kill the remaining members of these groups after they were assigned "gang affiliations" connected to the War on Drugs? Of course. There is no monolithic CIA in the same way that there is no monolithic United States government. There are different groups with different agendas, and some of the people involved with Iran-Contra may not have *thought* they were helping to destroy the black community. Others involved might have been aware of it and viewed it as a primary objective. In any case, they felt that the destruction they wrought (inadvertently or not) was worth the cost to support right wing death squads in Latin America. It would certainly be worse if the CIA was rooting for the destruction of black communities, but at the end of the day they play(ed) an important role in that destruction, however they happened to feel about it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rita

    P.97 Gary Webb, commenting on the CIA's selling crack cocaine to raise $ to pay for arms for the contrast in El Salvador: " 'I became convinced that the whole war on drugs, 50 years from now, we're going to look back on it like we look back on the McCarthy era, and say, "how the f*** did we ever let this stuff get so out of hand?" ' Webb told author Charles Bowden in 1998. 'How come nobody stood up and said this is b*******?' " P.143 Alexander Cockburn, author, speaking of MSM's attack on Webb's sto P.97 Gary Webb, commenting on the CIA's selling crack cocaine to raise $ to pay for arms for the contrast in El Salvador: " 'I became convinced that the whole war on drugs, 50 years from now, we're going to look back on it like we look back on the McCarthy era, and say, "how the f*** did we ever let this stuff get so out of hand?" ' Webb told author Charles Bowden in 1998. 'How come nobody stood up and said this is b*******?' " P.143 Alexander Cockburn, author, speaking of MSM's attack on Webb's story, thus covering up for the CIA and Reagan: " 'I've never taken the view that the mainstream press in the u.s. is to be redeemed,' Cockburn says. 'The rhetorical pose is always that the New York Times could be doing a better job and so could The Washington Post and then we would have a responsible press. My view is that the official corporate press is there to do a bad job. That's its function and nobody should be surprised. The miracle is that the Mercury news was asleep at the wheel and didn't realize what Webb was doing--and printed his story.' " [Referring to the sloppy editing on his story that allowed it to be attacked.] P.168: The CIA went through the motions of an "investigation" into drug trafficking by its agents. "Former CIA officer Duane R. Clarridge, who ran the agencies covert war against the Sandinistas, refused to answer any questions, and told the LA Times he wrote the CIA a letter describing its investigation as 'bullshit.' Pete Carey covered the release of the report for the Mercury News. His story reported that CIA investigators had argued with a witness who claimed the CIA knew about drug trafficking by people the agency had used on various assignments. 'You guys don't want to know the truth,' Carey quoted the witness as telling the CIA." P.186: "David Corn of the Nation magazine says the CIA report only 'partially' vindicated Webb. 'It didn't vindicate his story,' he says. 'It vindicated his interest in the subject and his belief that this was important and that something terribly rotten had happened.' Nonetheless, Corn feels that the reports contained 'tremendous admissions' of wrongdoing by the CIA. 'While Nancy Reagan was saying "Just say no," the CIA was saying, "Just don't look," ' he says. Corn is still amazed that the fact that the CIA finally admitted it had worked with and protected from prosecution Nicaraguan Contra drug traffickers--and then lied about it for years--wasn't a major scandal. 'Here you have the CIA acknowledging they were working with people suspected of drug dealing and it got nary a peep,' he says. 'I think in some ways that's journalistic neglect --criminal neglect. In what definition of news is it not a front - page story that the CIA was working with drug dealers?' " P.224 French journalist Paul Moreira filmes a 45-minute documentary about Webb. " 'It was much, much more grave than Watergate,' Moreira says. 'The report comes out precisely in the middle of all the noise around Monica and Bill, and no one pays attention! That's when I discovered that media - noise is the new censorship.' An amazing book that makes you realize how f***** up our government is, that small-time recreational drug users and small-time drug dealers, in the 80s, were made totally Paranoid by the persecution they got from law enforcement, when all this time our own government was dealing drugs big-time and flooding South Central L.A. with crack cocaine, so they could raise money to send to a guerilla force that tortured and disappeared people, all so they could control a central American country whose government was attempting to serve its own people.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Jackson

    All I knew about Gary Webb before reading Kill the Messenger was what the internet told me: that he exposed the connection between the CIA and America's crack cocaine epidemic, and because of that, the CIA targeted him and organized his downfall and a cover-up of his murder. While I don't necessarily discount that basic summary of the end of his life, I don't know enough information about him either way to have confidence in saying what I think happened to him in that sense. And Kill the Messeng All I knew about Gary Webb before reading Kill the Messenger was what the internet told me: that he exposed the connection between the CIA and America's crack cocaine epidemic, and because of that, the CIA targeted him and organized his downfall and a cover-up of his murder. While I don't necessarily discount that basic summary of the end of his life, I don't know enough information about him either way to have confidence in saying what I think happened to him in that sense. And Kill the Messenger asserted that Gary Webb grew increasingly depressed over inaccuracies in his infamous story, "Dark Alliance," and subsequently committed suicide. Given the evidence in this book, I believe Nick Schou. But I still have my doubts about other circumstances of Webb's reporting and journalism's response to it as a whole. Schou's telling of this story, however, is not sufficient enough to really explain what happened in Webb's life and in his mind as he grew increasingly distant and despondent: publishing "Dark Alliance," not getting the response he expected, being betrayed by his editors, getting attacked by other journalists, losing his job, getting divorced, etc., etc. That's enough to see that clearly Webb was a man down and out on his luck. But Schou didn't include enough of the biography of Webb that I wanted; his reporting on the man himself was lacking, and this came through in how the story about "Dark Alliance" was told. Because Schou focused so much on the story itself and its response, Schou presented Webb as quite the asshole, a man who though he was never wrong, who was abrasive with authority and his own family and friends, and who jumped too quickly to conclusions that he didn't have evidence to support. So in that sense, while I believe Webb's premise in reporting the CIA/contra/crack epidemic connection, I also now believe, after reading this book, that no one handled the "Dark Aliiance" story very well, not Webb, not his editors, not the journalism community at large. And indeed, the mainstream legacy media organizations who criticized Gary Webb after the series' publication are the biggest part of the problem in my opinion. Kill the Messenger is really a subtle critique of the process of investigative journalism and its failures. From the beginning, Webb was set up to fail, as being hired to take on a big, contentious investigative piece knowing that it would have detractors and knowing that he would become a target for the story. Then, he didn't have the support he should have from editors and experts in his own bureau, who disliked him for both personal and professional reasons; this pettiness affected the quality of his reporting and writing and rushed him into cutting out the nuance and details and then publishing too soon. And finally, larger national newspapers attacked Gary Webb as a person rather than attacking the story and investigating the CIA connection for themselves, again using Webb as a scapegoat rather than doing actual any follow-up journalism. This is where the contention especially lies: why did legacy journalism ignore this story that they knew parts of already, and why did they attack Webb for divulging more? Is it because they were in someone's pockets? Because people had already tried and failed to investigate more? Because they knew the dangers? I would rather read an expose on the real reasons for the aggressive response and the plain denial of the story. Indeed, what happened to Gary Webb is tragic and sad. But Schou only raises more questions in this book than answers or enlightenment about Webb's life. I want to know more about Webb the man and his thought processes and emotions throughout all of this—we got a hint of that, but it was all through Webb's own published book a few years after the series, not through any interviews (although Schou did say he met Webb and was in touch with him). I want to know more about the contents of the "Dark Alliance" story, which Schou also touched on but in a very complicated way and certainly not enough detail within one or two chapters. I want to know more about the journalism aspects of getting the story published and facing the backlash. All of those topics were broached somewhat in Kill the Messenger, but not enough to satisfy my newly piqued interest in Webb's story. Schou is a good place to start for information, but now I feel I need to find a better source to learn about Gary Webb, because now I only have more questions.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Monsees

    A troubling account of one journalist’s star-like rise and fall, Kill the Messenger traces the story of Gary Webb, a reporter who exposed CIA complicity in drug trafficking and who was cast out of journalism due to his reporting. While the web (forgive the pun) of conspiracy in this story is complex and nuanced, there are several incontrovertible conclusions. First, Gary Webb’s conclusions (that the CIA was complicit in drug trafficking into the U.S., that these drugs flooded the streets of LA i A troubling account of one journalist’s star-like rise and fall, Kill the Messenger traces the story of Gary Webb, a reporter who exposed CIA complicity in drug trafficking and who was cast out of journalism due to his reporting. While the web (forgive the pun) of conspiracy in this story is complex and nuanced, there are several incontrovertible conclusions. First, Gary Webb’s conclusions (that the CIA was complicit in drug trafficking into the U.S., that these drugs flooded the streets of LA igniting the crack-cocaine boom of the 1980s, and that millions of dollars raised were then funneled to the contras in Nicaragua) were flawed but the reporting accurately uncovered that the CIA turned a blind eye to drug trafficking it knew about, as the CIA would later admit in a 1998 inspector general report. Second, Webb’s editors at the San Jose Mercury News failed to ensure Dark Alliance captured the nuance of the story without over or understating its implications. They then issued a thinly-veiled retraction and pushed Webb out of their paper. Third, major newspapers (Washington Post, New York Times, and LA Times) undertook an unprecedented campaign to discredit Webb’s story and personal credibility. His career was forever tarnished and despite his decades-long career and Pulitzer-Prize winning accolades, he never got a job with another major newspaper. This led, in part, to Webb’s suicide in 2004. Gary Webb is a cautionary tale for journalists aiming to hold government to account who, while expecting pushback from the government, should take care to appreciate the combined effect of the country’s newspapers who expended considerable resources to destroy his story and reputation.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Deyth Banger

    "December 14, 2017 – 50.0% "1:21:54" December 13, 2017 – 50.0% "Is a lie or moment of truth? ... 1:08:42" December 9, 2017 – 15.0% "45:15" December 9, 2017 – 5.0% "30:51" December 9, 2017 – 5.0% "This book is going to reveal a secret which makes you to ask yourself how much people do know about what's really happening behind the big walls of the goverment." December 9, 2017 – 5.0% "24:15" December 9, 2017 – Shelved December 9, 2017 – Started Reading" P.S. - The book deservs 5 stars out of 5 from the "December 14, 2017 – 50.0% "1:21:54" December 13, 2017 – 50.0% "Is a lie or moment of truth? ... 1:08:42" December 9, 2017 – 15.0% "45:15" December 9, 2017 – 5.0% "30:51" December 9, 2017 – 5.0% "This book is going to reveal a secret which makes you to ask yourself how much people do know about what's really happening behind the big walls of the goverment." December 9, 2017 – 5.0% "24:15" December 9, 2017 – Shelved December 9, 2017 – Started Reading" P.S. - The book deservs 5 stars out of 5 from the main reason Garry Webb was on this story up to end of his life. Which is crazy! It sounds like typical "DON"T CARE ABOUT MY LIFE", we all knew that he was going to die all such world big deals die, nothing should make him think that he won't die. It was revealed which means "Congrats " to Garry Webb, but after few days the whole thing was been declassified.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Smith

    This book was so good. It did drag a bit at times, hence 4 stars and not 5, but it was still really good and quite riveting. The book doesn't go into the details of how the CIA was apart of the drug trade as I was hoping, but told the story about the journalist who essentially uncovered it. It explains it a little bit, but really just left me now really wanting to read Gary Webb's original "Dark Alliance". That actual book however, is almost impossible to find unless you want an electronic copy. This book was so good. It did drag a bit at times, hence 4 stars and not 5, but it was still really good and quite riveting. The book doesn't go into the details of how the CIA was apart of the drug trade as I was hoping, but told the story about the journalist who essentially uncovered it. It explains it a little bit, but really just left me now really wanting to read Gary Webb's original "Dark Alliance". That actual book however, is almost impossible to find unless you want an electronic copy. Overall this is definitely a recommended book to pretty much anyone. It touches on so many different subjects from journalism to covert missions to conspiracies and it's short which makes it a pretty easy read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lance Karlson

    Gary Webb became somewhat a polarizing figure through his stubborn determination and constant questioning - but this is what all good investigative journalists should be like. Webb was a journalist 'of old' and dared to probe sordid stories which no one else would touch. But behind his doggedness was a character with as many self-doubts and struggles as all of us. Webb inspired the protagonist for my novel, The Noriega Tapes, and left a lasting impression on me. While this book wasn't as well-wr Gary Webb became somewhat a polarizing figure through his stubborn determination and constant questioning - but this is what all good investigative journalists should be like. Webb was a journalist 'of old' and dared to probe sordid stories which no one else would touch. But behind his doggedness was a character with as many self-doubts and struggles as all of us. Webb inspired the protagonist for my novel, The Noriega Tapes, and left a lasting impression on me. While this book wasn't as well-written as Dark Alliance it did capture his emotional state quite comprehensively. Very sad to see how it all ended, but also some concerning, lingering questions about whether it really was suicide...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I read this book for a journalism class during college. We all want to be the hero of our own story. This story is just that. This book supports Gary Webb and discusses all that went wrong (whether it was his fault or the fault of others) which ultimately caused his downfall. I appreciated the parts of the novel that showed his upbringing, his family, and how his work was impacting his family. This is probably the only book out there that can give you an inside glimpse into his life. Some parts I read this book for a journalism class during college. We all want to be the hero of our own story. This story is just that. This book supports Gary Webb and discusses all that went wrong (whether it was his fault or the fault of others) which ultimately caused his downfall. I appreciated the parts of the novel that showed his upbringing, his family, and how his work was impacting his family. This is probably the only book out there that can give you an inside glimpse into his life. Some parts may be hard to follow.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paige Newman

    This book was a fairly good look at what happened with Gary Webb. I think what I liked best was that Schou wasn't just an advocate for Webb. He actually does look at the story critically. I think the way the LA Times, Washington Post and NYTimes responded was pretty awful and it does make you think about how the media chooses to tackle a story. Overall, an interesting if unspectacular book. This book was a fairly good look at what happened with Gary Webb. I think what I liked best was that Schou wasn't just an advocate for Webb. He actually does look at the story critically. I think the way the LA Times, Washington Post and NYTimes responded was pretty awful and it does make you think about how the media chooses to tackle a story. Overall, an interesting if unspectacular book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brian Vargo

    Pretty good, concise...focused more on Webb and journalism then it did on government malfeasance. Could have spent more time on the crack epidemic and whatnot, but I guess that wasn't the focus of the book. Pretty good, concise...focused more on Webb and journalism then it did on government malfeasance. Could have spent more time on the crack epidemic and whatnot, but I guess that wasn't the focus of the book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Timmy Connelly

    "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." William Casey CIA Director 1981 "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." William Casey CIA Director 1981

  22. 4 out of 5

    Phil Osborne

    Ooo

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    A solid 3.5 stars. Challenge Complete: a book that became a movie With this book, I did something I do very rarely- I watched the movie first. I enjoyed it immensely. I thought it was good, if a bit slow and in danger of taking itself too seriously at points. However, I do admit that my opinion is probably a bit biased because Jeremy Renner is one my favorite actors. So I was very interested in picking this book up. After reading the book, my opinion, while still generally positive, was altered a g A solid 3.5 stars. Challenge Complete: a book that became a movie With this book, I did something I do very rarely- I watched the movie first. I enjoyed it immensely. I thought it was good, if a bit slow and in danger of taking itself too seriously at points. However, I do admit that my opinion is probably a bit biased because Jeremy Renner is one my favorite actors. So I was very interested in picking this book up. After reading the book, my opinion, while still generally positive, was altered a great deal. As is the case with many adaptations, changes were made in hope of upping the excitement level or making the protagonist more sympathetic. The timeline was switched around, and some people were combined into one. Therefore, the movie, while well crafted, cannot be taken at face value. A more accurate film would have acknowledged more of Gary Webb's shortcomings, while still portraying the media's reaction and shaming as excessive. Our modern media, in catering to our short attention spans, likes to paint people in caricature. There are only heroes and villains; the heroes are faultless, and the villains are scum. However, in reality, people are much more complex than that. This book, though clearly slanted in support of Gary Webb, provides a surprisingly nuanced and complex portrait of a troubled man and the biggest story of his career. Some of the people most involved in the way that the story was edited and printed expressed regret that, in their rush to publish, so many mistakes were made. As shown by the following quotes, Webb's former editors wondered that if they and Webb had shown more restraint, would the ending have been different (and less tragic): Dawn Garcia, Webb's former editor: "Had I to do it all over again, I would have pushed to hold the story until everything was truly ready. I would have recast parts of the series to focus on the very strong reporting Gary had done, and be much more careful about how we worded the conclusions of that reporting." "....the core of the series was correct but the conclusions Gary drew were too sweeping." Jonathan Krim, former Mercury News editor: "The zeal that helped make Gary a relentless reporter was coupled with an inability to question himself, to entertain the notion that he might have erred.... There was plenty of blame to go around. We failed as a newspaper." A later CIA report about the allegations only partially vindicated Webb, wrote David Corn in Nation Magazine. "It vindicated his interest in the subject and his belief that this was important and that something terribly rotten had happened." There are a few typos, but the book remains very readable. I recommend it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ed Morawski

    "Kill the Messenger" is the story of Gary Webb, a San Jose Mercury News reporter, who broke the fantastic story of the CIA indirectly (that's a key word) creating the crack cocaine epidemic in South Central LA, and what happened to him as a consequence. The story is interesting (since I like many other others believed this whole episode was a hoax perpetrated by the left wing) and it turns out to be mostly true! The only problem was that every interested party took it upon themselves to interpret "Kill the Messenger" is the story of Gary Webb, a San Jose Mercury News reporter, who broke the fantastic story of the CIA indirectly (that's a key word) creating the crack cocaine epidemic in South Central LA, and what happened to him as a consequence. The story is interesting (since I like many other others believed this whole episode was a hoax perpetrated by the left wing) and it turns out to be mostly true! The only problem was that every interested party took it upon themselves to interpret the facts to suit whatever side of the political spectrum they happened to be on. Gary Webb never actually said or wrote or proved the CIA was directly responsible for the crack ravaging black neighborhoods, but that didn't seem to matter. It was especially sad that Webb's biggest attackers were major newspapers! They didn't want to cover the cocaine -Sandinista connections but when Webb did all hell broke loose. It's hard to say why the major rags seemed to be on the Federal government's side in this and the book never answers that or even speculates. What he did say is recorded in this rather disjointed and often difficult to read piece by Nick Schou, who managed somehow to get it made into a "major motion picture". Since the CIA-crack connection was one brief part of Webb's life, the book naturally contains a lot of filler about the rest of Webb's life. The real problem though is that there are so many names and characters and jumping timelines, the story is hard to follow. To me the author made the same mistakes he ridiculed others for doing: ignoring key pieces of the story. Why did the major left leaning media come down on the right wing side? And even more damning: why does Schou brush off the fact that Webb died of multiple gunshots wounds and it was ruled a suicide???? How many people kill themselves by shooting themselves in the head - TWICE?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Keka

    I only read this because I want to see the movie and, whenever possible, I always read the book of a movie I want to watch if a book exists. This read more like an extremely long newspaper article than a book. Not that it wasn't interesting, it was just cut and dry. Here are the facts, here are quotes by sources, that's it and that's all. Before reading the book, I had my doubts about Gary Webb committing suicide. But now, I'm pretty sure he did. This book revealed a lot about Webb. He seemed to b I only read this because I want to see the movie and, whenever possible, I always read the book of a movie I want to watch if a book exists. This read more like an extremely long newspaper article than a book. Not that it wasn't interesting, it was just cut and dry. Here are the facts, here are quotes by sources, that's it and that's all. Before reading the book, I had my doubts about Gary Webb committing suicide. But now, I'm pretty sure he did. This book revealed a lot about Webb. He seemed to be a good enough reporter but the way everyone described him, he also seemed to be a bit arrogant and assh*lish, which definitely added to his downfall. It didn't help that his editors were quasi-incompetent. Having a degree in journalism, it seems to me that this whole "Dark Alliance" fiasco could have been avoided with better editing and an honest, humble re-read by Webb. He may not have blatantly accused the CIA of what they were in fact doing but had no proof of, but he definitely implied it. Webb's downfall is best described by a few quotes in the book: "This guy was abused for doing his job. To the extent he was wrong, the fault lies with his editors who probably didn't work with him sufficiently or do certain checking on some of the stuff he was told." -Jack Blum "Gary was betrayed by his handlers." -Tom Scheffey "The zeal that helped make Gary a relentless reporter was coupled with an inability to question himself, to entertain the notion that he might have erred." -Jonathan Krim This was an easy and interesting read. It had an overabundance of spelling and grammatical errors, which seems extremely absurd, given the subject matter. But whatever... I can't wait to see the movie...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Iain

    "Kill the Messenger" is a perfect title for Nick Schou's book that looks into investigative journalist Gary Webb's life and the expose Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion. The story was a bombshell and it exposed an awful truth which needed to be exposed but instead the messenger was hung out to dry after being discredited, Gary Webb's journalism career was torpedoed by the three biggest newspapers in the country (New York Times, Washington Post, and LA Times). T "Kill the Messenger" is a perfect title for Nick Schou's book that looks into investigative journalist Gary Webb's life and the expose Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion. The story was a bombshell and it exposed an awful truth which needed to be exposed but instead the messenger was hung out to dry after being discredited, Gary Webb's journalism career was torpedoed by the three biggest newspapers in the country (New York Times, Washington Post, and LA Times). The sensational nature of Webb's claims meant a lot of people got involved with their own agendas and like a firestorm of half truths and political spin overshadowed the actual news story. Nick Schou argues there were some flaws in Webb's reporting but could have been fixed with a strong editorial staff (his editors failed in this regard) and instead of trying to "take out" a competitor the big three should have investigated the claims further. In a twist of irony, the New York Times, Washington Post, and LA Times all reviewed Gary Webb's 1998 book Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion favourably but never retracted the smears they put on his credibility as a reporter in 1996 about the same story. In addition, the CIA Inspector General Report issued the same year as Webb's book, essentially supported all the claims made in Dark Alliance but the world was too busy wondering about a president and semen stained dress. A sad case of an impressive journalist who couldn't handle being shunned for reporting the truth.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Arra Perez

    I have three words: one beautiful book. Every journalist should read Nick Schou's Kill the Messenger to get a clear cut idea on how the industry really works. Often, we only see the perks of being a newsman -- getting free and easy access to events, getting invited to tons of gatherings, the bizz and buzz of meeting new people, the connections and the scoops -- now this book will tell you the cruelty of the world you've chosen. Journalists, would-be, and wanna-be journalists are really the targe I have three words: one beautiful book. Every journalist should read Nick Schou's Kill the Messenger to get a clear cut idea on how the industry really works. Often, we only see the perks of being a newsman -- getting free and easy access to events, getting invited to tons of gatherings, the bizz and buzz of meeting new people, the connections and the scoops -- now this book will tell you the cruelty of the world you've chosen. Journalists, would-be, and wanna-be journalists are really the target audience of this book since, truth be told, you won't really enjoy this if you're not interested in the field since it's mostly facts in this book. Mostly based on documents and personal accounts. So it will be hard for one to truly immerse and embrace this book if he or she does not understand or even know the picture. The storytelling was intense! I couldn't even cite a boring or skippable part as devouring this book would come natural owing to the flawless narration. This is the epitome of "it's so perfect it hurts." Writing style was highly conversational amid factual; one would never have a hard time keeping up. I think it's Schou's gift as a journalist and storyteller to show and not only narrate a story. Reading this would be as natural as breathing. And so pick up this book and fall in love with this one venerable journalist called Gary Webb.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jubalyn ExWilliams

    Kill the Messenger revisits "Dark Alliance," the series that drove Gary Webb from investigative journalism and perhaps life itself. It also serves as a primer for and reading of Dark Alliance, including the book version Webb later wrote. I really like how Kill the Messenger reads -- like an investigative report. The language is concise. The narrative voice isn't long and breathless. And there are dozens of sources interviewed or referenced for different points of view. The objective style isn't de Kill the Messenger revisits "Dark Alliance," the series that drove Gary Webb from investigative journalism and perhaps life itself. It also serves as a primer for and reading of Dark Alliance, including the book version Webb later wrote. I really like how Kill the Messenger reads -- like an investigative report. The language is concise. The narrative voice isn't long and breathless. And there are dozens of sources interviewed or referenced for different points of view. The objective style isn't devoid of emotional effect though. It's hard to read how Webb's livelihood dwindled after he resigned from The Mercury News, or his failed attempt to advance Dark Alliance through his chosen profession. Nick Schou -- the author and himself an investigative journalist -- advanced the work laid by Webb, his contemporary. Without apparent favor or fervor, Schou's living sources include dozens of Webb's former colleagues; high-profile detractors; and public-facing supporters. For that, I think Kill the Messenger is indeed his story to tell. https://landturn.com/reviews/kill-the...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Craig Cote

    I'd read about this book on Slate.com and it sounded interesting, so when it went on sale on Audible I picked up a copy. Segueing from "To Kill a Mockingbird" to this on the same evening, the emotional state I left the TKaM carried over to the start of this and I got a little teary during the intro. Gary Webb's story is interesting, although the title is maybe a bit deceiving -- if one is expecting a conspiracy-theory to frame the narrative, one will be disappointed. It's easy to agree with the b I'd read about this book on Slate.com and it sounded interesting, so when it went on sale on Audible I picked up a copy. Segueing from "To Kill a Mockingbird" to this on the same evening, the emotional state I left the TKaM carried over to the start of this and I got a little teary during the intro. Gary Webb's story is interesting, although the title is maybe a bit deceiving -- if one is expecting a conspiracy-theory to frame the narrative, one will be disappointed. It's easy to agree with the big conclusion of the book: For one reason or another, Gary Webb was treated poorly and unfairly by his peers when he broke his 'big story' about the link between the CIA and the rise of crack-cocaine in southern California. His life began to fall apart after that, and he eventually committed suicide. You could boil it down to a case of bullying writ large. The outstanding question is: do those who attacked Webb following the publication of his story feel any remorse after all these years? Would they even admit it publically if they did?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    Truth really is stranger than fiction. Dark Alliance by Gary Webb illustrates this in his account of how the CIA apparently condoned drug sales from Central America in the US to fund the covert Contra war. Webb's biggest enemy after he published his original stories wasn't the government he exposed in such in such detail, but his media peers. Shou's Kill the Messenger is both a brief biography of Webb and an analysis of the events surrounding Dark Alliance. Schou describes how other journals unf Truth really is stranger than fiction. Dark Alliance by Gary Webb illustrates this in his account of how the CIA apparently condoned drug sales from Central America in the US to fund the covert Contra war. Webb's biggest enemy after he published his original stories wasn't the government he exposed in such in such detail, but his media peers. Shou's Kill the Messenger is both a brief biography of Webb and an analysis of the events surrounding Dark Alliance. Schou describes how other journals unfairly criticized his work and defends its veracity in light of interviews Schou did in the years both before and after Webb's suicide. Although we will probably never know the full story behind Dark Alliance, it's safe to conclude that Webb was a talented reporter who was a victim of mass media's subservience to power (see Chomsky and Herman, Manufacturing Consent). We should speak up on behalf of other journalists who, in the words of Samuel Huntington, "expose power to the sunlight".

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