Talk:Gary Webb

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Recent Alternative Coverage[edit]

Well pretty much what those voices were saying all the time, they just got way more percieved credibility (they always had real credibility), but the one percieved by the public should be fine now, unless for those who are full on aspartame, glyphosate, flouride etc and can't wipe their behind without government's approval.

As per wikipedia rulez, it's no surprise the death is marked as a "suicide", even though it's a total joke. Alex Jones just happens to have been close to Gary Webb, so after the film he talked about it a bit, I am not the old cat so I didn't know about Gary at all, so it's not a detailed coverage, just a mention, but there's one summary video, a special report, they call it, so why don't you guys just see for yourself.

Special Summary (October 2014):

A few videos from radio broadcast that may go into a bit more background/detail:

Ricky Ross was on the show today, it just happened so it's not uploaded yet, he'll get in studio next week, so I pasted the part 1 of a interview from 4 years i found, other parts should be displayed on the recommended videos area.

The Film Brief Review (sneak peak):

Recent report from NNN Xowets (talk) 20:22, 21 October 2014 (UTC)

Who kills themselves with TWO bullets to the head?

Well, there are plenty of sources that suggest and provided an argument that it was murder. PrisonPlanet, Rense, etc. Sources that, I would guess, are considered non-RS here. But presumably they use reliable secondary sources that in turn could be used to provide balanced info on his death. The folks that are edit warring to replace suicide with murder would do well to switch tactics.
OTOH, "He wrote and mailed letters to his ex-wife, his three children, his brother and his mother. He updated his will," per, e.g. this recent piece on the movie. I haven't tried to evaluate the arguments but someone could... --Elvey(tc) 00:23, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

RfC: Was Webb Vindicated? Is this article specific enough?[edit]

As I noted in the Vindicated section of this page, there appear to be issues regarding the neutrality of this article and also treatment of the specific claims Webb made. In the introductory portion, several of his claims are listed and the article later claims he was vindicated without really being clear as to how he was vindicated. In the section above, I try to cite material both original and 3rd person that dispute this, but some editors took issue. I would like more commentators on this because at least one of the editors appears to be not impartial. Thanks.Rja13ww33 (talk) 13:04, 30 October 2014 (UTC)

  • Comment I'm unimpressed by your sources and argument above. I agree, there's a movement to rehabilitate Webb and sympathetic journalists write whatever newspaper stories they want to push their new narrative. That said, with Wikipedia's leftist tilt, I think the present article is as balanced as it will ever get. If you want to make changes you have to specifically target individual sentences, challenge references, and offer other reliable sources to redefine "neutral point of view." Wikipedia is not for newcomers. I'd recommend you find other articles to work on, make a couple thousand edits, and come back when you're ready. Chris Troutman (talk) 23:08, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
My sources are some of the very sources that people are using to say Webb was vindicated. When you actually read these reports (i.e. the Hitz report and the DOJ report), they take on Webb's claims on a point by point basis and pretty much annihilate them. Since only second hand sources are allowed (i.e. what others say), I've cited several (including Frontline). They've all been dismissed. In one case because Webb apparently had a feud with one of the writers; I have yet to hear an explanation as to why his opinion is worthless while Nick Schou's opinion is objective (especially considering the fact he and Webb were buddies; Webb thanked him in foreword to Dark Alliance). But in any case, you are correct that I am fairly inexperienced at editing on wiki which is why I put out the RfC so possibly a consensus of opinions could be reached as to what (if anything) should be done. Since (IMHO) this article isn't just missing a minor fact or two (something I have fixed in other wiki articles). Thanks for your comment.Rja13ww33 (talk) 14:51, 13 November 2014 (UTC)

Funny that Glenn Garvin is cited in this article. If anyone ever opened the link to his article, then he'd clearly see that rather than journalistic source, we're given fully raged encounter of some crazed rightwinger. Please, get rid of that 7 lines of irrelevant banter in this article.

KP — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:05, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

First off, this comment probably does not belong in this section. And secondly, Glen Garvin is an award winning reporter who spent a great deal of time embedded with the Contras (years if memory serves). This is as opposed to Webb who relied a great deal (for his overseas investigation) on people associated with the Christic Institute (like George Hodel). He certainly is at least as objective as (for example) Nick Schou whom Webb thanked in the foreword to Dark Alliance and is cited throughout this article.Rja13ww33 (talk) 19:34, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

Major problems I[edit]

I agree with Rja13ww33 that there are major concerns with this article and a careful revision is called for. The claim that the accuracy of Webb's series was "vindicated" cannot be taken as a starting point of the article, yet it clearly has. This is a violation of NPOV. The quotes from the articles already cited on this very page do not support this. For example, Susan Paterno's article in American Journalism Review, is quoted above: "Though hardly a vindication of Webb, the report marked one of the most extensive internal probes the CIA had ever launched." This means that Paterno concedes the CIA report did NOT vindicate Webb's work. This contradicts Schou, who says it DID. Who is right? The original work in this case must be consulted. If it confirms Paterno, you cannot just quote Schou and conceal the fact that he is contradicted. If Schou does not accurately describe the report, he is ipso facto not a reliable source; if you claim a document says X and the document says NOT X, you are not reliable. This is a central point and must be resolved.

The CIA report was not the only report that the series gave rise to. The Department of Justice did a lengthy report in response to the series. This report is cited in the bibliography section of the article, but unmentioned anywhere else in the text of the article. In the conclusions of this report, the authors state: "We found that the allegations contained in the original Mercury News articles were exaggerations of the actual facts." It further says "We also found that the claims that Blandon and Meneses were responsible for introducing crack cocaine into South Central Los Angeles and spreading the crack epidemic throughout the country were unsupported." These conclusions cannot be concealed simply on the basis that the DOJ report is "an original source." They must be mentioned.

Regardless of how the issue of "vindication" is resolved, the article is dramatically unbalanced in its presentation of problems with Webb's series. Going back to Paterno's article, she repeatedly acknowledges problems with Webb's series. In the lead she says "But while Webb overreached, some key findings in “Dark Alliance” were on target" Overreached is a criticism of the accuracy of his work. She quotes Peter Kornbluh at GWU's "National Security Archive", who says ""There were parts of Gary's story that needed to be corrected." Corrected means that Kornbluh believes there were parts of the series that were wrong. Both of these writers are VERY sympathetic to Webb, and both of them acknowledge that the series had errors. Yet the only mention of errors in the article is to brush off Glenn Garvin's critique of the series with the phrase: "Garvin offers no evidence of his own that directly refutes Webb's documentation, and simply assumes Webb is wrong by relying on second hand mainstream sources." This is not NPOV.

Finally, a particularly problematic part of the article is the repeated statement that Webb "was found dead from two gunshot wounds to the head, which the coroner's office judged a suicide." This is CALCULATED to induce doubt in the reader as to the accuracy of the coroner's findings. Still using Paterno's article, she has not a scrap of doubt that it was suicide and describes the suicide as follows: "He repaired to the bedroom, pulled out a revolver, and sent a bullet through his cheek. The second time he tried, he hit a major artery. 'There's no way [to know] if he died suddenly," says Ed Smith, assistant Sacramento County coroner, "or if he bled to death.'" There is nothing that I have seen in any factual account that EVER questioned that Webb killed himself, and the bizarre circumlocutions that are used in the article to convey doubt about this should be removed immediately. Rgr09 (talk) 18:40, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

Excellent points. Another editor suggested I edit the article. But (as you noted) the whole thing seems to have some major issues. Rather than start some sort of edit war, I wanted to build a consensus as to the best way to proceed. And to that end, you've given some valuable input.Rja13ww33 (talk) 18:51, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback, and thanks for your interest in the article and Wikipedia. Hope you able to contribute again, either here or elsewhere. Rgr09 (talk) 09:54, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

Major problems II: Bromwich report[edit]

I have gone over the article again, and I see that the DOJ report was in fact mentioned under the Michael Bromwich's name. My apologies for the oversight. Unfortunately, the article cites the report as follows: "The Bromwich report corroborated Webb's investigation into Norwin Meneses, a Nicaraguan drug smuggler." But the conclusion of the DOJ report in fact states: "We therefore expended significant resources in a lengthy and exhaustive review of the investigations and prosecution of the various individuals who were the center of the allegations in the articles -- Blandon, Meneses, Ross, Lister, and others. Our review found that the allegations in the articles were exaggerations of the actual facts." It goes on: "We found that Blandon and Meneses were plainly major drug traffickers who enriched themselves at the expense of countless drug users and the communities in which these drug users lived, just like other drug dealers of their magnitude. They also contributed some money to the Contra cause. But we did not find that their activities were the cause of the crack epidemic in Los Angeles, much less in the United States as a whole, or that they were a significant source of support for the Contras." I fail to see how this is corroboration. Bromwich rejects the major claims of Webb's series. Please clarify or correct. Rgr09 (talk) 04:38, 24 January 2015 (UTC)

Major problems III: Biography[edit]

In addition to the problems noted above, there are many places where Webb's biographical data is either completely unsourced or inadequately sourced. Since changes here are, perhaps, less likely to be controversial, I'll try to do this first. I will note all changes on the talk page to make sure my reasons are clear, and to get feedback from interested editors. Biographical information is in four sections: early life, notable stories, awards, and aftermath and death.

Early life: one source, but it only provides information for the last two sentences. The rest of the paragraph is unsourced.
Removed old unsourced version and replaced with sourced version, based mostly on Schou 2006, with some information from Paterno 2005. Schou is mostly anecdotal, but overall gives the most detail for the early part of Webb's life and is based on interviews with Webb's family. More information still needed to make Webb's career comprehensible, coming soon (still reading Schou's book). The article definitely has structural problems, any changes I make I will explain below. Rgr09 (talk) 14:10, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
Added more information on Webb's career in Ohio with very short paragraphs for each paper he worked on, sighting stories or series, based on awards he won for them, or notable reactions they produced Most of the awards mentioned on his resume from Ohio are untraceable at this point. Found the IRE award link again. SDX is Sigma Delta Chi, an award for outstanding writing from the Society of Professional Journalists; Webb won a number, but they were all regional, not national, hence very hard to track down and connect with stories; if anyone can find them put them in or send me a link. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rgr09 (talkcontribs) 01:12, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
Notable stories: This is the beginning of a long list of Webb's writing. There is no source for any of this, except the last piece. I also don't understand on what basis these have been picked out of Webb's work and called 'notable stories.' Such long lists of stories, almost completely without discussion, do not usually appear in biographies of journalists on Wikipedia (that I have seen).
This list seems to be just the contents of Webb 2011, with 'Dark Alliance' added in. There is no reason just to drop the TOC of Webb 2011 into the middle of the article. I removed it, but for stories such as the Loma Prieta coverage, which was very important for Webb's career and probably helped the Mercury News win the Pulitzer, I will add back into the article with adequate sourcing for their content and importance. I have already done this for the "Coal Connection" series, which won Webb his first professional journalism awards. If you have any concerns about this, please discuss here! Rgr09 (talk) 14:37, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
Awards: This is a long list of journalism awards with no sources except for two: one is an "IRE" award from 1980; the link to this is dead. The article also claims the Pulitzer Prize in 1990. This was actually a staff award, a point I don't think is made very clear in the text. This long list is followed by "literary" (awards?) and "college journalism" (!). A source is needed for all of this; I question the notability of most of it.
Finally tracked this down. This is Webb's resume, which was posted at NarcoNews in Oct. 2005. It was then copied into the article by an unregistered user in December 2005, and has sat there ever since. It is not acceptable to post resumes to Wikipedia, even in a good cause; removed most of it, but left a few major items. When the article has an adequate description of Webb's career, this can probably go as well. Webb had a remarkable career in journalism and the article does not do him justice in this respect, but posting his raw resume is not only unacceptable Wikipedia practice, it does not redress this major problem. Rgr09 (talk) 15:04, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
Aftermath and death: some of this is sourced, but there are problems. For example, the description of Webb's jobs after leaving the Mercury News is sourced to "The Ultimate Gary Webb - American History Information Guide and Reference." This is a dead link, but it can be found on the Wayback Machine. Unfortunately, this turns out to be one of those circular references: the article in question is clearly marked as coming from Wikipedia! There is also a whole paragraph that is totally unsourced. Rgr09 (talk) 09:42, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
Aftermath and death 1: Removed dead link to circular reference, found and added two archived sources for some of the statements in this section. Text changes include: Webb was not a member of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee; the Committee consists of Assembly Members. Webb lost his position in the Speaker's Office in Feb 2004 when Nunez became speaker, not 2003. One source described Webb as being "ousted" which I don't understand, the other described him as "laid off" which I followed. I found no basis for claiming that the rest of the Speaker's staff was also laid off "as part of a house-cleaning." Rgr09 (talk) 13:04, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
Aftermath and death 2: Changed section title to Later career and death. Complete rewrite of the description of Webb's death. I have followed the Sacramento Bee article cited here VERY closely. but I don't think there is a problem, having cited it three times after each major bit of information and avoided wording it uses. The quotes from the coroner and Webb's wife are fair content and need to be in the article. The article is a reliable source for the existence of "rumors" about Webb's death, so that is finally mentioned, but as it should be: a rumor. I am sure that we will continue to have problems with this part of the article. I have left in "two gunshots to the head" even though I feel this is misleading, as I noted below. I am still thinking about removing the phrase from the beginning of the article, because it is missing all the important context here. I suspect that some of the drive-by editing on this article is done by people who see that and don't even bother to look down here. Rgr09 (talk) 07:46, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
infobox: revised infobox based on revisions to early life section. Rgr09 (talk) 02:24, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

Restructuring suggestion[edit]

Regarding the basic article structure, I suggest that Webb's biography and the 'Dark Alliance' newspaper series could be usefully separated. One way to do this would be to put up a new article devoted to the newspaper series. Another possibility would be to cover both the series and the book in the already existing 'Dark Alliance' article. The advantage of separating would be to simplify fixing Webb's biography and also to simplify description of the series (and possibly book) content and the complicated events it produced. One problem would be that a new article would separate the current contents from their editing history. Anyone going over the article will need these to track down references and reasons for why the article has gotten into this state. Any comments on this suggestion? Rgr09 (talk) 06:31, 25 January 2015 (UTC)

I would support restructure and moving some information to the Dark Alliance page. The Biography section needs to be a more general timeline, with some sections broken out, such as Critics.Jonpatterns (talk) 13:01, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback. After I've filled in some of the blanks for sources, the biography should be more tractable. Lists go, replace with paragraphs; there seems to be enough information out there to do that. The natural thing to move to the Dark Alliance book article is the redundant section on the book in this article. Perhaps insert a see also in its place? I agree that book review(s) should move to the book article, as suggested above (somewhere). Rgr09 (talk) 17:29, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
Sounds like a good way to improve the article. There could be a summary on Dark Alliance with a see main article tag. Jonpatterns (talk) 20:10, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
OK. Removed miscellaneous discussion attributed to book and moved Garvin review to Dark alliance page. Put on "see main article" tag. Have not read book, so I cannot summarize (it is over 500 pages). In any case, there are numerous POV traps in such an attempt. A better approach might be to integrate the book into biography. It took up a good chunk of Webb's time after he left the Mercury News, and its failure to sell contributed to his financial problems. Nor did it help to vindicate his writing in the series. Rgr09 (talk) 01:46, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

Restructuring: basis and plans[edit]

I have done a major restructuring to the article. Please note that, except for one or two places where sentences had to be rewritten to match the new structure, I have not removed or rewritten anything. I would appreciate any and all comments/revisions to the changes. If you want to revert, for sure discuss it here first to avoid confusion and unnecessary appeals to various Wikipedia bodies. I feel the restructuring was very necessary. The major points in the article are now all each in separate sections and in a logical order. I am especially interested whether others think the section titles or section order have problems. If you think there are better ways of structuring the article, please explain.

One final point: I think the fundamental lack of balance in this article is now stark. The space devoted to the criticisms of the Dark Alliance series amounts to 2 sentences, less than 60 words. Webb's response get over 700 words and his supporters get over 1000 words. Wikipedia is full of unbalanced articles, but this is certainly one of the more obvious cases. Unbalanced does not mean that everyone has to get the same amount of words. It means that criticism of Webb's work is inadequately described, so that even his supporters' defense is incomprehensible in some cases.

Criticism of "Dark Alliance"[edit]

What DID critics say? Two sentences is just ridiculous, guaranteed this has to change. The first thing I will do, today, is add whatever links I can find to the New York Times, Washington Post, and LA Times stories on the series. Rgr09 (talk) 03:36, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

Added links and description for the New York Times articles. I will add in Washington Post and Los Angeles Times coverage in the next day or two. I will also add a description for Peter Kornbluh's article in Columbia Journalism Review. This is actually quoted in the article, without any acknowledgement that it is every bit as skeptical as the NYT articles. Unfortunately, the link given in the article is dead. I will see if I can find a live link. Rgr09 (talk) 07:04, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
I have Katz's article (LA Times) saved in case you cannot locate it. For a good summary of the CIA investigation into these allegations, I'd look at the Frontline link I gave elsewhere on this page. Rja13ww33 (talk) 14:22, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Do you mean "Seeing the Gray in Dark Alliance"? Got that one, thanks, are there any others by Katz? Right now looking for any remnants of the LA Times/Washington Post 1996 coverage. The NY Times has collection of articles on dark alliance still up, still have more to read there, but I want to read the other two papers as well, they seem to have been substantially more negative than NYT. Schou 2006 has some of their coverage, but alas my library copy of Schou has been recalled. Best to read originals first anyway, helps you understand what people bring to their summaries or interpretations; why I think it's important to reference them in the article. Seen Frontline website, very readable, but in the end is still just a summary. Both volumes of the CIA IG report are up at the cia site, surprisingly there is no link to these in the article. I will put links up tomorrow. Rgr09 (talk) 06:00, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
The Katz article I refer to was the 10/20/1996 article 'Tracking the Genesis of the Crack Trade' by Katz, et al. It's a pretty good source to understand how the cocaine/crack market in LA developed. And he names some of Ross's contemporaries. Katz took heat for saying it was several different dealers when (some time before Dark Alliance broke) he had written a story previously that made Ross sound like the king of crack in LA. But other investigations (including the DOJ's) backed the notion that it was a number of dealers (several in business before Ross was involved in dealing) that actually opened the first pipelines between Columbia and LA. I know original research isn't allowed, but (using a on-line newspaper archive I have a subscription to) I found articles from 1979 where cocaine is reported to be all over LA county. (From the lower to the upper classes.) Which is well before Ross got mixed up in dealing (right around 1981-1982) or Blandon began supplying him (around late 1983).Rja13ww33 (talk) 14:51, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the response. So this Katz article was part of the much maligned LA Times investigation of "Dark Alliance" claims. Yes, I'm interested in looking at it, but what I'm really interested in is finding links to the LA Times coverage online. There used to be an archive at this location but it is long gone, and is not to be found in either Wayback or Archive.Today or Webcitation. Any help locating public access to these articles would be great, but I gather you got it from a subscription source. Rgr09 (talk) 01:52, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
This should be available to everyone. (As I don't have a direct subscription to the LA Times. Just a general newspaper archive that accesses many different papers.) Try it: [1]Rja13ww33 (talk) 02:03, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
Ah, found it. I'll write it up and add it next week, after my time-out ends. I've looked through the collection keywords, now that you've shown me the way; oddly, despite the many garys that appear there, gary webb does not, nor does dark alliance. Rgr09 (talk) 13:35, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm not sure which link you refer to, but it worth trying the Wayback Machine if you haven't already. Jonpatterns (talk) 16:45, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Mentioned what I'm looking for right above. Tried but of course major newspaper websites all block it via robot.txt. Still have a few more places to check out. Strongly prefer a regular, long term archive for reliability. Any suggestions? Rgr09 (talk) 06:00, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
What is the URL of the dead link/links?Jonpatterns (talk) 10:52, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
I just put a link for the LA Times coverage above, and the places I looked. Rgr09 (talk) 01:52, 29 January 2015 (UTC)


since when some one can commit suicide with 2 bolt to the head !? assassination would fit better on the article — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:01, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

Hello and welcome to Wikipedia. To put things into the article, we need to have reliable sources (I forget how to put a link to the explanation). If you can find a reliable source that says Webb was assassinated, by all means put it in, but editors can't put in things just because we think they are likely or reasonable. In this case, like I said somewhere above, probably part of the reason you feel suicide is hard to believe is because the article says "two gunshot wounds to the head." This doesn't mean he shot himself in the brain twice. That may be possible, but is very, very rare, I'm sure. As I said earlier on this page though, according to the coroner who investigated, Webb shot himself first, not in the brain, but through the cheek. This wasn't enough to incapacitate him, so he was able to shoot again. I still don't completely understand how he died; the article I read says he "hit an artery", so he may not have shot himself in the brain at all. If I can find a reliable source for exactly how he died, I will change the phrase so that people aren't so confused. Rgr09 (talk) 09:54, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
There is the example Rgr09 gives, the first shot not being fatal. Also some automatic firearms could be triggered twice. Wikipedia use 'reliable' source see WP:RELIABLE. Frustratingly, these can trump the truth, if there is no source to back up the truth - however also note WP:RIGHTGREATWRONGS. Jonpatterns (talk) 16:45, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

Webb and the SJMN Pulitzer[edit]

I have now added info on Webb's role in the SJMN pulitzer prize. This topic has appeared on the article talk page before. One thing that must be very clear is that Webb did not win this award himself. It was awarded to the staff of the SJMN. Everyone who has written on Webb's career acknowledges that Webb's work played a role in the award, mostly citing the article I mentioned in the text on the Cypress Viaduct collapse, which Webb wrote with Pete Carey. Still, it is not acceptable to make this WEBB's Pulitzer, this would be inaccurate. and wildly unfair to the rest of the 1989 SJMN staff. I have left the award in the infobox, but added (staff) under it to try and maintain some fairness. But this is not really balanced writing; other journalists who were on papers which won Pulitzer staff awards do NOT have the Pulitzer listed in the infobox. One prominent example is Bob Woodward, who was lead reporter on the Washington Post's coverage of 9/11. The Post staff won the National Reporting Pulitzer for their coverage, and Woodward's role in mentioned in the article, but his infobox does not list a Pulitzer award. In fact, if Woodward were to list a Pulitzer for each staff award the Post has received since he got there, he would have at least three. Why should Webb be treated differently from Woodward? Any discussion would be appreciated. Please discuss first before any changes! Rgr09 (talk) 01:33, 28 January 2015 (UTC)

References and external links[edit]

This is yet another messy part of the article. Numerous attempts to clean it up in the past, none very successful. Since there are a tremendous number of duplicate references in the article, I suggest anyone interested in cleaning up here first try to make a real reference list (a list of works cited in the article), go through that for duplicate references in the text, THEN go through the "references" at the end, which include notes, bibliography, further reading, and "external links," which include an unlabeled section, a section labeled 'Commentaries' (a large collection of tributes to Webb written after his death in 2004), and a single entry 'Bibliography'. Please try not to remove anything not duplicated. After we see what's left, it will be easier to discuss any problems there might be. Rgr09 (talk) 11:16, 28 January 2015 (UTC)

Finally added links to CIA IG report, vols 1 and 2. This was a gigantic hole in the article. The reference material sections are now renamed and rearranged: Endnotes for the reflist, References for works cited in the references, and Further Reading for (mostly) print works that are not cited. External links are now divided into sections, with a couple of duplicates from references and furhter reading removed. Wonder how long this arrangement will last? Rgr09 (talk) 15:34, 28 January 2015 (UTC)

Final section renamed, revised[edit]

I changed the name of the final section of the article from "Posthumous reputation" to "Movie and continuing debate", based on the content of the section. I removed most of the movie information and instead sourced the article on the movie. I took the "Democracy Now" link from the External links section and moved it here, since this is also the subject of the link. Most of the current discussion of Webb and "Dark Alliance" has been spurred by the movie; this section is a good place to put that. Hopefully it will be expanded in the near future. Two suggestions on this: first, movie reviews, information, and trivia should go to the movie article, not here. I'm not optimistic about this, but that's the way I will edit, and I think it's reasonable. Second, the debate about Webb and his work must be presented NPOV, and should include criticism as well as praise. My edit is based on this. The section quotes Scott Herhold, Webb's first editor at Mercury News. His comments are relevant and well sourced and should not be taken out. After the Herhold quote the section originally added a long sentence intended to show that Herhold's comment were biased, based on some things in Herhold's column. This is not NPOV, it is the editor's opinion. If a quote or other information is acceptable content, editors do not add their own views on this, they do not add buts or howevers, they cite reliable sources who give whatever view or interpretation. The section then followed this with a quote from Susan Paterno's article on Webb, in which she said that Webb's editors on the series refused to talk to her. But Herhold was not an editor of the series, he worked with Webb in Webb's first year at Mercury News in 1988, and he did talk to Paterno and is quoted in her article. I therefore removed the Paterno reference from this section. I feel the handling of the Herhold quote was very much POV, even misleading, and I will edit such things out. Rgr09 (talk) 03:06, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

Problems with section on Investigations in response to the series[edit]

The content of this section was originally titled Investigation timeline. I found that confusing and renamed it, based on its content. This section is very problematic. I originally thought it was completely unsourced. But based on the lead sentence, which says "Investigative journalist Robert Parry credits Webb for being responsible for the following government investigations," I now understand that the section's ENTIRE content must be based on something Parry wrote. You cannot source things in such a loose way, it leads to major misunderstandings. This section has provoked most of the complaints about this article being biased or POV, and should long ago have been carefully sourced. I will take a hard look at this over the next week or so. I should make clear that I do not intend to remove adequately sourced content from Parry. I know that Parry has written a book on US government involvement in the cocaine trade, was previously an AP reporter, and now has his own website. That's all I know about him, but subject to Wikipedia rules on reliability and notability, Parry's views on Webb and his series are fair content for inclusion in the article. Moreover, I don't think it is appropriate to argue against Parry's opinions in the article, either directly, indirectly (inserting things like "Parry fails to mention ...") or through denigrating him. But his views do have to accurately represented, and they cannot serve as the sole source for the findings of the Department of Justice and CIA investigations into the claims of Webb's "Dark Alliance" series. As I said above, if Parry is contradicted by others, it needs to be handled, not ignored. Rgr09 (talk) 04:13, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

To me, the biggest problem with this section is what it says these reports say. To read it you would assume that what Webb asserted panned out. And anyone who has read those reports knows that isn't the case. (That's why I gave a link to that Frontline piece elsewhere because it gives a good summary of the CIA report.) Another issue here is with at least one of the sources. According to this section, volume 2 of the Hitz report: “...described how the Reagan-Bush administration had protected more than 50 Contras and other drug traffickers, and by so doing thwarted federal investigations into drug crimes. Hitz published evidence that drug trafficking and money laundering had made its way into Reagan's National Security Council where Oliver North oversaw the operations of the Contras”. The citation for this is neither a secondary source describing the Hitz report nor is it the Hitz report itself; it is a archive for George Washington University that doesn’t reference the Hitz report (it references the Kerry Committee and North’s notebook (among other primary sources by the way)).Rja13ww33 (talk) 15:02, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I understand. You are concerned the section gets the facts wrong. I am most concerned that the sources of the section are made clear. Like the editors above, I have to caution you against writing your own rebuttals into the article. Without knowing who the source is and why he said those things and whether the section summarizes his views accurately, how can you do this, anyway? Don't bother. If I can't find sources for any of the content in the section, I'll delete the whole thing, put up a note here, and wait for comments. By the way, I found much of the LA Times reporting sparked by 'Dark Alliance' at the link you gave above, many thanks. That is also a source for the article; it should be mentioned, linked, and summarized. Rgr09 (talk) 17:41, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
You are welcome. And I haven't edited the article at all (aside from putting the NPOV tag on it some months back).Rja13ww33 (talk) 19:40, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

More on Webb's death[edit]

My apologies, I reversed the meaning of an edit by omitting the word "not" and then had Webb's wife commit suicide instead of Webb. I will take a week long break from editing. I did find a long article by Tina Daunt in the LA Times that gave details from the coroner's report. I put in a link to the story and summarized it, this time correctly I hope. It seems clear that although Webb shot himself twice, neither shot hit the brain. Rgr09 (talk) 11:16, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

Biography 2[edit]

I have added more information on Webb's writing after he left the Mercury news, based on Schou and other profiles. I'm still looking for more information on the Awards section; I will incorporate what I find into the text and delete the award list. I revised the description of Webb's death; I now think it is acceptable, but I will review again later. Rgr09 (talk) 23:34, 3 February 2015 (UTC)

References and external links 2[edit]

Fixed up miscellaneous references, trimmed references section to remove articles cited in the endnote section. There seems no point to repeating these down here. Removed external links to "works by Webb", the library of congress link was just the lccn authority number, already given under the viaf, and there's nothing under the IMDB that's not already here in the article. The external links section is now a bookmark section for a large number of miscellaneous internet sources on Webb, or for stuff that people were too lazy to integrate into the article. I will starting trying to integrate some of these into the article. In particular representative or notable tributes should go into the article, perhaps in the lengthy and amorphous section on support for Webb's reporting, and the remainder deleted. Comments? Rgr09 (talk) 04:05, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Restructuring 3[edit]

Removed award list. There was not much I could do with the journalism awards. The Pulitzer is covered in the text. I could find nothing about the NAACP award on the internet or in Schou 2006. It seems that Webb did not win the 1996 Aronson award. Found no source for the media hero award, and I would question its notability even if there were. The Bay Area SPJ award is another of these regional journalism prizes that are so hard to track down; I left it in and will double check Schou. For the literary awards, the two for Dark Alliance are over in that article. I could not find sources online for the Rouse award for press criticism, and without seeing that I'm not willing to put this up now. If I find a source and it names the editor and not Webb, it should not stay.

Now that the last list is gone, I've restructured the article, lowering everything by a level, changing a couple of section names, making a couple of new sub-levels for the Dark Alliance series section. That section still has major problems and needs revision and expansion, but there's a limit to that as well; if it gets TOO much bigger, one might consider making it a separate article. Under the new structure, this should now be easier. The problems with the large and amorphous "Views on Webb's reporting" are now clearer to me. Are these views of specific issues in the series, or overall evaluations of Webb the reporter? There is lots of repetition in this section, and very little connection from paragraph to paragraph. This also needs work. Rgr09 (talk) 05:57, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

Dark Alliance series section: synopsis[edit]

Ready to look at the series section now. Added a couple of introductory sentences and reference to the wayback archive; eventually should be able to eliminate links to this and other material from external links. At this point, the series is very under-described. There should be at least one or two sentences for each of the main articles in the series, and for sure Ross, Blandon, and Meneses need to be identified. Right now they pop up randomly in the investigation result section, "see also" section, and "further reading section without any context whatsoever. Rgr09 (talk) 14:16, 5 February 2015 (UTC)

Series synopsis 2[edit]

I put in a new synopsis of the series after reading it a few times, and looking at the Schou bio, investigation findings, and follow up coverage on the archived Mercury website. I use quotes from the lead, which I think gives a better feeling of what and how Webb wrote. The original summary had some of the problems I noted above. It tried to defend the series by appealing to the book (which is now in another article), it attempted to rebut criticism of the series (that it claimed the CIA directly aided drug dealers to raise money for the Contras) without citing the criticism, and it omitted one of the most controversial parts of the series, the claim that the Meneses-Blandon-Ross triangle played a major role in the expansion of crack cocaine use in L.A. and nationally. Rgr09 (talk) 00:29, 6 February 2015 (UTC)

Series synopsis 3[edit]

Finished synopsis of the series. In addition to the three main articles, there were five shorter articles, published as sidebars in the newspaper version, according to Schou's bio. I didn't do anything with these and unless the series is to be separated out in its own article, I don't think these should go in. There is a lot of complex detail in there; Webb's book based on the series was over 500 pages.

Now that there is a more complete synopsis, it is finally possible to write clearly about the initial response to the series. There is easily available material for this; as before, I take Schou's biography as a primary basis. The archived website also has an extensive collection of stories on this, both from the Mercury News and other papers. Initial response should include Webb's follow up stories that led to the LASD investigation, but right now the follow up coverage by the NYT, WP, and LAT, is in a later section. Rgr09 (talk) 06:11, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

Initial response section and investigation conclusions[edit]

The initial response section now covers the origins of the investigations sparked by DA. There is more to write, but for now I am skipping to the section on investigations in response to the series. The original content of this section failed to clearly explain how the investigations were started or who conducted them, and omitted the SPCI investigation, which is why I revised the initial response section to do so. This section is still needed to explain the investigations' conclusions, so I will revise for that purpose.

As I said before, there are problems with the current content of this section. I have now found the source for most of it. It is based on an article on Robert Parry's website: America's Debt to Journalist Gary Webb. This article is neither a timeline of the investigations nor a summary of their conclusions. It is a sketch of some of Parry's views, and probably comes from his book on the Contra-cocaine controversy, "Lost History." Parry is critical of the investigations' conclusions and much of his article is actually a rebuttal of them. This is not made clear in the current section, which incorrectly attributes several of Parry's rebuttals to the investigations themselves (!). I will revise based on what the investigation reports actually said, either in summary or through short quotes.

The investigation conclusions were not universally praised or accepted; they were criticized by a number of people, such as Maxine Waters. It is quite reasonable to put in sourced descriptions of some of this criticism, subject to Wikipedia standards of notability and reliability, but it shouldn't be attributed to the reports themselves. Rgr09 (talk) 03:24, 9 February 2015 (UTC)

investigation conclusions 2[edit]

Added chronology of investigation results and revised version of Bromwich findings. Will finish this section then take a break. Would appreciate any comments from those who have weighed in before (@Rja13ww33: @Jonpatterns:) or others interested in the article. Rgr09 (talk) 08:16, 9 February 2015 (UTC)

The section looks good. Could probably use more on what the CIA's IG report concluded.Rja13ww33 (talk) 17:34, 9 February 2015 (UTC)
BTW, check the release date of one of the reports (I think it should be 1997 not 1977)Rja13ww33 (talk) 17:43, 9 February 2015 (UTC)

Restructuring 4[edit]

I've done a final restructuring of the article, so that it is now mostly chronological. There were several longer paragraphs I took out, if there are questions/comments about these, post here. Rgr09 (talk) 01:29, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

section on views of Webb's reporting[edit]

This section is an amorphous heap of quotes about Webb without any connections or order, frequently redundant and/or indirect. Geneva Overholser's criticism of the Washington Post coverage originally appeared 4 times, all of them indirect quotes. Redundant quotes are frequent in Wikipedia, but not like this; really odd. I've deleted three of them, and when I've got a reference to the original, I will cite directly from that and delete the remaining indirect quote. I question the relevance and notability of Richard Thieme as a source on Webb's writing. If I don't hear anything on this, I will delete as well. Rgr09 (talk) 06:14, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

New lead paragraph[edit]

I have revised the lead paragraph for the article, adding and subtracting from the previous content. I added a thumbnail description of Webb's career. I think this is particularly important, since previous versions of this article have slighted Webb's career as an investigative reporter and focused on the Dark Alliance controversy. I disagree with this; the article is a biography for Webb, not an article on "Dark Alliance". As I suggested before, if the "Dark Alliance" section becomes too long, it may be more appropriate to move it to another article. This has already been done for the Dark Alliance book.

I also shortened the description of the "Dark Alliance" series; the original description in the lead was long and detailed, but now that there is a description of the series further down in the article, this is no longer necessary. I also added the outraged African-American response to the series and fact that the series led to four local and national investigations. These were two important reasons that the series was notable and help to explain its importance in Webb's career. I'd be interested in any comments on the revisions. Rgr09 (talk) 06:36, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

Infobox 2[edit]

With a new lead paragraph, I've also edited the infobox. Now that the article gives adequate coverage to Webb's contribution to the Mercury News Pulitzer award, I've removed the Pulitzer award from the box. For an explanation of why, see my comments above. I also removed the two smaller papers that Webb worked for; there is no reason to put his entire work resume here. I also changed his occupation description to investigative reporter, since this was his main occupation and claim to notability. Rgr09 (talk) 06:47, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

Introduction revisions[edit]

I further revised the article introduction to reflect the changes made to the main body and to fix problems mentioned above. I moved most of the information in the original introduction to the "Views of Webb's reporting section." Since this section is basically a miscellany, it is impossible to say where it should go; I put it near the beginning of the section, for no special reason.

This is my last attempt at revising the article for the near future. Coverage by other papers is not done, the report conclusions are not done, and I'm especially sorry to leave the views section in such a mess. But life is short and I've spent far more time than I intended on this. I will check in periodically to see if there are any comments on the revisions. Rgr09 (talk) 06:43, 11 February 2015 (UTC)

One more try[edit]

I finally was able to get some of the Washington Post articles, so I'm going to take a stab at finishing up the section on coverage at other papers, and add some material I have at hand on Mercury News response. This will allow reduction in the very messy section on others' views on webb's writing, which is still awful. Rgr09 (talk) 03:56, 16 February 2015 (UTC)

added section on mercury news response to criticism[edit]

This section was needed to illustrate the many attempts the SJMN made to defend the series, and the responses they met. I finally got the original Overholser article and deleted the indirect quote from later in the article as I said I would. I was surprised to see that Overholser also has very harsh criticism of Webb. This was totally absent from the four quotes from Overholser which were previously in the article. As noted above, all of these were indirect quotes from two articles defending Webb. It is not surprising that these articles omitted Overholser's criticisms, but it is unacceptable for Wikipedia to do so. Use of indirect quotes from sympathetic sources is one of the main reasons why the article came to be so unbalanced. Rgr09 (talk) 14:31, 15 February 2015 (UTC)

Revising the section on views of webb's writing[edit]

Please excuse the length of this comment, but I have a lot to say on this. I have started revising by removing several quotes. The purpose of revising this section is not to remove praise for Webb or criticism of the Washington Post et al. It is to give the section a basic structure of some kind. The section now is a heap of random quotes, almost all of which purport to defend Webb or criticize Webb's critics in some way or another, but the total lack of structure keeps it from even doing that. The first part of fixing this is to get rid of some of the less useful or important quotes, principally from people who contribute less information to how Webb's series was written or edited or what it meant. Here are some comments on the quotes I removed.

The quote from Richard Thieme has been questioned more than once on the talk page. Other than having talked to Webb, he seems irrelevant to the article, so this was first to go. The Thieme quote was apparently originally added as a sort of counterbalance to a quote from Daniel Pipes. Pipes wrote a book on conspiracy theories that had harsh words for "Dark Alliance" and the quote from him was later deleted for lack of knowledge of the story or expertise in journalism. Thieme, however, remained despite his similar lack of qualifications.

The quote from Mark Fenster has similar problems. Fenster's book was actually a response to Pipes's book and suffers from the same defects that Pipes had, lack of knowledge of the story and lack of expertise in journalism. Looking at the references for the paragraph from Fenster that was cited, he refers to Schou's biography and a single article by Peter Kornbluh, showing no special knowledge or expertise.

The quote from Aucoin is from an article by Barbara Osborn in Extra magazine. I removed this because indirect quotes are problematic, as the Overholser quote mentioned above shows. If one cites Osborn's article, much better, and safer, to quote what Osborn says, rather than quote her quotes. The quote is also not integrated into the article, for which see below.

As noted above, Overholser's criticisms are moved to the section on Mercury News responses, where they fit in chronologically. In that section, I also added a quote from Steve Weinberg, dating from the same time. Weinberg is well qualified to comment on Webb's series; he is favorable to Webb, so if you are counting mark one on the plus side. I really do find it bizarre that people like Thieme were in the article and Weinberg, a notable journalist writing in a major newspaper, was not.

I also pulled a claim referenced to "Esquire magazine." It is unhelpful and often misleading to attribute quotes to magazines or newspapers, rather than the people who actually wrote the quote. The reference was to a profile of Webb in 1998 by Charles Bowden; again, not an ideal person to comment on the issues. In addition, the claim, that Webb's series had "copious citations" in contrast to the Los Angeles Times which used unnamed intelligence officials needs to be integrated somehow into the article. Instead it is just a random comment.

Double ditto for the very cryptic remark that "In September, 2014, the CIA Revealed how it watched over the destruction of Gary Webb." The citation is to an article that apparently has attracted some editors' attention, but not every reference to Webb and his series belongs in this article. "Wikipedia is not a directory." If you find an article you think provides information that belongs in the article on Webb, you need to explain what that is and fit it into the article. Random statements just dropped into the article like this should be deleted with a polite note asking the editor to fit it in somehow. Rgr09 (talk) 04:55, 16 February 2015 (UTC)

Added new section on end of series[edit]

I added this section because there was still no logical connection between the November 1996 events and Ceppos's column in May 1997. This is supplied mostly by Schou's biography. Although Schou gives important information from interviews with the main figures, his chronology is confusing and hard to follow. I also looked at an article by Pia Hinckle in Columbia Journalism Review, which has a timeline.

Ceppos's May 11 column is an essential part of the article. I realized just yesterday that the original description of the column had several errors, and have redone this part as well. These errors were mainly because the editor had not gone to the original column but had used a description from an article by Barbara Osborn in FAIR's magazine Extra. Ironically, Osborn did not include Ceppos's finding that the series did not include information that contradicted one of its central assertions. Rgr09 (talk) 02:14, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

Views on Webb's journalism 2[edit]

Moved most of "continuing debate" section here, then renamed it "film" because that's all that's left there. Added comments from reporters and editors who worked with Webb and what they felt his strengths and weaknesses were, 2 from Plain Dealer 2 from Mercury News, all of them cited extensively in works on Webb. Will revise remainder of section to give some evaluations of "Dark Alliance." Rgr09 (talk) 11:24, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

Views on Webb's journalism 3[edit]

I divided this long section into two: one on Webb's journalism overall, and one specific to views of "dark alliance" Overall, it is important to note that Webb's reporting in other stories was questioned; this can't be hidden, but much of his work won significant awards and the views of those most familiar with his work was overall quite positive. This article is a biography of Webb, so some such summary of overall evaluations of his reporting is important to add.

Of all Webb's work, however, "Dark Alliance" had the most influence on his career, so a separate section summarizing overall views of the series is also justified.

In this section I both added and removed some material. The Chicago Tribune commentary was a dead link; if I can find a live one, I'll put it back, since it is notable commentary in a major paper. The two Schou articles were not presented very clearly; I used them to give Schou's evaluation of the Dark Alliance claims, which I think is notable, considering Schou's knowledge of Webb and of the series. The article seemed to confuse Schou with the Los Angeles Times. Schou's opinion piece was published in the LAT, but that doesn't mean that Schou works for LAT, or that LAT agrees with Schou. It is incorrect to claim, based on Schou's article, that the LAT has recanted its views on Webb or "Dark Alliance". Ditto the Chicago Tribune; it is not even clear what the Trib's original view of the series was.

I revised Corn's comments to reflect his views on the series, which are not that far from Schou's. This was not clear in earlier versions of the article. Corn was familiar with the "Dark Alliance" series, and wrote a long review of the book version; as a major investigative reporter his views are also notable.

I also added relevant quotes from Jeff Leen's article. This article was discussed a while ago on the talk page, with some editors arguing it should not be included. I cannot agree with this. Leen is an important editor, who has overseen a number of series and articles that resulted in Pulitzer prizes; his own work has also contributed to Pulitzer prizes for both the Miami Herald and Washington Post. Leen was a senior reporter at the Miami Herald in the 1980s and wrote a book on the cocaine trade, so he is familiar with the background of the series, and is highly qualified to evaluate the series.

One reason given for excluding Leen's views was the fact that this was an op-ed piece. So was Schou's article and the Chicago trib article and many other sources cited in the article. There is no justification for excluding such writing from an article and I have not hesitated to add such material, here and elsewhere. Another reason seems to have been based on the fact that Leen debated Webb at an IRE conference in 1997. This was characterized on the talk page as a "feud". It is not a feud when two people disagree. Leen cannot be excluded just because he disagreed with Webb. Rgr09 (talk) 03:22, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

References and external links 3[edit]

I have moved the links to the investigation reports and congressional hearings from the external links section into the reference section. Most of these are now referred to in the article multiple times, so putting them up with the other frequently cited works seems best.

I have left the links to interviews featuring Webb, and added another to his C-span interview in 1998.

Of the remaining external links, I incorporated a couple in the views on Webb's journalism. The others should mostly not stay and I have deleted them. Some were simply descriptions of Webb's funeral, such as the George Sanchez and Chrisanne Beckner ones. Others were by people who I'm not sure had more than a passing acquaintance with Webb, such as Jeff Cohen. Cockburn and St. Clair simply present an earlier appeal Webb wrote for people to support Giordano's legal case. Giordano is basically a blog post that offers no more than his angry ramblings.

The Brian Covert "tribute", however, turned out to be transcriptions of a speech Webb gave at City College of San Francisco in Feb. 1997 and an interview the next day at the Mercury News office in Sacramento. It is very unclear where these came from or who did them; provenance is much too uncertain to use in the article, but it is still very interesting material well worth a link. Rgr09 (talk) 09:01, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

San Jose to Cupertino is only 15 minutes.[edit]

"Offered a choice between working in San Jose under editorial supervision or spot reporting in Cupertino, Webb chose Cupertino, 150 miles from his home." (Reference 50) This sentence implies it is the 150 miles that mattered and not the editorial supervision. San Jose Mercury News and Cupertino are 10.5 miles apart. The above sentence makes no sense or is very weak. source:,+4+North+2nd+Street+%23800,+San+Jose,+CA+95113,+United+States/Cupertino,+CA,+USA/@37.3110503,-121.9766236,13z/data=!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x808fcc0a74e019ef:0x66c29ec212a8c7a8!2m2!1d-121.889722!2d37.337568!1m5!1m1!1s0x808fb4571bd377ab:0x394d3fe1a3e178b4!2m2!1d-122.0321823!2d37.3229978!3e0 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:38, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for the feedback. The sentence wasn't supposed to imply that the distance was the main reason Webb chose Cupertino, but I have to admit this whole brief section now seems very vague to me. I'll take another look as my time permits. Remember too, that you are looking at driving times in 2014, but Webb was driving in 1997. Note that in 1997 the Mercury News was at 750 Ridder Park Drive, near Brokaw and I-880. It moved back to downtown San Jose in 2014. To really figure Webb's traveling time, you also have to know where Webb's home in Sacramento was. 150 miles came from Schou, p. 165, but the maps I'm now looking at seem to say only 120. Rgr09 (talk) 01:15, 2 March 2015 (UTC)