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Robert Parry (journalist)

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Robert Parry
Born(1949-06-24)June 24, 1949
Hartford, Connecticut, United States
DiedJanuary 27, 2018(2018-01-27) (aged 68)
Alma materColby College
OccupationInvestigative journalist
Known for
SpouseDiane Duston

Robert Earle Parry (June 24, 1949 – January 27, 2018)[1] was an American investigative journalist. He was known for his role in covering the Iran–Contra affair for the Associated Press (AP) and Newsweek, including breaking the Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare (CIA manual provided to the Nicaraguan contras) and the CIA involvement in Contra cocaine trafficking in the U.S. scandal in 1985.

He was awarded the George Polk Award for National Reporting in 1984 and the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence by Harvard's Nieman Foundation in 2015. Parry was the editor of Consortium News (consortiumnews.com) from 1995 until his death in 2018.[2]

Life and career[edit]

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Parry received a B.A. in English from Colby College in Waterville, Maine in 1971 and began his career in journalism in Framingham, Massachusetts working for his father's newspaper The Middlesex Daily News.[2] He joined the Associated Press in 1974, moving to its Washington, D.C. bureau in 1977.[3] Following the 1980 presidential election he was assigned to its Special Assignment (investigative reporting) unit, where he began working on Central America.[4][better source needed]

Parry was a finalist for the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting[5] and received the George Polk Award for National Reporting in 1984 for his work with the Associated Press on Iran-Contra, where he broke the story that the Central Intelligence Agency had provided an assassination manual to the Nicaraguan Contras (Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare).[6][7] In mid-1985, he wrote the first article on Oliver North's involvement in the affair and, together with Brian Barger in late 1985, he broke the CIA and Contras cocaine trafficking in the US scandal,[8] helping to spark Senator John Kerry's interest in investigating Iran–Contra.[9] The Associated Press had refused to publish the drug trafficking story, and only relented when its Spanish-language newswire service accidentally published a translation.[7] Barger and Parry continued to press their investigation of North even as most of the media declined to follow it up, eventually publishing a story in mid-1986, based on 24 sources, which led to a Congressional committee asking questions of North. After North denied the allegations, Barger was pushed out of the Associated Press, and Parry was unable to publish any further follow-ups to the story until after Eugene Hasenfus' plane (Corporate Air Services HPF821) was shot down in Nicaragua in October 1986.[4][non-primary source needed] After finding out that his boss had been "conferring with [Oliver] North on a regular basis", Parry left AP in 1987 to join Newsweek,[7] leaving the publication in 1990.[10]

In August 1990, PBS' Frontline asked Parry to work on the 1980 October Surprise theory,[4] leading to Parry making several documentaries for the program,[10][11][12] broadcast in 1991 and 1992. In 1996, Salon wrote about his work on the theory, saying that "his continuing quest to unearth the facts of the alleged October Surprise has made him persona non grata among those who worship at the altar of conventional wisdom."[10]

When journalist Gary Webb published his newspaper series "Dark Alliance" in 1996 alleging that the Reagan administration had allowed the Contras to smuggle cocaine into the US to make money for their efforts, Parry supported Webb amidst heavy criticism from the media.[13]

In 1995, Parry founded the Consortium for Independent Journalism Inc. (CIJ) as a non-profit, US-based independent news service which publishes the website Consortium News.[14]

In October 2015, Parry was awarded the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence by Harvard's Nieman Foundation for Journalism, "for his career distinguished by meticulously researched investigations, intrepid questioning, and reporting that has challenged mainstream media.".[15]

In June 2017, Parry was awarded the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism.[16]

Parry died on January 27, 2018, following several strokes caused by undiagnosed pancreatic cancer he had suffered from for the previous four or five years of his life.[17]



  • Fooling America: How Washington Insiders Twist the Truth and Manufacture the Conventional Wisdom. William Morrow, 1992.
  • Trick or Treason: The October Surprise Mystery. Sheridan Square Press, 1993. ISBN 978-1879823082. OCLC 28294820.
  • The October Surprise X-Files: The Hidden Origins of the Reagan-Bush Era. 1996.
  • Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, The Press & Project Truth. Media Consortium, 1999.
  • Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq. Media Consortium, 2004.
  • Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, with Sam and Nat Parry. Media Consortium, 2007.
  • America's Stolen Narrative: From Washington and Madison to Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes to Obama. 2012.



  1. ^ "Robert Earle Parry (1949–2018)." Ancestry.com.
  2. ^ a b Roberts, Sam (January 29, 2018). "Robert Parry, Investigative Reporter in Washington, Dies at 68". The New York Times. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  3. ^ "Investigative journalist Robert Parry dies at 68". Startribune.com. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Robert Parry, realhistoryarchives.com, A talk by Robert Parry given in Santa Monica on March 28, 1993
  5. ^ "Finalist: Robert Parry of Associated Press". Pulitzer.org. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  6. ^ Long Island University, George Polk Awards: Previous Award Winners. Retrieved on September 23, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c Cohen, Jeff; Solomon, Norman (January 14, 1996). "Robert Parry still investigating—in cyberspace". Eugene Register-Guard. Vol. 129, no. 83. Eugene, Oregon. p. 4C. Retrieved July 4, 2015.
  8. ^ Brian, Barger; Robert, Parry. "Nicaragua Drugs". National Archive. Associated Press. Retrieved May 29, 2024.
  9. ^ Robert Parry, 25 October 2004, Salon.com, How John Kerry exposed the Contra-cocaine scandal
  10. ^ a b c Dan Kennedy, 11 June 1996, Salon.com, Parry's Thrust (Archived September 3, 1999, at the Wayback Machine)
  11. ^ Frontline, 16 April 1991, The Election Held Hostage
  12. ^ PBS, Frontline, 7 April 1992, "Investigating the October Surprise". PBS. Archived from the original on August 25, 2012. Retrieved August 25, 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  13. ^ Webb, Gary (1999). Dark Alliance. Seven Stories Press. p. 480. ISBN 978-1-888363-93-7.
  14. ^ Robert Parry, 28 December 2011, A Brief Narrative of Consortiumnews Consortiumnews.com
  15. ^ "Nieman Foundation – Robert Parry Receives I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence". Nieman.harvard.edu. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  16. ^ "The Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism". Marthagellhorn.com. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  17. ^ "Robert Parry's Legacy and the Future of Consortiumnews", Parry, Nat. Consortiumnews, 28 January. Retrieved 4 February 2018.

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