Good to see the LA TIMES revisiting The CIA-Contra-Crack Connection, 10 Years Later. Sample:
Two years before Webb's series, the Los Angeles Times estimated that at its peak, Ross' "coast-to-coast conglomerate" was selling half a million crack rocks per day. "[I]f there was one outlaw capitalist most responsible for flooding Los Angeles' streets with mass-marketed cocaine," the article stated, "his name was 'Freeway' Rick."
But after Webb's reporting tied Ross to the Nicaraguans and showed that they had CIA connections, The Times downgraded Ross' role to that of one "dominant figure" among many. It dedicated 17 reporters and 20,000 words to a three-day rebuttal to "Dark Alliance" that also included a lengthy musing on whether African Americans disproportionately believe in conspiracy theories.
All three major U.S. dailies, The Times included, debunked a claim that Webb actually never made — that the CIA deliberately unleashed the crack epidemic on black America. The controversy over this non-assertion obscured Webb's substantive points about the CIA knowingly doing business south of the border with Nicaraguans involved in the drug trade up north.
The Washington Post titled one of its stories "Conspiracy Theories Can Often Ring True; History Feeds Blacks' Mistrust." The New York Times chipped in with a scathing critique of Webb's entire career, suggesting that he was a reckless reporter prone to getting his facts wrong.
"That article included virtually none of the good things Gary did," said Webb's former Cleveland Plain Dealer colleague, Walt Bogdanich, now a New York Times editor. "It didn't include the success he achieved or the wrongs he righted — and they were considerable. It wasn't fair, and it made him out to be a freak."