Gary Webb, the reporter from the San Jose Mercury News who first broke the story of CIA involvement in the cocaine trade, was found dead with “two gunshot wounds to the head.” His death, in 2004, was ruled a suicide.
Who is Gary Webb?
Gary Stephen Webb used to be an American investigative journalist with numerous awards and a powerful reputation in his area of expertise.
He is best known for his strongly controversial “Dark Alliance” series where he investigated the roots of the crack-cocaine trade in LA. Webb linked some of the major traders to the CIA, claiming their involvement in the agenda. His articles led to several investigations being conducted. They rejected the main points of his series, but were quite critical of some federal actions of the CIA.
Even today, his reporting in the series remains controversial with many of his contemporaries critisizing his work and pointing out errors in his claims. One such example is Webb’s suggestion that the drug ring of Meneses-Blandón-Ross sparked the “crack explosion” in urban Los Angeles. This was one of his most often attacked points due to its lack of supporting evidence.
In fact, all of his work has been seen as controversial, despised by some and adored by many with a number of writers and editors praising his intelligence and hard-work. For example, Walter Bogdanich, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and a colleague of Webb’s very openly regards him as being “brilliant”.
Nearly a decade after he first published his provoking series, Gary Webb was found dead in his own home in Carmichael on December 10, 2004. He suffered two gunshots to the head and his death was ruled a suicide by the Sacramento County coroner’s office.
A lot of controversy surrounded the journalist’s death, mainly due to the report that he died from multiple gunshots. Many people on the Internet theorized that Webb’s death was not actually self-inflicted but was instead retribution for the commotion caused by his “Dark Alliance” series. Such conspiracy theories were even covered on news channels.
On the other hand, the Sacramento County Coroner Robert Lyons spoke about the possibility of a multiple-gunshot suicide, explaining that, although quite unusual, it is possible and that there had been other such cases. Even his wife-at-the-time, Susan, claimed Gary had been very unhappy due to his inability to find a job and that she would be surprised if it were anything other than suicide.
After his death, a collection of his stories, “The Killing Game: Selected Stories from the Author of Dark Alliance” was published.
Despite the disdain many had for Webb, he shall remain one of America’s most influential investigative journalists.
H/T – Wikipedia