to Sacramento for Gary Webb's funeral service this afternoon. I managed
get to the ballroom at the Doubletree just after the last seat was
in a room that had at least 200 people in it, most of them pillars of
community, but a sprinkling of motorcycle type friends of his kids and
forth. Across the front of the room were pictures from his life, awards
had won for his journalism (I saw his Pulitzer Prize among them). and
arrangements of flowers. There was a laptop computer with an attached
to the left of most stuff, and it was projecting a snapshot of Gary
a serious look on his face, with the caption Gary Webb, 1955-2004 on
screen behind the podium.
Almost immediately, Gary's
brother kicked things off by telling the
story of his life. He started with the mimeograph machine they had
as little kids. The speaker had gotten bored with it after about seven
but it had fascinated Gary. It had shown him the power of the written
and after playing with it the guy knew he wanted to write. All his life
guy had aimed for being a journalist, and the twenty years he spent
investigative journalism were the happiest of his life. Gary's brother
that the guy was not expecting to have his character assassinated by
mainstream media after he broke the story of the CIA's selling of
to finance their dirty little wars. After the damage was done, Gary had
it impossible to get another job in the field, his wife had left him
their kids, and he just got tired of waking up every day with nothing
do. He didn't want to settle for a burger joint job.
He was followed by a
string of other speakers. Family members spoke
highly of the guy's loyalty and willingness to help. A Latino guy that
never met Gary talked about his friends in college that had gotten lots
cheap drugs "from these two big Mexican guys." He said that in reading
book he recognized them from their descriptions, so he knew the book
the real deal. Michael Rupert, the author of Crossing the Rubicon, said
this was a dark day for the profession of journalism. He said that if
journalism has sunk to the point where talents like Gary Webb are not
the time has come to fight back. He explained the Revolutionary Latin
custom of calling the roll of those willing to fight, and that every
who was willing to stand with a fallen leaders cause to the end would
"Presente!" when the roll call reached their name, partly to scare the
quo that wanted that person forgotten. He finished by reading off "Gary
and we all said "Presente!" on que. The last thing was a slide
by Webb's sons, showing pictures from his life to the tune of the long
on the back side of Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon.
After the prepared
speeches were finished, we went down stairs for a
reception. I found myself at a table with a couple of other guys, one
whom was bubbling with conspiracy theories about who shot Gary Webb.
a little while two young women sat down and introduced themselves as
daughters of Gary and his brother. They said that Gary had clearly
suicide. Later, talking to his sister in law, I heard the same story.
said the guy had sent letters to every family member about it, saying
like "scatter my ashes in the ocean at the beach on a sunny summer day,
I can body surf for eternity."
My conclusion is that the
people who really killed Gary
Webb were the ones that poisoned his name to protect the drug runners
the people they were funding.