all the major metropolitan papers, including the dual voices ofrnGod, the New York Times and Washington Post; of the Siameserntwins, Time and Newsweek; and of each member of the airwaverntrinity, ABC, CBS, and NBC. There was quite ferocious competitionrnto see who could say the least about Contras andrndrugs.rnWhy was the story not covered? It seemed to have everythingrnrequired for the perfect scandal, including blatant wrongdoingrnby highly placed officials, the high drama of internationalrnintrigue, and endless conspiratorial connections, while therndrug element provided instant proof that the conspiratorsrnwere actually doing something harmful and dangerous, inrncontrast to burgling a Washington hotel. I lad “Contragate” developed,rnthere were surely Pulitzers aplenty to be won, so whyrnthe restraint? The optimistic answer is that the editors andrntelevision news directors rigorously explored the allegations,rnfound them to be inaccurate (every individual charge), and feltrnit would be irresponsible to publicize a story not absolutelyrnfounded upon factual bedrock. The scholarly rigor of a classicistrnrefusing to publish a text until verifying every last rescension,rnevery mutant reading, would be as nothing compared tornthe determination of such men and women to prevent even thernshadow of a falsehood into their pages or news broadcasts. Andrnhow much more amazing to find such standards shared by everyrnresponsible news organ, so that no one paper was sufficientlyrncynical or self-seeking to bolt the pack and publish anrnunsupported charge.rnObviously this was not the ease, just as it does not reflect thernmedia’s handling of commonplace social threats and problems.rnThe media clearly do not apply the merest fraction of this journalisticrnrigor before going ahead with scare stories about allegedrnnew cancer dangers, about neyv figures on child abuse or domesticrnviolence, about ritual-abuse gangs organized in everyrnkindergarten and play school. They play the story, no matterrnhow obvious the internal contradictions and blatant falsehoods,rnand let it run until the public shows signs of boredom.rnHow else to explain the rich social mythology of the 1980’s, recountedrnendlessly in every news program and paper, includingrnthe most “responsible”? How else to explain the million and arnhalf missing children (yvhich in some accounts is the numberrnof children vanishing each year, which means that every Americanrnchild is now missing)? How else to account for the 50 orrn80 percent of American women who are allegedly raped duringrntheir lifetime? The 50,000 victims of satanic human sacrificerneach year? The fact that one American homicide out of everyrnfour is committed by a sexually motivated serial killer? Therncontinuing dissemination of the ludicrous and disproven figurernthat one out of every ten men is homosexual? Or, to take onernnotorious example of recent years, what perversion of criticalrnstandards allowed virtually all the media to run unchecked thernclaims about the discovery of cold fusion? When conspicuouslyrnnot describing the criminal lifestyles of the rich andrnpowerful, the media seem quite prepared to indulge in thernthree forms of journalistic wash: eyewash, whitewash, and hogwash.rnI tend to accept that there was at least a factual basis to therncharges about the Contras and drugs, while I do not believe thernliteral truth of many other equally explosive stories that havernbeen circulating over the last decade or so, but which werernspiked with equal alacrity by the news media. For example, thernWashington rumor mill of the late 1980’s made great play ofrnthe “October Surprise,” the allegation that Republican Partvrnofficials made a clandestine deal with the Iranian governmentrnin 1980 to delay the release of American hostages until after therninauguration of President Reagan. In some versions, GeorgernBush was personally implicated in such a near-treasonous arrangement.rnThe charges were eventually investigated byrnCongress, which dug through large mounds of disinformationrnand fantasy to determine that the story was spurious, and thisrnconclusion seems probable. However, it was widely supportedrn(a hundred times more so than, say, the homicidal devil cultsrnor child-abduction stories) and certainly offered the several unrelatedrnsources of confirmation demanded by traditional journalisticrnethics, and yet it remained essentially uncovered by thernmainstream media for several years after it first surfaced. Oncernagain, was this not newsworthy?rnPerhaps the best recent example concerns the sudden deathrnof Vincent Foster, which to the untrained eye initially lookedrnmuch like the assassination of an inconvenient public official,rnin best Banana Republic style. There may indeed have been nornfoul play, but it certainly seemed to merit the efforts of a decentrninvestigative reporter. If the incident had occurred inrnRome or Buenos Aires, there would probably have beenrnamused head-shaking over the rapidly reached public consensusrnthat this was nothing more than a private tragedy and possiblyrneven scandalized comments on the docility of the localrnfree media. And if the mysterious quietus was investigated byrnan “objective” gumshoe with indirect ties to the very politiciansrnunder suspicion, how swiftly American media would have denouncedrnthe local cartels that tied politicos, bankers, police,rnand media magnates. As the Victorian lady commentedrnwhen watching the hysterical suicide at the end of Cleopatra:rn”How very unlike the home life of our own dear queen!” Orrnmore biblically: “Lord, I thank you that I am not as yonderrnpublican. . . .”rnI ust from the experience of the last decade, let us look atrnJ some of the other roads not taken by the media, some of thernpotentially major stories that were effectively buried (which isrnnot to say that all or any of them were necessarily factual). Wernmight cite America’s role in the war in Afghanistan, where thernanti-Soviet rebels largely paid for their military endeavors inrnopium poppy that was transformed into heroin, thus creatingrnthe potential for another drugs/intelligence scandal. Therernwere at least the seeds of scandal lying dormant in the recordrnof American relations with Colonel Qaddafi, who appears tornhave been systematically armed and equipped over the years byrnthe intelligence services of the United States and other Westernrnnations. For what purpose and with what consequences?rnWhat about American reporting of terrorism through thern1980’s, when virtually every news story on the international dimensionrnportrayed the misdeeds of those three internationalrnstooges: Libya, Iran, and Syria? At the time, virtually every Europeanrncommentator on Middle Eastern terrorism knew thatrnthe key players included at least two equal or larger players inrnthe form of Iraq and Algeria, yet their roles are unmentionedrnin all the “expert commentary” of these years. Iraq, especially,rnhas almost certainly had a hand in virtually every act of thernso-called “Abu Nidal” group since its inception in 1976, andrnoutside the United States there is real skepticism if this organizationrneven exists except as an arm of Iraqi intelligence. Inrnevery case, the media acted in concert to conceal or ignore storiesrnthat were embarrassing to the LJnitcd States government orrnintelligence services. Iraq, for example, was throughout thernOCTOBER 1994/17rnrnrn