News that investigative journalist Robert Parry—who broke some of the key Iran/Contra stories as a reporter for the Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980's—died over the weekend has been met with an outpouring of sadness among readers and a wave of reflections from fellow journalists who remembered him as an uncompromising seeker of facts who remained committed to his craft until the very end.
In addition to his groundbreaking work as a foreign corresponent for major outlets, Parry—who died Saturday, according to his family, after a series of strokes caused by pancreatic cancer that had gone undetected—continued his muckraking career as an independent journalist after establishing Consortium News in 1995. As editor and publisher, Parry wrote with penetrating analysis and grit on foreign policy issues and domestic affairs while also giving platform to an array of writers and experts who challenged conventional thinking and mainstream orthodoxies.
This is terrible. Robert Parry was one of the best and most independent-minded American reporters of the past 50 years. Not surprisingly, this meant he got 2% of the recognition of DC's endless supply of hacks, and was forced to start his own publication. https://t.co/iaWL3eNfz3
— Jon Schwarz (@schwarz) January 28, 2018
In a widely-shared tribute posted on Consortium News on Sunday, Nat Parry remembers his father as someone boundlessly committed to journalistic integrity, but also as a reporter inspired by deep humanitarian impulses. Recounting a childhood memory of his father leaving for a trip to cover ongoing civil wars in Central America, he writes:
I remember asking him why he had to go, why he couldn't just stay at home with us. He replied that it was important to go to these places and tell the truth about what was happening there. He mentioned that children my age were being killed in these wars and that somebody had to tell their stories. I remember asking, "Kids like me?" He replied, "Yes, kids just like you."
Later in the tribute, the younger Parry says of his father that besides a deeply- "held commitment to independent journalism, it should also be recalled that, ultimately, Bob was motivated by a concern over the future of life on Earth. As someone who grew up at the height of the Cold War, he understood the dangers of allowing tensions and hysteria to spiral out of control, especially in a world such as ours with enough nuclear weapons to wipe out all life on the planet many times over."
While Parry remained a journalist unafraid to deconstruct narratives and expose truths in ways that powerful elites, corrupt right-wingers, and comfortable liberals often found inconvenient, his journalism was often pushed aside by a corporate-driven media system often threatened by, and unfamiliar with, such an approach.
The death of Robert Parry leaves such a void for those who see the main function of journalism as challenging horde logic. Many posture as being committed to such, but parrot propaganda when it's politically convenient. Hence, he won't get the mainstream recognition he deserves.
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) January 28, 2018
Among his journalistic peers, the grief was palpable as many shared their sense of loss and championed Parry's legacy:
— Katrina vandenHeuvel (@KatrinaNation) January 28, 2018
Horrible news: Ground-breaking investigative journalist Robert Parry has passed away.
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Parry always intrepidly challenged government and corporate media narratives. He leaves behind a mountain of work, and a legacy that has inspired many more journalists. https://t.co/cFRBTyWL9C
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) January 29, 2018
Robert Parry was a talented and determined old-school reporter, and not some Russian propaganda agent. You don't need to like everyone or everything he published on his site to recognize that.
— Corey Pein (@coreypein) January 28, 2018
Robert Parry's death is an incredible loss, I will forever be deeply indebted to his contribution to the world. Without his writings on the Kagan family and neoconservatives I honestly don't know what i'd be doing now, his influence will be felt for many decades to come.
— Robbie Martin (@FluorescentGrey) January 29, 2018
Robert Parry was an absolute inspiration for true journalism. After being pushed out by the AP for his brave reporting, he was a pioneer of the independent online journalism industry that we all recognize today. RIP. https://t.co/7TEsM2npV4
— Brian Saady (@briansaady) January 29, 2018
RIP Robert Parry. One of his most amazing stories was when congressional staffers accidentally let him look at the classified version of a government report, which included Al Haig claiming Jimmy Carter gave Iraq a "green light" to invade Iran in 1980. https://t.co/p5tL2n9oa9 pic.twitter.com/XZ6w5sK5EL
— Jon Schwarz (@schwarz) January 28, 2018
In his final post on Consortium—one in which he actually apologized to his readers after a stroke on Christmas Eve slowed down his writing and publishing—Parry restated his commitment to challenging accepted narratives and said that if he "could change one thing about America and Western journalism, it would be that we all repudiate 'information warfare' in favor of an old-fashioned repect for facts and fairness — and do whatever we can to achieve a truly informed electorate."
Parry is survived by his wife Diane Duston, a former Associated Press newswoman; sons Sam Parry and Jeff Parry of Arlington and Nat Parry of Copenhagen, Denmark; daughter Elizabeth Parry of Alexandria, Virginia; and six grandchildren.
Editor's Note: In lieu of flowers, Parry's family asks anyone interested to please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ).