Big media slapped back hard at Gary Webb for his Mercury News series about the Contra/crack connection. But in doing so, the corporate papers conceded a point that they'd glossed over for years--namely, that the Contras did indeed peddle the powder northward, with the knowledge of the CIA, a fact now treated as so much old news. It's a routine shuffle with U.S. foreign policy: Ignore a politically explosive story when it could make a difference, wait until it's ancient history, and then admit it as a footnote. Only cranks dig out the toenails of the big papers, and the supreme crank himself, I.F. Stone, used to remark that you never knew what page of the New York Times would have the front-page story. That's why the indie-journal likes of I.F. Magazine remain so important. Like a lot of other rags, I.F. claims to be in the tradition of I.F. Stone's Weekly, and to a degree it succeeds. Slapped together, xeroxed, overpriced, and devoid of ads, the magazine doesn't look like much, but it's clearly a labor of love for Robert Parry, the investigative journalist who broke the Contra/cocaine story back in the '80s (which he updates in the first two issues). Appropriately, I.F. is a sort of zine for investigative journalism: With the exception of Parry's windy aside about Las Vegas as a symbol for the fantasy nation, every article in the current issue is not just factually substantive, but reveals the journal's collective work ethic as akin to obsession--the mark of any good publication, you might say.
The premiere issue includes Peter Kornbluh's recounting of how the CIA punishes whistle-blowers, and William Blum giving those dead Tupac Amaru kids their due. But the real eye-catcher for me was the story on the other dead Tupac--Shakur, that is. I.F.'s "three-month investigation" of the Shakur story doesn't turn up much beyond the fact that cops were lax in tailing leads, but it's still a more informative and well-researched overview than most. The just-released second issue goes after the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his disturbing clout among conservatives with just as much diligence. If Parry and his Media Consortium were able to marshall some more funds, this scandal sheet could give the establishment rags a run for their money.