Returning from a short business trip to Greece on Sunday, it was with deep shock and emotion that I learnt of the death of Robert Parry, one of the greatest journalists of this time or indeed of any time.
Most of the obituaries I have read about Parry, including ones in the Washington Post and the New York Times, refer to him as an investigative journalist with particular stress given to his absolutely critical role in exposing the Iran-Contra affair.
Whilst this is of course true, for me and I suspect for many others Robert Parry was much more than this.
First and foremost and as was very obvious from his writings Robert Parry saw his work as that of bearing witness to the truth, and it is there that he saw his first duty as a journalist.
A convinced democrat, journalism for Parry was about informing the people truthfully about what was going on so that they could make informed decisions of the sort they have a right to make in a democracy. A failure of journalism to fulfil that duty puts democracy at risk.
That is what drove Parry to expose scandals like Iran-Contra, but also to refute fake and concocted scandals like Whitewater and Russiagate.
Note that though Parry’s writings show him to have been a man of centre-left views he worked impartially and objectively, confirming or refuting stories irrespective of whether they harmed or benefited Republicans or Democrats.
A person like that is obviously a human being of granite integrity. Suffice to say that Robert Parry was one of the very few journalists I know of who when reporting what he said he was told by an anonymous source I could absolutely trust to tell it true.
Along the way Robert Parry brought to his work qualities of masterly insight and analysis, which in my opinion deepened and grew stronger with time.
Suffice to say that for anyone genuinely interested in the political life and contemporary history of the United States Parry’s writings were quite simply indispensable.
There is another reason to regret his passing.
Robert Parry launched Consortium News in 1995 precisely because he was becoming concerned that the US media was no longer coming close to fulfilling the high journalistic standards required of it in a democracy.
Unfortunately in his last years the US media gave him ever greater reason for concern. Especially in the last months, as Russiagate gathered pace, his writings became a litany of entirely justified complaints and of alarm at the collapse of journalistic standards across the US media.
Possibly the cruelest blow of all was to have his own site Consortium News included in a preposterous list of supposed Kremlin controlled websites cobbled together by the anonymous group PropOrNot which was then disgracefully published by the Washington Post, one of the newspapers which has now published Parry’s obituary (The Duran was also on the list).
For a man whose writings show him to have been a deeply patriotic American that must have been a particularly bitter blow.
That whole ghastly episode shows just why we have never needed Robert Parry more. He will be sorely missed. Unfortunately there is no one around of his stature to replace him.
His death is a tragedy, but also a call to arms to follow his example and to continue his work.
On behalf of all of us at The Duran I extend our deepest and most heartfelt sympathies to his family.