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Important new film: "Kill the Messenger"
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Sid Shniad
2014-10-19 03:12:40 UTC
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POLITICAL FILM REVIEW
NEWSLETTER #458 OF THE POLITICAL FILM SOCIETY
P.O. Box 461267 Hollywood, CA 90046
www.polfilms.com
October 15, 2014

*KILL THE MESSENGER* SHOWS HOW TO DISCREDIT AN HONEST REPORTER

During 1985-1987, members of the Reagan administration persuaded Israel to
sell guns to Iran in exchange for the release of Americans held hostage in
Lebanon by a group connected with Iran. The United States Central
Intelligence Agency then sold replacement weapons to Israel and used part
of the proceeds of the sale to fund the Contras, a dissident group that
sought to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicaragua.
Scenes of that Iran-Contra scandal populate the early frames of *Kill the
Messenger*, which is about a different rogue operation that involved CIA
encouragement of the Contras to fly hard drugs to Los Angeles and other
American cities in order to fund their insurgency (and make millions). The
latter scandal was identified by Associated Press journalists Brian Barger
and Robert Parry in 1985, followed by Senator John Kerry’s investigation
and report in 1989, but brushed aside by the news media until 1996, when *San
Jose Mercury News* reporter Gary Webb (played by Jeremy Renner) broke the
story based initially on grand jury testimony leaked to him by an
unidentified woman. Webb, outside the major news media that had become
puppets of propaganda for administrations in Washington, decided to focus
on the impact on the African American community, and the result was to stir
the ire of Congresswoman Maxine Waters (featured in a videotaped speech)
and others that the CIA was deliberately shipping crack cocaine to the
Black community. *Kill the Messenger* is a biopic of Webb, based on Webb’s
own *Dark Alliance* and the biography by Nick Schou with the same title as
the film. The film portrays Webb’s relentless quest to obtain secret
information without a tape recorder or other means of authentication as
well as efforts of the *Los Angeles Times*, *New York Times*, and the
*Washington
Post* to discredit him and his sources to recant, whereupon his editor
(played by Oliver Platt) disavows him, forcing him to resign. The film also
shows the adverse effect of his vilification on his family life, his
inability to contain himself under pressure, and ends with titles
indicating his death by apparent suicide in 2004 after the re-election of
George W. Bush, whose entry into the Iraq War was perhaps a culmination of
journalistic malfeasance that he could no longer endure. Directed by
Michael Cuesta, *Kill the Messenger* is a quintessential exposé film and
has been nominated by the Political Film Society for an award in 2014 for
that category as well as best film making the case for greater democracy. MH
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