Remembering Robert Parry

Published February 03, 2018 | 5 min read

It is with sadness that we note the passing of Robert Parry, a great journalist and one of the most fiercely independent investigative reporters of our time.

Parry, who died at age 68 on Jan. 27, was highly critical of Donald Trump but he also cautioned against assuming that the 2016 presidential election was hacked by Russian operatives. His thinking on this was sound.

Though there’s been plenty of circumstantial evidence to suggest this occurred — a history of Russian election meddling, the mysterious Guccifer 2.0, the suspicious behavior of Trump campaign staffers with Kremin-linked associates — most reporters assume it to be so based on the assurance of U.S. intelligence agencies, which have not revealed their evidence.

Take our word for it, they’ve said. We all agree it happened.

Parry argued that “allegedly” should be attached to this claim. After all, when have these agencies ever been wrong?

Further, Parry brought up that if it turns out the hacking was done by Russians, but not necessarily state actors, or anyone else, Trump could score a huge public relations win, crying foul again on one of his favorite gripes — media bias — and repeating his claim that the ongoing collusion probe was “fake news.”

The media buying in here could be correct, and probably is, but why risk being wrong? Particularly when all it would take to be fair to the reader would be regular reminders that U.S. investigators have yet to explain what they have on Russia’s role.

Maybe now that the Nunes memo has opened the door to the release of classified material, perhaps we should be calling on the FBI, CIA and other agencies to show us their hacking evidence, so as to get some clarity on this point. Parry’s position: We’re not taking your word for it.

Parry was one of the few journalists who questioned everything, including the motives of his employers. Here’s a good tribute, along with links to his work.

I was thinking of him the other day while speaking with a friend of mine, Charles Sennott, who runs the GroundTruth Project, and happens to be a terrific reporter himself, a determined pursuer of facts and ever skeptical.

He told me he didn’t think that young reporters were the best choice for investigative work. “Why not?” I asked. “Because they haven’t been lied to enough.”

Parry was lied to plenty. He made his mark, in large part, by not believing what people wanted him to believe. Read up on the guy. His tale is worth knowing, and his approach to journalism worth emulating.

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