Jeremy Renner speaks about playing Gary Webb

The actor who plays journalist Gary Webb appeared on The Daily Show to talk about his film Kill the Messenger which deals with his expose of how the CIA and the Nicaraguan contras it supported were involved in the spread of the crack cocaine epidemic in America’s inner cities. (I wrote about it here.)

The Plain Dealer had a long article about Webb because there was a local angle in that for a short time Webb had worked for it, something that I had been unaware of. The article is sympathetic to Webb and describes the vicious hatchet job that the major newspapers did on him to discredit his story, though it puts their motives down to professional jealousy at being scooped and does not say that they were deliberately protecting the CIA, which is my suspicion.

(This clip aired on October 9, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)


  1. Marshall says

    Pretty unrelated, but the title confused me at first, because Jeremy Renner played Jason Bourne in the fourth Bourne movie (which I haven’t seen), and Jason Bourne’s real name (as revealed in the Bourne Ultimatum) is David Webb. So apparently he’s recently played two characters both with the last name of Webb.

  2. resident_alien says

    Nitpicker here: Jeremy Renner’s character in The Bourne Legacy isn’t actually Jason Bourne, but a different guy in that secret-super-soldier-thingy project. There’s a scene at an airport when he watches Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne on the news.
    Renner is the sort of actor who does the deep-thinky character acting and the shooty-punchy action flick thing equally well (as well as being a total darling in person), So I’ll be seeing this movie as soon as I can, especially given the subject matter.
    The shit certain agencies pull off is sicker than most conspiracy theories.While I don’t think the CIA intended to wreck havoc on black communities by the means of cocaine etc. (I’m not Louis Farrakhan!), I am fully prepared to believe they were utterly ,callously indifferent to the effect their meddling had on the African American population.

  3. lorn says

    For all of its moral posturing, emphasis on “character” the Reagan administration was clearly all about the desired ends justifying any means. Allowing South American drugs to be sold in the US to reap a profit that could be donated to run the Contra campaign was an adaptation of a previous CIA project shipping SE Asian Opiates into Europe to run the clandestine operations in and around SE Asia which the Democratic congress has failed to fund. Nixon did it before Reagan.

    But this wasn’t the only operation undertaken under Reagan to fund the Contras. There was also the Iran Contra angle where The US supplied Israel with updated TOW and Hawk missiles, the semi-obsolete Israeli missiles were shipped to Cyprus, and the older missiles were sold to Iran with the profits going to fund the Contras. Everyone made out like bandits in that deal. The defense contractor made a pretty penny, the Israelis got obsolete missiles replaced with the latest model, the Cypriots made a sweet percentage for providing a neutral place to land and make the transfers, the Iranians got desperately needed missiles to fight off Iraqi armor and aircraft, and the Contras got funding. In fact everyone but average Americans, who financed the whole thing through taxes and had their political desire to avoid funding the Contras, as expressed through their representatives in congress, thwarted, made out very well.

    The CIA selling drugs and/or arms for money to run operations that the Democratic congress won’t pay for is a regular theme. For entertainment you might look into the funding of Tibetan/Nepali, among other, ethnic resistance movements that are still fighting the Chinese. This has cooled from the decades past when it was a ‘hot war’ that forced the movement of a major highway almost 1000km to avoid rebel actions, and has become both ‘cooler’ and more high tech.

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