Kill the Messenger ★★★½

This is a competent movie, that doesn't really distort the issues surrounding the "Dark Alliance" series that Gary Webb wrote for the San Jose Mercury. But it feels too thin. I think the problem is that there's two movies here, or a miniseries, and both stories deserve a more fleshed out experience. The story of how the US funded the Contras in part with drug money is an important tale, and there were some really damning details that were left out of this movie. Then came the character assassination by Webb's fellow journalists, particularly from the Washington Post and the LA Times, who refused to believe that he could possibly be right. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, we are told, but was the CIA cocaine trafficking really extraordinary? The NY Times published a piece about it in 1993. John Kerry held hearings in 1989. This film's release prompted the Post to write yet another attack piece on Webb, ten years after his suicide. Fortunately, other journalists called them out for it, including the Times.
This isn't hagiography. Gary Webb had personal problems, and this movie doesn't shy from them. He is shown as arrogant and headstrong, never questioning himself.
This should have been a better movie. I watched All The President's Men afterward, to make myself feel better about journalism's potential, and good paranoid thriller movies.