Carey concludes that "Dark Alliance" failed expressly to state that the newspaper had found no evidence that the CIA ordered or sanctioned the distribution of cocaine. Nor did the series -- at least in the original version -- carry any comment from the CIA denying the allegations. Carey also notes that the logo appearing on the Mercury Center Web page and Merc reprints depicted a crack smoker superimposed on a CIA seal and below it the words "the story behind the crack explosion." Following the criticism of the series, the CIA seal was removed from the logo on the Web site, and the reprints were discarded and redone.
We still wonder why it took major national news organizations nearly two months to render critical judgments that might have nipped Webb's speculations in the bud. And why is it that other Bay Area papers, particularly the Ex, which did some of the groundbreaking investigative stories on the California crack trade a decade ago, have yet to rouse themselves to do more than pick up the wires?