Jan
31
2001

Award-Winning Pacifica Reporter Resigns In Protest

In a dramatic on-air announcement, Juan Gonzalez, the co-host of the Pacifica Radio Network show "Democracy Now!," resigned this morning from the network. Citing harassment and muzzling of free speech, Gonzalez said that "the current management situation at Pacifica has become intolerable...the last straw being the Christmas Coup at this station, WBAI, last month"- a reference to the recent unexplained firings and bannings of top staff.

"I've come to the conclusion that the Pacifica board has been hijacked by a small clique that has more in common with modern-day corporate vultures than with working-class America," Gonzalez said.

Addressing his co-host at Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman, Gonzalez continued: "You are a wonderful and committed journalist and you have been subjected to slanderous personal accusations and constant undermining of your efforts. And the board of Pacifica has tolerated it and, I think, even encouraged this."

Gonzalez ended his on-air resignation by announcing a "national corporate campaign" to oust the Pacifica Foundation's embattled new board leadership, which he accused of "illegally chang[ing] the Foundation's bylaws." He said the campaign would call on listeners, instead of donating to Pacifica, to contribute money to groups challenging the board's legitimacy and working to democratize the network.

Gonzalez said the current leadership group "does not respect free speech; it does not respect labor or civil rights; it doesn't even practice due process for its own managers."

Pacifica's Washington, D.C. station, WPFW, censored most of Gonzalez's statement, cutting away to taped programming.

Gonzalez, who has co-hosted "Democracy Now!" since 1996, is a staff columnist with the New York Daily News. He has won numerous awards, including a George Polk award. His latest book is "Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America" (Viking 2000). He was a founding member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

FAIR executive director Jeff Cohen commented: "Juan Gonzalez exemplifies the best in the Pacifica tradition-a journalist who tells the stories of the powerless and holds the powerful to account. As the two-year-long Pacifica crisis worsens and the network's survival is seriously in question, FAIR joins Gonzalez in calling for the national board leadership to step down. Whatever these individuals' intentions, unless there is a prompt and thorough transformation in Pacifica's national leadership, it is impossible to see Pacifica fulfilling its unique, historical mission."

For more information about Gonzalez and the campaign, call (212) 871-9322 oremail pacificacampaign@yahoo.com.

Juan Gonalez's letter of resignation is below.

*****To: Steve Yasko, Pacifica Director of National Programming CC: Pacifica Board of Directors From: Juan Gonzalez

Date: 1/31/01

Re: Resignation

This is to notify you that I am resigning as co-host of Democracy Now! effective immediately.

I take this action with much regret since, as you know, I have worked alongside host Amy Goodman from the show's inception nearly five years ago and am proud of the groundbreaking work we have done to establish a national radical news magazine. Even more important, I have listened to Pacifica programs for more than 30 years and understand the critical role the network has played in reporting important stories the corporate media ignored, thus helping to shape progressive thought and popular movements throughout the country.

But the current management situation at Pacifica has become intolerable, and despite my hope that the majority of the Pacifica Foundation board of directors would come to its senses, the situation has only gotten worse. The last straw was the Christmas coup at WBAI last month.

Quite simply, the Pacifica board has been hijacked by a small clique that has more in common with corporate vultures than with working-class America. That clique has illegally changed the Foundation's by-laws, and during the past two years it has methodically sought to squash dissent throughout the network -- first at KPFA, then at PNN news, then at Democracy Now!, and now at WBAI. This group does not respect free speech. It does not respect labor or civil rights. It does not even practice due process for its own managers. And it is now seeking to radically alter Pacifica's by-laws to pave the way for the selling of one or more stations.

Furthermore, this clique insults Pacifica's loyal and sophisticated listeners by asking them to finance its shenanigans with their donations.

Starting today, I will be joining other Pacifica listeners in a nationalcorporate campaign that will not rest until every board member who has orchestrated this hijacking resigns and a new board is in place -- one that is democratically accountable to the network's listeners, community and staff.

Our campaign will call for listeners across the country to withhold donations to Pacifica in a mass referendum against your policies. Instead,we will urge them to contribute their money to a variety of groups around the country that are battling the Pacifica board -- including the legal fund for court suits which are currently challenging the board's legitimacy.

Mr. Murdock, Mr. Acosta, Mr. Palmer, you will soon find out that Pacifica is listener-sponsored radio.