Oct 24 2000

Coast to Coast Protests to Support "Democracy Now!"

On Wednesday, October 25, concerned listeners will rally at Pacifica Radio stations across the country to support the daily newsmagazine show “Democracy Now!” and its host, Amy Goodman. Protests are scheduled outside WBAI in New York City, WPFW in Washington, D.C., KPFT in Houston, Texas, KPFA in Berkeley, Calif. and KPFK in Los Angeles, Calif. (For logistics, see www.mediademocracynow.org.)

Hosted by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, “Democracy Now!,” is Pacifica‘s most popular and influential show. It has recently broken major stories on a host of controversial issues, including Chevron’s role in Nigeria, the Lori Berenson case and East Timor.

Over the last year, the national management of Pacifica Radio has become increasingly hostile to Goodman and the crew of “Democracy Now!,” culminating in a new set of “rules” presented to Goodman October 16 which drastically curtail her freedom to decide what stories to cover and how, and even attempt to restrict her free speech rights. Goodman has filed formal grievances against Pacifica‘s management charging “harassment, gender harassment and censorship,” along with other violations of her union contract.

Among other things, the new rules threaten to fire Goodman if she does not provide Pacifica Program Director Steve Yasko each Friday with “a list of possible shows the following week” and “determine the topics of at least three shows the preceding week.”

“Essentially, these rules make it impossible for Goodman to continue to produce the hard-hitting, breaking news stories ‘Democracy Now!’ is famous for,” says FAIR senior analyst Steve Rendall. “It seems clear that Pacifica is trying to force Amy out of her job.”

Late last week FAIR initiated a letter-writing campaign to urge Pacifica‘s national board to withdraw the new “rules” and support “Democracy Now!” In just four and a half days, Board members have received over 1,000 emails, and letters continue to flood in. Building on that momentum, FAIR and the San Francisco-based Media Alliance are coordinating demonstrations at the five Pacifica-owned stations to support Goodman, Gonzalez and the “Democracy Now!” staff.

The moves against “Democracy Now!” are part of the deepening crisis at Pacifica, America’s oldest community radio network. Pacifica‘s management has increasingly orchestrated censorship– including of FAIR’s own radio show, “CounterSpin“– retaliatory personnel moves and the disenfranchisement of listeners in order to impose its often regressive decisions on the network. “This is a sad indication that Pacifica‘s management is trying to force a final break with the network’s progressive core values,” says FAIR’s Rendall. “But listeners are determined not to allow it.”