The Gary Null Show
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The name that would not be spoken at the last meeting of the Interim Pacifica National Board in New York City was arguably the central figure of the five station Pacifica Foundation network and the host of Democracy Now! (DN) its most expensive, if not most popular program. Amy Goodman has been receiving an officially stated stipend from Pacifica of $440,000 a year, but according to Pacifica's Treasurer Jabari Zakiya Goodman is in fact receiving $1 million dollars a year for a minimum period of 5 years [2002 -2007 period] according to the fine print of her generous contract with Pacifica . Although the overall terms of Goodman's contract remain a secret, the actual document has not been released; we only have an unofficial summary of its terms. Its generally believed that Goodman has been given ownership of her program, despite the fact that DN had been started through the donated nickels and dimes of the Foundation's thousands of mostly working class and poor contributors.
During the 2001 "Pacifica civil war" the dissident board members and their supporters claimed that the Foundation had been subject to a "theft" by the former Board majority. The dissidents claimed that there was a plot to "sell a station," they claimed that Board members were tied to corporations and wanted to deny the free speech of Pacifica's programmers, particularly Amy Goodman, they said the former Board had sanctioned producers being "fired and banned" to silence their political activism and they claimed the Board wanted to turn Pacifica into a clone of National Public Radio [NPR]. Since the court enforced settlement that ended the civil war in January 2002 we've observed this dissident faction in action and it's now possible to assert that in fact it was the dissidents themselves who have used the Pacifica Foundation to further their own personal and selfish agendas.
In fact the only "theft" that has occurred at Pacifica is the transfer of DN [Democracy Now] to Amy Goodman without debate or discussion. In the 50-year history of Pacifica the loss of DN is the only time a major asset has been sold, in the case of DN an asset was given away without any recompense to the Foundation. Despite unproven and vehemently denied allegations made during the "civil war" that there were plans afoot to "sell" a Pacifica station by the former Board.
The hypocrisy of the dissident faction is that in fact the only transfer was the ownership of DN to Amy Goodman. This occurred without debate, discussion or even the formality of a vote by the interim Board.
During 2001 the mantra was invoked that producers had been "fired and banned," yet as with the so-called "stringers strike" against the Pacifica Network News the allegations were like the geyser Old Faithful, a lot steam and not much substance, delivered on a regular schedule. Hypocritically the new Pacifica has seen the massive firing and banning of producers. More than 50 Pacifica employees have been fired, even more driven away from the network by a new crop of vindictive, self-important managers who have taken to ruling Pacifica with a self-aggrandizing attitude of papal-like infallibility. Just a few weeks ago I entered the studios of WBAI to assist Gary Null with his show. Program Director Bernard White confronted me saying straight out that I was forbidden to go on the air. When asked if his order meant I couldn't call in WBAI talk shows as a listener White replied "I'm not saying anything." White made it clear to the engineer on duty that he would lose his job if I were allowed on air.
The Pacifica Network News (PNN) was swept away within weeks of the interim Board's assumption of power eliminating Pacifica's place on the stage of national politics in Washington DC. The anemic replacement for PNN, Free Speech Radio News (FSRN) has failed to grow into the slot vacated by PNN. One of the criticisms leveled by the dissidents was that PNN had been using outside contractors to provide some news stories, the hypocrisy is the current FSRN role as permanent outside contractors with Pacifica now buying all of its network news from an outside source.
Repeatedly the dissidents claimed that the former Board was attempting to "Corporatize" Pacifica yet the only sign of corporate underwriting anywhere near the Foundation is the support DN gets through its associates at Downtown Community Television and Indymedia from billionaire financier George Soros. As far as the allegation that there was a plan to make Pacifica sound like NPR, looking at Pacifica's Arbitron ratings it's easy to see that many Pacifica programs have little or no audience. If adopting an NPR sound is necessary to get an audience, Pacifica should look into adopting some professional standards of broadcasting and news casting. When I hear Amy Goodman repeatedly ensnare guests she doesn't agree with into a situation best described as "ambush journalism," as she did recently on DN with Alan Dershowitz, I ask myself is this news or Goodman's own version of infotainment?
Amy Goodman writes in the introduction to the Project Censored publication "Censored 2004, The Top 25 Censored Stories," that "Pacifica is a network run by journalists and artists." yet in reality Pacifica is run by one journalist, Ms Goodman herself who hoards all the Foundation's resources, with not an artist to be found among the Foundation's current crop of leaders. Nowhere in any founding principles of Pacifica does it say that the network should represent the political line of one producer or any single group of producers.
The overwhelming reaction that I get from everyone who has dealt with Amy Goodman, including her union reps, the NLRB reps, her co- workers at every level and personal experience, is that she has a slash and burn approach coupled with a ravenous ego. Pacifica is primarily a radio network and not a political organization. Continuing to represent Pacifica, as a political group will only succeed in keeping Pacifica as irrelevant as most of the leftist alphabet soup groups that support her are today.
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