A chronology of "Pacifica's"
harrassment Democracy Now!
This chronology was created by WBAI listener Julie Spriggs, using material from Pacifica producer and activist emails and websites, and transcripts of WBAI programs.
( forwarded by: http://savewbai.tao.ca )
Pacifica's Harassment, Defamation and Censorship of Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! 2000/2001
This chronology is not comprehensive but highlights many of the incidents that have become public knowledge. Only a few examples of the scapegoating and disinformation and the sexist and racist comments directed at Goodman are quoted here.
Mid August 2000: Pacifica management pulls Democracy Now!'s press
passes for Democratic National Convention.
9/14/2000: Pacifica wants to rein in Democracy Now! content.
Mid October 2000: Pacifica propounds unworkable ground rules for
Democracy Now! It appears to observers that Pacifica is trying to make
Amy Goodman's job impossible.
12/23/2000: The "Christmas Coup" - Locks changed at WBAI by Pacifica Foundation management; General Manager, Program Director and numerous others fired and banned from the station. Interim General Manager, former WBAI talk show host, Utrice Leid installed.
1/1/2001: New Interim General Manager Utrice Leid targets Amy Goodman
as scapegoat for all problems.
The ludicrousness of this statement - often repeated, even in court by Pacifica lawyers (see July below) - is apparent to anyone who reads even a little about this situation. This is a crisis that began, by most accounts, in the early '90's, hit every other of the Pacifica stations before WBAI, (Houston, DC, LA, and most notably Berkeley) and came to a head on February 26, 1999 when the Pacifica National Board overrode the votes of Local Advisory Boards and staff and made itself a self-selecting body. Following that grab for power, and without Amy Goodman's participation, a tremendous crisis unfolded in Berkeley. Popular KPFA (Berkeley) station manager Nicole Sawaya was fired on March 31, 1999. This set into motion months of turmoil including armed guards occupying KPFA at a cost of $500,000, KPFA being off the air for 23 days, and 10,000 people marching in the streets.
January 2001 - ongoing: Utrice Leid and staffers escalate scapegoating
of Amy Goodman, blaming her for everything. Following are some examples
of what has occurred scores of times on the air:
6/4/2001: Diabel Faye, formerly a music show host and promoted by Utrice Leid to be Public Affairs Director at WBAI (in violation of WBAI hiring policies) says, "If anybody tells you Amy Goodman is being harassed, it's a lie. If anybody has been harassed it is Amy harassing other people, it is Amy inciting other people to harass people working over here."
The critics have not given examples of Goodman inciting others to harass Pacifica personnel.
January 2001 - ongoing: Intermingling of demeaning sexist and racist
remarks directed at Amy Goodman, on air and off, by Utrice Leid loyal
2/6/01: When the morning news anchor Robert Knight, comes to Amy Goodman's defense after an on-air slandering, Riley, after switching to music, physically moves in on Knight and calls him a "slave" for "kissing that white bitch's ass."
6/4/01: On air, Diabel Faye criticizes African-Americans who refuse to broadcast during the Democracy Now! time slot, during the period when Democracy Now! has been removed from the air at WBAI, saying that they didn't want to offend a "white chick."
Several hours later at a meeting with Steve Yasko and Goodman's AFTRA representative Kim Roberts, Goodman complained to Yasko about the fact that Mr. Faye had referred to her as a "white chick." Yasko, rather then making it clear that such comments were unacceptable, told Goodman that the appropriateness of such a comment "depend[ed] on the context," an opinion that both Goodman and Roberts contested. At this meeting Yasko continued to speak to Goodman in a demeaning and sexist manner. While pressuring her to have lunch with a co-worker, ostensibly to improve their relationship, he stated: "sharing a meal is more intimate than having sex."
Late January 2001: Station manager Utrice Leid attacks Amy Goodman
on air and continues to play the race card.
2/1/2001: Democracy Now! engineer threatened with broken legs.
3/3/2001: Pacifica's recently hired PR firm begins defaming Amy Goodman.
Democracy Now!, a one-hour show broadcast five days a week, has a budget of $250,000 per year. Goodman raises at least $1 million for Pacifica (and also voluntarily pitches for affiliate stations, raising an unknown amount of additional funds). In comparison, the only other national Pacifica show, the Pacifica Network News, a half-hour show with a larger staff, has a budget of $900,000, and raises no money.
3/9/2001: Friday Wake-Up Call - "New guidelines" - Goodman
not allowed on program.
3/14/2001: Amy Goodman officially fired from WBAI's Wake-Up Call.
5/16/01: Live Democracy Now! yanked off the air at three stations.
Democracy Now! removed from WBAI for 20 days during the fund raising drive
(Note: Amy Goodman raises more money for Pacifica than anyone in the network's
May 2001: During the fund drive, when regular programming is often
pre-empted, Utrice Leid and the staff loyal to her have more air time
and the intimidating verbal abuse escalates.
6/4/2001: Wild disinformation about Amy Goodman escalates. An example:
PDR: Indymedia is the George Soros financed organization that's allegedly of the anarchist ilk but in actual fact is a sort of a hit operation organized to support Amy.
DF: Soros, you mean, which Soros you're talking about?
PDR: George Soros. The right wing guy who destroyed Eastern Europe, the right wing guy who says he is for all these positive causes but is really financing an attack on a public radio station and trying to take it over. George Soros.
DF: George Soros? You mean...
PDR: The person who [inaudible] the Indymedia Center when I was in Philadelphia, where I saw Amy working all the time and never saw her once at the Pacifica site. Who does she work for?
Note: The Indymedia website describes itself as "a collective of independent media organizations and hundreds of journalists offering grassroots, non-corporate coverage." The website lists 57 independent centers around the world: 28 in the US; 2 in Australia; 12 in Europe; 8 in Canada; 5 in Latin America; 1 in Africa and 1 in Israel. Reportedly, George Soros, an international financier who is also a philanthropist, gave a one time $10,000 grant to help fund the Los Angeles Indymedia center's coverage of the Democratic National Convention.
Summer 2001: Disinformation and smears continue: Bizarre attempts
to discredit Goodman's prizewinning journalism. Utrice Leid and her loyal
staffers question the authenticity of and Goodman's role in a massacre
seen on televisions around the world.
In 1991 Goodman and Nairn survived a massacre in East Timor in which Indonesian soldiers gunned down more than 250 Timorese.
Utrice and her allies have been taunting Goodman with such phrases as, "Just like you witnessed the massacre in East Timor?" One of the staff loyal to the General Manager has reportedly been assigned to look into whether the massacre ever happened and whether Goodman's role was as she described. In response, the camerman, whose film of the massacre was seen around the world, reiterates the facts and also tells of the pictures he has of Goodman and Nairn that day.
July 2001: Amy Goodman accused of demonstrating in Maine when she
was in New York.
8/8/01 - 8/10/01: Democracy Now! forced to broadcast, with no explanation,
from an unworkable editing booth; General manager laughs and says "Watch
Studio 3 cannot accommodate multiple phone guests, and the clock--a critical component of professional radio production--has been broken for months. The clock in Studio 3 is in fact covered with gold foil. When Goodman comments on the clock to Leid, Leid sarcastically tells Goodman to go buy one. Goodman then asks National Program Director Steve Yasko for a clock. He brings her one without numbers. Other morning producers laugh as they watch Goodman and her staff hurrying to prepare Studio 3 for a complicated show.
Leid repeatedly mocks them by saying, "Watch them run. Watch them run." When a Democracy Now! producer asks Leid if DN would in fact be broadcast to the New York audience today, Leid gets right up into the producer's face and, in a highly agitated state says: "You do not talk to me. You are a producer. You do not question me. You do not interrogate Utrice Leid."
8/10/01: Amy Goodman physically accosted by WBAI Interim General
Manger Utrice Leid.
WBAI manager Utrice Leid, who appears on the scene at this point, rips the camera out of Goodman's hands and stalks into an adjacent office. Goodman follows her and demands her camera back. Leid laughs in Goodman's face, saying she will have the film developed herself. Leid, a tall robust woman who towers over Goodman and weighs at least 75 pounds more than her, then physically shoves Goodman out of the way and marches down the hallway to her own office, shutting the door. Goodman stands outside Leid's office and again demands the camera back. Leid finally relents, opens the door and hands it to Goodman.
Goodman reiterates that it is wrong to be going through Bernard White's possessions. Leid asks how she knew anyone was doing that. Goodman replies that she witnessed the incident. "Just like you witnessed the massacre in East Timor?" retorts Leid sarcastically.
Weekend, 8/11/01-8/12/01: Democracy Now! locked out of their offices. The weekend is critical work time for the daily (M-F) show.
8/13/01: Staffers scream at Democracy Now! staff immediately before
air time and use a master key to follow them into their office.
8/14/01 - 8/21/01: After the preceding week of physical intimidation,
verbal harassment and insupportable working conditions, Democracy Now!
team moves to a workable studio in downtown Manhattan and provides a feed
to Pacifica via ISDN line, but Democracy Now! is yanked off the air by
Pacifica for not working within the walls of WBAI.
There is ample precedent for broadcasting outside of the walls of WBAI. At least three men broadcast from off-site studios daily for Pacifica and WBAI: Gary Null (M-F, 12-1 pm), Armand DeMille (M- F, 1 to 2 pm), and Pacifica Network News correspondent Bob Hennelly (daily for PNN and weekly for WBAI).
During the negotiation, on-air verbal harassment and threats continue. During the negotiations for a safe workplace, the morning show staff encourages listeners to attack Goodman and Democracy Now! When people voice their support, the hosts either mock them or cut short their calls with the sound of a flushing toilet.
On Saturday August 18th, the verbal harassment reaches a peak, when
producer Clayton Riley says on-air:
Furthermore, Riley has not been disciplined for his eight-months of hate-filled invective and menacing behavior, but rewarded: Utrice Leid has doubled the air-time of his weekly program. While Pacifica management offers to post a statement asserting that WBAI is a nonviolent workplace, they refuse to prohibit the on-air personal attacks, which gives a green light for harassment and the kind of assault which happened recently.
8/21 - 8/23/2001: Pacifica suspends Amy Goodman without pay. KPFA
(the Berkeley station) and some affiliates are running the show that DN
is still producing daily. Censored DN reruns are being played at the rest
of the stations and affiliates.
Pacifica had offered a vaguely worded policy statement reaffirming that the workplace should be free of threats (while on-air verbal harassment continued, see above). The same statement contained a so-called "management rights" clause that required all employees to obey any directives from management, except those that violate the union contract. Since the AFTRA contract has no sections dealing with on-the-job safety, that provision requires Goodman and her staff to follow any orders, even if they feel physically threatened. Pacifica promises to conduct an investigation of the alleged assault and to report back on the progress of the investigation by Sept. 10. In other words, no conclusion to the investigation was required at that time, only a report of "progress." How long does it take to investigate whether a supervisor physically attacked an employee? Aren't there numerous recently installed surveillance cameras at WBAI that probably captured the assault on tape? Aren't there several witnesses to the act?
Initially, AFTRA supported Pacifica's offer but on Thursday, August 23rd they issued a statement saying that "because of certain events that have subsequently occurred at WBAI, which AFTRA considers inconsistent with the steps that Pacifica had agreed to take to ensure the safety of the Democracy Now! staff, AFTRA has notified Pacifica that it is no longer satisfied that the WBAI studios are a safe and appropriate working environment for the Democracy Now! staff."
8/24/2001: Democracy Now!'s live, groundbreaking journalism, remains
off the air at four of five Pacifica Stations.
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