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Juan Gonzalez on his debate with John Murdock on Democracy Now!

From: Juan Gonzalez

March 19, 2001

Last week, I participated in a 40-minute debate with Pacifica board member John Murdock on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! Murdock, unlike other Pacifica officials, was at least willing to publicly defend his policies, but in doing so he repeatedly evaded or lied about the facts.

Murdock repeatedly called for open dialogue between those seeking to reform Pacifica and his group on the board. Yet he refused to condemn the fact that the very interview we were participating in was knocked off the air at WPFW in Washington, D.C., the station in which he was being interviewed. He also refused to condemn the fact that Leid at WBAI had knocked Congressman Major Owens off the air the previous week. What kind of open dialogue is that?

He attempted to portray the movement against Pacifica as the activities of a few isolated individuals who want to impose their views on the board. In doing so, he simply ignored the thousands of listeners around the country who have been fighting to save Pacifica and the rest of community radio from his clique and from being judged by commercial radio yardsticks like Arbitron ratings.

Murdock called for dialogue yet refused to address the scores of firings at the five Pacifica stations against all dissenters. He refused to deal with the that fact that listeners, four of the station's five advisory boards and several of the board's own directors have sued the corporate clique of which he is a part for a variety of illegal acts, including the changing by-laws, holding secret meetings, hiding Pacifica's books, and excluding the public from its deliberations. And Murdock neglected to say that his call for dialogue is a new-found approach of the board, which in the past had sought to exclude the public as much as possible from its deliberations.

In Houston, station manager Garland Ganter went on the air immediately after the debate to clarify my "misrepresentations". Ganter was apparently not satisfied that his own board member, Murdock, had done a good enough job. His rebuttal only served to infuriate some loyal listeners to KPFT who then e-mailed their support to our campaign.

What to make of all of this?

Quite simply, our movement is growing and winning. It is isolating the anti-democratic group at Pacifica with each day that passes. As the board and management feel the heat rising, they have begun to lose control, to further repress their own staff, to fall out among themselves. Our message remains clear: Resign now so that a board democratically accountable to listeners, community and staff can rescue the network from the mess they've created. Until then, we will continue the boycott of funds and the campaign of pressure on the individual board members.

In solidarity,
Juan Gonzalez

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