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Cynical Hypocrite, Poseur, Manipulator

New Board Notes #3
Mid-April 2005


This Report is about what happens when a small sect preaches "diversity" but in reality is trying to prevent it, and how it has taken over a radio station with the support of the station's management.

Last November, a faction at WBAI radio known as the "Justice & Unity Caucus" sent a mass-mailing to all 20,000 listener-members smearing those who disagreed with their proposals and tactics (including me) as "anti-diversity" and as "racists" -- we, who have fought against racism all of our lives! The letter was designed by a handful of bitter staff members at the station to sow confusion among WBAI's progressive listeners who were not privvy to what was really going on. As a result, the Justice and Unity caucus won a majority of seats on the WBAI Local Station Board in the elections.

In one of its first acts, the same faction voted to place three of its members -- all males -- onto the Pacifica National Board, which supervises the 5-station radio network. (The network also includes many affiliated stations.) They preached gender equality, but in practice they prevented it.

Then, in early April 2005, the Pacifica National Board met in New York City. There, the three male Justice and Unity delegates really outdid themselves: These partisans of diversity voted into existence an all-male 10-person "search committee" to interview candidates applying for the job of interim executive director of the Pacifica Foundation, to replace Dan Coughlin (who is retiring).

Women on the national board protested. One national board member, Patty Heffley, noted that such hypocrisy is part of an ongoing problem in and around WBAI, where a disproportionately small number of programs are hosted by women.

Following the vote, one NON-JUC Board member from a different signal area volunteered to step aside so that a woman could take his place, ensuring that there would be one woman (only one!) out of the ten members on the search committee.

Please note that Bob Lederer, a ringleader of the JUC, refused to step aside so that a woman representative could take his place. So much for the lipservice that Bob and his faction give to gender equality and diversity. To them, gender equality is just a ploy, a sham, a trick to manipulate programming and elections.

The refusal would be understandable, although not acceptable, if Lederer -- who has political differences with Patty Heffley and other women on the National Board -- voted the way he did if he had been arguing that politics should trump diversity, even if it meant creating an all-male search committee. But he and the other JUCers had been preaching just the opposite.

It is always interesting when people don't practice what they preach. It's just so convenient for Justice & Unity to accuse others of sexism and racism, but when it comes time for them to step aside in furtherance of their proclaimed principles, they refuse.

Nor did any of the other JUC diversity advocates criticize Lederer's refusal to step aside for the sake of diversity. So maybe their real politics is that only people outside of their faction should step down, enabling JUC members to take their place?

The Justice and Unity Caucus's vote on the Pacifica National Board shows what they are really all about. They will stop at nothing to prevent real accountability, financial transparency and listener and staff-based democracy at the station.

I am appealing to WBAI listeners to not let them get away with refusing to vote for a single woman to the National Board. And, I am appealing to the progressive listenership to look beyond the "diversity" rhetoric and examine the actual actions of the Justice & Unity faction, particularly their male members' refused to step aside to enable more female representation on this very important search committee.

That's my opinion, based on my experience on the Local Station Board. What's yours?

Mitchel Cohen

PS -- I write and distribute a new issue of thise newsletter -- New Board Notes -- every month or so. If you would like to receive these directly and express your own opinion, please write to me at

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