News regarding 3-23-01 L.A. Panel Discussion event.
(Postings from the http://savewbai.tao.ca email list)
Reports from the event (pre-event items lower down on this page)
Just a short report.
A packed house of over 1200 came to the First Baptist Church to hear and participate in the KPFK/Pacificia forum.
Bernard White, Juan Gonzales and Amy Goodman all gave rousing talks and were greeted with standing ovations.
Mark Shrubb dropped by to also give a short talk as did Don Rush from the Pacifica National News.
It took some effort on the part of the moderator Jim Lafferty to keep the boos and shouts down so Mark could talk.
Afterwards he engaged in an hour dialogue with a smaller group.
From:Carl Gunther firstname.lastname@example.org
At his presentation to the packed "Save Pacifica" forum last night, KPFK Station Manager Mark Schubb stated that the only thing that could make Pacifica decide to accept corporate sponsorship would be a situation in which insufficient funds were raised by the network, such as would occur if listeners decided to boycott the station's upcoming fund drives.
The comment was added to other remarks that seemed intended to downplay the possibility of Pacifica's accepting corporate funding. Schubb was apparently attempting to respond to recent charges that Pacifica has been considering heading down that path, but his backhanded embrace of the possibility seemed to lend added credibility to that thesis.
A listener boycott to force Pacifica to respond to community demands for openness and internal democracy was a major topic of discussion at the event, which attracted over 1200 concerned Pacifica supporters.
A Los Angeles forum at which the Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez and Bernard White are speaking tonight is filled to capacity; every seat in the 1200 seat venue is occupied. An intense lobbying effort by both KPFK staff and management, as well as Pacifica management, attempted to derail the event. This included pressuring panelists and sponsors to withdraw.
This is by far the most well-attended event on the Pacifica crisis in Los Angeles to date, and signals a geometric leap in awareness and activism of the issue.
Ramona Ripston of the Southern California ACLU, who was to moderate, withdrew, as did one of the panelists, Dominique Di Prima, whose program airs on the commercial station "The Beat"
Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg agreed to moderate the panel in place of Ms. Ripston. Ms. Goldberg is the first openly lesbian candidate to gain election to the LA City council. Her brother, attorney Art Goldberg, is an active member of the National Lawyers guild, which is one of the events co-sponsors.
The Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild has a long- running program on KPFK . Indications are that the program may be cancelled in retaliation. KPFK has been under a strict gag rule since the coup of January 1995, and more than 150 paid and unpaid staff have been removed, and at least a dozen people have been banned.
Additionally, persons who express criticism of management of KPFK in other venues have also been sanctioned. In 1999, a KPFK reporter, Robin Urevich, was banned after she wrote a critical article in a community newspaper.
Ramona Ripston withdraws as moderator
Ramona Ripston is the Executive Director of the Southern California ACLU. She was to have been the moderator of panel discussion on Pacifica taking place in Los Angeles this weekend. Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez and Bernard White are among the panelists. She withdrew from the panel after an extensive lobbying campaign from Schubb supporters at KPFK.
Below is her public statement regarding her withdrawal.
For those outside Los Angeles, an explanation of some of the names mentioned:
Jim Lafferty is a the host of a program on KPFK sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild, LA Chapter, which is also one of the sponsors of the panel in question. Lafferty's program predates the Schubb regime at KPFK, and is one of the few surviving frankly leftist public affairs programs on the now-gentrified station.
Sources say that KPFK management is angry about Lafferty's participation in the panel, and that, coincidentally, his weekly program this has been preempted this week without for "special election coverage." Though other programs are also involved in the election coverage, none of the other regular hosts have been pre- empted.
Also, sources say that KPFK Management personnel have spoken about the Lawyers Guild program in an openly disparaging manner, a state of affairs that has frequently preceded a program's removal.
The Lawyer's Guild Program on KPFK is the only remaining outlet on KPFK for activist groups such as the October 22nd Coalition Against Police brutality. The National Lawyers Guild's national organization has already taken a strong position condemning the gag rule at Pacifica and has also been a long-time advocate for low- power FM radio.
Joe Domanick is a journalist who received his airslot on KPFK following the publication of a lengthy article in the Los Angeles Weekly several years ago praising Mark Schubb's management of KPFK. Domanick's article ignored criticisms of the actions of Schubb and Pacifica management, including the revelations that Pacifica had retained the services of a union busting firm, the American Consulting Group, though he was provided with documentation that disproved many KPFK management claims. Domanick also failed to confirm management statements with those at the station who knew them to be false, or ignored the statements of informants that contradicted the management line. Even Marc Cooper, another supporter of the Schubb regime, candidly told people in the halls of KPFK at that time, that Domanick's LA Weekly article was a "puff piece."
Ironically, when reporter Robin Urevich was banned from KPFK in 1999 after writing an article in a local weekly about censorship at the station, Joe Domanick served as Mark Schubb's advisor on "journalistic ethics." Schubb's justification for banning Urevich was that she had violated "journalistic ethics" by printing statements he claimed to have made "off the record," a charge Urevich flatly denied.
Domanick also acted as a spokesperson for the Pacifica regime on a 1997 broadcast of FAIR's Counterspin, where he debated Belinda Griswold of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, who had covered Pacifica extensively and critically during 1996-1997. (Ms. Griswold now works with the non-profit San Francisco-based Media Alliance, which has taken a leading role opposing Pacifica management).
Here is an excerpt from a transcript of the interview:
(Laura Flanders) LF: JOE DOMANICK IS AN AUTHOR AND A JOURNALIST WHO WROTE IN THE OCTOBER 4  EDITION OF THE LA WEEKLY AN ARTICLE CALLED "LEFT FOR DEAD" THAT TALKED ABOUT WHAT HE SAW AS AN EFFORT AT KPFK TO AS HE PUT IT "RESURRECT THE STATION WHOSE INFLUENCE AND AVANT-GARDE STATUS IS TODAY AS DEAD AS THE TIME WHEN TERMS LIKE 'THE LEFT' AND 'COUNTERCULTURE' ACTUALLY MEANT SOMETHING."
THAT'S HOW YOU DESCRIBED CHANGES AT KPFK.WHAT WAS MOTIVATING THEM. CAN YOU ELABORATE A LITTLE FOR OUR LISTENERS?
JOE DOMANICK (JD): Well, I think that these kind of internecine warfare that went on at KPFK and continues to go on at KPFA I think are, are really luxuries that, that anybody who has any semblance of progressive politics can ill afford.
Just as a listener here in Los Angeles, KPFK is the only station I can listen to hear a Marc Cooper and his Radio Nation, and hear Amy Goodman.or hear any semblance of the kind of the kind of left mainstream politics that I feel I'm part of and that's the only outlet for it on television or radio here. So, I think that, that we need to support Pat Scott and Mark Schubb and people who are trying to, to really be relevant.to not just keep listeners like myself, but to, to gain new listeners, people that, that have 20 or 30 years on the air and kind of say, "Well, this is my show...ya know.I'm this small segment of this small sliver of a population."
I think that, that might have been fine in 1972, but its...its, you know in the age of Rush Limbaugh we, we can't afford that. We need to be as relevant as possible and have a radio station like KPFK gathering as many listeners as possible and putting the word out.
(Steve Rendall) PAT SCOTT IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF PACIFICA AND MARK SCHUBB IS THE STATION MANAGER OF KPFK IN LOS ANGELES. BELINDA, OPPONENTS OF SOME OF THESE CHANGES THAT ARE BEING UNDERTAKEN BY PACIFICA MANAGEMENT ARE OFTEN PORTRAYED AS OPPONENTS OF ALL CHANGE. IS THERE SOMETHING WRONG WITH THAT NOTION?
Belinda Griswold: Yeah. I think you've really hit upon the key point there. There's a difference.the sort of broad brush idea that anybody who opposes the more autocratic way that things have been is sort of an old, irrelevant hippie is just patently false, as illustrated by the people who have sort of come out and said," You know, we totally respect the desire to gain audience, to become more relevant. There's obviously nothing wrong with that, in fact it's a great idea, but there's got to be process, there's got to be accountability and there's got to be an awareness that getting greater audience doesn't just mean getting greater white upper- middle class audience."
JD: There are times when process becomes the obstacle and you have to take the whatever it is by the scruff of the neck and we've got to do this.
SR: IN CLARIFICATION, WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT SLIVERING OR SPLINTERING, ARE YOU SAYING THERE'S A PROBLEM WITH NARROW-CASTING TO IDENTITY GROUPS?
BG: The fact that some people have different interests doesn't preclude forming an effective progressive coalition with vision and that does need to happen, there's no doubt about that.
JD: I was talking about identity politics. I think there's a need for some identity politics, the gay and lesbian show for example is a good show, and its certainly necessary. But, I'm also talking about 20 hours of music from Belize.its just...there's no.this is 1997.it, I mean, we've got to get relevant. [This statement by Domanick is misleading in the extreme. Belize Caribbean Pulse was a two-hour weekly public and cultural affairs program catering to the Belizean and Caribbean expatriate communty in Los Angeles. One third of Belize's eligible voters are estimated to live in the Los Angeles area. This program, that was also rebroadcast in Belize, featured such irrelevant fare as the Beliezean prime minister coming on the air to take listener calls. And for those who recall the diversity justification by Pacifica management, the multiracial crew of the program served a significant and underserved community of color. It was an excellent program - LG]
SR: JOE, DO YOU SEE SOMEHOW THAT RELEVANCY IS TIED INEXTRICABLY TO A CENTRALIZATION OR A CONSOLIDATION OF POWER AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL?
JD: I certainly do. I mean, these are the times that, that try progressive souls and, and we have so few voices, I mean PBS is a joke. NPR is a corporate lackey.
What is there except for Pacifica? And a stronger, more relevant Pacifica. Otherwise we're just, you know, we're just whistling in the wind.
BG: If the progressive institutions that progressives control can't even behave in ways that are even moderately democratically effective, then where the hell are we? And I think that's the big question. Its an old argument that democracy is not efficient and it's a discredited argument.
Domanick is reported to have close ties to Ramona Ripston, as does another Schubb importation, author Jon Weiner, who was represented by the SCACLU in his bid to obtain classified government documents concerning slain former-Beatle John Lennon.
Ripston is an influential figure in Los Angeles, especially among the Westside liberal set [in Domanick's words "left mainstream politics" ] that has supported, by and large, the purging of radical, controversial and working class voices from the air at KPFK - grassroots activists whose message is framed in opposition to capitalism and the American legal/electoral system rather than as reformers within it. In fairness to Ripston herself, under her leadership the SCACLU has often defended radical activists against government harassment and police brutality.
From: Lois Bader email@example.com
Ramona Ripston asked me to send you a copy of her statement re: the March 23 forum on Pacific:
STATEMENT OF RAMONA RIPSTON RE: MARCH 23 FORUM
I regret any misunderstanding caused by my acceptance of and withdrawal from the role of moderator of the March 23 panel discussion regarding Pacifica. As a long-time fan of Pacifica Radio and programs such as Amy Goodman's, I immediately accepted Jim Lafferty's invitation when he called me. I should not have done so without greater knowledge of the nature of the underlying controversy and the bitterness it has caused on both sides. Naively, I thought that by serving as moderator and maintaining a neutral position, I might help to improve the dialogue between two sides and further the prospects for a resolution that would be acceptable to the entire progressive community.
I quickly discovered that the role I envisioned for myself was not possible. Rather than helping to resolve any controversy, my agreement to be the moderator expanded and exacerbated it, and even threatened to make the organization for which I work an issue in the growing dispute. I, and my office, were besieged by angry calls, faxes, and e-mails from partisans of both sides. I was unwilling to attempt to express judgments on the merits because, frankly, I believed that I was not sufficiently informed regarding the facts; certainly my staff and some board members who were similarly subjected to inquiries and demands for support (sometimes hostile in tone) were ill-equipped to respond.
My decision to withdraw was based on the realization that my service in the role of moderator would not be in the interest of either side, and would not help improve the dialogue or resolve the controversy -- indeed, it could well have precisely the opposite effect. I was becoming part of the controversy. My mistake was in not inquiring into the matter in advance, before accepting Jim Lafferty's invitation.
Let me make it clear -- I am not averse to controversy, nor am I opposed to dedicated efforts to further progressive causes. That's what I have dedicated my life to doing. Rather, when on rare occasions when I agree to serve in a neutral role, which is not my usual form of activity, I try to do so with an equal commitment to fairness and justice, and to ensuring that in the end the progressive causes in which I believe will be advanced. Obviously, given the circumstances of the current dispute, the role I envisioned for myself could not be fulfilled, at least, not by me.
I still hope with all my heart that the differences will be resolved in a manner acceptable to all concerned. I have the deepest respect for a number of people on both sides of this unfortunate and hurtful controversy. The survival of the type of broadcasting historically provided by Pacifica is essential to the progressive community. I continue to believe that I can best serve that community by remaining neutral in this dispute, at least for the present, and at least until I am better educated as to all of the facts. I wish that I could have served all parties, including the public, by being a neutral moderator on March 23. However, doing so would have required those on both sides to have accepted my neutrality and to have welcomed my participation in that role. I can assume that, on the basis of the messages my office received from partisans of both sides, such was not the case.
In closing, I do want to respond to some of the charges that have reached me.
I am a supporter of KPFK, both financially and politically. In the years I have been in Los Angeles, I have seen the station grow and prosper. The voices I hear cannot be heard anywhere else -- Amy Goodman, Jon Wiener, Marc Cooper, Joe Domanick, etc. I intend to continue that support.
Mark Schubb and Marc Cooper did not coerce me in any way in order to have me bow out. The charge that they summoned me into the office of KPFK and threatened that the ACLU would never have a voice on KPFK is ludicrous on its face. I believe Mark Schubb has been a successful station manager, and partly because he would never dream of doing such a thing.
Jim Lafferty did not deceive me in any way when he extended the invitation. I appreciate the confidence he displayed in me by offering me what he believed to be an opportunity to serve the progressive cause in which we both believe.
I hope beyond hope that this dispute is resolved quickly and fairly and that the progressives in Los Angeles and elsewhere will continue to have a network that provides us with the information that is so sorely missing throughout the rest of the communications industry.
I hope the evening is successful. If I was misled by any of the messages I received or appeared to be unfairly critical of people for things they did or didn't say, you and they have my apologies.
Patricia Guadelupe, PNN Director, has enters the fray. Patricia Guadelupe, PNN Director, has entered the fray, attempting to pressure the NAHJ into also withdrawing. She sent an e-mail to members of the organization, which is below. Following that, is Juan Gonzalez' eloquent reply, titled " Such ridiculous dreamers we dare to be"
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists is sponsoring a panel in Los Angeles on March 23 that purports to discuss free speech, the First Amendment and the media. Panelists include several people who falsely accuse a progressive radio network of censorship, for declining -- as is their perogative -- to discuss personnel issues on the airwaves.
One of these panelists is New York Daily News columnist Juan González, an NAHJ founder who recently quit as co-anchor of a Pacifica program, citing these ridiculous censorship claims.
Unfortunately, González and many others have been able to say whatever they want on the air without any repercussions whatsoever. They have even been able to -- in my view -- slander network board members, also without any repercussions. They have, in effect, been able to do the type of things that would not be tolerated in your or most other organizations, including The New York Daily News. And when some have been taken off for discussing personnel and internal issues, they cry censorship.
Joe Torres of the NAHJ says the group was invited to participate, and that whatever may be happening at the network is typical of the type of controversial issues that the NAHJ has been involved with in the past.
This is not about a controversy. This is about helping to perpetuate a LIE - a propaganda campaign!
I am appalled and outraged that the NAHJ would sign on to something without double checking for accuracy. I am appalled that neither I nor anyone else within the organization was contacted for further information before the NAHJ lent its name to this panel.
Let's not be fooled. The real purpose of asking the NAHJ to sponsor this panel is to give a cloak of legitimacy to a group that through flagrant lying and misrepresentation of the facts is pushing its own illegitimate agenda.
When Juan González quit on the air, he urged listeners during a crucial fund drive to refuse to send funds to any of the stations, a truly galling act that shows that while he continues to collect a pay check from the Daily News he chooses to jeopardize the livelihood of many people of color who work for Pacifica Radio, including one of only two Hispanic women IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY in English- language public radio management. This type of economic boycott of a UNIONIZED workplace is not only unfair but quite ironic coming from someone who markets himself as a Latino activist and noted writer.
The panel was to be moderated by Ramona Ripston, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. I understand that Ms. Ripston and the ACLU have pulled out. You should also be aware that a former president of the Washington chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association also considers this an affront to all journalists of color and is conducting a similar email campaign among AAJA and SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists) members.
The true intentions of this "free speech and first Amendment" panel are very clear. The name has morphed into: "Pacifica Crisis: Dissident Voices From Inside and Out." The NAHJ is listed as a co- sponsor. I'm not making this up.
It's at: www.pacfolio.org
Don't be fooled!!!! I urge you to contact the NAHJ and ask them to withdraw support and stop lending their name and reputation to this ridiculous endeavor.
------- Forwarded message follows -------
Dear Friends and NAHJ Members:
I received last night a copy of a remarkable letter that has been widely circulated by Patricia Guadalupe, the news director of the Pacifica radio network's evening news program. Patricia is a fellow member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and we have known each other for several years. She says in the letter that she is "appalled and outraged" that the NAHJ agreed to co-sponsor a March 23rd public forum in Los Angeles to air different views on the current crisis at Pacifica, a forum to which I and several other people have been invited to speak. Patricia claims that NAHJ is providing "a cloak of legitimacy" to a group that is "pushing its own illegitimate agenda," a group which, according to her, is spreading "propaganda," "slanders" and "lies" about non-existent "censorship" at Pacifica.
Patricia is especially furious that the listener boycott I and thousands of others have been advocating against the Pacifica Network for the past six weeks is jeopardizing "the livelihood of many people of color who work for Pacifica Radio",including herself. She urges others to pressure NAHJ to withdraw its sponsorship of "this ridiculous endeavor."
Her letter, unfortunately, only demonstrates the seriousness of the problems at Pacifica. Reading it reminded me instantly of an old Spanish saying: no se puede tapar el cielo con la mano (You can't hide the sky with your hand).
If the conflicts at this network, the only independent, listener-sponsored radio network in the country, are so unimportant, if they are merely "personnel issues" why have they been the subject during the past few months of repeated articles in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Time magazine, the Houston Chronicle, New York Daily News, The Nation, In These Times, The Village Voice and scores of other publications? Why have they been covered everywhere except at the Pacifica evening news show that Patricia directs? Why have they resulted in three fierce legal suits in the California courts, including one that has the backing of California state attorney general? Why have dozens of staff members and listeners at several Pacifica stations been fired, arrested or banned from the stations for opposing the policies of the Pacifica Board? Why have major figures such as actor Danny Glover, MIT Professor Noam Chomsky, author Alice Walker, Ralph Nader and many others spoken out against the Pacifica Board?
Make no mistake about it. The battle at Pacifica raises critical issues about the state of free speech, the future of community radio, and the mass media vis-a-vis the people. That is the only reason I agreed to become involved in this conflict. For Patricia and those above her at Pacifica to try to sabotage an airing of these isues, and to lobby other groups against participating speaks volume about the kind of journalism they practice. Where are the facts? Where is the investigation? Where is the defense of your conclusions? Did all those years at Hispanic Link, under the supervision of that great mentor of young Hispanic journalists, Charlie Ericksen, teach you nothing, Patricia? By co-sponsoring a forum, NAHJ is merely fomenting debate, not choosing sides, and the KPFK Local Advisory Board, the duly-constituted listener group that monitors the Los Angeles station, has every right to initiate such a forum. As early as March 1, that advisory board invited Pacifica's national executive director to participate or send a representative. So far the request has not been honored, nor have more than half a dozen other requests to Pacifica executives. But the invitations are still open.
As for this allegation that the boycott I advocate is endangering the jobs of minority journalists -- where was Patricia's concern for minority journalists like Valerie van Isler, Bernard White, Sharan Harper, Janice K. Bryant, Robert Knight, all of whom have been fired or banned from Pacifica's WBAI in the past two months? Where was the concern when KPFK in Los Angeles eliminated Spanish-language programming and cut back programming around Latino issues in a city that is 40% Hispanic? Where was the concern about Pacifica's KPFT in Houston becoming a largely a country music station and eliminating Spanish-language programming in a city that is two-thirds black and Latino? Better yet, why doesn't Patricia come to Los Angeles herself and explain the "facts" as she knows them. I'm sure the KPFK Local Advisory Board will pay her air fare.
Perhaps I'm being too hard on Patricia.
After all, she wasn't around in the 1950s and the 1960s when courageous peace activists and American radicals had to sacrifice and sweat and battle right-wing forces in this country just to give birth to a network like Pacifica and to keep it alive. Maybe she believes she's working at some hippie rag-doll version of NPR, for she clealy doesn't comprehend how angry some Pacifica listeners can become when you try to hijack their network. Angry enough to stop giving money. Angry enough to mount protests outside the Pacifica stations and the offices of board members. All of which they have a perfect right to do.
But the veteran journalists of NAHJ and the progressive movement of Los Angeles should know better. You should not sidetracked by a young, perhaps well-intentioned woman who is mostly worried about losing her own job; nor should you be fooled by more seasoned operators, such as KPFK station manager Mark Schubb, or veteran host Marc Cooper, who are too busy lobbying others privately against the Los Angeles forum to write any letters.
If Schubb really wanted to expose the "lies" of our campaign, he could simply agree to participate in the forum himself, publicize it on his radio station and urge all the listeners who love the way KPFK operates to turn out. That way they could show us dissidents -- and the Los Angeles press -- how isolated and alone we are. But Schubb and Cooper would rather try to convince you all not to sponsor a debate. They would prefer no one talked about what is going on.
Well, I urge you to reject this transparent ploy. Furthermore, I recommend that NAHJ sponsor a panel on the Pacifica crisis at its upcoming national conference in Phoenix. Let a neutral journalism professor or some other party organize it. Invite Patricia to speak and/or board chairman David Acosta and whoever else they can muster to defend the current Pacifica board -- if our boycott hasn't forced them all to resign by then. On our side, we do not fear open debate. We do not fear the listeners. We do not hide behind nonsensical allusions to "personnel" matters. We want to preserve a radio network with the principles of free speech and democratic accountability to listeners on which it was founded.
Such ridiculous dreamers we dare to be.
When: Friday, March 23, 2001
First Baptist Church
Sponsoring organizations: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), National Association of Hispanic Journalists, The National Lawyers Guild, KPFK Local Advisory Board and the Humanitarian Law Project.
Donation $5.00 at the door
For more information call 323 957-4659.
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