Amy Goodman's been waiting for you

I won’t play my glitter maracas for late-to-the-party celebrity journalists like Bob Woodward, who after three years of war and six years of the affliction known as George W
Amy Goodman, the fierce voice of independent media.
Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
Hosted By: The Texas Media Empowerment Project and the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center
Fri Oct 20
Lecture 7:30pm Admission: Free and open to the public. Spanish translation provided.
Reception: 6-7pm $50
Book signing to follow
922 San Pedro
I won’t play my glitter maracas for late-to-the-party celebrity journalists like Bob Woodward, who after three years of war and six years of the affliction known as George W. was finally roused from his own state of denial to say “Mon dieu! Bush tells tales!” (Remember two years ago when Woodward’s gung-ho book on the Iraq invasion, Plan of Attack, was recommended on the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign website?)

And I won’t send any spinning fiber-optic wands to MSNBC for allowing Keith Olbermann to do essentially the same progressive schtick Phil Donahue was fired for, back when there was no room for anti-war talk in the mainstream ... just three years ago.

It’s suddenly fashionable to take a swing at the Bush piñata. But tireless independent journalist Amy Goodman has been broadcasting dissent and swinging the baton of truth at corporate media and presidential administrations for A DECADE as the host of the radio/TV newshour Democracy Now! — catch it online San Antonio (defy Clear Channel!); or catch Goodman this Friday, when she headlines Ladyfest at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center.

The stop is part of an 80-city tour for her new book, Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back, co-written with her brother, David. The Goodmans also penned the 2004 bestseller The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them.

Amy, I’ve been aware of your programming since ‘98, when I moved to the Bay Area. You were one of the first broadcasting muckrakers I ever heard. I wonder who were some of your firsts?

I was lucky enough to find at the beginning of my career what people look for their whole careers, and that is independence. That is an absolutely essential ingredient in reporting. I mean, we need a media that is not embedded, whether in the frontlines with troops or in the power elite of this country. We need a media that challenges power, that covers power, not covers for power. That’s what I learned from the beginning, from when I was a kid doing my junior-high-school and high-school newspaper. Then it was taking on the principal and now it’s just on a grander scale. But it’s so important that there be a media that is the fourth estate, not for the state.

Do you think that this has happened, covering for power, because of access issues? You look at Bob Woodward and him just kind of coming around to talk about Bush’s lies. Yet he was able to get a sit-down with Donald Rumsfeld.

As you know, in Static, my brother David and I … talk about the Access of Evil, trading truth for access. You know this is Woodward’s third book on this administration. If only State of Denial were the first book as opposed to Bush at War, because what we have is a media that is acting as a conveyor belt for the lies of the administration.

When it counts is at the beginning … I mean, we knew before the invasion there were enough people that were saying the evidence doesn’t add up around weapons of mass destruction … We’re going to celebrate the 20th anniversary of FAIR `Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting` tonight. They did a crucial study in the lead-up to the invasion that was looking into the four major nightly newscasts, NBC, ABC, CBS, and the PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer, in the two weeks around Colin Powell giving that push for war at the United Nations, which was February 5, 2003. They looked at these four major nightly newscasts. There were 393 interviews done around war; only four were with anti-war leaders. Four of almost 400! That’s no longer a mainstream media, that’s an extreme media beating the drums for war … That’s when the media is, as Noam Chomsky says, “manufacturing consent.” Manufacturing consent for war.

Your first book came out when there were an estimated 100,000 Iraqis dead. Now your new book comes out and there’s the new Lancet medical study — 650,000 Iraqis are said to have died since the invasion. What have you learned since that first book?

Well, the lies take lives. When we came out in 2004 with The Exception to the Rulers — which by the way should be the motto of all the media, to be the exception to the rulers — in fact, Lancet had published the first of these studies … And we interviewed Les Roberts, the co-author of that study, at the time. In fact, we had him again today on Democracy Now! for the second study and he said, it’s amazing, `in this country` Democracy Now! was one of the only outlets that interviewed him after that first study. He was interviewed all over the world. Now they’ve come out with the second one, the climate’s a little different, so it’s getting more coverage and the president was asked about it. But what is absolutely critical is that we provide that forum for people to be able to speak out, to have their say, and we were doing it then, as we are doing it today.

You’re `getting a column` with King’s Feature Syndicate.

Yes, on October 24 I’m launching a column called the same thing as the tour, and that is “Breaking the Sound Barrier.”

And you’ve also been on `Stephen` Colbert — granted Woodward was on Letterman, which has a wider exposure — but you’re coming into a larger public consciousness right now. After 10 years of Democracy Now!, after your second book. With this wider exposure are you still going to be … the voice of independent media?

I mean the whole point is to “break the sound barrier,” to introduce people to this whole universe of independent media, because I really think people who are for peace, who are opposed to war now are not a fringe minority … but a silenced majority. Silenced by the corporate media. It’s inexcusable what the media has done. They don’t seem to learn from their mistakes. Yes, you have the handwringing of the media, “how did we get it so wrong with weapons of mass destruction?” Yet the very same people who got it wrong are the ones we see featured today. And we see the same thing happening when it comes to Iran. “Weapons of mass destruction! Weapons of mass destruction!” What about reading someone like Sy Hersh, the pulitzer-prize winning journalist … who today is saying, no, Iran doesn’t have these WMDs. And breaking the sound barrier is a matter of life and death.

Amy, Texas Public Radio is the vehicle through which we get our NPR programming, and we got it late in San Antonio, one of the latest in the country. And I asked their programming director if he’s ever considered Democracy Now! – he said it doesn’t offer the same level of fairness or balanced reporting as a Morning Edition or All Things Considered

I really think our record is what we have to go on. I mean Democracy Now! we’ve won the highest awards in journalism: the George Polk award, the DuPont-Columbia Award. This is for journalism, for fair and accurate journalism. And what we pride ourselves on at Democracy Now!, which is a daily, grassroots, global, un-embedded, independent, international newshour, is giving people the space to speak across the political spectrum. That’s what matters. And I think it’s absolutely critical that we have those kind of dialogues. And the fact that we’re going on increasingly NPR and PBS stations in some of the most conservative areas of this country, and audiences are responding — breaking fundraising records even compared to All Things Considered and Morning Edition — I think what we offer are grassroots voices, and that’s what we’re most proud of; really working hard to go into the heart of the story. That is our record. That’s why stations are picking us up, and I think what we can turn to is simply the program, and what we offer, and we’re very very proud of that; offering debates and discussions about some of the most critical issues of the day … turning to people in the military, turning to people in intelligence, turning to people who are experts in their own community, that’s why we’re being picked up station after station.

My friend told me to ask, are you spending 24 hours in the role of a journalist — which is fine, it’s something I aspire to do also — but what types of things do you do in your spare time?

You mean on planes? What I do in that time when we take off and then we land? `laughing` Oh, I mean I read, and travel, and walk, and run. I think now, in these really critical times, we just need to build independent media every which way all the time … You know on this 80-city tour we’re on we do fundraisers for independent media all over the country and part of our mission at Democracy Now! is to shore up these independent radio and television stations … and that’s how I’m spending my time.

Get the full Ladyfest event listing at and the Current calendar

Scroll to read more San Antonio News articles
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join SA Current Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.