Jewish Women In America; Amy Goodman Host and Executive Producer, "Democracy Now!" Radio Pacifica, Public Access TV
This show was made possible by a grant from the Jewish Women's Foundation of New York. If that's not left near the world, we'll be taking it to my favorite love. I love seven people come apart. They'll be a whole alight of love. They'll be part of the LA Crapa Love. Welcome to Jewish Women in America, a television series that celebrates the contributions of Jewish Women to U.S. Society. I'm Blant Wheezing Cook and my guest today is Amy Goodman, the voice of peace and truth and news reporting as host and executive producer of Pacific Aradio's Democracy Now. Welcome, Amy Goodman.
You are the woman that I wake up to and go to sleep with wherever I travel. One can hear you on Democracy Now on Radio Pacifica and see you on public access TV and on CUNY TV, and you are doing the most amazing job in these mean times bringing the voice of truth and justice to us. How do you do it? Well, not without an amazing crew, amazing team of people who work on Democracy Now. It is extremely exciting at the same time that these are very dire times. Two years ago, we were broadcasting on several dozen radio stations from WBAI here in New York. Now, two years later, since September 11, we're broadcasting on more than 200 radio and television stations. And on satellite TV, Dish Network, Channel 9415, which is free speech TV, an audio and video streaming on the website, democracynow.org, which means that people all over the world can watch the program or listen to it, because it's truly international and embedded, independent.
And we need that more than ever in a time of war and selections. We need peace and elections. Right. Well, war and selections and secrecy and lies. And really, I frequently think, what would we do without you? There is just the range of news that you cover in your daily hour is what those of us who do political work just simply rely on. And I just frequently wonder, how do you do it? When do you sleep? Since I can watch you on public access at eight in the morning, that means you must get up at six. And since I know you're at fundraisers and meetings, because we're sometimes there together, until midnight, you know, what is your schedule? Well, there's the big gap between midnight and sex. So you do get plenty of sleep.
And, you know, there's just so much that has to be done now that everyone has to participate. That's the key. It's not so much what you do, but that you do something. And I hope that democracy now inspires people by giving information. Sometimes I'm afraid that there's so much that's so difficult that we have to cover, that people will feel overwhelmed. But increasingly, as I go around the country, people say that they draw hope from the show, which really means that information is hope. Once you hear something, no matter how terrible it is, you're hearing from people who are doing something about it. And I don't think the American people are apathetic, but I do think, despite the proliferation of channels, there are fewer media owners. There's less diversity of opinion on, and it's our responsibility to really broadcast that diversity of opinion. And people then can decide what they want to do. You know, I'm glad you said that the American people are not apathetic, because my experience is that people are really enthusiastic and eager to make a difference.
And I've gone around the country as I know you're about to do. And one of the things that you see all over this country, in places like Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in places like Springfield, Ohio, there's a student group called Stand. Students take action now, damn it. And they watch your show, and they listen to your show, and they go on commondreams.org. And that's their easy way into democracynow.org. And folks are doing it. But what's happening, and this is the good news, is it's not enough to listen and to go on commondreams.org. Not to go out and meet people, and really make a statement and go out. And be, you know, I always say never go anywhere without your gang. So information is the first step. It's the essence of hope.
And then we have to create and rebuild our movement, our movement, many movements for peace and justice. And that is really happening. And I, well, I'm very grateful to you, because you're absolutely right there in the forefront of all of it. And, you know, you've done so much. You've won several awards for your incredible, you're incredible radio documentary that you did with Alan Nairn, massacre the story of East Timor. You know, you have Jeremy Scahill reporting live, first from Afghanistan, and then from Iraq. You have just done so much. You have a great crew. You have a great history to build on. How do you do it? How do you, what is your organizing principle? Well, we have a staff. We have a team of people who work every day producing the show for the next day. I mean, each day is a new journey, being on an academic television station like CUNY. It's like writing several theses a day, each of the producers.
And the minute one is done, we're on to the next, investigating, finding the people closest to the story, the basic principles of journalism. Who is involved? What did they see? Who can tell you where else to go, where to get that diversity of opinion and calling around to getting that, being on the front lines, bearing witness, seeing for ourselves, responding to people calling from all over the world or emailing, reading a lot of papers from all over the world, and the internet certainly offers access to that. Right. I mean, we have to bring public media together, public access TV, Pacifica radio, NPR, satellite television, satellite radio. These are very critical times. We have to take on also the corporate media, because I don't call it the mainstream media anymore. It doesn't represent the mainstream.
In fact, if you look at the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, the mainstream of people in this country were opposed to the invasion. And that was never reflected in the corporate media. And now, afterwards, those that's very same, very small group of minority elite that are on TV. I'm not talking about people of color, but that small group of pundits who know so little about so much are saying. And they're now saying, how did we get it so wrong? Well, what about turning to some of the people who didn't get it so wrong, who said that the evidence, the intelligence was not credible, said it now, and we're saying it then. But no, they continue to be there with those cheerleaders for war. That's right. But on your show, you had McGovern, Ray McGovern, and Ray Close, the CIA, folks. I mean, there's the whole, all of the old CIA hands are appalled by this insanity. Well, I think that's what's so important to point out right now,
that you have in every sector of society now, of U.S. society. Bush, I think, has managed to unite people against him. You have the intelligence community furious that they were circumvented with the office of special plans, which is put together by the group of neo-conservatives under Vice President Cheney. And they didn't like the qualified intelligence from the CIA. You know, that had the caveats that said we're not sure if there's WMD. So they set up their own unit and they cherry-picked the worst information. They said, see, he's got nuclear weapons. And then you have the military families who, well, at this point, we're talking about more than 540 U.S. servicemen and women who are dead in Iraq and the military families are outraged, recently in Fort Stewart, Georgia, 700 military families confronting a military official who was brought in to talk to them. He had to be taken out by military security and they were saying, why? Why are sons and daughters, are husbands and wives?
Why are they dying in Iraq? Right. When one thinks about hope and we turn to you, tell us about your journey. Where do you get nourishment, hope? How did, you know, I guess my question, Amy, is how did you become Amy Goodman's? Could you just tell us a little bit about you? I mean, those of us who watch you every day, we know you do the best news, but who are you? Well, first of all, I think all the hard work of a lot of people make democracy now happen. And just the listener support and being from Pacifica radio, the first listener-sponsored radio network, the only independent media network in this country broadcasting today founded after World War II, by a man who refused to fight then and said there has to be a media outlet that's not run by corporations, but run by journalists and artists and that's how Pacifica began and I come from there. I'm inspired by my parents, my late father, George Goodman, who was an ophthalmologist in Long Island
before that worked at the NIH, the National Institutes of Health and worked on work doing research on, for example, sickle cell anemia and glaucoma and did some of the pioneering work there, but came out to Long Island to raise his family and I'm sure Long Island with my mom and my mother taught women's history and literature in several community colleges and Long Island Dowling and Suffolk Community College and Adelphi. And they were peace activists, my father was with physicians for social responsibility and his face is famous, not because he looks exactly like Peter Sellers. Women would run up to me, my parents once took a trip to London, running up to him across the cobblestone saying, please, would you sign this? I mean, this great moral dilemma, do I say I'm not who you think I am and just, you know, pop that bubble of excitement for them or just sign it and be done with it.
But anyway, he looks just like Peter Sellers, but so he was the doctor in these big posters in the Long Island Railroad that said it was a doctor in a white jacket with a stethoscope with a mushroom cloud and it said your doctor is worried. He's a famous face to train passengers. That's great. Like we can risk nuclear war, we can risk nuclear disarmament. That's right. That's right. That's right. That's right. That's right. And Wilp saying, women's internationally for peace and freedom, they made a poster out of it. And my mom is just a wonderful woman, both really inspired me to read from when I was very young. And because women's literature was her passion, I just learned a lot from her. And just the whole approach to life is what has, I think, very much shaped me. And she's so proud of you. I met your mother at an event where you were getting a wonderful award for being the great journalist that you are on your mother was just so proud.
And we all need that. Proud mothers are very, very helpful. Yep. Someone in your court to back you up. When I was little, there was my mother fighting for me and my brothers. Girls had me come on the phone when my home economics teacher had thrown me out of class. I think it was seventh grade. There was a sign in our home act class that said, if we are not ladies, we are nothing. So I said it was terrible to be cold and nothing, but I had to accept that anyway. I asked if I could be in shop instead of home act. The girls were in home act. The boys were in shop and people didn't appreciate that very much. But there was my mom on the phone and I was listening as she said, if Amy was thrown out of your class, it probably was a problem with more on your end than her end. And I remember, I mean, that's such a lasting impression that it's just unquestioning support.
And I think girls need that when they're growing up. And also the inspiration of my grandmothers and my grandfathers. You have a living grandmother who's over 100. That's right. Tell us about your grandmother. Sonia Bach was born in Russia, Poland at the time in 1897. She is a woman of three centuries. Wow. She is going to be 107 years old. An absolutely amazing woman. When she was in her 50s, she got meningitis and they definitely said she was going to die. She was put in one of the sanitarians upstate. She organized it and she cut everyone's hair. And she was out of there before they knew it. Well, after two years. So I think it may have shortened her life. So I don't know what's going to happen maybe in about 20 or 30 years. When you say she organized it, she unionized. No, no. She was always organizing people there. I think it's not giving hope. That's right.
It's about giving hope. But she's just taught me a lot about endurance and hope and optimism and exercise. And exercise. She believes in it. And I hear you're the biggest artist, you know, Jim work out of anybody. Oh, my head of reputation. Do you know that? Oh, please. I did run a marathon. This is true in Buffalo, across the border into Canada and ended what better marathon to run than the Buffalo marathon, where you end up in Niagara Falls. Not going over the barrels, but you're in a barrel almost. But going over, I think it was called the love bridge. But anyway, that was very inspiring. And I used to run a lot, not so much anymore. But do you work out every day? Well, mentally, yes. But physically, no. No. Well, that would be, you know, when one thinks about your extraordinary work day, I mean, that when somebody told me, well, she's at the same gym you are. He's, I can't remember who told me, you know, that you really, you're really in there.
With VIGA and VIM, I said, oh, well, that's good. That's really, that's really healthy. So those of us who worry about you. Oh, don't worry. I'm happy to hear that. And I'm just lucky enough that I work with people who I respect and like so much since that is my community all day. Um, to be in the same, we work at downtown community television, DCTV, which is occupies an old firehouse, a century old firehouse engine company, 31 in Chinatown. Um, Kekotzuno and John Alpert run DCTV. It's teaching video to the community so people can document their own communities. And we're in the ground floor, um, the bays where the fire engines used to come in and out. So we're in big, loft-like areas. So we work in open spaces and I work with the people that I most respect and enjoy. And so I'm incredibly lucky. And I think that really keeps me going from morning till night. That's great.
That's great. And so what is your day like? You get up, you, you're down at the firehouse. Yeah, they get all the newspapers that I can. And, um, read on the way to work and already everyone is gathering at the firehouse to the camera people and the producers writing the headlines, looking at the latest story. Should we change any of those stories? Uh, then I review the headlines and get people, muffins and coffee. Make sure that they're happy in the morning. And then the guests are coming in and the show broadcast live at eight on WBAI, 99.5th at broadcast on radio at nine in the morning. Um, and, uh, we do the show. And right afterwards, start planning for the next day. Sometimes even within the day, in the show, we're realizing things we want to do for the next day. Um, and I think one of the reasons it has been so important to so many people is that it's international. And our community is international. People come from all over and increasingly the networks are shutting down their, um, posts in different places. Yet it's just a phone call away.
And because radio is at the heart of what we do, though, we become a television show, often, I mean, you can get the most graphic descriptions from people just on the phone. And then we show the video and audio of independent film, the video of stills or video of independent filmmakers and photographers around the world for those who are watching on television. Right. I always think you should give us a little sense of what we're watching. Um, that's the only, the only, the only, uh, the only reason that I don't is because, um, I don't want people who are listening in the radio to feel that they're missing anything. It's a real trick. It could be a visual. It could be on the, you know, on the phone. Well, we could talk about this later. Right. But, but it's the only, you know, because the visuals are so incredible for those folks who don't, uh, watch you. I mean, I earn people too. And CUNY TV is going to have you five days a week. Um, very shortly. That's wonderful. That's wonderful. So, but the visuals are just extraordinary. And we're also doing a lot of pioneering work getting our video stories over the internet.
Um, when Jeremy Schaehill and Jackie Sewen were in a rock under Saddam Hussein, he had put up a firewall, making it almost impossible to send anything, perhaps some email, little small email. And so they sent broadcast quality, uh, video stories, like you see on any of the networks, five, six minutes. And they sent it through a kind of a program that split it up into, say, 250 emails. And then back in our studios, the indie media magicians would piece it back together and put it back together. And then we would broadcast it. Um, when we're bringing you the world social forum from, from either India or from Brazil. Um, we are sending, this video is being sent to us over the internet. It's absolutely amazing. Really pioneering. I mean, what made independent media, um, different from the corporate media. I mean, aside from a number of other things was you can't afford the million dollar satellites to get these stories satelliteed over. Uh, but now we can use the internet and, um, indie media activists, journalists are doing amazing things with that.
And that's what democracy, who democracy now is working. That's great. How do you do the telephone calls? I mean, very often, you know, during the world social forum, you're on, what are those so? Or satellite telephones? Satellite phones? They're cell phones. They're cell phones. They're using anyone's phone anywhere in the world. I mean, the technology is very simple. And it's what we use every day and our everyday lives. And it's just making sure we can get the best quality phone line. And then you can really speak to people, not just that could afford to get to a television studio, but, um, people wherever they are. They are on the radio, on commondreams.org, on democracynow.org. It's easy access to you. It's really great. And using every medium possible. How did you first get to WBI to Pacifica? Oh, boy. Well, um, I was home at the after college. And I was...
Where did you come home? Um, I went to Harvard Radcliffe and also was a visiting student at college with the Atlantic and Bar Harbor. But when I came back, I had done my thesis on Depot Rivera, which is an injectable contraceptive that had not been approved at that time in the United States. And yet 10,000 black women at Atlanta, Georgia had been injected with it without knowing that it wasn't approved and that it caused, uh, it caused cancer in beagles and monkeys. Oh, gosh. It's injectable progesterone. Right. Sort of for women. For women. For women. For women. For women. For women. I didn't know that it got out. In fact, it was the beginning of Billie Avery's Black Women's Health Project based in Atlanta because women were getting sick from Depot Rivera. So I was turning this thesis. I thought, why write it for a few, um, uh, you know, male professors. I mean, I'd done a lot of research on this. Turn it into a series of articles. And I worked with, um, my colleague Katrina, um, uh, Kristin of Unhinnenberg, uh, who's now a professor in the UC, uh, University of California system. And we published in the miniseries of articles in a multinational monitor.
It was a whole issue called the case against Depo Rivera. But anyway, as I was doing that and I was home at my parents and be sure I turned on the radio, I hadn't grown up with WBAI. But I started to listen to this radio station that I just was amazed at. I mean, it presented all of the beauty and ugliness of New York, all of the horror and the magnificence. And all of the different dialects of New York, I said, this is a radio station. No commercials, no corporate agenda, just not trying to sell anything. So I was just listening. And then I was going to, I was very interested in science and I took a biochemistry graduate course at Hunter. And I saw they were offering a radio documentary course and I went over and the professor was a producer at WBAI, Andrew Phillips. Andrew, who became the program director. And I thought radio documentary, that's kind of like what I hear on that radio station. So I went over.
He was teaching it. We started talking and he invited me to apprentice with him in a new show. He was starting the next week called Investagations. He was Australian. He had that kind of impediment. So I said, great. And that's how I began. I never left. Wow. That was 1985. Wow. I had a radio program on BAI, then it was called Women. It was first called Activists and Agitators. And then we did Women in the World in the 1980s. It was a weekly interview program. I was an agitator. So it wasn't just about women with their washing machines. No. Not that kind of agitator. Activists and agitators. And then I really felt I had to stop to write my book. But now you think God you did. Yeah. But you haven't stopped and you've written a book. Now, I want to pause on this. Amy Goodman, you have just written a book. It is coming out in April. And it has a great title that's very confusing to readers of amazon.com, which I hope you'll tell the story. The book is called The Exception to the Rulers,
Exposing oily politicians, war profiteers, and the media. That loved them. Okay. And I wrote it with my brother, David Goodman, who is a journalist based in Vermont writes a lot from other Jones and other publications. And yes, it was put up on amazon.com even before we finished writing it. And you could preorder it to my surprise to see the book there before we finished writing it. But anyway, it said, you know, amazon.com does it. It says the title, The Exceptions, the Rulers, Exposing oily politicians, war profiteers, and the media that loved them. And it says, people interested in this book will also be interested in oily skin and wrinkle products, just acne and wrinkle products, because it's oily politicians. Well, oily politicians, what do you cover in the book? We're running out of time real quick. What do you cover in the book, and how was it writing with your brother? Well, you're the only girl. Yes, I threw brothers. Doing this book with David was a complete joy.
He is creative, wonderful partner, an excellent writer. And it's just, I am incredibly lucky that David Lloyd Goodman is my brother. The book is really about everything we do every day on democracy now. It's about covering the world. It's about hope. It's about the media. And it is a fierce critique of the corporate media, both the press, including the New York Times, the networks, how they covered this war. The unforgivable, acting as the unforgivable conveyor belt for the lies of the administration. Instead of glitching up the side again, the unforgivable conveyor belt for the lies of this administration. The media is supposed to be the exception to the rulers, holding those in power accountable.
Not being a part of that system, but critiquing it and sometimes taking it apart, looking at it and carefully analyzing and not accepting what they say. I mean, I have stone, at least not accepting what they say on the surface. I have stones said it very simply in two words, governments lie. And it's our job to expose that. And to end the rule of lies and secrecy and distortion that takes us into wars for plunder and greed, and with a note of hope, Amy Goodman, you're doing such hopeful work, giving us the truth, piercing the wall of horror. Final word. I think independent media is where it's at. It is our hope in this country and around the world. Pacifica radio, independent media centers all over the world. Public access TV, a much underutilized resource. We have to pull together the public media and the corporate media must be challenged
because they too are using the public airwaves and we need independent media to serve a democratic society. And we need equal time. You must start campaigning for equal time for all points of view. On the media, I am sorry we are out of time. Thank you, Amy Goodman, for talking to us today about the most important issues of our time and for giving us your precious time for Jewish women in America. I'm bland to ease and cook. Always grateful for you, Amy Goodman. Thank you, Amy Goodman. Thank you, Amy Goodman.
- Jewish Women In America
- Contributing Organization
- CUNY TV (New York, New York)
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- Episode Description
- Amy Goodman, radio journalist, talks about Democracy Now! on WBAI/Radio Pacifica. Hosted by Blanche Wiesen Cook. Original tape date: February 18, 2004.
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Identifier: 14583 (li_serial)
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- MLA: “Jewish Women In America; Amy Goodman Host and Executive Producer, "Democracy Now!" Radio Pacifica, Public Access TV .” 2004-02-18. CUNY TV, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 4, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-522-dn3zs2m903>.
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