Thursday, June 21, 2007

Gail Johnson and Amy Goodman attacked on WBAI

Gail Johnson explores the various strands of debate regarding Hillary Clinton for President in "The Hillary Dilemma: Does Sisterhood Trump Peace?" (Common Dreams). It's a grown up article, even if a few comments aren't. If that last remark confuses anyone: Bully Boy can only nominate people to the Supreme Court. If you're unhappy with the way the two new Justices nominated by Bully Boy have voted since getting on the bench, you need to own up to reality that they didn't have to be confirmed. Congress chose to confirm them. Without Congress, they wouldn't be on the Court now. Would something worse be on? Possibly. Or Bully Boy facing a test of his (never tested) strength would have had to have reached towards the middle. Regardless, had even one of them been strongly opposed by the Democrats in Congress, they might deserve some of the easy passes they are currently getting. And on comments, we've pulled a site. I gave Jess permission after he told me about the e-mails complaining. F you repeatedly at someone who is not going to fall in line is not a conversation. F you over the nonsense at that site was enough to make me see why Cindy Sheehan named that site in her goodbye. This is not a reflection on their original content but to hear about the e-mails on this and to hear that a woman (presumably African-American) was trashed repeatedly with no moderator stepping in? There's no excuse for that. It reminded me of Betty's story about how she always votes Democrat but, in the past, raise a reality in a thread and watch all the hate be poured on. So that's site delinked and there's no excuse for that behavior.

On a similar note, Rachel asked me to note something on WBAI today. I just got done listening. This was on Talk Back With Hugh Hamilton today. (That may be Talk Back Live with Hugh Hamilton. Rachel just noted it was on Hugh Hamilton.) Hillary Clinton's health care plan was brought up by some callers and then a man (naturally?) had to call in to yell (and Rachel's right, he was yellling) about the "BAI" crazies -- which Hamilton didn't correct him on -- and then to spin this wonderful conspiracy theory that's so far removed from reality that we're not even commenting on that. He then went on to attack Amy Goodman (though he's spoken to her before blah blah blah). Hamilton let that attack stand as well.

Not here it won't. If Amy Goodman makes a mistake, note it. If it upsets you, note it. Use any tone you want. But Amy Goodman did not grab an interview intended for someone else (actually, I believe the caller said "a call"). Bill Clinton was attempting to get out the vote on election day in 2000. He called multiple radio stations for that reason. He called WBAI to speak to Democracy Now! because Democracy Now! (even then) aired on many other stations and not just WBAI or just Pacifica.

Amy Goodman didn't agree to do a PSA. There were no ground rules. She took a call and she's a journalist. (I don't remember Juan Gonzalez in that piece but he may have taken part, the caller referred to a "Hispanic guy." What a charmer the caller was. And anyone who listened to Democracy Now! regularly -- or watched, I listen -- would know Juan Gonzalez' name, he is the co-host. And, no, Hamilton didn't point that out either.)

Amy Goodman had the sitting president on the phone. She wasn't going to play dumb. "Get out the vote. Yeah, that's great. You're so groovy." She's a journalist and she was going to ask tough questions. Nothing prevented him from hanging up or saying "goodbye" and hanging up at any point. (I believe she notes that in Exceptions to the Rulers.) Clinton's presidency was winding down and there were issues (including potential pardons) to address. Goodman did that.

Hamilton didn't defend her. He wants us to believe he knew nothing about the interview. He didn't "hear" it he said. Maybe someone could send him a copy of a copy of Exception to the Rulers which reproduces the interview? A caller is griping non-stop (and given more time than any caller is), trashing Amy Goodman on the WBAI airwaves. And Hamilton's idea of a defense is to say that he can't evaluate the interview because he didn't hear it? The most well known interview in the last seven years on Pacifica? We're supposed to believe he never listened? If true, that's even more alarming.

This is what happens when Pacifca skews their news to play cheerleaders for Democrats. You end up with people like that. And what happened, as Rachel pointed out, was that the topic wasn't brought up again (she called and called) and all this vennum at Amy Goodman was hurled on air (this wasn't your average length call, this man was allowed to go on and on, he may have had five minutes where he was talking) and the most that was offered in Goodman's defense (on air at WBAI, her home) was Hamilton saying he hadn't heard the interview.

If you're on WBAI and you haven't heard that interview, you have many problems that go beyond a caller asking about something that was covered in the Washington Post the week before while you tell them that you've never heard what they're talking about and it doesn't even sound like it's anything new. I cannot imagine that if Bernard White was trashed like that, Hamilton wouldn't have offered even a single sentence in White's defense. To be really honest, when someone says "BAI crazies," that's when you hit the hang up button.

Hamilton would probably counter that he attempts to have a conversation. WBAI listeners -- on listener supported radio -- don't need to hear someone yelling about how crazy they are. Forget Goodman for a moment, when a caller says that, the response is "click" as you move on to the next caller.

Hamilton gets how many hours on air and always plays that "I don't know" card. Now on health care, he should have been able to reference Robin Toner's New York Times article before the 1992 election -- if he's going to discuss health care. But he does that all the time. Marjorie Cohn gets attacked on air and instead of defending her, he's giving out contact info and saying to take it up with Cohn. That doesn't cut it. She's a regular guest (Mondays, I believe). He is the squishiest host in the world who backs down when ever someone wants to yell and scream. And it's not a listenable dance. If he doesn't get that WBAI listeners (Jonah and Micah also complained, by the way. Rachel wrote the longest e-mail) don't enjoy hearing some screaming loudmouth refer to them as "crazies," then someone at WBAI needs to sit him down. And possibly it's time to consider if there's not another host that could do the program because it's not cutting it. And anyone can take calls for two hours and never make any points when they've got a right winger or a Democratic zombie screaming on the phone.

Returning to Goodman. She can be criticized. No one is above criticism. This wasn't criticism. Not because of "tone" but because the man screaming didn't know his facts and was allowed to scream them repeatedly at great length and, here's the point, Hamilton offered no correction. Hamilton weasled out of making any comment by claiming he hadn't heard the interview. I would suggest WBAI that they provide Hamilton with a copy of the interview and insist he listen to it before he next goes on air. That was embarrassing. The guy's opinions of the interview, fine, share that. The guy distorting the facts of the interview and his distortions being allowed to stand on WBAI air? That is not fine. That is embarrassing and its offensive.

Now those who've listened to Pacifica for any length of time remember the attempted purge (Goodman and White were only two of the ones targeted, Verna Avery Brown was as well, Philip Maldari and others too many to mention). Hamilton wasn't targeted. In fact, he took over the show during that time period. And of course he justified Aristide's overthrow (1991). Hamilton needs to be gone. His prissy nature is like any play-the-left TV 'liberal.' And he's really not suited for the air time he's given. Deepa Fernandes (to name only one, Mitch Jeserich to name another) could hold down that time and increase listeners.

At a bare minimum, he should be required to play the interview (that he says he never heard) on air next week. He should also be required to invite Amy Goodman on to explain the actual details of that interview and Juan Gonzalez should be invited on to explain that he's not the "Hispanic guy," he is the co-host who is Latino and also has a name. Whether they wish to take part or not, they should be invited on. Gonzales is, in fact, a very well known name because he's been a print journalist (a well known one) for many, many years.

When he pulled the nonsense with Majorie Cohn, I was offended but no member brought it up so I didn't comment. (I don't listen to his program. He's too irritating on air and those who 'scored' during the purge have no good will built up with me.) But Rachel wrote a 15 K e-mail on this and Jonah and Micah complained as well. And of course, who knows whom wacky Hugh will go after next? Janet Coleman? His nonsense needs to be called out before he does more damage. All I wanted to do tonight was a quick entry and thanks to Hugh Hamilton's nonsense, that's not happening.

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