First, a letter from Ralph Nader to
MFB. I don't know why we didn't know about this before. It's already 14 days
old. Second, an article written by Bob Feldman on July on July 22. Equally
mysterious as to why haven't we seen this before now. Mighty interesting
stuff. Given the connections documented more or less by Feldman, perhaps there
is more to this than money, no? Are things getting clearer?
August 4, 1999
Mary Frances Berry
Chair Pacifica Foundation
Phone: (202) 337-0382
Fax: (202) 376-7558
624 Ninth Street, N.W. Suite 700
Washington, DC 20425
Dear Dr Berry:
With fewer and fewer corporations owning more and more of the U.S. media, and with advertisers frequently flexing their muscle over commercial stations, Pacifica stations are an increasingly crucial part of the American media landscape.
Stations such as KPFA in Berkeley have offered a diversity of perspectives and voices on a wide variety of issues of the day unheard of on commercial stations; the same goes for WBAI in New York. WPFW in Washington and KPFT in Houston have an opportunity to do stronger public affairs programming to serve the communities of those cities. KPFK in Los Angeles is an important voice in a city that produces so much media that dwells on sensationalism and titillation rather than engaging the American people.
These stations are not mere assets to be bought and sold. They are national treasures. They should be nurtured. To contemplate the sale of any of these stations would he a tragic breach of the trust of so many people who have participated in building and supporting them over the years.
%2j,~7'ry = Ralph Nader's signature
P0 Box 19312
Washington, DC 20036
By Bob Feldman, July 22, 1999
There's a difference between Listener-Sponsored Radio and U.S.Government -sponsored Radio. But around 1986 the Pacifica Administration began accepting Corporation for Public Broadcasting sponsorship of its radio network, while Pacifica stations, including KPFK in Los Angeles, continued to promote themselves as a listener-sponsored media alternative to the government-sponsored NPR and PBS stations.
As a result, many Pacifica listeners have only recently become aware that the same Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which sponsors PBS and NPR's pro-establishment-oriented political programming funds nearly 10 and 20 percent of Pacifica Radio's operating budget.
In 1991, I wrote an article for the New York City alternative weekly, Downtown, exposing PBS's McNeil/Leher connection to the Gannett media conglomerate, as well as examining other anti-democratic and commercially-oriented trends in the world of CPB-subsidized broadcasting. Even though I had been a long-time WBAI listener) I didn't realize until three years later that Pacifica was being sponsored by the CPB and not solely by Pacifica stations' listeners.
Many listener-sponsors from the 1980's through the mid 90's who supported KPFK and other Pacifica stations were not aware of the CPB sponsorship of Pacifica's stations. This lack of awareness among listeners was mainly due to Pacifica management's unwillingness to be up front with listeners regarding Pacifica stations' growing dependence on US government funds for a significant percentage of their day to day operations.
By sponsoring the Pacifica Radio stations to the tune of over $1 million per year, the CPB largely avoids being scrutinized over Pacifica's airwaves from a radical left perspective. Yet, as most Pacifica radio listeners realize, the CPB should be especially scrutinized by Pacifica's news departments and its programmers: because the CPA uses tax money to serve the special interests of its corporate and foundation sponsors, instead of the public interest. The CPB also subsidizes the PBS and NPR media machine, which functions during wartime as a Pentagon propaganda tool, employed to justify military action such as the recent bombing of Yugoslavia.
The CPB's current President and CEO, Robert Coonrod, is a former Deputy Director at the USIAs' Voice of America propaganda operation. He also supervised the U.S. government's Office of Cuban Broadcasting / Radio Marti and TV Marti operation which has long been a component of the US effort to destabilize Cuban society.
In his book, Covering Castro, former Radio Marti News Director Jay Mallin recalled that when he traveled to Moscow to recruit correspondents for Radio Marti, he, "discussed with Andrei Kortunov, of the U.S.- Canadian Institute ways Moscow might change or even oust Castro."
Former Voice of America Deputy Director Robert Coonrod-as a CPB executive-was involved in the CPB's decision in 1995 to give Lynn Chadwick the CPB's prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award. CPB President Coonrod also publicly praised Chadwick in 1997 for the work she did in helping to organize and acquire funds for the CPB's 30th anniversary event in Washington, D.C. that year.
In February of this year, when Coonrod used his office at the CPB to threaten a cut in CPB funding of Pacifica Radio to pressure the Pacifica National Board to change It's governance structure, Lynn Chadwick was there to add to pressure resulting in the Board unanimously voting for the change.
To give you an idea of how the CPB is connected throughout the government, the Chair of the CPB's Board of Directors is Diane Blair, a long-time political crony and personal friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton. The wife of another longtime Clinton political associate, Monsanto director Mickey Kanter, also sits on the CPB board. As does Christy Carpenter, a former vice-president of the CIA-linked Hill & Knowlton public relations firm.
By accepting funds from a CPB whose board chair is a long-time Clinton partisan, the Pacifica Administration may have a vested interest in not airing too much hard-hitting criticism of the Clinton White House on a day to day basis. The recently reported suggestion made to Amy Goodman by management to, "go easy on Clinton", clearly illustrates the risks posed to Pacifica radio's independence as an information source when viewed in context with the potential for political influence through the CPB funding paradigm.
In addition, neither The Nation magazine nor its Pacifica-aired program, Radio Nation has apparently been eager to focus on either the CPB's links to the United States Information Agency / Voice of America / Radio Marti propaganda apparatus or the CPB's links to the Clinton White House. One reason may be because a major investor in The Nation magazine, Alan Sagner, besides being a leading Clinton-Gore fundraiser in the 1990s, was Diane Blair's predecessor as CPB board chairperson under Clinton.
Most Pacifica radio listeners have traditionally been militantly opposed to both the militarism and the racism of the U.S. Establishment. Yet the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which has been sponsoring the Pacifica Radio stations since the 1980s has always been under the leadership of folks with links to the U.S. military-industrial complex and/or the national security state intelligence or propaganda organizations.
James Ledbetter's book, The Death of Public Broadcasting, Made Possible By..., discusses some of these longtime CPB links to the military-industrial complex. According to Ledbetter's book, the first CPB President, Frank Pace, had no broadcasting or media experience, but he had been Secretary of the Army from 1950 to 1953 during the Korean War and has also served as the chief executive officer of General Dynamics, a major manufacturer of military fighter planes and bombers." Shortly after being appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to be the CPB's first president, Pace commissioned research on how public television might be used for riot control.
During the Nixon Era, a former chairman of the Pentagon's Institute for Defense Analyses [ID] weapons research think-tank, former MIT President and MIT Chair James Chilean, was the CPB's board chair. And a CPB president during the '70s Henry Loomis-like the current CPB president-was a former Voice of America and USIA propaganda organization official-before moving into his CPB office.
With the political commitment to a Pacifica radio network that is once again solely listener-sponsored-and not CPB/U.S. government-sponsored-there will be an opportunity to explore and report on-air the significance of these links between the national security state and the CPB.
Since 1986, there hasn't been much evidence that the CPB-subsidized stations of the Pacifica foundation have allowed themselves to be utilized in a sustained effort to expose the undemocratic political orientation of the CPB funded PBS and NPR propaganda apparatus-from a radical left perspective.
The Pacifica radio network should function as the watchdog of the CPB, not it's lapdog!
A community radio station such as KPFK that purports to be listener-sponsored in order to insure the maximum degree of both listener empowerment and on- air free speech trial is free of external corporate, establishment foundation or government pressure has no business accepting CPB funds in 1999.
A radio station which wishes to be an authentic grassroots and listener- sponsored anti-establishment station has no business accepting funds from the same U.S. establishment national security state which most Pacifica Radio listeners regard as anti-democratic and despise.
Corporation for Public Broadcasting-sponsored radio is not, by definition, Listener-Sponsored radio. It can only accurately be identified as U.S government-sponsored radio. In the current case, considering the forces that control the CRB, one would have to refer to Pacifica as Clinton Administration-sponsored radio.
Listener-Sponsored Radio ceases to be so when U.S. government money replaces listener donations at Pacifica's radio stations or if listeners are disenfranchised by a U.S government subsidized governing board that is pressured by the CPB and establishment money replaces listener donations at Pacifica's 5 radio stations. And, as the events of the last few weeks reveal, a CRB-sponsored Pacifica Administration is as willing as any corporate-sponsored university administration to call in the cops to suppress political dissent and free speech in Berkeley, California.
Take the Corporation Out of Public Broadcasting-And Take The CPB Out Of Pacifica! All power to the listeners now!
Bob Feldman, has written for Z Magazine and was a columnist at the New York City alternative weekly, Downtown, in addition to serving as it's Politics and Media Editor
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