Amy Goodman – Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders and the People Who Fight Back | Bioneers

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Well, it is a great honor
to be here at the Bioneers
Conference with all of you. I just flew in from
San Antonio, Texas this morning. We were
there last night at the Esperanza Center.
The Esperanza Center. Giving hope is what
that center does, and it’s very interesting
to see there, on the one hand, Esperanza bringing together
many cultures, many– well, a cross section of
society in San Antonio. Also, San Antonio is the
home of Clear Channel, the radio network now
also owning TV stations that has over 1200 radio
stations in this country. It is absolutely critical
we have an independent media. The media–[APPLAUSE]
The media are the most powerful institutions
on Earth. More powerful than any
bomb, than any missile. And the Pentagon’s
deployed the media, and we have to
take it back. [APPLAUSE] I’m lucky enough to
have my brother, David Goodman,
my colleague, and I hesitate to use
this term in this day and age, my collaborator but David and I have
written this book, Static: Government Liars, Media
Cheerleaders, and the People who Fight Back. Why the title Static?
Because in this high-tech, digital age with high-
definition television and digital radio, all we
get is ever more static, that veil of lies and mis-
representations and half truths and omissions that
obscure reality when what we need is a
different kind of static. The media should be giving
the Dictionary definition of static, and that is criticism, opposition,
unwanted interference. We need a media that covers power,
not covers for power. We need a media that
is the fourth estate, not for the state.
And we need a media that covers the movements
that create static and make history. [APPLAUSE] So, we’re on this
80-city tour, and I began on
Labor Day weekend in the Cape–
in Cape Cod. The first night we
were in Provincetown, and each place we go,
we try to celebrate the independent media
that is there, do fundraisers to build up
independent media, whether it is radio/television. Democracy Now! started
10 years ago as the only daily election show in
public broadcasting. We were broadcasting on
Pacifica and other community stations, a couple dozen of them,
and that was terrific. Then five years later,
in 2001, right around September 11th, we
expanded to television, and the program has
just taken off. We are now broadcasting
on over 500 radio and television stations
around the country, on Pacifica stations,
increasingly on NPR stations, on Public Access TV stations,
and increasingly PBS TV stations. We’re on low-power FM
and college and community stations. Our headlines are now
translated into Spanish, so we are broadcasting on
scores of stations throughout Latin America,
Europe, and we’re also on college and community stations
through Canada, Australia and Europe, and our audio and video podcast
at Time magazine just called
our podcast, together with Tim Russert’s Meet The Press,
the most popular podcast here. I don’t know how Tim
Russert made it up there. [APPLAUSE] But I think it just is a
testament to the hunger for independent voices.
We’re also broadcasting on both TV satellite networks,
and I’ve already seen both of the networks
represented here. Dish Network’s channel
9415, Free Speech TV, as well as 9410, Link TV,
which is also– Link is also on Direct TV
channel 375. It is absolutely critical we
support this independent media all over the country, and of
course on the Internet, that we protect it from
being privatized, because that is the great
equalizing force that we can communicate with people
all over the world, why net neutrality is
absolutely critical to grassroots globalization.
[APPLAUSE] But the first night,
Labor Day weekend, Friday night we were
in Provincetown celebrating WOMR
Outermost Radio. Then we moved on to
Nantucket on Saturday, an historic island.
It’s the place where Frederick Douglass gave
one of his first addresses against slavery for
abolition. He trembled when he spoke.
His body shook because he was speaking
from his own experience. He had been enslaved as
a child and a teenager. He was born on the Eastern
shore of Maryland. He had been given to
a man, Edward Covey, known as a
slave breaker. The other slave owners gave
their troublesome slaves to him. Edward Covey’s property was
known as Mt. Misery. Well, he almost broke
Frederick Douglass, but Douglass broke away,
headed north, and changed the world.
That property today, Mt. Misery, is owned by
Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense.
[AUDIENCE REACTS] It’s his vacation home.
[LAUGHTER] He bought it in 2003
to be near, just down the road from his good friend
Vice President Dick Cheney. That’s what I was thinking
about in Nantucket. The night before
in Provincetown we were speaking at
Provincetown High School. So we drove up.
It was getting dark, and just as I came to
the steps of the school, I saw there was
a pickup truck, and in the truck bed
was a coffin. There was a couple
standing next to it, Carlos and Melida
Arredondo. And they quickly told me
their story before I went in. Carlos said it was
two years ago, August 25, 2004,
they had moved to Florida. It was his birthday, and he
was home with his mother. Melida was out. And the marine van
pulled up, and he thought, Could it be my son, Alex,
coming home to surprise me from Iraq. But, no. It was the
marines coming to inform him that his son Alex
was dead. He died in the ancient
Iraqi city of Najaf, at the age of 20 years
and 20 days. And Carlos lost his mind. He went into a frenzy. He asked the marines to leave.
They didn’t. He begged them to leave.
They didn’t. He raced into the garage
and he got some cans of gas and a blow torch, and he asked
them to leave again. They didn’t. He went to their
van and he started to wreck it. He poured gasoline inside.
He was ripping it up. His mother ran out to try
to pull him out of the van and that triggered
the blow torch and everything blew up,
at which point Melida, his wife, pulled up and
found her husband burning on the lawn. And that’s how she learned
that her stepson, Alex, was dead. Soon after that, their son,
their younger son, Brian, 17 years old,
called up to wish his dad a happy birthday,
and someone picked up the phone and he heard the commotion
and someone said something about the press being there,
and he turned on the television. He’d been in summer
vacation in Maine, and that’s where he saw his father
burning on national television, and that’s how he learned
that his older brother, Alex, who he loved, emulated,
wanted to be like, was dead. No judgment. Just one story
in a time of war. Carlos, then, had to heal. He was burned on over
a quarter of his body. But the physical healing,
that was the easy part. It’s the psychic healing,
the emotional healing, that he is continuing
to go through. But a year later,
in August of 2005, when Cindy Sheehan
went to Crawford, that’s when Carlos
found his voice. Cindy Sheehan –
she gives the speech at the Veterans for Peace
Convention in Dallas on August 5, 2005. And spontaneously, she says
she can’t enjoy another vacation because her son Casey died
in Iraq in Sadr City, Baghdad in April 4, 2004,
4/04/04, she says. And so she announced
she would head to Crawford the next morning,
to the presidential estate, because she had a question
for the president. For what noble cause
did my son die? And she said she didn’t
really know where Crawford was, but she was in Texas,
how far could it be? [LAUGHTER] So the next morning,
she headed to Crawford with a little caravan of vets,
and she took up residence in the ditch outside
the presidential estate. We won’t call it a ranch,
beause it isn’t. And she just kept
demanding an hour of the president’s time. Now the White House
Press Corps was there, not exactly known
for its independence but they follow the
president everywhere, and, well, the White House
Press Corps is used to enjoying the
access of evil, that’s trading
truth for access. [LAUGHTER] But beware of even
this embedded press corps, when the president is on
one of the longest vacations in presidential history,
and they are there day after day in
the Texas heat – 110-degree day
after 110-degree day – and they’re not getting
much of the access they usually enjoy, but finally they did get to
ask the president this question. It shows the power
of the media, when they actually
ask the question, because they do
have this access. And they asked the president,
Why won’t you meet with this grieving mother? And he responded. He said, I have to get
on with my life too. [AUDIENCE RESPONDS] And the Atlanta Journal
Constitution reported that day that president Bush
went mountain bike riding for two hours.
He went fishing. He napped. He took in a
Little League luncheon, Apparently he did
some reading. [LAUGHTER] But he didn’t have time- He didn’t have time
for Cindy Sheehan. And so she just
kept at it. Relentless. Persistent. And the Press
Corps said to her, Why haven’t you
spoken out before? You’re so articulate.
You’re so eloquent. And she said,
I have been speaking out. You just haven’t
been listening. Now, if you are a
regular listener to or watcher of
Democracy Now! How many of you
listen or watch? [APPLAUSE] Well, that is
fantastic to hear, and also, by the way,
a shout out to the 16 different places
right now, all over the country,
that are broadcasting the Bioneers Conference. And congratulations to
Bioneers reaching out. [APPLAUSE] But if you are a
regular viewer/listener you certainly had
heard Cindy Sheehan before. We saw her, for example,
when Democracy Now! headed down to
Washington, DC for the inauguration
of President Bush in January of 2005. Those were cold, nasty
days in Washington. I’m talking about
the weather. This is an
environmental conference. [LAUGHTER] And Cindy was there. She was there,
along with Celeste Zappala, she lost her son,
Sherwood Baker, first Pennsylvania National
Guardsmen to die since World War II. And together, they
and some other people, founded Gold Star
Families for Peace. And they called ahead
to the Pentagon. They wanted to meet
with Donald Rumsfeld, but he didn’t get
back to them. The Pentagon didn’t respond,
so they decided to make a pilgrimage
to the Pentagon. They were stopped at
the Pentagon parking lot. Were they met by
an envoy saying the secretary wasn’t available, but did
they have a message for him? Or perhaps invited in
to the Pentagon for some hot cider, for some comfort? These are mourning mothers. No, they were met at
the Pentagon parking lot by the black clad
Pentagon security, and they were turned
back at gunpoint. Well, beware of mothers
who have nothing left to lose. [APPLAUSE] And so a few months later,
Cindy Sheehan headed to Crawford, and she became a
magnet for so many, for hundreds, for
thousands of people. One of those people
was Nadia McCaffrey. Nadia McCaffrey comes
from outside of Sacramento, and her son was
named Patrick, Patrick McCaffrey. And after 9/11,
he just felt he wanted to give back
to this country. Had the perfect life,
wife and two kids, and he signed up,
in case of an attack on this country. In case
of a natural catastrophe, he wanted to be
there to serve. And then he was called
up to go to Iraq, and he didn’t
get the connection. He wanted to
protect this country. What did that have to do
with going to Iraq? He sat with his mother.
They talked for hours. She didn’t want him to go. Ultimately, he decided he
should be there with his buddies to protect them.
He didn’t want to desert them. And he went to Iraq. Now, I come from New York,
and my governor is George Pataki, and he visited Iraq and
he came back and he said he wants to take a piece
of the statue of Saddam Hussein and embed it into the foundation
of a new World Trade Center. If he does that, that will
be the first proven link between 9/11 and Iraq.
[LAUGHTER] So, Patrick goes to Iraq
and he writes home for deflated soccer balls and
candy for the Iraqi kids. Ultimately, he is killed there.
And when his casket was sent back, Nadia
engaged in a defiant act. She invited the press corps
to Sacramento International Airport. She told the photographers
she wanted them to film. She told the filmmakers
and the videographers to turn those cameras on. Now why is this defiant? Because President Bush
invoked that executive order that says you can’t film,
videotape or photograph the flag-draped coffins
of soldiers coming home. She said, “Snap away.
Please film. My son didn’t go to Iraq in darkness. I don’t want him coming
home in darkness.” That’s how she chose
to memorialize her son. Nadia is here today. Nadia would you stand up?
[APPLAUSE] And so that’s what Nadia did.
And she told me just now — I haven’t seen her for
quite a while since I have been
interviewing her — she told me just now that
she is trying to set up a forum in North Carolina
to help soldiers coming home who have been injured,
who are wounded, that they have a
place to recover. Nadia, after…
[APPLAUSE] after this, after she
invited the press, many months later,
she headed to Crawford. And then there was Patricia
Roberts in Georgia. She lost her son
Jamaal Addison. He was, I think, the first
Georgia National Guardsman to die since World War II. And she set up a fund
for him because, she said she wants African American
kids to know that they could go to college without
detouring through Iraq. [APPLAUSE] And she headed-
she headed to Crawford. And then there’s
Becky Lourey. She’s the state
senator for Minnesota. I learned about her two
Memorial Day weekends ago. I was driving through
Minnesota, Minneapolis, headed to Northland College
to give the commencement address in Ashland, Wisconsin,
and I picked up a copy of the Pioneer Press, and
there was a headline that said, Death In The Family.
And it was about Becky Lourey. She’s a state senator who
introduced an anti-war resolution before the invasion. She confronted Donald Rumsfeld
at a national conference of state legislators,
demanding to know about the no-bid Halliburton contracts
that were doing no good for the soldiers in Iraq. But that’s not what this
article was about. It was the about the
fact that her son, Matt, died two Memorial Day
weekends ago in Iraq. And she headed to Crawford. And Becky said, With
our children dying, who will be the future
leaders of this country? Well, I think, Nadia and Becky,
Cindy and Patricia, these are the future
leaders of this country. [APPLAUSE] And so, by this
process of people coming, the presidential estate,
this town, Crawford, will forever be known
as Cindy’s Crawford. [LAUGHTER] But let me get back to
Carlos and Melida Arredondo. After Cindy went to Crawford,
Carlos found his voice. He decided to take a
coffin around the country, sometimes miniature, sometimes
large, full size. He brought it to
Waco and Crawford. I learned last night he’d
been in San Antonio. He took it across
the Capitol Hill, spoke with Congress members. I saw him in Provincetown.
It’s amazing. Labor Day weekend, last bash,
people going back to work and school and there’s this
coffin coming down Main Street. It stops everyone. He says, if the war
doesn’t go on vacation, neither do I. And they showed me
these letters. They have loose-leaf notebooks
filled with documents. And one of them is, well,
Brian, their younger son is being aggressively
recruited to go to Iraq. And the letter says,
Dear American, and that’s interesting,
because Carlos is not an American citizen.
He comes from Costa Rica where they don’t
have an army. He wants to be an
American citizen, but somehow he hasn’t
merited it yet. He has applied. It’s not
as if he hasn’t given the greatest sacrifice
an American could give, more than his own life,
the life of his child. But he hasn’t gotten it yet. And the letter starts by
saying that you can serve your country in times
like Hurricane Katrina. Now that’s pretty astounding,
given that last year, we’re just past the first
anniversary of the drowning of an American city. How is it that possible
that this happened in the 21st Century? And you think about more than
1500 people in New Orleans died. Would anywhere near that number
have perished if the National Guard weren’t deployed to Iraq?
[APPLAUSE] But let’s look at that
moment last year. Make no mistake about it. President Bush was
fully briefed. Yes, he was at his vacation
home in Crawford, but he was video
conference briefed. They told him this
could be the big one. This could be the one
they all feared. This could be the one
that wipes out this American city. This could be the greatest natural
catastrophe our country has seen. Now, you can never absolutely
predict with these ever-more powerful hurricanes –
global warming, global warming – but you
can never absolutely predict. But what is leadership? It is preparing for the worst
and hoping for the best. What did President Bush do? He left Crawford. Did he go to Washington
or Florida or somewhere near New Orleans to be in
charge and command and control. No, he came here,
to California, and he did allow these
pictures to be taken, pictures of him riffing on
the guitar of the country music star Mark Wills,
whose signature song is Wish You Were Here. Could have been the theme
song of the people of New Orleans. And then he flew
back to Crawford. And it wasn’t only him. In Salt Lake City,
I was just there, we were celebrating KRCL
radio, and, well, let’s look at Dick Cheney. He was in Wyoming, and he
didn’t leave when the hurricane hit, when the levees broke. And when I was at KRCL,
celebrating this community radio station, a young man
came up to me afterwards, we were signing books–
and by the way I’ll be signing in the lobby.
We’ll be signing Static, and just on the point of books,
a little lesson in corporate publishing is when books like these make it,
it makes room for other books. There are so many people
in this country who are hungry for information. The book has hit number eight
on the New York Times political best-seller list.
[APPLAUSE] And it hit something like
20 on the overall New York Times
non-fiction list. If it hits 15, it’s
published in the pages of the Times.
And why does it matter? Well, unlike Lafayette
Books that’s here, an independent bookstore, and we
celebrate independent bookstores all over this country, a lot
of them just stock the bestsellers, and good people go into
those bookstores looking for something different. And so it’s very important
that every time a book like this makes it,
another book will make it. If you buy two books–
think about the holidays– we have wonderful
DVDs out there. We have DVDs of Harry
Bellefonte on Democracy Now!, DVDs of Pete Sieger
on Democracy Now!, and also give them to libraries,
these under-resourced national treasures that also need to be supported.
[APPLAUSE] But since I have no time,
I’m going to speak very quickly. In Salt Lake City, this guy
came up afterwards to sign his book, and he said he worked in
a sushi shop in Jackson, Wyoming and he was absolutely shocked that
here he was watching the drowning of New Orleans on TV. All of them were.
All the workers in the restaurant,
and yet Airforce II remained outside — that’s
Cheney’s plane — and they shared a wall with the
Secret Service, and they weren’t leaving.
And they were shocked. He said his daughter was
coming in for orders, Cheney’s daughter. They could
not believe the vice president didn’t leave. And it was
not only the vice president, it was Condoleezza Rice
was in New York, my city, doing some high-end
shoe shopping at Ferragamo, and a customer said to her,
what are you doing shopping when people are dropping
in New Orleans? And they took her out,
the customer, that is. And then there was Andrew Card. Andrew Card is the GM lobbyist
who was the chief of staff at the time. He’s vacationing in New England.
The General Motors lobbyist, right. What we see in Washington is
the ascendancy of the oilygarchy. You have President Bush,
a failed oil man, Dick Cheney, former head of
the largest oil services corporation in the world, Halliburton, you’ve got Condoleezza Rice,
sat on the board of Chevron, headquartered just down the road,
actually had an oil tanker named after her –
the Condoleezza Rice – Andrew Card, the GM lobbyist. Is it any surprise they’re
thirsty for oil, that foreign policy is being determined by that
thirst from Iraq to Venezuela? We need a media that
brings us the truth. But let me say that a side
effect of the Bush administration not responding was that when
the corporate media did the right thing, they went to New Orleans,
there were no troops to embed with, and what we saw unfold
was astounding. We saw, perhaps for one
of the first times, the corporate media reporting
from the victim’s perspective, and it shocked the nation. You’d see bodies floating by. Then the Bush administration
leaped into action and says, you will not film the bodies,
to which the editor of the Times, Vicky Jung, said, you
have got to be kidding. And then you saw a
young woman reporter interviewing a man who
just walked up in the water, said he’d been in the
attic with his wife. As her hand slipped out of his,
she said, take care of the children. He was holding his boy. He told the reporter the story,
turned around and walked off in shock into the water. And this young reporter
started to cry. That’s reporting from
the victim’s perspective. That is ground zero reporting,
and it galvanized the nation. It didn’t matter if you
were conservative Republican or a Democrat or an
Independent or a Green, a Progressive,
it was irrelevant. The differences washed away. It was humanity
responding to humanity. Could you imagine if for
just one week in Iraq we saw those babies
dead on the ground, we saw the women with
their legs blown off from cluster bombs
from Iraq to Lebanon, we saw the soldiers
dead and dying? For just one week. Americans are a
compassionate people. They would say, No.
War is not the answer to conflict in
the 21st Century. [APPLAUSE] The red light is flashing,
and I just have one more quick story to tell. And it’s a T-shirt story. It’s the story of Raed Jarrar,
an Iraqi architect, a blogger, who now lives
in this country, and he was headed on a
plane from New York City to San Francisco, here,
where he lived. It was just a few weeks ago. And he was getting
on Jet Blue. He thought he was
until he was surrounded by four transportation officials
– two Jet Blue employees and two TSA, and they
told him he couldn’t get on the plane if he
was going to wear this T-shirt. You know how when you
wake up in the morning, you throw something on?
You don’t remember quite what you’re wearing? He said,
What’s wrong with my T-shirt? They said they thought
it was threatening. He was wearing a black T-shirt
with white letters that said We Will Not Be Silent. He said, What’s threatening
about that? They said, It’s not the English,
it’s the Arabic script above it. And he said, That’s just Arabic
for We Will Not Be Silent. And they said, We can’t know that,
we don’t have a translator here. [LAUGHTER] And so, he said, Are you saying
Arabic is a terrorist language? And they said, Wearing a T-shirt
with Arabic script onto an American plane today is like
walking into a bank with a T-shirt that says
I am a robber. So he argued with them. He said he had his rights.
He was a taxpayer and this violated his rights. But anyway,
according to the TSA, we called them, it was
the Jet Blue employee who went and got
him a T-shirt. I don’t know if it said
New York or I Love New York [LAUGHTER] but he was forced
to put it on. And then they take him
onto the plane. He had reserved the front-
a seat in the front; they put him on before
all the other passengers, and they escorted him
to the back of the bus, I mean, plane.
[LAUGHTER] And then they brought all
the other passengers on, and that’s how he
flew to San Francisco. Well, we ran with the story
a few days later, and the next day, some women
came into our studio all wearing this T-shirt.
And they were in a rush. And I asked them,
Where are you going? And they said, We’re
headed to the airport. [LAUGHTER]
[APPLAUSE] And I asked them where they would be going and
they said, Didn’t matter, they’re just getting on planes.
[LAUGHTER] So, anyway, this story,
then, went big, and all the networks
picked it up, which is highly unusual.
I mean, in this country, we live in a
globalized world, and yet we are so
isolated when it comes to information in
the United States. But they did go
with this story, and they did, well,
they didn’t credit us, but that’s okay,
because at Democracy Now! our motto is:
Steal This Story, Please! We call it trickle-up journalism.
[LAUGHTER] Oh, by the way, I’m
starting a column this week. It’s being syndicated
by King Features. It’s called the same
thing as our tour: Breaking the Sound Barrier, and you can ask any newspaper
in the country to run the weekly column as we reach
into the mainstream, because the mainstream is here
in this room, and it’s all over this country. Most people in this country
are opposed to war, and one of the things I want
to say is that we are now also apparently broadcasting
in Logan, Utah. Hello, you folks out there! And hello to
Sergeant Marshall Thompson, whose father was the
mayor of Logan, Utah. Utah, the reddest state
in the country, Sergeant Marshall Thompson
came back from Iraq and he’s walking with
his wife across Utah because he deeply believes
what’s going on in Iraq is wrong. A big untold story is the
level of resistance in the military from the bottom to the top.
But [APPLAUSE] let me finish. Let me finish with this story.
[LAUGHTER] When these women came back
from high-flying– from challenging high-filing
profiling, we had one of them on. Her name was Laurie Arbeiter,
and she was wearing this T-shirt when she came
on the show. She’d given Raed the T-shirt.
They started on April 20th, on March 20th, on the
third anniversary of the invasion, giving out these T-shirts. Can you believe, it’s 3 1/2
years since the invasion? We’ve been in Iraq
since the invasion, longer than the US was
involved in World War II. So this is their act,
Artists Against the War, giving out these T-shirts, and now since the
story went big, there are thousands of people
who are ordering these T-shirts at [email protected],
and they’re translating them into many languages –
Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew, Spanish, French, and now
the original German. Why German? Well, it goes
back to World War II, and the White Rose Collective. A brother and sister named
Hans and Sophie Scholl. They, together with other professors
and students in Germany, wanted to do something.
They weren’t Jewish. They were German Christians. And they thought the best they
could do was give out information. And so they started to make
a series of pamphlets so that the Germans could
never say we didn’t know. They did six in all. The fourth said at the bottom,
We will not be silent. They were captured. They were arrested
by the Nazis, Hans and Sophie and other
members of the collective. They were tried.
They were found guilty. And they were beheaded. But that philosophy,
that motto, should be the Hippocratic
oath of the media today. We will not be silent. Democracy Now! [CHEERS]

Maurice Vega

7 Responses

  1. Liar! Independent media? You work for them you scumbag lying bitch!
    People please stop believing this woman! She is deceiving you!!

  2. SO thankful for real investigative journalists like Amy Goodman! Unlike lame mainstream media, she has the courage to speak and report TRUTH!

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