Published in FAIR January 31,
In a dramatic on-air announcement, Juan Gonzalez, the co-host of
the Pacifica Radio Network show "Democracy Now!," resigned this
morning from the network. Citing harassment and muzzling of free
speech, Gonzalez said that "the current management situation at
Pacifica has become intolerable...the last straw being the Christmas
Coup at this station, WBAI, last month"- a reference to the recent
unexplained firings and bannings of top staff.
"I've come to the conclusion that the Pacifica board has been
hijacked by a small clique that has more in common with modern-day
corporate vultures than with working-class America," Gonzalez said.
Addressing his co-host at Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman, Gonzalez
continued: "You are a wonderful and committed journalist and you
have been subjected to slanderous personal accusations and constant
undermining of your efforts. And the board of Pacifica has tolerated
it and, I think, even encouraged this."
Gonzalez ended his on-air resignation by announcing a "national
corporate campaign" to oust the Pacifica Foundation's embattled new
board leadership, which he accused of "illegally chang[ing] the
Foundation's bylaws." He said the campaign would call on listeners,
instead of donating to Pacifica, to contribute money to groups
challenging the board's legitimacy and working to democratize the
Gonzalez said the current leadership group "does not respect free
speech; it does not respect labor or civil rights; it doesn't even
practice due process for its own managers."
Pacifica's Washington, D.C. station, WPFW, censored most of
Gonzalez's statement, cutting away to taped programming.
Gonzalez, who has co-hosted "Democracy Now!" since 1996, is a
staff columnist with the New York Daily News. He has won numerous
awards, including a George Polk award. His latest book is "Harvest
of Empire: A History of Latinos in America" (Viking 2000). He was a
founding member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
FAIR executive director Jeff Cohen commented: "Juan Gonzalez
exemplifies the best in the Pacifica tradition-a journalist who
tells the stories of the powerless and holds the powerful to
account. As the two-year-long Pacifica crisis worsens and the
network's survival is seriously in question, FAIR joins Gonzalez in
calling for the national board leadership to step down. Whatever
these individuals' intentions, unless there is a prompt and thorough
transformation in Pacifica's national leadership, it is impossible
to see Pacifica fulfilling its unique, historical mission."
For more information about Gonzalez and the campaign, call (212)
871-9322 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Juan Gonalez's letter of resignation is below.
Juan Gonalez's resignation letter
To: Steve Yasko, Pacifica Director of National Programming
Pacifica Board of Directors
From: Juan Gonzalez
This is to notify you that I am resigning as co-host of Democracy
Now! effective immediately.
I take this action with much regret since, as you know, I have
worked alongside host Amy Goodman from the show's inception nearly
five years ago and am proud of the groundbreaking work we have done
to establish a national radical news magazine. Even more important,
I have listened to Pacifica programs for more than 30 years and
understand the critical role the network has played in reporting
important stories the corporate media ignored, thus helping to shape
progressive thought and popular movements throughout the country.
But the current management situation at Pacifica has become
intolerable, and despite my hope that the majority of the Pacifica
Foundation board of directors would come to its senses, the
situation has only gotten worse. The last straw was the Christmas
coup at WBAI last month.
Quite simply, the Pacifica board has been hijacked by a small
clique that has more in common with corporate vultures than with
working-class America. That clique has illegally changed the
Foundation's by-laws, and during the past two years it has
methodically sought to squash dissent throughout the network --
first at KPFA, then at PNN news, then at Democracy Now!, and now at
WBAI. This group does not respect free speech. It does not respect
labor or civil rights. It does not even practice due process for its
own managers. And it is now seeking to radically alter Pacifica's
by-laws to pave the way for the selling of one or more stations.
Furthermore, this clique insults Pacifica's loyal and
sophisticated listeners by asking them to finance its shenanigans
with their donations.
Starting today, I will be joining other Pacifica listeners in a
national corporate campaign that will not rest until every board
member who has orchestrated this hijacking resigns and a new board
is in place -- one that is democratically accountable to the
network's listeners, community and staff.
Our campaign will call for listeners across the country to
withhold donations to Pacifica in a mass referendum against your
policies. Instead, we will urge them to contribute their money to a
variety of groups around the country that are battling the Pacifica
board -- including the legal fund for court suits which are
currently challenging the board's legitimacy.
Mr. Murdock, Mr. Acosta, Mr. Palmer, you will soon find out that
Pacifica is listener-sponsored radio.