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Open Letter to the Members of the Pacifica Board regarding Pacifica National Programming Director Steve Yasko

September 10, 2001

Open Letter to the Members of the Pacifica Board

On Sept 4, it was revealed that Pacifica Radio Network National Program Director Steve Yasko operates websites--under a pseudonym-- that direct visitors to teenage pornography. On one of the websites which he hosts, Amy Goodman, the host of Pacifica's nationally syndicated public affairs program, Democracy Now! is the top posting in what he calls a "dish book," or online guest book. Ms. Goodman's lawyer has written to the Pacifica National Board about this issue but has received no reply. The lack of response indicates that the Pacifica Foundation has decided to defend Mr. Yasko's behavior. Steve Yasko is Amy Goodman's boss.

Mr. Yasko has said that to raise the issue of his websites is to attack him as a gay man. We believe that is an unfounded charge and a distraction from the issue at hand. We believe that the latest information about Steve Yasko is relevant to Goodman's struggle for a safe work environment at Pacifica.

Mr. Yasko is the subject of a pending union grievance by Goodman which charges gender harassment -- it's a grievance she can back up with any amount of detail. He has repeatedly defended his participation in the degrading behavior she alleges and he has never acknowledged any wrong doing on his part.

Meanwhile, in the studios of WBAI in New York, Amy has been called a "white bitch" and "white chick" by the staff -- on and off the air. She has repeatedly complained about this treatment to the male-dominated Pacifica Board and to the national staff. As her supervisor, Steve Yasko has never yet stepped in to address her complaints. In fact, Yasko told Goodman's AFTRA representative that the meaning of "chick" depended on context. In another documented incident, Mr. Yasko told Ms. Goodman he wanted her to have lunch with a male colleague, explaining to her and her union representative that "having lunch is more intimate than having sex."

Yasko's inaction has served to encourage Goodman's maltreatment. Now we find he hosts a website that among other things has a "dish-book" in which she herself is the top posting. His attitude to Amy is clear. He is supposed to be her defender. It is his job -- as an executive with responsibility for the reputation and promotion of her show, as her supervisor, and as a Pacifica employee accountable for his actions under the law. He is not doing his job.

We believe the issues of free speech and homophobia are red-herrings. We are certainly not saying Yasko's web pages should be censored. We are saying he is not doing his job to protect Amy's professional standing, to defend her as a woman, and to be responsive to her as a Pacifica employee who relies on his support.

Why is it still so hard for a woman to be taken seriously with this sort of complaint? By entering a male dominated profession, and taking a politically marginalized stand, Ms. Goodman has made herself vulnerable. Women in her situation routinely experience abuse from the public that is sexualized and intended to be disgusting and degrading in a gender specific way. Public women reluctantly sign up for that. We do not sign up for harassment from fellow employees and/or passivity from supervisors when it comes to enforcing the law. That is why we have the law. This is about power and the abuse of power. Nothing else.

Democracy Now! has led the way in radio reporting on issues of concern to women, as well as to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. We have all devoted our lives to the fight for equal rights, against exploitation, and for worker safety on the job. These are human rights issues. We urge the Pacifica Foundation to take immediate action to remedy this situation.

Signed,

Laura Flanders, journalist, broadcaster, Workingforchange.com

Eve Ensler, playwright, "The Vagina Monologues."

Gloria Steinem, feminist activist, co-founder, Ms. magazine

June Jordan, poet, professor, University of California at Berkeley, author, "Affirmative Acts."

Naomi Klein, journalist, author, "No Logo."

Blanche Wiesen Cook, distinguished professor, John Jay college, the Graduate Center, City University of New York, author, "Eleanor Roosevelt."

Amber Hollibaugh, filmmaker, activist, author "My Dangerous Desires."

Holly Hughes, performance artist, author, "Clit Notes."

Tami Gold, Professor, HUNTER College CUNY, filmmaker, "Out At Work."

Gloria Jacobs, editor, Ms. magazine

Margaret R. Kunstler, President, Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice

C.Carr, staff writer, Village Voice

Scot Nakagawa, organizer, the Highlander Center

Micki Dickoff, tv and film director, Pro-Bono Productions

Linda Gardiner, editor, The Women's Review of Books

Cristina Arguedas, lawyer, Cooper, Arguedas and Cassman

Melanie Kaye Kantrowitz, professor, Queens College Worker Education Extension Center

Vivian Stromberg, Executive Director, MADRE

Yifat Susskind, Associate Director, MADRE

Catherine Gund, film/video producer, "On Hostile Ground."

Elizabeth Streb, choreographer, Director, STREB

Jim Fouratt, journalist, cultural activist, former WBAI host.

Barbara Seaman, journalist, author "A Woman's Case Against the Pill"

Kimberle Crenshaw, professor, UCLA Law School, Columbia University Law School, co editor, "Critical Race Theory."

Medea Benjamin, Executive Director, Global Exchange

Andrea Buffa, Executive Director, Media Alliance

Luke Harris, author, professor,Vassar University

Judith Sloan, professor, New York University, co-artistic director, EarSay Inc.

Karen R. Pomer, Founder, Rainbow Sisters Project, (National Org. of Rape Survivors)

Andrea Sears, News Editor at WBAI, Co-Chair of the Metropolitan Gender Network.

Jamie Hunter, Co-Chair, Metropolitan Gender Network

Warren Lehrer, professor, State University of New York, co-artistic director, EarSay Inc.

Lisa Guido, member NABET Local 11/WNBC-TV

Sandi DuBowski, filmmaker, "Trembling Before G--"

Eileen Sutton, journalist

Hollie Ainbinder, media activist

Mab Segrest, activist, author, "Memoir of a Race Traitor."

DeeDee Halleck, Deep Dish TV

Maria Suarez, journalist, Feminist International Radio Endeavour (FIRE), Costa Rica.

Susan Douglas, journalist, professor, the University of Michigan, author, "Where the Girls Are."

Rashidah Ismaili AbuBakr, writer, chair NYC Region DuBois Foundation

Debra Sweet, Refuse & Resist! reproductive Freedom Taskforce.

Betty Ball, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Boulder

Jane Henderson, Co-director, Quixote Center

Simin Farkhondeh, director/Labor at the Crossroads TV for working people

Judith Le Blanc, host/producer, Changing America

Norman Cowie, professor, Fordham University

Barbara Yoshida, legal secretary/Nixon Peabody LLP 437 Madison Avenue NY, NY 10022

Carmelita Tropicana, author, performance artist