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.
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
Amber Hollibaugh, filmmaker, activist, author "My Dangerous
Holly Hughes, performance artist, author, "Clit Notes."
Tami Gold, Professor, HUNTER College CUNY, filmmaker, "Out At
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
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
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
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
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