[Last update: 20 March 2001]
Pacifica Update Letter
From: Lyn Gerry
Subject: John Murdock's Phony Call for Dialog on Pacifica
Rep. Major Owens
U.S. House of Representatives
Dear Rep. Owens,
Yesterday a debate was aired on Democracy Now! between Pacifica Board
member John Murdock and former DN! co-host Juan Gonzalez. I am hoping
that you heard the debate, as I would like to share some thoughts about
it with you. I am a long-time activist both in the Pacifica cause, as
well as in the microradio movement in which I know you take an
interest. I have provided links to documents supporting my statements
In the event that you missed yesterday's broadcast,
 Mr. Murdock
mentioned that you had met with Pacifica CEO Bessie Wash, though he did
not report what transpired in the meeting. Your congressional statement
was aired near the top of the broadcast, however no one in Washington,
DC heard it, as the Washington station WPFW censored the entire program.
An old tape of a lecture by Amy Goodman was played instead.
When Ms. Goodman learned this, she asked Mr. Murdock to intercede with
the WPFW management to air the broadcast. Mr. Murdock claimed that he
could not intercede because he was in the Pacifica Network News studios.
This was a disingenuous statement, as WPFW and PNN are in different
rooms in the same facility. This lack of candor characterized Mr.
Murdock's entire performance.
Since the eruption of the Pacifica crisis onto the national scene with
the lockout at KPFA in 1999, the PR approach taken by the Pacifica
administration has been that the controversy centers on labor-management
relations. Gag rules have been justified by the argument that such
discussions are personnel matters. 2] Then, as now, this ignores
entirely the majority of this movement, the listener-sponsors, who do
not want the stations they helped build stolen from them.
Yesterday, Mr. Murdock moved forward with a new PR approach that debuted
earlier this month at the Pacifica Board meeting in Houston, TX, a call
for "dialog." Mr. Murdock's call for "dialog" is rather like a monarch
holding court. His subjects may express themselves, but have no power
whatever within the system of governance to alter the will of the
monarch or to remove him. Our movement is about democracy, and that
includes media democracy. Fundamental to the concept of democracy is
that the people who are affected by a decision must be the ones making
it, and that means the listeners and workers of Pacifica, not Mr.
Murdock and his allies.
Pacifica Board meetings have always contained a "Public Comment Period,"
where, for years, the public has objected impotently to the machinations
of this group. We have no reason to attribute good faith to Mr. Murdock
and his associates' sudden call for "dialog." It seems like another
ploy to delay what must come to pass, the resignation or removal of Mr.
Murdock and his associates.
A LEGACY OF LIES AND OBFUSCATION BY THE PACIFICA
BOARD PREDATORS, OF WHICH MR. MURDOCK IS A
It comes down to this: we don't want our news programming watered down,
ideologically strait-jacketed or replaced with music. We don't want gag
orders on our broadcasters. We believe that "internal station business"
is OUR business as well, and we demand a right to know how our donations
are being used, and to participate in decisions about Pacifica's present
Pacifica stations play a central role in our lives as activists and
citizens. They are not merely one entertainment venue among many. We
want the mechanism to remove persons who are betraying the mission of
Pacifica, or who are acting malfeasantly, without having to spend many
years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to pursue lawsuits, while our
donations to Pacifica, intended to perpetuate free speech radio, are
used by Murdock and his cronies to squash it.
The fact that Mr. Murdock and his allies have not offered to step down,
call elections, and run on an open declaration of their "vision,"
considering the circumstances, is strong evidence of ulterior motives in
my opinion. Given all this, the measly offering of "dialog" is offensive
I believe you were right on target when you said that people in powerful
places want to smash this voice. That is because these stations were
founded to, and are, examining a vision of a world without domination,
based on cooperation, equality and freedom, not profiteering,
militarism, obedience, manipulation, coercion or conspicuous
One thing that that I have noted is that though the names and faces at
the top of Pacifica have changed over these six years, the program of
destruction has proceeded relentlessly. I think this strongly supports
the implication of your speech, that ultimately, this is being directed
from outside through proxies.
We are tired of hearing the Pacifica Board babble of Arbitron ratings
and audience growth,  all of it a euphemism for a
watering down of
the political and intellectual quality of Pacifica by commercialization.
 We, the listeners and workers who have built this
individuals, not numbers. We are not faceless, anonymous receptive ears,
who can be replaced by another group of anonymous ears at the whim of
some self-selected "leadership's " format change.
For more than 50 years, Pacifica has been a "home," with an open door
and fire on the hearth, to welcome those seekers for a better world.
Like in any home, the family squabbles. Like any home, it always needs
improvement (not a wrecking ball!) But this is no family squabble, this
is a burglary!
We don't want "good radio" or "great radio." We want OUR radio, and we
will fight to the death to keep it.
I very much appreciate your general stance in support of a citizen
media. Corporate media is useless and offensive, and so-called public
radio has been transformed into a propaganda outlet for "free market"
philosophy. You must realize that Congress made this happen, by passing
the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Until that is repealed, and
multi-station ownership outlawed, nothing will change. How is this to
happen when our political process is so utterly corrupt that few people
like you are permitted to hold office?
 On-line audio of 3/16/01 Democracy Now! Broadcast
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