THE CPB, THE TAKE DOWN OF PACIFICA, AND WHO'S THE REAL ENEMY
Many analysts in the movement to free Pacifica are talking about what is
termed the corporate takeover of Pacifica, and of a corporate campaign to
reverse the takeover.
The idea is that what's occurred at Pacifica can be dealt with in the same
way that other corporate campaigns are run, through pressure on the members
of the Pacifica National Board, through a boycott, and through organizing
from the ground up the democratization of the Pacifica network.
These are laudable tactics, and they are being offered by the Pacifica
Campaign at a crucial juncture in the development of the Pacifica crisis, as
the Pacifica National Board is waging war against the real Pacifica tradition
at WBAI in New York CIty, as the PNB prepares to redraft its by laws to allow
the sale of key assets, as our movement's lawsuits are swinging into high
gear, and as Pacifica's financial offices are being packed for a move from
Californa to Washington DC, in an apparent effort to avoid the powers of
The focus of the Pacifica Campaign, like that of a handful of key groups in
the movement to free Pacifica, is on the question of power, of who will and
who won't hold power in Pacifica, and on intervening directly to affect the
outcome of that question.
This is the end game, and its time to pull out the stops and fiercely counter
Pacifica's moves at every turn.
For these reasons I joined the Pacifica Campaign as an organizer for its
efforts in Los Angeles.
But while my unity with the aims of the Pacifica Campaign is very high, I
also have reservations about one aspect of its analysis and labeling of
The simple fact is this: Most corporate takeovers don't involve direct
intervention on the part of high governmental and quasi-governmental
officials, former officials and those near them. Ususally, in a corporate
raid or takeover, there is no intervention from the office of the President
of the United States, as we've seen recently with Amy Goodman and Democracy
Quasi-governmental agencies like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
(CPB), whose leadership is appointed by the nation's President, and which is
directly funded by Congress, don't normally intervene in corporate takeovers,
and there are seldom issues of free speech or governmental and
quasi-governmental criticism of the political content of a corporation's
activities involved in the average takover, as has been the case with
Unlike the Pacifica situation, and as a rule, takeovers of corporations don't
involve figures like Robert Coonrod, former chief of the Voice of America,
the official, CIA linked international propaganda voice of the US Government,
who now heads the CPB.
They don't involve Presidential appointees like Mary Frances Berry, whose
role on behalf of the ruling elites as chair of the Civil Rights Commission
is one often compared to that of a "fireman"- one who contains and dissipates
the fires of outrage that occur among the most oppressed sectors of society.
Which is to say that her's is a high level propaganda role, an official,
quasi-gevermental spin master.
In the usual corporate takeover, private security firms claiming deep ties to
the Justice Department, the CIA and other governmental agencies aren't
brought in to lock out workers. Calls aren't placed by the Justice department
to local police depatments, leaning on those departments to be rougher with
protesters, as occured in Berkeley during the KPFA lockout.
The average corporate takeover doesn't involve audits by a state assembly,
intervention by a state attorney general, and doesn't occur against a
backdrop of sporadic attacks from the floor of the US House and Senate
against the corporation being taken over.
Usually, unlike the Pacifica case, corporate takeovers aren't guided by an
ideological framework and plan worked out by a quasi-gevernmental agency like
the CPB, the economic and ideological sponsor of the "Blueprint" project,
which later became the National Federation of Community Broadcaster's (NFCB)
"Healthy Station's Project" and which was then transmuted into the Pacifica
National Board's "Strategic Five Year Plan" for mainstreaming programming,
all in the course of a few years.
This bears repeating. What guides the Pacifica National Board in its
"takeover" of the Pacifica Foundation is the Strategic Five Year Plan: the
"Blueprint" for Pacifica's takeover which was drafted under the sponsorship
of the CPB, not under the leadership of professional corporate raiders.
Former Pacifica Executive Director Lynn Chadwick was involved in developing
the Blueprint project on behalf of the CPB, oversaw its implementation at the
NFCB, and then was brought to Pacifica to finish the job.
With the cooperation of the CPB, which issued - as requested- last minute
threats that Pacifica would lose CPB funds if the Foundation didn't, in
effect, make its Board self-selecting, Chadwick, under the direction of
former PNB Chair and Presidential appointee Mary Frances Berry, engineered
the takeover of the board, then spearheaded the beginnings of the final
stages of the CPB inspired takedown of the one of the last two holdout
stations in the Pacifica network, KPFA , just as she had done earlier at the
NFCB under essentially the same CPB backed plan.
Although Chadwick lost her position in Pacifica's failed struggle to take out
KPFA, the same effort to carry out the same plan continued under a new
Executive Director, Bessie Wash, in the infamous "Christmas Coup" at WBAI.
Immediately prior to the "Christmas Coup", the CPB and the President of the
United States, respectively, had just made their extreme displeaure with
particular radical events covered by WBAI, and with the Goodman /Clinton
interview extremely clear to the Pacifica National Board.
It's easy to surmise that when the CPB and the President recently said jump,
the PNB - still advised by Presidential appointee Mary Frances Berry and
now-paid consultant Lynn Chadwick - didn't even hesitate to ask "how high."
The Pacifica Strategic Five Year Plan had already settled that question.
The PNB did just as they had done under the CPB's last obvious intervention
in Pacifica affairs. Then, the PNB quickly siezed the pretext of the CPB's
threat of funding cutoffs to remake the PNB as an autonomous and
self-selecting body. They didn't need to ask how high then, and they didn't
ask how high this time either. They just jumped. They moved to take down WBAI
and Amy Goodman, who has since been fired from her local program on WBAI, and
whose Democracy Now! is hanging by a thread, just as the doctor, or perhaps
the President and Mr. Coonrod, ordered.
In a word then, it would seem that many of the individual Pacifica National
Board members are but jerky puppets strung up before our eyes, and
fullfilling roles laid out for them at other times and places, by other, more
It's for these reasons and more that the Pacifica Listeners Union Plan of
Action calls for the elimination of CPB funding at Pacifica, calls for
investigating the possibilities of a lawsuit against the CPB, and, most
importantly for this discussion, calls, in all its work, for exposing the
role of the CPB in undermining the Pacifica Mission.
( Click here:
Plan of Action ).
It's important to expose and oppose the likes of a Garland Ganter, who first
destroyed the highest level of diversity ever attained at a Pacifica station
as manager of KPFT in Houston, and who then led the charge in the lockout of
the KPFA staff in Berkeley. It's equally important to force the reignation of
a Utrice Leid, who's the assistant field commander in the take down of WBAI.
All the more then is it important to pressure the members of the PNB in every
legal way to resign, and to abandon their cause - something that will only
begin to happen when the tables have turned so hard against them that they
see no hope. It's important to support the Pacifica Campaign and its basic
outlook and strategies, and certainly to embrace wholeheartedly its sense of
urgency and its awareness of the need for a national scope of action.
But if we fail to target the real puppet masters as well, we are likely to
fail in our efforts.
We should consider regular demonstrations against the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting, and a campaign similar to that of pressuring the PNB members to
be carried out around leading figures at the CPB, in the streets, at CPB
executives appearances and offices, in the press, and at every level,
including in the courts, if that is possible.
It is the awareness of the role of governmental and quasi-governmental forces
that will most strongly mobilize our movement's own mass base of support
We managed through mass exposure to drive former PNB chair Mary Frances Berry
from her formal role at Pacifica.This shows that individuals carrying out the
CPB plan can be forced to back down.
The same is true for the highest players of all, the real enemy, the CPB
itself, Robert Coonrod and other high officials of the CPB, and those even
more powerful, from whom they ultimately take their orders.