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by Rafael Renteria Saturday, Mar. 17, 2001 at 8:27 PM

A revealing look at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding and who the puppet masters really are




Rafael Renteria


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

California courts.

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

powerful forces.

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.

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 1 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Tell CPB to Stick It Guglielmo Marconi Sunday, Mar. 18, 2001 at 1:52 AM
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