It was at a time when outlandish attacks on Amy Goodman had reached a level of absurdity. WBAI station manager, Utrice Leid had accused Goodman of fabricating the massacre in East Timor that she and Alan Nairn had reported years earlier.
McDonagh began his show by saying that there are Irishmen who are serving in the UN Peacekeeping force in East Timor. He then read a letter from the East Timorese Action Network decrying the outrageous revision of history that denied that the massacre had occured and praised Goodman's courage and fine reporting. It was a wonderful show. Many programmers had been fired and banned at WBAI for supporting Goodman who has been under attack by station manager Leid. Reading the letter was a defiant act that could well have led to cancellation of the show. The host went on to open the phone lines and many long time WBAI listeners called in to express gratitude for McDonagh's display of integrity and courage by reading the letter and allowing listener's to call in and voice their concerns about the coup at the station that they cherished.
About a week later I heard a recording from a free speech comedy fundraiser where McDonagh had the crowd howling with laughter. He indroduced his young daughters who delighted the audience with a parody of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.
Today I learned that John McDonagh is a New York City Fire Fighter.
On television a short while ago I watched a heart wrenching press conference with New York city officials who were clearly in shock after the events of the day. They had been on the ground, in the streets all day - coordinating the attempts to rescue those souls who had survived but were trapped, and recovering those who had perished. There are large numbers of fire fighters who went into the World Trade Towers buildings to rescue others who are missing and presumed dead.
My heart goes out to all New Yorkers,to all those who have perished, and to those that lost and risked their lives to save others. I pray that John McDonagh is safe.
You can listen to the audio from the night of comedy at:
when you open the page select: carolines-john.mp3