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Is Marc Cooper a Very Nasty Man with Lots of Hats?

by Dennis Bernstein (repost) Friday, Sep. 21, 2001 at 4:07 AM

An Open Letter To KPFK Staff And Listeners

Is Marc Cooper a Very Nasty Man with Lots of Hats?

9/10/01



by Dennis Bernstein

savepacifica

An Open Letter To KPFK Staff And Listeners



I say Marc Cooper puts on three hats every time

he opens his mouth

about the "KPFA" problem. As host of Radio/Nation

distributed by

Pacifica Radio, and of a daily talk show on KPFK,

he is unabashedly

protecting his chunk of the Pacifica/Nation pie.

Cooper has spent weeks

trying to vilify me and others for raising key

questions about

Pacifica's troubling actions. His self-serving

analysis first appeared

in The Nation and L. A. Times, and now he's back

at it in the L. A.

Weekly. In between the big hits, Cooper's been

busy on the internet,

bubbling up variations on the facts and shooting

poison e-mails to

strangers, informing them that Dennis Bernstein

is at the core of the

Pacifica problem, stirring it all up for his own

hellish purposes.



Cooper's most recent article in the L. A. Weekly,

as with his less

polished private attacks, is a fantasy based

largely on here-say from

interested parties. Cooper never attempted to

interview me about the

incident. The one eyewitness he did interview,

KPFA News man, Marc

Mericle, said "Cooper either got it totally

wrong, or he made it up all

together. It was a total distortion of what I

told him," said Mericle,

"and I went over it meticulously with him. "



Apparently, Cooper made it up long before he

jammed it into his L. A.

Weekly piece. Here's an example of what Cooper

wrote to one KPFA

listener who engaged him on the subject of

Pacifica.



"Back on July 13 after Dennis Bernstein played a

tape full of lies

about Pacifica's intention to sell KPFA, he came

off the air and was

told he would be put on administrative leave. If

he felt aggrieved, all

he had to do was use the ample union machinery

available to him as a

KPFA staffer and lodge a grievance that would

have gone if necessary to

independent arbitration. But it was Bernstein who

ignored and broke the

union contract by instead literally running

through the bldg. claiming

he was going to be hurt. That was a lie.. , an

outrageous lie. He ran

into the newsroom, hid under a tape machine and

refused to come out.

After a few minutes his buddy the news anchor

took the evening news off

the air, gave Benrstein a mic and then Bernstein

began yelling over the

air that he was going to be hurt (!). Alarmed

listeners came to the

station, someone let them in and 50 people

thinking Bernstein was being

beaten occupied the bldg., It was after they

refused to leave that the

police were very properly called in (Pacifica has

an obligation under

its Federal license to maintain physical control

over its facility). As

the police took hours to arrest everyone,

Bernstein was on the second

floor and free to go. Instead he waited four

hours to be arrested after

he again refused to leave. So you tell me..

well.. actually don't tell

me because I have filtered you out of my email.

But think about it at

least and ask yourself if this whole thing might

not have gotten onto a

more productive track if Bernstein had used the

proper union channels

available instead of deciding that he owned the

air to screech out his

personal and alarmist view of things. Or do you

believe that the next

time an editor or type setter at the Nation feels

wronged b mgmt they

should break into the shop at night and scratch

their call for a demo

against the Nation into the white space around

the articles?"



Cooper launched a similar personal attack on

David Adelson, a local

board member in Los Angeles. Cooper is now

actively trying to discredit

Adelson with a petition to run him off the local

board in LA. Adelson

has played a key role in pushing the lawsuit

against Pacifica. Cooper

wrote to Adelson:



"David: Hearing what happened at today's LAB

[meeting], I want to

express the following to you: You have ZERO

credibility within the

walls of KPFK. The staff -- and I assure you it

was the entire staff,

not just management-- was APPALLED to learn of

your lawsuit. You are

looked on by those of us who do the real work in

the station as an

obstructionist parasite. No one can think of one

positive contribution

that either you or the LAB has made to the

station: no real

fundraising, no promotion, no nothing. Instead

you are an active

conspirator with the likes of the Pacifica

Accountability Committee

whose leading lights are such mislead people as

Vince Ivory. I find it

astounding that you should accept political

leadership and be led

around by the nose by someone as confused and

ill-motivated as Ivory.

Your actions cannot be interpreted by us as

anything but subversive to

the growth and flourishing of KPFK. The fact that

today you argued that

the "concerns" of Ivory and Company should not be

marginalized while

you and your handful of UNELECTED AND COMPLETLY

UNACCOUNTABLE fellow

board members at the same time discount the

sentiment of the entire

KPFK staff reveals you as the enemy that you are.

The only redeeming

aspect of this affair is the comfort of knowing

that you and the LAB

are totally irrelevant to the station and the

people who work there.

It says volumes about what must be the gaping

holes in your life that

you derive some sort of recognition and/or

satisfaction from chairing

such a despicable, but ultimately laughable crew

of clowns. With this

note I sever all communications with you. If you

answer, your message

will be filtered out. I find contact with you

repulsive. MARC COOPER"



I am informed that Cooper and Manager KPFK Mark

Schubb make a

formidable pair when it comes to crushing staff

static. On Friday April

16 , Schubb pulled CounterSpin, the radio show of

Fairness and Accuracy

in Reporting. The show featured an interview with

the fired host of

Pacifica's Sunday Salon, Larry Bensky. On July

16, KPFK again pulled a

CounterSpin broadcast featuring interviews with

KPFA local board

member, J. Imani, and syndicated media critic,

Norman Solomon. Schubb

came on air on the 16th and spent the duration of

CounterSpin's time

slot defending Pacifica. Schubb, a former member

of FAIR, has been such

an obedient censor of "All Things Pacifica," he

damn near landed the

job of daily censor over Amy Goodman and

Democracy Now. More on this

later.



The following open letter was written before

reading the above

diatribes. I mean to share it with you for

clarification and to expand

the dialogue on the future of free speech radio.

This is not in the end

about Marc Cooper or Dennis Bernstein, but rather

about saving the only

remaining non-commercial free speech network in

the country. /DB





FROM: DENNIS BERNSTEIN, Producer/Host Flashpoints, KPFA'S Daily Investigative News Magazine



I'm writing this open letter because I believe that the future of Pacifica as an independent, listener-sponsored, non-commercial network is at stake. I'm also very concerned that KPFK's staff and listeners have not had the opportunity to hear the full story of what's happened at KPFA, but are instead being presented with falsehoods, distortions, and personal attacks -- not facts and truth -- concerning Pacifica's actions and the KPFA staff's response. So this is the first of a series of memos I'll be writing in an attempt to explain what is driving us in the bay-area to oppose current Pacifica leadership and to expand the current dialogue regarding Pacifica's future as a viable alternative radio network.



Some of you may be familiar with my work at

Pacifica, including many appearances around the network on Democracy Now, Counterspin, Making Contact, Marc Cooper's Pacifica/Nation show. You may have read my syndicated articles for Pacific News Service where I am an associate editor. Or you may have read one of my many features/investigative reports and political essays written over the years. They've appeared widely in the Nation Magazine, Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun, Newsday, Village Voice, The Progressive, Southern Exposure, VIBE, San Francisco Examiner, The New York Times, Dallas Morning Herald, Texas Observer, International Herald Tribune, and many others. At Pacifica I have produced a daily investigative newsmagazine for the last twelve years, first on WBAI and later on KPFA. I have risked my life on occasion to report for the network and have personally raised millions of dollars to keep it running. I have trained many young people, from the South Bronx to Berkeley, and brought them to Pacifica microphones to do their thing. In short, I have a deep abiding belief in concepts of non-commercial listener sponsorship of the airwaves, as well as using the airwaves to speak truth to power.

For the first twelve years I produced a daily

program on WBAI and KPFA,

I never once mentioned internal Pacifica matters

on the air, though I knew there were serious questions being raised about the motives and direction of national leadership, its handling of our very valuable archives, and other key issues of concern to the future of non-commercial network. Until March 31, I bought into the idea that public silence was best and that working within channels was the way to resolve problems. But when our highly effective and very popularstation manager, Nicole Sawaya, was fired on that day, without so much as a word of explanation, I realized that my silence had been a huge mistake.



The realization that change and progress could

only come through openly and publicly discussing the situation at Pacifica was deepened by the events of this spring, and was again confirmed on the night of Tuesday, July 13th. That night Pacifica set a new standard for censorship when they pulled me off the air for playing a 15 minute clip of a public press conference and two related commentaries.

[1] [2]



This press conference, attended by many mainstream journalists, was called by Media Alliance. The media group had obtained a copy of a highly damaging e-mail from Houston-based Pacifica board member Michael Palmer to Board chair Mary Frances Berry, discussing the possibility of selling KPFA and WBAI, its sister station in New York City.



The Palmer e-mail was revelatory and relevant to KPFA listeners -- indeed all Pacifica staff and supporters -- because it discussed the shutting down and reprogramming of KPFA, an action that was completed by Pacifica's hostile take-over team on July 14th. "I was under the impression," Palmer wrote in his authenticated e-mail, "that there was support in the proper quarters, and a definite majority, for shutting down that unit and re-programming immediately. Has that changed? Is there consensus among the national staff that anything other than that is acceptable/bearable?"



What does "shutting down and . . . reprogramming"

sound like to you, the staff of KPFK? (Please read the entire e-mail from Palmer to determine whether Palmer's just a loose cannon that Dr. Berry likes to have around to keep things lively, or whether he appears to be engaged in an ongoing dialogue about KPFA's future behind closed doors. ) What would you as a news and public affairs producer have done with this material, while the rest of the mainstream press was putting it on their covers and news leads? (For further documentation, I've enclosed a copy of the public statement by National Board member, Pete Bramson,regarding ongoing discussion of selling KPFA, even as Pacifica was claiming to be engaged in good faith negotiations with the KPFA community.)



I am troubled to learn that instead of a serious

and truthful discussion of these very disturbing facts, some have launched a personal attack on me for speaking out. Some Members of KPFK's staff have characterized me as a "drama queen" and an "obstreperous" troublemaker.



I understand that the staff is being "informed"

about events at KPFA by Mr. Mark Cooper, whose ideas Mary Frances Berry likes these days, and Mark Torres, a Pacifica archive employee set up to scab and intimidate KPFA staff into silence (along with Houston Manager Garland Ganter).

But Mark Torres was not an eyewitness to the events that took place on July 13th and was not near the newsroom where the confrontation took place. Is it true that Torres is a source for staff information on this? If so, is his source Garland Ganter, the man who arrested and locked out KPFA's staff and saw to it that programming was streamed in from Houston?



THE SET UP



To be clear, Torres was present at a 2:00 pm meeting that day attended by KPFA staff, Lynn Chadwick and Pacifica's new hire and fire man and asset appraiser, Gene Edwards. There, Torres and Ganter were presented as the ones who would take control of the station and reprogram it if there were any gag rule violations. For weeks the archives had been sending up tapes to fill our airwaves in preparation for the station takeover and on the 13th Torres arrived in person to jam them onto our airwaves until such times as the transmitter equipment, which had already been purchased by Pacifica, could be installed and programs could be streamed in from another location.



Torres witnessed a key interchange between Mr.

Ganter and I at that heavily attended staff meeting. During the meeting, I asked Mr. Ganter, as Mark Torres should recall, if I'd "be allowed to report on that which was widely covered in the mainstream press regarding Pacifica. "

Ganter answered with an unequivocal "yes," and everyone in that meeting heard it loud and clear. (You might recall that the day before, Dr. Berry was in the Bay Area talking to selected press about the issues the staff had been gagged on. ) In light of subsequent events, it is now clear that Garland Ganter had set me and the rest of the staff up -- right before Mark Torres' eyes!



As for what happened after that 2:00 meeting on

the 13th, we have the video tape of the two guards and Ganter in the news studio and eyewitnesses of Ganter himself shoving me and pursuing me into the news studio. As for turning up the mike and putting myself on the air, I was, in fact, four feet from the controls at all times. (And even if I'd been close enough, it would not have changed anything: I don't know how to use the mixing board. ) It's also a matter of record that the news engineer put up the mic at the request of news director Marc Mericle, and it was Mericle who was last heard narrating what is going on in the news studio.



But what's crucial is what happened before that

encounter. I was shown the door by Ganter for playing a fifteen minute clip of a public press conference that made headlines in all the mainstream media. Seven staff members -- including the two co-news directors with a combined 30 years of experience -- were also arrested on the 13th for trespassing in their own news room. Are they also "drama queens"? I urge staff at KPFK to join the call to throw open the books at Pacifica and let us once and for all get a look at how and where they have been spending listener money. As of the writing of this letter, the board has denied two of its own members -- L. A. -based Rabbi Kriegal and S. F. based Pete Bramson -- access to the books. If Pacifica is telling the truth and doing the right thing, what do they have to hide?



I would like to invite any representative of KPFK

staff, management or Pacifica to meet for an open discussion of the merits of Pacifica's actions over the last several years. This invitation includes any Pacifica rep now part of its expanding national bureaucracy. Or why not convene a teach-in or panel discussion with both sides equally represented, in all Pacifica cities?



Let's put an end to censorship at Pacifica and

start an open dialogue before we lose our precious network in the rush to the corporate bottom line.

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