Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 700 TV and radio stations in North America. Time Magazine named Democracy Now! its "Pick of the Podcasts," along with NBC's Meet the Press. With her brother, journalist David Goodman, she is the author of Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times (2008), Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back (2006) and The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them (2004). She also writes a weekly column (also produced as an audio podcast) syndicated by King Features, for which she was recognized in 2007 with the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Reporting. Goodman is the winner of the 2007 Gracie Award for Individual Achievement for a Public Broadcasting Host, from American Women in Radio and Television, and is a 2007 honoree with the Paley Center/Museum of Television and Radio's She Made It Collection, which "Ccelebrates the achievements and preserves the legacy of great women writers, directors, producers, journalists, sportscasters, and executives." She was the 2006 recipient of the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. Daily reporting from Nigeria and East Timor has earned her the George Polk Award, Robert F. Kennedy Prize for International Reporting, and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award. She has also received awards from the Associated Press, United Press International, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Project Censored.
Question: What’s wrong with media and journalism today?
Amy Goodman: I think the media has reached an all time low in this country, and I think part of that is due to the embedding process, you know. Reporters embedded in the frontlines of troops in Iraq, gives you one perspective.
But what about reporters embedded in hospitals, in Iraqi communities, in the peace movement around the world? Show the full repercussions of war, the true cost of war. And it’s not only being embedded in the frontlines of troops. It’s being embedded in the establishment. I interviewed Alistair Sparks. So he’s a great South African journalist, ran the Rand Daily Mail, who exposed the murder of Steve Biko, the founder of the Black Consciousness Movement, was named by Nelson Mandela to be in the board of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, and I was speaking to him in Doha, in Qatar, and he was talking about the role of the press in the United States and how it always amazes him how embedded the journalists are in the United States, and I think this all has to be challenged as though as reporters sit in the White House Press room and have those press briefings, their gaggles everyday… I often refer to the access of evil, you know, trading truth for access. In order to get that question directly answered maybe by the Vice President or the President, you throw softball questions at them, and it’s not worth it.
These politicians need us much more than we need them. The access isn’t worth it and it really matters. And Timor taught me this, but so did many stories all over the world and right here at home, that when the media access a conveyor belt for lies… I mean, you look at the lead up to the invasion, and you look at what happened in this country. In 2003, this group called FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting here, based in New York, did a study of the two weeks around Colin Powell giving his push for war at the United Nations on February 5th, 2003.
He was then Secretary of State. FAIR looked at the four major nightly news casts: NBC, ABC, CBS, and the PBS News Hour with Jim Lara. There were 393 interviews done around war, only 3 were with the anti-war leaders, 3 of almost 400. That’s no longer a mainstream media. That’s an extreme media. That’s a media beating the drums for war, because those who were opposed to war, those who were opposed to torture, are not a fringe minority, not even a silent majority, but the silenced majority, silenced by the corporate media, which is why we have to take it back.
Recorded on: August 11, 2008