photo caption: Ever the journalist, Amy Goodman had camera in hand--when she was not pouring over her iPhone.
"For eight years [before Nov. 4, 2008] we felt like we were hitting our heads against a brick wall. Now the door is open a crack. We can kick it open wide or watch it slam shut."
As a featured speaker at the Border Book Festival, Amy Goodman rocked a packed house in Mesilla, NM Sunday. The journalist-host of the 13 year old independent news program, Democracy Now, stepped out from her usual spot behind her news desk. Taking full advantage of the opportunity to speak personally, she promoted both the important role of independent media and the themes of her recent book, Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times.
I was swept away in her storytelling and by her inspiring perspectives even while I was sitting in row three of the audience--along with my good friends from Deming, Mr. and Mrs. Dada, and those singers from Las Cruces who have been known to frequent the High Desert Brewing Co. I guess I could be more estatic, but it would be hard.
By insisting that it's up to the public to demand the debate that will bring the truth to light in the many crises we face, she threw the ball into the citizens' court, so to speak. While Obama's election was a "relief," we are still in critical times. She cited specifically current global wars, global warming, the economic meltdown, national health care, and U.S. immigration issues. There is a failure to bring those who are affected by policies to the policy discussion table, she noted.
When, as a presidential candidate, Senator Obama was asked if he would bring peace to the Middle East, he emphasized the citizens' role. He cited, remarked Goodman, an incident about Franklin Delano Roosevelt and activist A. Philip Randolph. FDR told Randolph: "Make me do it." Now the people must demand debate and push Obama on critical issues, making him take action.
Goodman emphasized the importance of journalists to shine that light on truth. She played jaw-dropping video of her own inappropriate arrest at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis last summer. The video "went viral" on the internet immediately after the arrest resulting, she said, in the release of her journalist crew after two hours. The Associated Press reporter who had also been apprehended was not so lucky: "Show the pictures; show the images."
Goodman noted that mainstream media has in recent memory promulgated "fiction," giving as examples: Iraq has weapons of mass destruction; the US does not torture; there is no such thing as greenhouse gas. Citing studies by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, she revealed the mainstream media as complicit in "manufacturing consent" to the rush to war with Iraq. Citing the recent lack of debate in the news about the increase of US troops in Afghanistan as an example of today's "corporate" media news coverage, she quipped: "A mainstream media would be a good idea."