[sixties-l] 3 replies to 'The left eats its own at KPFK' (fwd)

From: sixties@lists.village.virginia.edu
Date: Mon Apr 01 2002 - 16:27:30 EST

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    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2002 22:58:02 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: 3 replies to 'The left eats its own at KPFK'

    >>From Julie Thompson, KPFK Local Board Member:

    Dear LA Weekly Letters:

    I read with dismay Ella Taylor's piece on the situation at Pacifica
    Foundation and KPFK. It was full of distortion, half- truths, and
    bald-faced falsehoods, albeit with attribution. While it is certainly noble
    that Ella supports her friends, are we to simply accept that as a
    journalistic position? Further, the piece contains such a tone of smugness
    and self -satisfaction about a group of journalists, pundits and critics the
    author regards as intellectuals -- witty and charming to a person -- who
    represent the worst kind of self-contained coterie of self re-enforcing
    opinion. It's this kind of clubby arrogance (journalists talking to other
    journalists in a congratulatory way about their work) which served to help
    KPFK lose some of its edge in its drive time public affairs programming.

      Ella's piece doesn't even pay the print equivalent of lip service as far as
    searching out the position of the "other side."

      A good example of that comes when she proffers Marc Cooper's assertion that
    none of the Local Advisory Board, of which I have been a member for four
    years, has anything useful to offer the station. She accepts that at face
    value while ignoring the wide breadth of commitment, skills, and services
    brought to KPFK by the LAB. Four members have extensive media experience,
    either in radio, television, or new media technology (Ella should know some
    of this, since I was a media consultant at the LA WEEKLY for five years,
    working with her, among many others at the paper). Another LAB member comes
    from the world of advertising and public relations. Others are scientists,
    lawyers, teachers, union organizers and business people. All members of the
    Local Advisory Board are activists who have helped to build progressive
    grassroots organizations. The fact that that doesn't count for anything to
    Marc Cooper says a lot.

    Furthermore, it is most disturbing the way Ella chooses to frame this

    The debate is outlined as a jousting where, supposedly, the deluded, dour
    hard-line Marxist/activists take on the spunky, fun-loving intellectual
    journalists. Her portrayal of the Local Advisory Board and those who
    support our position as "hard line Marxists" tars with a brush as broad as a
    street sweeper, and also, I must regret to say, roller blades very close to
    red baiting. At this particular time in our country's history where
    tolerance for dissent has reached a nadir, I take great exception to
    throwing around the term "Marxist" as a pejorative, and to having our
    politics and activism ideologically demonized as dangerous because they do
    not fit with writer's vision of the world.

    As for Marc Cooper, the self-appointed Presa Canario of this particular
    mauling, I can only say that I have no problem with him interviewing people
    such as Robert McNamara and Patrick Buchanan on KPFK.

    But, I was supremely disappointed he did not take the opportunity to
    challenge them and their racist, warmongering histories and attitudes. On a
    station founded on pacifist principles, to treat Robert McNamara with such
    kid gloves, so cordially, as if he were just another insider flogging his
    book, is criminal by omission.

    As for the assertion that the Local Advisory Board shouted at or harassed
    the staff of KPFK, the truth is 180 degrees opposite. We at the Local
    Advisory Board tried to work with Mark Schubb and Marc Cooper, only to be
    shouted down, and I can provide the names of current staffers at the station
    who will back me up. We were ignored or thwarted at every turn, because
    Mark Schubb did not think he had to listen to or countenance anything we had
    to say. In initially wanting to engage him collegially, we were a threat to
    his power base and any communications thereafter was impossible.

    We think that KPFK's potential listening audience represents a rich tapestry
    of cultures that were not being adequately served. Nor were activists and
    grassroots groups getting equal time with other journalists, authors and
    media pundits. We have every right to our opinion and now we have every
    opportunity to make adjustments, to be adventurous, and to try and
    reconstitute a professional, multi-cultural free form radio station, where
    you might not always like what you hear, but at the best of times, you will
    be challenged to think and you will get a panoply of information and opinion
    available no where else in our media landscape.

    Julie Thompson

    KPFK Local Advisory Board

       From: "steven starr" <steven@freenetproject.org> KPFK Interim General

       Dear LA Weekly Editors,

       I am writing to express my urgent concern that the LA Weekly is planning
       to run a hit piece on KPFK, rather than a thoughtful article that will
       educate your readers about some of the important issues regarding KPFK,
       Pacifica, and independent media.

       Ella Taylor, the reporter you've assigned to this story, has interviewed
       an imbalanced list of sources, largely reflecting past managements'
       hostility to the current efforts, and has allowed only the most
       impoverished opportunity for current management to offer perspective. I
       ask you, is this what alternative, independent media has come to?

       When I first received Ms. Taylor's narrow list of questions concerning
       Ron Wilkins' appearance on the Lawyer's Guild show, I answered her
       questions immediately, and invited her to broaden the discussion.
       Further, in an effort to support her inquiry, I invited Ms. Taylor
       numerous times over the last four weeks to visit KPFK, to get to know
       me, the staff, the changes that are underway here at the station. She
       repeatedly demurred, claiming 'deadline pressures'.

       In that time period, the station has had a record breaking fund drive, a
       historic, network-wide "Save the KPFK Transmitter" fundraiser, and a
       spectrum of other initiatives that hold the promise of a positive
       future. KPFK's phone lines are now open, allowing unscreened calls for
       the first time in years. We are developing intense outreach efforts to
       bring community back into the station, forming programming collectives,
       building out remote broadcast facilities, etc.

       One might imagine these are relevant facts to a story that's been
       researched for more than four weeks. But after four weeks of avoiding my
       entreaties to experience these things for herself, Ms. Taylor appeared
       at KPFK to research her story for the first time this past friday to
       interview two employees: one seeking employment elsewhere, and Marc
       Cooper's ex-producer.

       When she finally made her way to my office, she declared she had very
       little time, that her story was 'basically finished', and that she
       simply wanted to ask me a couple of follow up questions. My associate
       Andrea Buffa, former exec. director of Media Alliance, was in my office,
       and we both tried to engage Ms. Taylor in an informed discussion about
       developments at the station with no success.

       Ms. Taylor asked why I'd not responded to the Ron Wilkins 'paint job'
       comment on the Lawyer's Guild show. I told her that I had, on the very
       next KPFK Report To The Listener, stating publicly that there was no
       room for personal attacks or hate speech on KPFK. Ms. Taylor said that
       in her view, I should have named Mr. Wilkins in that public statement. I
       indicated that had I'd been interested in naming names, I'd have
       mentioned escalatory on-air comments made by another programmer the
       following day, painting Lawyer's Guild Show participants as
       'anti-semitic thugs'.

       Ms. Taylor then asked how I could put someone as 'disreputable' as Mike
       Ruppert on the KPFK airwaves during the Fund Drive, offering his tape
       (Truth And Lies About 9/11) as a premium. She indicated that she'd not
       actually listened to the show. Fascinating. If she had, she'd have
       discovered that Mr. Ruppert was invited into a vigorous debate I'd
       organized with Norman Solomon of FAIR, who spent the entire show
       disputing Mr. Ruppert's journalistic methodology. His tape was then
       offered to our audience for them to form their own conclusions. Unlike
       Ms. Taylor, we have enough respect for our audience to give them both
       sides of the story.

       Further, Ms. Taylor took no notes in the less than 30 minutes we spent
       together, with the singular exception of jotting down my phrase "Forget
       the LAB", in response to her repetitive query as to whether the Local
       Advisory Board was 'running' KPFK. With that, she again expressed her
       need to leave. So I hurriedly asked various members of the staff to drop
       everything, so they could spend a few moments alone with Ms. Taylor, in
       a last ditch effort to try and give her a broader view.

       A very few members of my staff were granted brief interactions with Ms.
       Taylor, but then she left, avoiding an interview with Armando Gudiņo, a
       new staff member, among others eager to speak with her. So I encouraged
       staffers to reach out to her over the weekend, but she's not interviewed
       them, despite their efforts to contact her.

       She's not interviewed Esther Manilla, or Terry Guy (who's tried to
       contact her), both staff members here of long-standing. And she's
       avoided an interview with Michael Zinzun (who's been trying to contact
       her for weeks), a member of our Local Advisory Board.

       And yes, perhaps they would challenge the picture Ms. Taylor plans to
       present of KPFK, as apparently Ms. Taylor prefers to limit her sources
       to former manager Marc Schubb, former paid host Marc Cooper, and a
       variety of staff members who support these two men's perspectives.

       It is a shame that the LA Weekly is going to perpetuate the divisiveness
       of the Pacifica Radio battles rather than posing to its readers some of
       the questions that Pacifica will need to deal with in the future--how to
       include community input and participation without sacrificing
       professionalism; how to diversify our staffs and programming to reach
       out to communities that haven't been included in the Pacifica family;
       how to produce progressive programming that is politically and
       intellectually challenging rather than predictible and boring.

       In contrast to the policy of silence on internal issues of the prior
       administration of KPFK and Pacifica, we continue to engage more than
       150,000 Southland listeners in ongoing, open line dialogue about the
       changes underway at the station, and the history of its recent

       Our recent fund drive, which eclipsed all prior subscribership and
       fundraising totals by hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of
       returning subscribers, demonstrates the strong support of our
       listenership for these changes and their desire to be informed about the
       state of the station they support.

       I've made mistakes as iGM of KPFK, and take responsibility for them, as
       indicated in my public comments at the National Board Meeting in Los
       Angeles last week (see below). No doubt KPFK has significant challenges
       in front of us, as well as significant promise. But the whole story is
       clearly not being told by the LA Weekly, and that is my reason for

       Despite all this, we continue to pursue a positive relationship with the
       LA Weekly, as it's quite clear to me that we are two progressive media
       outlets in a sea of reactionary voices. This past week, KPFK featured LA
       Weekly contributor Sarah Catania. This week, we've invited contributor
       Marc Haefele on the air. And despite his public disagreements with
       Pacifica, and his choice to leave the paid staff, LA Weekly columnist
       Marc Cooper's voice continues to be welcome on KPFK's airwaves via Radio

       Again, of course we welcome constructive criticism, when it comes from a
       place of balance and integrity. But this is clearly a matter of contempt
       prior to investigation, and given the long history of collaboration
       between our two institutions, I urge you to investigate my concerns.

       Thank you.


       Steven Starr
       KPFK Interim GM

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: <Renteria22@aol.com> Rafael Renteria, former Program Director,
    Pacifica Station KPFT (Houston)

      Ella Taylor's simplistic drive by on the KPFK story pits the ever "witty,"
      "intellectual," and responsible-enough-to-work-within-the system in crowd
    of white KPFK programmers against what she portrays as a set of witless -
    face it, plain dumb - blacks and radicals poised to undo KPFK's recent
    fascination with middle of the road populism and apologetics for the
    Democratic Party.

      She portrays as endangered the likes of Marc Cooper, Barbara Osbourne and
      John Wiener, KPFK programmers Taylor upholds as examples of "the
    intellectual left [that] engages with the establishment," including the

      In their defense, she attacks those who still hold -- mere decades after
    the Third Reich and after the end of formal apartheid in the US -- the
    "vulgar" belief that there are both oppressors and the oppressed. Like the
      victimizers she mimics, she whines against a so-called "cult of the

      Notions like 'justice' are quite out of vogue among the chic set of
      right-leaning post modern nihilists who pass as public intellectuals
    today. Apparently what's in fashion - for Taylor, at least - is to uphold
      programmers at KPFK who support Dubya's little wars, who "wittily" promote
    US foreign policy initiatives from Serbia to China to Palestine, and who
    can't seem to get enough of interviewing their sources from the CIA.

      One might not bother to argue with Taylor if we were talking about
    mainstream media outlets, but Pacifica and KPFK were founded by people of
      pacifists and radicals, many of whom were imprisoned for their beliefs.

      They set out to found a radio network committed to exploring the causes of
      war and racism - in order to end them - not to promote them, not to serve
    as yet another outlet for the official story, or the official guests for

      That's a job for Ted Koppel. If Weiner, Cooper, Osbourne and Ian Masters
    want to do that job they should do it. Elsewhere.

      Rafael Renteria
      former program director
      Pacifica station KPFT Houston

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "radtimes" <resist@best.com>
    To: <Recipient list suppressed>
    Sent: Thursday, March 28, 2002 1:31 PM
    Subject: The left eats its own at KPFK

    > Family Feud
    > <http://www.laweekly.com/ink/02/18/cover-taylor.shtml>
    > The left eats its own at KPFK
    > by Ella Taylor
    > March 22 - 28, 2002

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