The Exception to the Rulers Tour
By Mike Rhodes
April 15, 2004
Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, kicked off her Exception to the Rulers tour in New York on April 13. Her first stop was in Fresno, California where she was greeted by a wildly enthusiastic crowd. At the "meet and greet" reception, hosted by KFCF 88.1 FM she signed at least 150 copies of her new book. KFCF is the local community radio station that broadcasts the Pacifica network signal from KPFA in Berkeley into the Central Valley. It is also the station that helped keep Democracy Now! on the air during the conflict with the Pacifica board of directors. Following the reception, a much larger crowd (estimated at over 1,000) filled the CSUF satellite student union. There were so many people who wanted to hear Amy, that the audience was told that those standing would have to leave. In a shocking display of civil disobedience, the crowd refused to disperse. Instead, many of them joined Amy on stage - apparently the fire marshals don't interfere with how many "performers" can be on stage.
Amy Goodman is on a 70 city tour to promote her new book The Exception to the Rulers. Academy Award Winning Director Michael Moore says "Pick up this book, shake your head in disbelief and disgust as you read it, and then...go raise some hell!" Actor Danny Glover says "Amy Goodman continues the quest for global justice and awareness by bringing us stories and a perspective that we don't normally get from the mainstream media." The Exception to the Rulers is a 350+ page expose. Part first-person on-the-ground reporting, part old-fashioned muckraking, the book chronicles the struggles of what Goodman calls, "the silenced majority."
In her talk to the overflow crowd at Fresno State University Amy Goodman spoke about media democracy and the importance of grassroots journalism. She praised KFCF for their work to provide a voice to the voiceless and to keep free speech alive. The danger of viewing the world only through the lens of the corporate media was an ongoing theme in her talk. To illustrate this point The Fresno Bee (Fresno’s only local daily paper) did not assign a reporter to cover the talk and there was no story in the following days newspaper. In addition, no reporters from corporate TV or radio stations covered the event. The alternative press was, however, covering the story. The Community Alliance magazine, SunMt, Jim Grant from Ch 49 (TV worth watching), Comcast’s Ch 14 (the precursor to public access), and a video crew from CSUF were there to get the message out that Amy had come to town. Without the alternative media, there would have been almost no coverage at all.
The video Independent Media In A Time Of War was shown at the beginning of the program. The message was clear - we can’t depend on corporate media to provide us a "fair and balanced" presentation of the news. They represent corporate interests that rarely allow the voice of opposition to be heard. With embedded reporters in the U. S. military in Iraq and generals on all of the news stations Amy Goodman asks why the corporate media does not interview peace activists? In addition to military experts on news channels why not also have doctors who can explain what happens when a cluster bomb enters a persons body or shrapnel blows off someone’s foot? In a study conducted the week leading up to Collin Powell’s visit to the UN for authorization to go to war and the week immediately after - Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) found that out of 393 interviews on CBS, NBC, ABC, and PBS about the war, only 3 were conducted with people who were opposed to the US invasion.
In a different study, conducted shortly after the war, it was found that 60% of Americans believed one of the following:
* Evidence of links between Iraq and al-Qaeda has been found.
* Weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq.
* World public opinion favored the United States going to war with Iraq.
This ignorance played into the Bush administrations drumbeat for war. The study, conducted by researchers at the Program on International Policy Attitudes, discovered that "among those with just one of the misperceptions, 53% supported the war - rising to 78% for two of the misperceptions and to 86% for those with all three." On the other hand, among those "with none of the three misperceptions," 77% opposed the war. 80% of the respondents who had one of these misperceptions watched Fox News as there primary news source. In contrast, only 23% of those getting their news from NPR/PBS held one misperception and only 3% held all three. This is evidence that the more you watch Fox News, the more misinformed you are.
Amy Goodman’s talk in Fresno was inspirational and a big boost for the local alternative media movement. If she inspired you to look beyond corporate media, here are a couple of places to start:
The Community Alliance magazine is an independent voice for workers and progressive groups in the Central San Joaquin Valley. The goal of this monthly magazine is to build a powerful progressive movement that will support social, environmental, & economic justice, immigrant rights and a living wage for all working people. The magazine seeks to expose social and political injustices, and to link the diverse network of activists working in our community. www.fresnoalliance.com/home
KFCF 88.1 FM provides extraordinary coverage of issues. There are short news reports most hours and longer news programs at 3 and 6 PM. You can listen on the Internet at www.kfcf.org. Also available on their web site is an archive of shows heard over the last 24 hours.
Democracy Now! heard on KFCF 88.1 FM at 6 & 9 AM. Democracy Now is also on Free Speech TV Channel 9415 on Dish Network 4 times a day, Monday through Friday at 5AM, 9AM, 4PM & 9PM.
Air America Radio with Al Franken is on the Web at www.airamericaradio.com And on XM satellite radio, Channel 167. Noon - 3 PM.
The Central Valley has a web page on Indymedia at: www.sfbay.indymedia.org/centralvalley/
Sun Mountain has video and commentary of many of the events in the progressive community that happen in the Fresno area: www.sunmt.org/intro.html
Common Dreams News Center: www.commondreams.org