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by – by Joseph Anderson
Saturday Nov 13th, 2004 6:23 PM
Many people in the KPFA listener community in the San Francisco Bay Area have asked me, Joseph Anderson, for a copy of my UC Berkeley "Daily Californian" newspaper guest column on Pacifica Radio's KPFA character Larry Bensky. At the time of its original publication, I knew nothing about Bensky other than how he came across on the air. I guess it is time for a confirming retrospective. Bensky hasn't changed a bit. This was written during the Pacifica Radio crisis of 1999, when Bensky was fired (thanks to *me*, now it can be told!). I immediately notified and talked to Mary Berry, then, about his insubordination and symbolically offered to let her have Bensky in exchange for Pacifica Radio back. But, it was still nice to have someone Black shut *Bensky* up!

UC Berkeley "Daily Californian" newspaper guest column regarding Larry Bensky:

The Daily Cailifornian

June 15, 1999


– by Joseph Anderson

I am writing in regard to the recent articles on KPFA in the Daily Californian. I find it ironic to hear of veteran announcer Larry Bensky's hypocritical pieties about free speech, given his own history.

On his radio programs, Bensky demonstrated a notable lack of respect for the free speech of Black KPFA listeners and others with whom he disagreed – especially those more progressive than he. Bensky freely censored or summarily dismissed more progressive thinkers.

Many white Berkeley liberals simply won't tolerate any analytical criticism of their heroes. They typically try to isolate or marginalize Blacks who do. But, Bensky's anti-intellectual and unprincipled tactics were easy to recognize for anyone who cared.

For example, however concise the inquiry or comment, Bensky would abruptly cut off, undermine or otherwise subtly censor the most compelling Black perspective. Yet, he would permit even incoherent, fumbling white male callers to meander on indefinitely. He shielded white interview guests from accountable, critical inquiry.

Even when a Black guest was especially resonant to an incisive question from a Black perspective, Bensky would often try to block the question and pre-empt the guest's answer with his own.

Furthermore, it is evident that Bensky has an intellectual deficit in grasping many multicultural issues. He was usually irritated by incisive perspectives, and would often interject with inane non sequiturs. Bensky clings to a white male sentiment of what is and what isn't important – even as a 'progressive.' Even some white women from different Pacifica stations regard him as a gigantically egotistical male.

Of course, he's forced by circumstances to treat prominent Black guests with a certain respect – so they're usually not on to him. [Prominent local Blacks are, like author Ishmael Reed or feminist writer/academic Barbara Christian.] However, even then, he usually tries to orient the interview and call-in questions to more shallow, white semi-liberal sentiments.

The "progressive" Bensky once partly excused police atrocities on the grounds that "they [the police] have difficult jobs." This retort was right after Bensky was presented with myth-busting national labor statistics revealing that there are many more jobs far more dangerous than police work.

Bensky censored criticism against a white educational "liberal" (Herb Kohl) who said, 'though Blacks were not genetically inferior, they were culturally inferior.' Such genteel racism represents views also often held by KQED radio's glib, pedantic and pseudo-liberal Michael Krasny, whom Bensky also defends – his alter ego. I, for one, am tired of white-supremacists masquerading as "liberals."

Though Bensky has fooled as many Bay Area liberals as Clinton once did, I am far from the only person (Black or white) who has taken note of Bensky's behavior. In fact, many Black listeners regard Bensky as nothing more than a pseudo-'progressive' racist.

Our own UC Berkeley, recent MacArthur "Genius Award"-winning African American author, Ishmael Reed, has repeatedly noted Bensky's behavior. Unlike Bensky's vocal fan club, many Blacks, including many media and community activists, regard Bensky as not a true progressive – just "a legend in his own mind." Many Blacks once thought that Bensky was finally gone before – but like Nixon, he keeps trying to come back.

While Bensky basks in his fifteen minutes of 'stardom' as a "martyr" to free speech, many of us know better.

I challenge KPFA staff and supporters to examine their own ranks when they complain about gag rules, censorship, and disrespectful treatment. Instead, whenever minorities complain, many white liberals scream, as Martin Luther King, Jr., often observed, that, "Now is not the time!" Then in times of white liberal crises such whites want, "in the spirit of (whatever), to all pull together."

However you support KPFA, Bensky's departure was long overdue.

Joseph Anderson
Berkeley, CA
Joseph Anderson is a member of the National Council for African American Men.
by JA
Saturday Nov 13th, 2004 6:33 PM

Jeff Blankfort: Time to Take Back KPFA?
by concerned KPFA listener Tuesday, Oct. 05, 2004 at 3:03 PM
by JA
Sunday Nov 14th, 2004 9:51 AM


by JA, Friday, Nov. 12, 2004 at 1:27 AM
by York
Friday Nov 19th, 2004 12:28 PM
This was an interesting read, and a good description of Bensky. His pontificating and rudeness puts me off to the point where I've had to stop listening to his shows.
when he didn't say a WORD when other people -- especially truly progressive minorities -- were being fired right and left throughout Pacifica (including KPFA) by 'The Old Regime' ...

until HIS job was finally threatened and HE was then finally axed by Pacifica, pro-NPR'izing, Democrat Party apparachiks ...


Bensky has become a KPFA anti-democratic entrenched senior staffer obstructionist -- calling the pro-democracy, pro-transparency listener-activists, "STALINISTS" -- ...



When I said that I would fight to save KPFA, but I wasn't going to lift a finger (well, maybe *one*) to fight to save Larry Bensky.


(The above criticism, to one degree or another, didn't only apply to white hosts like Bensky, then, but he was the WORST.)
by RWF
(restes60 [at] Tuesday Jun 28th, 2005 10:36 AM
I'd be driving into the Bay Area from the Central Valley on a Sunday morning for some activity.

I seem to recall turning KPFA on one time driving through Vallejo in '98 or '99, and got Bensky's program.

I listened to the show for about 5 minutes before I was utterly bored, and switched back to my CD player, and put on some Michael Nyman opera until I arrived at my destination.


by JA -- Larry Bensky's CIA link?
Tuesday Jun 28th, 2005 1:06 PM

Subject: Re: West-Block Dissident Book & KPFA's Hidden History
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 21:54:16 -0700 (PDT)


Could this be the 'smoking gun' about Bensky's nefarious past? Some of us have been suspecting Bensky to be an 'operative' for many years. Some people say its his ego thats the problem or he's concern about being PC, but I myself tend to think he's an agent of some sort.

Coincidentally, between 1964 and 1966, Bensky (a former Yale University student newspaper editor during the McCarthy Era) apparently was employed as the Paris editor of The Paris Review magazine. In an April 18, 2002 article that was posted on the website, Richard Cummings made the following interesting reference to an alleged historical link between the Central Intelligence Agency and The Paris Review magazine that used to employ the Pacifica national affairs correspondent who trashed Blum's book on the CIA's hidden history:

Thought you might be interested in posting on your site the following article, since it contains an interesting reference to the Pacifica/KPFA gatekeeper who apparently used to be the former Paris editor of The Paris Review magazine.--bob

Tinker, Writer, Artist, Spy: Intellectuals During the Cold War


Indeed. The Hudson Review, The Sewanee Review, Poetry, Daedalus, and The Kenyon Review all benefited from a C.I.A.-backed program to boost the sales of the right sort of publication. The Kenyon Review was edited by C.I.A. agent Robie Macauley; *The Paris Review was cofounded by then-C.I.A. employee Peter Matthiessen*. (emphasis added)

[Everyone knows that the CIA has often used journalists as its cover, spies, and propaganda spinners. --JA]
by JA -- Larry Bensky's CIA link?
Tuesday Jun 28th, 2005 8:58 PM
West-Bloc Dissident Book & KPFA's Hidden History
by bob feldman
by JA
Thursday Jun 30th, 2005 12:29 PM
In 1996, Ebonics waz ofisaly rekonisd by the Oakland Skool Bored as naitive laingwhich of AfricanAmerican chuldren.

Itz estamtid ova fifdy million peoples speek ebonics fluintly. Ebonic Persuit waz diszind to hulp bridge the kumucatin gap b'tween ur fellow brothas & sistas.
by white racist forger
Monday Jul 13th, 2009 1:23 PM
My Favorite Game
by JA
Thursday Jun 30th, 2005 12:29 PM
by KPFK Listener (repost)
Monday Jul 13th, 2009 3:04 PM

I really haven't followed Bensky and so cannot generalize about his career or programming, but I did happen to tune in to his program last Sunday and was quite appalled to hear that his entire presentation was from the perspective of how the U.S. could have succeeded better in its imperialistic aims. That is, he criticized U.S. policy as ignorant, heavy-handed, short-sighted, but never as imperialistic or even as unethical. Nor did he focus at all upon how peoples' movements could take advantage of the stupidities that Bensky and his guests were pointing out.

The entire show was, like, "Oh, they didn't see Ayatollah Khomeini coming in Iran, how dumb could they be? Oh, they don't understand that attacking Fallujah will just alienate the entire world from their policies, how dumb is that?" Well, Larry, why not send a nice letter to Dick Cheney pointing out his mistakes so that he can be a more effective imperialist? Maybe he can get you a position as a commentator on NPR. Because I don't know why you would waste the time of a bunch of Pacifica listeners whose main goal is bringing this imperialist system and its wars to a halt.