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The WBAI LAB comments on allegations of violence made by Pacifica management 3-30-01

On behalf of the WBAI Local Advisory Board, I have been asked to circulate this statement by the board. Could you please disseminate it further.

Thank you very much.

Andrew Norris
WBAI LAB member


The WBAI LAB comments on allegations of violence made by Pacifica management

The members of the WBAI LAB abhor violence and condemn its use by whatever party. In the midst of the continuing crisis, allegations of violent behavior are being broadcast on WBAI, other Pacifica stations, and affiliates by Pacifica management. Democracy Now! and the Pacifica Network News were both interrupted on 3/26/01 with a recording of the Executive Director Bessie Wash. In this recording, which has been played on air many times since, Ms. Wash makes specific allegations against an unnamed WBAI producer. Her statement amplify a press release from the Pacifica Foundation on 3/25/01 which said, in part:

"This incident in Houston followed another attack two weeks ago when the female General Manager of WBAI in New York was physically attacked by a supporter of the "Pacifica Campaign" during a live interview with a Member of Congress. The point of the attack was to deny her access to the airwaves so that WBAI's listeners would not hear a different point of view."

We can make no informed statement about Houston, but feel compelled to comment on the WBAI incident. This occurred on 3/5/01 when Interim General Manager Utrice Leid removed Ken Nash from the air during his regularly scheduled show "Building Bridges". Mr. Nash was interviewing Congressman Owens when he was cut off by Ms. Leid about 5 minutes into the one hour program. Ms. Leid unilaterally cancelled the remainder of the program, fielding phone calls from listeners.

Mr. Nash is accused of two things: violence and censorship. He says the allegation of violence is untrue. We can add no more to that except to comment that Mr. Nash does not have the same bully pulpit available to Pacifica management. He cannot interrupt national programs, and he does not have the resources of the Pacifica foundation and its public relations agents. But even if he had these resources, he cannot easily undo the harm caused by the aspersions made against him.

Regarding the accusation of censorship, it is incredible to suggest that Mr. Nash or anyone would attempt to deny Ms. Leid access to the airwaves. Ms. Leid appears on the air whenever she feels like it, and has complete discretion with programming. Ms. Leid defines the gag rule, she decides who breaks it, and she removes people from the air whenever she so wishes. Mr. Nash was banned from the airwaves for his attempt to offer WBAI listeners a different point of view.

The accusations against Mr. Nash are a smear campaign that diverts attention from the real issues, such as the continuing economic and real violence suffered by workers in the WBAI listening area who are denied a voice now that "Building Bridges" has been removed. The New York area is a safer place for corporate interests who can rest assured now that the longest running labor program has been banned from the air. Important issues are being ignored, such as the attempt of 35,000 home care workers in New Jersey to organize, to gain a union that can increase their pay from the lowly $7/hr. they receive. Pacifica is deserting its community, it is not serving their interests, as it embarks on an ugly phase in our internecine struggle in which everyone loses except the bosses.

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