The Campaign to Take Back Pacifica

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Jun 11 18:02:40 MDT 2001

The Campaign to Take Back Pacifica
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

Denis Moynihan is an organizer with the campaign to take back Pacifica
radio network from the forces of corporatism -- those who would sell off
one or more of the five Pacifica stations for millions, or who would
transform the stations so that they would be indistinguishable from the
rest of the noise makers on the FM dial.

We met Moynihan last week in the hallway outside our offices.

Moynihan was on his way to the offices of Epstein, Becker and Green, a
corporate law firm in downtown Washington, D.C. that boasts of its
union-busting prowess.

John Murdock, a partner with Epstein, Becker joined the Pacifica national
board last year. Epstein, Becker now represents the Pacifica Board in a
wide array of legal actions.

How corporatists like Murdock ended up hijacking a radio network started
fifty years ago by activist Lew Hill to be a listener-supported, community
radio network that would provide a forum for free expression and dissenting
voices is not easily answered, but was addressed most recently by Matthew
Lasar in his compelling history, Pacifica Radio: The Rise of an Alternative
Network (Temple University Press, 2000).

It has something to do with the failure to pay attention to the things we
care about.

However it happened, people are out to right the wrong, the campaign is on
to take back Pacifica, and Moynihan is on the front lines.

In addition to boasting about helping its clients "maintain a union-free
workplace," Epstein, Becker also has this thing for hospital mergers, and
on the afternoon that we dropped by, the firm was hosting a seminar so that
its health care lawyers could boast about how they beat back a Federal
Trade Commission (FTC) challenge to the merger of two large hospitals in
Grand Rapids, Michigan.

When we walked into the meeting at the Epstein, Becker offices, about 40
lawyers were sitting around a conference table listening to partner Bill
Kopit wax eloquent on the wonders of hospital mergers.

When question time arose, we made the point that yes, Epstein, Becker has
the right to represent big hospital chains as it wishes, and extol the
virtues of mergers, but millions of Americans are demanding the same level
of coverage of Europeans and Canadians -- a single-payer universal health
insurance that would put many of Epstein, Becker's health care clients out
of business.

And one of the few places we can hear an open and robust discussion about
universal health insurance is on Democracy Now, the award-winning one-hour
news show hosted by Amy Goodman on the Pacifica network -- that is, on
those days that the corporatists who have hijacked the network allow the
show to air without interruption.

So, we suggested that Epstein, Becker stick to its big business clients,
get its hands off the only national radio voice that addresses the issue of
national health insurance, and return the network to the listeners who fund
it, support it, listen to it and defend it against the corporatists.

Moynihan then rose and handed out flyers to everyone in the room. The flyer
has the picture of a vulture hovering over Pacifica's five stations -- KPFA
(San Francisco), WBAI (New York City), KPFT (Houston), KPFK (Los Angeles),
and WPFW (Washington, D.C.)

Moynihan made his patented five minute speech, outlining the hijacking of
Pacifica, Murdock's role as both board member and lawyer to Pacifica, and
the campaign's intent on informing Epstein, Becker lawyers in public
meetings until justice is done.

The lawyers listened quietly, and we left.

These type of actions are happening throughout the country.

Last month, Michael Palmer, another corporatist Pacifica board member faced
the heat and resigned.

Palmer is a vice president of CB Richard Ellis, the nation's largest
commercial real estate services company. The company's web site claims to
possess "unequalled knowledge of Mexico" and encourages clients to
"co-locate near worker housing areas that will enjoy lower turnover and
less competition for their workforce than other maquiladoras."

Palmer's claim to fame among Pacifica listeners came in 1999, when he wrote
an e-mail urging the sale of WBAI and KPFA. Unfortunately for him, the
e-mail was made public and outraged Pacifica listeners, who confronted
Palmer and CB Richard Ellis executives relentlessly. Last month, Palmer
resigned from the Pacifica board.

Next on the Pacifica campaign list is Ken Ford, who works for the National
Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in Washington, D.C. The NAHB takes the
lead in public policy attacks on the Clean Water Act, the Endangered
Species Act and other mechanisms of law and order that might get in the way
of sprawl-until-we-die growth.

On Sunday, about 15 Pacifica campaigners attended the board of directors
meetings of NAHB. How they got into the meeting at the Washington Hilton
Hotel again can be left to historians.

But once in, they mingled with the 1,000 "builders" on the floor of the
Hilton's International Ballroom. One of the them bounded to the front of
the ballroom, and began addressing the crowd about Ken Ford's participation
in the "attempted destruction" of the Pacifica Foundation. The young
campaigner was tossed from the Hotel, told never to return.

The great thing about the Pacifica Campaign is its in-your-face activism.

At its root, it is about human beings showing up and confronting the forces
of corporatism.

It beats phones, faxes and e-mails.

Meet the enemy. Look them in the eye. Speak your mind. Demand resignation.

Take back Pacifica from the corporatists. (

 Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime
Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
Multinational Monitor. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt
for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage
Press, 1999).

(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman


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