Friday, February 16, 2018

THE TRUE STORY OF HOW AMY GOODMAN BECAME THE OWNER OF “DEMOCRACY NOW!”


We have received numerous comments, most then anonymous, about our coverage of the Pacifica Foundation, WBAI and the future of the noncommercial organization. Many of the comments deal with the endless feuds between various factions. We avoid reporting on these matters because they ultimately don’t matter.

One comment from an anonymous Spark News reader did catch our attention because it touches on a current topic: Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s (MNN) offer to take over WBAI with a Public Service Operating Agreement (PSOA).  Dan Coughlin is the CEO of MNN and has a deep and murky history with Pacifica.

We reported about MNN on February 5th [link]. Here is the comment we received:

"Here are some other fun facts about Dan Coughlin [the head of MNN]. He was an ally of Amy Goodman’s when he was a reporter for Pacifica’s national news (Pacifica Radio News)."

Dan Coughlin
"Along with the hundreds of thousands of dollars poured into a professional public relations campaign (The Pacifica Campaign) against the then Pacifica board during the lawsuits of 1999-2002, run by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Coughlin was part of the news department who went on strike to support Goodman in the ginned up attack on the board."

"When the board was finally forced out, Coughlin was appointed [Executive Director] by Goodman. Coughlin signed off on Goodman’s contract-of-a-lifetime which gave her for free all of Pacifica’s intellectual property to Democracy Now!, a show created by WBAI. Although she now claims she created the show she did not and was not its original host. Since 2002, Pacifica has been in the position of renting back the radio show it created and paying its former employee, Goodman, hundreds of thousands of dollars."

KEN SAYS: Because Amy Goodman is reportedly a very litigious individual, so we will be very careful talking about her. Therefore, in the information below, we will label factual information “Fact” and disputed allegations as “Rumor.”  In a quick nutshell, here is the backstory:

(Fact) Democracy Now! began as a local program on WBAI in February 1996. The host was Amy Goodman who started working at WBAI as a volunteer in the 1980s. After early success on WBAI, Democracy Now! went into national syndication. At that time the program was owned and financially supported by the Pacifica Foundation.

Goodman recently on CNN

(Fact) Goodman quickly became a well-known commentator on cable TV shows and frequently appeared as an expert regarding political and social issues.

(Fact) Democracy Now! became the number one fundraiser for Pacifica and it’s stations. By one estimate Democracy Now! generated 25% of Pacifica’s total revenue.

Steve Yasko


(Fact) In 2000, Pacifica hired former NPR marketing manager Steve Yasko to be its National Program Director. See our August 2015 coverage [link] for background. 

Pacifica’s National Board brought in Yasko to upgrade the network’s programming. Yasko technically became Goodman’s boss. Things didn’t go well and Yasko’s job became a journey into the Rings of Hell in Dante’s Inferno.


Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez

(Fact) Goodman resisted Yasko’s oversight and input. Yasko was eventually driven out of Pacifica by a smear campaign allegedly mounted by Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, a Goodman associate who is now a co-host of Democracy Now!

(Fact) In mid-August of 2000, Goodman publically said she could no longer work for Pacifica. She threatened to boycott fundraising for Pacifica. Her threats caused panic within Pacifica and affiliated stations nationwide.

(Fact) In 2001, Goodman publically announced that she would quit Democracy Now! unless Pacifica turned over ownership of the show to Goodman’s private corporation, free of charge.

(Fact) Pacifica naively caved to Goodman’s demands and gave Democracy Now! to her. The deal also gave Goodman ownership of the program’s archives, intellectual property, and confidential donor lists. Pacifica also granted Goodman the right to fundraise for Democracy Now! rather than Pacifica.

(Fact) In the agreement with Goodman, Pacifica agreed to pay Goodman $500,000 per year to continue broadcasting Democracy Now!

(Rumor) Dan Coughlin, Pacifca’s Executive Director in the early 2000s, engineered and facilitated Goodman’s takeover of Democracy Now! Coughlin is currently the CEO of MNN. MNN is now working aggressively to take over WBAI via a PSOA.

(Fact) According to Democracy Now’s IRS 990 for FY 2015, the most recent year available, Pacifica then owed Goodman’s corporation $1,875,000. In FY 2015 Democracy Now! had annual revenue over $8 million and net assets worth almost $20 million.

(Fact) Meanwhile Pacifica is on the verge of  being forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Pacifica’s debts reportedly exceed $8 million including the money owed to Amy Goodman.

KEN’S OPINION: Two words come to mind: Gullible and Hypocrite.

It is hard to believe how gullible and naïve the leadership of Pacifica was then and probably still is today. Because the organization’s Board members are chosen for their political and social bonafides, not their business sense or experience in radio, they are open prey for kooks, game-players and bandits.

It is also hard to believe the hypocrisy displayed by Amy Goodman. On her show, she rails about corporate greed and malfeasance while she uses tactics that are more greedy than those used by Wall Street takeover pros.





3 comments:

  1. In fairness, you could call Goodman (and her crew) just ruthlessly smart. Pacifica's dysfunction was well known by the early 2000's. I'd say she saw the downfall coming and engineered a way to avoid it. And hell, it worked. And it's not like she got all that rich off it, either. Pacifica hasn't been paying her what they supposedly owe for years.

    Also, to compare Goodman to Wall Street is to be laughably naive. Goodman's no saint, and she's not all that great a journalist, either...but she wasn't selfish. She acted in the best interest of herself AND her people on the show. That's just being a good boss.

    That said, please don't get me wrong. Nobody in Pacifica is blameless and Goodman is no exception. But I don't think she's nearly as evil as you've chosen to portray her.

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  2. Amy is as bad as the article maintains. She was in collusion with others is Pacifica who wanted to sell WBAI, yet her claim to fame at the time was to supposedly fight against those who her supporters claimed actually wanted to sell WBAI. These targets of Amy an the Pacifica Campaign were people who really were advocates for the poor but were blindsided by the forces arrayed against them. A large faction at Pacifica station KPFA in Berkley originally opposed accepting WBAI into the network, which messed up the original plan to build a pan-California network, not a national network. The greed came in under the belief that the monies raised from a WBAI sale would bankroll a proposed California only network for generations to come. The big issue in 2001 was the decision by the NLRB that WBAI's union UE, a small leftist outfit, could no longer represent unpaid staff, read programmers who wanted life time entitlement to their unpaid programs. The real reason though was more complex, to prevent SAG-AFTRA from representing WBAI paid workers, as they did workers at other Pacifica bargaining units and Amy Goodman herself. Amy was notoriously difficult and AFTRA actually allowed her to have a one person bargaining unit with Pacifica to keep her away from other workers. She was a 1 person toxic workplace. When AFTRA became WBAI's union in late 2001 the Pacifica Campaign went ballistic because a real union would prevent sale of WBAI. It was only after more than a decade of purposely driving WBAI into the dirt by undermining fundraising and by losing the CPB grant by inexplicably refusing to do a required audit for several years that AFTRA was eventually forced out because they no longer had workers to represent as WBAI had to fire almost everybody. Then the sale of Pacifica was re-floated by KPFA, especially by attorney Dan Siegel a long time Pacifica Campaign stalwart. When that failed plan B was to have MNN take over WBAI engineered by Dan Coughlin who was given his job at MNN as reward for his support of the Pacifica Campaign and Amy Goodman as well as the same folks who wanted to maintain unpaid staff in a fake union back in 2001. These folks who claimed to be "pro union" would do everything in their power to defeat a real union at WBAI tells a lot about the craven and greedy goals of Ms Goodman and her friends.

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  3. She didn't get rich?? Are you serious??!! This woman has profited millions of dollars from her duplicitous power plays and outright manipulation of the "useful idiot" class.
    Progressives are equally capable of deceit and manipulation of the truth. goodman proves there is evil in all quadrants of human politics.She personifies evil and all that is wrong with American society. Too bad she gets a pass because her politics are acceptable...

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