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The Exception to the Rulers

Derek McMillan

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The Exception to the Rulers

By Amy and David Goodman

ISBN 1-4013-0131-2

Published by Hyperion

When you think of a journalist do you think of a sleazy individual only interested in pop stars, royalty and sex scandals? Amy Goodman can make you think again.

Amy Goodman is the reporter who faced the Indonesian military in East Timor in 1991 armed only with a microphone. "They had stripped us of our possessions, but I still had my passport. I threw it at them. When I regained my breath I said again 'We're from America! America!'

"Finally the soldiers lowered their guns from our heads. We think it was because we were from the same country their weapons were from. They would have to pay a price for killing us that they never had to pay for killing Timorese." Her coverage of repression across the globe has been a dangerous battle to bring the truth to the public, hindered rather than helped by the corporate media. Imagine putting her coverage of Chevron's blatant support for vicious repression in Nigeria alongside adverts for Chevron!

Amy Goodman and her brother have pioneered independent media in the United States. The hour-long TV program produced in New York and available over the internet at http://democracynow.org is a daily indictment of the war and the attack on civil liberties in the US and worldwide. It is surprising to watch as it has the format of a news program like any other but deliberately includes all the voices which the corporate media excludes.

That includes voices like that of Rita Lasar who lost her brother in the terrorist attack on the twin towers, a few blocks from the studios where Democracy Now! is broadcast. Rita's brother stayed in the building because he would not leave his quadraplegic friend behind. On September 14th Bush used his name and his story in his speech at the National Cathedral in Washington. “Rita quickly understood how her brother's gentle heroism was being used. She wrote a letter that appeared in the New York Times on September 18th 2001. “It is in my brother's name and mine that I pray that we, this country that has been so deeply hurt, do not do something which will unleash forces we will not have the power to call back.” and of the fireman who lost four of his squad “As a rescue worker I can't say: we lost so let's kill six thousand more.”

Her book “The Exception to the Rulers” is a withering and closely argued indictment of “Oily Politicians, War Profiteers and the Media that loves them.” If you want chapter and verse on the links between

Big Business and the Bush administration; between the corporations and corrupt totalitarian regimes around the world and all of them with the media in the US: this is the book to read.

In advocating independent media, Amy Goodman does not ask to be admired. She asks to be emulated.

You can get your local library to get a copy. It is very useful work of reference for socialists and for students of the media.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am replying to myself here but I just discovered that Amy Goodman is coming to London. It will attend myself if possible but other colleagues might be interested. We need an equivalent of Democracy Now in the UK.

The SOAS Said-Fanon Society, RAN and Red Pepper magazine present...


Independent Media in a time of War

Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of award-winning radio show Democracy Now! will be in London at the end of January to talk about Independent media in the United States, the US election, and her new book 'The Exception to the Rulers'.

The talk will follow a 30-min screening of ‘Independent Media in a Time of War’

2pm, Sunday 30th January

Room D202, Clement House, London School of Economics, Aldwych, London WC2

Nearest tube: Holborn. NB Clement House is a little further round the Aldwych than the main LSE buildings on Houghton Street.

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You might be interested in this article on Operation Mockingbird by Mary Louise.


Starting in the early days of the Cold War (late 40's), the CIA began a secret project called Operation Mockingbird, with the intent of buying influence behind the scenes at major media outlets and putting reporters on the CIA payroll, which has proven to be a stunning ongoing success. The CIA effort to recruit American news organizations and journalists to become spies and disseminators of propaganda, was headed up by Frank Wisner, Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, and Philip Graham (publisher of The Washington Post). Wisner had taken Graham under his wing to direct the program code-named Operation Mockingbird and both have presumably committed suicide.

Media assets will eventually include ABC, NBC, CBS, Time, Newsweek, Associated Press, United Press International (UPI), Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Copley News Service, etc. and 400 journalists, who have secretly carried out assignments according to documents on file at CIA headquarters, from intelligence-gathering to serving as go-betweens. The CIA had infiltrated the nation's businesses, media, and universities with tens of thousands of on-call operatives by the 1950's. CIA Director Dulles had staffed the CIA almost exclusively with Ivy League graduates, especially from Yale with figures like George Herbert Walker Bush from the "Skull and Crossbones" Society.

Many Americans still insist or persist in believing that we have a free press, while getting most of their news from state-controlled television, under the misconception that reporters are meant to serve the public. Reporters are paid employees and serve the media owners, who usually cower when challenged by advertisers or major government figures. Robert Parry reported the first breaking stories about Iran-Contra for Associated Press that were largely ignored by the press and congress, then moving to Newsweek he witnessed a retraction of a true story for political reasons. In 'Fooling America: A Talk by Robert Parry' he said, "The people who succeeded and did well were those who didn't stand up, who didn't write the big stories, who looked the other way when history was happening in front of them, and went along either consciously or just by cowardice with the deception of the American people."

Major networks are primarily controlled by giant corporations that are obligated by law, to put the profits of their investors ahead of all other considerations which are often in conflict with the practice of responsible journalism. There were around 50 corporations a couple of decades ago, which was considered monopolistic by many and yet today, these companies have become larger and fewer in number as the biggest ones absorb their rivals. This concentration of ownership and power reduces the diversity of media voices, as news falls into the hands of large conglomerates with holdings in many industries that interferes in newsgathering, because of conflicts of interest. Mockingbird was an immense financial undertaking with funds flowing from the CIA largely through the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) founded by Tom Braden with Pat Buchanon of CNN's Crossfire.

Media corporations share members of the board of directors with a variety of other large corporations including banks, investment companies, oil companies, health care, pharmaceutical, and technology companies. Until the 1980's, media systems were generally domestically owned, regulated, and national in scope. However, pressure from the IMF, World Bank, and US government to deregulate and privatize, the media, communication, and new technology resulted in a global commercial media system dominated by a small number of super-powerful transnational media corporations (mostly US based), working to advance the cause of global markets and the CIA agenda.

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