BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Amy Goodman, what does the title "The Exception to the Rulers" mean?
ROBERT CARO, AUTHOR, "MEANS OF ASCENT: THE YEARS OF LYNDON JOHNSON": It really should be the motto of all journalism, all media today, and that is the exception to the rulers. There is a reason why our profession, journalism, is the only one protected by, enshrined in the Constitution, because we are supposed to be the check and balance on government -- the exception to the rulers.
LAMB:For somebody that`s never heard of you or never seen you, where do you do your work?
CARO:Well, I`m the host of "Democracy Now" that comes out of Pacifica network. Pacifica was founded 55 years ago by a man named Lou Hill (ph). He was a conscientious objector, refused to fight in World War II. When he came out of the detention camps, he says, There has -- he said, There has to be a media outlet run not by corporations that profit from war but by journalists and artists, and so Pacifica Radio went on the air April 15, 1949. It was 3:00 o`clock in the afternoon. Lou Hill welcomed people to the airwaves of the first Pacifica station, KPFA. Oh, he had to give out FM radios because FM was in its infancy.
And then immediately, as they turned it on, he was asking for money because Pacifica pioneered the idea of listener-sponsored radio. It`s been adopted by NPR and PBS, the idea of not turning to corporations but turning to listeners for support, the idea of not being run by corporations that as George Gerbner (ph), professor of journalism at the Annenberg School at University of Pennsylvania and founder of the cultural Environment Movement says, not run by corporations that have nothing to tell and everything to sell, that are raising our children today.
Pacifica Network grew to five stations. In the 1950s, Paul Robeson, the great actor, intellectual, singer, activist, when he was white-listed from almost everywhere in this country, except a few black churches, knew he could be heard on KPFA. James Baldwin, debating Malcolm X on the effectiveness of nonviolent civil disobedience, the lunch counter sit-ins of the South, knew he would be broadcast on WBAI. And then when our Houston station, KPFT, went on air in 1970, it`s the only radio station in the country whose transmitter was blown up. In fact, it was blown up twice by the Ku Klux Klan.
And when the Exalted Cyclops, or Grand Dragon -- I get their titles confused -- talked about it, he said it was his proudest act, I think because he understood how dangerous Pacifica is, dangerous because it allows people to speak for themselves and when you hear someone speaking from their own experience, that breaks down bigotry and stereotypes that lead to these hate groups. So for many years now, the Pacifica family of five stations -- WBAI in New York, WPFW in Washington, with KPFT in Houston, KPFA in Berkeley and KPFK in Los Angeles, and then all the community radio station affiliates, we have provided a sanctuary for dissent. And I think that`s so important. I think dissent makes this country healthy. That`s where I come from.
"Democracy Now" was founded in 1996 as the only daily election show in public broadcasting. I host that show, a daily, unembedded, international, independent grass-roots news hour. Several years ago, we were on several dozen community radio stations. And now we are broadcasting on over 220 Pacifica radio stations and affiliates, increasingly NPR stations, public access TV stations around the country. Now we`re on PBS, and we broadcast on Dish Network Free Speech TV, which is channel 9415, the oldest non-profit TV station in the country.
LAMB:What time of day is your radio show?
CARO:We actually broadcast at 8:00 AM Eastern Standard Time, but stations around the country run it when they want to.
LAMB:How long is it?
CARO:It`s an hour.
LAMB:Do you have guests, and do you take calls?
CARO:We don`t take calls because it is run at different times through the day around the country. We also broadcast on radio stations across Canada, across Australia and in Europe. And at democracynow.org, our Web site, we video and audiostream, and we get millions of hits a month, sometimes a week, for our broadcasts. We -- the show is all guests. It is debate, dialogue about the most important issues of the day.
LAMB:Let me just start by asking you -- the book is published by Hyperion. My last recollection is that`s owned by Disney.
LAMB:Did it surprise you a Disney company would publish your book?
CARO:It did. One of the higher-ups in the company knew my work from East Timor. In fact, his mother had been to East Timor. And also, they`re the publisher of Permija Inantatour (ph), who is one of the leading Indonesian dissident writers. And because I had done so much work around Indonesia and Timor, he was familiar with it.
LAMB:I`ve read your book, and I`d have to say, at the end of it, I gather that you`re fairly angry about a lot of things. Is that fair?
CARO:I think the media has reached an all-time low in this country. And that is a terrible violation of what our profession is supposed to do.
LAMB:We are supposed to hold those in power accountable. We`re not supposed to cozy up to those in power, not supposed get the perks of the powerful. We are supposed to be there to, if not keep the politicians honest, show what`s going on. And it is very serious now because we`re talking about wartime. We`re talking about, for example now, the invasion of Iraq and the occupation.
And when the media acts as a conveyer belt for the lies of the administration, we not only are violating our responsibility, but those lies take lives. Just look at the number of servicemen and women who have died in Iraq, over 700, not to mention the number of Iraqi civilians that have died, over 10,000. Now, that was the population that the Bush administration supposedly said we were going in to liberate and to save. And now more than 10,000 dead.
LAMB:You were at an awards ceremony for the Overseas Press Group, and Tom Brokaw was emceeing the night, and you were getting an award. What`s the story?
CARO:Well, that was April 22, 1999. It was in the midst of the bombing of Yugoslavia. And I had recently returned from Nigeria, Africa`s most populous country, with my colleague, "Democracy Now" producer and correspondent Jeremy Scahill (ph). We had gone to investigate the Chevron Corporation and what it was doing in the Niger delta. We had discovered the story in May of 1998, in a place called Elijahland (ph) in the Niger delta that -- the Chevron Corporation was working there, drilling for oil.
And the people were disgusted with yet another oil spill that hadn`t been cleaned up. And they went to a Chevron oil barge and they protested and demanded to speak to the higher-ups, to negotiate with them for clean-up, for more jobs. They were on the barge for several days. They thought the Chevron executives were going to be flown in. But instead, in came on Chevron helicopters the Nigerian military and the notorious mobile police known as the "kill and go" -- that`s the kill and go.
And when they came from the helicopters onto the barge, they opened fire. They killed two of the Nigerian villagers. They critical wounded a third, had the others rounded up, put in a notorious Nigerian jail. Some where tortured. We talked to these people. We learned their story. And then we went to Lagos and we talked to the Chevron executive and asked what had happened. And he said, Yes, we flew them in. We flew in the Nigerian military. And he admitted it all.
We came back to the United States. We questioned Chevron Corporation, headquartered in California, largest corporation, oil corporation headquartered in California. And so we did the documentary, "Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria`s Oil Dictatorship," and it won a number of awards. One of them was a citation from the Overseas Press Club. That night, we went to the dinner. We actually weren`t going to go because it was the in midst of the bombing of Yugoslavia, and we couldn`t afford the $125 a plate. Even the winners had to pay it. So -- but then we thought, Well, you know, we`ll stand at the back. We`ll record the ceremony. And with having Tom Brokaw reading the title, maybe we could record him saying it, insert it into the documentary, and people would find it more believable, right, the title, "Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria`s Oil Dictatorship."
So we were at the back, and an official from the club got up to welcome everyone. They were about to have dinner and then have the awards ceremony. And he said, I want to congratulate you all for being here. I know these are very tough times for reporters overseas, very dangerous, but there is a ray of hope, and it`s Indonesia and how they`re treating journalists. What? This was 1999 and the lead-up to the elections in Timor. The Indonesian military and its militias were rampaging through Timor. Even "The New York Times" had written about it that week. Journalists were being beaten up. Journalists continued to be banned. What is he talking about?
And so when they sat down to dinner, and while we had no dinner, we were standing in back, I walked over, and I said, Where did you get that information that the Indonesian government is treating journalists better? And he said, Well, I wrote to the foreign ministry, and they said that. A reporter writing to the foreign ministry and just accepting them at word, accepting their word? I said, Well, we have information otherwise. And he said, Well, why don`t you fax it to me and I`ll consider it, because I had asked him to go up on the dais and correct what he had said.
Anyway, we went back to the back, and there was Richard Holbrooke. He was about to deliver a major address for the dinner. We went to ask him some questions. He was one of the major figures in the bombing of Yugoslavia, acting as the U.S. envoy in the Balkans. He just brushed us off. That`s every politician`s right. But what disturbed us is one of the heads of the Overseas Press Club came over and said, What do you think you`re doing? And I said, Asking Richard Holbrooke a question. Said, No, no. We made an agreement with him. He wouldn`t have come here tonight if we agreed that journalists wouldn`t ask him questions.
And I said, Well, first of all, he shouldn`t come here. And second of all, I made no such agreement. And the reason I felt he shouldn`t be there is we have to challenge this cozy relationship of journalists and politicians. Why are they honoring a politician, when that night, they`re honoring the highest values and the good works of journalists? And it`s something that happens all over Washington.
But anyway, they continued with their dinner, and then the awards ceremony began, not before Holbrooke delivered a major address congratulating the networks, naming them individually, saying how well they were doing with the coverage of the bombing of Yugoslavia. I don`t consider that a badge of honor.
But after he finished, my colleague, Jeremy Scahill went up, as people were applauding, and said, I have a question for you. And it was about Appendix B of the Rambouille (ph) accord, which called for a total occupation of Yugoslavia that Milosevic would have to accept. And whatever you think of Milosevic, it was probably that the head of a sovereign nation would not accept a total occupation, and later turned out to be the case that the threshold was deliberately set too high. It was Holbrooke who delivered the ultimatum to Milosevic, the Rambouille accord, and so he said -- he asked that question about Appendix B and wasn`t the threshold set too high, deliberately high?
Anyway, he tried to ask it, and he said -- he asked for support from his colleagues in the press. I think it was Lesley Stahl and Tom Brokaw were at the table. And Tom Brokaw told him to be quiet and sit down and had security take Jeremy out. And as they were pulling him out, they had to pass me at the back, and I said, Release that man. He`s about to win an award. The security was a little confused, but they released him. And the ceremony began.
And they began by introducing Tom Brokaw, another official of the Overseas Press Club saying, You get to know the measure of a man when you`re on a plane with him for 17 hours. He said in 1975, he was on Kissinger`s plane with Tom Brokaw, and he sat with him for many, many hours. They would sit, then have canapes at the front with Henry Kissinger and then sit back down again. This was a caricature of what journalists shouldn`t be doing.
And then Tom Brokaw got up, and the ceremony began and he started giving out the awards and saying the titles of people`s work in broadcast and print. And he came to our category, and he said, And then for "Drilling and Killing," Amy Goodman and Jeremy Scahill. And I went up on the stage and said, Mr. Brokaw, thank you, but no thank you. And I said something like, You know, the name of the documentary is "Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria`s Oil Dictatorship." But we couldn`t accept for two reasons. One, because they`d made an agreement with a politician not to ask them questions, that we`re here not to applaud politicians but to challenge them. And No. 2, because of the organization commending Indonesia, which was responsible for the beating and banning and killing of journalists.
So I said, Thank you, but no thank you. And I got off the stage, and Tom Brokaw said, This is a great country. It`s a great 2nd Amendment. And he said something like, Pacifica willing, we`ll carry on. He got a little embarrassed, I think, when he -- you know, I said, I`m Amy Goodman and that was Jeremy Scahill, who you had taken out, because of a few weeks before, a little while before, he had gone to the "Today" show, which he had once anchored. And I think it was Katie Couric at the time said to him, How does it feel to come back to your old haunt? He was on a book tour with his latest book.
And he said something like at the time, Well, you know, walking down the street at 3:00 o`clock in the morning, seeing the homeless people, I envied them because they got more sleep than I did. And that got a titter in the gossip press. I think now he was thinking, Oh, God, it`s going to happen again, because he had tried to have taken out one of the award winners. And he somehow said through the evening, Well, Richard Holbrooke has agreed to talk to you afterwards, and he started making jokes about Pacifica throughout.
At the end of the ceremony, it was interesting. One of the editors at "Business Week" came over to shake my hand and said we had talked on the phone before. And I thought about it, and it was true. A few months before, "Business Week" had done an amazing story. It was called "What Mobil Knew," and it was about the Indonesian -- how Mobil -- the allegations that they had provided the excavating equipment to the Indonesian government that they had used to put bodies in of the Mobil workers and others. And there`s an amazing photograph of a man holding a skull.
And "Business Week" had done an incredible piece. And we had called them that time, said, We`d like to have on your reporter. And in the end, they said no, not because they didn`t want to come on, but the lawyers felt it was best. So they`d publish it, but they wouldn`t talk about it. And this was the editor involved. And so it was nice to meet him. And I said, But what are you doing here? He said, Well, we just got that award, the Merrill Lynch Award for good reporting ….it was Pepsi-Cola or Coca-Cola award for good reporting and Merrill Lynch. It`s all under the rubric of Overseas Press Club, but they`re corporate-sponsored awards, most of them.
So he said, We just won that award. I said, But he`s -- Tom Brokaw`s reading all the titles. He didn`t say Chevron in ours, "Chevron and Niger`s Oil Dictatorship, but he didn`t say what Mobil knew for yours. He said, Well, whatever. He said it was for Indonesian reporting.
And so the dinner ended. We -- Richard Holbrooke did not agree to allow us to really interview him. Lesley Stahl was standing next to him, and said, Dick, I`ll take you home, as we were questioning him -- trying to question him. Went back to Brokaw, he said he had something else to do.
I used the opportunity -- I saw Frank Sesno from CNN, and I asked him what he thought of the policy of CNN and the other networks putting military officials on the payroll but not putting peace activists on the payroll to have a real dialogue. And he said they had discussed that issue, but they had decided against it because military generals were analysts and peace activists were advocates -- analysts, advocates. I think I need an analyst to figure out that one.
But I asked him why not someone like Noam Chomsky, very well known figure who you have had on here. And he said, I don`t know him personally. And I looked at the whole room, hundreds of journalists sitting with the politicians, and I thought, Well, this is how the system works. You get to know them personally at these black-tie events, and that`s who you invite in.
But that doesn`t represent most of America. I`m not talking about a fringe minority. I`m not talking about a silent majority. I`m talking about the silenced majority, silenced by the corporate media.
LAMB:Page 164, you`re on the "Charlie Rose" show, and this is what Charlie Rose said, and you can explain how it fits in. "The argument I have, with respect, is Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, a whole range of people, are journalists who have paid their dues and they are very competent journalists who are reporting for magazines and those broadcasts."
What was going on between you and Charlie Rose?
CARO:Well, I was a little surprised myself. That morning, "The Washington Post" had done a profile, and it was called "Peace correspondent." And within an hour or two of it coming out, I got a call from the "Charlie Rose" show, and they asked if I wanted to be on that evening. So I raced over because they tape in advance, and we did the taping of the program. And Charlie Rose started the segment by saying, Can you tell me where you broadcast? And I said, Well, on over 200 stations, NPR, Pacifica, public access TV, and now PBS, and just went through the whole thing. It sounded to me a little like an ad on my part, and I thought, you know, that`s not usually how the "Charlie Rose" show goes, but he had asked.
So I just said, That`s all to say that we need independent media in a time of war. And he seemed to take great offense at that, and said, What are you suggesting by that? I said, Well, just that we need independent media in a time of war. And he asked about -- he said that, you know, he worked at CBS, as well, and he said, What are you suggesting? These are my friends, he said. You`re talking about Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings. He made it very personal -- and Dan Rather. And I said I was just talking about the whole system and the way it works, and I said, You don`t have to just believe me, take the words of Dan Rather. When he was on BBC, on "Newsnight," he said that -- I think he used the term he would be "necklaced" if he asked tough questions.
LAMB:Let me read it. This is a quote from the BBC, Dan Rather. "There was a time in South Africa that people would put flaming tires around people`s necks if they dissented," he said, "and in some ways, the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions, and to continue to bore in on the tough questions so often. And again, I am humbled to say I do not except myself from this criticism."
CARO:Right. And that was the quote, and I took -- and I paraphrased it and I said exactly that, that he felt he would be necklaced if he were to ask the hard questions. And Charlie Rose just couldn`t believe it. He said, He`s my friend. He wouldn`t say something -- along those lines like that, I can`t believe he would say something like that. And I said, I`m just quoting him.
And -- but it was a very interesting discussion. We did talk about independent media in a time of war. I think they were overwhelmed with responses on their Web site. You could read them afterwards. He ran it a few days later, and I think the reason was it was his viewers that were overwhelmingly responding to him, not people that particularly knew me or watched or listened to "Democracy Now," that they were surprised. A lot of them called for him to apologize. They were surprised at how he treated me because he usually doesn`t engage people like that. I think it`s probably because he usually has people on he agrees with. And they were -- whether they agreed with me or not, they were surprised at the interaction. A lot of them also, to my surprise, sent him the quote from BBC of what Dan Rather said.
LAMB:Later, on page 207, "So the mainstream media dutifully reported that there was no objection to war. And we`re not just talking Fox News. On April 8, 2001, on NPR`s `Morning Edition,` Cokie Roberts was asked if there were any dissenters in Congress. Quote, `None that matter,` unquote, she replied."
CARO:Well, that`s a very big problem. It does matter when dissent is considered irrelevant. And we went on to talk about David Patorty (ph), who lost his brother, James, at the World Trade Center. He picked up on that quote in a very powerful essay that he wrote. And he said, Can we expect any of the networks to ever report on dissent? And he said, None that matter. And he went on with a litany with none that matter.
Dissent does matter. It`s what makes this country healthy. And the media has a responsibility to go to where the silence is, to present the views of people all over this country and not simply beat the drums for war. And that`s precisely what they did in this lead-up to the invasion. You look at the two-week period before and after General Colin Powell made his case for war at the U.N. Security Council. That was February 5, 2003. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, FAIR, did a study. They looked at the four major nightly newscasts, CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS`s "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer." That two-week period, the pivotal time -- it was just a month before the U.S. invaded Iraq -- and there were 393 interviews done around war on these four major nightly newscasts. Three -- only three of almost 400 were with anti-war representatives, this at a time when most people in this country were against the invasion and for more time for inspections and diplomacy.
That is not an independent media. That is not a media that is giving voice to this country. That is a media that is hell-bent on war, and it is violating our sacred responsibility to be fair.
LAMB:Who says media has to be fair?
CARO:I think it does. I think it`s why our profession is protected by the Constitution. It is essential that the media provide a forum for all views. Now, it`s not just us at Pacifica Radio and NPR and PBS that are using the public airwaves. They are, too. And that is part of our mandate. They don`t own the airwaves. That is a national treasure, our airwaves. They are leasing them. And there are responsibilities that come with that.
CARO:These are the public airwaves.
LAMB:They don`t pay anything for them.
CARO:These are the public airwaves. And we have a whole chapter in "Exception to the Rulers" on the direction broadcasting has gone on the FCC under Michael Powell, although it goes back to the Clinton administration, as well. We`re supposed to hold all those in power accountable. It`s not the Bush administration alone or the Clinton administration alone, but all of them. The FCC, run by -- the chair is Michael Powell, son of Colin Powell. He leads the war in Iraq, his son leads the war on diversity of voices at home, going in a very corporate direction, thinks he can get away with it with stealth moves, changing the rules, tries to hold only one public hearing when they`re going to change the rules that will lead to the largest media consolidation in this country`s history. They try to hold one public hearing in the dead of winter in Richmond, Virginia, in the middle of a snowstorm. And this is going to be how people find out what happens.
But thanks to independent media, specifically Pacifica Radio, broadcasting informal hearings that the dissident commissioners -- Michael Kopps (ph) and Jonathan Adelstein (ph) held all over the country, together with the unions and media activist groups, to get people`s views -- and thousands of people would turn out on these arcane rule changes that would lead to, for example, allowing Fox and Viacom, which now owns CBS, to penetrate more into -- reaching more of the American public. Now there`s been a cap at 35 percent. The networks can`t reach beyond 35, and they wanted to go to 45 percent because they already own it. And if they stayed at 35 percent, they`d have to sell off some of the stations, and they didn`t want to.
But because of these hearing -- it was remarkable. People came out of everywhere. Congress and the FCC got more than two million responses. And when people heard about this -- it wasn`t a progressive or a conservative thing. Across the political spectrum, people revolted. They said, No, it is not healthy for a media mogul to own the newspaper, the television, the radio in one town. So everyone from Trent Lott to Barbara Boxer is raking Michael Powell over the coals at a Senate hearing, saying, What`s going on here?
I think he was completely stunned by the level of response. It wasn`t thanks to the corporate media. They hardly did a story in a year, ABC, NBC and CBS, on this. Instead, behind the scenes, they are filing joint briefs in support of the deregulation because they will benefit. You thought they were competitors? Well, they`re there, behind the scenes, working together. And we demand better than that for all of us.
LAMB:Where did you grow up?
CARO:I was born here in Washington, D.C. My dad worked at the National Institutes of Health. And then I moved to -- then my family moved to New York when I was a baby, and I grew up in Long Island, New York.
LAMB:Where`d you go to high school?
CARO:Bay Shore (ph) High School, the public high school in our community.
CARO:I went to Harvard -- Radcliffe College.
LAMB:What did you study?
LAMB:Can you remember when you first cared about a political issue?
CARO:Well, I think I always felt strongly about holding those in power accountable. At the time, it was my parents. But then my parents were my role model in that. My father led the task force in our community, in Bay Shore, to integrate the schools. And it got very rowdy at times. I think I was in 5th grade at the time, but I would go with him at night to the school cafeterias. A thousand people would turn out. They -- he dealt with death threats, and certainly, screaming assemblies of people to -- the idea was to have schools by grades, not by neighborhoods, and that way, we would all be integrated.
And he just provided the steady guiding hand for our whole community, and it led, together with the other task force members, the integration of our schools. And I just watched that sense of judiciousness he had, of hearing out what everyone had to say and moving forward. And I really respected that. And my mom was a professor of women`s studies, history and literature, in community colleges, and then became a social worker and was a great model for me.
LAMB:Where did they get their activism?
CARO:I think from their parents. My grandfather on my mother`s side was an orthodox rabbi, deeply committed to educating, to education. He was the principal of a local yeshiva school, and instilled in my mother, my grandmother as well, that reverence for education. My grandmother still alive. We`re now celebrating her 107th birthday, and so she`s also taught us endurance and optimism and just keeping on.
LAMB:Was there anybody in your family who was a member of a political party?
CARO:Wasn`t active, a political activist, but all had come from Russia and fled persecution. My grandparents on my father`s side as well. And we just grew up with that, just deeply instilled with the sense of social justice, and you know, many of my family died in the Holocaust and feeling -- well, it`s a slogan we have heard many times, but I apply it to everyone, and that is never again.
LAMB:What did you do when you graduated from Radcliffe?
CARO:Came back home to New York, and I was turning my college thesis into a series of articles for "The Multinational Monitor" here in Washington.
LAMB:What was the thesis?
CARO:The thesis was on a contraceptive drug called Depo-Provera. It was a medical anthropology thesis, and it looked at how women around the world have been injected with this drug. You inject it into the arm once every three months. In 86 countries it had been shipped to by then the Upjohn (ph) Company, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which has been absorbed by other pharmaceutical company since. But it have never been approved by the FDA. It caused cancer in beagles and monkeys.
I couldn`t afford for the thesis to go traveling around the world to the places where women have been injected and then never followed up on, but I could go down to Atlanta, Georgia, to the Grady Hospital, which was one of the largest charity hospitals in the country. And there, 10,000 black women have been injected with the, quote, "the shot," not knowing that it had not been approved by the FDA. Many have been sick. It led to the establishment of the Black Women`s Health Project, led by Byllye Avery, one of leading women rights activist in this country.
And I thought, you know, here people do so much work on thesis, so much research, and we present it to what -- a few men in a small room and that`s going to be it? In fact, I remember the day, going in to defend my thesis. And the anthropology professors were sitting back and one of them smoking his pipe said, Ms. Goodman, do you know what it means to be an anthropologist? I said, I think so. And he said, because you cannot observe your own society. I was looking at science on society, how science fits in. This is not anthropology.
So I said, well, Dr. So and So, I am looking at the scientific and medical establishment in this country, which is mainly white male and corporate. I do not consider myself a part of that establishment, and so I think I can take a very valid anthropological look at them. Carry on.
And I did, and we turned the series -- I did it with my colleague in college, Krystyna Von Henneberg (ph), who is a professor now in California, and we turned this series into an issue of "The Multinational Monitor" called "The Case Against Depo-Provera."
And as I was writing those articles at home, I tuned into the radio and I heard this remarkable place, it was WBAI, which was -- it just -- all I heard was the voices, authentic, honest voices not trying to sell me anything. Describing all of the glory and horror that is New York City, in all its myriad of accents, all the different experiences of people.
I thought, what is this place? And I`ve gone off to take some graduate classes at our local city college, Hunter. I was actually interested in biochemistry and nutrition, so I was taking biochemistry classes, and they were teaching a radio documentary course. And I went over and the professor was a producer at WBAI, that remarkable place that I had listened to. And afterwards, I said, could I help in any way? And he said I could apprentice with him. He was starting a new show called "Investigations." He was from Australia so he had that kind of speech impediment. And we walked over to WBAI that night, and I never left.
LAMB:What year was that?
CARO:That was 1985.
LAMB:And how long did it take Pacifica to get other radio stations and expand?
CARO:Well, Pacifica at that point -- as of 1977, with WPFW in Washington, that was our five stations, and it hasn`t -- and those are the five stations wholly owned by Pacifica Radio. Unlike NPR, which doesn`t own stations, but they take NPR programming, Pacifica actually -- Pacifica Foundation, based in Berkeley, California, owns five stations. But we provide programming to any station in the country. "Democracy Now," which we began in 1996 is now airing on well beyond the Pacifica stations, to NPR and TV stations.
LAMB:An hour a day of "Democracy Now?"
LAMB:And can you find it on the Web if people want to listen?
CARO:Democracynow.org. And there we video stream, we audio stream. We have the transcripts of all the programs, because we close caption, which means 28 million Americans can now have access to us, the deaf and the hard of hearing, which is very exciting to have access to Pacifica programming. But then we take the closed captioning transcripts, working with the National Captioning Institute, and -- and just clean them up, because they are -- I mean, it`s amazing these transcribers how fast they go, how incredible they are. But then we put them on the Web site and -- and anyone can access this.
A lot of professors and teachers are working with the transcripts on our whole Web site, using them as part of their curriculum, and it is very exciting. Democracynow.org.
LAMB:When you confront people like on the stage at the Overseas Press Club or on Capitol Hill, which we are going to show you in just a moment, does it make you nervous?
LAMB:I mean, how do you get ready to confront a big name, whether it be a big media type or a speaker of the House?
CARO:I don`t. In these examples that you give, like the Overseas Press Club, I did not plan to go up and reject the citation. It`s what happened at that moment. In the case you`re going to describe, it -- it wasn`t planned. But I will say that in doing interviews, it takes research, and really doing our homework. And we have amazing team of producers at "Democracy Now," and we work around the clock, culling stories, information from a broad range of newspapers and broadcasts around the world, from people telling us their stories that never get into the mainstream media. But it just happens.
LAMB:Now, this event we`re going to show is what year, do you remember?
CARO:This was 1995. I think it was March 3, 1995, right after -- soon after the 50th day of the first 100 days of the Republican revolution in Congress.
LAMB:And I might just put, you know, a parochial note in that. We had asked for years to be able to televise the speakers` news conference every day. And when Speaker Gingrich came in, they gave us permission, and it was because of things like this that you`re going to see, that they shut it down. And I want to ask you about that, whether or not politicians are willing to deal with things like this after we show this videotape. Your voice is what people are hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARO:Many people are talking about what`s going on in the House, there is a war on women, that most of the poor are women, the whole issue about reproductive rights that keeps getting raised. But this is a question not about legislation. Some say you really fired the opening salvo against women when you didn`t apologize to American women for calling -- calling the first lady a bitch. Why haven`t you apologized?
NEWT GINGRICH, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I never said -- I`ve never said -- I never agreed to say anything about that. And I can`t imagine you are asking this question.
CARO:Why haven`t you apologized for it?-
GINGRICH:I`ve talked to Mrs. Clinton. She understands exactly where we ...
CARO:Why didn`t you apologize to American women? Because it goes beyond...
GINGRICH:I never said -- I never said, to the best my knowledge I never said what you just said.
CARO:So you`re calling your mother a liar then?
GINGRICH:No, I`m calling you a remarkably foolish person for having that kind of a conversation here, and I`m very sorry you would care to bring what Connie Chung did back into the public arena. Connie Chung lied -- Connie Chung to my mother.
CARO:She said ...
GINGRICH:You`re now trying to exploit a lie by a professional reporter to my mother, and I`m not going to take any more comment from you. I think it is very embarrassing that you as a reporter would try to take any use of Connie Chung having lied to my mother. I think you should be ashamed.
CARO:... more reporters that Connie Chung. It`s not only Connie Chung.
GINGRICH:I think you should be -- yes, it is.
CARO:Why haven`t you apologized to American women for calling...
GINGRICH:Because -- because I didn`t -- I`ll say it one more time. You`re trying to use my mother in what I think is a very despicable way. And I`m very -- I think it is very sad, and I have advised my mother to talk to no reporters because of precisely this kind of exploitation by people like you.
Next question. Yes, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAMB:What do you remember besides what you just saw?
CARO:Well, as you said, speaker`s conference was newly being broadcast. Tom Foley, the speaker before, didn`t allow that. And I felt that Newt Gingrich was using it as a way -- simply using the reporters as props, as a way to speak -- get his message out, his daily message to the American people. And journalists shouldn`t be used like that.
I mean, people would ask questions, some of them tough. It wouldn`t matter, though. He would just get out his daily message. He didn`t even have to answer the questions.
And at the 50th day into the first 100 days, which was a very important marker for him, he assessed all the different institutions. And he said he felt speaker`s conference was going very well, and there`s some reporters there who -- well, as my grandmother would say, kvelled, who were just -- were so proud when he said that.
And I`m not saying that about all reporters, but that is not a badge of honor, that he was using it almost as if he was the conductor of an orchestra. And reporters were supposed to be there with the dissonant notes, with the questions, with a very serious grilling.
And after that period, I was very disturbed at that. This was my last day in Washington at that time. We were doing a show called "100 Days of Congress," and I had actually just raced over for the last news conference. I didn`t particularly plan on asking a question, but it just came to me as he was talking.
And it had been something that was on my mind. This had actually happened a few months before, where the whole story of Connie Chung questioning his mother about -- talking to her, and his mother turning to her and saying, this is what my son called the first lady.
And I thought, you know, this is the speaker of the House. His words matter. And as I covered Congress, I saw day after day what was going on. They weren`t talking about issues like abortion. In fact, it wasn`t even in the Contract on -- I shouldn`t say Contract of America -- Contract on America -- it wasn`t in there. But in fact, daily in the different subcommittees and committees, they were talking about women`s reproductive rights. They were gradually eating away. It wasn`t getting the coverage, though, and I wanted to ask the speaker about this and about his comment. Because I thought the language laid the groundwork for the legislation.
This also had recently followed what Dick Armey had said. You know, number two man in the House, when he was talking to radio reporters and he said, "Barney Fag -- I mean, Barney Frank." And the way he -- he attacked the reporters immediately. Excuse me, they didn`t say it, he said it. And they way he defended himself was by saying he hadn`t had his morning coffee yet.
Now, I believe that. I believe he was used to saying that in private. And it just sort of slipped out.
But at that time, there was a series of brutal murders of gay men in Texas, where he comes from. He was opposing hate crimes legislation in Congress. Their words matter, and it was sending a message to the American people.
When Newt Gingrich said, I`ve already apologized -- or I had already discussed this with Hillary Clinton, I had no idea that he had. I sort of doubted it, but I couldn`t say that wasn`t true. But it goes beyond the individual conversation at that point. He had said it about the first lady, and he had sent a message to all women. And he never denied it. And I felt that it needed a response.
LAMB:Shortly after that, they shut cameras down forever. We have never been back in. Are we better off?
CARO:Well, sorry, Brian, but I don`t think it was my fault.
LAMB:No, I`m not blaming you.
CARO:No, I know. I know.
LAMB:There were others that did -- …..the speaker, I just want to know, are we better off?
CARO:No, we are not better off.
LAMB:How do we work this out, because...?
CARO:I think it`s very important for there to be transparency.
I had come back to Washington to cover one of the hearings on -- I think it was approving a new director of Central Intelligence. And I opened "The Washington Post" and I saw that Newt Gingrich was shutting it down. It was at the end of April. And he used this as an excuse a reference that I think clearly referred to that, that he was going to shut it down.
And I`ll tell you what I thought it was at the time. I thought it even before. Let`s not forget what happened in April of 1995 -- April 19, I think it was. The blowing up of the Alfred Murrah building in Oklahoma City, Timothy McVeigh. And the more Newt Gingrich spoke spewing this anti-government rhetoric, really hate-filled, the more unpopular he became.
And I think he needed an excuse to shut this down. Sounding a little too familiar with the kind of stuff we were hearing coming out of the ranks of those people that Timothy McVeigh represented, or he himself. I really felt that at the time. And I thought, how is he going to deal with that? The more he speaks, the more people dislike him. And I think that`s why he shut it down.
LAMB:Where do you operate your program from?
CARO:"Democracy Now" broadcasts out of Downtown Community Television, a nonprofit community media center in Chinatown. It`s in a 100-year-old decommissioned firehouse, Engine Company 31. And we broadcast now out of the base of the first floor, where the trucks used to come in and out. We used to be in the garret, actually. It`s September 11, 2001 -- we were just blocks from ground zero -- we were broadcasting the show when the planes hit.
LAMB:Is there any way to characterize how much it costs to do "Democracy Now" for a year?
CARO:I don`t know the exact budget. I`ll just say it is a fraction of the corporate networks, to say the least, but it is a team of absolutely remarkable producers, who are just completely committed. It`s both television and radio, we are the only ones doing that daily, and the first daily national public broadcast on radio and television at the same time. And it`s really opened up a new world going to television.
First of all, most people -- people get most of their news from television, so it is very important. Images really matter. And to be able to broadcast the images, for example, of war, and we talk about this in the book, to counter the sanitized media, is very, very important. People listen to radio, won`t even know that the images are going by. But people who watch television see the film and photos of the independent journalists who are out there, videographers and photographers, and also corporate -- those who work for the networks who don`t get some of this stuff on their stations. It`s very important. I`m not for reality television, except when it comes to war. Then I am for showing exactly what`s happening.
LAMB:When it comes to money, on this book, are you taking the money yourself?
CARO:No, the royalties are for "Democracy Now," which is a nonprofit.
LAMB:Why don`t you take it yourself?
GOODMAN; Because I want to shore up independent media. In fact, we`re on a more than 70-city book and media tour, called "The Exception to the Rulers" tour. And we are going from independent radio station to independent radio station. We started in BAI, big fund-raiser for WBAI, headed on the 55th anniversary of Pacifica. KPSA, to a big celebration there, and made our way to Los Angeles. And each of these -- Los Angeles, 2,000 people came out. Minneapolis, KFAI, the big community radio station there. We did a big fund-raiser; 1, 500 people came out.
And I think it is about a tremendous hunger for independent voices. People hungry for, searching for not the views of a fringe minority, as I was saying. I mean, I have come to think about the corporate networks in this way. You have all of these pundits -- actually, it`s a very small group of them -- who know so little about so much. I`m beginning to think they sit in a room and they just change the logo throughout the day, CBS, NBC, ABC.
Now, they are wringing their hands. How did we get it so wrong about weapons of mass destruction? Why not invite someone into the studios who got it right and who got it right more than a year ago when it mattered? Who was questioning the credibility of the so-called intelligence?
And I`m not talking about just people outside the system, outside the establishment. But people in the establishment. People in the intelligence agencies who were saying, no, we are being manipulated, the intelligence is being misrepresented. I`m talking about military families who are asking very serious questions, and now so many servicemen and women have been lost.
LAMB:Let me ask you this, though, you talk about CBS, NBC and ABC and lots of other -- if they`re so wrong about what they do, why do all of them do what they do and you do what you do? I mean, if you were right, wouldn`t they look at you and say, well, that makes more sense than what we`re doing?
CARO:It`s not a matter of who`s right and who`s wrong. The ...
LAMB:But they`re making lots of money.
LAMB:So it`s working.
CARO:The question is, what is working? A poll has just come out that shows still that more than half the public thinks that al Qaeda was linked to Saddam Hussein. That shows that more than half the public thinks that weapons of mass destruction were found.
I come from New York. The governor there is George Pataki. He went to Iraq. And he said he wanted to take a little piece of the statue of Saddam Hussein that was pulled down by the U.S. troops in April of 2003, the day Baghdad fell. And he wanted to take a little piece of that statue and incorporate it into the foundation of the new World Trade Center. If in fact that happens, it will be the first proven link between Iraq and 9/11.
LAMB:All right, you`re in charge all of a sudden. You`re the president of the United States, what would you do differently?
CARO:Well, I`m a journalist. And if I were in charge of the networks, I would just do...
LAMB:No, no. If you`re in charge of the country. In other words, you day after day, you criticize the people in power and the war.
LAMB:What would you -- would you have gone into Kosovo, would you have gone into Iraq under any circumstances? Would you have gone into a Rwanda to save the massacre there?
CARO:Yes, that`s not about the military killing people. Rwanda is a separate story, and I do think it`s very important as you raise that, we`re right around --- we have just passed the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Ten years ago in some 10-day period, almost a million Rwandans were massacred. The U.S. government knew exactly what was happening.
This wasn`t the Bush administration at the time. This was the Clinton administration. This was President Clinton, this was Madeleine Albright, who was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In fact, it was Richard Clarke, who was involved, who was at the National Security Council at the time.
They knew what was going on. And they chose not to act. But I shouldn`t say not to act. They did act. They made sure that in their public pronouncements, though privately they knew this, they would not use the word genocide, because that would trigger international law, and it would mean that they would have to be involved in dealing with Rwanda.
What happened there is one of the great horrors of the 20th century, and beyond, and it`s unforgivable what the U.S. administration did.
Yes, as journalists we`re supposed to hold all those in power accountable.
And as for being president of the United States or president of one of these networks, sometimes I think the networks are more powerful than the president of the United States. It`s about hearing the voices of the people on the ground. Our job as journalists is to give voice to those people. The president`s job, who is by the way just an employee of the American public, is if you`re going to move into a place like that, is to hear what the people are saying. But the point was not to invade to begin with.
LAMB:You have an excerpt from a speech of a man by the name of David Rubenstein, and first of all -- and you ran it on your program. Where`d you get the speech?
CARO:I -- we got it.
LAMB:Where`d he give it?
CARO:He gave it in Los Angeles to -- and you can say there to get the name correct, but I think it was Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association that he was speaking before. And he had gone out to Los Angeles to...
LAMB:The Employees Retirement Association?
CARO:The Employees Retirement Association. To -- because they wanted to divest from Carlyle Group, the private ...
LAMB:Who is he, first of all? David Rubenstein.
CARO:He is the head of the Carlyle Group.
LAMB:Which is what?
CARO:What is very significant is what this very powerful private equity group -- private investment firm is. This is the private investment firm that used to be headed by the former secretary of defense under Reagan, Frank Carlucci, whose ambassadors to the world included President Bush Sr. He recently said he left it. James Baker continues to be -- many high-level government officials who leave and go right into the Carlyle Group. Carlyle...
LAMB:Let me read this quote before we run out of time, and I want to ask you about it. This is David Rubenstein from this speech, April 23, 2003. So it`s not that long ago. A year ago. "We put him on the board, and he spent three years. Came to all meetings, told a lot of jokes. Not that many clean ones. I kind of said to him after three years, you know, I`m not sure this is really for you. Maybe you should do something else, because I don`t think you`re adding that much value to the board. You don`t know that much about the company. He said, "Well, I think I`m getting out of this business anyway, and I don`t really like it that much, so I`m probably going to resign from the board." And I said thanks, meaning David Rubenstein said thanks, "didn`t think I`d ever see him again." And you say then his name is George W. Bush. Did George W. Bush serve on the Carlyle board?
CARO:He served on a subsidiary -- called I think it was Cater Air (ph), of the Carlyle Group. And that`s what David Rubenstein was talking about, as he talked to this group trying to get them -- he was talking about how he`s not so close to the Bush family, and trying to keep this retirement association from divesting. But the important point here...
LAMB:Do you think David Rubenstein was being truthful?
CARO:I don`t know. But they were pretty interesting words to be talking about George W. Bush in this way.
LAMB:Was this a private meeting and did they supply you with a tape?
CARO:I got a copy of the tape. But...
LAMB:Has this ever been published before? I mean, does this -- this book -- you ran it on your show.
CARO:It was the only place where we first did. I don`t know if anyone else took it from there. But what I will say is that it`s very important to investigate the Carlyle Group. This was the group that was holding their meeting in Washington, D.C. on September 11. George Bush Sr. was there the night before. The bin Laden representative was there, the brother of Osama bin Laden, because they were main funders of the Carlyle Group, together with the other former government officials.
And so together they learned about September 11. As they all said together, Bush had flown out that morning. But to investigate the Carlyle Group and all its subsidiaries and the connection to the Bush family, the link between the Bush family and the Saudi regime. There is a certainly a nexus there at the Carlyle Group. And most importantly, to understand that since September 11, there has been so much suffering, of course, on the part of families and just communities, what happened on September 11. Three thousand people incinerated in a moment, but there are some who have profited handsomely. Among them the Carlyle Group, one of the major weapons manufacturers now. They have profited handsomely from what has taken place, and certainly with the invasion of Iraq, all of these corporations that have made a killing off the killing.
LAMB:Bill Clinton called you on Vote Day 2000 to do what?
CARO:I believe he was calling radio stations in New York to get out the vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton, for Al Gore. That he was just calling into radio stations. We didn`t know he was going to be making the call.
LAMB:And what happened?
CARO:Well, in fact, it was a few minutes before 9:00. We broadcast now at 8:00 live, but then we used to broadcast at 9:00. Few minutes before 9, I get a call. I have no idea -- first of all, no one calls us a few minutes before, unless it`s an emergency, or a breaking news story, because we`re get on the air. And we get a call. They say, White House communications, I thought they said White Horse Communications, which is a tavern in New York.
And they said, White House communications, the president would like to speak to you. I said, the president of a tavern, what are they talking about? The president of what? The president of the United States, they said.
Anyway, I didn`t quite believe it. But after he got off the air, the call did come in, and we raced into master control and did an interview with President Clinton.
LAMB:Let me just read, because we`re out of time. Bill Clinton says, "now, you just listen to me. You asked the questions and I`m going to answer. You have asked questions in a hostile, combative and even disrespectful tone, but I -- you have never been able to combat the facts that I have given you. Now, you listen to this." And he goes on. Were you surprised?
CARO:And I said, "I just have a few more questions." No. I was surprised the next day when the White House called and basically said I`d be banned from the White House. I said, "you called me." And they said, "you kept him on the line for a half an hour." I said, "he`s the most powerful man in the world. He can get off if he wants to."
LAMB:We`re out of time. This is the cover of the book. Our guest has been Amy Goodman, and the book is called "The Exception to the Rulers." Thank you very much for joining us.
CARO:Thank you, Brian.
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