Democracy Now!

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Democracy Now!
File:Democracy Now! logo.svg
GenreNews program, current affairs
Running time60 minutes daily (M–F)
Country of originUnited States
SyndicatesPacifica Radio (radio)
WestLink (television)
Hosted byAmy Goodman
(principal host)
Juan Gonzalez
(frequent co-host) Nermeen Shaikh
(frequent co-host)
Produced byMike Burke
Executive producer(s)Amy Goodman
Recording studioNew York City
Original releaseFebruary 19, 1996; 27 years ago (1996-02-19) – present
Audio formatStereophonic sound
Opening theme"Need to Know" by Incognito
Ending theme"Kid You'll Move Mountains" by Manitoba

Democracy Now! is an hour-long American TV, radio and internet news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan González.[1] The show, which airs live each weekday at 08:00 ET, is broadcast on the internet and by over 1,400 radio and television stations worldwide.[2]

The program combines news reporting, interviews, investigative journalism and political commentary with an eye toward documenting social movements, struggles for justice and the effects of American foreign policy. While described as progressive by fans as well as critics, the show's executive producer rejects that label, calling the program a global newscast that has "people speaking for themselves".[1]

Democracy Now Productions, the independent nonprofit organization which produces Democracy Now!, is funded entirely through contributions from listeners, viewers, and foundations and does not accept advertisers, corporate underwriting or government funding.[3]

Background[edit | edit source]

The show was located in the DCTV firehouse building (a converted firehouse) in New York City's Chinatown.

Democracy Now! was founded on February 19, 1996 at WBAI-FM in New York City by journalists Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, Larry Bensky, Salim Muwakkil, and Julie Drizin.[4] It originally aired on five Pacifica Radio stations.[1] Goodman is the program's principal host, with Juan Gonzalez and Nermeen Shaikh as frequent co-hosts.[3] Jeremy Scahill, an investigative reporter and co-founding editor for The Intercept,[5] has been a frequent contributor since 1997.[1]

Democracy Now! began broadcasting on television every weekday shortly after September 11, 2001, and is the only public media in the U.S. that airs simultaneously on satellite and cable television, radio, and the internet.[6]

In June 2002, Democracy Now! separated from Pacifica Radio and became an independent nonprofit organization.

On February 19, 2016, "Democracy Now!" marked 20 years on the air with an hourlong retrospective look back at "two decades of independent, unembedded news," with highlights chosen from over 5,000 episodes.[7] Amy Goodman also published a book entitled "Democracy Now!: 20 Years Covering the Movements Changing America,"[8] and launched a 100-city tour across the United States to mark the 20th anniversary of Democracy Now!, with scheduled broadcasts of the show recorded during her travels.[9]

Studios[edit | edit source]

Democracy Now! began as a radio program broadcast from the studios of WBAI, a local Pacifica Radio station in New York City. In early September 2001, amid a months-long debate over the mission and management of Pacifica, Democracy Now! was forced out of the WBAI studios. Goodman took the program to the Downtown Community Television Center located in a converted firehouse building in New York City's Chinatown, where the program began to be televised.[10][11] Only a few days later on September 11, 2001 Democracy Now! was the closest national broadcast to Ground Zero. On that day Goodman and colleagues continued reporting beyond their scheduled hourlong time slot in what became an eight-hour marathon broadcast. Following 9/11, in addition to radio and television, Democracy Now! expanded their multimedia reach to include cable, satellite radio, Internet, and podcasts.[10]

In November 2009, Democracy Now! left their broadcast studio in the converted DCTV firehouse, where they had broadcast for eight years.[11] The studio subsequently moved to a repurposed graphic arts building in the Chelsea District of Manhattan.[11] In 2010, the new 8500-square-foot[12] Democracy Now! studio became the first radio or television studio in the nation to receive LEED Platinum certification,[13][14] the highest rating awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Syndication[edit | edit source]

Democracy Now! is the flagship program of the Pacifica Radio network.[15] It also airs on several NPR member stations. The television simulcast airs on public-access television stations; by satellite on Free Speech TV and Link TV, and free-to-air on C Band.[16] Democracy Now! is also available on the Internet as downloadable and streaming audio and video.[17] In total, nearly 1,400 television and radio stations broadcast Democracy Now! worldwide.[2][18]

Awards and reaction[edit | edit source]

I think it's probably the most significant progressive news institution that has come around in some time.
Robert W. McChesney, quoted in The Nation[19]

Democracy Now! and its staff have received several journalism awards, including the Gracie Award from American Women in Radio & Television;[20] the George Polk Award for its 1998 radio documentary Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria's Oil Dictatorship, on the Chevron Corporation and the deaths of two Nigerian villagers protesting an oil spill;[21] and Goodman with Allan Nairn won Robert F. Kennedy Memorial's First Prize in International Radio for their 1993 report, Massacre: The Story of East Timor which involved first-hand coverage of genocide during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor.[22]

On October 1, 2008, Goodman was named as a recipient of the 2008 Right Livelihood Award,[23] in connection with her years of work establishing Democracy Now! and on 2009, she, like her frequent guest Glenn Greenwald, was awarded the first annual Izzy Award (named after journalist I. F. "Izzy" Stone) for "special achievement in independent media."[24] Her co-host Juan Gonzalez was inducted into the New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists' Hall of Fame on November 19, 2015.[25][26]

2008 Republican National Convention arrests[edit | edit source]

Three journalists with Democracy Now!—including principal host Amy Goodman, and news producers Nicole Salazar and Sharif Abdel Kouddous—were detained by police during their reporting on the 2008 Republican National Convention protests.[27] Salazar was filming as officers in full riot gear charged her area. As she yelled "Press!" she was knocked down and told to put her face in the ground while another officer dragged her backward by her leg across the pavement. The video footage of the incident was immediately posted on the Internet, leading to a large public outcry against her arrest. When a second producer, Kouddous, approached, he too was arrested, and charged with a felony. According to a press release by Democracy Now!, Goodman herself was arrested after confronting officers regarding the arrest of her colleagues. The officers had established a line of "crowd control," and ordered Goodman to move back. Goodman claims she was arrested after being pulled through the police line by an officer, and subsequently (as well as Kouddous) had her press credentials for the convention physically stripped from her by a secret service agent.[18][28] All were held on charges of "probable cause for riot."[29] A statement was later released by the city announcing that all "misdemeanor charges for presence at an unlawful assembly for journalists" would be dropped. The felony charges against Salazar and Kouddous were also dropped.[30]

Goodman, Salazar, and Kouddous subsequently filed a lawsuit against the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis as well as other defendants.[30] According to Baher Asmy of the Center for Constitutional Rights, "[a]ll three plaintiffs that are journalists with Democracy Now reached a final settlement with the city of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the United States Secret Service, that will resolve the claims that they had against them from unlawful and quite violent arrests." The settlement includes $100,000 in compensation and a promise of police training.[18][31]

2016 North Dakota access pipeline protests[edit | edit source]

In September 2016, an arrest warrant for criminal trespass was issued for Amy Goodman after covering for Democracy Now! the Dakota Access Pipeline protests during which guards unleashed dogs and pepper spray on protesters in Morton County, North Dakota.[32][33][34] An arrest warrant was reportedly also issued for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka.[32][33][34]

Goodman elected to turn herself in. Three days before the court date, the charges were increased to engaging in a riot, which carried a penalty of up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.[35] On October 17, 2016, the judge quickly dismissed the charges, but Morton County prosecutors insisted the case is still open and that they may pursue further charges in the future.[35][36][37][38][39] Goodman asserted the importance of freedom of the press and said that Democracy Now! would continue covering the developing situation in North Dakota.[35][36][37][38][39]

Notable guests, interviews, and on-air debates[edit | edit source]

Guest(s) First Appearance(s) Episode or Guest Notoriety
Mumia Abu-Jamal February 24, 1997 In its first year, Democracy Now! was one of the first national programs to air radio commentaries from the controversial journalist and former Black Panther Party member, on death row in Pennsylvania for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer. The 1997 decision to air Abu-Jamal's commentaries caused Democracy Now! to lose twelve of its then 36 affiliates.[40]
Tariq Ali,
Christopher Hitchens
December 4, 2003
October 12, 2004
Took opposing sides in two debates over the Iraq War, on December 4, 2003[41] and October 12, 2004.[42][43]
Noam Chomsky July 11, 1996 A regularly interviewed guest; MIT linguistics professor, political analyst, and author.[44][45]
President Bill Clinton November 8, 2000 When Clinton called WBAI on Election Day 2000[46] for a quick get-out-the-vote message, Goodman and WBAI's Gonzalo Aburto challenged him for 28 minutes with human rights questions about Leonard Peltier, racial profiling, the Iraq sanctions, Ralph Nader, the death penalty, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the normalization of relations with Cuba, and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Clinton defended his administration's policies and charged Goodman with being "hostile and combative".[47]
Alan Dershowitz,
Norman G. Finkelstein
September 24, 2003 Finkelstein is a frequent guest. This was a much publicized debate about whether the Dershowitz book, The Case for Israel was plagiarized and inaccurate. Dershowitz has written that he agreed to appear on the show after being told he would debate Noam Chomsky, not Finkelstein.[48] See also: Dershowitz–Finkelstein affair.
Naomi Klein June 13, 1997 Author, public intellectual, and critic of globalization and corporate capitalism. Notable interview on March 9, 2011.[45][49]
Winona Laduke September 4, 1996 Ojibwe activist and former Green Vice Presidential Candidate.[50]
Ralph Nader June 14, 1996 A regularly interviewed guest; consumer activist, corporate critic, author, and former presidential candidate.[45][51]
Robert Reich,
Chris Hedges
July 26, 2016 Clinton Administration Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist Chris Hedges debated on the role of Bernie Sanders supporters after Hillary Clinton won the 2016 Democratic nomination for president of the United States. Reich encouraged progressives to unite the party behind Clinton (as Sanders had already endorsed her), while Hedges endorsed Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party of the United States, denouncing the "lesser of two evils" approach.[52]
Arundhati Roy December 15, 2008 Recurring guest; Indian writer, anti-war activist, and leading figure in the alter-globalization movement.[45][53]
Studs Terkel November 27, 2008 Another radio broadcaster who collected stories from everyday people.[54][55]
Roger Waters December 30, 2009 English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer who co-founded Pink Floyd.[56][57]

Listenership[edit | edit source] says " reaches over 395K U.S. monthly people" in the period 2016-2017. Additional international and podcast listenership can only be guessed at, true for all such media, and is likely to be significant.[58]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Stelter, Brian (October 23, 2011). "A Grass-Roots Newscast Gives a Voice to Struggles". The New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2011. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Democracy Now Stations". Democracy Now. Retrieved May 7, 2016. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "About Democracy Now". Democracy Now. Retrieved May 7, 2016. 
  4. "The First Democracy Now! Show". Democracy Now!. Retrieved March 5, 2008. 
  5. "Staff: Jeremy Scahill". The Intercept. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  6. "History & Highlights". Democracy Now!. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  7. "Democracy Now! Turns 20: A Freewheeling Look Back at Two Decades of Independent, Unembedded News". Democracy Now!. 19 February 2016. 
  8. "Democracy Now!: Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 6 September 2016. 
  9. "Amy Goodman on the Road: Updates on Democracy Now's 20th Anniversary 100-City Tour". Democracy Now!. 13 April 2016. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Ratner, Lizzy (May 6, 2005). "Amy Goodman's 'Empire' How a prospective biochemist became a muckraker and champion of media reform". Retrieved July 23, 2014. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (November 13, 2009). "Farewell to the Firehouse: After 8 Years at Downtown Community Television Landmark, Democracy Now! Moves to New Home". Democracy Now!. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  12. "Democracy Now! Broadcast Studio Targeting LEED-CI Platinum at 207 West 25th Street". Green Buildings NYC. July 6, 2009. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  13. Holland, Ben (August 2010). "Democracy Now! Goes Green". Rocky Mountain Institute. Archived from the original on 2012-02-08. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  14. "LEED Certification—Democracy Now!". Energy Resource Solutions. 2013. Archived from the original on January 31, 2014. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  15. "WBAI, New York – 99.5 FM Pacifica Radio – Democracy Now!". WBAI. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 
  16. "Satellite". Democracy Now!. Retrieved November 17, 2008. 
  17. "Democracy Now! - Listen/Watch Today's Show". Democracy Now!. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Lamb, Brian (25 March 2016). "Q & A with Amy Goodman". C-SPAN. Retrieved 10 September 2016. in the hallowed halls, they're not in touch 
  19. Lizzy Ratner (May 23, 2005). "Amy Goodman's 'Empire'". The Nation. Retrieved October 23, 2011. Goodman herself lays the credit--or blame--for the program's success squarely at the well-rested feet of the mainstream newsmakers who, she said, leave "a huge niche" for Democracy Now! "They just mine this small circle of blowhards who know so little about so much. And yet it's just the basic tenets of good journalism that instead of this small circle of pundits, you talk to people who live at the target end of the policy," 
  20. "Amy Goodman Wins Gracie Award from American Women in Radio & Television". King Features. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 
  21. "Long Island University Announces Winners of 1998 George Polk Awards" (Press release). Long Island University. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 
  22. "25th Annual Awards – 1993". Robert F Kennedy Memorial. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved August 6, 2011. 
  23. "Amy Goodman". Right Livelihood Award. 2008. Archived from the original on July 8, 2009. Retrieved April 28, 2009. 
  24. "Glenn Greenwald And Amy Goodman Share Inaugural Izzy Award For Independent Media". Archived from the original on March 5, 2009. Retrieved March 12, 2009. . (April 3, 2009).
  25. "Deadline Club: List of Hall of Fame Honorees". Deadline Club. NY Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Retrieved 11 September 2016. 
  26. "The Deadline Club's Hall of Fame". Deadline Club. NY Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Retrieved 11 September 2016. 
  27. "Amy Goodman, Others Detained Outside RNC". The Nation. September 1, 2008. Retrieved September 2, 2008. 
  28. "Democracy Now! Host and Producers Arrested At Republican Convention". The Washington Post. September 1, 2008. Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  29. "Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman arrested at RNC protest". Minnesota Public Radio. September 1, 2008. Archived from the original on September 2, 2008. Retrieved September 2, 2008. 
  30. 30.0 30.1 Karnowski, Steve (May 5, 2010). "Journalists file lawsuit in GOP convention arrests". Salon. Associated Press. Retrieved August 6, 2011. 
  31. Nelson, Tim (October 3, 2011). "Radio host wins settlement against Twin Cities police". Minnesota Public Radio. 
  32. 32.0 32.1 Dalrymple, Amy (September 10, 2016). "Reporter who documented guard dogs charged with trespassing at pipeline protest site". WDAZ. WDAZ and Forum Communications Company. Retrieved 11 September 2016. 
  33. 33.0 33.1 "Reporter & presidential candidate wanted for trespassing at pipeline protest". 10 September 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2016. 
  34. 34.0 34.1 Bogle, Ariel (11 September 2016). "Arrest warrant issued for Amy Goodman after North Dakota protest coverage". Mashable. Retrieved 11 September 2016. 
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 McDannoct, Erin (17 October 2016). "Judge Rejects Riot Charge Against Amy Goodman of 'Democracy Now' Over Pipeline Protest". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  36. 36.0 36.1 Grueskin, Caroline (17 October 2016). "Protest winds down at Morton County Courthouse". Bismarck Tribune. Retrieved 17 October 2016. 
  37. 37.0 37.1 Buncombe, Andrew; Garcia, Feliks (17 October 2016). "Democracy Now! reporter Amy Goodman 'rioting' charges rejected by judge after filming attack on Native American protesters". The Independent. Retrieved 17 October 2016. 
  38. 38.0 38.1 Levin, Sam (17 October 2016). "Judge rejects riot charges for journalist Amy Goodman after oil pipeline protest". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 October 2016. 
  39. 39.0 39.1 Hiltzik, Michael (17 October 2016). "N. Dakota charges reporter with 'riot' for covering protest--but gets slapped down by judge". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 October 2016. 
  40. Marc Fisher (February 25, 1997). "Pacifica Stations Bolt Over Convicted Killer's Commentary". The Washington Post. 
  41. "Tariq Ali vs. Christopher Hitchens on the Occupation of Iraq: Postponed Liberation or Recolonisation?". Democracy Now!. Archived from the original on July 14, 2007. Retrieved February 9, 2010. 
  42. Tariq Ali v. Christopher Hitchens: A Debate on the U.S. War on Iraq, the Bush-Kerry Race and the Neo-Conservative Movement Archived November 16, 2007, at the Wayback Machine..
  43. Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left. New York University Press. 2008. p. 290. ISBN 978-0-8147-1686-1. Retrieved 10 September 2016. 
  44. "Noam Chomsky". Democracy Now!. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 45.3 Thomas Boothe; Danielle Follette (January 2008). "" Democracy now " donne sa voix à la gauche américaine" (in French). Le Monde Diplomatique. Retrieved 10 September 2016. 
  46. Democracy Now! Exclusive Interview with President Bill Clinton, Democracy Now!, November 8, 2000. Retrieved September 17, 2009.
  47. Bill Clinton Loses His Cool in Democracy Now! Interview on Everything But Monica, Democracy Now!, June 22, 2004. Retrieved September 17, 2009.
  48. Alan Dershowitz (May 14, 2007). "Taking the Bait". The New Republic. Retrieved June 24, 2007. 
  49. "Naomi Klein on Anti-Union Bills and Shock Doctrine American-Style: "This is a Frontal Assault on Democracy, a Corporate Coup D'Etat"". Democracy Now!. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  50. ICTMN staff (30 August 2016). "Democracy Now! Speaks to Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault II and Winona LaDuke". Indian Country Today Media Network. Retrieved 11 September 2016. 
  51. "Ralph Nader on the G-20, Healthcare Reform, Mideast Talks and His First Work of Fiction, "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!"". Democracy Now!. Retrieved February 9, 2010. 
  52. "Who Should Bernie Voters Support Now? Robert Reich vs. Chris Hedges on Tackling the Neoliberal Order". 26 July 2016. Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  53. "Shows With Arundhati Roy". Retrieved November 29, 2014. 
  54. Goodman, Amy (27 November 2008). "Studs Terkel 1912-2008: A Democracy Now! Special Tribute to the Beloved Oral Historian and Broadcaster". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 10 September 2016. 
  55. Wieder, Alan (2016). Studs Terkel: Politics, Culture, but Mostly Conversation. ISBN 978-1-58367-593-9. Retrieved 10 September 2016. 
  56. "Pink Floyd's Roger Waters Launches "Campaign to Close Guantánamo" for Obama's Last Year in Office". Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  57. "VIDEO: Pink Floyd's Roger Waters Performs "We Shall Overcome" In Democracy Now! Studio". January 29, 2016. Archived from the original on September 20, 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2016. 

External links[edit | edit source]