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Posted 26 Mar 2001 23:53:19 UTC

The national programming feed of the Pacifica Radio network was taken over this morning in the middle of a news broadcast with a five minute statement on the ongoing crisis involving the network. But it wasn't a member of the various organizations opposed to the Pacifica National Board who took over the broadcast. Instead, it was the network management.

A pre-recorded segment of "Democracy Now!" was in the middle of a newscast, reporting on the CIA's ability to plant stories on national wire services, when the signal was interrupted by Pacifica Executive Director Bessie Wash, who used the next five minutes to "speak to those who are being misled by a small group of individuals." She went on to condemn demonstrators for an alleged act of violence at a KPFT (Houston) event over the weekend - a report that has been disputed by attendees. She also cited the now famous WBAI incident of two weeks ago where an interview with Congressman Major Owens was interrupted by Interim General Manager Utrice Leid and the program host thrown off the air. However, Wash referred to this incident as an example of Leid being "physically attacked in her own studio," which appears to be the first time the event was publicly described in this manner. Wash claimed that Leid was attempting to interview the congressman when she was attacked. But Congressman Owens later went on to condemn the actions of Leid on the floor of the House of Representatives, comparing it to that of "totalitarian countries."

Wash went on to claim that there were a number of unreported incidents involving violence, threats, and racial remarks against the management of Pacifica. "Participants of the anti-Pacifica group have harrassed and are being encouraged to continue this campaign of physical and emotional violence on employees, national board members, volunteers, as well as their family members - relatives, including young children, wives, grandparents."

Reaction to the accusations by the various organizations involved in the fight to democratize the Pacifica National Board has so far been united in its indignation, with words like "Orwellian" being used to describe Wash's remarks and characterization of events.

Most ironic though is the fact that Pacifica programmers discussing such issues are subject to immediate dismissal. Also ironic is the fact that this interruption took place during "Democracy Now!" - whose host, Amy Goodman, has been battling Pacifica policy for months. And - in even further irony - programming was again interrupted this afternoon for a similar announcement in the slot once held by the program that had attempted to interview Congressman Owens.

Audio of today's incident:
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Various Pacifica-related sites
Official Pacifica site

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