Thursday, November 11, 2010

Part II: On the attack on Behind The News with Doug Henwood

Part two of a loosely structured argument.  Part One which deals with the Deficit Commission is here

       To escape from the increasing abstraction that often drives me around the bend with other analyses, I would like to turn to a tangentially related topic, that of the current situation with Doug Henwood's show, Behind the News, which up until recently was broadcast on the Pacifica station, WBAI.  I've been intending on writing about this situation for a few days, but have gotten caught up in the work of day to day life.  However, it struck me that the situation was relevant because of Doug's ability to discuss and write about the subject of economics with such thoughtfulness and clarity, a skill that is often missing from the current Left.  For the few who don't know about Doug, he is the author of an excellent analysis of the U.S. finance system, entitled Wall Street, as well as an analysis of the post-tech bubble economy, entitled After the New Economy.  These works, along with his newsletter, the Left Business Observer, and his radio program have created a body of works that activists can use to understand and critically engage with the occluded and mystified world of finance and economics, tools crucial to fighting the upcoming process of austerity.  The radio program provides weekly updates on the current economic situation and brings in a variety of guests to discuss the economic, cultural, and political news of the day.  It's a great show.  For those who haven't heard it, Doug has an archive, and you also can get material from itunes.
       Unfortunately, the station has decided to cut back severely on Doug's program moving it from Thursday evening to Saturday morning, and transforming it from a weekly show to a bi-weekly show.  These actions were taken in a context in which Doug's show has been regularly canceled for dubious fundraisers which have promoted all sorts of quackery from 9-11 conspiracy theories to new age nonsense.  Doug has decided to quit in response to these pressures, although the show will continue on sister station KPFA.  Here is his statement on the matter.  Additionally, he points to these email addresses to protest the decision.  I plan on writing a complaint over the weekend, and I highly recommend that you do so as well.  It's important to recognize this is occurring in a context in which some of the best programming on Pacifica is being threatened with cancellation, including Against the Grain, which has presented interviews with a wide variety of left public intellectuals, on a multiplicity of topics, and the recently canceled KPFA morning show, despite the fact that it was one of the most popular shows on the air.  (Here is Pacifica historian Matthew Lasar's take on the morning show issue.)  At the point in which we desperately need a radical political, social, and economic analysis, Pacifica is offering us a toxic blend of conspiracy and new age nonsense, destroying the legacy of one of the largest radical media projects in the United States.  For more on this see the analysis of Ian Boal.  (Boal also points to ways to get involved in the struggle.  Also see the website of KPFA Worker.)

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