Democracy Now! January 14, 2003

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Democracy Now! January 14, 2003
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The Pentagon trains journalists to report on war and promises access to the battlefield, but is it access or a new PR strategy? A debate with the Pentagon, two war correspondents and Harper s Magazine publisher Rick MacArthur.; Activists train reporters to cover the peace movement: days before the next march on Washington, Democracy Now! hosts a different kind of reporter boot camp; Bush administration gives EPA, Agriculture Dept. and Health Dept. authority to stamp documents secret : a discussion on the new White House secrecy

9:00-9:01 Billboard 9:01-9:06 Headlines 9:06-9:07 One Minute Music Break 9:07-9:20: The New York Times reported last week the Bush administration has put a much tighter lid than recent presidents on the public release of information and insight into government proceedings. Historians, legal experts and lawmakers of both parties have all been struck by the new level of White House secrecy, calling it a sea change in government openness. And senior administration officials told The Times the Bush administration arrived in Washington determined to strengthen the authority of the executive branch. A few examples: Since September 11, three new agencies were given the power to stamp documents as secret : the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services in Bush s first year as president, the number of classified documents rose by some 18%. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that federal agencies should reject all requests for documents if there is any legal basis to do so, and promised the Justice Department would defend them in court. (The Clinton administration had told agencies to make records available whenever they could, even if the law provided a reason not to, as long as there was no "foreseeable harm" from the release.) Guest: Adam Clymer, chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times. His article Government Openness at Issue as Bush Holds on to Records ran on Jan. 3. 9:20-9:21 One Minute Music Break 9:21-9:40: War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over the weekend authorized the deployment of 62,000 more troops to the Gulf Region, and for the first time since the Gulf War, the Marine Corps has barred Marines from leaving the service. As the Pentagon prepares its soldiers for war, it is also helping another group to prepare: the media. Over the last few months the Pentagon has held a series of journalist-training programs at military bases. One hundred twenty journalists trained last November at the Quantico Marine Corps Base and the Norfolk Naval Station; another wave of reporters trained last month at Fort Benning, and another session is scheduled this month at Fort Dix in New Jersey. The training teaches reporters battlefield survival, military policy and weapons expertise. The media was quarantined from combat units during the 1991 Gulf War. Now the Pentagon says the US news media will have more direct access to US military operations than in any recent offensive, including the Gulf War and in Afghanistan. The New York Times reports senior Pentagon officials are acknowledging there is an element of self-interest in the new media strategy. Several Pentagon officials lamented that the military had too often damaged its image by failing to engage the news media. The result, they said, is that the military has found itself surrendering the fight over world opinion to the propaganda of adversaries. Today, a roundtable discussion and debate Guest: Sig Christenson, military writer for the San Antonio Express News and a co-founder of Military Reporters and Editors, an organization devoted to improving journalists access to the armed forces. Christenson is one of dozens of reporters who have participated in Pentagon-sponsored journalist-training programs Guest: Bryan Whitman, Pentagon spokesperson. Guest: Chris Hedges, New York Times reporter and veteran war correspondent. Hedges has experienced the war zone from Central America to Iraq, from the Sudan to Sarajevo. His recent book is War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning Guest: John Rick MacArthur, author of The Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War and publisher of Harper's Magazine. 9:40-9:41 One Minute Music Break 9:41-9:58 This coming Saturday, tens of thousands of people are expected to protest in Washington D.C. against war. The last time this happened, on Oct. 26, media outlets such as The New York Times and NPR came under heavy fire for their inaccurate coverage of the protest. While the Washington Post and even the Washington D.C. police estimated the turnout at between one hundred and two hundred thousand people, the Times put the turnout in the thousands and NPR reported fewer than ten thousand. Both outlets claimed that fewer people attended than organizers had predicted. After an unknown number of complaints, both outlets changed their stories. The Times ran a new, full-length story on the protest, putting the turnout between one hundred and two hundred thousand, and reporting the turnout startled even organizers. Democracy Now! also learned that the editors at the Times pulled the reporter covering the story away from the protests early in the morning, before the number swelled, and told her to write about the Washington, D.C.-area sniper instead. As the Pentagon trains journalists on how to report on war, we thought we d invite activists to train journalists on how to cover a peace movement. Joining us in our studio is long-time activist and media trainer Ann Northrop and Rachel Coen, media analyst at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. Guest: Ann Northrop, Act-Up activist and media educator. She formerly worked at CBS and ABC. Guest: Rachel Coen, media analyst with Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting; 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits Democracy Now! is produced by Kris Abrams, Mike Burke, Angie Karran, Ana Nogiera and Alex Wolfe. Mike Di Filippo is our music maestro and engineer.

Date Recorded on: 
January 14, 2003
Date Broadcast on: 
January 14, 2003
Item duration: 
59 min.
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WBAI; Amy Goodman, host., January 14, 2003
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