Static by Amy Goodman and David Goodman - Book Review

Book Classification : Current Events - Politics


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Static : Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back
by Amy Goodman and David Goodman
Hardcover - 352 pages
First Edition, September 2006
Published by Hyperion Books

ISBN 1401302939
ISBN-10: 1-4013-0293-9
ISBN-13: 978-1-4013-0293-1

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Book Review

"Don't tell it -- show it", says a guideline that is followed by many fiction and nonfiction writers. While Goodman and Goodman clearly hold the viewpoint that the country is ruled by masters, despite the democracy label, they present this point, not in the form of polemics or argumentation, but through a series of news stories that make the point unmistakably. The corporate news media, largely owned by the class of masters, have often abdicated their responsibilities to the public, thus many of these news items have been neglected or underreported. There are hopeful signs of popular resistance.

The first sentence of the introduction is about Hurricane Katrina, and a connection to the Iraq war is quickly made. The reader can sense immediately that this book's message is that top government administrators either don't care about human suffering or they lack the competence, or the right institutions in place, to act on it.

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Amy Goodman and David Goodman ,
Static : Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back

Amy Goodman is an investigative journalist who doesn't want a powerful corporation for a benefactor, which is the public's gain. She and co-host Juan Gonzalez present the news daily on the syndicated radio and TV program Democracy Now!, established ten years ago. Her brother, David Goodman, wrote six other books before coauthoring Static.

The last book from Goodman and Goodman, entitled The Exception to the Rulers : Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them , available in hardcover , paperback , and audio book on 10 audio CDs , hit the New York Times Bestseller List for hardcover nonfiction in 2004.

About the Authors

Amy Goodman has been confronting the Washington establishment and its corporate sponsors while giving voice to the ordinary citizens and activists who are fighting for a better, more peaceful world. Her daily international radio and TV show, Democracy Now!, began in 1996 and is now carried on about 500 stations and on www.democracynow.org . It is the largest media collaboration in North American public broadcasting. Democracy Now! is more than a show -- it's a movement.

David Goodman is an award-winning investigative journalist, author of six books, and a contributing writer for Mother Jones . His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Outside , The Nation , and numerous other publications. His reporting is included in the American Empire Project book In the Name of Democracy . He lives with his wife and two children in Vermont.

- From the Publisher


Some of the material in Static is well-known, but we may benefit from reminders in the present context; for example, the decades-long history of the FBI spying on law-abiding citizens. [46] Recently, the repression has worsened. Ignoring the right of Habeas Corpus, which was established by the Magna Carta in 1215, the U.S. government is "now probing new lows", behaving as an "outlaw nation." [17-18] Terrorism is the official excuse for tossing out our civil liberties. "In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, government witchhunters are working overtime." [143] That sentence introduces the story of army chaplain James Yee, a convert to Islam, who led the Guantanamo detainees in Muslim prayers, and attended to their dietary customs. For his trouble, Yee was arrested and accused of sedition and espionage. [143-144]

The government seems to get all the help it needs from the media. Before the iraq war began, TV news programs invited "experts" to comment on the possibility of war -- less than one percent of them representing anti-war groups. [12] Some of the media complicity involves deals with the spy agencies. The New York Post heeded a "request of senior U.S. officials" not to publish the facts about the CIA operating an illegal prison. [40] In recent decades, hundreds of journalists have cooperated with the CIA, even to the point of carrying out operations dictated by the CIA. [90]

However, there are some creative ways that progressives can sneak their message into the media. In 1984, 27 tons of methyl isocyanate leaked from a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India. Dow Chemical bought the company in 2001. Both the pervious and the new owners resisted compensating the victims, the chore of cleaning the site, and even the simpler task of bringing in a supply of drinking water. [271-277] In 2004, in a hoax intended to publicize the fiasco, a man falsely claimed to represent Dow, and announced that the company would "take full responsibility." The hoax induced the company to issue an announcement that the speaker did not work for the company, and that the company was not at all planning to "take full responsilbility." [275-276]

Stories of unnecessary wars, the erosion of civil liberties, and media censorship would only be a collection of anecdotes if we didn't make the corporate connection. The needs and views of the oil tycoons [199] and other centers of economic power lead to many strategies, a common form being campaign contributions paid by energy corporations to federal office holders. [203]

Inspiration for the political left arrives in the form of a sailor who refused to go to war. [232] Another source of inspiration is Cindy Sheehan, who became an anti-war activist after her son joined the military and then lost his life in Iraq. The authors point out, "Beware of mothers who have nothing left to lose." [209]

Another aspect of the book is to shatter the common stereotypes about how the political right and left differ. If you thought that conservatives are the guardians of the taxpayers' money, while leftists squander it, read about the nineteen CIA agents who enjoyed a six-week orgy of hedonism in Italy's finest hotels, supposedly an integral part of their assignment to kidnap an Islamic cleric in Milan and transport him out of the country via a U.S.-Italian air base. [29-30]

Static is an important book, as Democracy Now! is an important alternative news media project. They are important because, as Edmund Burke observed, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing." Use the locator map at the DN! web site to find an affiliated radio or TV station by state or province. Satellite dish owners can see the program on DirecTV channel 375 or Dish TV channels 9410 and 9415. Others can follow the list of suggestions for requesting that their local stations carry the program.

Book review by Mike Lepore for crimsonbird.com

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Static : Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back
by Amy Goodman and David Goodman

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Book Description from the Publisher

From the authors of the New York Times bestseller The Exception to the Rulers comes a new book that pushes back against official lies and spin to give voice to the silenced majority.

In Static , the brother-sister team of Amy Goodman, host of the popular international TV and radio news hour Democracy Now!, and investigative journalist David Goodman takes on government liars, corporate profiteers, and the media that have acted as their cheerleaders. With cogent analysis, riveting stories, and a stark review of the facts, the authors expose how the Bush administration has manipulated and fabricated news, and how the corporate media have mainlined their lies onto the front pages and into new broadcasts.

Cutting through the spin and static to offer the reality about war, torture, and government control of the media, Static presents voices of dissidents, activists, and others who are too often frozen out of official debate. Moving from the Katrina catastrophe through NSA wiretapping and the disastrous war in Iraq, from U.S. government-sponsored torture in foreign countries to the Bush administration's weeding out of citizens with dissenting views from supposedly public forums in this country, the Goodmans offer chilling examples of the ways in which the truth has been buried under an avalanche of deception.

Most important, Static spotlights the brave actions of those individuals who are demanding that their voices -- and the truth -- be heard. Ultimately, Static is a hopeful, fighting rallying call for voters to counter the lying, spying, and dying by taking back our government, our media, and our world.

Reviews of the Authors' Previous Book

"This book puts the pedal to the metal of the lies we're told, day in and day out.... Pick up this book, shake your head in disbelief, and go raise some hell!"

-- Michael Moore

"Amy Goodman is not afraid to speak truth to power."

-- Susan Sarandon, actress and activist

"Continues the quest for global justice and awareness."

-- Danny Glover, actor

"Amy Goodman has taken investigative journalism to new heights of exciting, informative, and probing analysis."

-- Noam Chomsky

"What journalism should be: beholden to the interests of the people, not power and profit."

-- Arundhati Roy

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by Amy Goodman and David Goodman

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