I’m usually upset when one of my dogs awakens me at 6am with incessant barking, but today I actually thanked Pooh Bear for getting me up so I could see the epic meltdown by the always irascible Joe Scarborough. Of course it was fake outrage over a photo taken in the Oval Office that showed a group of made advisers to the president.
Joe began haranguing both the usually subservient Mika Brzinski and also-female guest Katty Kay about his belief that the Obama administration is awful to women. Mika stepped in and told the unfunny Joke that he was sounding “chauvinistic” , and he exploded – at one point snapping his fingers at her.
See it for yourself here:
When they returned from the break, Mika was visibly and audibly shaken, and the Joke was absent from the set. In the next segment, neither of the co-hosts were there. And when the finally did re-appear, Mika issued and apology of sorts. Yes, it was Mika who apologized. Seriously.
MSNBC is a sad example of a network pretending to be a “progressive” media outlet while employing people like Joe Scarborough and pushing guests like Ed “Fix the Debt” Rendell.
We do our best to provide a real alternative here at Radio or Not. So, on today’s show, I spoke with journalist Mark Taylor Canfield, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin and comedian/actress Maysoon Zayid.
Mark Taylor-Canfield followed up on the story that came out of last week’s release of FBI documents pertaining to Occupy Wall Street in which we learned that the Occupy had been designated by the FBI as a terrorist organization engaged in criminal activity. He sent me a letter from a woman named Shannon McLeish, who co-hosts “Air Occupy” and noted that she was referred to in the FIA documents and is now on a terrorist watch list. She wants to make sure her story is heard, so here’s her letter:
I am writing to you because I hope that my personal story may serve to illustrate why the actions of federal law enforcement agencies against the Occupy movement and recent legislation, such as the NDAA of 2011 and HR 347, targeting free speech and protest should concern all citizens and the press. I believe my experience may be useful in helping to provide a context for understanding the ramifications of allowing aggression, surveillance, and intimidation to delegitimize dissent. I am a 45-year-old self-employed freelance editor, activist in social and economic justice work, environmentalist, and married mother of two – completely ordinary, with no criminal background whatsoever, whose name, if I understand this correctly, is now listed by the federal government as a member of a “terrorist” group under secret investigation by the FBI and Homeland Security, and possibly other federal groups, as the result of exercising my constitutional right to free speech and protest.
I am the person whose information is redacted on page 65 of this document (http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/549516/fbi-spy-files-on-the-occupy-movement.pdf), obtained through a freedom of information act request from the FBI that lists Occupy as a terrorist organization engaged in criminal activity. I was the initial organizer for Occupy Daytona, starting the facebook page shortly after OWS began in September of 2011 and organizing and facilitating (somewhat, anyway) the meeting of Oct. 10 (also referred to in this document on page 66), which was our initial planning meeting. Homeland Security was there, along with other law enforcement – all in plainclothes. None of them identified themselves as law enforcement to meeting attendees, though a Homeland Security agent approached me afterward.
Our first event on Oct. 15, 2011, five days later, was attended by somewhere between 300 and 400 people: teachers, postal workers, union workers, students, professors, retirees and people who’d lost their jobs or faced foreclosure. Law enforcement was present, in part they said due to threats to shoot occupiers. A man who appeared to be alone, dressed in plain clothes, was there with a professional camera taking pictures of attendees. When I confronted him and asked him who he was and why he was photographing us, he said it was a hobby. I asked whom he was working for and said he should obtain our permission before photographing us. He refused to answer, so I walked him over to the officers monitoring us to find out if he was connected to the group making threats against us. As we approached the uniformed officers, he basically bolted into the woods, while they, oddly, stood by and did nothing. It turns out, he was working with law enforcement, presumably Homeland Security or the FBI. I was not able to obtain his name, even though I insisted on speaking to a supervisor.
At subsequent events, it was clear there were plainclothes officers of some type present. Big guys in plain clothes stood surrounding us as we conducted teach-ins or general assembly. Uniformed officers were also present. It was extremely intimidating as an activist and a citizen, not to mention the effect on people walking by who might have joined us if it weren’t for these heavy intimidation tactics. I believe the statistic is somewhere around 70% or more of the public agrees with occupiers regarding the bank bailouts, illegal and unfair foreclosures, workers’ rights, and income inequality; and around 80% have expressed dissatisfaction with corporate influence and money in politics, some of the main issues sparking Occupy protests.
Additionally, for the past 35 weeks or so, I’ve been co-host for a radio show called Air Occupy that I started along with two friends, Liz Myers and Jerry Bolkcom. We recently interviewed Noam Chomsky about US military occupations abroad and US policy in Israel. We also interviewed Alexa O’Brien (organizer for US Day of Rage) and Carl Mayer, the lead attorney in the case Hedges v. Obama against the NDAA indefinite detention clause (which a federal judge recently found unconstitutional). Immediately after posting our show on the NDAA on YouTube, prior to sending the link and information out to our email list, we were permanently banned from YouTube for “violating community standards” – which consists of things like posting graphic, violent, or gory images or pornography (none of which was in our radio show with a well-respected attorney) and which, according to YouTube’s guidelines, should have resulted in several warnings prior to banning us. We did not receive a single warning.
I am concerned about whether the inclusion of my name and information on a federal law enforcement domestic terrorist watch list could impact my ability to make a living and provide for my children. For instance, I have done contract work for the government and also for academics who were recipients of federal funding. What happens if there is a background search for future employment or contracts? I am concerned about whether I can be subject to retribution of some kind through the NDAA’s new provisions or to federal surveillance due to interviewing other activists on our radio show in addition to my involvement in Occupy protests. I am in no financial position to retain an attorney to help protect myself.
In general, I am concerned about what such surveillance and militarized response means to our democratic system of governance as more and more people in our country and abroad struggle to survive and are moved to protest stark economic inequalities, mass unemployment and unfair working conditions, and impoverished living conditions – not to mention environmental catastrophe. I know you will agree that the federal government’s secret and illegal investigation of non-violent protesters is a blatant attack on our constitutional freedoms and has intimidated citizens and silenced dissent. As Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice (who submitted the FOIA request) has noted, “The collection of information on people’s free-speech actions is being entered into unregulated databases, a vast storehouse of information widely disseminated to a range of law-enforcement and, apparently, private entities.” The coordination with corporations and private interests is an egregious violation of democratic principles and public trust. The implications of these federally backed efforts to criminalize and delegitimize dissent are equally grave for the press.
My hope is that my story may be of interest not only to activists and those already engaged in legal action to restore citizens’ rights, which I would happily join, but also to mainstream press as a sympathetic portrayal of a citizen attempting to engage in constitutionally protected freedoms to highlight the outrageousness of finding oneself the subject of FBI documents as a result. I will be happy to provide any information or participate in any way that you may deem helpful. I would appreciate any suggestions or guidance you may have to offer.
Thank you for your time.
Sickening. Especially as the right is claiming that the Second Amendment gives everyone the right to own military weapons of mass destruction, they are standing by as our First Amendment is gutted.
Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin checked in on her way to Miami for a few events this weekend, including protests tomorrow morning at the gates of SouthCom on the 11th anniversary of the first prisoners arrival at Guantanamo Bay. We talked about that, and the nomination of John Brennan (our most staunch defender of the Drone wars and torture) to head the CIA – and the fact that the media is trying to distract everyone by ignoring it while hyperventilating over Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense. Of course, brought up Medea’s wonderful cameo at the NRA media show following the Newtown shootings, and lots more. I have so much respect for Medea … she does what many of only aspire to.
And finally, it’s Thursday, so my friend Maysoon Zayid helped me close out my broadcast week… She weighed in on the Morning Joke meltdown, and then we talked about his morning’s Oscar nominations and her plans for the day she wins one.