"KPFA Mayhem," Bottom Feeder, 6/1
The Berlin Wall's fallen and the party is over
KPFA, aka "Radio Jihad," has long operated under the pretext of support for dissent, yet has proven to be the antithesis of such claims with utter intolerance expressed over the air toward those who differ from its rigid stances. Thus it comes as little surprise to see that a cacophony of quarrels has marked interpersonal interaction at the station.
Indeed, how appropriate it is that Dennis Bernstein, who constantly calls Palestinian suicide bombers "freedom fighters," should be accused of a pattern of abusive behavior toward women at KPFA. After all, this is the same reporter who refuses to discuss on the air the genderal apartheid manifest so disturbingly in Arabic societies.
As for KPFA's old left ("leftovers") faction, perhaps someone at the station should risk untold wrath by informing strident ideologues like Bernstein, Barbara Lubin, and Bill Mandel that the Berlin Wall has fallen and the Party Is Over.
Dan Spitzer, Kensington
KPFA's liberal hypocrisy
In the superheated liberal atmosphere of Berkeley, where women, blacks, and Zionists are all to varying degrees exempt from any criticism even for outrageous personal behavior, this sort of confrontation at KPFA is endemic, indeed, a "circular firing squad," as Bernstein has been quoted.
What you (and the "left" KPFA apologists you quote) seem to be saying in your column is that Bernstein is never held accountable because he is "in" with the key liberal money that supports the station -- other people will have to leave even though he is at least as culpable. People do not deny Bernstein's behavior, but are "reluctant" to discuss it. How, pray tell, is that different from the situation in the commercial media or, for that matter, in just about any corporate organization?
Some of us recall the naive days when KPFA was supposed to present an alternative to commercial radio. In some ways the influence of money, since discussion of it is largely suppressed and taboo, seems to be MORE PERVASIVE at KPFA than at many commercial outlets where we don't get liberal hypocrisy about it. Not to mention, these purges of critics seem, if anything, to be MORE frequent at KPFA than at many commercial outlets. Many commercial radio stations try to maintain a certain level of professionalism at least. KPFA seems to be blithely contemptuous about what any outsiders think.
Mark Richey, Cotati
I'm not about defending Dennis Bernstein, for he belongs to the old Stalinist clique at KPFA, together with Larry Bensky, Kris Welch, the recently reinstated Stalinist mummy Bill Mandel, and others; Bernstein is okay on the issue of Palestine; he's mostly screwed up on most other issues, and probably has all of the bad traits he is accused of having.
Having said that, it's important to note that former GI Solange Echeverría is not a nice sweet girl, and her politics as well as her reporting stink. Echeverría with Miguel Molina had a one-hour program to pay homage to the Mexican mercenaries who were killed in Iraq fighting for the empire by reading their names and rank, à la Ted Koppel. Also, reporting from the Social Forum in Brazil, Echeverría never mentioned that President Lula was booed during his speech by thousands who shouted "Traitor," and it was a thunderous shouting heard clearly on NPR. So, good riddance!
KPFA's politics can pass as progressive only in the Bay Area; anywhere else it's counterrevolutionary.
Leo West, San Leandro
Down with the junta
While I find it strange that a self-styled "alternative" weekly should describe someone as a "lefty agitator," were I that, which I'm not, I would be in fine historical company. What I do object to is that Will Harper, quoting from a comment of mine on Indymedia, refers to those behind the vendetta against Dennis Bernstein merely as "rivals" rather than how I more accurately described them, as "members of the long-entrenched KPFA junta -- the one that collaborated with Pat Scott during the purges of August 1995."
Also missing from Harper's piece was my even more telling comment, "that these same individuals within KPFA have done nothing to deal with the actual acts of violence and the threats of same that have taken place at the station, apparently because they have been committed by those who have attached themselves to this clique of collaborators." I guess that's what bottom feeding is all about.
Jeff Blankfort; co-founder, Save KPFA 1993 and Take Back KPFA 1995, San Francisco
"Casting Swine Before Pearl Jam," City of Warts, 6/1
(He) failed his homework
It would be nice if the author did his (or her) homework before writing the article. KPIG has been on the air for seventeen years, not twenty. Most importantly, he (or she) got the call letters of the station that will be carrying KPIG's programming wrong. They're KMZT, not KMRT. In these days of the Internet and Google, basic research is a no-brainer.
Dennis Gibson, Santa Barbara
The letter writer is correct on both points.
A Calendar item ("Rebel Rousers," 6/8) erroneously stated that the security wall Israel has under construction will annex roughly 47 percent of the West Bank. The route planned for the wall puts roughly 7 percent of West Bank land on the Israeli side, down from about 16 percent under the previous plan, according to prominent news outlets.
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