on April 2, 2004
Amy Goodman effectively expresses a rare and necessary voice in The Exception to the Rulers. Few, if any, journalists have so tirelessly investigated, analyzed and articulated to the public the innumerable, disheartening examples of failed policies of US power politicians and profiteers and the resulting dire consequences. This awesome work has the potential to slice through the media cloud that typically veils these people and issues for what they really are. Congratulations to the Goodman's, Pacifica and the Democracy Now team.
on April 29, 2004
If a reader has to choose one exposé book on the Bush Administration amongst those of Woodward, Clark, Dean, etc. the Goodman siblings is the one to select. One just needs to read the authors' logical argument on the Bush "oilopoly" to understand why especially in light of the alleged oil deal with the Saudis and the oily résumés of much of the leadership.
The Goodmans' analysis of the Iraq War ignores the pronounced ever changing root reasons for armed combat, but instead follows the money of who gained (via contracts); the authors make a powerful case that major Bush campaign donors are the winners while soldiers and their family members, and the American tax payer pay the price. Underlying this and other arguments is their basic tenet that professional gurus manipulate the media using incredible spins and leaks of "dis and misinformation" that Spielberg would envy, and the worst gimmick to date is the in your pocket access that rigs the journalist's feelings. Can one really say something negative about the troops who feed a reporter, keep them safe, and share stories about home? Though readers will wonder why Amy has not been declared an enemy combatant, this insightful cautionary tome condemns the loss of truth, justice and the American way of freedom under the pretext of spreading democracy to oil slicks.
The Founding Fathers of the United States, well-versed in the principles of Athenian democracy, understood the relationship between democratic government and an educated, informed electorate. To choose just one from among those distinguished framers and implementers of our Constitution, James Madison wrote: "A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy. A people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives them."
Amy Goodman, the tirelessly crusading host of radio and public access television's "Democracy Now!" program, brilliantly demonstrates in THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULERS just how far we have strayed from Madison's (and Jefferson's) ideals of an educated electorate. At a time when Americans have more news sources than ever - newspapers, magazines, radio, public television, cable television, books, 24-hour news channels, weblogs and Internet websites - we are less well-informed than ever. Rather, we are more ill-informed than ever, bathed every day in such news as the six major corporations who control over 75% of our media outlets choose to present.
As Ms. Goodman aptly illustrates, these six companies are not only motivated by profit, they pander to government officials to preserve their all-important access to even more government propaganda. Ms. Goodman identifies their collective failings as sins of both commission (one-sided reporting, willingly adopting the official government viewpoints, and allowing themselves to be co-opted through such techniques as embedded reporting) and omission (failing drastically to present alternative viewpoints). The end result is a dramatic failure to inform the populace. Parroting official government pronouncements, limiting access to public airways to those who represent or side with government, suppressing or trivializing dissent, fearing government retaliation for too-critical reporting, refusing to demand meaningful answers, kowtowing to business interests - what sounds like the press in Communist China is now what constitutes the mass news media in the United States. If this sounds exaggerated, read Chapter 10 of this book, entitled "Killing the Messengers;" George Orwell and Aldous Huxley were right.
EXCEPTION TO THE RULERS is a stunning indictment of modern news media. Amy Goodman offers numerous examples, ranging from the shameful, pre-war shilling of the New York Times's Judith Miller to the collective media failure to report on U.S. involvement in Indonesia's 15+-year genocide in East Timor. In addition to her own experiences in East Timor and with Bill Clinton and Sally Jesse Raphael, she describes the failings of post-9/11 reporting, the run-up to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Jessica Lynch propaganda fiasco, the death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal, domestic use of psyops (Psychological Operations) techniques during the current Iraq war, and Michael Powell's near-dismantling of the FCC's regulatory function. One quote alone from Mr. Powell is worth the price of this book: "The night I was sworn in, I waited for a visit from the angel of the public interest. I waited all night, but she did not come. And in fact, five months into this job, I still have had no divine awakening and no one has issued me my public interest crystal ball." Aside from its appalling, Brobdingnagian hubris, could any single comment speak more to the current Bush Administration's blatant disregard of democratic principles?
Still, this book is not a mere academic diatribe. What makes EXCEPTION TO THE RULERS so powerful is that Ms. Goodman speaks from firsthand knowledge - she risked her life in East Timor, she reported from the streets of Seattle during the 1999 WTO demonstrations, and she had the nerve to confront Tom Brokaw. Ms. Goodman is a model of journalism in its proper sense, as a search for truth and a stubborn insistence in asking the difficult questions. Her life is not the gleaming, pampered, high-profile, content-free, uncontroversial, corporate party line reporting of Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings, but the down-and-dirty work of a journalist seeking the other side of the story. Her approach characterizes the news media we idealize in a democratic society, yet sadly these voices are in danger of disappearing or being marginalized into irrelevance.
Where are the Jeffersons and the Madisons when we need them to remind us of the critical underpinnings of democratic government? Read this book and weep for what has been lost, and what more we are in danger of losing as the Amy Goodman's of the world are forced into steadily smaller corners.
on January 16, 2005
I try to listen to "Democracy Now" 4 days a week on the radio or watch on public access TV. It takes a bit of courage to listen because Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez can be counted on to tell the story that hasn't been told about people who have no voice and that can shake up my soul.
The "Exception to the Rulers" is most critical of the media, both written and over the airwaves and how they are all in the power and access game and play by the rules. Goodman, however, is fearless and takes advantage of any opportunity to stop power in its tracks with the deer in the headlights look and possibly answer a real question while their guard is down.
I learned to enjoy the anticipation of what Amy Goodman would ask as she described being handed opportunites to question Bill Clinton over the phone and appear on the Sally Jesse Raphael Show.
If you have noticed you haven't heard "Imagine" or "Peace Train" or "Bridge Over Troubled Water" on Clear Channel radio stations lately, there is a reason. (150 songs)
"Shortly after 9/11, filmmaker Michael Moore wrote about an e-mail he had received from a radio station manager in Michigan. The manager forwarded Moore a confidential memo from the radio conglomerate that owns his station: Clear Channel. 'The company, Moore wrote,'has ordered its stations not to play a list of 150 songs during this national emergency.....
Rah-rah war songs, though, are OK."... "And then there was this troubling instruction: No songs by Rage Against the Machine should be aired. The entire works of a band are banned? Is this the freedom we fight for? Or does this sound like one of those repressive dictatorships we are told is our new enemy?'"
That is just music, there is so much more we are not allowed to hear or see as we head into another 4 years. Shake off the fog and listen to, watch and read Amy Goodman as she uncovers the lies of the rulers and gives voice to the people.
on September 12, 2004
Don't let the title/cover fool you, it's not a book of clever political anecdotes. Exception to the Rulers is a downright academic look at what is really going on in our country and gives you clues as to what's been going on since you've been born.
This surprising book is probably the only thing capable of snapping us all out of the propaganda machine that I didn't even know existed by exposing all the mechanics of how our media interacts with the government.
What makes the book incredibly effective is how maticulously it was written. Amy makes shocking points but has the unique first hand experiences and references to create a rock solid text of reference. It's often difficult to read because it is so information laden.
I don't know if this book will forever change how you view the world like it did for me, but it is certainly capable of it. I strongly recommend this book to anyone living in the United States in particular. In a perfect world, this would be required reading in many schools because it is necessary for the public to be informed for true democracy to take place. Here is the knowledge that will unlock the real world. Here is the information that i've always been thirsty for.
on April 2, 2004
Amy Goodman, more than any other U.S. journalist, has had the opportunity to assess the situation in the world today. With her daily radio/TV/internet program she has interrogated key players, investigated tragedies, uncovered scandals and chased down whistle blowers. This overview is particularly timely-- an essential read for everyone interested in finding out what's REALLY going on.
on January 10, 2005
Amy Goodman is an award-winning journalist with Pacifica Radio, the only independent media network broadcasting in the USA. Her programme `Democracy Now!' is one of the most popular shows on American public radio, broadcast on hundreds of US stations, and beamed worldwide over satellite TV and the Internet ([...]
Her book exposes the corporate warmongers. She describes the US state's no-bid contracts for Iraq's wealth, in which Bechtel won $1 billion worth of work and Dick Cheney's Halliburton won $1.2 billion worth. Rupert Murdoch said of the war, "The greatest thing to come of this to the world economy, if you could put it that way, would be $US20 a barrel for oil."
Goodman describes embedded journalism as the war version of reality TV. The Ministry of Defence and the US Defense Department's Office of Strategic Influence both run high-intensity domestic `psyops' (psychological operations). US Army psyops officers even work in CNN and NPR news offices.
On 8 April 2003, US forces attacked the Baghdad offices of Abu Dhabi Television, Al Jazeera and Reuters, killing three journalists and wounding four. CNN commentator General Wesley Clark said, "It's a case of a very unfortunate accident of war. People were in the wrong place at the wrong time ... The United States wouldn't deliberately kill journalists." Three separate accidents? Three separate wrong places - their offices? And, yes, they would deliberately kill journalists: the Pentagon spokeswoman later told journalists, "You should not be there."
As Goodman observes, it's never the right time to oppose a war. Not before the war, because there's not going to be war since `our' government is sincerely negotiating to prevent war, so it is unnecessary and premature to talk of opposing the war. Not during the war, because that's disloyal, stabbing our boys in the back. And afterwards, it's too late to make a difference and, as Blair says, it should be left to the historians.
The ruling class always closes ranks for its wars: Labour allies with Conservative, Democrat with Republican. It's about time the working class closed ranks against capitalism and its wars.
on June 15, 2004
This is not the only book to emerge that exposes politicians, war profiteers, and the media, but it is the best in its genre. "The Exception to the Rulers" by Amy and David Goodman is written in an easy-to-read style. The book is interesting throughout, but the authors never cross the line into aggrandizement, which has been the unfortunate hallmark of similar books.
The authors seem down-to earth, not in this for fame or fortune. Their goal appears to be getting the message out, in order that change my come about. I make a point to write "the message" instead of "their message," because, for the most part, others have written on the topics in this book.
However, it is the Goodmans that make this information so accessible with their unassuming communicative style. I've now added "oiligarchy" and "No Child Left Unrecruited" to my vocabulary. It's worth the price of the book to read about these two subjects alone, but there is much more in store for the reader of "The Exception to the Rulers."
I highly recommend this book.
on April 17, 2004
Amy is not only well informed about the truth behind today's politicians, she is not afraid to write and speak about it.
This book is a must for everyone who wants to find out how the media is run in the US and also the special interests which are the wheels of the US government. This book should be required reading for all high schools and universities.
on September 14, 2004
If you read only one book about American politics, make it this one. Amy Goodman is one of the very few American reporters left who is actually a "journalist," that is, who has the courage to report the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Her accounts of Bush's war for profit in Iraq, his exploitation of 9/11 for political gain, his assault on the rights of Americans, and, most disturbingly, the promotion of these activities by the corporate-owned media, are so thoroughly documented and expertly researched that there can be no doubt about the true facts. Anyone who claims to care about the United States should read this book, particularly before the coming election!
Also highly recommended, of course, is Ms. Goodman's news broadcast, Democracy Now! TV and radio stations carrying this broadcast can be located at her website democracynow.org.
Finally, beware of reviews on this site that falsely belittle Ms. Goodman's courageous and skillful reporting. Obviously, the motivation for these reviews is less than impartial!
Thank you, Amy!