Amy Goodman, the Bay Shore native who hosts the increasingly popular global independent news hour Democracy Now!, is returning to Long Island to discuss the demonization of the news media.
She will be on a panel called The New Normal in News: Ideology vs Fact that is part of the Hamptons Institute series at Guild Hall in East Hampton in August. The discussion will be moderated by actor Alec Baldwin, who was also raised on LI, has a home in Amagansett and has been impersonating President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live of late.
“I believe the media can be the greatest force for peace on Earth,” Goodman recently told the Fire Island News. “Instead, all too often it’s wielded as a weapon of war. And that’s why we have to take the media back.”
The panel comes amid national concern over the proliferation of fake news, a phenomenon in which websites posing as legitimate news organizations publish fictional stories that often go viral with the goal of profiting off ad revenue or misleading the public. Further confusing the issue, Trump, who called the media “the enemy of the American people,” has also used the term to refer to news organizations that run stories critical of his administration.
Gooodman has said her show, which was launched in Manhattan in 1996 and is broadcast on 1,400 stations nationally and worldwide, has been picked up by about a station a week. Last year, she released her new book, Democracy Now!: Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America.
She made news herself last fall when North Dakota authorities had a warrant issued for her arrest on riot charges after she and her team captured footage of attack dogs being used on Standing Rock Sioux tribe protestors rallying against the Dakota Access pipeline project that Native Americans say jeopardizes their drinking water and cuts through sacred grounds. The charges were later dropped.
“This is an unacceptable violation of freedom of the press,” Goodman said at the time the warrant was issued. “I was doing my job by covering pipeline guards unleashing dogs and pepper spray on Native American protesters.”
It wasn’t the first time Goodman faced charges while covering protests. She and her producers were arrested in 2008 while reporting on the rallies against the Republican National Convention in Minnesota. Those charges were also dropped and three years later, authorities agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from the arrests.
Worse still, before launching Democracy Now!, the Bay Shore High School graduate witnessed Indonesian soldiers massacre 250 people in East Timor, which is 300 miles above Australia. She and her colleague were beaten by soldiers but survived. They later released a documentary called Massacre: The Story of East Timor.
“That really taught me a lot,” she said. “The horror of seeing so many people gunned down…what I saw there, how important it was that we be there on the ground. That the Indonesian military would have denied that the massacre had taken place if they didn’t have to answer to Western journalists who had witnessed what had taken place.
“And also we had pictures,” she continued. “And how critical it is, especially coming from the most powerful country on Earth…that we reflect back what is done in our name in other parts of the world.”
Also appearing on the panel will be Bob Garfield, who hosts NPR’s On the Media, and Nicholas Lemann, who is the Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor of Journalism and Dean Emeritus of the Faculty of Journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Invited to speak were CNN President Jeff Zucker and Megyn Kelly, the NBC broadcaster formerly of Fox News.
The panel discussion will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21 at Guild Hall, which is located at 158 Main St. in East Hampton. Tickets cost $25. There will also be a post-event reception with Baldwin and the panelists held at Maidstone Hotel restaurant, which is located at 207 Main St. Tickets to the reception cost $500.