Goodman is Jewish, but not religious. Goodman was news director of Pacifica Radio station WBAI-FM in New York City for a decade when she co-founded Democracy Now! The War and Peace Report in 1996. Since then, Democracy Now! has been called "probably the most significant progressive news institution that has come around in some time" by professor and media critic Robert McChesney. In 2000, the show was temporarily pulled off the air, as a result of a conflict with a group of Pacifica Radio board members and Pacifica staff members and listeners. The self-appointed board members had pushed for the sale of either KPFA-FM in Berkeley or WBAI-FM in New York, but dedicated listeners eventually regained democratic control of Pacifica. Democracy Now! was permanently moved to a converted firehouse, from where it continues to broadcast today. Goodman credits the program's success to the mainstream newsmakers who leave "a huge niche" for Democracy Now! "It's just the basic tenets of good journalism that instead of this small circle of pundits, you talk to people who live at the target end of the policy," she said.
When the Bush Administration didn't find weapons of mass destruction, it "laid bare more than the Bush Administration, it laid bare media that act as a conveyer belt for the lies of the Administration." People knew that governments lie, but they didn't realize how the media lied. "So I think people started to seek out other forms of information". When President Bill Clinton called WBAI on Election Day, 2000, for a quick get-out-the-vote message, Goodman challenged him for 28 minutes with questions about Leonard Peltier, racial profiling, the Iraq sanctions, Ralph Nader, the death penalty and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Clinton defended Democratic policies against progressive criticism, but charged Goodman with being "hostile, combative, and even disrespectful". In 1991, covering the independence movement in East Timor, Goodman and fellow journalist Allan Nairn were badly beaten by Indonesian soldiers after they witnessed a mass killing of Timorese demonstrators in what became known as the Dili Massacre. She has speculated that the only thing that spared her the fate of the Australian-based journalists who were killed in East Timor in 1975 was an American passport; the United States was providing military support to the Indonesian army at the time.
The U.S. did not cut off military aid to Indonesia until 1993. In 1998, Goodman and journalist Jeremy Scahill documented Chevron Corporation's role in a confrontation between the Nigerian Army and villagers who had seized oil rigs and other equipment belonging to oil corporations. Two villagers were shot and killed during the standoff. On May 28, 1998 the company provided helicopter transport to the Nigerian Navy and notorious Mobile Police (MOPOL) to their Parabe oil platform which had been occupied by villagers who accused the company of contaminating their land.
Soon after landing, the Nigerian military shot and killed two of the protesters, Jola Ogungbeje and Aroleka Irowaninu, and wounded 11 others. Chevron spokesperson Sola Omole acknowledged that the company transported the troops, and that use of troops was at the request of Chevron's management. The documentary won the George Polk Award in 1998. Goodman has received dozens of awards for her work, including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and the George Polk Award.
In 2001, she declined to accept the Overseas Press Club Award, in protest of the group's pledge not to ask questions of keynote speaker Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and because the OPC was honouring Indonesia for their improved treatment of journalists despite the fact that they had recently beaten and killed reporters in occupied East Timor. In 2004 Goodman published her first book, a New York Times bestseller, The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them (ISBN 1-4013-0799-X), co-written with her brother, Mother Jones reporter David Goodman. Their second book, published in August 2006, is entitled, Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People who Fight Back (ISBN 1-4013-0293-9). She appeared on the Colbert Report on Thursday October 5, 2006 to promote the book. Goodman also writes a weekly column called "Breaking the Sound Barrier," for King Features Syndicate. In her first piece, released October 24, 2006, she wrote, "My column will include voices so often excluded, people whose views the media mostly ignore, issues they distort and even ridicule." In October 2007, viewers of Democracy Now noticed half of Goodman's face was paralyzed but were offered no immediate explanation. Since then, Amy Goodman has come forward and explained that she was struck with Bell's palsy.
According to Goodman, the symptoms are temporary. In 2006, Goodman narrated the film One Bright Shining Moment — The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern. Directed by Stephen Vittoria, the documentary chronicles the life and times of George McGovern, focusing on his 1972 bid for the presidency. The film features McGovern, Gloria Steinem, Gore Vidal, Warren Beatty, Howard Zinn, Ron Kovic, and Dick Gregory. The film won the Sarasota Film Festival's award for "Best Documentary Feature." Read more on Last.fm.
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