Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman brings 100th-birthday greetings for Frances Crowe

  • Amy Goodman, left, host of Democracy Now!, interviews Northampton activist Frances Crowe, Thursday, at John M. Greene Hall. STAFF PHOTO/BERA DUNAU

Staff Writer
Published: 3/22/2019 12:18:04 AM

NORTHAMPTON — The mutual admiration between independent journalist Amy Goodman and activist Frances Crowe was palpable, as Goodman interviewed Crowe in front of an audience of hundreds at John M. Greene Hall on Thursday evening.

“I can’t think of another place that I’d rather be, or another woman that I’d rather be with right now,” said Goodman. “Happy birthday, Frances!”

Goodman headlined the program, “Amy Goodman Celebrates Frances Crowe,” which was put on in honor of Crowe’s 100th birthday and sponsored by the Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s History, which has a collection of Crowe’s papers.

Crowe noted that Goodman would be broadcasting from New York City at 8 a.m. the next day.

“I really appreciate you coming,” she said.

But Goodman looked anything but put upon.

“I’ll be so much more inspired. I cannot wait,” she said.

Goodman helped found the acclaimed independent television and radio news program Democracy Now! in 1996, and she remains its host to this day. But even before her tenure at Democracy Now! she enjoyed a storied career, including award-winning coverage of a 1991 massacre in East Timor by Indonesian soldiers that got her and fellow journalist Allan Nairn badly beaten in the course of their reporting.

Crowe, who turned 100 this month, is known worldwide for her activism against war and nuclear weapons. She’s also a longtime fan of Democracy Now!, even going so far as to have pirate broadcasts of the program from her backyard, and at Thursday’s event she proudly wore a Democracy Now! T-shirt.

Rounds of applause were offered to Crowe, as was a rendition of “Happy Birthday,” led by Goodman.

In her talk, Goodman spoke about the importance of independent media, highlighting the example of Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett, whose dispatch from the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima included the words, “I write these facts as dispassionately as I can in the hope that they will act as a warning to the world.”

Goodman contrasted Burchett’s work with Pulitzer Prize-winning science reporter William Laurence, who witnessed the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and who produced reporting disputing the existence of radiation sickness.

Goodman also spoke about the massacre of 50 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, and contrasted the leadership of U.S. President Donald Trump with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“Jacinda Ardern shows Trump what leadership looks like,” she said.

Goodman also criticized Trump for his handling of the aftermath of the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 24-year-old Samya Stumo of Sheffield. The plane that crashed was a Boeing 737 Max 8, and Goodman said those planes have software flaws that make then dangerous to fly, and that the United States was the last to ground the planes. Goodman also said the administration has a cozy relationship with Boeing, which she referred to as “Trump’s ally.”

“Donald Trump has publicly praised Boeing hundreds of times in his two years in office, and participated in efforts to sell its planes,” she said.

In another local connection, Goodman praised the sit-in at the president’s office at Hampshire College by students.

‘We had to call their bluff’

Goodman also spoke about her reporting from the Standing Rock protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, including when dogs were unleashed on the protesters.

“We filmed a dog with its nose and mouth dripping with blood,” said Goodman.

Goodman’s reporting resulted in her facing a charge of inciting a riot.

“What are they talking about?” said Goodman, sharing her reaction.

At the same time, she said she went to North Dakota to fight the charge because she felt that it was an attempt to intimidate journalists, and she needed to stand up for journalists without resources or institutional backing.

“They shouldn’t have to feel that they’re going to get a record when they put things on the record,” she said. “We had to call their bluff.”

Goodman also said the criminal charges brought significant public attention, and the judge decided to not go forward with the case against her and with the cases against many of the Native American protesters. She credited the spotlight of the media for this result.

“This is the kind of reality TV we must all support,” she said. “This is the kind of media that will save us.”

When interviewed by Goodman, Crowe shared organizing advice for those present.

“I urge you not to work alone,” said Crowe. “Look around and find people who agree with you and, together, build your own little movement.”

After the event, Crowe seemed particularly pleased with how it had gone, saying it was a “great evening.”

“Amy is so good,” she said. “I hope everybody listens to Democracy Now! That’s the beginning.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at


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