December 31, 1959|
The Bronx, New York City, U.S.
|Known for||Narco News|
Al Giordano (born December 31, 1959) is an American journalist, political commentator, and former anti-nuclear and environmental activist and organizer.
Early life and activism
He became involved in the antinuclear movement in New York State and New England at the age of 16, engaging in protests and demonstrations with the Clamshell Alliance and other groups, and founding and organizing the Rowe Nuclear Conversion Campaign, a group protesting the continued of the Yankee Rowe Nuclear Power Station in Rowe, Massachusetts. The plant was shut down in 1992.
Giordano met Abbie Hoffman in April 1981; they worked together frequently until Hoffman's death in 1989, collaborating on a number of campaigns, including the ultimately unsuccessful effort of the Del-AWARE environmental group to prevent the building of the Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania, pumping station on the Delaware River, with Giordano running a petition campaign to demand the referendum which was placed on the May 1983 ballot. He also worked on two John Kerry election campaigns, for lieutenant governor of Massachusetts in 1982 and for the US Senate in 1984.
From 1989 to 1993, Giordano was a staff reporter on the Franklin County, MA, Valley Advocate, based in their Springfield, MA, office. From 1993 to 1996, he worked as a political reporter on the Boston Phoenix and The Nation.
In 1997, Giordano spent four months in Chiapas, Mexico, intending to join the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. The rebels, however, insisted that Giordano could serve them best as a journalist. As a result, Giordano started his own online periodical, The Narco News Bulletin, which he launched in spring of 2000. The Narco News Bulletin's coverage of the War on Drugs included a "string of scoops" and led to the resignation of the Associated Press's Bolivia correspondent. Giordano manages the site from Mexico, where he currently lives.
In 2008, James Wolcott, citing a 2007 Giordano article for The Boston Phoenix, called Giordano the first journalist to “to grasp the portent of ... the Obama paradigm shift," where small donors and local activist groups enabled Obama’s campaign to outspend and outmaneuver Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.
Press privileges for online media
After having unsuccessfully filed a libel suit against Menéndez Rodríguez, Mexican journalist and founder and editor of the newspaper Por Esto!, in a Mexican court, Mexican bank Banco Nacional de México (Banamex) in 2000 filed a libel and slander suit in a New York court against Menéndez Rodríguez, Giordano and Narco News for having written articles claiming that the chief officer of Banamex was involved in drug trafficking and, specifically, the Colombian drug trade; that the bank had been created by drug money and that its officers were involved in money laundering. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) joined the case as Friends of the Court due to its importance for Internet-based media. The lawsuit "pitted the powerhouse New York firm Aiken Gump Hauer and Feld against Giordano's mostly volunteer lawyers", who included Martin Garbus and Tom Lesser, who had previously defended Hoffman and Amy Carter.
The case against Menéndez Rodríguez was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds, but in the case of Giordano and Narco News the court found that Narco News is a "media defendant entitled to heightenend protection under the First Amendment" to the US Constitution, that "Narco News, its website, and the writers who post information are entitled to all the first Amendment protections accorded a newspaper/magazine or journalist in defamation suits," and that "online journalism is the same as print, radio and TV news when it comes to free-press protections against charges of libel," the first decision to extend the press protections laid out in New York Times v Sullivan to online media."
According to attorney Bret Fausett, Giordano's "dogged legal defense of his online publication—a battle that the Electronic Frontier Foundation joined on his behalf—should have a long-lasting effect on bloggers and other online writers."
Support of Obama and opposition to Hillary Clinton in 2008
Opposition to Bernie Sanders and support of Hillary Clinton in 2016
Giordano, who was introduced to Vermont politics when he became involved in activism against twin nuclear plants in Vernon, Vermont and Rowe, Massachusetts, was an early supporter of Bernie Sanders when he ran for mayor of Burlington (1980), and for some years thereafter. Giordano lost enthusiasm in 1994, when Sanders refused to "align with" Barney Frank and other Democrats working together to oppose House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
During Democratic primaries for 2016 presidential election, Giordano's negative comments about Sanders in his Twitter feed and newsletter provoked some angry responses from supporters of Sanders. In June 2016, journalists Joy-Ann Reid, Noah Berlatsky, and others reported that Giordano planned to challenge independent Senator Bernie Sanders for his United States Senate seat from Vermont if Sanders failed to endorse Hillary Clinton at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Both Reid and Berlatsky regarded Giordano's decision as surprising, because of his leftwing politics and 2008 opposition to Hillary Clinton. 
Giordano told Reid and Berlatsky that he saw his candidacy as a way to defend the "Obama coalition" against supporters of Bernie Sanders. According to Berlatsky:
Giordano thinks Sanders has disrupted that critical progressive coalition. The Vermont senator "has a blind spot on racial justice issues," Giordano argues. He is "exploiting racial and gender divisions... in a way that harms the movement." For instance, Sanders' comments about the illegitimacy of the primary process, and dismissal of Clinton's victories in Southern states, which were fueled by black voters, have "poisoned the well," Giordano says, and made unity against the Republicans difficult.
According to Reid, Giordano told her, "For me this is not about Hillary Clinton, who has her strengths and she has her flaws...This is about a coalition that has saved the United States and can keep saving it, and this is what needs to be protected. And so maybe it’s time for the Obama coalition to go to Vermont.”
Later, however, Giordano said that he was battling cancer and so would not challenge Sanders for his seat.
Sexual harassment accusations
In 2018, several women came forward to accuse Giordano of sexual harassment. According to a report in The Boston Globe, there were multiple allegations that Giordano harassed and intimidated young women at his School of Authentic Journalism, an annual retreat for aspiring journalists and activists. Some former students and colleagues claim that Giordano "selected female applicants based on their appearance, encouraged them to drink alcohol, and propositioned them for sex. If they rejected him, he would 'excommunicate' them from the school community and accuse them of being spies." Giordano said that the allegations were inaccurate, adding that "We all experience events differently and have a right to our interpretation of them. If I have caused anybody pain for any reason, I apologize, even if we don’t agree on the truth or falsity of the claims.”
- Giordano, Al (May 16, 2016). "At Our 16th Anniversary Celebration We'll Watch Our Old Rival Donald Trump from the Other Side of His Wall". The Field. Narco News. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
- Udovitch, Mim (August 30, 2001). "Al Giordano" (876). Rolling Stone. p. 92.
- Jezer, Marty (1993). Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel. Rutgers University Press. p. 283. ISBN 9780813520179.
- Article "Nuclear Hearing Ends in Debate". Nashua Telegraph, Nashua, New Hampshire, Thursday, May 21, 1981, retrieved from https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2209&dat=19810521&id=OKkrAAAAIBAJ&sjid=IP0FAAAAIBAJ&pg=3469,4800912&hl=en
- Nuclear Power Plant Turns 20. Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, Florida,Nov 11, 1980. Retrieved from https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1755&dat=19801111&id=nq0cAAAAIBAJ&sjid=2WcEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6629,5488352&hl=en
- Diana B. Henriques, Nuclear Shutdown Funds Are Questioned, June 3, 1992, The New York Times, retrieved at https://www.nytimes.com/1992/06/03/business/company-news-nuclear-shutdown-funds-are-questioned.html
- Jezer, Marty (1993). Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel. Rutgers University Press. p. 284. ISBN 9780813520179.
- Jezer, Marty (1993). Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel. Rutgers University Press. pp. 282–283. ISBN 9780813520179.
- Jezer, Marty (1993). Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel. Rutgers University Press. p. 286. ISBN 9780813520179.
- Bucks Told To Complete Pump Project Judge Overrules Environmentalists. Hal Marcovitz, The Morning Call, January 4, 1985. Retrieved from http://articles.mcall.com/1985-01-04/news/2464157_1_water-project-public-water-suppliers-delaware-river
- "Bucks Plans To Sell Point Pleasant Pump". Kay Lazar and Larry King, June 16, 1995. Retrieved from http://articles.philly.com/1994-06-16/news/25832348_1_north-wales-water-authorities-jeremiah-j-cardamone-william-j-carlin
- "20 years later, protesters still think 'Dump the Pump'". Hal Marcovitz, The Morning Call, January 10, 2003. Retrieved from http://articles.mcall.com/2003-01-10/news/3460524_1_delaware-river-pump-bucks-county
- Paul Shoul, Sep 22, 2008, retrieved from http://blogs.gonomad.com/roundworldphoto/2008/09/al-giordano-valley-advocate-going-gonzo.html
Kennedy, Dan (April 25, 2000). "The Breakfast Table: Cynthia Cotts and Dan Kennedy". Slate. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
So let me plug a project by a mutual acquaintance of ours, my former Boston Phoenix colleague Al Giordano. Al has started an online newsletter called the Narco News Bulletin. Drawing in large part on the Mexican press, Al will focus on narco-politics in Latin America and on the United States' role in nurturing and perpetuating policies that are killing people on both sides of the border.
- "Al Giordano". April 2, 2010. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
- "Search - The Nation". www.thenation.com. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
- McKinley, Jesse (January 18, 1998). "La Causa: Zapatistas To the Forefront". The New York Times. New York City, New York. p. 5.
Mr. Nagel, 24, is one of dozens of downtown activists who have rallied around the Zapatista National Liberation Army, the rebel group that became prominent in the southern Mexican state Chiapas in early 1994 and has been pushing for land and more autonomy for indigenous Indians..."They're winning," said Al Giordano, a freelance journalist who lives on the Lower East Side and who spent four months in Chiapas last fall.
- Cheshes, Jay (November–December 2002). "A drug reporter's strange brew: Al Giordano's Narco News mixes rants and theories with the occasional scoop". Columbia Journalism Review. 41 (4): 62.
When he's not traveling, he spends most of his time parked in front of a laptop computer chain-smoking filterless cigarettes while answering e-mail, translating articles from the Spanish-language press, or composing endless diatribes denouncing what he considers the moral bankruptcy of the American drug war. Occasionally, Giordano files reports for the Phoenix or The Nation, but most of his writing is confined to the pages of the Web site he launched in the spring of 2000 after leaving Chiapas.
- Cheshes, Jay (November–December 2002). "A Drug Reporter's Strange Brew". Columbia Journalism Review. 41 (4): 63.
- Dodson, Sean (June 25, 2001). "Hacks Hit in Drug War". The Guardian. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
- @AlGiordano (2 June 2016). "@DunxMuro In Mexico for the past 19 years reporting for human rights & running the School of authenticjournalism.org - but I'm coming home!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Wolcott, James (December 31, 2008). "The Good, the Bad, and Joe Lieberman". Vanity Fair. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
The first to grasp the portent of what was taking shape was the prophet of the Obama paradigm shift, the journalist/activist/online editor/blogger Al Giordano, who, as a student of the teachings and tactics of community organizer Saul Alinsky .. divined the advantage that Obama’s small-donor base gave him against old-school juggernauts.
- Mark Shapiro, Drug War on Trial, September 6, 2001, http://www.thenation.com/article/drug-war-trial/
- Jeffrey St. Clair, Alexander Cockburn, Gary Webb: a Great Reporter. December 13, 2004, with reprint of Gary Webb's Counterpunch article, March 21, 2001, "Silencing the Messenger", retrieved at http://www.counterpunch.org/2004/12/13/gary-webb-a-great-reporter/
- Cheshes, Jay (November–December 2002). "A Drug Reporter's Strange Brew". Columbia Journalism Review. 41 (4): 64.
- Decision Supreme Court of the State of New York, Index No. 603429/00, Banco Nacional de Mexico, S.A, Plaintiff, against Mario Renato Menéndez Rodriguez, Al Giordano and the Narco News Bulletin, retrieved at http://www.internetlibrary.com/pdf/banco%20nacional.pdf
- Mark K. Anderson, Court: Online Scribes Protected, 12.11.01, retrieved from archive.wired.com http://archive.wired.com/politics/law/news/2001/12/48996?currentPage=all
- Martin Samson, Banco Nacional de Mexico, S.A. v. Menrendez-Rodgriguez, et al., retrieved from Internet Library of Law and Court Decisions http://www.internetlibrary.com/cases/lib_case28.cfm
- Bret A. Fausett, Legal Tools for the New Journalists, April 2002, retrieved from New Architect https://people.apache.org/~jim/NewArchitect/newarch/2002/04/new1015628442216/index.html
- James Wolcott (June 15, 2008). "When Democrats Go Post-AL". Vanity Fair. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
Al Giordano, whose blogging about the ground war on RuralVotes’ “The Field” was one of the sensations of the primary season, was even more curt.
Giordano, Al (October 9, 2007). "Obama's army: Win or lose, Barack Obama's small donors may have already brought a revolution in campaign financing". San Diego City Beat. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
Obama has not only out-raised the Clinton machine but also each of the Republican candidates. The era of supremacy by the well-heeled max-out donor is finally being chipped down to size, one small donation at a time. (For those wishing to do the math themselves, Opensecrets.org provides a wonderful online guide to following the money trail.) Win or lose, Obama-or, better said, his grassroots supporters-may have already brought a revolution in campaign financing that finally weans the process from it previous dependence on influence money.
"Al Giordano Collection: 1969-1996". U Mass Amherst. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
Living in Rowe, Mass., he became a successful grassroots organizer beginning with his work opposing the twin power plants Yankee Rowe and Vermont Yankee, which straddled the Vermont border.
- Clauss, Kyle Scott (June 8, 2016). "Former Boston Phoenix Reporter Wants to Take Bernie Sanders' Senate Seat". Boston Magazine. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
To prepare for 2018, Giordano says he’ll set up an “organizing academy in Vermont so that people can finally get the training that the Sanders campaign wouldn’t give them.” He’ll seek small donations just as Sanders and President Obama did. He’ll conduct a listening tour. And he won’t be afraid to work with Democrats, whose party, Giordano argues, is being needlessly split in twain by Sanders’ camp.
Higgins, Eoin (December 6, 2016). "Al Giordano's Enemies List". Paste Magazine. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
This is the core group of “Alt-left,” “Bernie Bro,” “dirtbag left,” Intercept, Jacobin, Bruenig boys, whatever name they go by.
- Joy-Ann Reid (June 6, 2016). "Meet Al Giordano, the Man Who Wants to Take Bernie Down". The Daily Beast. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
Giordano says the one thing that would stop him from running would be if Sanders changes his tone and makes a serious effort at unifying the party and bringing his supporters around in time for the Democratic National Convention.
- Noah Berlatsky (June 9, 2016). "Could this political gadfly steal Bernie Sanders' Senate seat?". TheWeek. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
Giordano, a 56-year-old journalist and organizer, began his career working against nuclear power plants in New England, then worked with Abby Hoffman through the 1980s. He wrote for The Nation in the 1990s, before leaving the U.S. to report on the Zapatistas in Mexico and on the ravages of the drug war. In 2008, Giordano was a vocal and animated supporter of Barack Obama — and an impassioned critic of Hillary Clinton. It wouldn't be crazy to suspect he has a "Feel the Bern" tattoo.
- Kelly, Ray (June 6, 2016). "Former Valley Advocate writer, radio host Al Giordano mulls bid to unseat Bernie Sanders". Masslive.com. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
- Giordano, Al (April 18, 2018) “@algiordano: I have said many times I am not a candidate for office. I am fighting cancer. Please make room for someone else to run by not mentioning me." Twitter.com
- Levenson, Michael (2018-05-10). "Former Boston journalist accused of harassment at program in Mexico". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2018-05-10.