Democracy Now!

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For other uses, see Democracy Now (disambiguation).
Democracy Now!
Democracy Now! logo.svg
Genre News program, current affairs
Running time 60 minutes daily (M–F)
Country United States
Language(s) English
Syndicates Pacifica Radio
Host(s) Amy Goodman
(principal host)
Juan Gonzalez
(frequent co-host)
Producer(s) Mike Burke
Exec. producer(s) Amy Goodman
Recording studio New York City
Air dates since February 19, 1996; 20 years ago (1996-02-19)
Audio format Stereophonic sound
Opening theme "Need to Know" by Incognito
Ending theme "Kid You'll Move Mountains" by Manitoba
Podcast Audio

Democracy Now! is an hour-long American TV, radio and internet news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.[1] The show, which airs live each weekday at 08:00 ET, is broadcast on the internet and by nearly 1,400 radio and television stations worldwide.[2]

The program combines news reporting, interviews, investigative journalism and political commentary with an eye toward documenting social movements, struggles for justice and the effects of American foreign policy. While described as progressive by fans as well as critics, the show's executive producer rejects that label, calling the program a global newscast that has "people speaking for themselves."[1]

Democracy Now Productions, the independent nonprofit organization which produces Democracy Now!, is funded entirely through contributions from listeners, viewers, and foundations and does not accept advertisers, corporate underwriting or government funding.[3]


The show was located in the DCTV firehouse building (a converted firehouse) in New York City's Chinatown.

Democracy Now! was founded on February 19, 1996 at WBAI-FM in New York City by progressive journalists Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, Larry Bensky, Salim Muwakkil, and Julie Drizin.[4] It originally aired on five Pacifica Radio stations.[1] Goodman is the program's principal host, with Juan Gonzalez as frequent co-host.[3] Jeremy Scahill, an investigative reporter for The Nation, has been a frequent contributor since 1997.[1]

Democracy Now! began broadcasting on television every weekday shortly after September 11, 2001, and is the only public media in the U.S. that airs simultaneously on satellite and cable television, radio, and the internet.[5]

In June 2002, Democracy Now! separated from Pacifica Radio and became an independent nonprofit organization.


Democracy Now! began as a radio program broadcast from the studios of WBAI, a local Pacifica Radio station in New York City. In early September 2001, amid a months-long debate over the mission and management of Pacifica, Democracy Now! was forced out of the WBAI studios. Goodman brought the program to the Downtown Community Television Center located in a converted firehouse building in New York City's Chinatown, where the program began to be televised.[6][7] Only a few days later on September 11, 2001 Democracy Now! was the closest national broadcast to Ground Zero. On that day Goodman and colleagues continued reporting beyond their scheduled hourlong time slot in what became an eight-hour marathon broadcast. Following 9/11, in addition to radio and television, Democracy Now! expanded their multimedia reach to include cable, satellite radio, Internet, and podcasts.[6]

In November 2009, Democracy Now! left their broadcast studio in the converted DCTV firehouse, where they had broadcast for eight years.[7] The studio subsequently moved to a repurposed graphic arts building in the Chelsea District of Manhattan.[7] In 2010, the new 8500-square-foot[8] Democracy Now! studio became the first radio or television studio in the nation to receive LEED Platinum certification,[9][10] the highest rating awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council.


Democracy Now! is the flagship program of the Pacifica Radio network.[11] The television simulcast airs on public-access television stations; by satellite on Free Speech TV and Link TV, and free-to-air on C Band.[12] Democracy Now! is also available on the Internet as downloadable and streaming audio and video.[13] In total, nearly 1,400 television and radio stations broadcast Democracy Now! worldwide.[2]

Awards and reaction[edit]

I think it's probably the most significant progressive news institution that has come around in some time.

Robert W. McChesney, quoted in The Nation[14]

Democracy Now! and its staff have received several journalism awards, including the Gracie Award from American Women in Radio & Television;[15] the George Polk Award for its 1998 radio documentary Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria's Oil Dictatorship, on the Chevron Corporation and the deaths of two Nigerian villagers protesting an oil spill;[16] and Goodman with Allan Nairn won Robert F. Kennedy Memorial's First Prize in International Radio for their 1993 report, Massacre: The Story of East Timor which involved first-hand coverage of genocide during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor.[17]

On October 1, 2008, Goodman was named as a recipient of the 2008 Right Livelihood Award,[18] in connection with her years of work establishing Democracy Now!.

2008 Republican National Convention arrests[edit]

Three journalists with Democracy Now!—including principal host Amy Goodman, and news producers Nicole Salazar and Sharif Abdel Kouddous—were detained by police during their reporting on the 2008 Republican National Convention protests.[19] Salazar was filming as officers in full riot gear charged her area. As she yelled "Press!" she was knocked down and told to put her face in the ground while another officer dragged her backward by her leg across the pavement. The video footage of the incident was immediately posted on the Internet, leading to a large public outcry against her arrest. When a second producer, Kouddous, approached, he too was arrested, and charged with a felony. According to a press release by Democracy Now!, Goodman herself was arrested after confronting officers regarding the arrest of her colleagues. The officers had established a line of "crowd control," and ordered Goodman to move back. Goodman claims she was arrested after being pulled through the police line by an officer, and subsequently (as well as Kouddous) had her press credentials for the convention physically stripped from her by a secret service agent.[20] All were held on charges of "probable cause for riot."[21] A statement was later released by the city announcing that all "misdemeanor charges for presence at an unlawful assembly for journalists" would be dropped. The felony charges against Salazar and Kouddous were also dropped.[22]

Goodman, Salazar, and Kouddous subsequently filed a lawsuit against the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis as well as other defendants.[22] According to Baher Asmy of the Center for Constitutional Rights, "[a]ll three plaintiffs that are journalists with Democracy Now reached a final settlement with the city of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the United States Secret Service, that will resolve the claims that they had against them from unlawful and quite violent arrests." The settlement includes $100,000 in compensation and a promise of police training.[23]

Notable guests, interviews, and on-air debates[edit]

  • Alan Dershowitz and Norman G. Finkelstein – Finkelstein is a frequent guest. This was a much publicized debate about whether the Dershowitz book, The Case for Israel was plagiarized and inaccurate. Dershowitz has written that he agreed to appear on the show after being told he would debate Noam Chomsky, not Finkelstein.[24]
  • Mumia Abu-Jamal – In its first year, Democracy Now! was one of the first national programs to air radio commentaries from the controversial journalist and former Black Panther Party member, on death row in Pennsylvania for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer. The 1997 decision to air Abu-Jamal's commentaries caused Democracy Now! to lose twelve of its then 36 affiliates.[25]
  • Clinton Administration Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist Chris Hedges debated on the role of Bernie Sanders supporters after Hillary Clinton won the 2016 Democratic nomination for president of the United States. Reich encouraged progressives to unite the party behind Clinton (as Sanders had already endorsed her), while Hedges endorsed Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party of the United States, denouncing the "lesser of two evils" approach.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Stelter, Brian (October 23, 2011). "A Grass-Roots Newscast Gives a Voice to Struggles". The New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Democracy Now Stations". Democracy Now. Retrieved May 7, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "About Democracy Now". Democracy Now. Retrieved May 7, 2016. 
  4. ^ "The First Democracy Now! Show". Democracy Now!. Retrieved March 5, 2008. 
  5. ^ "History & Highlights". Democracy Now!. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Ratner, Lizzy (May 6, 2005). "Amy Goodman's 'Empire' How a prospective biochemist became a muckraker and champion of media reform". Retrieved July 23, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (November 13, 2009). "Farewell to the Firehouse: After 8 Years at Downtown Community Television Landmark, Democracy Now! Moves to New Home". Democracy Now!. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Democracy Now! Broadcast Studio Targeting LEED-CI Platinum at 207 West 25th Street". Green Buildings NYC. July 6, 2009. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  9. ^ Holland, Ben (August 2010). "Democracy Now! Goes Green". Rocky Mountain Institute. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  10. ^ "LEED Certification—Democracy Now!". Energy Resource Solutions. 2013. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  11. ^ "WBAI, New York – 99.5 FM Pacifica Radio – Democracy Now!". WBAI. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Satellite". Democracy Now!. Retrieved November 17, 2008. 
  13. ^ "Democracy Now! - Listen/Watch Today's Show". Democracy Now!. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 
  14. ^ Lizzy Ratner (May 23, 2005). "Amy Goodman's 'Empire'". The Nation. Retrieved October 23, 2011. Goodman herself lays the credit--or blame--for the program's success squarely at the well-rested feet of the mainstream newsmakers who, she said, leave "a huge niche" for Democracy Now! "They just mine this small circle of blowhards who know so little about so much. And yet 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," 
  15. ^ "Amy Goodman Wins Gracie Award from American Women in Radio & Television". King Features. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Long Island University Announces Winners of 1998 George Polk Awards" (Press release). Long Island University. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 
  17. ^ "25th Annual Awards – 1993". Robert F Kennedy Memorial. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved August 6, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Amy Goodman". Right Livelihood Award. 2008. Retrieved April 28, 2009. 
  19. ^ "Amy Goodman, Others Detained Outside RNC". The Nation. September 1, 2008. Retrieved September 2, 2008. 
  20. ^ "Democracy Now! Host and Producers Arrested At Republican Convention". The Washington Post. September 1, 2008. Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman arrested at RNC protest". Minnesota Public Radio. September 1, 2008. Retrieved September 2, 2008. 
  22. ^ a b Karnowski, Steve (May 5, 2010). "Journalists file lawsuit in GOP convention arrests". Salon. Associated Press. Retrieved August 6, 2011. 
  23. ^ Nelson, Tim (October 3, 2011). "Radio host wins settlement against Twin Cities police". Minnesota Public Radio. 
  24. ^ Alan Dershowitz (May 14, 2007). "Taking the Bait". The New Republic. Retrieved June 24, 2007. 
  25. ^ Marc Fisher (February 25, 1997). "Pacifica Stations Bolt Over Convicted Killer's Commentary". The Washington Post. 
  26. ^ "Who Should Bernie Voters Support Now? Robert Reich vs. Chris Hedges on Tackling the Neoliberal Order". 26 July 2016. Retrieved 5 August 2016. 

External links[edit]