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‘Democracy Now!’ has the right idea, but lacks credibility 

Mark Phillips is a first-class organizer, and his motives are admirable, but his enthusiasm for “Democracy Now!� and KCBX’s decision to air it four days a week are misguided.

Together with “Counterspin,� “Radio Nation,� and “Alternative Radio,� “Democracy Now!� is part of a 6 1/2-hour block of public affairs programming on KCBX that is as myopic, biased, and predictable as the so-called corporate news media that Mr. Phillips complains about. His complaint is legitimate, but his solution is fundamentally flawed. These shows in general, and “D.N.� in particular, have perspectives that deserve consideration, but their positions are usually uncritical, cynical, and never subjected to debate. What undermines the credibility of these programs is not what they say but what they don’t say: the questions they don’t ask, the stories they ignore, and the opposing viewpoints they don’t air. How, then, are they different from the mainstream media?

If Mr. Phillips and KCBX want to provide real alternatives to the slanted news coverage and dubious ethics of the establishment media, then they can’t tolerate the same tactics from the opposite ideological pole. Instead, the real Renaissance in public affairs programming will come when outlets like KCBX air programs that give equal time to all perspectives — liberal, conservative, and undecided — and one-dimensional activism is superseded by informed debate.


Christopher Ferrantelli

San Luis Obispo

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