"The first casualty when it comes to war is truth." Hiram Johnson, a Republican senator, said that -- almost 90 years ago. Though no one would mistake Amy Goodman for a Republican (or a Democrat, for that matter), she couldn't agree more. Goodman's new book, The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers and the Media That Love Them, co-written with her brother David, throws a fact-forged monkey wrench into the war-propaganda machine.
Host of the national radio/television show Democracy Now! (on KDHX [90.7 FM] from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday), Goodman accuses the mainstream media of lying down with government dogs (hawks?) and getting up with fleas of deception, then spreading those lies to the American public.
"There's a reason the Pentagon has called the embedding process a 'spectacular success,'" Goodman tells the RFT. "It is working for them. They don't even need spokespeople when they have the press corps of this country.
"We have a media that is not only embedded in the frontlines of the troops but embedded in the government," she continues. "It's hard, often, to tell the difference. If you're going to have reporters on the frontlines of Iraq with the soldiers, it's important to have reporters embedded in Iraqi communities [and] embedded in the peace movement around the world to give the whole picture of the effects of war."
But with the deaths of so many American soldiers in Iraq in recent weeks, the media doesn't seem to be beating the war drum as loudly, right?
"It's not only the death toll we're looking at," Goodman contends, "it's also the number of casualties. More than 18,000 soldiers have been medically evacuated from Iraq for physical and psychological reasons. More than 11,700 soldiers [have been] wounded. We're not hearing these kinds of numbers, and we have to. This is the cost of war."
Don't think for a second that Exception is an audition for a job in politics. Among the "rulers" Goodman takes exception to are both George Bushes, Bill Clinton, oil companies and National Public Radio.
Unlike other public media outlets, Democracy Now! accepts neither corporate advertising nor donations, allowing Goodman and her co-host, Juan Gonzalez, to be truly independent, which Goodman says is critical now in what she describes as "an all-time low" for American journalism.
"I think there is an obsession with reality TV because people are tired of untrue media," Goodman suggests. "People are tired of fabrication. Well, we need some reality TV when it comes to war. We need to see the ugly, human face of war -- which is burned bodies, which is sheared-off limbs. And when we see that on both sides -- Iraqi babies and U.S. servicemen and -women -- I think war will be eradicated."
The Exception to the Rulers book tour arrives at the Sheldon Concert Hall at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 22 (3648 Washington Boulevard; 314-534-1111; $25 to $60); Southern Illinois University Carbondale hosts a free event at the First Unitarian Church on Friday, April 23 (8:30-10:30 a.m., 5007 Waterman Avenue; www.udc.org). Goodman will speak at both functions and Joy Ward of MoveOn.org and author Robert McChesney will join her at the Sheldon.