Democracy Now! May 8, 2003

Program Title:
Democracy Now! May 8, 2003
Series Title:
PRA Archive #: 

Hour 1: Looks like news, sounds like news but paid for by drug companies: Morley Safer of 60 Minutes introduced hundreds of fake news breaks broadcast on public television; CNN s Aaron Brown and CBS Walter Cronkite may back out after a news expose revealed the scheme; Global AIDS, TB and Malaria Fund facing massive shortfall in funding: the US has given $200 million out of a requested $3.5 billion per year Hour 2: Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz secretly create new Pentagon-based intelligence unit: Seymour Hersh examines the role the Office of Special Plans in the lead-up to invading Iraq; Harsh New York Rockefeller drug laws turn 30: Hip hop pioneer Russell Simmons & Anthony Papa who served 12 years for a first-time offense call for repeal of the laws; A look at how a single officer in Tulia Texas arrested 46 people on false, trumped-up drug charges: Falsely convicted suspects join us in the studio

8:00-8:01 Billboard 8:01-8:06 Headlines 8:06-8:07 One Minute Music Break 8:07-8:20: We re going to play you a video piece which has appeared on public television around the country. As we play it, try to decide if it sounds like a commercial, or more like news: <sum> Morley Safer, introducing an episode of the American Medical Review That s Morley Safer, standing on an elaborate news style set. But this well-known face of investigative journalism is not introducing yet another expose for his long-time news magazine 60 Minutes. Morley Safer is introducing one of hundreds of videos he has appeared in that promote drug and health care companies. Each video is between two and five minutes. They appear between regular programming on public television across the country. The company that produces them, WJMK in Boca Raton, Florida, calls them news breaks. And with a name like the American Medical Review and a host like Morley Safer, the programs could easily be mistaken for news advisories from the American Medical Association or a scientific journal. But The New York Times yesterday revealed that health care and drug companies pay some $15,000 to have their companies or products featured in the programs. In one of the videos Safer introduced, executives at a small drug company called Innapharma, promoted a new, experimental antidepressant. In the video, the company s president said "Patients rapidly get well and they stay well for months or years I've never seen anything that compares." But last month Innapharma filed for bankruptcy protection after the Food and Drug Administration ordered it to stop human trials of the drug because a study showed it was toxic in animals. A CBS spokesman told The New York Times this week that Safer had realized after beginning to work for WJMK that the job was not consistent with the network's standards, but that the company had continued to produce new videos using his taped introduction. To replace him, WJMK hired CNN s nighttime anchor, Aaron Brown and former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite. But the Times expose has caused an uproar. CNN and Aaron Brown have already pulled out and a source close to Walter Cronkite told the Times that Cronkite may notify WJMK as soon as today that he is also pulling out. WJMK dismantled its web site yesterday, which had been promoting the American Medical Review shows and hosts, in addition to similar shows like the American Business Review and the American Environmental Review . WJMK President Mark Kielar is still claiming the videos are educational and not promotional, according to the Times. Democracy Now! s calls to WJMK were not returned. <sum> Jeff Cronin, Spokesperson, Center for Science in the Public Interest <sum> Dr. Steven Haimowitz, is a co-founder of Healthology, Inc., and the company s President and CEO. For ten years, he served as a senior-level executive in leading international healthcare communications companies, developing and implementing many of the most successful and effective marketing and educational programs for clients from all sectors of the healthcare marketplace, including Fortune 100 pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, hospitals and health systems, managed care organizations, physician practice management companies, academic associations, and nutritional and consumer product companies. Contact: 8:20-8:21 One Minute Music Break 8:21-8:40 Looks like news, sounds like news, CONT D 8:40-8:41 One Minute Music Break 8:41-8:58: While the pharmaceutical industry has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising, lobbying, and political campaign contributions in the last few years, a new Congressional study has found that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is threatened by a lack of money. The study by the General Accounting Office reports the fund does not have enough money to fund more than a small number of programs. The director of the fund told a congressional committee yesterday it will to raise more than $1 billion very soon if it hopes to support all the worthy applications for grants it expects this year. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria was created by the United Nations and the G8 group of industrialized nations in 2001. AIDS, TB and malaria kill a total of 6 million people a year around the world. Over 5,000 people die of AIDS every day in Africa alone. 3,000 African children die every day of malaria. The fund had asked for $3.5 billion a year from the United States. The US gave $200 million last year and Bush's plan would add $200 million a year. <sum> Dr. Paul Zeitz, Executive Director, Global AIDS Alliance Links: <sum> Adrienne Germain, Executive Director, International Women s Health Organization Links: 8:58-8:59 Outro and Credits 9:00-9:01 Billboard 9:01-9:06 Headlines 9:06-9:07 One Minute Music Break 9:07-9:25: U.S. soldiers have uncovered a trailer in the northern Iraq town of Tall Kayf, which they believe could be a mobile weapons laboratory. But officials said more tests are needed before any conclusions could be reached. If the trailer turns out to be a weapons lab, it will be the first major piece of evidence to support U.S. allegations that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction. This comes as the Pentagon plans to send 2,100 more American experts to Iraq to search for weapons. Currently the U.S. has a force of 600 in Iraq. To date no biological or chemical weapons have been found raising some questions about the reliability of evidence provided to the government. In this week s New Yorker an explosive article by Seymor Hersh examines how much of the intelligence linking Iraq to weapons of mass destruction came from a little known department in the Pentagon called the Office of Special Plans. Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, under the guidance of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, the office began gathering intelligence on Iraq independent of the CIA or the Pentagon s own Defense Intelligence Agency. According to the New Yorker article the Pentagon s office became one of President Bush s main source of intelligence regarding Iraq s possible possession of weapons of mass destruction and connection with Al Qaeda. Well we are joined by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh to outline his story * Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter with The New Yorker. His latest piece is titled Offense and Defense: The Battle Between Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon. Link: Selective Intelligence: Donald Rumsfeld has his own special sources. Are they reliable? 9:20-9:21 One Minute Music Break 9:21-9:40: Three decades ago today, New York became the first state in the nation to require harsh prison sentences for all drug offenders. The new laws were pushed through the state legislature in 1973 by then-governor Nelson Rockefeller. The laws require a minimum sentence of 15 years for minor possession of drugs. Enforcement of the laws rarely hit drug kingpins. Instead, judges were forced to imprison mostly first-time, low-level, nonviolent drug offenders. Most of them are poor, most are people of color. Dozens of other states and the federal government rushed to adopt their own versions of the Rockefeller drug laws when New York State set the precedent. Today, New York and California alone retain their mandatory minimum sentences. The movement to scrap the laws is continuing to grow. Last year, former New York Senator John Dunne appeared in a TV commercial. He said: "In 1973, I sponsored the Rockefeller drug laws, which have been a well-documented failure." * Anthony Papa, was convicted of a first-time, non-violent drug possession charge in 1985 under the tough anti-drug laws signed by Governor Rockefeller which left the judge no choice but to impose a harsh prison sentence of 15 Years to Life. At the time, Papa, married with one daughter. Papa spent the next 12 years behind bars at Sing Sing prison. During that time, he earned degrees in behavioral science, theology and paralegal studies. He also learned to paint. Papa became an accomplished and acclaimed artist, painting a powerful collection of images relating to his prison experience. One of his pieces, "15 Years to Life," was exhibited at the Whitney Museum. Link:* Russell Simmons, the founder of Def Jam Records and one of the most successful recording executives, producer, promoters in the hip hop world. Last year he helped form the Hip-hop Summit Action Network. Phone: 347 219 2889 * Randy Credico, director of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice 9:40-9:41 One Minute Music Break 9:41-9:58: In the tiny town of Tulia, Texas in 1999, a single under-cover officer arrested 43 people arrested on charges of selling small amounts of cocaine. The officer had no corroborating evidence in the biggest drug sting in local history. Forty out of the 43 defendants were black. More than ten percent of the African-American community were arrested. In some cases, hometown juries later meted out sentences ranging from 20 years to more than 300 years. Local officials declared the operation a stunning success. 22 of the defendants were sent to prison while others received probation. The undercover agent at the center of the operation, Tom Coleman, was named by the state as lawman of the year. Last week, The Amarillo Globe-News reported defense attorneys have hammered out an agreement with special prosecutors and a judge. According to he agreement, the 13 people still in prison from the drug sting operation should be freed. The agreement is known legally as findings of fact and conclusions of law. A source close to the negotiations told the Amarillo News the agreement will now be sent on to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for a final decision. * Jeff Blackburn, Civil rights lawyer and head of the Tulia Legal Defense Project * Tanya White, falsely charged in Tulia Texas on drug charges. Charges were dropped because she was able to produce evidence showing she was in Oklahoma City at the time she was accused of selling drugs in Tulia * Zuri Bossett, falsely charged in Tulia Texas on drug charges 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits Democracy Now! is produced by Kris Abrams, Mike Burke, Angie Karran, Sharif Abdul Kouddous, Ana Nogueira, Elizabeth Press with help from Noah Reibel and Vilka Tzouras. Mike Di Filippo is our music maestro and engineer. Thanks also to Uri Galed, Angela Alston, Emily Kunstler, Orlando Richards, Simba Rousseau, Rafael delaUz, Gabriel Weiss, Johnny Sender, Rich Kim, Karen Ranucci, Fatima Mojadiddy, Denis Moynihan and Jenny Filipazzo.

Date Recorded on: 
May 8, 2003
Date Broadcast on: 
May 8, 2003
Item duration: 
118 min.
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WBAI; Amy Goodman, host., May 8, 2003
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