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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  April 3, 2018 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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04/03/18 04/03/18 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> this is extremely dangerous to our democracy. >> this is extremely dangerous to our democracy. >> this is extremely dangerous to our democracy. amy: is this the sound of trump tv? the right-wing tv network sinclair is facing criticism after it required dozens of local tv stations to recite nearly identical "must read" commentaries warning of the dangers of fake news in language that echoed president trump's rhetoric. after video went viral showing sinclair anchors across the
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country reading from the same script, the president tweeted his support for sinclair while attacking what he called the fake news networks. will the trump administration soon allow sinclair to expand its media empire? we will get the latest. than 50 years ago, dr. martin luther king, jr. gave his last sermon. >> and i have seen the promised land. i may not get there with you, but i want you to know that we as a people will get to the promised land. amy: less than 24 hours after giving the speech, dr. martin luther king was gunned down in memphis. we will speak to the reverend james lawson, who king praised in the final speech. >> i want to commend the preacher under the leadership of these noble men, james lawson, one who has been in this
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struggle for many years, has been to jail struggling, has been kicked out of venerable university, but he is still going on fighting for the rights of his people. amy: plus, we will speak to historian michael honey, author of the new book "to the promised land: martin luther king and the fight for economic justice." all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the environmental protection agency said monday it will radically weaken fuel efficiency and emissions standards on u.s. automobiles, setting up a clash with states that impose tougher regulations in a bid to curb catastrophic climate change. environment protection agency had scott pruitt changes will ,oll back obama-era rules
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including a requirement that u.s. cars average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025. pruitt has also signal he will try to force california and other states to comply with the weekend admission standards. this comes as a study published in the journal nature geoscience found that warm ocean water is melting antarctica's ice sheets from below, contributing to sea level rise. most is in west antarctica where more than 20% of the ice sheet has retreated across the sea floor. the study cited satellite data that show more than 10% of the continent's glaciers are in retreat, as opposed to less than 2% of glaciers that are growing. if all of antarctica's ice melted, worldwide sea levels would rise by about 200 feet. in mexico, immigration authorities say they're planning to disband a caravan of more than a thousand central american migrants who are bound for the u.s.-mexico border amid a series
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of threats by president trump against the migrants. in an early morning tweet today, president trump wrote -- "the big caravan of people from honduras, now coming across mexico and heading to our 'weak laws' border, had better be stopped before it gets there." trump's tweet followed a flurry of threats on easter sunday to tear up the north american free trade agreement unless mexico agree to join his crackdown on immigration. on monday, mexico's national institute of immigration told buzzfeed it will allow some migrants, including pregnant women and people with disabilities to remain, while others will be allowed to apply for humanitarian visas. this is georgina garibo, coordinator of the group pueblo -- people without borders. >> migrants should not be abandoned because of some tweets. it is very characteristic of trump.wan i think this is one of those
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cases creating a xenophobic, racist wave against the people of central america and mexico. amy: president trump has tweeted about immigration 10 times in the past 48 hours, demanding funds for an expanded border wall, and declaring the daca program for young immigrants dead. the tweets came after trump and his fiercely anti-immigrant senior adviser stephen miller spent much of the weekend at trump's mar-a-lago resort in florida, speaking with fox news hosts jeanine pirro and sean hannity, along with former fox news executive bill shine. all of them are hawks on immigration. meanwhile, "the wall street journal" reports the justice department has ordered immigration judges to speed up deportation hearings and will evaluate their job performance based on how quickly they close their cases. the quotas mean that beginning october 1, judges will be expected to complete at least 700 cases a year. in oklahoma, tens of thousands of teachers and school staffers
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rallied at the state capitol monday as they began a strike. oklahoma's public education budget has been slashed more than any other state since the start of the recession in 2008, and its teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation. teachers, thousands of rallied in frankfurt, kentucky, monday in a similar protest demanding a reversal to a provision in a recently passed bill about sewage treatment that guided their pension benefit. the teachers feel the rotunda of the kentucky state capitol chanting "fund our schools." >> fund our schools! fund our schools1 ! rally forere today to our schools, to rally for our public service. in oklahoma, some school
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district only open four days a week because they cannot afford the fifth day and teachers use that they to work second and third jobs. on wall street, stock prices tumbled tumbled on monday amid fears of a growing trade war brought on by president trump's imposition of tariffs on aluminum, steel, and chinese products. the dow jones index fell by more than 450 points, bringing its losses from a high in january to more than 10%, in what economists call a correction. meanwhile, shares of amazon fell by more than 5% after trump attacked amazon on twitter, writing -- "only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing post office makes money with amazon. they lose a fortune, and this will be changed." trump has targeted amazon because its owner, centi-billionaire jeff bezos, also owns "the washington post," which trump has repeatedly accused of publishing fake news
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about his presidency. meanwhile, president trump turned to twitter monday to defend sinclair broadcast group after the right-wing media conglomerate ordered news s at -- news anchors at scores of its affiliate stations to recite nearly identical "must read" commentaries warning of the dangers of fake news in language that echoed president trump's rhetoric. the commentaries reached millions of viewers last month and drew widespread attention after the website deadspin published a video showing side-by-side comparisons of the broadcasts from 45 sinclair-owned stations. >> the sharing of bias -- >> falsities has become all too common on social media. >> this is extremely dangerous
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to our democracy. amy: after the video went viral and drew coverage on tv news networks, president trump tweeted his support for sinclair. it came as the justice department and the fcc are reviewing sinclair's $3.9 billion bid to buy tribune media -- a deal that would see it add dozens of stations to its more than 170 local tv outlets across the united states. after headlines, we'll go to washington and speak with mother jones reporter andy kroll about the rise of sinclair broadcast group. in syria, armed fighters from the city of douma in the damascus suburb of eastern ghouta boarded buses bound for one of the last rebel-held enclaves in syria under a russia-brokered evacuation deal that will see them relocated to the country's northwest. the deal came as the u.n. warned of an immense humanitarian crisis in the region, saying 130,000 people have fled eastern
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ghouta in the month-and-a-half since syria's government launched its offensive. in yemen, back-to-back airstrikes from a saudi-led military coalition tore through a residential neighborhood in the coastal city of hodeidah on monday, killing 12 civilians , including seven children. this is mohamed al-helleisy, who was injured in the attack. down and thetting planes were flying above us. as soon as i decided to go to sleep, a rocket hit us. i only gained consciousness when the whole building was collapsing on us. i started digging and break my leg in the process. then the second rocket hit us. amy: more than 15,000 people have died since the saudi invasion in 2015, while u.s.-backed saudi-led airstrikes have devastated yemen's health, water, and sanitation systems, sparking a massive cholera outbreak with a million people now suffering from cholera and
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pushing millions of yemenis to the brink of starvation. in afghanistan, afghan military aircraft bombed a religious gathering in the northern province of kunduz monday, killing at least 70 people and wounding 30 others. the airstrikes, as about 1000 people have gathered at a graduation ceremony for students at a madrassa, or religious school. a spokesman for the afghan defense ministry defended the attack, saying it killed 21 "terrorists." but eyewitnesses said the assault killed only civilians. this is abdul fatah, a relative of one of the airstrike's victims. >> all of those killed were children. children and civilians have been targeted. no television were among those killed in the incident. -- no television were among those killed in the incident. amy: egypt has formally declared authoritarian president abdel fattah el-sisi the winner of last week's election with 97% of votes, which observers have blasted as a sham and a farce. turnout was only about 40%. sisi's government allowed only one other candidate to run, an ardent sisi supporter, while other candidates were
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disqualified or arrested. one leading opposition figure, abdel moneim aboul fotouh, was carjacked and beaten on a cairo street in january ahead of the election. on monday, the white house said president trump called president sisi to congratulate him on his victory. human rights groups say that since sisi came to power in a 2013 coup, his government has arrested 60,000 activists, deployed systematic torture, and tried thousands of civilians in military courts, while handing down hundreds of death sentences. in the philippines, thousands of residents of marawi have been allowed to search through the ruins of their former homes after the government granted them short-term access to the area for the first time since the government declared victory last october in its months-long battle to dislodge isis-allied militants in the southern city. the fighting laid waste to much of the southern city and killed nearly 1200 people. this is marawi resident zaman amron speaking from the ruins of her home.
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>> i am speechless. we have lost everything. we lost our furniture. everything. nothing was spared, not even our pots and pans. amy: the philippines government carried out last year's assault with the full support of the trump administration, as the pentagon provided military training, aerial surveillance , and electronic eavesdropping to philippines forces. in south africa, long-time anti-apartheid activist winnie madikizela-mandela died monday in johannesburg at the age of 81. mandela, under apartheid, she was jailed repeatedly by the minority-white government and survive torture and nearly 500 days in solitary confinement. married nelson mandela and the pair remained married for 38 years, even as it appeared nelson mandela would never be released fr prison following his arrest in 19. this is nnieande speing in 196
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in 1986. we could have killed them in a day we wanted to. amy: winnie mandela was known widely by south africans as the mother of the nation, but became a controversial figure in later years. in 2003, she was convicted of dozens of counts of bank fraud and theft and sentenced to a five-year jail term. in 2010, she publicly criticized her ex-husband, saying nelson mandela's deal to end apartheid had preserved the economic subjugation of the country's black majority. and in bellevue, washington, environmental activists joined members of the puyallup tribe as they erected a replica of a traditional longhouse at the main entrance of puget sound energy's headquarters in a protest against the company's construction of a liquefied natural gas facility on puget sound. a pair of protesters locked themselves to the structure in an attempt to blockade the building.
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the activists say pse has nearly completed construction of its $300 million gas plant, even though it hasn't acquired all the necessary permits. the site is directly adjacent to the puyallup tribe's reservation, and residents say an lng plant would threaten the safety of their community and would contribute to air pollution and climate change. among the protesters were benita moore and her son marshall stafford. both are standing rock sioux tribal members who grew up in washington state. >> even though the puget sound clean air agency gave them a notice of violation for building without permits, they finished the project. i mean, it is almost finished. so now we are like, no, it is not going to happen. >> they are working treaty rights -- breaking treaty rights. they are polluting our waters. i am here for my child and my daughter from the little girl out here running around. she is what matters most.
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i'm doing a for her and her children and her children's children. amy: and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. juan: and i'm juan gonzalez. welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. we begin today's show looking at sinclair broadcast group. while it's not a household name, sinclair is one of the most powerful tv companies in the nation. it owns 173 local tv stations across the country, including affiliates of all the major network. and it's attempting to grow even larger by purchasing tribune media, a $3.9 billion deal currently under regulatory review. sinclair has been widely criticized for its close ties to the white house. it's chairman and former ceo david smith is active in republican politics and supported donald trump's campaign. the networks chief political analyst boris epstein's earned -- served as senior adviser determines residential campaign.
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during the toy presidential 16 campaign, sinclair reportedly struck a deal with the trump campaign to give it better media coverage. amy: well, sinclair is coming under new criticism this week after it ordered news anchors at scores of its affiliate stations to recite nearly identical "must read" commentaries warning of the dangers of fake news in language that echoed president trump's rhetoric. the commentaries reached millions of viewers last month and drew widespread attention after the website deadspin published a video over the weekend showing side-by-side comparisons of the broadcasts from 45 sinclair-owned stations. >> hi, i am jessica headley. >> our greatest responsibility is to serve our -- >> eastern our community -- crowd -- xtremely crowd
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>> plaguing our country. >> become all too common on social media. more alarming, some media outlets published the same fake stories without checking facts first. >> the sharing of biased -- >> falsities has become all too common on social media -- >> more alarming -- >> without checking facts first -- >> enforcement, some members of the media -- bias and agenda. >> this is extremely dangerous to our democracy. >> this is extremely dangerous to our democracy. >> this is extremely dangerous to our democracy. >> this is extremely dangerous to our democracy. >> this is extremely dangerous to our democracy. >> this is extremely dangerous to our democracy. >> this is extremely dangerous
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to our democracy. >> this is extremely dangerous to our democracy. >> this is extremely dangerous to our democracy. >> this is extremely dangerous to our democracy. >> this is extremely dangerous to our democracy. >> this is extremely dangerous to our democracy. >> this is extremely dangerous to our democracy. juan: after that video of clips from sinclair broadcast group went viral, president trump publicly defended the network. the president tweeted monday -- sinclair has defended its decision forced dozens of anchors to read the same script. the company described it as "corporate news journalistic
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responsibility promotional campaign." amy: joining us is andy kroll, senior reporter at mother jones magazine where he has written extensively about sinclair broadcast group. his latest piece is headlined, "trump tweets that sinclair "is far superior to cnn." in december, he wrote a long piece headlined "ready for trump tv? inside sink was broadcasting to take over your local news." andy kroll, what if you start off by talking about the significant of this commentary that local reporters carino, people in their communities who are well known across the country whose stations were often independently owned, now altogether under sinclair broadcasting, being forced to ts means and what is happening with sinclair right now. >> absolutely. as you saw in that video, the
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scripts, the way in which this language is a genetically red and the anchors were forced to read these scripts word for word is chilling, creepy. these videos have been described by some people as hostage videos. if you look at the anchors in these clips. therefore thing to understand about sinclair is it is not like fox news and how it is organized. notoriousobviously for its support for this president, is a channel on your cable box. you know where it is. if you want to watch fox news, you change the channel and you you get a fox4/7 sinclair is a different creature. the name sinclair does not appear on the channels that we are talking about when someone
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in fresno,or someone california, or someone in kalamazoo, michigan, turns on a sinclair channel, a sinclair affiliate in their hometown. they do not see the name sinclair broadcast group. they see the four letters and the familiar faces of the local news. so this message about false stories that we heard in this anchor clip you played, the message about members of the media trying to control "exactly -- referringk" reviewe to the viewer, these types of messages are essentially laundered through local anchors whose job it is to build up trust with their audiences, who are familiar, friendly faces. that is what makes this void by sinclair so chilling. so terrifying is that it is not coming from some obscure corporate executive that we don't know -- though sinclair
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has done that as well. it is coming from the anchors are being used as foot soldiers, as one person put it. juan: we hear president trump talking about sinclair being for superior to cnn. havely, many people criticisms of cnn, but one thing the network does do is it provides its own original recording. as you are saying, many of these sinclair local stations, usually they can be affiliates of one of the other networks -- abc, cbs, or nbc. but they do their local news, obviously. but didn't sinclair plan near eris whole idea -- pione local broadcast three could be getting her local news and x town but can be produced 100 miles away by another regional center operation that is
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basically mass-producing "local news" >> that's right. sinclair with his local model is known in the broadcast business really for being ruthless about cutting costs, ruthless about consolidation, and finding ways to eliminate staff to obviously bring in or revenue in more profits and increase its stock price. so what we have seen with sinclair in recent years is an effort to outsource parts of the local television production and delivery process to try to save money. we have seen this, in fact, in the midwest region, in toledo and parts of pennsylvania we saw the anchors for those local, supposedly local television stations owned by sinclair, actually that process be outsourced to south bend, indiana. so you had two acres working out of south bend, indiana who were
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appearing on a local ohio television program and a local pennsylvania program. if you look online as i've reported in the past, there are examples when these anchors and the programs they have run have actually confused which -- the name of the station and whether it is the toledo station or a different station. there has been confusion going from the local meteorologist back to the regional outsourced anchor desk. it does not seem to be a model that has worked particularly well, at least in the actual delivery and quality of the broadcast. however, i am told by people who are familiar with sinclair's plans for its big expansion, even before the tribune deal, that this kind of model is something that is being looked at, this outsourcing of parts of news production process, taking anchors out of the local community -- this is something being looked at in other media
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markets as well. amy: i want to turn to john oliver talking about sinclair broadcast group last week. >> perhaps the most troubling thing of all is that sinclair has a daily must run segment called the terrorism alert desk. that is right. they report on terrorism every single day, whether there is something major to report on or not. which means sometimes the updates contain things like this -- >> the company in charge for the security for wimbledon security terrorist apply for a job. he just filled out an online application. in isis flag was found in new hampshire. it was taken down and police are looking at put it there. -- and please are looking at who put it there. alerts, myr grandmother heard a loud noise. iran still exists. amy: there you have john oliver.
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could talk if you about this and if you could talk about who owns sinclair broadcasting, with the cases before the fcc, and how this devouring of local stations around the country is different from other media consolidations. >> sure, well, the john oliver segment, the pieces he highlighted, daily terrorism alert desk which often seems bits frankly, islamaphobic of news, this is something that is a sinclair trademark. they call these in the business "must run" segments. another particularly egregious example of this is called "bottom line with boris." trumpepshteyn, a former campaign official in a former trump white house aide reedley who last year was hired to be sinclair's to political analyst. are required to be run every day and they are
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shamelessly pro-trump, basically, whatever that president is doing at that time the taxit is tariffs, bill, whether it is opposing daca. juan: i want to run a clip from segments in which he suggests the high turnover rate in the trump administration is that necessarily a bad thing. >> president trump continues to reshape his a administration. in the past few weeks, the president has announced a new secretary of state, ca director, economic advisor, national security advisor, and secretary of veterans affairs. more changes are always possible. so why all of the turnover? the president deserves to have staff around him who support his agenda and are doing a good job. the president is here to get results and not to coddle staff or cabinet members. keeping our country on the path
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of success, on the economy and national security. amy: that was boris epshteyn's must run commentaries that appear on the stations sinclair. your response? >> if your viewers heard that and are shaking her head thinking, what possible value there could be in that commentary, do you even call it a commentary? isryone of boris's clips like that whether it is on personnel or issues. the baltimore sun television segments areboris' the closest thing to propaganda i have seen in 30 years or 40 years of watching television." that tells you all you need to know. in terms of the ownership of sinclair broadcast group and its plans for expansion, you have four brothers who are the controlling members of sinclair -- one of them, david smith, the executive chairman and former ceo, he is the controlling figure at the top of this
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company, longtime supporter of republicans. he is also given to democrats when it has helped sinclair's bottom line as well. longtime supporter of republicans, highroller in the republican donor world if you way, the of it that top echelon. his goal, as he is a publicly for decades, is domination of the local media business, gobbling up competitor companies . in this recent effort to way, te top echelon. his goal, as he is a acquire tribune media them is very much -- if this deal is approved by the fcc, trump's fcc, this would be the crowning moment for david smith's efforts to take over local news. this would give him stations in the three biggest media markets in america, the big markets that have alluded sinclair of to this point. that would be wpix in your, los angeles, and one of the biggest to listen stations, the bgn in chicago as well, famous
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institution. this would really seal sinclair's takeover of local news. and by all indications, this fcc has rolled out the red carpet with a series of deregulation in the past year to help sinclair. it is hard to see unless there's a public outcry, unless we learn more about sinclair's plan, why the fcc would intervene in this tribune media merger. and ago this comes as the third week of the trial between the justice department and at&t kicked off monday. the justice department seeking to block a proposed $85 billion merger between at&t and time warner in one of the biggest antitrust lawsuits in decades. on many media critics have welcome the lawsuit as a blow against consolidation, they also blew the case is politically motivated as president trump has spent months threatening and disparaging cnn, which is owned by time warner. but what is the difference in this kind of consolidation,?
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>> the differences you ever corporate megamerger with at&t and time warner. honestly, their competition issues -- obviously, there are, edition issues there. sinclair, whatd is really at stake here is local news and diversity and local news and strong financially supportive local news. in sinclair's past efforts to cut costs, to keep costs down, to consolidate when possible. the indication in this tribune media deal goes through, this could be a huge blow to local media, to the kind of journalism that even in the age of facebook and twitter and google, a huge percentage of americans still rely on to get news about their communities. been trump has also tweeting feverishly about amazon and attacking amazon. apparently causing a sharp drop in its stock price.
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but this, too, has immediate angle. jeff bezos, the head of amazon, is the owner of "the washington post," which has he is in critical of. the president taking stands on media companies that are critical of him. could you comment on that as well? >> it is frightening. it is disturbing. it is the leader of our country really launching an assault at the first amendment and going after -- talking about punitive measures as has been recently reported in vanity fair and elsewhere of against a particular company, in his case, amazon, because he perceives "the washington post" as overly critical of his administration. it is the same reason that the president will attack cnn and will praise sinclair. it is personal. everything is personal for him. twitter is his outlet for
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venting. he will watch television and get on twitter and start rattling this stuff off. it is chilling when you think about the president of our country singling out media entities by name and then potentially using the power of government to go after those media companies that are critical of him and using his platform, twitter, to praise the companies that he sees as supporting him. and who knows what that means or perhaps we already -- we have seen what that means in terms of government policy for the media companies he supports in the once he does not like. from a whatoll about these local sinclair stations fighting back? where are they resisting? >> we are seeing public atements already from members of the sinclair stations. an anchor in seattle responding to the president specifically and saying, you know, he is wrong and he is wrong to say this and bring up sinclair and
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attack other media in this context. i have personally heard of employees at sinclair stations around the country trying to think of ways to push back on the sinclair corporate camino, orders being handed down. we saw a statement by the station in wisconsin saying they were pushing back against running this anchor statement about satan news and the bias in the news. sinclair is known for tough contracts and going after employees speak out and so there is a risk of losing your job or legal action. i think we're reaching a point where people inside sinclair thing i cannot stand only by do nothing. amy: andy kroll, thank you for being with us, senior reporter at mother jones magazine. you have written extensively about sinclair broadcast group. we will link to your piece "trump tweets that sinclair "is far superior to cnn."
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had to come back, we memphis. this is the 50th anniversary of dr. king's mountaintop speech. 24 hours later, he would be gunned down in memphis. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "winnie mandela beloved heroine" by sathima bea benjamin. winnie mandela died on monday at the age of 81 in south africa. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: we turn now to the commemorations being held this week to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of dr. martin luther king, junior. the civil rights leader and peace activist was gunned down on april 4, 1968, at the balcony of his hotel room at the lorraine motel in memphis, tennessee. he was just 39 years old. king was in memphis to support striking sanitation workers. he spoke at the mason temple in memphis. it became his final speech. >> i don't know what will happen now. we have got some difficulties ahead.
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but it really doesn't matter with me now because i have been to the mountaintop. like anybody, i would like to live a long life. longevity has its place. but i'm not concerned about that now. will. want to do god's and he has allowed me to go up to the mountain. and i have looked over and i have seen the promised land. not get there with you, but i want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. so i am happy tonight.
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i am not worried about anything. i am not fearing any man. mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord. amy: dr. martin luther king speaking 50 years ago today in memphis, tennessee, on 3, 1968. aprilless than 24 hours later, king was gunned down by a sniper's bullet on the balcony of the lorraine motel. we're joined now by the reverend james lawson, civil rights icon, pastor emeritus at the home and unite emeritus church in los angeles. centenary pastor of methodist church in memphis in 1968, served as chair of the sanitation strike committee. king called him "the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world." he talked about him and his final speech. reverend lawson is joining us from memphis come along with historian michael honey. honey is the author of several books on martin luther king,
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including the new book "to the promised land: martin luther king and the fight for economic justice," which is out today. michael honey's book of king's labor speeches is titled, "all labor has dignity." he won the robert f. kennedy book award for his previous book, "going down jericho road: the memphis sanitation strike, martin luther king's last campaign." we welcome you both to democracy now! yourend lawson, where were on april 3, 1968, 50 years ago? mostly with martin luther king from the early-morning throughout the mass meeting that night at mason temple, so that is where i was. i was in those meetings. i spoke that night prior to martin luther king introduced also ralph abernathy who then
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introduced dr. king. amy: dr. king was not feeling well, sat right? he actually did not want to come to the church, but reverend abernathy called him and said, i am not enough. they want you, martin. so he came in the pouring rain will stop in my wrong? >> well, i've heard that version. i have read that version. but in actual fact, i had agreed to pick up martin and ralph abernathy at the hotel and we sat in the room talking about an hour before the hour of the mass meeting. atg did not say he was ill that time or did not feel well. i think martin felt that with the downpour of rain -- you cannot imagine. one of our midsouth storms that began that afternoon. it was pouring down. i think margin thought because of the storm, we would not have
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very many people that that mason temple am a but there were thousands of people there. so we finally agreed that ralph and i would go on and then one of us would call him if we felt he needed to come. and that is what happened. reverend lawson, the next day, where were you when you heard the news that dr. king had been shot and killed? well, again, i was in the movement, in the struggle. that was the day when we were contending in federal court to put aside the city injunction. we were going to march in spite of the injunction, but we did go to court in the federal court overturned it on that day. so i spent four or five hours with king in the morning and the
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evening. i left his presence maybe , 4:30, and0, 4:00 rushed home at 6:00 after spending some time in the movement's offices to see what needed to be done. because my family and i kept the discipline in every struggle, no matter -- locally come every struggle locally, i came in and time to have supper with my family. three boys and a wife. so we do that. i rushed home. so it was -- i had just walked into the kitchen agree my wife and then heard out of my left year the sound of someone being shot over the television set that was in and no coat next to the dining room. i went there and saw then the statement across the bottom that dr. king had been shot.
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amy: what were your thoughts -- what floated three you at that moment, reverend lawson? >> well, remember, you called king and myself civil rights leaders. the better term for us by far, a term that we used, that we were pastors. we were pastors who insisted that the gospel of jesus encompassed all humankind and that the other side of love was justice. so you could not be a person of character and love if you did not want to see all sorts of people having equality of dignity, you quality of work, you quality of play. so that is the better term for us. activist,us-oriented a pastor for more than 40 something years. the work of economic justice, the work of social justice, the work of cultural justice from the work of the equality of all humankind is a part of my own
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mind, in my own mind and heart is a part of what the scriptures, the hebrew scriptures and the christian andptures both firmly seriously endorse and teach. on billsterday, we had lucy, who was one of the labor leaders at the time and also one of the striking sanitation workers. how did you get involved with the sanitation workers' strike? can you talk about that as well? >> as a pastor in memphis, i was one who supported unionism. i happen to think you cannot have -- we cannot make our democracy succeed, the effective if you do not have working people in organized units who can care for the economic benefits and care for their
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environment, who can care for thissues of justice. we cannot anticipate that the teachers and brokers of plantation capitalism are going to offer economic equality. the people have to do that. so in engaged community, engaged people, for that to happen, we have to have millions of working people in strong organizations locally where they can know the issues, see one another, work with one another to effect change where they live. amy: and dr. king coming -- >> so those who oppose that are actually wanting to see the failure of this them a credit experiment of hours. amy: and dr. king coming to memphis not once, but twice. the first time had to leave because the march turn violent. many felt provocateurs were planted in the march.
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but the not wanting that to be how he left memphis, so did return in the second time, of course, being assassinated? >> well, he actually was there three times. martin king was invited along ash two others of the naacp the speakers from the outside who would help us mobilize our mass meetings and help us to get the word across our community of the efficacy of the sanitation of thatof the rightness cause, and of the necessity of all of us in the community who wanted a better city to support the strike. so he was invited as one of the people from across the country, but he represented, of course, the icon of nonviolent action. and a strike is a nonviolent tactic. it is in the literature of the history of nonviolent struggle.
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so he was our leaderour icon, our teacher, our philosopher, more thano in fact, any other human being in western civilization, has said that the violence of western civilization does he use the word "there will be co-annihilation." code nonexistence. no other person of the western world has clearly insisted that violence is sin. violence is unjust. violence is -- despises human beings. violence prevents the emergence of new forms of human communication and human understanding so that violence itself is a part of the problem, a part of the crime against the human race.
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amy: we're going to go to break and come back to this discussion. we will also be joined by michael honey, who is sitting next to reverend james lawson in this 50th anniversary of the observance of the assassination of dr. king. reverend james lawson mentioned in this last speech of dr. king on this day 50 years ago. the civil rights icon, the former head of the holman umc church in los angeles. and before that, pastor at the church in memphis where the sanitation workers strike was based. this is democracy now! back in a minute. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "freedom medley" by our guest michael honey. it's from his album "links on the chain, songs of the labor and civil rights movements." he is one of the musicians in that song. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: it was figures ago today when reverend martin luther king jr. gave his last speech. he was shot dead less than 24 hours later in memphis. we're joined now by reverend
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thes lawson, pastor of centenary methodist church in memphis in 1968 and historian michael honey come author of the new book "to the promised land: martin luther king and the fight for economic justice." michael honey, i would like to begin with you and ask you about what your book is about the labor dimension of martin luther king civil rights struggle. in one part of the book you talk about the convention in 1966 where among the resolutions passed was for a two dollar an hour federal and wage -- minimum wage, the taft-hartley act that basically prevented, closed shops for a national guaranteed income. these were all labor planks that and part of the direction
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the thrust of the civil rights organization. can you talk about the evolution of that consciousness and martin luther king jr.? >> most people don't know that dr. king was a strong union supporter from his earliest days. and as reverend lawson was just saying, it is part of the social peopleabout raising up on the bottom. in the least of these. and king worked with major --ons from the mcgarry montgomery bus boycott and others. the united auto workers union inteational longshoreman union . he was in touch with eight or 10 different unions. and he spoke at their conventions regularly. and people would call him up from atlanta and say, would it summit on the picket line with us in new york city for 1199 hospital workers union, would you come?
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and he would come and speak on the picket line. he helped to lead a strike of scripta workers in atlanta, 800 black women in edge and 64 right after he came back from oslo getting the nobel peace prize. so he was labor man. people know this test union people know this. when he died in 1968, workers all over the country walked out. the west coast got shut down by the longshore workers in the longshore workers in louisiana and the deep south went on strike. there were observance is everywhere. king is a labor man. coretta king was arguing for a national holiday. she said would be the first national holiday for some who gave his life in the work struggle. she understood that totally. amy: michael honey, can you talk king's king -- about
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early life and how he learned about the economic injustice? then the book, what is promised land? when he made that statement in memphis, people in the audience understood what he was saying. it came out of his whole life's experience, but his whole family's experience, his great-grandparents were slaves, a number of them were slaves. his grandparents were sharecroppers and for people who migrated to the city. fromather was a poor man the rural areas of georgia who migrated to this city of atlanta with nothing in his pocket. martin luther king junior was born in 1929 at the beginning of the great depression. so he lived through the 1930's as a young man surrounded by neighborhood were quite poor. in fact, the scripto strike was in his never had and a lot of those women were his church
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members. the christian social gospel was something his father but here to deeply. and his grandfather, also. this is what religion meant in the lectures in the deep south .as taking care of each other and this is what dr. king did. so working with unions and working with the sanitation workers was completely appropriate to everything else that he was doing. juan: reverend lawson -- >> let me also say that in actual fact, then you grow spiritual, anegro huge collection of music that slaves sang that according to historians, frederick douglass being one of them, the slave was forced to sing so that would signify to the white overseers and to the plantation owner
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where they were on the plantation. huge collection of original music in the united states sung by the slave had a number of major themes. one of the major themes was from the book of exodus of the bible. go down moses, tell of pharaoh let my people go. that is out of that music the black religious experience has been very different from mainline or majority christian religion in united states. tens of thousands of those songs are available, not in their total form, but in various pieces of poetry and liturgy.
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so i maintain economic justice is at the heart of slavery religion, which is why the underground railroad, why slaves were constantly getting out of slavery. my own great-great-grandparents, my great-grandfather was an escaped slave into the area of ontario through the underground railroad. so economic justice, social justice, the dignity of every in my is inherent understanding and king's understanding in the gospel of jesus. ever speak of social gospel. that is an academic term that was developed at the turn of the 20th century. i speak of the whole gospel of jesus. much of christianity rejects the teaching of jesus the teacher,
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the prohet. >> and way back to the 1966 conventi, sclc was engaged along with a philip randolph and any other people in framing economic bill of rights for the disadvantaged, which included a range of things that would bring about some way to counter the effects of slavery as a great nation for stuff that is on the agenda now. it is not accidental these high rates of poverty are in memphis among the black population. and we had 40 million poor people and king's they and we are 40 million poor people today. the economic bill of rights was come how do we address all of those issues? amy: we will talk about the economic bill of rights in part two of our discussion and post it online at democracynow.org as a web exclusive. our guest is reverend james
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lawson and michael honey, historian.
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