Amy Goodman has long held a reputation as a tough and probing investigative journalist who is not afraid to speak truth to power. The Exception to the Rulers takes her journalistic integrity to a new high with its scathing examination of the connection between politics, oil and a media willing to forego the truth and betray the public.
Written with her brother, David Goodman, an independent journalist and author of the critically acclaimed Fault Lines: Journey into the New South Africa, this book begins with both a warning and a plea. A warning to the American public to be very aware of taking on the role of a silent majority, and a plea to be silent no more, before it is too late. Goodman begins her fact-filled investigation into deep government and corporate corruption and media complicity with a chapter detailing the many ways that terrorists the United States put into power are now coming after us. She calls it “blowback", and it describes just how heavily involved our own leaders and politicians have been, and still are, in supporting dictators and brutal leaders of nations that often come back to haunt us, as it did on 9/11.
As someone who has spent time on the front lines of terror and brutality, Goodman describes a harrowing event she encountered in East Timor. The author leads us through a blow-by-blow rundown of the relationships between Bush, Cheney and many key members of their administration and the various oil corporation heads and military officials responsible for some of the most horrifying mass murders and human rights violations, all in the name of securing oil rights in third world nations. We also get a first-hand account of how the media has become both a puppet and a slave to these corrupt officials, often parroting lie after lie to the American public without ever so much as an attempt to investigate the real story behind the propaganda.
Most frightening are the many accounts Goodman lists of how the Patriot Acts have been used to arrest, detail, intimidate and even imprison ordinary folks who attend peace protests, wear peace message T-shirts, teach compassion, speak their minds and basically exercise their supposed First Amendment rights, something Goodman tells us barely exists today, post-9/11.
Though so much of the book focuses on the dark side of politics and the media, like the never-seen episode of Sally Jessy Raphael which brought together a panel of both pro-war and pro-peace women, and during which Sally herself went more than a little ballistic, there is some room for wit and irony, albeit scathing with truth. But always the authors return us to the horrible reality – that we the people have completely lost control of the government, the media and the corporations that are supposed to be serving us – not the other way around.
This is one of the most angering books I’ve read yet about the current wave of fear-based behavior occuring in our country from the top down to the voters, many of whom just do not have the facts needed to make a decent decision about our nation’s future. And that is exactly the way our leadership wants it, which is why, as this book describes, they go to such lengths to control the airwaves. He who controls the media, controls the people. And when you can spin the news to fit your agenda, without any protest from reporters and journalists, you control the world.
Ultimately, Goodman urges readers to “free the media” and “build a democratic media that serves the people,” not the government and heads of Chevron. This call to action has never been more important than now, when we are on the verge of deciding the fate of not just our country, but our Constitution. For even now, as you read this review, Attorney General John Ashcroft is busy preparing new laws that will allow the government to ship “dissenters” overseas to be tortured (dissenters can be anyone the government deems a problem – that is how vague the description is), allow the media to lie to the public without fear of retribution (Fox News just won a major lawsuite allowing just this), and allow the government that is supposed to be accountable to us, the people, to operate in even greater secrecy (goodbye FOIA).
Thanks to brave journalists like Amy Goodman, more of us can be informed with the weapons of truth.