World War 4 Report editor Bill Weinberg’s purge from WBAI makes New York Times

Reporter Colin Moynihan writes for the New York Times’ City Room blog, May 26:

At On-Air Haven for Dissent, a Dissenting Voice Is Silenced
For nearly 20 years, an East Village journalist named Bill Weinberg has been a familiar late-night voice on the left-leaning radio station WBAI-FM (99.5), ruminating about radical politics, global turmoil and life in New York City.

In mid-March, however, the station canceled Mr. Weinberg’s program, the Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade, after he accused WBAI of promoting fringe right-wing commentators and conspiracy theories claiming that the United States government was behind the destruction of the World Trade Center.

Mr. Weinberg, who runs a blog called the World War 4 Report, has reported for The Nation and The Village Voice and written a book about the Zapatistas in Mexico called “Homage to Chiapas.” Since his ouster, he has hardly withdrawn—he has posted the Radio Crusade’s “Statement of Continued Resistance—In Exile” on World War 4 Report, and has spoken at any number of political forums. But on the airwaves, Mr. Weinberg’s insistent, raspy voice has fallen suddenly silent.

Mr. Weinberg said that though it was disappointing to lose the program, he did not regret speaking up. “It was ethically necessary,” he said. “I absolutely thought I had a responsibility.”

The station refused to comment on his departure.

In Mr. Weinberg’s two decades at WBAI, he connected peace activists from Belgrade, Zagreb and Sarajevo on the air during Balkan wars and more recently interviewed secular Iraqis who oppose both American soldiers and the religious jihadis who attack them.

Mr. Weinberg said the disagreements that led to his departure began in 2009 when he questioned gifts sent to people who had donated money to the station. The gifts included documentary-style DVDs like “Painful Deceptions” and “Loose Change 9/11,” which presented the destruction of the World Trade Center as “an inside job” orchestrated by the Bush administration or by foreign governments with ties to it.

Although the DVDs were popular with some listeners, Mr. Weinberg said they were intellectually lazy productions full of falsehoods and speculation, unworthy of a station that aspires to produce serious news.

Given WBAI’s history—the station went to the Supreme Court in the 1970’s to battle the federal government over the broadcast of satire by George Carlin, and bears the motto “Free Speech Radio” on its Web sit—Mr. Weinberg decided his program provided the perfect forum to broadcast his dissent.

Management, however, disagreed and called him on the carpet. Mr. Weinberg said he told a program director, Tony Bates, that he would refrain from issuing criticisms on his program. But when the station later broadcast comments from the Sept. 11 conspiracist David Icke, who is also known for his interest in “shape shifting” humans who may turn into reptiles, Mr. Weinberg could not hold his tongue.

“The output of the lugubrious mini-industry which has sprung up around 9/11 conspiranoia has become increasingly toxic over the passing years,” Mr. Weinberg said on the air. “The most innocent of the DVDs and books are just poorly researched, merely exchanging the rigid dogma of the ‘official story’ for another rigid dogma, no more founded in empiricism or objectivity. But, not surprisingly, lots of creepy right-wing types have got on board, using 9/11 as the proverbial thin end of a wedge.”

A few weeks later, his program was moved from midnight to two a.m. and shortened from 90 minutes to an hour. Mr. Weinberg called the change “an act of censure for political dissent” and declared the Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade to be in a “state of resistance.” He openly criticized ideas expressed by other producers.

In mid-March, Mr. Bates wrote a letter to Mr. Weinberg saying that he had broken “a cardinal rule” by “denigrating other programmers on the airwaves,” and added: “We have decided to sever the relationship between you and WBAI.”

Berthold Reimers, the general manager of WBAI, could not be reached at the station and did not respond to voicemail messages left on his cellphone.

Mr. Weinberg, who has supported himself as a freelance copy editor, has not yet formulated the next chapter of his radio career but is considering the idea of doing his program on an Internet station.

On a recent evening, he showed up at a lecture series in Chelsea called the Anarchist Forum. Mr. Weinberg weighed in on the dilemma facing leftists who deplore Western intervention in the Middle East but who must acknowledge that many in Libya have welcomed the help of foreign armies.

“Without NATO, the rebellion would likely have been crushed,” he said. “That is a point we cannot shirk from; we have to grapple with it.”

After the forum, he stood outside, chatting with fellow participants. Then, hearing that visiting activists from Egypt were speaking at the Brecht Forum in the West Village, Mr. Weinberg pedaled his bicycle downtown, hoping to hear part of the discussion there.

  1. Wing nuts, racism and 9/11
    Interesting that people actually believe that David Icke is worth listening to. Shows just how degenerate some thinking has become. The guy is a flat out white supremacist. From supporting holocaust denier David Irving to his rearrangement of the egregiously anti semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion inserting reptilian beings where Jews used to be, he displays his stunted fantasies as fact. In these times of attacks against women’s rights and freedom of speech, who wants to hear a creep that is anti choice even if he isn’t talking about anything but wing nut 9/11 conspiracies.

    For many years i have had run ins with the so called 9/11 truth movement, my first being in Colville, WA, known for it’s white supremacists, when a guy handed me a Deception Dollar covered with white supremacist websites including rense, americanfreepress (once known as The Spotlight, still as racist as ever),, etc. I double checked these sites and my suspicions were confirmed.

    As one who witnessed first hand the emergence of the extreme right wing militia movement in my community, i recognized the similar style in the abundance of racist literature i picked up at local 2nd amendment meetings and various other such gatherings that is displayed in the materials and websites for the 9/11 conspiracists. Troubling to say the least.

    Not only did two white supremacists leave Colville/Stevens County to kill people of color elsewhere (Chevy Kehoe killed a black Arkansas gun dealer, his wife and child; Buford Furrow wounded 5 children in Jewish community center in L.A. then killed a Filipino mailman) but the person who placed the sophisticated bomb last January along the MLK day march route in Spokane was also from Stevens County.

    My daughter, who is mixed race, and i were forced to leave Stevens County due to the level of racist harassment she was subjected to continually once she ended her homeschooling. Her rural public grade school was also spray painted with “nigger” and “queer bag”. But the worst was high school kids calling her names, ridiculing her hair, harassing her when she went to the public swimming pool.

    People who are so eager to hop in the 9/11 right wing bandwagon need to do some deep delving to find out who these people really are. I am not willing to trade one jack boot for another. I am glad people like Bill Weinberg are out there. Sadly, Pacifica is being taken over by right wingy dingies from one coast to the other. We are in dire straits when most of much needed relevant radio programing is being corrupted so deeply.

  2. Right-wing idiots can’t tell left from right (literally)
    Right-wing blowhard Clay Waters on News Busters (a very appropriate name, since the site is apparently devoted to trashing all news-gathering in favor of right-wing dogma-regurgitation) takes the TImes’ Colin Moynihan to task for not challenging my assertion that the conspiracy theories at WBAI are being peddled by righties, proclaiming: “The so-called Truther movement is identified with the hard left, not the right.” Well, let’s see. Alex Jones spews anti-immigrant propaganda. So does Eric Hufschmid, and throws in Holocaust revisionism to boot. Daniel Estulin warns that Obama is trying to impose “socialism.” David Icke favorably cites the Nazi propaganda tract, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

    What, pray tell, is “left” about any of this? We’re waiting, Clay.

    1. The so-called “Truther movement” is amorphous and diverse.
      I don’t label myself a “truther” and only occasionally attend “9-11 truth” events, but I share the general consensus that the official U.S.-Government-approved 9-11 conspiracy theory is bullshit. Since that same government controls most of the evidence about those events and is the only entity that has legal and extra-legal powers to gather “information” about those events from unwilling witnesses and alleged participants, I take the position that we can only hope to know a part of the truth, and even that part with little certainty. I think it is one of the tasks of the left to expose any holes in ruling-class propaganda even if we can’t counter with a complete, provable analysis of our own.

      By the way, the fact that many people on the political right also reject the official Government version doesn’t make that version any more credible. Some people with right-wing politics might actually have some good information, just as some people with lousy, pro-imperialist positions on events in Yugoslavia and Libya may have good information, and even good analyses, on other matters.

      1. And stupid. You forgot to say stupid.
        Conspiranoia is fundamentally a right-wing phenomenon, as I have amply demonstrated before.

        I’m a little suspicious of your reference to “lousy, pro-imperialist positions on events in Yugoslavia and Libya,” since you happened to pick the two US military interventions of the post-Vietnam era which are actually morally complicated and defy a simple “anti-imperialist” analysis.

        But maybe we shouldn’t go there.

        1. > is fundamentally a right-wing phenomenon
          Would you consider the local far lefties of downtown New York – many of whom have bought the truther hobby/pose hook, line and sinker – subconsciously right-wing? To the best of my knowledge all the rest of their “politics” (sneer quotes not scare quotes) are firmly far left of center.

          1. Yes, absolutely: pseudo-left righties
            Even if they don’t realize it. They may “think” that are on the “left,” but if they have abandoned class analysis for a Conspiracy Theory of History that comes straight out of The Protocols, I say they are objectively on the right. They have certainly embraced the rightie Alex Jones, who has joined the types you are describing at their sickening annual 9-11 anniversary crash-the-official-ceremony stunt at Ground Zero.