Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman: MNN is a Beacon of Independent Media

To Amy Goodman—award-winning journalist, longtime proponent of independent media and host of MNN’s flagship program, Democracy Now!, it's abominable that, in the course of three lengthy debates, presidential nominees Barack Obama and Mitt Romney failed to utter the phrase "climate change" even once.

That's likely a sentiment most New Yorkers share with her, especially as they deal with the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. And it's one of the many reasons she'll be hosting an Election Night special on MNN -- to provide a stage for discussing the real issues that Manhattanites and the rest of the nation face every day. Goodman talked to us by phone from Palo Alto, California, about DN!’s November 6 broadcast, the importance of MNN, and why it’s crucial to get every citizen of the world’s voice heard.

You’re on a 100-city tour of the country to cover issues like voter ID laws and campaign funding in the run-up to November’s presidential election. What’s the predominant theme that’s come up in your conversations with voters?

We’re having some remarkable conversations and getting the real pulse of the country. Last night, we continued our series called "Expand the Debate," in which we invite third-party candidates to add their voices to the presidential debates, which are gated debates set up by a private corporation. We’re breaking the sound barrier by giving Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson equal time to respond. They have brought up issues rarely mentioned by the other candidates. People are deeply concerned about increasing inequality, war—not only the war in Afghanistan but also the drone wars that have been escalating under President Obama. These are issues that the major political parties agree on. It’s the voices of movements that need to be heard.

Tell me about the title of your new book, The Silenced Majority.

I really do think that those who are deeply concerned about war; about growing inequality; about global warming and the raging fires in California and the dust-bowl conditions in the Midwest and the heat in New York in summer—they are not a fringe minority. They’re not a silent majority, they’re silenced by corporate media. We have to take it back.

What can viewers expect from your show’s election coverage the night of Nov. 6? How will it differ from that of the mainstream media?

We will be broadcasting from New York, bringing out the voices of people across the country and around the world. I was once interviewing a woman from Guyana on a different topic. We were coming up on the election, and she said she’d stay to be interviewed for the show. I asked why she would want to be a part of a conversation about our presidential election, and she said, “I believe that everyone in the world should get to vote for president of the United States.” The reason election night is so important is because the person in that role affects everyone in the world. The person who occupies that position is most powerful person on earth.

Why is Manhattan Neighborhood Network such an important outlet for New Yorkers?

Because it’s independent. When you’re talking about war, it’s not brought to you by the weapons manufacturers. When you’re talking about healthcare, it’s not brought to you by Big Pharma and the insurance companies. It’s brought to New Yorkers by New Yorkers. It’s so important that it’s independent—it’s a national treasure. MNN is providing a forum for conversation, debate and discussion on the most important issues of the day.

How has Manhattan Neighborhood Network helped you?

MNN was the first TV station to run Democracy Now! It began the week of the September 11 attacks in 2001, and it took off from there. MNN is a beacon for independent media. The fact that people can come in and make their own media is something that would never be done in corporate media. It’s a school for people to learn how to document their communities, a university of the airwaves where people tune in and see the rich diversity of New York. The Occupy movement began on Wall St, right down the street from MNN. It’s a movement that has caused so much change around the world, yet at first the networks didn’t even cover the movement. Then after one week, they started to make fun of it. But I think Mohandas Gandhi said it best: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Care to speculate on the outcome of this presidential race?

I don’t know which candidate will win, but what matters is that the movements that are involved in this election and fighting for democracy every day be heard. That’s what’s what Democracy Now! and MNN provide a forum for every day. That’s why we see MNN as such an important partner in our global news hour.

Join Amy Goodman, her co-host, Juan González, and MNN for Democracy Now!’s election coverage on Tuesday, Nov. 6 from 7pm to 1am on MNN1 and mnn.org