Disobedient Media has previously reported on corporate attacks against anti establishment media. In our previous coverage of the issue, the victims of censorship were largely using new media platforms like Youtube or social media. However, these newer anti establishment voices are not the only ones to experience a backlash from large corporations in part because of their independent stance. Disobedient Media recently spoke with Randy Credico of the historic WBAI radio station, which has provided a platform to anti establishment voices for decades.
The station is currently facing a lawsuit from the Empire State Realty Trust, which has charged WBAI up to five times the going rate for rental fees, while simultaneously refusing to allow WBAI to end the contract which they are unable to pay. WBAI broadcasts from the antenna located on the top of the Empire State Building.
Credico told Disobedient Media that the station hopes to be able to fulfill the good faith agreement between WBAI and ESRT, which would have allowed them to pay the going rate or be released from the contract in order to find a more affordable location. The station is calling on the public for support of its efforts to be released from a contract which they estimate was four or five times the going rate, so that they can move to a less expensive location.
Credico told Disobedient Media that the contract between ESRT and WBAI had been negotiated in 2005, and would expire in 2020. WBAI stated in their press release on the subject that the ongoing legal battle may stem from issues which are not purely financial. The statement reads in part: “The ESRT threat to Pacifica may involve more than financial opportunism. In these urgent times there are interests who stand to benefit from the loss Pacifica’s powerful free speech advocacy.” The judge in the case will hear the case on October 4th.
Randy Credico recently spoke with Patricia Perry, the mother of New York Police Officer John Perry, who died during the events of 9/11. Officer Perry was also an activist, who fought against the Rockefeller drug laws alongside WBAI producer Randy Credico.
Patricia Perry recently authored a petition in support of WBAI during its ongoing conflict with Empire State Realty Trust. Her petition reads in part:
“Pacifica’s WBAI, has been part of the fabric of our great city for decades and now is on the verge of shutting down because you continue to price gouge and take advantage of the station by repeatedly jacking up the monthly lease payments. You took advantage of this when WBAI’s antenna tower lease was renewed in 2005 by making the license fees under the lease increase by more than four times the rate of inflation. That is unconscionable”.
WBAI is a listener-funded, independent media station that has operated as a pillar of New York City life for decades, providing anti establishment progressive media. The station was one of very few left operating during the events of 9/11, and helped coordinate rescue and emergency efforts in the aftermath of the attacks. The station performed a similar service in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s decimation of the north eastern coastline in 2012.
The group has attracted investors like the Qatar Investment Authority, who bought a valuable 9.9 % share of the corporation. The Empire State building has also partnered with groups including the Clinton Climate Initiative.
In contrast to WBAI’s grassroots support, the Empire State Realty Trust is a large corporate real estate company reputed to own billions of dollars worth of property. The Wall Street Journal reported that: “The Qatar Investment Authority acquired a minority stake in the commercial real-estate company for $622 million.” The Qatar Investment Authority is Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.
Randy Credico spoke with Disobedient Media regarding the current suit against the station. He has interviewed Wikileaks founder Julian Assange numerous times, and cites WBAI’s not being owned by corporate media and following the establishment media narrative as one reason that the ESRT may have become particularly unwilling to negotiate with the radio station.
Credico told Disobedient Media that there are interests which would benefit from seeing Pacifica damaged through the ESRT suit, including those who are threatened by ongoing coverage of anti establishment figures. He also told Disobedient Media that WBAI’s position is coveted not only because of its location, but because it occupies a highly prized position at 99.5 FM. He stated that one reason for the strong efforts against WBAI may stem from their continued willingness to speak with anti-establishment figures like Julian Assange. Credico said that the station was always going to have detractors due to their independent status, but that the especially intense political climate may have contributed to the situation.
Credico recently spoke with Christine Assange, the mother of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. She told WBAI that Assange was being “smeared wrongfully – how many editors around the world are being smeared for telling the truth?” She added that in general, media has become increasingly corporate, largely owned now by “1 percenters and elitists.”
Christine Assange also spoke about the Veteran Intelligence Professionals For Sanity report and said: “Anyone who is against the establishment will cop a smear, it’s almost like a badge of honor when you’re smeared badly without any evidence, it means you’re doing a good job.”
A few of the prominent figures interviewed by Credico to date are pictured below. Guests have included Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, former NSA Technical Director Bill Binney, former longtime CIA analyst Ray McGovern, Dr. Cornell West, and many others.
WBAI representatives have spoken with various local and state officials in order to seek support in their legal battle with ESRT. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez wrote a letter on behalf of WBAI to ESRT, citing the station’s humanitarian efforts in the wake of 9/11 and the lack of antenna options after the attacks.
Credico told Disobedient Media that WBAI has historically provided services and representation to disenfranchised groups, including alerting people to where they could find homeless shelters and medical care, especially in the aftermath of 9/11 and hurricane Sandy.
Credico told Disobedient Media that he had also been hounded on twitter by the infamous troll Louise Mensch. Mensch was widely viewed as a laughable figure in the UK, but has bizarrely been given some level of legitimacy in U.S. press. As a Tory MP she once backed David Cameron’s call for social networking services to be shut down temporarily during civil disorder, according to The Guardian.
It is extremely disturbing that a prestigious independent media outlet like WBAI would be financially attacked by the wealthy Empire State Realty Trust as well as social media parasites like Louise Mensch. This is a serious issue for anyone who values free press in America. The latest aggression towards WBAI provide yet another example of the backlash faced by anti establishment media previously reported by Disobedient Media. That WBAI would be threatened with closure for partially political reasons is reprehensible and speaks to a distinct lack of real press freedom in the present contrived media echo chamber.