, , , , , , ,

ralph-nader-radio-hourLUMPENPROLETARIAT—On this week’s edition of the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, two of the most influential, progressive public intellectuals came together for a rare meeting of minds, in fact the first time ever (to your author’s knowledge and as confirmed in co-host Steve Skrovan‘s introduction). [1]  Lifelong public interest champion Dr. Ralph Nader spoke with the world’s most cited public intellectual, Dr. Noam Chomsky.

One of the most interesting contributions to our collective common stock of knowledge, as institutionalists like to say, which comes out of this broadcast is Dr. Nader‘s exposition of decades of censorship of Dr. Chomsky’s important political perspectives, in which the American mass media, even liberal, ostensibly left, mass media, such as NPR and PBS, has engaged.  Conversely, the most glaring omission in this historic conversation is the ongoing media blackout, or repression, of alternative political parties during the current 2016 Presidential Election, such as with the exclusion of the Green Party’s Dr. Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka from the CPD‘s 2016 Presidential Debates.  In fact, sadly, Dr. Chomsky engaged in subtle apologetics for the Hillary Clinton campaign, despite the polite cues given by Dr. Nader to challenge the two-party status quo.  As Dr. David Ray Griffin has asked regarding intellectual dishonesty around analyses of the crimes of 9/11:  Why do Bill Moyers and Robert Parry accept miracles?  Dr. Griffin pointed out how courageous and clear some public intellectuals are on certain issues, but then uncharacteristically weak on other, more controversial, issues, such as the crimes of 9/11.  This smacks, of course, of intellectual dishonesty.

For Dr. Chomsky, avoiding so-called third-party politics and subtly giving the anti-democratic Democratic Party a pass was consistent with his past rhetoric around electoral politics.  Bernie Sanders was mentioned passingly.  And neither of our two ‘intellectual titans’ dared to mention Dr. Jill Stein.  This performance was a form of dog-whistle politics, offering just enough qualified critique of Hillary and the Democratic Party to appease the more radical segments of Dr. Chomsky’s audience, whilst subtly giving the less radical segments just enough rationalisations to justify holding their noses and voting for the least worst political party, yet again.  As the corporate media censors, or underreports on, political alternatives, Dr. Noam Chomsky, unfortunately, contributed to their suppression with his silence on political alternatives and the importance of political diversity in electoral politics.  Listen (and/or download) here. [2]



[Working draft transcript of actual radio broadcast by Messina for Lumpenproletariat and Ralph Nader Radio Hour.]

RALPH NADER RADIO HOURChomskyRequiemforAmericanDream2016—[7 OCT 2016]  [KPFA board operator] “This is a special broadcast of Ralph Nader Hour with Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky.  Arise! with Bill Fletcher will return next week.  Stay tuned.”

STEVE SKROVAN:  “From the KPFK studios in southern California, it’s the Ralph Nader Radio Hour.

“Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour.  My name is Steve Skrovan, along with my co-host David Feldman.  Hello, David.”

DAVID FELDMAN:  “I’m gonna be doing most of the talking today.”

STEVE SKROVAN:  “[laughs]  I’m sure you will.  And we also have with us the man of the hour, Ralph Nader.  Greetings, Ralph.”

RALPH NADER:  “Thank you, Steve.  It’s nice to be here.”

STEVE SKROVAN:  “We have a landmark show for you today.  Our guest for the whole hour is pioneering linguist and internationally-recognised public intellectual, Noam Chomsky.

“This is the first time that Ralph and Professor Chomsky, these two titans of progressive thought and activism have had a public conversation.  For that reason, we’re gonna get right to it.

“For most of our listeners, he scarcely needs an introduction.  But we’re gonna give him one anyway.  David?”

DAVID FELDMAN:  “Noam Chomsky is a political theorist and activist and professor of linguistics at MIT.  Along with his pioneering work in linguistics, Professor Chomsky is also a critic of American foreign policy and global capitalism.  He is one of the most frequently cited scholars in history and has authored more than one hundred books on topics, such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media, including Manufacturing Consent, along with Edward Herman, which was also made into a documentary film of the same name.  His most recent works are a collection of commentary on various sociopolitical topics entitled Because We Say So and his updated critique of American empire entitled Who Rules the World?.

“Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Professor Noam Chomsky.”

DR. NOAM CHOMSKY:  “[apparently via telephone]  I’m very pleased to be with you.”  (c. 1:56)

DR. RALPH NADER:  “Yes, welcome, indeed.  You heard Steve mention how often you’re cited as a public intellectual around the world.  You go to auditoriums around the country.  And they’re jammed, standing room only, from California to the east coast.  And you’ve written dozens and dozens of books.  And you’re one of the leading linguists of our generation.  And I’ve always viewed you as a person, who confronts propaganda with fact.

“And what’s interesting in my questions, that I’m about to ask, is that when propaganda is institutionalized, it systematically obstructs the generation and distribution of factual knowledge, historical knowledge, contemporary events.

“So, let me ask you a few quick questions here.  Professor Chomsky, have you ever been invited to testify before the Congress?” (c. 2:51)

DR. NOAM CHOMSKY:  “Yes.  In 1970, Senator Fulbright, who was the head, if you recall, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was extremely disillusioned with the war in Vietnam, with the, a lot of government activities and so on.  And he was being sidelined.  And, despite the fact, that he’d been an influential and distinguished figure, sidelined because of his critical attitude.

“So, he turned his Senate Foreign Relations Committee into, kind of, a seminar.  And I was one of the people invited to testify.”  (c. 3:23)

DR. RALPH NADER:  “Have you been invited—”

DR. NOAM CHOMSKY:  “M-hm.  But that—”

DR. RALPH NADER:  “—since 1970.”

DR. NOAM CHOMSKY:  “Not that I can recall.  I mean I’ve occasionally talked to people in Congress, but never, never invited to a session.”

DR. RALPH NADER:  “How often have you been on the op-ed pages of The New York Times?”

DR. NOAM CHOMSKY:  “I can recall once in 1985 or roughly around then.  They actually invited me, which surprised me, to write something about the—maybe, no, probably 2005—to write about the Israeli, what’s called, the separation wall., the annexation wall, that runs through the West Bank and breaking apart the Palestinian communities and so on, and condemned as illegal by the World Court and so on.  And they did ask me to write about that.

“They may have run—I think they ran an excerpt from my testimony at the Fulbright Committee back in 1970.”

DR. RALPH NADER:  “1970, which is 46 years ago.  The Sunday talk shows—NBC, Meet the Press, ABC, CBS, CNN—every week, they have guests.  Have you ever been on those shows?  They cover topics, that you’ve written intensively on.”

DR. NOAM CHOMSKY:  “No.  I’ve never been invited.”  (c. 4:34)

DR. RALPH NADER:  “Okay.  How about NPR and PBS?  Partially taxpayer supported, it’s supposed to be more free-thinking and more tolerant.  Have you been on NPR’s programmes?  Or PBS?  Such as Charlie Rose or—”

DR. NOAM CHOMSKY:  “Well, I’ve been on Charlie Rose like two or three times.  And in Boston—I’m in Boston—there’s a Boston outlet for NPR based in Boston University.  And they have a discussion programme in the morning, at ten o’clock in the morning, Tom Ashbrook.  I’ve been on that a couple of times.

“I have some funny experiences with that; I could tell you [chuckles], if you want.  But it’s—”

DR. RALPH NADER:  “Go ahead.”

DR. NOAM CHOMSKY:  “—pretty amusing.  Well, for example, they a programme, a prime-time news programme, All Things Considered.  Some years ago, at 5:25[pm], they had a—maybe once a week or so—a five-minute discussion with someone, who had written a new book.  And there’s a lot of pressure, especially around Boston, on this because it’s Boston-based.  The station allowed me to be on.  And they are pretty resistant.  But they once agreed.  It was a book of mine.  I think it was called Necessary Illusions.  It’s also about propaganda.  

“And I did have the interview recorded with Robert Siegel.  At five o’ clock, it was announced that it would be played at 5:25[p.m.].  We got a call from the publisher telling me it was going to be played; I should tune in.  I never listen.

“So, I tuned in.  And, at 5:25, there were five minutes of music.  Around 5:30, 5:31 I started getting phone calls from around the country asking:  What happened to the piece, that was supposed to be on?  I said I didn’t know.  I, then, got a call from the station manager in Washington, who told me that she’d been getting calls and she didn’t understand it because it was listed.  So, she didn’t understand what happened.  Later, she called back, saying, kind of embarrassed, saying someone from the top, a big wig in the system had heard of the announcement at five o’ clock and had ordered it cancelled.  And she was pretty upset because it was over her head.  But it, sort of, went on from there. [laughs]  (c. 6:49)

“There was one other case, that was also quite amusing.  The—during the first Gulf War, in 1990, the coverage was just uniform, like a totalitarian state, one position constantly mentioned over and over:  How horrible they are; how wonderful we are—the usual thing.

“There was a little embarrassment.  But nothing else was being heard.  So, in fact, for the first time ever, I was invited for a few minutes on the Jim Lehrer Show.  I forget what it’s called.”

DR. RALPH NADER:  “The News Hour.”

DR. NOAM CHOMSKY:  “Yeah.  As a matter of fact, there was a lot to say.  But, then, there was pressure, again, on NPR to allow me to be on for two and a half minutes to say something, to break one hundred percent uniformity.  And they did agree.

“But they recorded in advance.  And they told me it’s going to have to be exactly two minutes and thirty seconds.  So, I carefully planned that.  And, the first time I read it, it was two minutes and thirty-six seconds.  So, we had to redo it as two minutes and thirty seconds.  And, then, they made sure and vetted, so I would say exactly as was written, [so] I wouldn’t go off the text at all.”


DR. NOAM CHOMSKY:  “It was quite funny in the station because the engineers in the back room were all laughing hysterically.  They understood what was happening.  But I did get on for two minutes and thirty seconds.”  (c. 8:17)

DR. RALPH NADER:  “You’re hearing, listeners, what censorship is like in our country and that any one of the former Bush-Cheney warmongers, like Paul Wolfowitz and John Bolten and others, have gotten far more press after they’ve left federal positions.

“And, in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, op-ed pages, they’ve been on television, public television, NPR, and they have a record of false statementsThey have a record of deceptionThey have a record of pursuing policies, that are illegal under our Constitution, under international law, and under federal statutes, such as the criminal invasion of Iraq and other adventures around the world.

“Now, a society, that operates in a way where propaganda is, not only emanating from major media, but it gets into our schools, the kind of courses, that are taught, the content, the history, is a society, that is not going to be mobilised for its own survival, much less the survival of other countries, whose dictators we have, for decades, supported to oppress their people.  (c. 9:30)

“Now, our listeners are fairly familiar, Professor Chomsky, with your writings.  I want to take it to the next step. [3]

We have empire hereWe have both parties pursuing attacks, wars, subversions, drones, special forces, supporting, dividing, sectarian conflicts all over parts of Asia and Africa.

“The question I want to ask you is:  What do you think can start turning this around, in terms of (a) the citizenry, (b)  (c) electoral challenges from.

[SNIP]  ”



A foreign imperial power, which comes in and batters the place with a sledgehammer, is not gonna be likely to develop a functioning society, which will be organised and committed to development and progress and will easily fight off small guerilla groups.


DR. NOAM CHOMSKY:  ”  [SNIP]  (c. 38:04)  A foreign imperial power, which comes in and batters the place with a sledgehammer, is not gonna be likely to develop a functioning society, which will be organised and committed to development and progress and will easily fight off small guerilla groups.  [SNIP]

[SNIP]  (c. 59:59)


[This transcript will be expanded as time constraints, and/or demand or resources, allow.]


[1]  It is fascinating that co-host Steve Skrovan confirmed that this is the first public intellectual interaction, or conversation, between Dr. Chomsky and Dr. Nader.  It’s about time.  And it’s long overdue.

It’s always been a source of frustration for many of us on the left that Dr. Noam Chomsky never offered any more support than he has to political alternatives, such as Ralph Nader, a five-time presidential candidate.  Each time Ralph Nader ran for president, most progressives agreed that Nader’s campaign was the best, ideally.  But that he didn’t have a chance to win.  It seems, to a large extent, Dr. Chomsky has avoided openly assessing the merits of the various political parties.  Dr. Chomsky has shied away, it seems, from criticising the Democratic Party as much as he has shied away from appearing too supportive of political parties to the left of the Democratic Party.  Only on rare occasions have we heard Dr. Chomsky critiquing the Democratic Party.  And, when we have, they’ve been unavoidable and glaring issues.  But Dr. Chomsky has never really challenged the corrupt nature of the two-party system, what Ralph Nader has long-dubbed the two-party dictatorship.

So, it’s nice that Dr. Chomsky and Dr. Nader finally meet.  Perhaps, at last, Dr. Chomsky will begin to open up about political parties and their relative merits with respect to the working classes.

[2]  Terrestrial radio transmission, 94.1 FM (KPFA, Berkeley, CA) with online simulcast and digital archiving:  Ralph Nader Radio Hour, this one-hour broadcast hosted by co-hosts Steve SkrovanDavid Feldman, and Ralph Nader (here, as co-host and guest), Friday, 7 OCT 2016, 11:00 PDT.

[3]  Unfortunately, Dr. Chomsky is not trying to take it to the next step nor take it to the next level.  After Dr. Nader briefly surveyed how Dr. Chomsky has been censored by the mass media, corporate and public, left and right, even without bringing up the tougher issues, which Dr. Chomsky avoids, such as 9/11 and the two-party dictatorship, and about which Dr. Nader has more honest analyses.


[7 OCT 2016]

[Last modified  13:42 PDT  9 OCT 2016]Save