The show was located in the DCTV firehouse building (a converted firehouse) in New York City's Chinatown.
Democracy Now! was founded on February 19, 1996 at WBAI-FM in New York City by progressive journalists Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, Larry Bensky, Salim Muwakkil, and Julie Drizin. It originally aired on five Pacifica Radio stations. Goodman is the program's principal host, with Juan Gonzalez as frequent co-host.Jeremy Scahill, an investigative reporter for The Nation, has been a frequent contributor since 1997. The program's first fifteen minutes, called the "War and Peace Report" are translated daily into Spanish. The Democracy Now! website is also available in Spanish. The program focuses on issues considered underreported or ignored by mainstream news coverage. Democracy Now! began broadcasting on television every weekday shortly after September 11, 2001, and is the only public media in the U.S. that airs simultaneously on satellite and cable television, radio, and the internet.
In November, 2009, Democracy Now! bid farewell to their broadcast studio in the DCTV converted firehouse building in New York City's Chinatown, where they had broadcast for 8 years. The studio subsequently moved to a repurposed graphic arts building in the Chelsea District of Manhattan. In 2010, the new 8500-square-footDemocracy Now! studio became the first radio or television studio in the nation to receive LEED Platinum certification, the highest rating awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Three journalists with Democracy Now!—including principal host Amy Goodman, and news producers Nicole Salazar and Sharif Abdel Kouddous—were detained by police during their reporting on the 2008 Republican National Convention protests. Salazar was filming as officers in full riot gear charged her area. As she yelled "Press!" she was knocked down and told to put her face in the ground while another officer dragged her backward by her leg across the pavement. The video footage of the incident was immediately posted on the Internet, leading to a large public outcry against her arrest. When a second producer, Kouddous, approached, he too was arrested, and charged with a felony. According to a press release by Democracy Now!, Goodman herself was arrested after confronting officers regarding the arrest of her colleagues. The officers had established a line of "crowd control," and ordered Goodman to move back. Goodman claims she was arrested after being pulled through the police line by an officer, and subsequently (as well as Kouddous) had her press credentials for the convention physically stripped from her by a secret service agent. All were held on charges of "probable cause for riot." A statement was later released by the city announcing that all "misdemeanor charges for presence at an unlawful assembly for journalists" would be dropped. The felony charges against Salazar and Kouddous were also dropped.
Goodman, Salazar, and Kouddous subsequently filed a lawsuit against the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis as well as other defendants. According to Baher Asmy of the Center for Constitutional Rights, "[a]ll three plaintiffs that are journalists with Democracy Now reached a final settlement with the city of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the United States Secret Service, that will resolve the claims that they had against them from unlawful and quite violent arrests." The settlement includes $100,000 in compensation and a promise of police training.
Notable guests, interviews, and on-air debates
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Evo Morales, President of Bolivia – Interviewed on September 22, 2006; talked about his recent speech at the United Nations in New York where he held up a coca leaf and argued for international drug law reform as well as talked about the nationalization of Bolivia's energy reserves among other topics. Morales was again interviewed on April 23, 2010 after the World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
George McGovern, 1972 Democratic presidential nominee – Interviewed on March 11, 2008 about that year's presidential race and how McGovern's chairmanship of the Democratic Party Reform Commission (1969–70) transformed the nominating process.
Michael Moore – Filmmaker, author, political commentator; interviewed on March 10, 2011 & on September 28, 2011
Mumia Abu-Jamal – In its first year, Democracy Now! was one of the first national programs to air radio commentaries from the controversial journalist and former Black Panther Party member, on death row in Pennsylvania for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer. The 1997 decision to air Abu-Jamal's commentaries caused Democracy Now! to lose twelve of its then 36 affiliates.
Naomi Klein – Author, public intellectual, and critic of globalization and corporate capitalism. Interviewed on March 9, 2011.
Noam Chomsky – A regularly interviewed guest; MIT linguistics professor, political analyst, and author.
Tawakel Karman – The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient appeared 21 October 2011, while she was in New York for a UN Security Council resolution that would create a path for Yemen President Saleh to resign.
^ abcStelter, Brian (October 23, 2011). "A Grass-Roots Newscast Gives a Voice to Struggles". The New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2011. "...a producer said: "I don’t get it. Why wasn’t I arrested?" Ms. Goodman asked him, "Were you out on the streets?" No, he said, he had been in the studio the whole time. "I’m not being arrested here either," she said she told him. "You’ve got to get out there.""
^Lizzy Ratner (May 23, 2005). "Amy Goodman's 'Empire'". The Nation. Retrieved October 23, 2011. "Goodman herself lays the credit--or blame--for the program's success squarely at the well-rested feet of the mainstream newsmakers who, she said, leave "a huge niche" for Democracy Now! "They just mine this small circle of blowhards who know so little about so much. And yet it's just the basic tenets of good journalism that instead of this small circle of pundits, you talk to people who live at the target end of the policy,""