Peter Barry Chowka
Investigative Journalist and Author
Peter Barry Chowka is a writer, journalist, medical-political analyst, editor, and photographer.
Since the 1970s he has worked in a variety of media (periodicals, radio, television, documentary films, and online) to report on issues and personalities in the fields of national politics, medical policy, the media, popular culture, the environment, and innovative health options.
Peter majored in English at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He got his start in journalism and media at WGTB, a leading non-commercial FM radio station in the nation’s capital affiliated with Georgetown. Peter served as news director, music director, and – for two years – station manager during a seminal and transformative period in the innovative station's history.
In 1972, Peter and his associate, the late Scott D. F. Spiegel, while they were students at Georgetown, worked for the anti-war presidential campaign of Sen. George McGovern (D-SD), writing and producing radio commercials aimed at young voters that were broadcast on radio stations around the country. Peter and Scott traveled with Sen. McGovern during the last three weeks leading up to the November 1972 general election and filed fair and balanced reports from the campaign trail for the Campaign Radio Network, a distribution channel of college and non-commercial radio stations that they created. Peter also covered the 1972 Presidential primaries and the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach. In 1974 and 1976, Peter exhibited his photographs of the campaign, titled “The Choice of The Century,” at galleries on Martha's Vineyard and in Washington, D.C.
An accredited journalist during his years in Washington, D.C., Peter also covered and photographed many events at the Nixon White House.
Peter also reported on the Presidential primaries in 1976, 1980, and 1992. In particular, he documented all three Presidential campaigns of Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA), and interviewed Brown a number of times for publication. Jerry Brown cited one of Peter’s articles in a cover story profile of Brown written by Richard Reeves and published in Esquire in February 1978.
In addition to Jerry Brown, Peter has interviewed many other major national political figures and policymakers, including Sen. Bob Dole, Sen. George McGovern, Patrick J. Buchanan, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Gov. Bill Clinton (when he was campaigning for President in 1992), labor and human rights activist Cesar Chavez, Gov. George Wallace, and many others.
Later in the 1970s, Peter collaborated closely with pioneering Beat Generation writers Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Snyder – exploring their work in a series of published long form interviews, articles, and radio broadcasts, and accompanying Ginsberg on guitar and vocals in a number of high profile public performances. Peter’s 25,000-word interview with Gary Snyder was published in three issues of East West Journal and subsequently served as a core of two of Snyder’s books, The Real Work (New Directions, 1980) and The Gary Snyder Reader (Counterpoint, 1999).
A particular focus of Peter's later journalistic work – beginning in 1975 – has been to document the history and evolution of innovative and alternative medicine with an extensive emphasis on the War on Cancer and alternative cancer therapies. His reporting has ranged from inside the Washington, D.C. Beltway to the leading innovative clinical centers around North America. Over the years Peter has interviewed scores of thought leaders in the field, including Larry Dossey, M.D., James Gordon, M.D., Bernie Siegel, M.D., Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D., William Donald Kelley, D.D.S., Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, M.D., Ph.D., and (more often than any other journalist) two-time Nobel Prize winning scientist, humanitarian, and nutritional therapy proponent Linus Pauling, Ph.D .
Peter's numerous articles in East West, Nutrition Science News, Alternative Medicine, Let's Live, New Age Journal, Country Living's Healthy Living, The Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, Boston Magazine, and other publications have explored the limitations of medical orthodoxy, a broad range of innovative treatment options, and the mainstreaming of alternative medicine. His photographs have been published by Time-Life Books and in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. Peter has been quoted in news articles published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time magazine, and The Village Voice, among others.
Peter has also written for the peer-reviewed scientific literature, including "Controlling blood sugar with nutrients & botanicals" published in Advance for Nurse Practitioners (Adv Nurse Pract 2003 Feb;11(2):22).
Over the years, Peter has emerged as one of the most prolific, independent, and probing reporters and commentators in the fields of Alternative Medicine, Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM), and the politics of health care. In particular, his body of work has helped to redefine the role that innovative and alternative therapies play in modern medicine.
Peter has appeared as an expert guest on hundreds of radio and TV talk shows all over North America, many of them at the national network level (including NBC-TV, PBS, the ABC TalkRadio Network, and CBC Television in Canada), and in major film and television documentaries. On April 24, 2007, Peter was a guest on Coast to Coast AM With George Noory, broadcast on over 600 stations coast to coast. Over the years, Peter has worked with or been interviewed by many other journalists and talk show hosts including Geraldo Rivera, Tom Snyder, Michael Reagan, David Brudnoy, and Tom Leykis. Peter is the subject of a chapter in distinguished Prof. David J. Hess, Ph.D.'s book Evaluating Alternative Cancer Therapies: A Guide to the Science and Politics of an Emerging Medical Field (Rutgers University Press, 1999).
In 1999, Peter wrote actress Jane Seymour's on camera narration for the award winning thirteen-part PBS series Healthy Living.
As a widely published photojournalist, Peter has complemented his written reportage with a unique and evocative visual record. For example, Peter's History of Alternative Medicine and the War on Cancer features several hundred of his photographs and personal reminiscences of encounters with CAM pioneers including Nobel laureate Linus Pauling, Ph.D. at his home near Big Sur, California; Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, M.D., Ph.D., another Nobel prize winner and the discoverer of vitamin C; and Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D., the co-founder of Orthomolecular Medicine. Peter and his History presentation were featured prominently at World Med ’96, an international conference of innovative medicine in Washington, D.C. in May 1996 co-chaired by former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, MD.
Peter is particularly well known for his investigative reporting into the Hoxsey Therapy. Starting in 1980, Peter’s articles and radio broadcasts about Hoxsey helped to establish it as a leading, credible alternative cancer therapy. Peter appears prominently on camera throughout the 1987 independent documentary feature film Hoxsey: How Healing Becomes a Crime, a.k.a. Hoxsey: Quacks Who Cure Cancer?, which was originally inspired by his articles. Peter’s efforts have been instrumental in helping to bring the promising Hoxsey herbal treatment to the attention of the public, mainstream medicine, and policy makers.
Peter was a consultant to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition, co-chaired by Sens. Bob Dole and George McGovern in the 1970s. From 1985-1990, he advised the U.S. Congress's Office of Technology Assessment which examined a variety of alternative cancer therapies for its definitive 1990 report, Unconventional Cancer Treatments. In 1992 Peter was appointed to two of the first program advisory panels of the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) new Office of Alternative Medicine including one devoted to CAM databases and electronic information dissemination – anticipating the imminent, widespread adoption of the Internet. His contributions are included in the NIH's 1994 publication, Alternative Medicine: Expanding Medical Horizons.
In March 2001, Peter was invited by James Gordon, M.D. to testify on the subject of the Internet and alternative medicine at a meeting of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy in Washington, D.C. which Dr. Gordon chaired.
An early adopter of the World Wide Web, Peter first went online in 1994. Within several weeks of initially logging on, he had established his first of many Web sites – some of the earliest ones to focus on alternative medicine. Since then, Peter has published over 500 articles and interviews online. In 1997, Internet expert Mary Jo Fahey included a chapter about Peter and his leading edge Internet work in her book, Web Publisher's Design Guide for Windows: 2nd Edition (Coriolis).
Since 1992 and the emergence of Bill Clinton on the national scene, Peter has been investigating the political push for "universal health care" which he sees as the most serious threat to Americans' freedom, autonomy, and choice in healing since the time of the Founding Fathers. In 1994, Peter’s articles critical of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s push for “health care reform” were published in a number of periodicals. In May 2007, the Institute for Health Freedom's highly regarded newsletter Health Freedom Watch published Peter's feature article, "Government Begins to Enforce Conventional Medicine Mandates on Americans."
In June 2007, the respected online publication American Thinker began publishing Peter's articles on medical policy, national politics, and the media. In the years since then, Peter has written a number of articles and blog items about a wide range of subjects for American Thinker. An archive of Peter's articles at American Thinker may be accessed here.
In 2015, Peter established his latest Web site, http://thehealers.info, where he will present his articles, interviews, and other primary source material documenting the many healers he has reported on over the years, starting with Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D. (1947-2015).
In 2016, a new book about Dr. Gonzalez, The Gonzalez Protocol, includes two chapters written by Peter. Dr. Gonzalez’s widow Mary Beth asked Peter to be one of three speakers offering remembrances about her late husband at his memorial service on June 20, 2016 at the historic Saint James’ Church in New York, NY. Peter’s article about the memorial service, published in the August/September 2016 issue of The Townsend Letter, can be read here.
The July/August 2016 issue of the peer-reviewed Medline-indexed medical journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine published Peter’s article “Reporting on Dr. Gonzalez for a Quarter Century: A Memoir.” The article can be read here.
To be continued.