Published: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 12:24 PM EST
For more than a year, the media watchdog group CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) studiously has been documenting on its Web site feature “C-SPAN Watch” what it refers to as the cable station’s “de facto collaboration in disseminating” anti-Jewish and anti-Israel conspiracy theories. In particular, notes CAMERA, C-SPAN’s daily public affairs interview program “Washington Journal” “has become a megaphone” for the antisemitic rants of those who blame pretty much all the world’s ills on Israel and the Jewish people. Those rants, which often come in during the show’s phone-in portion, frequently feature anti-semitic rants that are “catatonically” ignored by the show’s rotating hosts.
But a Jan. 4 segment of the show was enough to push many of the stations’ Jewish viewers over the edge.
During an interview on terrorism with Michael Scheuer, the former CIA Bin Ladin Unit Chief, “John from Franklin [New York]” called in and said:
‘I for one am sick and tired of all these Jews coming on C-SPAN and other stations and pushing us to go to war against our Muslim friends. They’re willing to spend the last drop of American blood and treasure to get their way in the world. They have way too much power in this country. People like Wolfowitz and Feith and other neo-cons – that jews us into Iraq – and now we’re going to spend the next 60 years rehabilitating our soldiers – I’m sick and tired of it.”
The show’s host Bill Scanlan’s only response was to Scheuer. “Any comments?” he asked.
Scheuer responded in part: “Whether we want to be involved in fighting Israel’s wars in the future is something that Americans should be able to talk about. They may vote yes. They may WANT to see their kids killed in Iraq or Yemen or somewhere else to defend Israel. But the question is: we need to talk about it. Ultimately, Israel is a country that is of no particular worth to the United States.”
Scheuer’s remarks did not invite a response from the Jewish community; Considered by many to be virulently anti-Israel, he has, among other things, asserted that Osama bin Laden should not be identified as a terrorist and that the Holocaust Museum in Washington was a means to make Americans feel guilty about the Holocaust.
But Scanlan’s failure to challenge the caller on behalf of C-SPAN boggled many Jewish minds.
“We continue to receive many complaints from C-SPAN viewers about the unchallenged anti-Semitism and bigotry aired by callers to your shows, and we believe those complaints are justified,” said the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in a letter to the station printed on ADL’s Web site. “Recognizing that we share with you a commitment to freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas, we also believe that respectable journalistic organizations have a responsibility and an obligation, consistent with the First Amendment, to speak out when the forum they provide is used to disseminate hate and anti-Semitism.
Following this outrageous tirade, Scanlan should have stated, very clearly, that he found such statements abhorrent.
While Franklin and other callers of his ilk have a right to their views and to express those views, they have no constitutional right to airtime on C-Span’s Washington Journal. We urge you to evaluate your policies and procedures on how to handle such offensive remarks by callers, as well as issue an apology for this particular segment.”
CAMERA noted that “Except for American Jews, ‘Washington Journal’ allows no religious or ethnic group to be repeatedly vilified. Except for Israel, it permits no country to be demonized. Only in the case of Jews and Israel do C-SPAN hosts permit such slander. It’s long past time for this to stop.”
As the Ledger went to press, C-SPAN had still not issued a statement in response to ADL and CAMERA.