C-Span's Holocaust Denier Sinks Show
When C-Span decided to "balance" a scholar's lecture at Harvard University with a confirmed liar speaking in a Georgia diner, it joined the reality TV crowd by favoring sensationalism over serious reporting.
By Frederick Sweet
More than 200 college historians nationwide had sent a petition to C-Span, protesting its plan to add a Holocaust denier to its coverage of a lecture by Deborah E. Lipstadt, a professor of Holocaust studies at Emory University. C-Span had planned to "balance" Lipstadt's speech with one by the British writer David Irving who argues that Hitler is not responsible for the mass murder of Europe's Jews.
"Falsifiers of history cannot 'balance' histories," said the petition, delivered to Connie Doebele, the executive producer at C-Span that had been scheduled to cover Lipstadt's Harvard lecture. The petition continued, "Falsehoods cannot 'balance' the truth," as reported in the New York Times (3/18/05).
When Lipstadt learned that the cable network had planned to include a lecture by Irving along with her remarks for "balance," she refused to give C-Span permission to tape the Harvard event. "I called the producer at C-Span and told her that this [Irving] was a man who was a Holocaust denier, and this idea of using both of us made no sense to me," Lipstadt said.
Irving Loses 2000 Libel Suit Brought Against Lipstadt
In May 2000, I met Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt in St. Louis at her lecture on Holocaust deniers after she had just returned from England, exhausted from her London trial. Lipstadt was obliged to prove that she had not libeled the Third Reich-loving writer David Irving. Asked why she had decided to go through with the trial instead of settling out of court with the Holocaust denier, she simply said, "When you face evil, you have no choice."
Irving has written Goring: A Biography, The Destruction of Dresden, Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich,and Nuremberg, the Last Battle that are sympathetic to his country's World War II enemies. Indeed, in Hitler's War, Irving intimates that Hitler never ordered anyone to murder the Jews. Some sort of killing may have happened to the Jews in the fog of war ... as had happened to other civilians. But, wrote Irving, nothing close to 6-million Jews had been killed, and certainly not systematically. Irving claimed his books establish him as a "published historian."
In her book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, Lipstadt charged Irving with knowingly lying in his writings on the Holocaust by denying that between 1940 and 1945 six and a half million Jews had been systematically robbed and then murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices following Adolf Hitler's orders. Rather than write a rebuttal to Lipstadt's expose of his writings on Holocaust denial, Irving sued her for libel in England.
This wasn't the first time Irving used the law to shake down a detractor for money with threats of a libel suit and to gain notoriety from it. Up until Lipstadt's trial, Irving's dodge had always paid off. But this time it didn't work because the scholar defended her work.
The Court ordered Irving to pay the cost of Lipstadt's defense, reportedly running over a million dollars. During the trial, a German expert on World War II history corroborated Lipstadt's criticism that Irving had falsified the record and wrongfully denied Hitler's "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" while also ridiculing the victims of the Holocaust.
The German expert charged Irving with dangerously using Germany as his "playground" for furthering his political ambitions. Irving retorted that he didn't throw bombs or harm anyone; he was merely a writer of words.
The German professor accused him of being worse than a terrorist because he "throws words" that induce others to violence. And indeed, it came out at the trial that Irving recently collaborated on editing a book by the notorious American racist, David Duke, a former high-level officer of the Ku Klux Klan.
Rebuffing C-Span's Bizarre Show
Lipstadt and many of her supporters believe that adding Irving's speech on Holocaust denial to an account of her views would be like accompanying a story on American slavery with remarks from someone who insists that slavery never happened.
"I told C-Span that I assumed that if they weren't going to tape my lecture, they also wouldn't use David Irving, but they said no, they were committed to having him on," Lipstadt told New York Times reporter Lewin. "This is a man who's said that Holocaust survivors are all liars, and that more people died in Senator Kennedy's car at Chappaquiddick than in the gas chambers."
Lipstadt is a distinguished Holocaust scholar who has taken it upon herself to confront the anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers with historic truth. Irving is a British court-confirmed liar who makes a living out of selling books that distort the historic record by denying that the Holocaust ever happened. The puzzler is, why did C-Span decide to "balance" the scholar's lecture at Harvard University with that by a confirmed liar speaking in a Georgia diner?
Evidently, C-Span has joined the reality TV crowd by favoring sensationalism over serious reporting.
Frederick Sweet is Professor of Reproductive Biology in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. You can email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
C-Span's Holocaust Denier Sinks Show
Intervention Magazine, a "webzine" on "War, Politics, Culture", has an article on the C-SPAN controversy, posted on March 25. Here are some excerpts: