Friday, March 18, 2005

C-SPAN Storm continues

As I mentioned earlier, the New York Times and Atlanta Journal Constitution have both published stories on this. Here are some excerpts. First the NYT:

C-Span's Plan to Cover Talk on Holocaust Is Criticized

More than 200 historians at colleges nationwide sent a petition to C-Span yesterday to protest its plan to accompany its coverage of a lecture by Deborah E. Lipstadt, a professor of Holocaust studies at Emory University, with a speech by David Irving, who has argued that Hitler was not fully responsible for the mass murder of Jews.

"Falsifiers of history cannot 'balance' histories," said the petition, delivered to Connie Doebele, the executive producer at C-Span who planned the coverage. "Falsehoods cannot 'balance' the truth."


"If C-Span broadcasts a lecture by David Irving, it will provide publicity and legitimacy to Holocaust-denial, which is nothing more than a mask for anti-Jewish bigotry," the petition said.

Although the petition was sent to C-Span yesterday, many more academics are still signing on, so another set of signatures may go to the network next week, said Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the Wyman institute.

"I've never before heard of a television network offering free time to a Holocaust denier," Dr. Medoff said, "so it was surprising and it may be unprecedented. I think once C-Span realizes the depth of public concern and the strong opposition of the academic community, they will reconsider."

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has a similar article which begins:

Emory scholar tells C-SPAN 'no thanks'

An Emory University scholar who was sued by an author who denied the Holocaust is now at the center of a national storm involving the C-SPAN television network.

On March 16, The Jewish Press Online noted that:

C-SPAN Falls Over The Edge

C-SPAN often teeters on the brink of self-parody, particularly when the hosts of its morning discussion program, “Washington Journal,” stare impassively at the camera while yet another crazed caller recites chapter and verse of the latest conspiracy theories involving the Trilateral Commission or the Bush family’s Nazi/Saudi/Zionist/ KGB/CIA ties (choose one or more and don’t think twice about any seeming contradictions).

Formed in 1979 as, in the words of its mission statement, “a private, non-profit the cable television industry as a public provide public access to the political process,” C-SPAN is deadly serious about maintaining a reputation for non-partisanship — to the point even of allowing viewers to disseminate, unchallenged, all manner of unsubstantiated charges and outright lies.

But the ideal of non-partisanship, admirable when it comes to covering Congress and political conventions, can become something else entirely when used to provide respectability to lunatic-fringe ideologues who insist that a copiously documented, relatively recent historical event never really happened. And this is where C-SPAN has at last fallen over the brink and become a parody of it own sanctimoniousness.

Israel's Arutz Sheva has also weighed in with a brief piece focusing on the petition.


Bennett Tramer said...

Dear Ms. Lipstadt,
Book TV, I can assure you, has received many, many e-mails voicing outrage but whether or not they are being shown to Brian Lamb, President of C-Span is another question. Here's what I wrote:
Dear Book TV,
I am appalled that Deborah Lipstadt's talk at Harvard University cannot be aired on your program without giving "Equal time" to David Irving, a man who denies the Holocaust ever happened. This is equivalent to not airing a speech critical of slavery unless you grant equal time to someone who claims African Americans were never enslaved.
I have enjoyed your programs in the past, particulaly an evening on Jack Kerouac and a terrific speech by E.L. Doctorow. However, you can be assured unless I receive a satisfactory explanation of your carrying "Fairness" to an idoitic extreme, I will avoid your programs in the future, and encourage everyone I know to do likewise.
A former fan,
Bennett Tramer

Bennett Tramer said...

This one, also sent to Book TV is from literary agent Steven Malk:
To Whom It May Concern:

I'm writing to tell you that I was absolutely outraged, appalled, and saddened to hear that BookTV is refusing to air Deborah Lipstadt's speech unless she agrees to grant equal time to an "opposing point of view," i.e. someone who claims that the Holocaust never happened.

This is beyond disturbing, and you should be ashamed of yourselves for helping to proliferate and legitimize this kind of ignorance and hatred. I believe in fair debate and differing points of view, but I don't happen to think that someone claiming that the holocaust never happened falls into this category. By giving someone like David Irving a platform on a well-respected show like yours, you're also giving him credibility, whether you intend to or not.

I work in the publishing industry and come from a family of booksellers (both my parents and grandparents owned bookstores), and I believe that as people associated with books, we have an even greater responsibility to history and accuracy. It's a very sad day for our culture when a show about books is not only willing to give air time to someone like David Irving, but is so adamant about it that they're threatening to not air a real scholar such as Ms. Lipstadt.

I hold out hope that you'll come to your senses and issue a formal apology. If not, I will surely never watch your show again, and I'll advise all of my clients (some of whom have appeared on your show) to do the same.


Steven Malk
Writers House LLC

Anonymous said...

Do what we say or you will suffer a massive withdrawal of patronage followed by a campaign of media villification.