Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Ventura County Star on C-SPAN Controversy

In the April 18 issue of the Ventura County Star, columnist Beverly Kelley comments on the C-SPAN controversy. Here are some excerpts:
Some opinions don't have intellectual merit

Think about a historian specializing in slavery who, because of his ability to cite journals, transcripts and other legal documents, has acquired renown as a painstaking researcher and eminent scholar. Now imagine he reaches the conclusion that slavery never really existed and that anyone who believes otherwise is perpetrating a massive fraud.

Eventually, another historian takes a look at the first historian's research. In fact, she submits every citation to intense scrutiny. What she finds is a consistent pattern of misquotation, misinterpretation and fabrication. The second historian accuses the first, in print, of manipulating evidence "in order to reach historically untenable conclusions."

The first historian, who sues the second historian for libel, loses big time. In fact, the judge's verdict not only calls the first historian a "racist" but finds that his "falsification of the record was deliberate and ... motivated by a desire to present events in a manner consistent with his own ideological beliefs even if that involved distortion and manipulation of historical evidence."

Hmm -- is all this just some sort of ethical "what if" game? No, Virginia, these events actually transpired -- all you have to do is substitute "the Holocaust" for "slavery." The name of the first historian is David Irving and the second is Deborah Lipstadt.

Now you have all the information you need to understand the raft of outraged phone calls, letters, and e-mail battering C-SPAN last month. It seems a producer thought she needed to "balance" Deborah Lipstadt's book interview with an appearance by the debunked Holocaust denier.


It's about time we realized that not every cockamamie opinion should be accorded equal intellectual merit. The C-SPAN debacle raises legitimate concerns -- has a journalist sought the truth if he merely cites opposing authorities? What factual backing is required for a viewpoint to make it to a "letters to the editor" page?

In a 1990 speech, Irving declared, "The holocaust of Germans in Dresden really happened. That of the Jews in the gas chambers of Auschwitz is an invention." In 1991, he pontificated, "More women died on the back seat of Senator Edward Kennedy's car at Chappaquiddick than died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz." Irving also maintained that Adolf Hitler played no role in the Final Solution.

Holocaust deniers would have you believe that "The Diary of Anne Frank" was actually a forgery and that concentration camp gas chambers were used for delousing. With respect to genocide statistics, these folks have whittled down the generally accepted 6 million Jews to 200,000, claiming many succumbed to disease or perished at the hands of the Allies. Despite the existence of contrary evidence galore (Germans kept impeccable accounts) they allege Zionists perpetrated the Holocaust hoax to bilk Germany out of heavy-duty reparation dollars.


On his Web site, Irving argues the C-SPAN dispute is "blind censorship, that is what this country now has to fear." It might be worth noting that in "History on Trial," Lipstadt, who is Jewish, likewise opposes censorship, not just from a freedom of speech standpoint but because it might give Holocaust deniers' nonfact based vision of history a platform. She has no objection to Irving making an appearance on C-SPAN. As a matter of principle, however, she won't debate him.

"You can convince anyone of anything if you just push it at them 100 percent of the time. They may not believe it completely, but they will still use it to form opinions, especially if they have nothing else to draw on." Do you know who said that?

Charles Manson. Think about it.

-- Beverly Kelley, who writes every other Monday for The Star, is an author ("Reelpolitik" and "Reelpolitik II") and professor in the Communication Department at California Lutheran University. Her e-mail address is kelley@clunet.edu. Visit her blog spot at beverlykelley.typepad.com/my_weblog.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Evans in Claremont, CA (Apr. 18/05)

Prof. Richard Evans' Expert Witness Report was a key component of the defense arguments during the trial. As the following item from the April 15 issue of Inland Southern California's Press Enterprise notes, he will be giving a lecture on Monday:

Out & About

RICHARD EVANS, professor of modern history at Cambridge University lectures on "History, Truth and Memory: Reflections on the Irving-Lipstadt Libel Case," 12:15 p.m. Monday, Claremont McKenna College, Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum, 385 E. Eighth St., Claremont, free, (909) 621-8099.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Lipstadt Speaks in Philadelphia (April 17/05)

Philadelphia's The Weekly Press has a Feature Story on Prof. Lipstadt's forthcoming appearance as the keynote speaker at Greater Philadelphia's annual memorial tribute to victims of the Holocaust:
Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia announces memorial ceremony for the six million Jewish martyrs
Featured By Harry B. Cook
Director, Philly1.com

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia is announcing the 2005 "Memorial ceremony for the six million Jewish martyrs" in Philadelphia. The community program, which is sponsored by Federation's Memorial Committee for the Six Million Jewish Martyrs of the Jewish Community Relations Council, will be held Sunday, April 17, at 1 p.m., at the Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs, located at 16th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The memorial ceremony is Greater Philadelphia's yearly tribute to the victims of the Nazi Holocaust. The theme of this year's ceremony is "60 Years Since Liberation: Remembering the Holocaust."

Dr. Deborah E. Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University and the author of "History on Trial," the story of her successful libel trial against Holocaust denier David Irving, will be this year's keynote speaker. The commemoration will include a tribute to local liberators of the concentration camps, a memorial candle-lighting ceremony, children's march and wreath-laying procession, greetings from area leaders, and musical selections by violinist Philip Kates of The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Temple Sinai Junior Choir under the direction of Cantor Stephen Freedman. Cantor Isaac Horowitz of Congregation Sons of Israel will chant the Memorial Prayer.

"History on Trial," published in 2005, is the story of Dr. Lipstadt's successful libel trial in London against David Irving, who sued her for calling him a Holocaust denier and right wing extremist. Her legal battle with Irving lasted five years. The judge ruled that Irving was a Holocaust denier, falsifier of history, racist, an anti-Semite and a liar. In July 2001, Irving's appeal of the judgment against him was resoundingly rejected.

Dr. Lipstadt has served as a historical consultant to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and on its Memorial Council. From 1996-1999 she was a member of the U.S. State Department Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad, serving as an advisor on matters of religious persecution. She has also written "Denying the Holocaust, The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory" (1993), the first full length study of those who attempt to deny the Holocaust, and "Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust" (1986), which addressed the issue of what the American public knew about the Holocaust and when they knew it. The recipient of numerous teaching awards and honors, Dr. Lipstadt is frequently called upon by the media as a commentator and consultant. She is a regular contributor to many newspapers in the United States and London.

In the event of rain, the ceremony will be held at Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel, 300 South 18th Street. For further information, call JCRC at 215-832-0650.

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:
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 fred@interventionmag.com.

lipstadt.blogspot.com and the CSpan Saga

A number of people have contacted me asking for my reactions to one or another developments in the "CSpan Saga." I have really said all that can be said about it and don't think I will be commenting further.

We will continue to post various other people's comments about the issue, whether they agree with my position or not. Generally, we will post them without comment. [We will continue our practice of providing a brief introduction and link to the source.]

And now I am going swimming.

C-SPAN: An "Ethics Dunce"

The Ethics Scoreboard has a Dunces Corner which is "Reserved for those individuals and organizations who display a complete ignorance of ethics through their persistence in, defense of, or comfort with blatantly unethical conduct."

Here are some excerpts from the Scoreboard's assessment of C-SPAN who received top billing on the list of March 2005 Ethics Dunces:

What really puts the "Dunce" in this Ethics Dunce is a seemingly obvious truth: lies do not provide balance. The laudable objective of balance in discussing public affairs or any other controversial issue is to promote fair analysis and broad-based understanding by presenting varying and legitimate points of view on the topic at hand. Lies do not promote either. Lies foster un-fairness and misunderstanding. Is it possible that C-SPAN doesn't know this? The mind boggles.

The contention that the Holocaust occurred is not controversial, any more than the contention that the Pacific Ocean is wet or that the Confederacy lost the Civil War. Since David Irving has made a reputation by claiming the Holocaust didn't happen, there is also no controversy over his legitimacy and integrity as a serious historian: he has none. He is incapable of providing balance to Lipstadt or anyone else.

A fun parlor game could come out of this, called "C-SPAN Balance." The idea would be to find the perfect balance to anyone discussing an established fact. Let's see… [...]

[...] It is too horrible to contemplate that the executives at C-SPAN actually believe that Irving's position isn't a lie, so, with a shudder, we will put that idea aside. Instead, this Ethics Dunce should write on the blackboard a hundred, no, a thousand times:

Lies aren't balance.

Maybe it will sink in.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Neiwert on Washington Post's Trial Coverage ... and C-SPAN

Journalist David Neiwert has commented a few times on the C-SPAN controversy, and the ensuing program, and we have previously highlighted some excerpts from his blog.

Neiwert has received correspondence from T.R. Reid objecting to parts of Neiwert's commentary. In concluding his response, Neiwert notes:

[...] when it comes to covering the Michael Jackson trial, the Post so far been running nearly daily reports (mostly by Libby Copeland). That too would constitute what I think most journalists and editors see as "covering the trial." I'm sure a case can be readily made that the Jackson trial is the more newsworthy and significant of the two, but I'm not sure I want to hear it.

As Yurman has noted in my comments, there are more than a few mitigating circumstances, of course: Being a foreign-office bureau chief is usually a thankless and over-assigned affair, and reporters like Reid are always being spread thin. He also had to cover proceedings in the Augusto Pinochet trial there that winter. Much as I might not have liked the Post's choices, they were at least defensible.

What's not as defensible, I think, is the relatively thin gruel that Reid served up for BookTV's national audience -- a natural result, I think, of his not having read Lipstadt's book. [...]

Reaction to CSpan

From: Edward Queen
Sent: Wednesday, April 13, 2005 10:45 AM
To: 'booktv@c-span.org'
Subject: History on Trial

I honestly must admit that my imagination could not conceive that Book TV on C-Span2 could have acted even more irresponsibly, ignorantly, and cowardly regarding its handling of Professor Deborah Lipstadt’s book History on Trial than it did with its initial planning for the program. As a textbook case of management and institutional response driven by a “cover yourself” mentality this event soon will find its way into my teaching, ranking with the Japanese government’s handling of the the country’s banking collapse and the Nixon White House’s handling of Watergate. This, however, will feature as an even more as pointed example of the idiocy of such behavior, since the stakes for Book TV were so low.

The entire event would be that laughable, if it weren’t for the seriousness of the issues. From the beginning Book TV has acted in a manner that demeaned, degraded, and denied the importance of Prof. Lipstadt’s work, from its initial desire to place video David Irving and Prof. Lipstadt back to back, not to provide some illustration of Irving and his work as Book TV later claimed (a point on which both Prof. Lipstadt and Irving agree), but to provide, in Connie Doebele’s own words “balance.” (And I shall avoid undue tangent’s but why did Book TV’s program with Ward Churchill not require balance?) Book TV did this when the entire premise of Prof. Lipstadt’s book and her career is that there is nothing to balance. Irving, as the British court determined, is a liar. There is nothing to balance between truth and falsehood.

When Ms. Lipstadt pointed out this fact, Book TV did not acknowledge the idiocy of its initial perspective, but threatened Prof. Lipstadt claiming it would run Irving’s talk without her. In doing so it moved from mere idiocy to immorality. Fortunately, the appropriately pointed column of Richard Cohen in the Washington Post embarrassed Book TV sufficiently to save it from itself, albeit just barely. Rather than such a stupid undertaking, Book TV went on the offensive, putting together a program that appears to have been nothing other than a hatchet job on Prof. Lipstadt. It began by interviewing itself in the person of Connie Doebele with the simple of goal of completely misleading anyone who might be watching the program about the previous events and then featuring as their main speaker, T. R. Reid, someone who had never read the book under discussion. Every excerpt it used of Prof. Lipstadt was designed to place her in a most unfavorable light, subtly trying to imply she is a difficult person, thereby validating Book TV’s refusal to deal with her.

After receiving significant fallout from this bit of offensive persona vendetta, Book TV reverted to the tactic of every tin-horn despot that exercised control over information, it proceeded to deny it ever happened. It did this by completely pulling the programming from its website. I guess we might offer one cheer to Book TV for finally acknowledging, albeit obliquely, the egregiousness of its errors, but how about a simple apology to Prof. Lipstadt, Book TV’s viewers, and, most importantly, the victims of the Holocaust whose suffering and pain Irving has done so much to dismiss. It is time for Book TV to stop denying its errors of judgment and history. Atonement must follow, however. Invite Prof. Lipstadt on to the program apologize publicly and then let her talk about her most important book and the trial. It is never too late to rectify one’s mistakes and to learn from them.

Edward L. Queen Ph.D., J.D.
Center for Ethics
Emory University

Atlanta History Center: Tonight 7:30 p.m.

"Facing History: The Past as a Guide for the Future," at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, at the Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Rd., NW, Atlanta. The event is part of the Atlanta History Center's "Hear and Now: Hot Talk About Hot Topics" series.

Emory University's Provost Earl Lewis and Professor Deborah Lipstadt in conversation about how history shapes contemporary events.

CSpan Wipes Out History [The Saga Continues]

This matter has gotten completely bizarre. After the strange events of yesterday [see previous post], we, i.e. Hilary, decided to go back to the BookTV schedule page, to get a screen capture of their April 3 programming and we discovered that the 4:30 p.m. TimeSlot for Apr. 3 has now vanished, and the "content" of the program page has changed - again. This now reads:
After Words
A Weekly Look at Selected Book TV Programs
No program has been scheduled for this category at this time.

When I wrote yesterday that CSpan had left the content of the program page blank, I described them as having pulled an "Irving, making something that happened disappear." A friend of mine felt I had pushed the boundaries at bit too far by saying that. Now that CSpan has done this, I don't feel that way anymore. After all, there was a program, a pretty shoddy one featuring someone who had not read the book in question, but a program nonetheless.

What is particularly strange is that CSpan could have pointed to the awful program that they did on April 3rd as evidence that they tried to do the "right" thing and that I was the culprit by closing my lectures to them. Now they have obliterated that possibility.

This is the strangest thing I have ever seen [and I was on trial for 3 months for libel in a court where they wore wigs and gowns for calling a Holocaust denier a denier].

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

CSpan Rewrites History: Again

Hilary, who has been helping post things on this site, had noticed that the content of BookTV's page on the program is now blank - except for the dates and times.

Up until last night she could still access the RealAudio via the link we had posted but now it's dead too!

Not only that, but if you search for either "Lipstadt" or "History on Trial" on the BookTV site nothing turns up. Whereas a search for T.R. Reid yields blurbs on two programs of his books!

But wait ... there's more ... If you go to their Schedule page, the item for the 4:30 p.m. Apr. 3 timeslot reads: "General Assignment: 48 Hours of Non-Fiction Books" [which is reflected on the page above, too!] So now, according to BookTV, the Apr. 3 program didn't happen.

The only "evidence" that there *might* have been a program on Apr. 3 can be found in the C-SPAN archive, which includes one of the most unflattering pictures of me that I have ever seen. It's as if they ran through the entire clip and picked the worst shot [though this is probably how they see me] they could find.

Lipstadt/Irving Libel Trial
Washington, District of Columbia (United States)
ID: 186164 - 04/01/2005 - 1:09 - NS

Book TV presented a look at the 2000 libel trial between World War II writer David Irving and Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt. Dr. Lipstadt's latest book, History on Trial, examined the trial. T.R. Reid of the Washington Post, who had reported on the trial, as well as historian John Lukacs were included in the program. The program also featured video clips of past remarks by Deborah Lipstadt and David Irving.

So here is how CSpan handled this whole matter:

1. They started out by insisting on "balance." [They used the word repeatedly until a storm of criticism came raining down on their heads.]

2. They were willing to put Irving on alone. [Then they said that was just a ploy to get me to agree to being filmed and then broadcast back to back with him.]

3. They issued a disingenuous statement claiming that I had "closed" my talks to them but failing to mention why, i.e. that I would not be forced into a debate with Irving by being filmed back to back.

4. They produced a program about which they informed me, despite my efforts to make contact with them, 6 hours before broadcast.

5. They asked someone to be the anchor on the show who had not read my book and who told them he had not read the book.

6. They claimed that they never intended to put Irving and me on back to back. [Irving even said this was the case.]

7. They made it sound as if I wanted to silence Irving and failed to mention that Irving's intention was to silence me and have my book pulped.

8. And now they have rewritten history so that the show never even happened.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Classical Music aficionados comment on C-SPAN coverage

[Note to readers: For some reason the content on the BookTV program page is currently blank - except for the date and time of the program, although the RealAudio recording of the April 3 broadcast is still available (but not via the BookTV program page).]

One of the members of the Classical Music Guide Forums' "Corner Pub" viewed the program and posted her impressions on Friday:

Lipstadt/Irving Trial & Book-TV

I watched Book-TV's in-house special on what happened in the recent kerfuffle about Deborah Lipstadt's libel trial. It was very interesting to finally see the contendas and put faces to names. They had Connie Diebele standing for C-SPAN and T.R. Reid of the WashPost, who covered the trial in its tedious totality, talk about the trial. They ran clips of Lipstadt's previous appearances in which she discussed the phenomenon of holocaust denial and a couple clips of Irving talking about the trial.

Reid's judgment was that the only audience for Irving was right-wing nut cases. The C-SPAN clips of him were speaking in some restaurant in the south. It wasn't as good as the real thing, but I understand there's a transcript of the trial somewhere on the web. Lite bedtime reading, no doubt.

In a later post in the thread, the same member observed:
Very interesting about Irving's control of the docs. Reid did mention that as Irving's one saving grace, that he was very good at documentation. His description of Irving acting as his own attorney was comical, like something out of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Solomonia on C-SPAN's broadcast

Other bloggers have commented on the April 3 program. Here is an excerpt from Solomonia:

The C-Span Lipstadt Broadcast - Updated

Of course you cannot simply toss both sides out there on equal time and leave it up to the marketplace of ideas to sort out truth from fiction in a one hour program - even without commercials. It is irresponsible to put a truth-teller up against someone who has no qualms about lying with a straight face and expect even an above-average audience to sort out the truth from fiction. First of all, neither side has the time necessary to truly craft their case, nor would most people have the attention-span to focus on it even if they did. The trial took months and the issues cannot possibly be done justice to in a one hour program. Further, most people do not have the resources at hand, nor the ability at hand to fact and context-check every claim. Holocaust-deniers are masters of twisting the truth to form wholely new creations.

Given two reasonable-sounding cases, and little but the presentations themselves to recommend either, many well-meaning people will find themselves being drawn somewhere toward the center - the fallacy of the golden mean is a particularly seductive one.

Think of some controversial issue of which you are somewhat expert but that can easily be misunderstood and the public mislead when presented by someone you know to have a fringe view. Think of some court case or some disagreement you've had in which you know you were 100% right given someone taking the time to really sit down and examine your case, and how dangerous and frustrating it is if they don't - how easily a false impression can result from too little information gleaned too casually.

Saturday, April 9, 2005

Lewis Regenstein: "Deniers should not go unchallenged"

Lewis Regenstein is an Atlanta writer who also attended Irving's performance at the Landmark Diner. His view, however, is that Prof. Lipstadt could have used the BookTV program as an opportunity to debunk Irving in a widely-viewed public forum. Here are some excerpts from his account of Irving's presentation, posted April 6 on JewishPress.com:

Holocaust Deniers Should Not Go Unchallenged

A few days ago I went to see Revisionist historian David Irving, who was in Atlanta for a dinner meeting and speech (taped by cable TV’s C-SPAN). It was an interesting evening, one that has created an uproar in the press and among Jewish groups, with much of the coverage being partially inaccurate, misleading, and incomplete.

The subject was Irving’s lengthy and bitter court battle with Emory professor and Holocaust expert Deborah Lipstadt, who declined an invitation to appear on C-SPAN in a separate program in order to avoid any association with Irving. More than 500 historians have signed a petition asking C-SPAN not to air the Irving talk.

(Last Sunday, C-SPAN aired what may be its version of a compromise, running a program that featured short excerpts from talks by Lipstadt and Irving, with commentary by others.)

In his talk, Irving did not rant and rave and engage in hate-filled speech, but rather built his case calmly and methodically. His scholarly style was impressive; indeed, this is what makes his rhetoric so dangerous, and, unfortunately, believable to many people.

Addressing a few dozen people, Irving focused on his legal battle with Lipstadt, describing in detail how she and her lawyers had, in effect, destroyed his reputation and ruined his career.


He said he is not a “Holocaust denier” but “questions certain aspects of it.” He spoke of “the great Jewish tragedy of World War II,” and acknowledged that “unpleasant things happened to very large numbers of Jews killed at the camps.” He described mass shootings of Jews on the Eastern Front, which the British learned of contemporaneously through intercepted and decoded messages from the perpetrators. But that is about the extent of his concessions that there might have been a Holocaust.

Irving makes the most of the host of misconceptions, misunderstandings, and falsehoods that have been circulated about the Holocaust.[...]


The thing that struck me about Irving’s fascinating and skillfully delivered talk was how flimsy some of his arguments and "facts" are, and how easy it would be to refute them and discredit him.

For example, Irving`s suggestion that Hitler did not order and may not have fully known about the Holocaust is literally laughable. Just mentioning this one oddity of his repertoire — based on the lack of any known written order from Hitler, who obviously did it verbally — should be enough by itself to discredit him among many people. Kick out this one flimsy prop and the whole rotten structure collapses.

I am no expert, but I could have refuted much of what he said, in a way that would have made it clear to the audience that he was not being candid with them. In fact, I tried, successfully I hope, to do so by asking a detailed, three part question at the end which disputed the veracity of some of his statements — a pebble of truth tossed into a sea of distortions.

I hate to think of all the people who come to hear him and go away with so much misinformation left unquestioned. I understand the position taken by Jewish organizations and leaders that debating or appearing with Holocaust deniers lends them respectability and helps spread their views. But since so much of what they, and Irving, say can easily be refuted, perhaps some selective exceptions to this position should occasionally be considered, such as appearing separately on C-SPAN.

I think it is important that legitimate Holocaust historians find some appropriate way to publicly and effectively counter Irving and set the record straight. But this cannot be done if the true experts pass up opportunities to go on camera, tell the truth, and discredit the misinformation that is now being fed to audiences all over America and is going largely unchallenged.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, writing about “falsehoods and fallacies,” stated that “the remedy…is more speech, not enforced silence….”

Lipstadt and her colleagues worked hard to defeat Irving in a London court. I think they could do the same in the court of public opinion.

Lewis Regenstein is a writer in Atlanta. He can be contacted at regenstein@mindspring.com.

Friday, April 8, 2005

Lipstadt at Atlanta History Center April 13th 7:30 p.m.

ATLANTA, GA (Apr. 1) - Emory University historians Deborah Lipstadt and Earl Lewis will speak about the power of history to change our future at a forum titled "Facing History: The Past as a Guide for the Future," at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, at the Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Rd., NW, Atlanta. The event is part of the Atlanta History Center's "Hear and Now: Hot Talk About Hot Topics" series.

Reservations are required, and admission is $5 for members, $7 for non-members. Call 404-814-4150. A book signing will follow the discussion. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Lipstadt, author of the recently released book, "History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving," is director of the Rabbi Donald A. Tam Institute for Jewish Studies and Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory. Lewis, the author of the award winning "To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans," is Emory's provost and Candler Professor of African-American studies. Thomas D. Hills, chief financial officer of the State of Georgia, will be moderator for the event.

Lipstadt's "History on Trial" is an account of her decisive victory in a 2000 libel trial in London against a Holocaust denier. The trial was described by London's Daily Telegraph as having "done for the new century what the Nuremberg tribunals or the Eichmann trial did for earlier generations." Lipstadt first gained wide recognition for her book, "Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory" (1993), the first full-length study of Holocaust deniers, and the book that led to the libel trial.

Lewis, who holds degrees in psychology and history, is the author or co-author of seven books, among them, "In Their Own Interests: Race, Class and Power in Twentieth-Century Norfolk, Virginia" (1993), "Love on Trial: An American Scandal in Black and White" (2001) and "Defending Diversity: Affirmative Action at the University of Michigan" (2004).

The American Thinker on CSpan

The American Thinker on CSpan.

C-Span's spin

Yes, of course the media have a need to present all sides of an issue--provided the presenters are all responsible. A serious geography discussion would not offer a forum to a member of the Flat Earth Society; an important panel of economic experts would not include an alchemist revealing his formula for turning dross into gold.

But C-Span, that normally sober and responsible media outlet, recently did the equivalent of the above, carrying fair and balanced to new depths of fair and unbalanced. Historian Deborah Lipstadt wrote a book about her trial and vindication against a racist and Holocaust denier in England. Somehow, C-Span decided this individual had to appear with Ms. Lipstadt if they were to fairly interview her about her book. She rightly declined to be interviewed with her tormenter.

So C-Span interviewed the racist alchemist instead!

The protests to C-Span were many.

Herewith, Ms. Lipstadt tries to restore some balance.

C-Span? What happened?

Ethel C. Fenig 4 7 05

Newsweek International Review of History on Trial

Newsweek [International Edition] reviews History on Trial

History on Trial by Deborah Lipstadt
In 1999 Lipstadt, a Jewish-studies professor at Emory University, set out to prove that the Holocaust had occurred, after historian David Irving sued her in a British court for calling him a Holocaust denier. This compelling volume shows how Lipstadt's defense team used visits to Birkenau, Adolf Eichmann's journalsunveiled by Israel for the trial—and Irving's own writings to prove the case. The judge ruled Irving an "anti-Semite" who "deliberately skewed [historical] evidence." Lipstadt's vigorous account is a window into a Jewish community still grappling with the loss of 6 million souls.
—T. Trent Gegax

Creative Loafing on History on Trial

Creative Loafing Atlanta's alternative newspaper has a cover story on History on Trial, entitled No Denial

No Denial
Emory professor keeps fighting Holocaust denier


April 11 will mark the fifth anniversary of Deborah Lipstadt's resounding victory in a British courtroom against Holocaust denier David Irving. In the five years since Judge Charles Gray called Irving "anti-Semitic and racist," the British-born historian has been forced into bankruptcy, he's lost his home in London, and he's been relegated to driving from city to city in America, speaking in diners and legion halls to a tiny but impassioned group of supporters.

 Last month, Irving gave a lecture at the Landmark Diner in Buckhead. C-Span cameras were on hand. The network wanted to air his talk back-to-back with one given at Harvard by Lipstadt, who's been on the lecture circuit recently promoting her book, History on Trial, which recounts her courtroom battle with Irving.

 Lipstadt, a professor of Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory, is 58. She was born in Manhattan and, as she writes in her book, quickly gained a reputation as being "feisty and combative." At her Jewish day school, her mother often had to be called in to defend her daughter to the principal. Over five decades, Lipstadt's independent spirit has not weakened, as C-Span soon learned when she withdrew her permission for her Harvard lecture to be taped.

 Her decision was no surprise. For years, Lipstadt has consistently refused to debate Holocaust deniers.

 "Where's the debate?" she says. "A debate is on two perspectives on an issue. A debate is not between complete truth and complete falsehood."

 Lipstadt viewed C-Span's quest for "balance" as little more than a canard, a convenient label that justified giving Irving a forum for his discredited views.

 "They would never ask Henry Louis Gates to go on with someone who said slavery never happened," Lipstadt says from her office on the Emory campus, where a photo of a sign that says "No sniveling" sits on her desk as a warning to whining students.

 By last week, Lipstadt's decision had been endorsed by almost 600 historians, who signed a petition urging C-Span to cancel its broadcast of the Irving lecture.

 "Falsifiers of history cannot 'balance' historians. Falsehoods cannot 'balance' the truth," the petition reads. "C-Span should not broadcast statements that it knows to be false. ... 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."

 "If you think about it for a nanosecond, if you think about the case and who the parties were, the idea of balance is absolutely nuts," says Ken Stern, a specialist on anti-Semitism for the American Jewish Committee. "The concept that you have to balance somebody who prevailed in a case against somebody who was exposed as a neo-Nazi polemicist is to me a bizarre take on it, and a really bad journalistic enterprise."

 To Stern, C-Span's decision to "balance" the accepted history of the Holocaust with a talk by Irving is like airing an interview with the author of a book on child-rearing by inviting Michael Jackson or Jeffrey Dahmer to offer an alternative view.

 "It's just nuts."

 Stern first met Lipstadt in the early 1990s, when both were working on books about Holocaust deniers. Lipstadt was initially skeptical about the project, wondering "why study the historical equivalent of flat-Earth theorists?" But her research soon revealed that deniers weren't just skinheads frothing at the mouth. Many deniers had adopted, as she writes, "sophisticated camouflage tactics," such as the Institute for Historical Review, a scholarly sounding organization whose raison d'être is to argue that the Nazi extermination of Jews is a myth.One of the recurring characters in the resulting book, Denying the Holocaust, was David Irving. In the 1960s, Irving was considered a bit of a wunderkind, having written a book on the bombing of Dresden when he was just 25. In the 1970s, another book, Hitler's War, garnered positive reviews from many historians. Both the Hitler and Dresden works were seen as somewhat revisionist, in that they questioned conventional wisdom about their subjects and, in many cases, attacked the actions of the Allies while defending those of the Third Reich.

 "He was somebody who was trying to keep a foot in two different worlds, and trying to balance them," Stern says. One world was among scholarly historians, the other the seamy culture of neo-Nazism and white supremacy.

 Irving prided himself on relying on primary sources for his research, and disdained historians who he said merely regurgitated each other's work.

 Over time, Irving's sympathies toward the Third Reich became more overt. In Denying the Holocaust, Lipstadt detailed Irving's claims that, among other things, the gas chambers at Auschwitz were a myth and that Hitler knew nothing about the Final Solution. Her conclusions about Irving were blunt.

 "Irving is one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial," Lipstadt wrote. "Familiar with historical evidence, he bends it until it conforms with his ideological leanings and political agenda. ... He demands 'absolute documentary proof' when it comes to proving the Germans guilty, but he relies on highly circumstantial evidence to condemn the Allies. This is an accurate description not only of Irving's tactics, but of those of deniers in general."

 In 1995, Irving sued Lipstadt for libel, claiming her book had smeared his name and damaged his ability to make a living as a historian.

 In the U.S., Irving would have had to prove not only that Lipstadt had been wrong, but also that she had acted maliciously in publishing the errors. "The case would have been dismissed in the U.S. at the outset," says Joseph Beck, an Atlanta attorney who assisted Lipstadt during the discovery phase of the case. "And the plaintiff would have been required to pay fees for filing it."

 But in Britain, the rules are reversed. As defendant, the burden of proof was on Lipstadt to prove that what she wrote was true. Her defense team would have to pore over thousands of pages of books and notes that she used in writing the book that Irving said libeled him. Her case would require expert testimony. It would take months - even years - to defend, and it would be hellishly expensive.

 Lipstadt was encouraged when one of Britain's most famous attorneys, Anthony Julius, who represented Princess Diana in her divorce, agreed to take on the case for free. But as the months dragged on, the pro-bono offer turned out to be premature. Julius told Lipstadt he'd need "substantial" amounts to pay for experts and researchers. His estimated budget? $1.6 million.

 As word spread of the upcoming trial, Lipstadt's defense team began taking on some generous underwriters, including Steven Spielberg. Individual donations were as high as $100,000. As one donor told Lipstadt, "Our job is to ensure that you have the means to fight. Your job is to fight."

 For Lipstadt, whose policy of not debating Holocaust "revisionists" was partly to deny them the legitimacy they seek, the prospect of a trial posed a conundrum. If she fought, she knew she'd be elevating Irving and his ilk to an international stage. But if she didn't fight, thanks to Britain's libel law, Irving would win. "It made his name much more of a household name," Lipstadt acknowledges now. "But I had no choice. What was my option? He says he offered to settle for £500. He neglects to say he offered to settle for £500, an apology, and have my book taken out of circulation."

 At the same time, Lipstadt says, she worried about the trial turning into a debate over whether the Holocaust happened. It was one of the reasons why her defense team decided early on not to call Holocaust survivors to the stand. Instead, the case would be tried entirely by academics arguing over the documented evidence, and much of the case would center on the Auschwitz death camp.

 Says Lipstadt, "If you think about it practically, we'd have to find survivors of Auschwitz who knew about the gas chambers, who saw the gas chambers in operation. They're few and far between. Then, from the moral perspective, these people are 80 years old. [Irving's] only objective would be to make fun of them."

 Indeed, as Lipstadt and her defense team showed at the trial, Irving often jokes about Jewish suffering in World War II. In a videotape made in a speech in Tampa in 1992, Irving spoke about a "professional survivor" in Australia named Mrs. Altman, whose arm is tattooed from Auschwitz. In the speech, he recalled that he told her, "Mrs. Altman, how much money have you made out of that tattoo since 1945?"

 In 1991, when he said that more women had died in the backseat of Sen. Edward Kennedy's car than in the Auschwitz gas chambers, Irving also said, "Oh, you think that's tasteless. How about this? There are so many Auschwitz survivors going around, in fact, the number increases as the years go past, which is biologically very odd to say the least, because I am going to form an Association of Auschwitz Survivors, Survivors of the Holocaust and Other Liars - ASSHOLs."

 Lipstadt's defense team commissioned several World War II and Germany scholars to dissect Irving's writings. One of the scholars was Richard Evans, a Cambridge historian. Evans and two researchers began researching the "scholarship" that Irving had produced. What they found flabbergasted Evans.

 "The discovery of the extent of Irving's disregard for the proper methods of historical scholarship was not only surprising but also deeply shocking," Evans wrote. "As this Report will show, it goes well beyond what Lipstadt alleges. I was not prepared for the sheer depths of duplicity which I encountered in Irving's treatment of the historical sources, nor for the way in which this dishonesty permeated his entire written and spoken output."

 At the same time, Evans wrote, Irving was no dummy. He knew his subject. "His numerous mistakes and egregious errors are not, therefore, due to mere ignorance or sloppiness; on the contrary, it is obvious that they are calculated and deliberate. That is precisely why they are so shocking. Irving has relied in the past, and continues to rely in the present, on the fact that his readers and listeners, reviewers and interviewers lack either the time, or the expertise, to probe deeply enough into the sources he uses for his work to uncover the distortions, suppressions and manipulations to which he has subjected them."

 Throughout the three-month trial, Lipstadt's lawyers would not let her testify or even talk to the press. For Lipstadt, the forced silence was excruciating.

 "For anybody who knows Deborah," Stern says, "she's a person who speaks her mind, who has strong opinions and is not retiring or shy by any means."

 Still, her role as spectator gave her time to watch Irving and wonder what made him what he is - at least at first.

 "I did wonder, and then I stopped myself from wondering," she says. For instance, what if when he was growing up, Irving's mother had a bad experience with a Jew. What good is wondering about that, Lipstadt asks. And, more to the point, what does it justify? "I could say, 'Did his mother have a bad experience with a blue-eyed person, or a bad experience with an Episcopalian?' " To Lipstadt, figuring out the psychological dynamics of anti-Semitism in a person was a waste of time.

 But in fact, making the case that Irving was an anti-Semite was a deliberate tactic on the part of Lipstadt's attorneys, to show that Irving's deliberate misrepresentation of the facts had a racist agenda. (In that regard, Irving was a help; at one point, he addressed the judge as "Mein Fuhrer.")

 And in the end, Judge Gray agreed, ruling that Irving had "repeatedly crossed the line between legitimate criticism and prejudiced vilification of the Jewish race and people." Irving, Gray ruled, was an anti-Semite and a racist.

 Gray further found that Irving had time and again failed to live up to the standards of historians and that Irving's "mistakes and misconceptions" were "consistent with a willingness on Irving's part knowingly to misrepresent or manipulate or put a 'spin' on the evidence so as to make it conform with his own preconceptions."

 As Lipstadt says, "All historians make mistakes. But these kind of mistakes? Every single one ... they always go in the same direction. Every one you track, it's always exonerating the Germans, blaming the Jews, exonerating Hitler, inflating German suffering, decreasing Jewish suffering."

 For Lipstadt, the victory wasn't about validation for her work, which she knew was sound. But, she says, the case "carried a responsibility. Look, if we had lost by some fluke, the history of the Holocaust would have been safe. It wasn't like, 'Oh my God, it didn't happen because David Irving won.' But there could have been a lot of damage - collateral damage. And pain to people. And I didn't want to be the person responsible for that."

 Others believe the stakes were greater than even Lipstadt will acknowledge. One of them is her friend and colleague, David Blumenthal, a professor of Judaic studies at Emory.

 "If he had won the case," Blumenthal says, "it would have been a major victory for the folks who are out there denying the Holocaust. He's one individual with his own craziness on the subject, but he's being used by a lot of people, including Arab propagandists and anti-Semites. They quote him as the source. They're still quoting him, but had he won the case, he would have been much more widely quoted."

 Lipstadt is holding fast to her policy of not debating deniers. Yet she says they also can't be ignored. She brings up an analogy one of her attorneys told her during the trial. Deal with Irving, he told her, the same way you'd clean shit off your shoes.

"That's how we should think about people who are filled with prejudice, whether it's a David Duke or a National Alliance white supremacist, whoever it might be," Lipstadt says. "Our job is to find a way of fighting them without building them up."

 C-Span’s decision
Last weekend, C-Span aired an hour-long discussion on the trial. The network abandoned its quest to "balance" its coverage of the Holocaust. Instead, it included a Washington Post reporter who covered part of the trial in 2000. View the program at www.booktv.org and check out Lipstadt's blog - www.lipstadt.blogspot.com. Documents from the trial can be found at www.hdot.org.

 Hear Dr. Lipstadt
Deborah Lipstadt will speak at a forum titled "Facing History: The Past as a Guide to the Future." Also speaking is Earl Lewis, Emory provost and professor of African-American studies. The forum begins at 7:30 p.m. on Wed., April 13, at the Atlanta History Center, 130 W. Paces Ferry Road. Cost is $7, or $5 for History Center members. Reservations are required. Call 404-814-4150. A book signing will follow the discussion.



Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Correction re CSPan broadcast

In my New York Sun piece I incorrectly said the person interviewing Connie Doebele was unidentified. I just rechecked the tape and it turns out he works for CSpan as one of their producers. So here is another curious twist in this entire saga: CSpan interviewing CSpan about what they told me and my publisher.

Lipstadt in N.Y. Sun: C-SPAN Off Balance

Prof. Lipstadt has an Op-Ed in today's edition of the N.Y. Sun:

C-Span Off Balance
BY Deborah E. Lipstadt

April 6, 2005

C-Span and I must occupy different planets and speak different languages. But more on that in a moment. Let me start by saying that "Book TV" is a national treasure. The only thing wrong with "Book TV," the 48 hours that C-Span devotes to serious discussion of non-fiction books, is that it does not run all week. This is especially true today, as most TV news networks are more interested in infotainment. With wall-to-wall coverage of Martha Stewart, Michael Jackson, and Scott Peterson, we need C-Span more than ever.

I cannot, however, figure out what they were thinking when it came time to cover my book "History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving." First of all, as readers of this page already know, after inviting me to appear on the show they insisted on giving Holocaust denier David Irving a slot parallel to mine, in order to "balance" my presentation. I told them that I did not debate deniers and that, by putting us back to back, they would be creating the debate I would not have. They then told me that they intended to put Irving on by himself. Where was the balance in that?

A storm ensued, prompted in part by a column by Richard Cohen in the Washington Post and my own thoughts on this page. C-Span received more than 3,000 e-mails criticizing their position, and they also were sent a petition signed by more than 500 historians and social scientists. They canceled their plans for the broadcast with Irving and placed a statement on their Web site, claiming that, though they wanted to cover my book, I had closed my talks to them. They never mentioned why I had done so and that I was always more than willing to talk with them and appear on their air without Irving.

Anxious to help them dig themselves out of this hole, I contacted them, but they never returned my calls. Then on Sunday morning, I received an e-mail notice from Connie Doebele, the executive producer of "Book TV," that they had "produced" a show on my trial, and it would be broadcast that afternoon. The e-mail arrived six hours before the broadcast.

The show began with something I have never seen on "Book TV": an interview with Ms. Doebele that was designed to allow her to give her version of events. In un-C-Span style, the interviewer remained nameless and unidentified. She said that they had originally planned to present my talk at Harvard and follow that up with a discussion with a journalist to contextualize the trial. The discussion, she explained, would include clips of David Irving.

At that point I almost fell off my chair. In the course of a series of conversations my publisher and I had with C-Span, no one had ever said that this was what they planned to do. They had always given us the distinct impression that they intended to juxtapose a talk by me with a talk by David Irving. This is, in fact, one of the few things upon which Irving and I agree. He had, he told a New York Sun reporter, the same impression.

If this had been what they planned all along, I would never have objected. In my talks I quote Irving all the time. There is nothing wrong with showing clips of him.

They then proceeded to have a discussion with the Washington Post's T.R. Reid in Denver, who, during the trial, had been chief of the Post's London bureau. Mr. Reid started out by calling Irving an amateur historian who had been "forum shopping" for a place to sue me. He noted that Deborah Lipstadt and her lawyers set out to "prove he was a liar and they proved it." The trial was a "disaster" for Irving. Mr. Reid said he did not understand why Irving brought this suit. He was "outgunned in legal terms. He was outgunned on the facts."

So far so good. But then things took a strange turn. There was no mention of the fact that Irving denies that there were gas chambers or that he denies the legitimacy of Anne Frank's Diary. He calls it a novel. Listeners would not have known that he denies that Auschwitz was a place where Jews were murdered. He denies that the Nazis intended to murder European Jewry. He denies that Hitler was intent on harming the Jews. He denies that survivors are telling the truth and has proclaimed his intention to create an organization called "Auschwitz Survivors, Survivors of the Holocaust, and Other Liars," which he will call Asshols.

Listening to the program, I suspected that Mr. Reid had not read the book, which, he subsequently told a New York Sun reporter, was indeed the case. He had told C-Span he had not read it. Despite that fact, on a show devoted to a new book, C-Span chose a reporter who had not read the book. It was at the end of the show that things took their most disturbing turn. Mr. Reid talked about the need to hear people such as Irving and cited Justice Louis Brandeis's famous dictum, that the antidote to bad speech is more speech. I think Brandeis was right. Though C-Span listeners would never have known that was the case. They might well have gotten the impression that I was trying to silence David Irving. I was not. It was Irving who tried to silence me. He wanted my book to be withdrawn from publication and pulped. On his Web site and in his speeches, Irving often stresses that he tried to settle with me before the trial for the sum of L500. That is indeed correct. However, that offer also stipulated that I apologize to him for calling him a Holocaust denier and agree that my book be withdrawn from circulation. Who tried to silence whom?

I wish C-Span had just admitted that they made a mistake instead of engaging in this revisionist history. I wish that they had given T.R. Reid, a talented journalist, a chance to read my book. And most of all, I wish they had correctly portrayed my position. I am against silencing people, even those with nefarious claims. While David Irving has the right to speak, C-Span does not have the obligation to broadcast him and I certainly have the right to decline to be forced into a debate with a man about whom five different judges have said that his "falsification of the historical record was deliberate and ... motivated by a desire to present events in a manner consistent with his own ideological beliefs even if that involved distortion and manipulation of historical evidence."

I reaffirm an offer I have made many times since this controversy began. I would be delighted to appear on C-Span to talk about my book. At the very least, I would like the opportunity to provide the network's viewers with a correct impression of what I believe. In the name of "balance," I think that this would only be fair.

Professor Lipstadt teaches Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University and is the author of "History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving" (Ecco, 2005).

David Neiwert: "C-SPAN Plays the Fool"

In his April 3 post, journalist David Neiwert promised his readers he would watch the program and report back. He has now done so. Some excerpts from his review of the program:

C-SPAN plays the fool

Though it no doubt would like to have put the controversy behind it, C-SPAN's Sunday broadcast of its BookTV program on Deborah Lipstadt's book on her ordeal by libel trial with Holocaust denier David Irving wound up only demonstrating that the concerns over its highly questionable approach were indeed well grounded.

The chief guest on the program was Washington Post reporter T.R. Reid, who, as noted earlier, was probably not the best-informed "expert" the program could have featured. As Reid himself told the New York Sun, he has not read Lipstadt's book.


Why, one must ask, did a program about books ask Reid to come talk about a trial?

Moreover, he did not actually cover the trial, at least not in the traditional sense. Usually, covering a trial requires being there for most if not every session; he resisted reporting on it at all, did no pre-reporting on the case, and appears not to have been in court for many (if not most) of the days the trial was in session. He did not even file a story on the case until after the judge began deliberating, and then filed only one further report after the verdict was announced.


C-SPAN has since issued a statement saying it regrets using the word "balance" to describe its plans, calling the term just "internal jargon" referring to the use of other voices.

Right. That would explain why no other book has ever been handled by either BookTV or its predecessor, BookNotes, in this fashion. In every previous broadcast of both shows, it has simply let the author come on and talk about his or her book. Why not Lipstadt?

Regrets about terminology notwithstanding, C-SPAN's approach to this subject makes clear that it has a great deal to learn about how extremists like Holocaust deniers operate. They count on the ignorance of those unfamiliar with their tactics to handle them "fairly" -- which is to say, to treat their lies as though they merely represent another viewpoint, and thereby spread their vicious falsifications into the mainstream,. Sunday's broadcast was a classic case of this.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Lipstadt's Reactions to CSpan Coverage

[Please note this is a revised and amended version of my original post on the show which was broadcast on Sunday afternoon, April 3rd]

CSpan devoted an hour to the trial. The program began with Connie Doebele, Executive Producer of Book TV being interviewed by some unidentified man. She explained how this entire controversy came about.

*She noted that they had received over 3000 emails, most of them quite critical of them for wanting to put me on with Irving.

*She said their intention was to broadcast my presentation and to follow that up with a conversation with a journalist who would show clips of Irving and provide context for them. [Comment: They never said this to me or to Harper Collins.]

*She quite emphatically said: “We never intended to balance the holocaust.” Though, she did acknowledge using that terminology in explaining their programming plans. It was, she said, “internal jargon” that journalists use which means, “looking for another voice.” She expressed regret for having used the term.

*Regarding their plan to air Irving by himself, she suggested that I had misunderstood, and said this was the “standard bargaining thing that journalists do.” They suggest to the person who is reluctant to go on that their voice will not be heard unless they do. [Comment: Of course, they had told this to both Richard Cohen and to me. And if they were simply trying to strong arm me into appearing, I guess that they -- just like David Irving -- did quite know what makes me tick.]

*Now, because “Deborah Lipstadt refused to allow us to tape her program,” they will be doing an abbreviated version of their original program, i.e. they would only show the part with TR Reid of the Washington Post who was in London during the trial.

COMMENT: No one at CSpan ever said that that was how they intended to cover the book. In a number of conversations with my publisher and with me they never said this was how they planned to do it. Had they told me this I never would have objected.

TR Reid:
When TR Reid came on he made the following points:

*Irving is an amateur historian.

* Irving is someone who, rather than deny the Holocaust, argued that Hitler did not know about the Holocaust. [Comment: While this was the thrust of Irving's argument in his book, Hitler War, which was published in the late 1970s, now Irving's Holocaust denial extends far more broadly than that. He says there were no gas chambers. There was no plan to murder the Jews. The survivors are all liars. In short, there was no Holocaust.]

* Irving was "forum shopping," i.e. looking for a place where he could sue Lipstadt.

*Deborah Lipstadt and her lawyers set out to “prove he was a liar and they proved it.”

*Lipstadt’s depiction of Irving in her book, Denying the Holocaust, was totally accurate,” and the trial was a “disaster” for Irving.

*“Both these people are fighters….Lipstadt felt she had to fight for history and truth… and “both of them enjoyed this battle.” [Comment: Had he read the book he would know that was wrong. I am pleased with the outcome (who wouldn't be pleased with such a verdict? -- but I wish it had never happened.]

*Doesn’t understand why David Irving brought this suit. He was “outgunned in legal terms. He was outgunned on the facts".

*It is possible that Irving was playing to his "new" audience, right wingers, and holocaust denier groups.

* There was no way Irving could win this case [having a jury would not have made a difference.]

*Reid repeated on a number of occasions, “She’s a fighter. She felt was fighting for truth and history and it frustrated her not to take the stand.” [Comment: That's right.]

*She did not take the stand because we were frightened that Irving would use the opportunity to introduce correspondence I had received when writing my book about Holocaust deniers. The letter, from Professor Yehuda Bauer, suggested that I include more about Irving. It is, by the way, standard operating procedure for other historians to comment on a manuscript and give suggestions. This is what Bauer was doing.

Had I taken the stand, Reid believed, Irving would use this to argue you see there was a conspiracy.

Comment: My not taking the stand had nothing to do with this material [Guttenplan got that wrong as he got many other things wrong.] First of all, that material was introduced into the trial by Irving. It was not a secret.

I did not go into the witness box, even though I wanted to, because, as Rampton repeatedly said, you are being sued for what you wrote. There is nothing you can add that will enlighten the judge on the decision he has to make. Our job is to prove David Irving is a liar. I explain this repeatedly in the book.

Comment: TR Reid had not read the book, which he told CSpan was the case when they invited him to appear. Despite this fact, a show called Book TV, had him appear even though he had not read the book about which all the controversy revolved.

* Reid was struck by the fact that Irving expected to lose. On the morning of the verdict he bumped into Irving who told him: “I am probably going to lose.” In fact, until the day before the verdict, Irving had been predicting he would win. He boasted on his website how he had convinced the judge of the rightness of his cause. The CSpan interviewer had to point out – she had clearly read the book – that because the lawyers [and Irving was acting as his own lawyer] get the verdict 24 hours before the clients; he already knew he had lost.

* According to Reid the solution for bad speech is more speech. Comment: I agree and am not against Irving speaking. In fact, Irving tried to silence me. He sued me in order to have my book withdrawn from circulation. I don't think CSpan has an obligation to broadcast a talk by a man, about whom the court said he "deliberate[ly]" distorted history. And, should CSpan choose to broadcast him, I don’t believe it should force me into a debate which is no debate.

Some final thoughts:

1. I wish CSpan had just admitted that they made a mistake from the outset and had not claimed that they were intending to just show a few clips of Irving. CSpan is an important national institution. It gets people to read and think about books. I have no desire to fight with CSpan, but they should have been more honest about how they messed up from the outset.

2. I wish CSpan had given TR Reid, a careful journalist, a chance to read my book before going on the show.

3. Finally, as I stress in the book, I was not trying to deny Irving a right to speak. I was simply refusing to be pushed into a debate which is no debate and with someone who is a proven liar. How can you debate a liar?

4. Never, in all the years I have been watching CSpan, have I seen a policy towards "balance." Why here?

5. And since they seem to be so interested in balance and fairness, how about a chance for me to go on and correct the impression given to listeners about my views?

Harvard Crimson weighs in on C-SPAN

Today's issue of The Harvard Crimson has an article which includes coverage of the petition as well as BookTV's Sunday broadcast. The writer gets a few things wrong - including calling Irving an "historian" and an "accused" Holocaust denier. The trial 5 years ago conclusively and indisputably proved that he's not an historian and that he is a Holocaust denier. Here are some excerpts:

Harvard Profs Sign Petition Against C-Span Telecast of Holocaust Denier

Almost 600 historians and academics—including 18 Harvard professors—have signed a petition protesting the public television station C-SPAN’s plan to broadcast a lecture by historian and accused Holocaust denier David Irving.

The controversy stemmed from C-SPAN’s initial decision to air Irving’s talk immediately after a lecture by Emory University Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies Deborah E. Lipstadt.


On Sunday, “Book TV” featured a discussion with Washington Post reporter T.R. Reid about the book and the trial and showed assorted clips of Lipstadt and Irving. No lectures were aired, and Lipstadt said that to the best of her knowledge, none will.

Lipstadt had refused to appear on C-SPAN upon learning of the planned broadcast time of Irving’s lecture.

“What they wanted to do was to set me up, to force me into a debate,” Lipstadt said. “There is nothing to debate.”

The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies then organized a petition urging the station to show only Lipstadt’s lecture and circulated the petition among academics.


The petition attracted 570 signatures.

“Clearly, this had an impact on C-SPAN,” [Wyman Institute Director, Rafael] Medoff said after the Sunday program aired. “The program that they broadcast was a clear demonstration that they realized they had made a mistake,” he said.


In his books and during the trial, Irving has claimed, for example, that gas chambers were not used at Auschwitz and that the atrocities against the Jews were not mainly directed by Adolf Hitler.


“The notion that one gives this man David Irving room on C-SPAN is outrageous,” said Baird Professor of History Emeritus Richard E. Pipes, who signed the petition.

Lipstadt said Irving is a “fabricator of evidence and a liar.”

Irving defended his reputation and refused to be deemed a Holocaust denier.

“I think the epithet is completely undeserved,” Irving said, adding that American publishers have refused to print his books since the controversy.


Irving called Lipstadt an “upstart young professor,” and criticized the scholars who signed the petition for engaging in censorship and submitting to departmental peer pressure.

In a column by Richard Cohen that appeared in The Washington Post on March 15, Senior Executive Producer of “Book TV” Connie Doebele explained the decision to include Irving’s lecture: “You know how important fairness and balance is at C-SPAN....We ask ourselves, ‘Is there an opposing view of this?’”


But on “Book TV’s” Sunday night edition, Doebele said she regretted her choice of words.

“Using the word ‘balance’ is kind of an internal jargon that we use here in the newsroom,” she said. “What it means really is looking for another voice out there.”

All of the petition signatories who spoke with The Crimson agreed that including Irving does not promote journalistic objectivity.

“It is a distortion of the concept of ‘balance’ to give publicity and legitimacy to Irving and his proven falsehoods,” petition signatory and Sociology Department Chair Mary C. Waters wrote in an e-mail.


“This is not balance,” said Lipstadt. “This is a guy who is saying the historical equivalent of ‘the earth is flat.’”

Monday, April 4, 2005

N.Y. Times: "C-SPAN Regrets"

Here is the lead item in the April 5 N.Y. Times "Arts, Briefly":

C-Span Regrets

A C-Span producer has expressed regret for using the word balance to describe its plan to accompany coverage of a book by a professor of Holocaust studies with speeches by a man who has argued that Hitler was not fully responsible for the mass murder of Jews. Connie Doebele, the executive producer of "Book TV" on C-Span, said the word balance was never intended to be taken literally but was, instead, "internal jargon" referring to the use of other voices. The plan drew hundreds of protests from historians and other scholars and thousands from the public. The turmoil surrounded C-Span's intention to cover "History on Trial: My Day in Court With David Irving" (Ecco) by Deborah E. Lipstadt, a professor of Holocaust studies at Emory University. C-Span also intended to include coverage of talks by Mr. Irving, a British writer who sued her for libel for calling him a Holocaust denier. When he sued, the British Royal High Court found for Professor Lipstadt and concluded that Mr. Irving was anti-Semitic and racist and that he had persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence.

N.Y. Sun on BookTV's Coverage of History on Trial

Here are some excerpts from an article in today's issue of the N.Y. Sun:

C-SPAN's Attempt To 'Balance' Views On Holocaust Deemed an 'Absurdity'

BY JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
April 4, 2005

In the face of protests from historians and Jewish groups, C-SPAN yesterday backed down from plans to air a lengthy speech from an author whom critics and a British court have labeled as a holocaust denier.

Instead, the network's popular "Book TV" program included only two brief video clips from David Irving, the British historian who in 2000 lost a highly publicized libel case against an American professor, Deborah Lipstadt. The professor had accused Mr. Irving of being an anti-Semite and of grossly distorting evidence in order to prove that the Holocaust was largely a myth.


The compromise program C-SPAN aired yesterday left both Ms. Lipstadt and Mr. Irving sharply critical of the network.

The broadcast was prefaced with an unusual five-minute interview, in which the executive producer of "Book TV", Constance Doebele, defended the network.

"Our programming plan was to show Deborah Lipstadt at her Harvard event, to bring in a journalist who could bring - put some context into this and explain it to an American audience and to show a few clips of David Irving," Ms. Doebele said.

In arranging the program, C-SPAN producers said they hoped to "balance" Ms. Lipstadt's views with those of Mr. Irving. This drew fire from a Washington Post columnist, Richard Cohen, who called the approach "mindless" and branded it as "the 'Crossfire' mentality reduced to absurdity."

Ms. Doebele said yesterday C-SPAN received nearly 3,000 e-mails about the planned program, most of them strongly discouraging the network from featuring Mr. Irving. She said yesterday that her use of the term "balance" was unfortunate.

"We never intended to balance the Holocaust," Ms. Doebele said. "Using that word balance is kind of an internal jargon that we use here in the newsroom. What it means really is looking for another voice out there. ... I really regret using the word 'balance.'"


The bulk of the 65-minute program that followed was devoted to an interview with a Washington Post reporter who covered the libel trial, T.R. Reid. The program included two video clips from Mr. Irving's talk at Atlanta, and four clips of Ms. Lipstadt: three on video and one from a radio show.

In an interview with The New York Sun, Ms. Lipstadt said the network was engaged in some historical revisionism of its own.

"I thought C-SPAN was disingenuous," she said. "They never told me they wanted to use clips of Irving. I would have said, 'Absolutely.' What I was told from the outset was they were going to balance me. What I was sad about was that they couldn't say they made a mistake. I was disappointed."


A spokeswoman for C-SPAN, Jennifer Moore, declined to answer questions about the broadcast and said the network stands by Ms. Doebele's on-air statement.

Ms. Lipstadt said the program misled viewers by suggesting that the libel trial at London did not deal squarely with Mr. Irving's views on the Holocaust. "The case was not about whether Hitler knew about the Holocaust or not," she said.

Ms. Lipstadt also said she found it bizarre that the "Book TV" program involved little discussion of her new book, "History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving." The professor said she did not believe Mr. Reid had even read the volume. "There was an hour on my trial but it wasn't about my book," she said.

In an interview with the Sun last night, Mr. Reid said Ms. Lipstadt was correct. "I haven't read her book. I told them that. I told C-SPAN I hadn't read the book," the reporter said. "They asked me to come and talk about a trial."

Mr. Reid said he believes his comments captured the gist of the trial. He said he was a bit baffled by Ms. Lipstadt's criticism. "I agree with Professor Lipstadt about David Irving's view of the Holocaust. I don't think her policy of not appearing with him is right," Mr. Reid said.

Wyman Institute: "C-SPAN Admits Error"

The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies has issued a news release following yesterday's BookTV program.

C-SPAN Admits Error in Plan to Air Holocaust-Denier

PHILADELPHIA, April 4 /U.S. Newswire/ -- C-SPAN has publicly acknowledged it was wrong to plan to broadcast a speech by Holocaust-denier David Irving, following a petition by over 500 historians and other scholars organized by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.

"C-SPAN now admits it was wrong to try to 'balance' the history of the Holocaust by broadcasting a professional liar who claims the Holocaust never happened. This is a significant victory over the antisemitic industry of Holocaust-denial," said Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the Wyman Institute.

When C-SPAN's "Book TV" program announced last month that it would "balance" a broadcast of Holocaust scholar Prof. Deborah Lipstadt with a broadcast of Holocaust-denier David Irving, the Wyman Institute organized a petition urging C-SPAN to cancel the Irving broadcast, arguing that "Giving a platform to a Holocaust- denier to 'balance' a Holocaust historian is as outrageous as giving a platform to the Flat Earth Society to balance a speech by an astronomer, or broadcasting a program about Black history that would be "balanced" by a program featuring someone denying that African-Americans were enslaved."

Within ten days, more than 500 prominent historians and other scholars signed the petition. C-SPAN has also reported that it received more than 3,000 e-mails, most of them opposing the plan to broadcast Irving.

In response, C-Span canceled its plan to broadcast Irving's speech; aired a program (on April 3 and April 4) in which Book TV executive producer Connie Doebele admitted it was wrong for C- Span to plan to "balance" Lipstadt's lecture with Irving, and expressed regret; and presented brief excerpts of Irving's remarks with a commentator describing him as a Holocaust-denier, rather than uncritically presenting his speech, as it had originally planned.

The signatories to the Wyman Institute petition included:

-- New Republic editor-in-chief Dr. Martin Peretz, Harvard Law School Prof. Alan Dershowitz, and Princeton scholar Dr. Michael Walzer;

-- Internationally renowned historians and scholars Eric Foner, Simon Schama, and Istvan Deak, of Columbia; David Brion Davis, Harold Bloom, and Paul Kennedy of Yale; Charles Maier and Richard Pipes of Harvard; and Robert Dallek of Boston University;

-- Pulitzer prize winning historians David Levering Lewis, Jack Rakove, and Lloyd Schwartz;

-- Media notables Marvin Kalb and Ben Stein;

-- Holocaust scholars Christopher Browning, Richard Breitman, Deborah Dwork, David S. Wyman, Randolph Braham, Daniel Goldhagen, Omer Bartov, and Ronald Zweig;

-- Leading Jewish historians Jonathan Sarna, Yosef Yerushalmi, Robert Chazan, and Deborah Dash Moore

-- Bard College president Leon Botstein and University of Bridgeport president emeritus Richard L. Rubenstein.

as well as historians from England, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Israel, and Japan.

( To view the full list of signatories, go to http://www.WymanInstitute.org )

CSPANS coverage initial thoughts

[April 5/05]

Prof. Lipstadt has revised and amended this post which can now be found here.

Sunday, April 3, 2005

David Neiwert comments on C-SPAN's unprofessional behaviour

Neiwert is a journalist who had previously commented on this issue. This morning, he had posted his take on the way in which C-SPAN has chosen to deal with this. He concludes:

C-SPAN and Holocaust Denial

I'll watch this afternoon and report back. But the signs are not encouraging. So far, C-SPAN's behavior has been not only unprofessional, it is entirely inconsistent with its previously established standards for "balance": When it broadcast conferences of the white-supremacist organizations American Renaissance and Council of Concerned Citizens, it felt no need to "balance" those discussions with opposing viewpoints. One has to wonder why, once again, truth and fact have to contend on an equal footing with lies and vicious slander.


If you missed the program that Prof. Lipstadt mentioned earlier, and you don't want to wait for the 3:00 a.m. re-airing, you can view it from the C-SPAN site.

I had found this link earlier, but the audio was actually of another program! Sent them an E-mail pointing this out - then the link disappeared for a while, but now it's back.

Your mileage may vary, but I was not impressed with Doebele's explanation of the controversy, nor with T.R. Reid's supposed knowledge of the issues involved in the trial.

"Balance" and the Media

In this piece on the Reclaim the Media website David Neiwert begins with an analysis of the media's coverage of Terry Schiavo and moves on to talk about [and excoriate] C-Span.

Neiwart takes a "liberal" perspective on the issue. It's interesting to note that virtually everyone, from the "right", e.g. Little Green Footballs, to the "left" agree that C-Span really blew it.

Now let's see how they try to save face this afternoon [see previous post].

Surprise Announcement by C-Span:

I just received the following announcement from Book Tv's executive producer. Ihave no idea what the program is all about. I had called Ms. Doebele twice last week and never heard back. Now I understand why....

Dear Dr. Lipstadt;

I'm writing to let you know that we have produced a program about your 2000 libel trial. It is scheduled to air on C-SPAN2 Book TV today, Sunday, April 3rd, at 4:30 pm eastern time (overnight re-air Monday morning at 3:00 am eastern time.) For more information you can go to our website at www.booktv.org

Connie Doebele
Executive Producer
Book TV

The following information appears on Book TV's website:

After Words
A Weekly Look at Selected Book TV Programs

On Sunday, April 3 at 4:30 pm and Monday, April 4 at 3:00 am

Lipstadt/Irving Libel Trial
Description: Book TV presents a look at the 2000 libel trial between World War II writer David Irving and Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt. The trial is detailed in Dr. Lipstadt's newest book, "History on Trial." Guests include T.R. Reid of the Washington Post, who covered the trial, as well as video clips of Deborah Lipstadt and David Irving. Historian John Lukacs is also interviewed.

Saturday, April 2, 2005

Letters to C-SPAN

If the contents of my mailbox are any indication, C-SPAN has been receiving a good many letters lately - by far the majority of them excoriating C-SPAN. There was some support - from expected quarters, of course. One Irving supporter wrote:
"If Deborah Lipstadt is so convinced and confident about her beliefs and convictions regarding the Holocaust, then what does she have to fear in having an opposing view ? People that know they are in " the right " never fear debating opposing and incorrect viewpoints, and they welcome the opportunity to do so...

"What is she afraid of in having another viewpoint ? She must be hiding something, or perhaps she's not as convinced of her findings and beliefs as she would like us to believe...

"I applaud and commend C-Span for having the courage and confidence to attempt to give BOTH sides of a story, an equal chance. If people cease to be open to hearing all sides of an argument, then what's the point of having beliefs at all ?

"Kudos to you, C-Span, and I hope Ms. Lipstadt regains her courage and gives the public a fair opportunity to hear all views, not just hers..."

A supporter of C-SPAN (but not of Irving) wrote:

"Ms. Lipstadt has every right to refuse C-Span permission to tape her talk for whatever reason she wants. But she does herself no favor by doing so. I can't understand the preference that so many academics have to deny the other side a platform to speak, rather than engage in debate and debunk the bad arguments. […]

"What's more, I'm surprised Ms. Lipstadt didn't recognize what a gift C-Span was offering. She knows Irving's arguments better than anyone, and obviously she can effectively debunk them. Knowing that Irving's talk would be paired with hers, she could use that opportunity to knock down his key arguments and prepare the viewing audience to be critical of his presentation; or critique his arguments while they were fresh in the viewers' minds. Who cares, really, what happened in the libel case?; there's a bigger truth to present to the American people, a bigger lie to debunk, and the same big fool to expose. Plus, she can use mockery, anger, ridicule--all the rhetorical tricks a college professor has that are not allowed in a British court--to make her points that much better. Whatever order the two shows are shown, she can make Irving and his arguments look bad."

Here is a sampling of excerpts from the majority view:

"I would not expect a television with C-Span's gravitas and reputation for truth to give a platform to a man who has been described by a High Court judge as a liar who distorts facts. I have for a long time had the highest regard for C-Span's coverage and I am disappointed with you for even considering an interview [with] Mr. Irving. Deniers of the Holocaust, who are by definition not tellers of truth, have no place on C-Span"

"I am a regular viewer and supporter of book t.v. I have sent them an email re: my disappointment and astonishment at their position re: televising your discussion of your new book. I remember hearing you speak in Los Angeles where we live. I hope that cspan receives enough emails that they will know how unhappy their viewers are and that they will televise you soon. I will now add an addendum when I tell people about book t.v. and relate what has happened to you."

"I am outraged that you would give a platform to David Irving, who is a known Holocaust denier. This is an example of political correctness gone crazy, and anti-Semitism at its most dangerous. To allow David Irving to speak is an affront to each and every innocent who perished at the hands of Hitler for no other reason than their religion. To allow David Irving to speak and to give his outrageous assertions that the history of the Holocaust exaggerates the claims of the brutality of the Third Reich encourages the world to forget the horrors of the death camps. If your airing of David Irving encourages the world to erase the memory of even one innocent killed you have damaged our collective memory.

"I hope that C-Span will reconsider its decision to air David Irving and his ideas about rewriting history. [...] If C-Span gives David Irving a venue, then truth is threatened."

"If you read the court's 300 plus page decision or the parts included in D.Lipstadt's book, you would see that is all David [Irving] has to say is a "story." It is a "story" by a proven Holocaust denier, a liar, a person who fooled many into believing that he was a "historian" by deliberately falsifying facts. If you wish the public to hear these lies once more you could direct them to Lipstadt's book or the court's decision. [...] Your "Comment" is intellectually unsatisfactory. You have not responded to the positions of those that have written you reasonable reasons why you should not broadcast anything by Irving in conjunction with broadcasting Deborah Lipstadt and her amazing new book. Your apparent attempt to capitalize by broadcasting someone that you thought would bring controversy to her appearance and somehow boost your ratings has failed you and brought disgrace upon you and your network. Shame on you."

"In 2000, I was living in London and remember the trial well. David Irving had his day in court and was thoroughly repudiated.

"Thus, I don’t see the great need for CSPAN to present ‘his side’ of the story and allow him back into the public arena, especially in some kind of balancing effort."

Friday, April 1, 2005

Lipstadt replies to Emory Wheel re C-SPAN article

Prof. Lipstadt has responded to an article that appeared in the Emory Wheel last week:

The real story

April 01, 2005

To the editor:

In the March 25th edition of the Wheel (“Prof declines Book TV over Holocaust denier”), you reported on my refusal to appear on C-SPAN’s prestigious book show, Book TV, because the station wanted to juxtapose my presentation with that of Holocaust denier, David Irving.

I have long refused to debate deniers because their entire premise — that there was no Holocaust — is based on lies, fabrications and distortions. Three different courts in London found David Irving to be a liar and a falsifier of truth.

I was surprised, therefore, that your reporter chose to accept Irving’s statement that my claims about his being a Holocaust denier are part of my “obsession” with him and that he is “bored by the Holocaust.”

One should note that it is Irving who went into court on March 4th — for the fourth time — to try to sue me. Just who is obsessed with whom? And regarding his being “bored” by the Holocaust, about two weeks ago Irving appeared in Atlanta and gave a talk devoted almost entirely to the Holocaust.

He is giving the same talk, according to his Web site, throughout the United States. It certainly is a strange thing for him to be doing, if he is indeed bored by the topic. It seems to me that maybe, he is once again, as the court found he has repeatedly done before, fabricating the truth.

Deborah E. Lipstadt, Ph.D.
Dorot Professor of Modern
Jewish and Holocaust Studies
Director, Rabbi Donald Tam
Institute of Jewish Studies