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Wednesday, March 16 2005

C-SPAN's Shaky Balance

CspanscreencapThe latest HonestReporting communique has just been released: 'C-SPAN's Shaky Balance'

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Not surprising that Irving wouldn't be content to lie under his rock. His type never do. Another paragraph in the article caught my attention though :

"In 2002, a British journalist reporting on the rampant incitement to violence in Palestinian media was instructed by his London editor to 'find similar examples of incitement in Israeli media, to give your article balance.' When the correspondent responded that there was no such incitement in Israeli media, the editor killed the story."

Does anyone know the facts behind this charge ? i.e. who what and when ? There are no sources cited.

I am waiting for the article that proposes Hitler as the creator of the State of Israel, for without his acts ( invisible to some people like irving) probably the State of Israel would not have been created. I think this is up to C spans level of fairness, dont you.???

I have sent a very strong letter to C-span , decrying their so called honesty,and called it what it is-bald faced bias.
I expect no response, but would urge everyone to complain bitterly about their level of yellow journalism-(or worse).

I have sent a very strong letter to C-span , decrying their so called honesty,and called it what it is-bald faced bias.
I expect no response, but would urge everyone to complain bitterly about their level of yellow journalism-(or worse).

This argument about truth versus balance is crucial. I have long given up hope of finding either in the journalism I read and view on TV. Thank heavens for Melanie Phillips and Deborah Lipstadt and Alan Dershowitz et al keeping us informed of reality. Otherwise I fear it would be a truly Kafkaesque world.

The "question" about "whether the Holocaust happened" belongs in the general class of philosophical questions such as whether there are any other people or whether we have good reason to think that the sun will rise tomorrow. It is obviously not a serious topic for public discussion, and C-Span's claim that the interest of "fairness" dictates that Dr. Deborah Lipstadt's talk by balanced by a talk from a supposed believer in the nonoccurrence of the Holocaust is absurd. It is like saying that every talk about any current event or scientific finding must be balanced by a talk by someone who doesn't believe that there are any facts and challenges us to "prove" that there are.

Jan Narveson

I wrote a letter to C-Span to outline my views on this topic. I'm Dutch-Canadian. My father fought in WWII, was shot twice and was never the same again. My uncle was killed by the Nazis in front of his wife and family (no reason). My aunt was held captive by the Nazis and sent to work in a German brothel (she committed suicide later). My mother worked in the Dutch underground transporting Jewish children to northern Holland and then by boat to England. She would have given her life for those Jewish children and we're not Jewish. We just care.

As I told C-Span, it's a little like putting Charles Manson on the air to give his "opposing view" of killing innocent people. Why do we even give people like Irwin any publicity at all? They thrive on it. Perhaps if we just ignore him, he'll go away.

I too wrote expressing revulsion at their claim of 'balance'. Giving Irving and his like a platform to air their foul views should be a criminal offence.

I've been receiving HR's bulletins on media bias for a while now, and I think that the folks in HR are providing a wonderful service! However, today it occurred to me that there is (potentially) another approach to dealing with *some* aspects of media bias: The blind desire for a "balanced" approach by many news outlets about many topics. Sometimes, I believe that this desire for balance can be channeled to promote a deeper understanding about the complexities at hand.

For instance, in the case of C-SPAN, it goes without saying that they initially chose a problematic approach to balance: They attempted to balance Deborah's honest perspective on truth with Irving's spread of lies. This is unfortunate, and I'm very happy that Deborah declined this offer. However, there is another, and potentially many other possible ways to "balance" Deborah's perspective with one centered around truth, but still conflicting: A perspective that a public confrontation with holocaust deniers is counter productive. In this case, the truth about the holocaust is NOT debated, but strategies about dealing with holocaust deniers IS debated.

I sent my own letter to C-SPAN yesterday, when I read Cohen's article. It seems that their notion of "fairness and balance" is being somewhat selectively applied (Is anyone surprised?!) As I noted in my (as yet unacknowledged) message:

I noticed on your website that on Feb. 21/05 you presented a lecture by Jeffrey Kluger on his book "Splendid Solutions: Salk and the Conquest of Polio". Perhaps your producers are not aware of The Salk-Sabin controversy, because I could find no evidence of such "fairness and balance" by way of presentation by a promoter of Sabin's work. And certainly Sabin opposed Salk.

This is a far more legitimate controversy than any that might be conjured up by David Irving, who has proven himself in court to be a liar, a faux historian - and a Holocaust denier. Why a reputable organization such as C-SPAN would would even consider giving this charlatan any airtime is, quite frankly, beyond belief - as is your producers' obviously selective application of a rather unique concept of "balance and fairness".

It seems to me that it's more likely to be an instance of gross stupidity and ignorance (tho it's offensive to even be so ignorant) rather than a case of malicious bias.

Regarding the British journalist who, once he reported that there isn't a similiar incitement in the Israeli media, found the story killed - why are there no details?
This is fascinating.

Ofcourse, we know how the NYT handled this problem - they reviewed a speech, removed its incitement and thus 'showed' that really he wasn't inciting much. When their little trick was revealed they responded by saying it's not a big deal as they don't believe that incitement really plays a role in the conflict.

C-Span's effort in providing "balance" over the discussion of the Holocaust is as ludicrous as a discussion on life on Mars and pairing a Nasa scientist with a nutcase who asserts he has been, on several occasions, abducted and rectally probed by Martian spacemen.


With respect to issues of "balance" in the media, I suggest the following analogy for use in your subsequent reports:

Would a news medium wanting to achieve "balance" afford a rapist the opportunity to tell his side of the story to the public, such as, "She really wanted it", "She was asking for it", "She enjoyed it", or some such drivel? It would be an outrage to give equal time or equal space to tell the rapist's "side" of the story. Similarly with regard to an act of terrorism. The cruel murder and maiming of innocent women and children is NOT the moral equivalent of whatever insult or injury the homicide bomber might have felt as a result of living under "occupation".

Please keep up the good work. Your reports are always right on target.

With best regards,

Charlie Abzug

I am sorry to see that C-Span fails to see that there absolutely no moral equivalency in giving a denier of the Holocaust and opportunity to rebut the facts of the Holocaust particularly when Irving's contentions have been found completely without merit in a court of law. There is absolutely no sense of fairness or balance in putting these two positions side by side. In fact it represents a vulgar interpretation of fairness and balance that only reflects poorly upon C-Span.

Ernie Pellegrino MD
Middleton, WI

Does anyone know the exact topic of the talk?
If the talk was about the court case with Irving, then they should give him the right to respond. If the talk was about the Holocaust, then Irving would be as irrelevant as having someone argue the world is flat with an astronaut.


Dear C-SPAN,

I really deny the idea of a palestinian people and any claim they stake on Judea and Samaria. I have ample proof-and would like to provide balance the next time you have an author that insists on writing another book of fairy tales about a palestinian statehood or peoplehood.

I will book my flight as soon as you give me my slot.


Michal Gold

ps, I may not have been discredited in a court of law, but I can bring with the best of them!

Deborah Lipstadt is right. The next Jet Propulsion Laboratory Cassini-Huygens mission news conference should ‘for ballance’ feature an opinion claiming that the Earth is flat, Saturn a cube, Titan a cyllinder and Enceladus a dodecahedron.

And the moon is made of green cheese

I remember a Doctor Who episode about a dodecahedron.


balance implies giving equal weight to things of equal value. It is the dishonesty and immorality of the values or lack of them which needs to be outed.

balance implies giving equal weight to things of equal value. It is the dishonesty and immorality of the values or lack of them which needs to be outed.

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