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October 12, 2011

Open Letter to the Founder of USA Today Concerning C-SPAN

Al Neuharth and Brian Lamb (photo: Rob Nielsen, Univ. of S. Dakota, Oct. 6, 2011)

Al Neuharth
USA Today
7950 Jones Branch Drive
McLean, VA 22108
(public relations office: 703-854-5304)

Dear Mr. Neuharth,

Concerning your commentary in USA Today, Friday, October 7, 2011 – “C-SPAN founder lets you judge the news�? – regarding Brian Lamb, founder and CEO of C-SPAN, you wrote:

Many or most TV cable news personalities put their own slant on things. From right-wingers on Fox to left-wingers on MSNBC, they often mislead you with slanted stuff. One longtime major exception, who thinks you should get news straight so that you can make your own judgments, was honored here Thursday night at my alma mater, the University of South Dakota. He's the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of C-SPAN, Brian Lamb. For more than 32 years, C-SPAN has given you fair and unfiltered coverage of top government and political news. When Lamb started C-SPAN in 1979, he had a staff of four. Now the staff numbers 275. Among its innovations is gavel-to-gavel coverage of the U.S. Congress. Lamb is the 25th winner of the Al Neuharth Annual Award presented for "A Lifetime of Excellence in Journalism."

However, there’s a major problem at C-SPAN of which you were apparently unaware. The problem was addressed recently by the Washington Director of CAMERA, Eric Rozenman, writing to Washington Post Columnist Thomas Heath regarding Heath’s generous praise for C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb:

However, you apparently were unaware of a disturbing development at C-SPAN. Over the past three years or so, its daily public affairs television program, “Washington Journal,�? has become a soap box for antisemitic, anti-Zionist viewers. They regularly abuse the call-in portion to voice not merely criticism of Israeli policy, but rather to assert anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli conspiracy theories, reiterate classic antisemitic stereotypes, and incite hostility against Jews and the Jewish state.

“Washington Journal�? hosts generally sit mute during such rants. Rather than challenge unsubstantiated allegations or terminate the calls, they typically let them continue unimpeded. Sometimes the hosts ask follow-up questions that illicit more bigoted fulminations. Callers violating C-SPAN’s ostensible “one-call-per-30-days�? rule regularly get through. Occasionally, if unconvincingly, they attempt to disguise their voices and location; at other times they do not bother. Hijacking the announced subject for off-topic tirades often is tolerated. No other country or minority group is regularly subjected to such vituperation on “Washington Journal�? – only Israel and Jews.

A sample of the remarks in question, from CAMERA’s “C-SPAN Watch�? feature on our Web site, :

* America was “Jewed�? into war in Iraq;
* The Jews “are Satan�?;
* Israel was behind 9/11;
* The Jews control Congress, the banks and the news media;
* We should be bombing Israel, not Libya;
* The Talmud teaches that all Gentiles must be killed;
* Hitler was a self-hating Jew; and
* Israel and American Jews want to drag American into war against peaceful Iran.

C-SPAN executives, including Brian Lamb, have stone-walled CAMERA requests to discuss remedying this problem, perhaps by instituting a 5-second delay. Mr. Lamb and his colleagues have refused to answer letters, phone calls or e-mails on the subject.

“Washington Journal�? has become a magnet for anti-Jewish, anti-Israel calls, airing literally hundreds in the past three years. By tolerating them, it has encouraged more of the same.

Regular transmission of antisemitic bigotry has become the otherwise highly-reputed C-SPAN’s dirty little secret. This blot on the network’s record is no longer little, and if it is to be removed, should no longer remain secret. I trust you will return to this topic in a pending column. Please don’t hesitate to contact me, and, in the meantime, I trust that you will consult “C-SPAN Watch�? at our Web site.

Likewise, Mr. Neuharth, we trust that you will return to this topic in a forthcoming commentary.



Posted by MK at October 12, 2011 05:44 PM


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