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February 15, 2009

C-SPAN's Disgraceful Behavior

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Robb Harleston and Steven Scully

“These European Jews - they are pretended Jews. They are the scum of the planet Earth and they are just like their father, the Devil.�

These hateful words concluded the uninterrupted tirade of a Dec. 30, 2008 7:53 AM phone call aired by C-SPAN (aka Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network) on the Washington Journal broadcast hosted by Robb Harleston. Washington Journal continues to air calls containing hateful, slanderous messages about Jews and Israel – and the hosts routinely indicate tacit approval of these messages by simply continuing on without disassociating themselves - either verbally or through body language - from these tirades. Because no condemnation is heard or sensed, it tends, for numbers of viewers, to make anti-Semitism seem normal and acceptable discourse. CAMERA's C-SPAN report cited shocking instances from the period Nov. 29 to Dec. 30, 2008. One cannot reasonably imagine that such hateful views would be tacitly accepted if the target was say, African-Americans, Asians, Muslims or Arabs.

The February 8, 2009 Washington Journal broadcast, hosted by Steven Scully, asked viewers for comments on the topic, "Obama administration's foreign policy." The "comment" supplied at 7:49 AM by a caller from Gardner, Kansas consisted of a slanderous attack on Jews and Israel. As is the usual case, the host allowed the caller to proceed uninterrupted and neither the host nor guest (a White House correspondent) condemned the anti-Semitic nature of the call or pointed out any of the wild inaccuracies. This call can be viewed on the C-SPAN Web site.

Here is this rant in its entirety:

I have a polar opposite point of view from the previous caller. I think our biggest problem is how much money we are sending to Israel. We are sending $20 billion a year since 1961. If you add it up, that's nearly a trillion dollars. That is why we are so in debt right now. We are essentially financing it on the backs of our children to keep Israel busy and to make sure that they have plenty of arms to kill innocent Palestinians with. I also do not believe that Israel has any right to the land that they are on. If you look back in the history, in 1949 and back to 1914 - the Balfour Declaration - England had trouble with all of the Jewish people coming out to England from the wars and they essentially settled them on the Palestinian land. It was Palestine. The first thing that the pre-Israelis did was to burn the courthouses and they also massacred three villages of people, two Muslim and one Christian, and therefore the entire land did open up in front of them, that was in '49, to where they could march in and say, "Oh, gee, the land was abandoned." It wasn't. There were businesses, restaurants, orchards, courthouses. Everything there that you would expect a populace to have. The media in this country have for years tried to tell us that the Palestinians were nothing but a nation of nomads. That's complete fallacy. Some of them were nomadic because they, frankly, moved their herds from grazing land to grazing land as the grazing land got depleted.

The host, Steven Scully, gave a green light to further such anti-Semitic, preposterous tirades by following it up only with:

Issues that this gentleman, George Mitchell, will be facing. He is on the cover of CQ Weekly. (The magazine is shown on the screen).

Likewise, the guest indicated tacit acceptance of defamatory calls by simply following up on Scully’s remarks.

The rant consisted essentially entirely of complete falsehoods and wild exaggerations. No reputable source could ever be cited for the accusations. The actual amount of financial aid to Israel is a tiny fraction, only about one seventh, of the amount falsely claimed by the caller. No massacre of villages took place, no burning of courthouses took place. The history cited by the caller was bogus history, and Israel doesn’t target civilians. The anti-Semitic remark concerning England and Jews is a falsehood.

The question arises, how could Mr. Scully fail to realize that the figure of $20 billion is wildly inflated? Is Scully not prepared educationally or professionally to refute any of the preposterous claims of the caller? One would think that as President of the White House Correspondents' Association he would have at least a minimal knowledge of the size of foreign aid packages.

Callers who base their arguments on wildly inaccurate allegations rather than facts should either be weeded out in the screening process, or the host should be prepared to point out that their allegations are false or unsubstantiated. And outright anti-Semitic comments should not be allowed on the air, or they should be soundly condemned by the host.

One would hope that the inappropriate behavior of C-SPAN hosts would alarm its Board of Directors which consists of cable television industry presidents and CEOs. The cable television industry is the source of funding for C-SPAN.

Posted by MK at February 15, 2009 08:35 AM


Are these two C-SPAN hosts (or others, for that matter) less forgiving of hate-speech and slander directed at other groups? Do they allow other callers to respond?

Posted by: BJ at February 16, 2009 01:34 PM

Don't you think the hosts are attempting to lesson the importance of the bigoted calls by not responding to them?

Also, I understood their role as hosts is to act as moderators and not make personal comments.

Posted by: max843 at May 23, 2009 07:53 AM

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