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Wednesday, April 6, 2005
C-SPAN blows it
FACED with a deluge of protest
over a planned airing of a talk by Revisionist
Historian David Irving, C-SPAN's highly
regarded weekend program BookTV cobbled together a
program designed to appease its critics without
appearing to cave into them. But in doing the
latter, it failed at the former.
The result, aired on just a few hours' notice on
Sunday 3 April , was a bizarre,
disorganized, unenlightening, one-sided
presentation that should make no one happy.
puzzling of all, the show repeated some of the same
inaccuracies and distortions that have been
circulated about its original, now apparently
spiked, program. Amazingly, C-SPAN, in effect,
allowed misrepresentations to be aired about its
own original program, of which it has possession of
the only known tape.
I attended Irving's Atlanta event, and was
shocked at the reports of it that were consistently
misleading, inaccurate, and incomplete. I am even
more shocked that C-SPAN's BookTV, one of my very
favorite programs, would perpetuate such
misinformation when it does or should know
For example, Sunday's airing allowed one
commentator (who was not there) to repeat several
falsehoods contained in an account posted on
several websites, including those of the two
protagonists at issue here, Emory Professor and
holocaust author Deborah Lipstadt, and WWII
author David Irving.
The crowd was said to be disappointingly sparse
and was inaccurately put at just 30 , while in fact
the room was almost full, with an estimated 65 to
75 people present.
David Irving was said to have stood up at one of
Lipstadt's talks and offered her $1,000 for a copy
of a Hitler Order on the holocaust, when in fact
Irving stated in his speech that the offer was for
blueprints for gas chambers at Auschwitz.
And the excerpts from and discussion of Irving's
statements on the gas chambers was too abbreviated
and confusing to make much sense and missed the
point he was trying to make ( a point this writer
strongly disagrees with). Most disappointing of
all, C-SPAN forfeited an opportunity to clarify the
facts surrounding this much debated issue and to
refute Irving's casting of doubt on the existence
of the gas chambers.
Indeed, instead of allowing Irving's critics to
refute his arguments and discredit the "facts' he
presents, the show instead presented a largely
one-sided attack on Irving which he can justifiably
characterize as unfair and biased, especially since
he was given no opportunity to respond to the
criticism of him.
Thus, one result of
this program will be to generate some sympathy
and support for Irving, curiosity about his
views and why he is not allowed to present them
on C-SPAN, and confirmation of his charges that
the media will not treat him fairly .
This account is written not in defense of Irving
but in disappointment that C-SPAN and Irving's
critics have lost a chance to present a factual
discussion of the issues that could have
enlightened the public and refuted many
misrepresentations now being widely made about the
Lipstadt knows what
Irving said in his Atlanta talk, and she knows
how to challenge his allegations point by point.
Why doesn't she go on C-SPAN and do so, especially
since she has such a huge advantage ? Or why
doesn't C-SPAN find someone else to do this ?
If it can conclusively be shown, as I am certain
it can, that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz
and other camps, that Hitler did order and know
about the Holocaust, etc., why for goodness sake
doesn't someone get up before the cameras and say
There was one shining moment in the C-SPAN
program, when the Washington Post's T.R.
Reid quoted Supreme Court Justice Louis
Brandeis' famous adage that "If there be time to
expose through discussion the falsehood and
fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of
education, the remedy to be applied is more speech,
not enforced silence...."
is a writer, author and amateur WWII
to the media scandal surrounding Prof Lipstadt's
attempt to silence C-Span and the history
The Irving -