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Wednesday, April 6, 2005

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THE following two posts from Lippy's site indicate that she wasn't happy with the C-SPAN broadcast.

She sez: "The case was not about whether Hitler knew about the Holocaust or not" -- but what was the title of Evans' book? And what was the thrust of his 800 page report? And what was the evidence in your books? Only that you had apologized for Hitler.

"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.

FROM a correspondent

The New York Sun

New York, Sunday, April 3, 2005

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

By Josh Gerstein,
Staff Reporter of the Sun

Irving arriving at Court during the exhausting trialPhoto: Mr Irving arriving at Court during the exhausting trial

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 [FPP Website: not true, her book did not make this allegation. The smear was therefore wholly improperly introduced in her amended Defence in Court at the last moment before the trial began] 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.


by Deborah Lipstadt:

C-SPAN's Coverage: Initial Thoughts

C-SPAN devoted an hour to the trial. The program began with Connie Doebele, Executive Producer of Book TV explaining how this 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.

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.]

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. on the part with TR Reid of the Washington Post who was in London during the trial.

Irving, ReidCOMMENT: No one at C-SPAN 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.






Picture right shows Mr Irving and Tom Reid of The Washington Post under attack from Lipstadt's supporters outside the High Court on the final day. Lipstadt's law firm had evidently tipped off the mob to attend that morning

TR Reid:

When TR Reid came on he made the following points:

Irving is someone who, rather than deny the Holocaust, argued that Hitler did not know about the Holocaust. This, he incorrectly argued, was the essence of the trial. [Lipstadt Comment: Irving's Holocaust denial extends far more broadly than that.]

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." [Lipstadt Comment: Had he read the book he would know that was wrong.]

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." [Lipstadt 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

[FPP Website comment: Not true. Bauer's instittion, Yad Vashem, was bankrolling Lipstadt and the publication of her book, as documents before the British Court showed. Bauer expressed dismay in one letter that her first draft did not even mention Mr Irving, and instructed her to introduce the British historian's name. She then appealed to Jewish institutions around the world for dirt, and shoe-horned it into her already finished manusript, describing him now as one of the world's "most dangerous Holocaust deniers." Hum.]

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

Lipstadt 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.

Lipstadt Comment: TR Reid did not seem to have read the book as was evidenced by the following statements:

On the morning of the verdict he bumped into Irving who told him: "I am probably going to lose." The C-SPAN 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.

Reid Did not seem to realize that the trial was about Irving's denial of far more than whether Hitler knew of the Holocaust and that Irving had called the Holocaust a legend and the gas chambers a figment of survivors imagination.

According to Reid the solution for bad speech is more speech. Lipstadt Comment: I am not against Irving speaking. In fact, Irving tried to silence me. Tried to have my book withdrawn from circulation. I just don't want to be thrust into a debate which is no debate.

Some final thoughts:

  1. I wish C-SPAN 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. C-SPAN is an important national institution. It gets people to read and think about books. I have no desire to fight with C-SPAN, but they should have been more honest about how they messed up from the outset.
  2. I wish TR Reid, who usually is a pretty careful journalist, had refamiliarized himself with the basic facts of the case before agreeing to talk about it. The case was not about whether Irving says Hitler knew about the Holocaust. It's about whether this man denies the most basic facts of the Holocaust and he does.
  3. Finally, 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 C-SPAN, have I seen a policy towards "balance." Why here?

[By Deborah Lipstadt]


Index to the media scandal surrounding Prof Lipstadt's attempt to silence C-SPAN and the history debate
The Irving - C-SPAN correspondence 

© Focal Point 2005 F Irving write to David Irving