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Media Analyses





C-SPAN's Washington Journal a Platform for Anti-Semitism




Washington Journal, C-SPAN's daily public affairs interview program, has become a megaphone for anti-Jewish, anti-Israel conspiracy theorists. Its January 4th segment with former CIA staffer and anti-Israel obsessive Michael Scheuer, epitomizes the problem. Phone-in portions frequently feature anti-Semitic rants—often from repeat callers in violation of C-SPAN's ostensible 30-days-between-calls rule. Washington Journal's rotating hosts "catatonically," as one critic put it, ignore the vitriol.

CAMERA has documented for more than a year C-SPAN's de facto collaboration in disseminating this social poison in our Web site feature C-SPAN Watch. Scheuer's latest "blame Israel and its supporters" performance, abetted by Washington Journal host Bill Scanlan, seemed to especially incite the network's lunatic fringe.

Except for American Jews, Washington Journal allows no religious or ethnic group to be repeatedly vilified. Except for Israel, it permits no country to be demonized. Only in the case of Jews and Israel do C-SPAN hosts permit such slander. 

Perhaps the lowest point of a 45-minute segment filled with low points is the following, which includes an obviously anti-Semitic caller, Scheuer's willingness to go where the caller led, and host Bill Scanlan's collaboration. Here's the clip followed by the transcript:
 
John from Franklin [, New York]: I for one am sick and tired of all these Jews coming on C-SPAN and other stations and pushing us to go to war against our Muslim friends. They're willing to spend the last drop of American blood and treasure to get their way in the world. They have way too much power in this country. People like Wolfowitz and Feith and the other neo-cons -- that jewed us into Iraq -- and now we're going to spend the next 60 years rehabilitating our soldiers -- I'm sick and tired of it.

C-SPAN host Bill Scanlan: John in Franklin, New York. Any comments?

Scheuer: Yeah. I think that American foreign policy is ultimately up to the American people. One of the big things we have not been able to discuss for the past 30 years is the Israelis. Whether we want to be involved in fighting Israel's wars in the future is something that Americans should be able to talk about. They may vote yes. They may want [emphasis in original] to see their kids killed in Iraq or Yemen or somewhere else to defend Israel. But the question is: we need to talk about it. Ultimately Israel is a country that is of no particular worth to the United States.

Scanlan: You mean strategically?

Scheuer: Strategically. They have no resources we need. Their manpower is minimal. Their association with us is a negative for the United States. Now that's a fact. What you want to do about that fact is entirely different. But for anyone to stand up in the United States and say that support for Israel doesn't hurt us in the Muslim world is to just defy reality.

As Jeffrey Goldberg put it in his blog: "'Any comment?' This is what a C-SPAN host says in reaction to a grotesquely anti-Semitic question? Any comment. Words fail. Scheuer is a Jew-hating crank. I don't expect anything from him except invective. But C-SPAN?..."

Scheuer headed the CIA's bin Laden desk from 1996 to 1999—utterly failing to find, kill, capture or stop bin Laden from attacking the United States. In 2004 he left the agency after writing the book Imperial Hubris, first published anonymously. As historian and syndicated columnist Victor Davis Hanson wrote, "once Scheuer was publicly identified, the world could examine what he had to say on various topics. People weren't impressed—especially by Scheuer's assertions in interviews that Osama bin laden shouldn't be identified as a terrorist, and the Holocaust Museum in Washington was a means to make Americans feel guilty about the Holocaust."

In 2007, the New York Sun reported that the tax-supported Center for Naval Analyses was distancing itself from Scheuer's remarks, at a CNAC-sponsored roundtable on April 9, that "by defining bin Laden and his ilk as would-be Islamist Hitlers, the U.S. citizen Israel-firsters who dominate the American governing elite ensure that those who question the nature and benefit of current U.S.-Israel ties are slandered as pro-Nazi, anti-Semites." In fact, it was Scheuer who was slandering American supporters of strong U.S.-Israel ties as more loyal to a foreign country than to the United States. It was Scheuer who dismissed the well-documented history of reciprocal benefits to U.S.-Israel relations. Scheuer simultaneously attempted by implication to recycle the dual-loyalty canard typically lodged against Jews by anti-Semites, while protecting himself against charges of anti-Jewish bigotry.

Reviewing Scheuer's later work, Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam after Iraq, Joshua Sinai, program manager for counter-terrorism studies at the Analysis Corp., said the author's foreign policy view, "especially [toward] Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia tilts toward the jingoistic, propagandistic and one-sided." Scheuer, who repeated that "I care not a whit whether or not Israel survives [or any other country except the United States]" recommended that after 9/11 American should have "fire-bombed Kabul and Kandahar, demolished whatever ruins were left, and sowed salt over the length and width of both sites."

As Hanson noted, "Scheuer sounds goofier each time he gives an interview ...." Except on C-SPAN, where he's treated with kid gloves by Washington Journal (his most recent appearance was his fifth) and where hosts, by frequent, impassive tolerance of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel bigotry encourage more of the same.


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