C-SPAN’s Biased Washington Journal Call Handling Starts With Screening

Obviously a clock
In a Sept. 18, 2015 Washington Journal (C-SPAN’s primary public affairs program) broadcast, it appears as if callers critical of allegedly superficial, benign  portrayals of radical Islamic influence were restricted through the call-screening process. This is in contrast to numerous broadcasts airing countless anti-Israel, antisemitic callers. The first segment (7:00 a.m.) in the broadcast hosted by Peter Slen featured the topic “Texas ninth grader’s suspension over a homemade clock he brought to school.”
Note: On Sept. 16, 2015 in Texas, a 14-year old American Muslim, Ahmed Mohamed, was briefly arrested and then temporarily suspended from school after bringing in a mysterious electronic device, supposedly a clock, which some initially feared might be a bomb. It was determined later to be harmless. Terrorists, including Muslim terrorists, have been known to do no-load, dry-run tests in advance of terrorist acts. Imagine news media coverage and comment had the device proved to have been a time-bomb or component – that is, an explosive device detonated either by conventional or digital clock, wired or wireless remote attachment.
In the C-SPAN segment, out of 25 callers, only one – the first (at 7:05 a.m.) – used this opportunity to warn about Islam, Muslims and Muslim terrorism. One other caller, the 22nd (7:40 a.m.), warned about dangers from Muslim terrorists. The other 23 callers limited their messages basically to condemning Texas authorities and/or expressing sympathy for Ahmed Mohamed.
That first caller, “Blake from Alabama” said,

I don’t know a whole lot about what this kid said to police and why they arrested him. But, I have seen the picture of the clock. To me, it does not look like any clock. I easily would have thought maybe it is some kind of bomb… It is a fact that come today’s day, 2015, people are being beheaded because they are not Muslim. The whole Muslim community all over the world, they are just watching. Thirty thousand ISIS [Islamic state] people now controlling a large part of the Middle East where there are millions of people living there. That is unbelievable. To me, Islam is a hate group. That’s what it is. But nobody wants to come out and say it. I dare anybody to say what is the difference between any other hate group and Islam. Islam should be banned. It should not be treated like any other religion. It has dehumanized an entire population of the world under their influence. Whether it’s the Middle East or any Muslim country, you look at before …

Host Slen (interrupting), “Where are you from originally?” “I’m originally from India.” Slen (“That was Blake on the Republican line”) terminated the call.
Since none of the next 20 or any of the last three callers disparaged Islam or Muslims, or warned about Islamic terrorism, it seems likely that the call-screener was immediately alerted in connection with Blake’s call which perhaps violated apparent C-SPAN guidelines against generalized criticism of minority ethnic/religious/national groups – with one exception. There’s no evidence of this concern or protection when the target group is Jews and/or Israel since critical, even hateful calls, often invoking antisemitic conspiracy theories are routinely broadcast by Washington Journal.
Deluge of disparaging calls – just recently
An example of this is a broadcast two days earlier in which the call-screening process accepted and the host indulged several anti-Israel callers. A segment then provided five callers (out of a total of approximately 20 in the segment) that essentially hijacked the topic “News review” to radically misrepresent the U.S.-Israel relationship and defame Israel (atypically for Journal, a guest at least occasionally challenged). Erroneous, even malicious allegations included, “We give a lot of money to Israel and we don’t get anything back. The whole argument has been that it is their land and they will not give it back,” “… you say Israel is our ally, but you forget they tried to start a war between us and Egypt in 1967,” “Is it not a fact that the Israeli government controls the United States military,” and “They [Israel] want to destroy Iran.”
Another segment on that day, “Republican presidential campaign and the budget,” featured an unchallenged caller who leveraged the stated topic to assert, “Israel has the most liberal abortion laws in the world.” No other callers in the entire September 16 broadcast mentioned Israel or Jews.
In another example, the July 23, 2015 broadcast provided five callers who mentioned Jews or Israel. Four of the five made disparaging or defamatory messages, including, “Every beachwear store on the coastline is run by the Mossad [Jews],” “… you said that Iran is our enemy. Well, I consider Israel our enemy …” [Sarcastically] “Congressman Sherman [Rep. Brad Sherman, (D-Cal.)], I am so proud of your unwavering support for Israel,” “I think you are a Jewish Congressperson, and I want to guarantee you are going to vote against it [Iran nuclear agreement]…”
All segments mentioned above are documented by CAMERA’s C-SPAN Watch, which since November 2008 has tallied more than 1000 such calls, the vast majority unchallenged if not encouraged by Washington Journal hosts and occasionally, guests. The program is solicitous of every minority ethnic/religious/national group except for one – Jews and the Jewish state of Israel. C-SPAN officials have refused to acknowledge, let alone remedy the problem – a form of journalistic malpractice that has the effect of tolerating and at times encouraging antisemitism.

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