(July 29, 2003) — The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America is calling on the Overseas Press Club to withdraw an award for international affairs made to National Public Radio.
“The Overseas Press Club of America presented NPR with its Lowell Thomas Award for the network’s series last fall, “˜The Mid-East: A Century of Conflict’. The award is supposed to recognize the best radio coverage of international affairs,” CAMERA Executive Director Andrea Levin said. “Unfortunately, that series was fatally flawed. We’ve presented the press club with a detailed eight-part critique by CAMERA Associate Director Alex Safian that highlights numerous failures of omission and commission in the NPR special.”
Levin noted that NPR, facing widespread criticism for its coverage of Arab-Israeli news, produced the series in part to provide the necessary context lacking in much of its daily reporting. “But as CAMERA’s studies demonstrate, that context also was omitted frequently in “˜The Mid-East: A Century of Conflict.’ Both by what NPR chose to include and by what it left out, the series continued the network’s documented pattern of anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian bias.”
In the letter to Sonya Fry, executive director of the press club, calling for the withdrawal of the Award, CAMERA’s Washington director, Eric Rozenman, asserted that the NPR series included “misleadingly identified and unrepresentative sources, repeated omissions of fundamental material, and stacking the deck to sanitize the Arab side and marginalize the Israeli viewpoint.” Rozenman said this “rendered the series more an advocacy “˜infomercial’ than a journalistic coup.”
According to Levin, “instead of being an award-winning example of international coverage, NPR’s Arab-Israeli series demonstrated once more its inability to comply with its requirement, under public broadcasting statutes, of “˜strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature”˜.”
Rozenman noted that a detailed study of the series by the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council reached conclusions similar to CAMERA”˜s.
CAMERA has offered to assist the Overseas Press Club of America in a review of the Lowell Thomas Award to NPR so the necessary withdrawal can restore the luster of the prestigious prize.
For details on National Public Radio’s series “The Mid-East: A Century of Conflict,” see “CAMERA Critiques NPR History Series.”