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C-SPAN: Caller should have been upbraided

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — C-SPAN said a call-in host should have upbraided an anti-Semitic caller.

"Program hosts, whose role is to facilitate the dialogue between callers and guests, are certainly permitted to step in when a caller makes ad hominem attacks or uses obscenity or obviously racist language," a statement to JTA said. "Given that this involves quick judgment during a live television production, it’s an imperfect process that didn’t work as well as it should have that day."

The cable network, which covers the U.S. Congress, government hearings, think-tank sessions and news conferences in their entirety as a means of expanding government transparency, has been stung by criticism following a Jan. 4 broadcast of its "Washington Journal" call-in show.

Michael Scheuer, a former CIA analyst who has claimed he has lost work because of his anti-Israel views, was a guest. A caller identifying himself as "John from Franklin, N.Y." launched into an anti-Semitic tirade saying he was "sick and tired of all these Jews" who were "willing to spend the last drop of American blood and treasure to get their way in the world." Jews, the caller said, have "way too much power" and "jewed us into Iraq."

In response, host Bill Scanlan turned to Scheuer and said, "Any comments?" 

Scheuer responded, "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 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."

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