C-SPAN, after days of silence, now acknowledges that Bill Scanlan, a host of its Washington Journal call-in show, should have upbraided an anti-Semitic caller.
Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic has pursued this (I compile the links here, final item.) Michael Scheuer, a former CIA analyst who claims that his post-agency career has suffered because of his anti-Israel views, was a guest; a caller identified as John from Franklin, N.Y. called in and had his own anti-Semitic two cents to add:
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.
Scanlan and Scheuer reacted as if they were shopping channel hosts hearing from a zirconium geek:
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 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 the United States.
Here’s C-SPAN’s full statement, sent to me this afternoon:
The call-in program has been a fixture of the C-SPAN networks for nearly all of our three decades. Our mission statement commits us to providing the audience with "direct access" to our guests on an "open basis". The live, town-hall format of the program can occasionally give rise to distasteful statements by callers making it to air, and the January 4 call is an example. We air approximately 400 calls per week and this kind of language is not typical of the vast majority. 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. 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.