April 4, 2005
C-SPAN has publicly acknowledged it was wrong to plan to broadcast a speech by Holocaust-denier David Irving, following a petition by over 500 historians and others organized by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.
“C-SPAN now admits it was wrong to try to ‘balance’ the history of the Holocaust by broadcasting a professional liar who claims the Holocaust never happened. This is a significant victory over the antisemitic industry of Holocaust-denial,” said Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the Wyman Institute.
When C-SPAN’s “Book TV” program announced last month that it would “balance” a broadcast of Holocaust scholar Prof. Deborah Lipstadt with a broadcast of Holocaust-denier David Irving, the Wyman Institute organized a petition urging C-SPAN to cancel the Irving broadcast, arguing that “Giving a platform to a Holocaust-denier to ‘balance’ a Holocaust historian is as outrageous as giving a platform to the Flat Earth Society to balance a speech by an astronomer, or broadcasting a program about Black history that would be “balanced” by a program featuring someone denying that African-Americans were enslaved.”
Within ten days, more than 500 prominent historians and other scholars signed the petition. C-SPAN has also reported that it received more than 3,000 e-mails, most of them opposing the plan to broadcast Irving.
In response, C-Span canceled its plan to broadcast Irving’s speech; aired a program (on April 3, 2005 and April 4, 2005) in which Book TV executive producer Connie Doebele admitted it was wrong for C-Span to plan to “balance” Lipstadt’s lecture with Irving, and expressed regret; and presented brief excerpts of Irving’s remarks with a commentator describing him as a Holocaust-denier, rather than uncritically presenting his speech, as it had originally planned.
The signatories to the Wyman Institute petition included:
* New Republic editor-in-chief Dr. Martin Peretz, Harvard Law School Prof. Alan Dershowitz, and Princeton scholar Dr. Michael Walzer;
* Internationally renowned historians and scholars Eric Foner, Simon Schama, and Istvan Deak, of Columbia; David Brion Davis, Harold Bloom, and Paul Kennedy of Yale; Charles Maier and Richard Pipes of Harvard; and Robert Dallek of Boston University;
* Pulitzer prize winning historians David Levering Lewis, Jack Rakove, and Lloyd Schwartz;
* Media notables Marvin Kalb and Ben Stein;
* Holocaust scholars Christopher Browning, Richard Breitman, Deborah Dwork, David S. Wyman, Randolph Braham, Daniel Goldhagen, Omer Bartov, and Ronald Zweig;
* Leading Jewish historians Jonathan Sarna, Yosef Yerushalmi, Robert Chazan, and Deborah Dash Moore
* Bard College president Leon Botstein and University of Bridgeport president emeritus Richard L. Rubenstein.
as well as historians from England, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Israel, and Japan.
(To view the full list of signatories, go to www.WymanInstitute.org)
The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies publishes the only annual report on Holocaust-denial around the world. (To see the report, please visit www.WymanInstitute.org)