D.C. Radio Station Pledges to Be “More Sensitive” Following “Concentration Camp” Controversy

News Release
October 31, 2007

The Washington, D.C. radio station WTEM has pledged to be “more sensitive in the future” about making on-air analogies to the Holocaust, following a protest over a talk show host’s remark about concentration camps.

The pledge came in response to a letter from Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the Washington-based David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, and former Congressman Stephen Solarz, a Wyman Institute board member.

The controversy concerned the “Women Talk” program, which airs on WTEM on Sunday mornings. On the October 21, 2007 program, when a panelist described a particularly strict employer for whom she once worked, host Carol Blymire remarked that it sounded as if her job had been in “a concentration camp.”

In their protest letter, Medoff and Solarz wrote: “Your statement implied either that life in a Nazi concentration camp was no worse than an overbearing workplace environment; or that there are job situations in contemporary America so unpleasant that they resemble, say, Dachau or Auschwitz. Obviously, neither point is supported by the facts.”

They added: “The inappropriate use of Nazi or Holocaust analogies has become all too prevalent in contemporary public discourse. Such analogies trivialize the Holocaust and undermine efforts to educate the public about the real nature of Hitler, Nazi Germany, and the mass murder of six million European Jews … We cannot imagine it was your intention to suggest that [her] job was identical to that of a job in a Nazi concentration camp [but] surely you, as a veteran public relations and communications specialist, can appreciate how the accumulation of such careless analogies can erode the public’s recognition of the uniquely evil and brutal nature of the Nazi camps.”

WTEM program director Bill Hess replied to the Wyman Institute’s protest with a letter pledging that WTEM will “make every effort” to be “more sensitive in the future … Your note has raised our sensitivity level on this, and we appreciate your insight.”