ANCA Calls on PBS Not to Provide National Television Platform for Armenian Genocide Deniers

–Requests meeting with PBS to discuss Armenian American community’s concerns

LOS ANGELES–The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has called on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to cancel its plans this April to provide Armenian genocide deniers a national television audience.

In a February 14 letter to Jacoba Atlas–PBS’s Co-Chief Program Executive–ANCA Board Member and Western US Chairman Steve Dadaian voiced the profound opposition of the Armenian American community to PBS’s intention to televise a panel discussion featuring two known Armenian genocide deniers following the April 2005 broadcast of [The Armenian Genocide] by Andrew Goldberg of Two Cats Productions. The two Genocide deniers are Justin McCarthy and Omer Turan.

In the letter–Dadaian–noted that "the mere existence of Armenian genocide deniers or–for that matter–Holocaust revisionists does not entitle these individuals to a place on our national stage alongside those who responsibly research and document these and other crimes against humanity." He added–"Consider–for example–the absurdity of following a broadcast of [Schindler’s List] with a roundtable that includes Holocaust deniers."

Commenting on the form letters that PBS has sent to concerned Armenian Americans over the past week–Dadaian welcomed the network’s recognition that "the majority of historians–nations–and news organizations recognize the Armenian genocide," and pointed out that–"save for the Turkish government and its surrogates (Justin McCarthy and Omer Turan included)–this crime is universally acknowledged and unanimously condemned by the international community."

Dadaian closed his letter by stressing that–"broadcasting a roundtable discussion with Armenian Genocide historians and deniers would only serve to call the Armenian genocide itself into question and give undue credence to those who are trying to erase this crime. By airing the roundtable discussion with deniers of the Armenian genocide–PBS would become complicit in the Turkish government’s denial campaign."

Several thousand individuals have already signed an on-line petition against PBS providing Armenian genocide deniers a national television platform. The petition was created by Armenian Tidorts and is posted at www.PetitionOnline.comFree ANCA WebFaxes can be sent to PBS via the following link: capwiz.com/anca/issues/alert/?alertid=8486526&type=CU

Text of ANCA letter to PBS

February 14–2006

Jacoba Atlas
Co-Chief Program Executive
Public Broadcasting Service
5750 Wilshire Boulevard–Suite 561
Los Angeles–CA 90036

Dear Ms. Atlas:

On behalf of the Armenian National Committee of America and Armenian Americans across the United States–I am writing to voice our profound opposition to your decision to provide a national platform to Armenian Genocide deniers during a panel discussion to be broadcast following "The Armenian Genocide" by Andrew Goldberg of Two Cats Productions.

In letters sent to our members and supporters–PBS correctly noted that "the majority of historians–nations and news organizations" recognize the Armenian Genocide. The fact is that–save for the Turkish government and its surrogates (Justin McCarthy and Omer Turan included)–this crime is universally acknowledged and unanimously condemned by the international community.

The mere existence of Armenian Genocide deniers or–for that matter–Holocaust revisionists does not entitle these individuals to a place on our national stage alongside those who responsibly research and document these and other crimes against humanity. Consider–for example–the absurdity of following a broadcast of Schindler’s List with a roundtable that includes Holocaust deniers. On a non-historical issue–airing a discussion providing the tobacco lobby with a national television audience to reframe the public health debate–not around legitimate issue of mitigating the harmful dangers of smoking–but rather along the lines of the long-ago resolved question of whether smoking itself presents health risks would represent a clear breach of journalistic ethics–playing into the hands of a narrow interest group and effectively setting back the clock on decades of progress by the health community.

In considering this matter–please carefully review a similar issue faced by C-SPAN on the topic of the Holocaust. A lecture at Harvard University by the highly regarded Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt was to be aired on C-SPAN in 2005–but only with the proviso that a lecture by Holocaust denier David Irving be also broadcast for "balance and fairness." Lipstadt refused to be featured because she properly understood that Irving’s participation would only serve to give the false impression that there is debate surrounding the reality of the Holocaust. Her principled stand was widely welcomed among journalists and academics–including by the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen–who wrote a compelling piece on C-SPAN’s absurd sense of journalistic balance and fairness. www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A35346-2005Mar14.html.

Similarly–in the case of the Armenian Genocide–airing a roundtable discussion with Armenian Genocide historians and deniers would only serve to call the Armenian Genocide itself into question and give undue credence to those who try to erase this crime. By airing the roundtable discussion with deniers of the Armenian Genocide–PBS would become complicit in the Turkish government’s denial campaign.

On behalf of ANCA–the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization–I urge you to reconsider the decision to air the roundtable discussion with deniers of the Armenian Genocide and request the opportunity to meet with you to discuss this issue in further detail. Please feel free to call me at (818) 500-1918 with any questions you may have and to schedule a meeting at your earliest convenience.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this important issue.

Sincerely,

Steven J. Dadaian
ANCA Board Member
ANCA-WR Chairman

Cc: Paula Kerger–PBS President
Michael Getler–PBS Ombudsman

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