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media alert - cbc and the flotilla massacre

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

CBC and the massacre on the Mavi Marmara - an appeal for emails

When Israel held the survivors of the Mavi Marmara massacre incomunicado and confiscated all video and audio records of the attack from the kidnapped passengers, it simultaneously launched a massive "hasbara" campaign to see that its own spin - beleaguered commandos trying to stem the flow of weapons to Gaza defending themselves against violent Islamic militants and Hamas supporters posing as peace activists, and reluctantly using live fire in self-defence, with incidental (and "deeply regretted") casualties - reached the international media while there were no witnesses to contradict them. First muzzled by their Israeli kidnappers, the passengers of the Mavi Marmara have been largely silenced a second time by the CBC (and the western media generally) whose news and current affairs producers seem determined to leave the widely reported Israeli account of the events unchallenged by eyewitnesses, in a shocking and very deliberate suppression of one of the most important elements of the story. In response to pressure, CBC radio's the Current grudgingly and belatedly aired one short interview with Canadian passenger Kevin Neish. Flagship current affairs CBC radio program, As it Happens, however, has explicitly refused to interview any passengers/eyewitne sses/journalists aboard the Mavi Marmara. Having given extensive coverage to the official Israeli version of events via two full-length interviews - one of which was partially repeated in a subsequent broadcast - with Israeli spokesman Mark Regev, AIH executive director Lynda Shorten has stated that, given their interviews with passengers of other ships in the flotilla, a minute-and-a- half "For the Record" clip of a statement by Kevin Neish, and an interview with one of Neish's friends, the program's coverage of the event has been "both fair and balanced" (see partial email correspondence with Lynda Shorten below).

Never mind that none of the interviewed flotilla members were in a position to respond specifially to Regev's allegations of what transpired (two of the interviews cited as providing "balance" were with passengers of the Rachel Corrie, which was hundreds of miles away when the attack happened) or that interviews with eyewitnesses are so obviously a critical part of the story for anyone genuinely interested in uncovering the truth about the attack. Never mind that any journalist with a shred of commitment to their vocation would have set a very high priority on securing an interview with one or more of these eyewitnesses as soon as they were released from Israeli custody, particularly given the violent and illegal acts that were used to suppress the reporting of the journalists on board, including the apparent execution of one of them. Never mind that, had such an attack and the killing and kidnapping of civilians been carried out by Iran or North Korea, CBC producers would be tripping over eachother to get interviews with multiple eyewitnesses and be headlining their accounts on every news and current affairs broadcast for days in succession. Coverage of the assault of the Mavi Marmara has been "fair and balanced" and so no interview with an eyewitness is necessary. End of story.

Given the context of this refusal and the nature of the excuses given, it's hard not to wonder whether As it Happens interviews with flotilla supporters and passengers from other ships prior to the release of the Mavi Marmara passengers were conducted as a pre-emptive excuse for their planned suppression of eyewitness accounts of the killings, particularly given CBC's past indifference to other humanitarian flotillas to Gaza (dismissed in an email by exective news producer Mary Sheppard as "events orchestrated for political purposes" on which CBC couldn't waste its resources). Certainly such calculated suppression would not be inconsistent with CBC's standard middle east coverage, which has been - with rare exceptions - mostly a whitewash of Israeli atrocities and war crimes for many years.

In any case, it is very important that As it Happens hears from those who feel the refusal to interview passenger-eyewitnes ses from the Mavi Marmara is unacceptable by any standards of journalism and the "fairness and balance" CBC claims to be committed to. As the Canadian
government under Stephen Harper makes a mockery of middle east diplomacy and becomes the most pro-Israeli government in the world, we need to ensure that Canadian public media does not reflect this shameful bias in its coverage of Israel/Palestine.

Please write to As it Happens executive producer Lynda Shorten lynda.shorten@ cbc.ca and request that the program give a voice to the civilian eyewitnesses of the assault on the Mavi Marmara, and follow up by challenging any reasons given for her refusal. CC the ombudsman Vince Carlin ombudsman@cbc. ca and exective producer of news, Mary Sheppard Mary.Sheppard@ CBC.CA

Brooks Kind

As it Happens correspondence re the Mavi Marmara:

Re: Flotilla Coverage
Friday, June 11, 2010 1:27 PMFrom: "Lynda Shorten" View contact details To: "brooks kind" Cc: "Bob Campbell" , "Carol Off" , "Esther Enkin" , "Linda Groen" Linda.Groen@ CBC.CA Dear Mr. Kind,
That is correct.
Lynda

>>> brooks kind 6/11/2010 1:25 pm >>>

Dear Ms Shorten,

Thanks for your prompt response.

As I mentioned I am aware of the details of As it Happens coverage of the flotilla attack.
Am I to take this response to mean that As it Happens will not be interviewing an eyewitness from the Mavi Marmara? And that you will not be doing so because you regard the items you have enumerated as sufficient coverage of this event? I ask only to be sure I understand your position before responding further.

Thank you.

Brooks Kind

--- On Fri, 6/11/10, Lynda Shorten wrote:

From: Lynda Shorten
Subject: Flotilla Coverage
To: brookskind@yahoo. ca
Cc: "Bob Campbell" , "Carol Off" , "Esther Enkin" , "Linda Groen"
Received: Friday, June 11, 2010, 12:54 PM

Dear Mr. Kind,

This is the list of interviews our program did:

Monday May 31st: Interview with Selim Yenel, the Deputy Under-Secretary of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Interview with Mark Regev, official spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Interview with Barbara Hay, a close friend of Canadian Kevin Neish, who was on the Mavi Marmara

Tues June 1st: Interview with Huwaida Arraf, had been aboard the Challenger, also chair of the Free Gaza Movement.
Repeat of segment of the Mark Regev interview from the day before, For The Record
Interview with Aluf Benn, editor-at-large of the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, who was critical of the raid

Wednesday June 2nd: Interview with Dennis Halliday, former UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, and member of the Free Gaza Movement, aboard the Rachel Corrie, en route to Gaza.
For the Record: tape of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, responding to criticism of Israel’s actions

Thursday June 3rd: FTR of Kevin Neish. He was aboard the Mavi Marmara when it was raided. In the clip, he described what he saw.

Friday June 4th: Interview with Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize winner and member of the Free Gaza movement, aboard the Rachel Corrie, bound for Gaza.

Monday June 7th: Interview with Mark Regev, about continued blockade of Gaza, status of humanitarian aid aboard Mavi Marmara and Rachel Corrie, and about impounded photographs and video from civilians aboard flotilla vessels.

On a pure numbers basis, if that alone were what mattered, we interviewed more people who opposed the Israeli action than those who supported it.
In addition, not all interviews are of the same kind. The interviews with both Selim Yenel and Mark Regev, given their official positions, were accountability interviews.
On the issue of "eye-witnesses, " we did not interview an eyewitness from the ship, but did run tape of a Canadian eyewitness describing what happened.
You will note we did not interview an eye-witness from among the Israeli military who took part in the raid, nor did we run tape of any such eye-witness.
In all cases, our host asked appropriate and probing questions of all the guests, including Mr. Regev.
I trust this satisfies your concerns and that you will agree that our coverage was both fair and balanced.
However, if this response does not satisfy you, please free to contact the CBC Ombudsman.
Thank you,
Lynda Shorten

>>> brooks kind 6/11/2010 11:28 am >>>

Dear Ms Shorten,

Thanks for your response. You will note that my question has yet to be answered. I have followed CBC coverage of the flotilla attack very carefully and am aware of the items you mention. What I wish to know is whether As it Happens will be interviewing an eyewitness from the Mavi Marmara. If the answer is no, I would appreciate an explanation as to why you regard such an interview as unnecessary or unimportant.

I remind you that Mark Regev, who has distinguished himself as the chief liar and apologist for the war crimes and crimes against humanity - as described by Justice Richard Goldstone - committed in the course of Israel's 2008-9 assault on Gaza - has been given two full interviews about the flotilla attack, a segment of one of which was repeated on a subsequent AIH broadcast, in which he gave the Israeli account of the attack and killings. These interviews took place while the eyewitnesses were being illegally held incommunicado by Israel after having been kidnapped in interntional waters, and having had all of their video equipment confiscated. They are now free, and are the only ones in a position to respond to Regev's allegations.

Will As it Happens allow the civilian eyewitness of the Marmara killings the same prvilege you twice gave to Israel's military spokesman and interview them for their version of the event, and if not, why not?

I look forward to your response.
Thank you

Brooks Kind

Dear Ms Shorten,

Thanks for your prompt response.

As I mentioned I am aware of the details of As it Happens coverage of the flotilla attack.
Am I to take this response to mean that As it Happens will not be interviewing an eyewitness from the Mavi Marmara? And that you will not be doing so because you regard the items you have enumerated as sufficient coverage of this event? I ask only to be sure I understand your position before responding further.

Thank you.

Brooks Kind

--- On Fri, 6/11/10, Lynda Shorten wrote:

From: Lynda Shorten
Subject: Flotilla Coverage
To: brookskind@yahoo. ca
Cc: "Bob Campbell" , "Carol Off" , "Esther Enkin" , "Linda Groen"
Received: Friday, June 11, 2010, 12:54 PM

Dear Mr. Kind,
This is the list of interviews our program did:

Monday May 31st: Interview with Selim Yenel, the Deputy Under-Secretary of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Interview with Mark Regev, official spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Interview with Barbara Hay, a close friend of Canadian Kevin Neish, who was on the Mavi Marmara

Tues June 1st: Interview with Huwaida Arraf, had been aboard the Challenger, also chair of the Free Gaza Movement.

Repeat of segment of the Mark Regev interview from the day before, For The Record

Interview with Aluf Benn, editor-at-large of the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, who was critical of the raid

Wednesday June 2nd: Interview with Dennis Halliday, former UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, and member of the Free Gaza Movement, aboard the Rachel Corrie, en route to Gaza.

For the Record: tape of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, responding to criticism of Israel’s actions

Thursday June 3rd: FTR of Kevin Neish. He was aboard the Mavi Marmara when it was raided. In the clip, he described what he saw.

Friday June 4th: Interview with Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize winner and member of the Free Gaza movement, aboard the Rachel Corrie, bound for Gaza.

Monday June 7th: Interview with Mark Regev, about continued blockade of Gaza, status of humanitarian aid aboard Mavi Marmara and Rachel Corrie, and about impounded photographs and video from civilians aboard flotilla vessels.

On a pure numbers basis, if that alone were what mattered, we interviewed more people who opposed the Israeli action than those who supported it.

In addition, not all interviews are of the same kind. The interviews with both Selim Yenel and Mark Regev, given their official positions, were accountability interviews.

On the issue of "eye-witnesses, " we did not interview an eyewitness from the ship, but did run tape of a Canadian eyewitness describing what happened.

You will note we did not interview an eye-witness from among the Israeli military who took part in the raid, nor did we run tape of any such eye-witness.

In all cases, our host asked appropriate and probing questions of all the guests, including Mr. Regev.

I trust this satisfies your concerns and that you will agree that our coverage was both fair and balanced.

However, if this response does not satisfy you, please free to contact the CBC Ombudsman.

Thank you,

Lynda Shorten

>>> brooks kind 6/11/2010 11:28 am >>>

Dear Ms Shorten,

Thanks for your response. You will note that my question has yet to be answered. I have followed CBC coverage of the flotilla attack very carefully and am aware of the items you mention. What I wish to know is whether As it Happens will be interviewing an eyewitness from the Mavi Marmara. If the answer is no, I would appreciate an explanation as to why you regard such an interview as unnecessary or unimportant.

I remind you that Mark Regev, who has distinguished himself as the chief liar and apologist for the war crimes and crimes against humanity - as described by Justice Richard Goldstone - committed in the course of Israel's 2008-9 assault on Gaza - has been given two full interviews about the flotilla attack, a segment of one of which was repeated on a subsequent AIH broadcast, in which he gave the Israeli account of the attack and killings. These interviews took place while the eyewitnesses were being illegally held incommunicado by Israel after having been kidnapped in interntional waters, and having had all of their video equipment confiscated. They are now free, and are the only ones in a position to respond to Regev's allegations.

Will As it Happens allow the civilian eyewitness of the Marmara killings the same prvilege you twice gave to Israel's military spokesman and interview them for their version of the event, and if not, why not?

I look forward to your response.

Thank you


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