Michigan Public Radio Censoring Announcement on Palestine event

If Americans Knew
October 16, 2009

Michigan Radio (WUOM 91.7), an affiliate of National Public Radio (NPR), is censoring a program announcement.

The local chapter of the nonprofit organization If Americans Knew, whose mission is to inform Americans on topics of importance that are under reported or misreported in the American media, is attempting to place the following paid announcement on the radio station:

“’If Americans knew dot org,’ a non-profit organization focused on media coverage of the Palestine-Israel conflict: Executive Director Alison Weir will visit southeast Michigan the week of Oct 12th. Details on the web at "If Americans Knew dot org".”

Michigan Radio has refused to air the announcement, violating its ethical obligation as a publicly funded station not to censor information. While the station eventually agreed to run an amended announcement (cost: $1,000), it still refuses to include the organization’s name, If Americans Knew.

Weir, who has traveled throughout Gaza and the West Bank as a freelance journalist and speaks widely throughout the United States, said that she will fight Michigan Radio’s censorship, saying: “It is exactly this type of activity – to prevent people from learning the facts on Israel-Palestine -- that is causing the perpetuation of this tragic conflict and that is behind the $7 million per day of American tax money that goes to Israel, a misuse of our money at any time, but especially when American schools, veterans programs, and businesses are desperate for funding.”

Weir said that her organization will fight Michigan Radio’s censorship: “Americans should not allow censorship of our public airwaves. A free and vigorous press is essential to our democratic republic. To maintain a strong, healthy, free and prosperous nation it is critical that we hold onto our most basic Constitutional rights and principles. We will fight Michigan Radio’s highly unethical and extremely destructive attempt to prevent its listeners from learning about an organization and allowing listeners to decide for themselves what they think of the facts it presents.

Weir, whose organization is based in Oregon, is a 1969 Journalism graduate of the University of Michigan and was a Senior Editor at the Michigan Daily. She said it is especially troubling to find this censorship at a station based at the University of Michigan, since in her studies at Michigan her professors had emphasized the importance of a free press and ethical journalism.

Weir said that despite repeated attempts to speak to representatives of Michigan Radio beginning on Oct 13th, no one had returned her calls. Weir, who has so far spoken at Michigan State University, Eastern Michigan University, University of Michigan Flint, University of Michigan Dearborn and other locations, still has three upcoming presentations. She says she hopes that the station will stop its censorship in time to run the If Americans Knew announcement.

Tonight Weir will speak at the Flint Islamic Center (9447 Corruna Rd, Swartz Creek) at 7 pm. On Saturday Weir will be speaking at 2pm in Swartz Creek at Genesee Academy (9447 Corunna Rd) at 2pm and at 7 pm at the Unity Center (1830 W Square Lake Rd.). The events are free and open to the public.

Weir said, “Michigan Radio’s attempt to prevent listeners from learning of our organization demonstrates why our work is so important – Americans are being deprived of information by media who refuse to give us the facts on one of the world’s most tragic, longest lasting, and destructive conflicts – one that not only costs the lives of Palestinians and Israelis, but that is also extremely damaging to Americans.”

Weir’s organization found that media reports on the Israel-Palestine reported on Israeli children’s deaths at rates up to 13 times greater than they reported on Palestinian children’s deaths – even though Palestinian children had been killed first and in far greater numbers.

Similarly, the organization found that American media – including NPR – had failed to report on a 2003 Capitol Hill briefing in which a commission headed by former Chairman of the Joint chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas Moorer, Rear Admiral Merlin Staring, and General Ray Davis, America’s highest ranking Medal of Honor recipient, had announced their finding that Israel had “committed an act of war against the United States” in its attack on a US Navy ship that had killed or injured 200 American servicemen and that this incident had been ordered covered up at the time by the White House.

Weir says, “We all need to oppose this censorship.”

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Resources

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