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Oct-16-2009 15:31printcomments

Michigan Public Radio Censoring Announcement on Palestine event 'If Americans Knew'

A Michigan NPR station is censoring a program announcement.

Alison Weir
Alison Weir's photo courtesy:

(FLINT, Mich.) - 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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a reader October 17, 2009 7:07 pm (Pacific time)

This morning I posted a comment on this story. It was not published.

By Alison Weir logic, you're censoring me.

Of course, I do not agree with Ms Weir, and think that you have every right to decide what to publish on your website and what not to.

But if you believe her cries of censorship, you're engaging in it yourself. How do you reconcile this? Just curious...

Editor: reader, I have a feeling you really don't need to have this explained, but we are referring to a public radio station, and you are comparing that to a privately owned news Website. Taxpayer dollars support public radio, we are supported by advertising dollars. They are a public institution, we are a private one. You say in one sentence that you understand we have every right to publish what we want, and then you accuse us of engaging in censorship. In your favor, I will say that you are only one of millions of people who believe that if we are in news, that we are forced to air the opinion of every Tom Dick and Harry in town. Do you guys honestly believe that? Really? If a network station decides not to air something, they can. All of us in the commercial news business can control our content. But public broadcasting stations have rules they must abide by on a different level, because again, it is supported by tax money and the station itself is a government agency and thus bound to its rules.

Retired Editor October 16, 2009 7:24 pm (Pacific time)

Since there is no byline on the story, you can assume this is probably a verbatim re-printing of a press release sent out by "If Americans Knew." That's a little ironic since the press release itself talks about journalistic ethics.

Editor: We are extremely unique in that we carry many stories that relate the struggle of Muslim people in the world.  After the way Americans have behaved, I think we owe this culture a great deal.  So, this is a press release with a minor rewrite and that is pretty obvious but it should be clarified and that is my mistake.

Anonymous October 16, 2009 5:31 pm (Pacific time)

Mich: Not another side per se', but a couple of links for you. This first one is of a congresswomen who receives much money from AIPAC. The second link is who is being paid for by Aipac. Draw your own conclusions. (and the second one:) The editors might also want to research the "Goldstone Report".

Michigander October 16, 2009 4:06 pm (Pacific time)

Did anyone from the Salem-News attempt to find out Michigan Radio's side of the story? This doesn't seem to have been researched at all, save from one side. We want to hear more than one side!

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