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May 31, 2012 3:02 pm

Shareholders Demand Answers From CBS On Holy Land Christian Story

avatar by Alina Dain Sharon / JNS.org

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60 Minutes logo. Photo: screenshot via cbsnews.com.

Four board members of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) attended the CBS May 24 shareholder meeting in New York, arguing that the television network had used distortions, omissions and factual errors on “60 Minutes” to present the Jewish state as an oppressor of Christians in the region.

In the controversial April 22 “60 Minutes” segment, reporter Bob Simon ignored a documented history of Muslim violence toward the Palestinian population in the West Bank, instead making it seem that Israel was entirely the culprit, critics of the program have said. Simon referred to Israel’s security fence as completely surrounding Bethlehem, “turning the ‘little town’ where Christ was born into what its residents call ‘an open air prison.'” In reality, the fence only arcs along the north, where it borders Israeli neighborhoods and does not surround Bethlehem; residents can move freely in and out along the entire south of the city.

Simon also claimed that the Christian population in the region has declined to less than two percent. As a percentage of the regional population compared to Muslims, Christians have, indeed, declined, but CBS failed to make clear that the Christian population inside Israel has grown substantially. According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, 34,000 mostly Arab Christians lived in Israel in 1949, and by 2009 that number rose to 122,000.

Far from oppressing Christians, Israel provides a safe haven for them, according to Carol Greenwald, a CAMERA board member who spoke at the CBS meeting. The “60 Minutes” segment “apparently sought to undermine Christian support of Israel in the U.S,” she told JointMedia News Service. The statement describing the “little town where Christ was born” as an “open air prison” was truly incendiary, Greenwald said.

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CAMERA owns shares of CBS stock. At the meeting, Greenwald and other CAMERA representatives sought to confirm that CBS News has an official policy of correcting errors on air. Since part of the meeting’s agenda was the election of directors, Greenwald got up and said that as a shareholder, she needed to know the position of each director on that policy issue. Les Moonves, the network’s president, interjected that he knew the CAMERA board members had a problem with “60 Minutes,” but pointed out that it is an award-winning program. Greenwald added that she was not addressing “60 Minutes,” but raising a question about the network’s adherence to a key ethical standard. Greenwald was then told she would receive an answer in writing.

The network’s general counsel said at the shareholders meeting that the “60 Minutes” segment received only 476 comments, and that half of them were positive. However, Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) identified about 33,000 complaints generated by their organizations. Greenwald said that the CBS general counsel and its board should be concerned if CBS News management is giving them false information.

CAMERA board members also submitted written material documenting Muslim persecution of Christians in the region, as well as copies of CAMERA Executive Director Andrea Levin’s letter to the head of CBS News, Jeffrey Fager, calling for corrections of errors in the segment.

“The overarching message of the segment—that Israel is the source and cause of Christian misfortune and decline in the Holy Land—was false on many levels and suffered, in our estimation, from a striking unwillingness on the part of the segment professionals to grapple forthrightly with the full realities of an important story,” Levin wrote in the letter.

The CBS network did not respond to a request for comment from JointMedia News Service.

“I do believe the board was listening [at the shareholders meeting],” Greenwald said.

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  • Jeremy Lichten

    CBS is one of the tentacles of the beast.
    The beast HATES Israel & the Jews and has spent 2,000 years in their evil pursuit against the Children of God.
    The beast will NOT win.

  • MBenFaivol

    Its now no longer what has been done by CBS and others in the past, its what can be done now and going forward, as I and the rest of the rational world believe that CBS and all other media outlets will do nothing unless they are made to feel uncomfortable and/or compelled to take action. May I suggest a .n initial three pronged attack. First, identify all directors on CBS’s Board and have pro-Israel attorneys and advocates meet with them; if they refuse to meet, ask for their attorney’s address and phone number and ask whether they each have sufficient errors and omissions insurance coverage (i assure you that this will get a meeting even if it is a hostile one; at least you will start a dialogue and perhaps several will resign). In particular, this should be done with Sumner Redstone, the Jewish (former) CEO of CBS’s parent corporation (he’s generally regarded as pro-Israel). Second, Bob Simon should be sued for fraud and other causes of action in Federal Court; in this regard the Federal Government should be sued for mandamas as Simon is a recipient if Arab largesse and is not registered as a foreign lobbyist as ‘television journalism’ and propaganda interviews are his mode of propaganda and agency; this is a federal crime. An in-depth protracted lawsuit with ample publicity including drawing in the Federal Communication Commission also for mandamas and for its non-assertion of equal time and access provisions by Simon “60 Minutes” and CBS, and for allowing CBS to continue to operate on any channel for these blatantly false propaganda shows are actionable; the only question may be how standing is derived and asserted. While this may not completely succeed in obtaining justice for Israel from Simon and 60 Minutes, anyone who has followed the very expensive John Edwards trial will know that it is now quite irrelevant that Edwards was found not guilty on one count and that the rest of the criminal charges were hung; he simply will no longer be a public figure. Also, one may also note that at this point in Simon’s life, such a protracted, stressful, personally expensive (must have his own separate counsel as conflicts of interests will not be waived or, if waiver is attempted should be appealed immediately) trial may encourage him to seek other non-direct TV media employment; perhaps like that Israeli traitor Yossi Belin he can thereafter get a job publically working for the Palestinian Arabs. (Don’t exclude the opportunity to go after Leslie Stahl either). The third prong should be a direct attack on the executive oifficers and news producers at CBS with a large group of attorneys as the time spent on being responsive to this lawsuit individually may cause CBS to re-think whether it is worth it to be so one-sided in their blatant propaganda feasts. More to share if your interested

  • MH8169

    The sad part of the media bias is they are bias. I doubt anything will modify this blindness. I am encouraged by organizations like CAMERA to confront this BS. A good number of traditional media reporters rely upon individuals whose agenda is to muddy Israel. Christian Arabs are fearful of their lives and do not say anything to anger the Islamists.

  • Is CBS news anti -semetic? Is the Pope Catholic?

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