New York.- Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Queens, Manhattan) and Anthony Weiner (D-Queens & Brooklyn) hailed the decision by WNET, a New York City PBS affiliate, to cancel a controversial discussion program that features Armenian genocide deniers.
During and after World War I, Ottoman Turks murdered 1.5 million Armenian civilians to suppress Armenian support for Russian forces invading their occupied homeland. On April 17, WNET will air a documentary entitled, “The Armenian Genocide”, which was to be followed by the presentation of a panel discussion program featuring two scholars who deny the massacre ever occurred. WNET decided not to air the discussion program earlier this week amid strong protests by Reps. Weiner and Maloney and leaders of New York’s Armenian community.
“PBS and WNET have a well-earned reputation for their programs that explore history with a depth and understanding not found anywhere else on the dial,” said Weiner. “I am pleased that WNET has now cancelled plans to follow their historically accurate program with a panel discussion including some who deny that the genocide took place.”
“I’m grateful that WNET won’t be giving a platform to those who deny an indisputable truth: that1.5 million Armenians were systematically murdered,” said Maloney. “WNET has always brought New Yorkers excellent, thought-provoking programming and I look forward to watching the documentary next month.”
Weiner and Maloney joined more than 11,000 people in signing an online petition asking PBS to drop the panel discussion, making it one of the largest organized protests of a PBS program. PBS has not aired a panel discussion following a documentary in more than five years.
The full text of a letter from Weiner and Maloney to William F. Baker, President & CEO of Thirteen/WNET, follows.
William F. Baker
President and CEO, Thirteen/WNET
450 West 33rd Street
New York, NY 10001
Dear Mr. Baker :
We are troubled that WNET has decided to air a panel discussion including genocide deniers following the debut of “The Armenian Genocide” on April 17. We urge you to reconsider.
When PBS purchased “The Armenian Genocide” from filmmaker Andrew Goldberg, the network agreed to air it without major changes. Including a panel discussion that provides a venue for genocide denial amounts to a massive change in the presentation of this sensitive issue.
As you surely know, Ottoman Turks murdered 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1920 in an effort to suppress Armenian support for Russian forces invading their occupied homeland.
The genocide is a matter of history. Convening a panel discussion that includes deniers of the existence of this horror is a grave injustice.
Keep these genocide deniers off the air.
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney