Monday, April 13, 2009

The Cavalier, University of Virginia

From: Bradley Smith
To: t.jenkins@cavalierdaily.com
Sent: Tuesday, April 07, 2009 9:25 AM

07 April 2009

Tyler Jenkins:

We received this note from advertising on Friday last:

“Due to the content of your ad we had to pull it from our newspaper. Our editor-in-chief Tyler Jenkins will be able to answer any questions you may have. A refund will be issued to you, and Tyler will be able to assist you with that. Tyler's email is t.jenkins@cavalierdaily.com. Sorry for any inconvenience. Best, Zahab Adenwalla.”

I appreciate your offer to respond to a few questions. I want to say up front that we understand that The Cavalier has the right to reject any advertising whatever. Nevertheless, as a journalist, you do understand that we are interested in the story.

The ad was accepted by advertising, [which] accepted pre-payment for the ad, so naturally we believed it was going to run.

Did you make the decision on your own recognizance to pull the ad, or were you approached by a faculty advisor or some other individual who convinced you that it would be morally wrong to run it?

What language in the ad, specifically, was most objectionable? We would suppose it would not be our reference to “beer.” But. . . .

We are willing to consider a rewrite of the text of the ad for publication in The Cavalier, but need to know the specific language that you and/or your advisors found unacceptable.

Or is it the subject matter itself? Is there no question whatever about German “gas chambers” that can be posed in The Cavalier? If there are some questions that can be asked about the matter, and some that cannot, can you tell us which is which?

We know that some will see our question as being “insensitive” to Jews. As Germans are the accused, do you not think it “insensitive” to Germans to not allow such a question to be asked?

Thanks again for being willing to answer a few questions. We look forward hearing from you.

Bradley Smith

===============


From: Andrew T. Baker
To: bsmith@prodigy.net.mx
Cc: Connie Huang ; Tyler Jenkins
Sent: Thursday, April 09, 2009 6:00 AM
Subject: Cavalier Daily CODOH Advertisement

Mr. Smith,

You sent an email earlier this week to Tyler Jenkins inquiring as to the reasons why we pulled your advertisement that was scheduled to run last week. Our advertising staffer, Zahab, might have accidentally referred to him as the Editor-in-Chief. In fact, Tyler is our Advertising Manager, and he passed your message along to me.

In terms of the decision to pull your advertisement, I can guarantee you that it was not because of faculty or administrative pressure. The Cavalier Daily has been financially and editorially independent of the University since the 1970s - there's not a single adult in our organization and I make all final decisions regarding our content and business operations.

It is also worth explaining why we originally accepted your advertisement and then later pulled it, after you had sent us payment. Advertising staffers are responsible for contacting clients and booking advertisements. If they come across any ads which they believe may be controversial in their message in any way, they are supposed to flag those ads for review by the Advertising Manager, Chief Financial Officer, and myself. Unfortunately, Zahab is one of our newest staffers, and wasn't exactly familiar with that policy. She should not have booked your advertisement without first submitting it for review, and the fact that she did so without consulting anyone else was an error on our part - unfortunately it caused us to mislead you, and for that I apologize.

Your advertisement was not brought to my attention until the day it was slated to run in our paper. After examining your advertisement, I determined that the content of your message was inappropriate for publication in The Cavalier Daily. My main reason for this decision was the fact that its message, while in the spirit of free and open inquiry, is unquestionably offensive to those of Jewish background. While I strive to produce a newspaper which challenges opinions in a forum of open debate, I consider refuting the Holocaust to be in poor taste, regardless of what context it is in.

While you are welcome to resubmit your advertisement with different language, I will tell you that as long as its message remains the same, it is unlikely that I will approve it for publication.

I hope you are coordinating with our Ads department and our Chief Financial Officer, Connie Huang (c.huang@cavalierdaily.com) in order to make sure that your refund is received - it is certainly not our intention to take your money and then refuse to run your ad. If you have any problems receiving that refund, please don't hesitate to contact me again and I will endeavor to speed the process along as much as possible.

I thank you for your desire to do business with us, and I'm sorry that this arrangement didn't work out.

-Andrew

Andrew T. Baker
Editor-in-Chief
The Cavalier Daily
(434) 924-1082
editor@cavalierdaily.com

===============


On Fri, Apr 10, 2009 at 9:57 PM,
Bradley Smith wrote:


Andrew:

I thought I mailed this reply to you yesterday, but upon checking, do not find a record of it. In any event. . . . [here it is again].

Andrew T. Baker
Editor-in-Chief
The Cavalier Daily
(434) 924-1082
editor@cavalierdaily.com

Mr. Baker:

Thanks for your prompt reply.

I understand how the communication mix-up occurred, what with a new person in advertising. No problem. It’s also good to know, in one sense, that you did not pull the ad because of faculty or outside pressure, which has been the case at other campuses. And I’m not worried about the refund. That will get straightened out.

Here’s the rub. I wonder if you can really talk about it. You write:

“Your advertisement was not brought to my attention until the day it was slated to run in our paper. After examining your advertisement, I determined that the content of your message was inappropriate for publication in The Cavalier Daily. My main reason for this decision was the fact that its message, while in the spirit of free and open inquiry, is unquestionably offensive to those of Jewish background. While I strive to produce a newspaper which challenges opinions in a forum of open debate, I consider refuting the Holocaust to be in poor taste, regardless of what context it is in.”

I asked if “. . . there is no question whatever about German “gas chambers” that can be posed in The Cavalier? If there are some questions that can be asked about the matter, and some that cannot, can you tell us which is which?” You don’t say. Why?

I wrote: “We know that some will see our question as being “insensitive” to Jews. As Germans are the accused, do you not think it “insensitive” to Germans to not allow such a question to be asked?” You do not say. Why?

On the one hand, I don’t want to be a bother, but on the other hand, why not answer?

I believe you might be in a corner here that many, if not most, American journalists find themselves, and not just campus journalists. On the one hand, your work is to ask questions and to go with the truth as you find it. At the same time I am going to assume that you have little and probably no expertise with regard to revisionist arguments about the German gas chambers. That you have not read Mattogno, Crowell, Graf, Butz, Faurisson, Cole or any of a dozen other revisionist writers who have addressed the subject. This is simply a state of affairs in the world of journalism. Please correct me if I am wrong in your case.

The second issue is that of “insensitivity.” I agree that the question will be seen by many as insensitive to Jews. But what about the issue of being insensitive to Germans? You did not respond.

My view is that Germans are human beings much like, perhaps entirely like, Jews. Why be insensitive to either? Unfortunately, I have found that while American journalists are in the habit of being very sensitive to Jews, the issue of being sensitive to Germans is not on the table. Never! We can accuse Germans of any monstrosity we choose without the slightest regard to how it might affect their sensibilities. Is that not true? I could give you a very long list of examples here, but do not think it is quite the right place.

What is lost in this business is that the journalist fails to ask questions -- on principle! A failure of principle, in fact, that beggars the ideal of journalism itself. In this instance it appears that (forgive me) a newspaper editor has refused to allow a question to be asked by a third party in order to protect the sensitivities of one group at the expense of another. Why? Especially if the one who refuses to ask, or allow to be asked the question, has no real familiarity with the subject?

In short then, the two questions:

Are Jewish sensibilities more important than those of Germans? If so, why?

Is there no question about gas chambers that can be asked in The Cavalier? If not, why?

Thanks for your attention.

Bradley Smith
---------------------------------------------
www.codoh.com
http://bradleysmithsblog.blogspot.com/

===============


From: Andrew T. Baker
To: Bradley Smith
Cc: Connie Huang ; Tyler Jenkins
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 12:46 AM
Subject: Re: Cavalier Daily CODOH Advertisement

Hi Mr. Smith,

I did indeed receive your reply. While I appreciate your interest in discovering our decision-making process on these matters, I'm afraid that the real answer is that we handle all things like this on a case by case basis, relying on the judgment of our managers and editors. I'm not willing to elaborate more on it than that.

A university-funded newspaper or public company might have to explain such a decision further. However, as we are a private corporation, the most I can tell you is that we acted in our best interests in deciding to not run your advertisement.

Again, I appreciate your desire to better understand our decision in this instance, but at this point I consider this matter closed.

-Andrew

From: Bradley Smith
To: Andrew T. Baker
Cc: Connie Huang ; Tyler Jenkins
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 4:04 PM
Subject: Re: Cavalier Daily CODOH Advertisement

================


From: Bradley Smith
To: Andrew T. Baker
Cc: Connie Huang ; Tyler Jenkins
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 4:04 PM
Subject: Re: Cavalier Daily CODOH Advertisement

Sorry Andrew: I forgot to copy to those above. No my intention.
================

Andrew:

Thanks for replying.

It was not my intent to discover the internal decision-making process of The Cavalier, though now that you mention it I do not see why it should be secret. I did ask a couple questions I thought relevant with regard to your earlier response.

“Are Jewish sensibilities more important than those of Germans? If so, why?”

“Is there no question about gas chambers that can be asked in The Cavalier? If not, why?”

I am going to assume you do not want to go there for reasons that essentially are very conventional. Your faculty at U Virginia has led you to believe that it is somehow “morally wrong” for you to involve yourself with such questions. That is, it’s taboo. I urge you to consider what that suggests with regard to the ideals of journalism, and of American culture. Being a reporter can be a serious business, or it can be what it almost always is, a conventional evasion of “taboo” information, taboo arguments, taboo questions.

Anyhow, good luck to you.

--Bradley

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

One does have to wonder how even the most deracinated Germans feel, deep down, whenever they're hit with some piece of anti-German programming from America, a steady stream of which in everything from movies to cartoons they've had poured over them since the '50s. The worst I ever saw was on 'Star Trek: Enterprise' where the Nazis were actually a gang of ugly, blue-skinned, red-eyed aliens traveled back in time to, what else, conquer the whole Earth.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Baker,

Did you know that after WWI the New York Times actually printed as fact that 6 million Jews died in that war also.

Larry Fafarman said...

Andrew T. Baker wrote,
While I appreciate your interest in discovering our decision-making process on these matters, I'm afraid that the real answer is that we handle all things like this on a case by case basis, relying on the judgment of our managers and editors. I'm not willing to elaborate more on it than that.
That statement is, of course, an evasion. Also, Baker had already in a previous email given a detailed description of the decision-making process:

In terms of the decision to pull your advertisement, I can guarantee you that it was not because of faculty or administrative pressure. The Cavalier Daily has been financially and editorially independent of the University since the 1970s - there's not a single adult in our organization and I make all final decisions regarding our content and business operations.

It is also worth explaining why we originally accepted your advertisement and then later pulled it, after you had sent us payment. Advertising staffers are responsible for contacting clients and booking advertisements. If they come across any ads which they believe may be controversial in their message in any way, they are supposed to flag those ads for review by the Advertising Manager, Chief Financial Officer, and myself. Unfortunately, Zahab is one of our newest staffers, and wasn't exactly familiar with that policy. She should not have booked your advertisement without first submitting it for review, and the fact that she did so without consulting anyone else was an error on our part - unfortunately it caused us to mislead you, and for that I apologize.

Your advertisement was not brought to my attention until the day it was slated to run in our paper. After examining your advertisement, I determined that the content of your message was inappropriate for publication in The Cavalier Daily.

Also, he indicated above that though the Advertising Manager and Chief Financial Officer are eligible to participate in the review, the decision to pull your ad was his alone. And he gave no indication that the other two staff officers ever even saw the ad. You might ask whether the other two staff officers concurred in the decision -- as you know, the Chief Financial Officer is Connie Huang (c.huang@cavalierdaily.com) and the Advertising Manager is Tyler Jenkins (t.jenkins@cavalierdaily.com). A decision to censor an ad is of such gravity that at least all three of these staff officers should participate in making the decision.

Baker also wrote,
A university-funded newspaper or public company might have to explain such a decision further. However, as we are a private corporation, the most I can tell you is that we acted in our best interests in deciding to not run your advertisement.
This statement is another cop-out -- the newspaper bears the name of the UVA mascot, the Cavalier, and in people's minds the newspaper therefore represents the university. UVA is a state-supported university (actually, almost all universities get some public support, even if indirect), and so the newspaper has some responsibility to the public. Also, he said "we acted in our best interests," which contradicts his previous statement indicating that he acted alone.

By pulling the ad, he arrogantly denied the newspaper's readers the opportunity to form their own opinions about it. One of my high school social studies teachers said that the difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a dictatorship, the government tells the people, "you are unable to think for yourselves, so we will do your thinking for you." That was over forty years ago and I never forgot it.