Daily Northwestern's Defense of Holocaust Denial Column "A Stunning Disregard for Journalistic Ethics"
Chicago, IL, February 16, 2006 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called the The Daily Northwestern's defense of its decision to run a column by a well-known Holocaust denier "irresponsible journalism." The paper today ran an editorial defending its decision to run a February 14 column by Arthur Butz, a well-known Holocaust denier and Northwestern University professor of electrical engineering, on the basis of seeking a "balanced perspective" and "fairness."
Lonnie Nasatir, Director of ADL's Greater Chicago/Upper Midwest office, issued the following statement:
We are appalled at the utter irresponsibility of The Daily Northwestern in soliciting and printing a column by notorious Holocaust denier Arthur Butz and then defending that decision in the name of balance and fairness. The paper's actions show a stunning disregard for journalistic ethics and integrity.
ADL is a strong supporter of a free press. However, with that freedom comes responsibility. With its actions, The Daily Northwestern has chosen to provide legitimacy to the views of a Holocaust denier. Ignoring a mountain of evidence from serious scholars, the paper claims to have 'verified' 'all the facts' used by Butz, presumably including the assertions of fellow Holocaust deniers cited by Butz, Germar Rudolf and Fred Leuchter, that the 'alleged gas chambers… weren't gas chambers.' This is complicity with Holocaust denial, not fact-checking.
The Daily is wrong to argue that Holocaust denial is not hateful. Butz's view of the Holocaust, that it was all a Jewish hoax cooked up to deceive the world, is hateful, even if cloaked in scientific terms. In its misguided attempt at balance, the paper has concluded that debating whether the Holocaust actually happened is right and proper. The Daily's view of fairness is apparently anything goes. This is irresponsible journalism. Notwithstanding The Daily's assertion that they 'do not endorse' Butz's views, we do not want the pages of our newspapers filled, for instance, with columns from members of the Ku Klux Klan arguing for the long-debunked, pseudo-scientific theory that whites are racially superior.
Newspapers have a duty to the community to exercise responsible editorial control of their pages, not to engage in cheap publicity stunts. Holocaust denial is offensive to the memory of the 6 million Jews and 5 million others who were murdered in the Holocaust, as well as to those soldiers who fought to defeat Nazi barbarity. The Daily Northwestern owes its readers an apology and a thorough examination of its journalistic policies and procedures.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.