TIME Magazine: Anti-Genocide DVD Scandal
Armenian National Committee
Eastern United States
Time Apologizes and Prints Letter Condemning DVD Denying Armenian Genocide
Time Magazine European Edition printed a full-page letter in its October 17, 2005 edition, decrying the magazine's inclusion of a DVD that included a documentary, which denied the Armenian Genocide. The letter was written by Bernard Jouanneau, the President of Memory 2000, which is described as "representatives of . . .French organizations whose aim is to fight against racism, anti-Semitism and for the memory of the Armenian Genocide." Mr. Jouanneau is a leading lawyer and activist defending against anti-defamation concerning the denial of the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide.
Directly following Mr. Jouanneau's letter, Time's editors expressed regret for the offense caused by distributing the DVD. "The so-called documentary portion of the DVD presents a one-sided view of history that does not meet our standards for fairness and accuracy, and we would not have distributed it had we been aware of its content," said the editors. Claiming that the DVD was not adequately reviewed, the editors announced a change in their review process to avoid such future incidents. They conclude by apologizing to the Armenian community.
In his letter, Mr. Jouanneau asserts the magazine's responsibility regardless of whether or not the Turkish Chamber of Commerce misled them. He says redress for distributing the DVD to 500,000 house holds across twelve European countries should include 1) disclosure of officials standards used by Time when considering the inclusion of an ad and whether a similar DVD denying the Holocaust would have been acceptable, 2) free distribution of a "DVD prepared by the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) regarding the history and modern-day consequences of the Armenian Genocide," and 3) a donation from the revenue earned from the Turkish advertisement to a nonprofit organization dedicated to informing the public about the truth of the Armenian genocide and other genocides.
The letter describes in detail many of the "lies, racial defamation, personal defamation and historical mistakes in this DVD, which contains all the techniques of disinformation and propaganda." Jouanneau points out footage of Justin McCarthy, a known revisionist of the Armenian Genocide, who says that the survival of some Armenians proves that a genocide did not take place. The letter strongly objected to the characterization of all Armenians as terrorists and accusations that Armenians collaborated with the Nazis to exterminate the Jews.
Mr. Jouanneau criticizes Time~Rs editors for contributing to Turkey's campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide. In doing so, Jouanneau condemns Time for aiding Turkey's precedent of having committed a genocide with impunity. "TIME magazine has helped embolden future perpetrators of genocide with the knowledge that their crimes can be committed without consequence," said Jouanneau.
- As a follow-up to this scandal, after apologizing, TIME finally distributed a free DVD documentary of the Armenian Genocide with it's European magazines.
TIME (Europe Edition) Oct 17, 2005 (from hard copy)
Letter to Editor
DVD Segment on Armenia
In the June 6, 2005 issue of the European edition of TIME, you ran a four-page advertisement, placed by the Ankara Chamber of Commerce, promoting tourism in Turkey, together with a DVD. The DVD contains a 70-minute segment that completely denied and distorted the facts of the Armenian genocide. It also contained many heinous allegations against the Armenian people, portraying them as terrorists, liars, killers, racists and pro-Nazis.
In response to the complaints from many readers, TIME printed, in the June 20, 2005, issue of its European edition, the following letter: "I was rather disappointed to see a DVD in your magazine [June 6] accompanying a Turkish ad that portrayed Armenians as terrorists, and the Armenian genocide as a myth. TIME has a good reputation for unbiased reporting. The DVD is an insult to all Armenians across the world." The letter was signed Gagik Mikaelian, Chicago. The editors added the following answer: "TIME is an independent newsmagazine and does not endorse the views of any organization or government. We regret any offense caused by the advertisement."
We, as representatives of some French associations whose aim is to fight against racism, anti-Semitism and for the memory of the Armenian genocide, were also shocked and disappointed to see that you chose to include in the June 6, 2005, issue of your European edition of TIME a DVD spreading such a grotesque denial of the Armenian genocide, and so many heinous allegations against the Armenian people. In our view, the above answer is sufficient neither to explain how a magazine like TIME accepted an advertisement that promoted denial of the Armenian genocide, nor enough to evade your responsibility. Let us give some examples of what is unacceptable for us:
1. On the DVD, the narrator follows a presentation of Hrand Dink by saying; "In these words there is the longing of people who share a common faith and who live joy, grief and pride together. In these words there is the cry of humanity's wish to live in peace in a fraternity not to be beaten by hatred or resentment." He does not say that Dink is being prosecuted by a Turkish court for writing that Turkey should discuss the Armenian genocide. Dink may be sentenced to up to three years in prison for talking about the Armenian genocide. What is your view, as a journalist, about freedom of the press in Turkey as it relates to the Armenian genocide?
2. Justin McCarthy, professor of history at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, says that he thinks that the events were not genocide because some Armenians survived. Can you imagine the same words being said about the Jewish Holocaust? Would such a statement be acceptable to TIME magazine?
3. The narrator of the DVD says (over images of the genocide monument in Yerevan) that historical facts were falsified when they were transmitted to the young generation. Can you imagine a DVD presenting images from the Yad Vashem monument, together with an explanation that young Jews don't have to honor the memory of their people? Would such a statement be acceptable to TIME magazine?
4. The narrator and Samuel A. Weems (a retired judge from Arkansas, who died in 2003) suggested that the Armenian people collaborated with the Nazis to exterminate the Jewish people because they're Aryan, and today Armenian people react like Nazis. Do you think that because a few people commit terrorist acts that their entire nation and religion should be called terrorist? We don't believe that a nation is responsible for what 10 people do, but we are sure that states are responsible for their history - and here we refer to the genocide committed by the Turkish government in the Ottoman Empire against the Armenian nation. Would TIME magazine endorse the outrageous words of the DVD against the Armenian nation, which can be characterized as racial defamation under French law?
We found many other lies, racial defamation, personal defamation and historical mistakes in this DVD, which contains all the techniques of disinformation and propaganda. In circulating these lies on behalf of Ankara's Chamber of Commerce, TIME magazine has, for the price of an advertisement, allowed itself to become part of Turkey's worldwide multi-million dollar effort to undermine truth and evade responsibility for the deaths of 1.5 million innocent Armenian men, women and children. In taking this step, TIME magazine has compromised both its moral standing and its journalistic credibility. The fine journalists and staff of your publication deserve better than to be tarnished by this association with genocide denial.
As journalists and media professionals, you know that the Armenian genocide has been extensively researched by scholars around the world, and recognized by the United Nations, the European Parliament and parliaments in Europe and around the world. This year, as Armenians and all people of good conscience in Europe and around the world mark the 90th anniversary of this crime against humanity, TIME magazine's decision to disseminate this hateful DVD insults the memory of the victims and offends survivors and their descendants.
More broadly, in perpetuating the precedent set by Turkey of a genocide committed with impunity, TIME magazine has helped embolden future perpetrators of genocide with the knowledge that their crimes can be committed without consequence. TIME magazine, as a trusted journal of our time, should understand the clear moral imperative to, once and for all, end the cycle of genocide that your journalists have chronicled for too many decades. As smart media professionals, you should have done your homework and known better than to fall into this obvious trap.
Even if you believe that the magazine's executives were misled by the Turks, you cannot deny your responsibilities to all the people who were offended by the Turkish DVD, which was distributed to 500,000 subscribers in more than a dozen European countries. You should now repair the damage you caused. In light of these concerns, we respectfully ask you to promptly take the following steps:
1. Disclose, if any, the official standards TIME magazine respects when it contemplates issuing an ad. We also would like to know if, for example, TIME magazine would have accepted a similarly hateful DVD denying the Holocaust.
2. Distribute for free of charge, a DVD prepared by the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) regarding the history and modern-day consequences of the Armenian genocide.
3. Donate the advertisement receipts from this campaign to nonprofit organizations advocating the truth about the Armenian genocide and other genocides.
Thank you for your consideration of my concerns
BERNARD JOUANNEAU PRESIDENT, MEMOIRE 2000 Paris
This letter, published pursuant to French law ("droit de reponse"), received the support of the following associations: Le Conseil de Coordination des Organisations Armeniennes de France (CCOAF), Le Comite de Defense de la Cause Armenienne (CDCA), J'Accuse and Le MRAP.
TIME regrets distributing the DVD and we are very sorry for the offense it has caused. The so-called documentary portion of the DVD presents a one-sided view of history that does not meet our standards for fairness and accuracy, and we would not have distributed it had we been aware of its content. Unfortunately, the DVD was not adequately reviewed by anyone at TIME because it was believed to be a benign promotion piece. We have since changed our review process so as to guarantee more vigilance in future. We apologize to the Armenian community and to our readers.