talk radio

Co-host allegedly told by station official that the cancellation would be reconsidered if the show’s definition of anti-Semitism was brought in line with his own.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

A Tampa Bay radio station is facing accusations of anti-Semitism after it abruptly pulled the plug on a weekly Jewish talk show.

Community radio station WMNF cancelled Third Opinion, a Jewish affairs talk show produced by Tampa’s Jewish Community Centers and Federation. When the show was launched two years ago, WMNF sought to balance out its programming with pro-Israel voices after critics accused the station of hosting pro-Palestinian shows such as a national show called Democracy Now! and the locally programmed Mideast-affairs show, True Talk.

Third Opinion‘s final broadcast from WMNS was in June. Since then, co-hosts Mike Deeson and and Laureen Jaffee have continued the show as a podcast. But recriminations of anti-Semitism remain.

Deeson told the Tampa Bay Times in a report published on Tuesday that WMNF management “hated the show.”

“The problem is the radio station broadcasts anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic tropes on the air on a regular basis,” Deeson told the Times. “From day one they hated us, they absolutely hated us.”

“I have no heartburn about WMNF canceling the show because I want to be on the radio,” Deeson said. “What I do have problems with is them getting public money. Your tax dollars are going to help support WMNF, and they have taken away the voice of the Jewish community.”

According to the Times, donations from listeners cover 70 percent of non-profit station’s budget, and that WMNF receives around $350,000 in public funding annually.

Jaffee also blasted WMNF management as anti-Semitic, specifically the station’s news and public affairs director, Sean Kinane.

According to the Jewish Press of Pinellas County, Jaffee said she was informed by Kinane that Third Opinion‘s cancellation would be reconsidered if the hosts’ definition of anti-Semitism was brought in-line with his own.

“Jaffe said she found this troubling because Kinane admitted he was unfamiliar with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, which she said is widely considered to be the standard,” the Jewish Press wrote.

The Federation backed the hosts’ assertions of anti-Semitism.

A statement issued by the Federation said that Kinane “admitted he had never listened to an entire ‘Third Opinion’ radio broadcast, and said he believes Deeson and Jaffe’s positions on Jewish issues are out of step with the mainstream Jewish community.”

The Federation rejected the claim that the hosts didn’t represent mainstream Jewish views.

WMNF denied the accusations of anti-Semitism. In a statement to the Times, station officials said Deeson and Jaffee had been warned and reprimanded several times, as well as suspended two times for “violating editorial standards.” The station also said two other shows were cancelled at the same time when the station made various biennial programming changes.

The statement didn’t address the concerns raised about Kinane.



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