Most commonly known for his anti-Western, anti-Israel, and even anti-Semitic bias, Eric Margolis’ habitual myopic portrayal of the Mideast region, promulgation of unsubstantiated allegations, and promotion of 9/11 conspiracy theories have discredited Margolis as a reliable journalist and interview source.
For these reasons, we were alarmed when on the morning of December 2, CBC News Now anchor Heather Hiscox interviewed Margolis on the Egyptian election results where Islamist parties were set to make major gains. In the interview, Hiscox introduced Margolis as “our foreign affairs analyst Eric Margolis” and CBC.ca said that Margolis was “reporting for the CBC from Cairo on Friday.” A previous CBC.ca version of this article described Margolis as “The CBC’s Eric Margolis, reporting from Cairo…”
To watch this interview in full please click here or immediately below:
We asked CBC News to confirm if Margolis was either an employee of the CBC, a contractor/freelancer, or perhaps, contrary to what the CBC had thus far reported, perhaps Margolis was just an interview source and was not in any way associated with the CBC.
We posed these questions as the CBC’s use of Mr. Margolis in any of the aforementioned capacities betrayed a bias. By giving Margolis a platform with or without giving CBC viewers an understanding of his tarnished journalistic career and his unreliability as an interview source, was a fundamental violation of CBC standards and practices.
In 2009, Margoliscompared Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza to the Nazi’s “Final Solution” against the Jews. In a column that appeared on his personal website, Margolis wrote, “It now seems clear the last disastrous act of the Bush administration was giving Israel a green light to launch its final solution campaign against the Hamas government in Gaza.” Also in his column, Margolis quoted “a high-ranking Vatican official” who characterized Gaza as “a concentration camp.” Margolis also warned that “Comparisons with the Warsaw ghetto uprising will inevitably be made.” Of course, comparing Israeli policy to the Nazis fits the European Union,U.S. State Department’sand Ottawa Protocol’sworking definition ofanti-Semitism. Mr. Margolis’use of Nazi terminology in reference to the Jewish state was inflammatory. For more information please see this Jerusalem Post article.
Margolis has an established pattern of promoting wholly unsubstantiated accusations against the State of Israel for allegedly perpetrating illegal, unethical and diabolical acts. Here are just a few of his unfounded allegations:
In 2005,Margolisaccused Israel of poisoning Yassir Arafatand of assassinating former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Margolis also gave a soapbox to unsubstantiated claims that Israel had a hand in the 1988 plane crash that killed Pakistani dictator Zia Ul-Haq. There was never any proof of Israeli involvement in the 1988 plane crash, which was widely attributed to hydraulic failure.
“… he (Margolis) started buying into the anti-American and anti-Israeli agitprop that circulates freely in the Muslim world. More and more, his writing became oriented toward foreign readers and eccentric American isolationists.”
“Iraq, Margolis accused America of “neo-fascism.” When Israel invaded Gaza in late 2008 to stop rocket fire against Israeli towns, Margolis accused Israel of perpetrating a “final solution” — i.e. a Holocaust. When Yasser Arafat died, he wrote a glowing ode to him in the Sun, and gave credence to the conspiracy theory that he had been killed by “an untraceable toxin” dispensed by Israel. Along the same lines, he declared that “Israeli scientists are attempting to engineer deadly micro-organisms that only attack DNA within the cells of victims with distinctive Arab genes.”
“In his latest blog entry, Margolis reports (uncritically) a Pakistani spook’s theory that 9/11 was “staged by Israel’s Mossad and a cabal of right-wing US Air Force generals.”
“At the end of the column, Margolis claims “we still do not know the real story about 9/11,” and admits that he has no “hard evidence” that 9/11 was plotted by Americans and Israelis. But in the same breath, he declares “What, in the end, can we conclude? … The attacks plunged America into wars against the Muslim world and enriched the US arms industry[,] boosted pro-Israel neo-conservatives [and] destroyed one of Israel’s two main enemies.”
Viewers of the CBC News Now interview with Margolis and readers of CBC.ca were under the impression that Margolis is a CBC staffer due to the CBC’s description of Margolis being “OUR foreign affairs analyst” and in claiming that he was “reporting for the CBC”. This latter claim and any mention of Margolis was interestingly struck from the CBC’s website a mere three hours after we filed our complaint with the CBC. Indeed, it wasn’t surprising to hear Mr. Margolis say the following in his interview with Heather Hiscox:
Margolis: “The Muslim Brotherhood, in Egyptian terms is regarded as a middle of the road moderate, sort of old fashioned, your grandfather’s party in no way militant as its misportrayed in the West.”
Margolis: “Nobody is yet sounding radical, there are no visibly anti-western groups, there are a lot of people who are unhappy with Egypt’s dealings with Israel, but nobody is saying death to the Americans or lets burn Washington… Egyptians want to go back to normal quiet life…”
If calling for Jihad, sanctioning terrorism, violent imposition of Sharia law, hanging gays, stoning adulterers,chopping off the hands of thieves and other such goodies is Margolis’ idea of “moderate”, then we need a new working definition of “moderate”. The central tenet of this radical group, the Muslim Brotherhood is “Jihad is our way”. Its Supreme Guides extol “raising a jihadi generation that pursues death, just as the enemies pursue life”. Enemies? That would be the infidel West. The Brotherhood has also praised Osama bin Laden and threatened to abrogate Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. Not surprisingly, a Muslim Brotherhood rally in Cairo a couple weeks ago saw 5,000 people turn up with attendees making enthusiastic calls to “kill all Jews”. So much for Margolis’ claim that “nobody is yet sounding radical.”
As we have seen with Hamas and Hezbollah, participating in elections does not make the Brotherhood remotely democratic, tolerant, or moderate. It just makes them shrewd.
Mr. Margolis cannot be seen by anyone as being a fair and neutral arbiter of the situation in the Middle East and he should not have been interviewed on our public broadcaster’s airwaves. Had CBC staff done their homework and properly vetted Margolis, they would have quickly found out that he lacks credibility, has an agenda, and therefore he would not be a suitable interview candidate and/or potential employee, contractor, or freelance analyst. By failing to do rudimentary background checks in the pre-interview process and in airing this interview with a highly unreliable source who the CBC has presented as being credible, nonpartisan, and unbiased, it is incumbent on the CBC to investigate this matter, to reprimand the staffers involved in the production of this segment, and more importantly, that CBC News must publicly disassociate any relationship it may have with Eric Margolis.
To date we have not received a response to our concerns from CBC News. Upon receipt of an expected reply, we look forward to updating you on our public broadcaster’s explanation for how an anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracy theorist was given privileged national airtime.