Mark is now on International Television

July 20, 2007

UPDATE: The statements below were written in July 2007 when I began “The American Dream” and reflect the promises ATN gave me at that time that I would not be censored.  Obviously those promises have not been kept, as I explained on December 7, 2007 (Censorship at ATN/Press TV and the End of “the American Dream”) and in the comments below. Specifically, I was fired for hosting a panel that included some of the most prominent Persian scholars in America, including critics of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  (The panel also included a supporter of the Iranian President. Needless to say, the supporter was not controversial.)

 

I also believed my being Jewish may have played a role in the firing, given the shock, surprise, and horror manifested by the producer who hired me when she discovered by religious faith.  But the greater reason was that I refused to be censored, and the attempts by ATN to censor me became increasingly less subtle over a very short few months until we were having open battles over content every single show. I wanted balanced content reflecting the views from all spectrums in American thought.  My bosses, despite repeated express promises that I would have an uncensored show, obviously did not want the balance I sought and would occasionally invite even certified wackos, like followers of Lyndon LaRouche, on the American Dream.  They also violated their contractual promise to provide me with copies of the shows I hosted.

 

I repeat here what I said in the comments below:

 

“Well, the experiment failed. Apparently, either Press TV or ATN (it’s not clear which, but I suspect it was Press TV who forced ATN to break its promise to me) could not handle a non-censored, no-holds-barred look at American policies when such policies involved Iran. I can’t say I’m surprised it ended up this way. I knew it might well. But I am disappointed.

 

As I saw it when I took the job, I either would convey a fair and uncensored presentation of American policies and politics to an Arab world that so rarely gets an unbiased view, or prove that the Iranian dictatorship could not handle a free press. Sadly, after four months of doing the former, I proved the latter.

 

But I can hold my head up high. I said that I would not continue under censorship. And I did not.”

Below is my original post:

Mark has just begun hosting a new television show called “The American Dream” on ATN. ATN provides the show to satellite channels, the largest being Press TV. Press TV is a new 24-hour English language news channel funded by Iran, but independent of that Government. You can hear Mark’s show (played at 1pm, 8pm, Midnight, and 5 am Eastern Time) by clicking here.

 

Mark welcomes your blog comments on the new show.

 

Important Note: Mark does not endorse the policies of the Government of Iran, and he is not expected to do so on the new show. His job is similar to that on THE INSIDE SCOOP, to explain the inner workings of the American Government, policies and politics (only now to an international audience).

 

Mark: “I know my new employment will be controversial to some long-time listeners. Rest assured, I am not being censored. And, if I am ever censored, I will quit. My hope is to start to bridge the extremely wide gulf between America and the peoples of the Middle East and Europe. And the only way to do this is for us to talk to each other. All of you know of my reputation. While I am often extremely critical of our current President, I continue to be patriotically devoted to my country, the United States of America, in the fervent belief that one day, we again will have a Government that respects the United States Constitution and the rule of law.”

 

“I encourage everyone–American and non-American–to watch the new show and to call me on the carpet by writing on this blog if you ever feel that I am abandoning any of my core principles. I intend to have guests on the PressTV show from all political walks of life and to ask tough questions of everyone, including folks with whom I agree. You can also feel free to call in and ask me about the PressTV television show during my radio show.”

 

“In sum, I thought long and hard before accepting this position. And I finally decided that in a time of increasing misunderstanding and mistrust between America and much of the rest of the world (especially the Arab, Persian, and Muslim world), it was more important than ever that I explain American policies worldwide and to do so with the same uncompromising candor and ‘inside scoop’ that I’ve done domestically for more than four years. I assure everyone I will pull no punches.”

 

“I do not in ANY way endorse ANY other show on Press TV, many of which, I’m sorry to say, appear to be the worst kind of anti-US, anti-Israel propaganda. I can only vouch for my own show.

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15 Comments

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  • Mark October 16, 2008 12:57 pm

    I’d have to re-look to get their names. I remember there were two professors of Persian Studies who were some of the most respected in their field, one from Georgetown and one from the University of Maryland. There was also a man from the Iranian embassy (sure to defend the Government). I also invited a proponent of democracy in Iran who was afraid to show up and thought that showing up might cause the Iranian Government to do physical harm and so bowed out, but I don’t remember at the moment who my fourth guest was as a substitute.

  • James G. October 4, 2008 2:36 pm

    Can I ask which four Iranian professors you had invited?

  • Marshall McMcLullan July 6, 2008 10:09 am

    Mark–the theory is honorable–let’s see how the world of form puts it through the mix-master

  • Mark Levine July 5, 2008 4:48 pm

    Hi Tom,

    I was promised by ATN, the network that hired me to host “The American Dream” on Press TV that any topic I hosted would be free from censorship, as long as I presented all sides of any controversy. The person who hired me even raised the example of criticizing the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a fair topic, as long as I had someone on the show defending him as well.

    I was surprised and pleased by this offer of non-censorship and took ATN at its word. I could not control the content of other shows on Press TV, of course, but I could control my own show. And I think both of us knew that if Press TV tried to censor me it would not look good for their network.

    Well, the experiment failed. Apparently, either Press TV or ATN (it’s not clear which, but I suspect it’s Press TV who forced ATN to break its promise to me) could not handle a non-censored, no-holds-barred look at American policies when such policies involved Iran. I can’t say I’m surprised it ended up this way. I knew it might well. But I am disappointed.

    As I saw it when I took the job, I either would convey a fair and uncensored presentation of American policies and politics to an Arab world that so rarely gets an unbiased view, or prove that the Iranian dictatorship could not handle a free press. Sadly, after four months of doing the former, I proved the latter.

    But I can hold my head up high. I said that I would not continue under censorship. And I did not.

  • Tom July 5, 2008 3:10 pm

    Sorry to hear that you were fired. But also I’m confused. If you think that many of the other Press TV shows are “the worst propaganda”, then why did you agree to be connected to their network in the first place?

  • anon August 6, 2007 8:28 pm

    Wow at today’s show on domestic spying / Gonzales discussion. Very energetic and intense.

    However, Kevin Martin dominated the discussion. He’s definitely a great guest but you need to limit his airtime enough for us to understand the issues, and to hear other parties speak. I’ll watch the replay to try and better understand the points being made.

    Oooh the other guest just said “I think we’re on two different shows” and Mark just criticized Kevin’s debating tactics.

    The show is only mid way done. Should be an interesting second half.

  • A M July 28, 2007 12:32 am

    P.S. Great show today on stem cell research. I thought the conservative guest was very intelligent and well spoken. Previously it seemed like stem cell research was a no brainer, but I guess I had never really heard the other side.

    You have a nack for finding articulate proponents of opposing viewpoints, and providing excellent moderation as they debate the topic. I guess a Yale J.D. is worthwhile after all ;) . Your show provides what the press is sorely missing these days – a forum where well spoken advocates of opposing viewpoints discuss their differences. I think your show has a bright future. It’s sad so few will get to watch it.

  • A M July 28, 2007 12:25 am

    I hear Fox News just countered Press TV by giving a show to Mohammad Levabdullah!

  • Mark Levine July 25, 2007 3:25 pm

    It’s a fair point. Of course it bothers me. As you may know, I’ve done a number of shows in the past condemning the Government of Iran and, in particular, its current extremist President. So I’m hardly “affiliating” with it.

    My understanding is PressTV is funded by, but NOT controlled by, the Iranian Government. PressTV is choosing to run my show (which is not produced by them) unedited and uncensored.

    If they censor me, I will quit. And if this happens, it will be a black eye on the Iranian Government for publicly promising to the world that they will allow a free, unbiased press and then proving that its Government cannot withstand the free press they promised.

    So I see it as a win-win. Either Iran censors me or fires me, proving that its entire concept of a free unbiased press is a farce and exposing that for the entire world to see on their premier new English-language news network….

    OR I continue to do my program unbiased and uncensored and help promote understanding between America and the Muslim World.

    I’m not changing my views for anyone. And if you or anyone else who watches my show see something on the show which you object to, I strongly invite you to come on this blog and call me on it.

    As I said above, I do not represent or vouch for PressTV, and I certainly don’t represent or vouch for the Government of Iran. The views expressed on my show are my own.

  • Michelle July 25, 2007 1:20 pm

    Mark, I think it is horrible that you are affiliating yourself with a government that has said the holocaust never happened. When you go to the home page of Press TV the headline is that Iran will side with Palestinians against the “Zionist” regime. Doesn’t this bother you?

  • Mark Levine July 24, 2007 7:08 pm

    And Radine, just to be clear, I’m not saying that PressTV can be relied on. I can’t vouch for all their programs or any other of their programs, except my own. I can only say that my show can be relied on.

    Technically, I work for an independent free agent (Arabic Television Network) and Press TV buys the show from them. I don’t work for Press TV.

  • Mark Levine July 24, 2007 6:35 pm

    Absolutely not! I would never require such a thing. On the other hand, if a female guest wanted to wear a headscarf, I would of course to defer to her wishes. None of my female guests thus far have worn one, but then again, I can’t recall if I’ve had any Muslim women on the show as of yet. It’s of course about America, not about the Arab world, although we touch on all topics.

  • Radine! July 24, 2007 6:06 pm

    Very interesting about the exchange from the cameraman and producer… I wonder…

    Also, do you have to make your female guests wear a headscarf? So far I have seen no woman without one except the documentary from the US.

  • Radine! July 24, 2007 5:28 pm

    Wow! Another news source that can be relied on and of course it’s not in the U.S.
    I have been watching other programs on PressTv and am impressed with the show 4Corners and amazed that they are running a series on war-tax protesters from the U.S.!
    I’ll try to catch your show tonight, Mark. Thanks for being a good representative to the Iranian people!

  • A M July 21, 2007 12:25 am

    Hey. I caught your show on the internet stream. You had an African American republican guest on, and I loved the interplay between the two of you. Please have him on more often. Overall the show is lively and interesting, and far more intelligent than the shows you see on MSM news channels. I hope more people are lucky enough to catch it.