60 Minutes, CBS Television
51 W 52nd Street
New York, NY
Dear Mr. Safer:
I am enclosing a copy of my letter to Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich dated 23May98 asking him to corroborate or to retract certain of his statements broadcast on the 60 Minutes story The Ugly Face of Freedom of 23Oct94. The subject of that letter leads to further questions that I would like to put to you.
As your broadcast The Ugly Face of Freedom was devoid of evidence supporting the extreme conclusions that you were offering, and as the documentation of the two attacks on Jews that Rabbi Bleich describes would have begun to provide some such missing evidence, why did you not get in touch with the two sets of victims, as well as with law enforcement officials, and interview them for the 60 Minutes broadcast? In the case of the knife attack on two elderly Jews, Rabbi Bleich describes the victims as having been left "for dead." Thus, the severity of this attack possibly resulted in the taking of police and medical photographs, and possibly resulted in newspaper coverage, and these photographs and newspaper stories, together with any on-camera testimony of the victims and police officials would have begun to add substantiation to your broadcast. In fact, if the perpetrators of any of the attacks had been apprehended, you might have been able to interview them as well. Any of these steps would have done much to enhance the quality of your work — and yet you seem to have failed to take any of these elementary and obvious steps. I wonder if you could explain why.
The suspicion that you would be attempting to refute in your answer is that you did indeed take the obvious steps of attempting to interview the victims and attempting to confirm the stories with law enforcement officials, discovered that the stories did not pan out, but finding yourself thin on material, broadcast Rabbi Bleich's allusions to them anyway.
You will see that in my letter to Rabbi Bleich, I request particulars concerning the two or more attacks that he refers to. I now put the same request to you: if you are able to provide confirmatory details, please do so — at a minimum, the names of the victims, and the locations and dates of the attacks; copies of newspaper clippings or other documentation if you have it. If you are unable to document Rabbi Bleich's stories, then it would seem appropriate that you retract them.
A comment on a related point. You must be aware that a number of the defects of the 60 Minutes broadcast The Ugly Face of Freedom are discussed on the Ukrainian Archive web site, particularly in the section at www.ukar.org/60min.html, and to a lesser extent in other places on the larger site at www.ukar.org. Your name inevitably comes up in these discussions. Using the site's internal search engine to search for your name reveals that it appears hundreds of times spread over dozens of documents. I mention this to invite you to examine these many references with the aim of determining their accuracy and fairness. If you have any comments to make concerning these references, then I can promise you that these comments will be reproduced on the Ukrainian Archive complete and unedited, and that any instances of unfairness or inaccuracy that you bring to my attention will be immediately corrected.
If you cannot find instances of unfairness or inaccuracy in the many accusations that have been leveled against The Ugly Face of Freedom, then I wonder whether your refusing to retract and apologize satisfies standards of journalistic ethics.
cc: Ed Bradley, Jeffrey Fager, Don Hewitt, Steve Kroft, Andy Rooney, Lesley Stahl, Mike Wallace.