Community radio WMNF has canceled a Jewish affairs talk show that it had introduced two years ago to counter criticism of antisemitism.
A co-host of the show, Third Opinion, says the decision is a sign that the station is at it again.
Management, on the other hand, says WMNF declined to renew the show because it violated the station’s standards.
Third Opinion was born out of controversy in 2019 after some Jewish community leaders and the station’s general manager at the time faulted WMNF for showing a pro-Palestine, anti-Israel bias, especially the national show Democracy Now! and the local Middle Eastern affairs program True Talk.
Third Opinion takes a generally pro-Israel approach. Produced by Tampa’s Jewish Community Centers and Federation and aired Sunday afternoons, the show was hosted by Mike Deeson, a retired investigative news reporter with WTSP-TV, Ch. 10, and Laureen Jaffee, an attorney and member of the centers’ board.
“The problem is the radio station broadcasts anti-Israeli, antisemitic tropes on the air on a regular basis,” Deeson told the Tampa Bay Times. “From day one they hated us, they absolutely hated us.”
But in a statement to the Times, WMNF said Deeson and Jaffee had been warned and reprimanded a number of times and suspended twice “for violating editorial standards” before the decision was made to cancel the show.
“It would not be appropriate for us to go into the details of the repeated violations of editorial standards, except to give one example in which the hosts played manipulated audio over the air,” said the statement from Sean Kinane, news and public affairs director, and general manager Rick Fernandes.
The station did not respond to a request for details.
WMNF underwent a number of program changes this summer on its main channel, 88.5 FM, following a review process that happens every two years, the statement said. Two programs were not renewed.