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Chairman FPA 1963-1965
From war to war, Elkins covered Israel, first for CBS, then for Newsweek, and for 17 sonorous years for BBC radio. He scooped the world with the story of Israel’s destruction of the Arab air forces on the opening day of the 1967 Six-Day War. The BBC ran it (eventually), CBS hesitated. Elkins quit. If CBS didn’t trust their correspondent, he didn’t want the job.
Elkins was rare among BBC correspondents as a New Yorker who never mid-Atlanticised his accent. Rather, his American growler’s voice and his epic, 1940s American radio style became his trade mark. He was a master story-teller, a reporter with attitude. Even in private conversation, he spoke in vivid, well-crafted sentences.
The Arab lobby campaigned against him. The BBC, they argued, should not employ a Jew and a Zionist to report the Arab-Israeli conflict. Elkins’ answer was: “My reports are a matter of public record. If anyone can find a pattern of bias, let him say so.” They never did, at least not to the satisfaction of the BBC, which stood by him until he reached retirement age in 1983.
Click here for a BBC interview with Michael Elkins by Roy Plomley. Elkins recalls his childhood in New York, where he became a pool-room hustler, his screen-writing career in Hollywood, and he talks about his connection with Israel.