The alleged dealing between Netanyahu and the publisher of ‘Yedioth’ reveals the driving force behind Israel’s biggest newspapers — a type of corruption that couldn’t exist in media outlets with truly independent journalists.
By Shuki Tausig
Israeli media this week revealed secretly recorded conversations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the publisher of the country’s best-selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth. The contents of the conversations, ostensibly negotiations between the two men, once again expose the bitter truth about the world of Israel’s media: it is one in which media and journalistic outlets are driven solely by economic interests. They are beholden by the owners’ bottom line, and their journalistic work is constrained and governed by external interests and illicit relationships with the subjects of their coverage.
According to the reports by Haaretz and Channel 2, the recordings are of Netanyahu and Yedioth publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes discussing a deal according to which Yedioth will alter its hostile coverage of Netanyahu. In return, Netanyahu will act to reduce the circulation of rival newspaper Israel Hayom, and perhaps even stop it from putting out a weekend magazine edition.
Such deals reiterate just how baseless many of the widespread axioms about the Israeli press and journalists are, specifically:
- That Yedioth Ahronoth is a newspaper that is ideologically opposed to Netanyahu.
- That Israel Hayom is an ideologically right-wing newspaper.
- That journalists at both Yedioth and Israel Hayom operate independently and free of third-party interests.
The alleged deal demonstrates that Yedioth Ahronoth doesn’t actually have a problem with Netanyahu and Israel Hayom isn’t particularly identified with the political right. They are personal media outlets used for specific aims: Yedioth is utilized to generate profits for the ownership, controlled by Mozes. Its hostile coverage of Netanyahu is not the result of any affinity for his political opponents, and certainly not borne of ideology; it is a response to the threat posed to Yedioth’s bottom line by Netanyahu when he brought about the creation of Israel Hayom.
On the one hand, we can conclude from the alleged conversations that Israel Hayom is not the ideological mouthpiece of a silenced right wing, but rather a blunt instrument designed to serve the political maneuvers of a single politician. Out of a desire to make gains with a “left-wing” newspaper, the prime minister was willing to inflict a price on a “right-wing” paper.
Senior journalists at Israel Hayom have for...Read More